First off, this was a win for NC State. They have the scoreboard. They made the plays on offense and did enough on defense. The post-mortem is about what Pitt did wrong (and occasionally right).
Maybe this is about the post-Navy hangover for the defense. Afterall, last year after Navy they let Rutgers hang a huge number on them. Eh, I’m grasping.
You know, in a way Bill Stull is the ultimate QB for Dave Wannstedt. A pure reflection.
If you looked at Wanny’s record in Chicago and Miami without any context, you would see a mediocre head coach in the NFL. Surely not a good one, but not one that has engendered such anger years later at his very mention. It almost seems so outsized from the results. Of course, the reality is it wasn’t just how many wins and losses it was the way it happened.
Now Stull had a decent game. The loss should not be on him. He led Pitt to 31 points and was effective most of the game. The supposed big time defense got gashed on the ground and air. Yet, all most of us can see is Stull inconceivably throwing the ball away on 4th and goal from the 8 in the final minutes. Not trying to make the hero play. Not trying to give a receiver a chance or maybe draw a pass interference call. A boneheaded decision that I can’t wait to see defended by Coach Wannstedt. In the end, it seemingly reinforces everything thought about Stull before the season and wiping out his performance in the rest of the game.
Really, though, this was about a hideous defensive effort. In case the Pitt D did not realize it, the main guy to stop was Russell Wilson. The guy under center in the red. He threw for 322 yards and 4 TDs and ran for 91 more. That’s 413 of the 530 yards of total offense that NC State had. You know 78% of their offense. You might want to base the game plan on limiting him. The D-line rarely got pressure on him, and definitely struggled with containing him when he left the pocket. As bad as the secondary for Pitt was — and it was putrid — the supposed strength of Pitt’s D gave little help.
This was not a game where NC State had all the breaks. The officiating was not even close to the reason Pitt lost the game. Pitt had the field position all through the first half. They got the one big turnover. NC State missed two field goals. The fact is, the Pitt defense was unable to stop Russell Wilson and the rest of the Wolfpack.
All through the game, you would see the Pitt defense make a play. Maybe even two straight. Only to get gashed and give up another drive sustaining first down. NC State only had to punt three times in the game.
I honestly don’t know what the answer is. Unlike the D-line or the linebackers there just isn’t a lot of depth or talent with the corners or safeties. Who exactly would you move ahead of the present starters for any reason other than pure frustration with the starters? Purely on talent, I’m only seeing Jared Holly getting more playing time.