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September 3, 2010

Falling Short on the Road

Filed under: Football — Chas @ 1:26 am

Glass half-full: Pitt played a brutal opening road game with a new QB and several new offensive linemen. The team forced turnovers. They came together in the second half. Made adjustments. Defense actually blitzed. Saw the new QB mature and gain confidence from the 1st Q to the 4th Q. Lost by 3 to a team that has won 23 games over the past 2 years in OT. It is just the 1st game.

Glass half-empty: Secondary looked horrid. Defensive line struggled to get pressure without a blitz. Offensive line had little going for it in the middle. Baldwin let himself get bumped out of the game for 3 quarters. Unable to get the running game going. After finally getting aggressive with the offensive play calling when coming back, played for the tie and overtime in the final 47 seconds. So many, many missed opportunities.

You know, losing a close game makes it hard. I mean really hard not to get ticked about the missed chances. One, two or just a few tweaks and the game is Pitt’s. Missing a FG. Failing to capitalize on turnovers. How do you not feel frustrated about the loss?

Here’s the deal in college football. This isn’t the NFL. There is no playoff. If you want to play on the national stage, you have to win. You have to win all of the time.

There is no shame in losing to the Utes. They are a good team. They were at home, and I can’t say that Pitt exactly deserved to win (well, neither did Utah, but a sloppy opening game is not unexpected). If you want to claim to be one of the better teams in the country you have to win these games. Falling short is nice when you aren’t expected to compete or are rebuilding.

Right now, Pitt showed that the weaknesses and question marks outweigh the strengths and answers.That can change over the course of the season. I hope so, but the question is: how long will it take?

Pitt has tough games with Miami and ND as two of its next four games, so there isn’t that much time. It can’t just be about how the team finishes. If the only concern is the Big East, then why ever care about any non-con game since they are only exhibition games?

Maybe that allows justification of the fact that aside from Notre Dame in 2008, Pitt has not won a non-conference game where they were the underdog. Right now Pitt is a decent to good team, but not much more than that.





Very disappointing. Big receivers can be good but not if they’re too slow to get of the LOS in press coverage. Why didn’t Frank go I’ve the middle or run a bunch of swing passes to Dion? Play-action was practically non-existent. Too little unpredictability in the play-calling. Too often running the same plays from the same personnel groups.

I also agree the secondary could have played better but it was more so the linebackers getting killed against Utah’s 4 receiver sets. Also rarely if ever switched from deep cover 2 to quarters (bringing up safeties to cover run better). I don’t remember them ever going up top yet safeties played straight drop cover 2 all night.

Name of college ball is talent, scheme, execution. Our schemes were poor and execution was also. We’re just quite simply no better than a Purdue/Virginia/Oklahoma State type program. I’m done thinking this program can be an upper tier team. Take Pitt for what they are. Walt Harris or Wanny. The past 10 years is the beat it’s going to get.

Comment by Dan 09.03.10 @ 2:12 am

Typo- Why didn’t Frank go TE over the middle or swings to Dion. That’s how you beat press.

Comment by Dan 09.03.10 @ 2:13 am

My beef lies with not being where we should be at this point as a program. I know it’s easy to say ‘We should be winning these games!’ but I can’t help but think it’s not too much too ask to expect to win these games. I realize it’s a tough opener on the road, but good programs win games and make statements. The gaffes on special teams and the secondary (not to mention turnovers) are unacceptable. We should be at the point where we come out swinging, show a presence, and get things done.

That being said, maybe we just aren’t at that point yet. I’m willing to accept that as growing pains and wait as long as it takes, assuming we’ll GET there eventually.

Plenty of games left to play in the season. Let’s see where it takes us.

HTscriptP

Comment by Cool Hand Nuke 09.03.10 @ 3:10 am

I believe that on the road you’ve got to be more aggressive. Utah’s turnovers should have been turned into points to take the crowd out of the game. Why do you have to wait to be down in a game to open things up? They should have taken shots for the win in that last drive before overtime. Show confidence in your team! That being said, it’s not the end of the world. They have a “get better” game against New Hampshire. I hope Utah keeps winning because it helps us out with computer rankings. I also hope we can take care of Miami, especially if they get past Ohio State.

Comment by Pittastic 09.03.10 @ 6:14 am

As usual, Pitt cant find a way to win a big close game. The loss stings but what makes it worse is that now the pressure to beat both ND and Miami is much much greater. I figure we need to be 2-1 in those three games so now there is no room left for error. In the grand scheme of things everyone knows we were not going to be undefeated so while the loss hurts at least we got it out of the way early.

We lost to a good team on the road with a rookie qb. They’ve won 18 in a row at home so its not like this was a cupcake game. Remember the beat down Utah put on Alabama in the 09 Sugar Bowl – this is a quality team. I know, still hurts but I felt like this game was going to be a toss up all along. Put everything in perspective, its a long season.

Comment by Coach Ditka 09.03.10 @ 6:54 am

The question areas we had going into the game are the exact same coming out; QB, new interior OL, TEs and Defensive Secondary.

Just about the only one I feel somewhat comfortable with is QB – not that I thought he played that well, but that he didn’t play as poorly as I thought he would. Give him a chance to throw 30 times against NH and he may be ready for Miami. It was pretty obvious that a new QB takes time to settle in before the season started – now he’s forced to and did a pretty good job all told.

The other areas of concern… I’ll believe it when I see it.

And BTW – I stand by my statements that I’m not sold Cignetti is the offensive genius everyone thinks he is – that was one of the more ridiculous offensive play calling, especially in the 4th quarter and OT, that I’ve ever seen.

Comment by Reed 09.03.10 @ 6:56 am

Fact is Utah is not that good. The QB was mediocre when pressure was applied. You cannot run the ball with 9 guys in the box, da! But as heard before “We were in a position to win at the end of the game.” It would have been a better position if they were up by 10. In overtime teh D could not stop the run, what is up with that! Time for excuses are over. This is just typical of what to expect from the panthers. I expected better!

Comment by J.P. 09.03.10 @ 6:56 am

It amazes me to no end that Phil Bennett’s office is approx 60 feet from the guru yet it’s as if he never heard of a zone blitz … but has no issue with putting inexpereinced CBs (and at times LBs) with man coverage on accomplished WRs

Comment by wbb 09.03.10 @ 6:59 am

Tino’s inexperience in a hostile environment also played a major role — 3 times had the team within striking distance but succumbed to pressure and had to settle for FGs. He’ll get better

Comment by wbb 09.03.10 @ 7:02 am

Crap. :(

Comment by Shawn 09.03.10 @ 7:13 am

It truly is a curse being a Pitt fan. I feel like Charlie Browne after Lucy has YET AGAIN pulled the ball away.

The first half was particularly frustrating that BOTH coordinators stubbornly refused to adjust to what was happening on the field. All is not lost…it’s the start of a long season. And I have the feeling this team will improve as the year goes on. But, damn…to get our annual “swift kick in the nuts” game right out of the box is a bit disconcerting.

Comment by ECH 09.03.10 @ 7:15 am

I wonder how much freedom Cignetti has on play calling. Does Wanny have handcuffs on him?

Comment by Pittastic 09.03.10 @ 7:17 am

This is not the same old Pitt. I think we saw a QB grow up in the second half. He started out very poorly and could not convert third downs. Bringing them back with great completions to Saddler, Shanahan and Baldwin at one of the toughest places to compete in his very first start was different than anything we have seen for a long time. Sure, his last pass was bad but I still think he is going to be special. The utes have not won 28 in a row at home for no reason.

I do think they should have taken a shot to the end zone on third down rather than play for the tie.

I commend Wanny for adjusting and being willing to Blitz. This changed the complexion of the game and gave us a chance to win. It also gave them their final TD. Other than that our D dominated in the second half.

It is a hard pill to swallow that the two best recent Pitt games have been losses.

I am still encouraged that this team can win 9 or 10. Let’s hope that Pitt fans give them the home field advantage they deserve against Miami.

Comment by gc 09.03.10 @ 8:05 am

Oh yeah, and who wouldn’t want to play fantasy sports with her?

Comment by gc 09.03.10 @ 8:06 am

So many things to look at, but one I havent heard mentioned yet. Anyone else get that feeling after the blocked punt that the play wasnt good enough, we needed to pick it up and score. Especially with the way our offense was struggling at the time. I know it may be tough to do in the heat of battle, but it is a little thing that should be noted. It looked like there were at least 5 Pitt players around that ball and no Utah players. Someone needs to pick it up instead of diving on it. Even if you muff it and Utah recovers, its still Pitt’s ball. They didnt show the replay too much of the recovery , but started screaming right away PICK IT UP, WE NEED A TOUCHDOWN!!!

Comment by Z-Boy 09.03.10 @ 8:29 am

Pitt played for the tie to take it into overtime instead of going for the first down or the win. You play not to lose instead of to win, most times you lose. Maddening. Sometimes I just wish the guy would call in sick on gamedays.

Comment by wally. 09.03.10 @ 8:44 am

2 things: The bookies had this one right on the money with Utah favored by +2.5; Pitt is (was) ranked – Utah is not ranked. The ranked team is supposed to pull these out. After last season’s WVU & Cincy games, how many Pitt fans expected to win this one?

Comment by TonyinHouston 09.03.10 @ 9:11 am

As I posted lasted night, I am stung. Due to my own by in of the over hype. #15, 5 1st or 2nd rounders in the draft…….Very disappointed. Had visions of beating Utah, whipping New Hampshire, and hoping Miami would beat Ohio St., for a fantastic Thursday night showdown against the Canes in a couple weeks. I know, new qb, offensive lineman, suspect secondary, I guess I gave to much credit to the fact that everyone would get better, spring ball, camp, I thought they’d come out smokin’. Nothing more to say about the game that you fellas haven’t said above, except, one, didn’t see anyone mention the “missed tackles” and “poor tackling”. How often you hear, you gotta wrap up??? The other thing I agree with, and, this is not in hindsight, really felt we needed to score 6 instead of the field goal at the end. Felt we had to take a shot in the end zone before we settled if we were to win. OT is a crapshoot, needed to get the game right there. Suprised at myself for this, I thought, once the reigns we’re taken off, I thought Sunseri looked pretty good for a first start. Ya, the interception, but, that happens, and why we were all yelling at the t.v. previously, “we gotta get a touchdown right here”. Very, very disappointed with the flatness, lack of imagination in the first 3 quarters. I got nothin’ else. We got a long way to go………again!!

Comment by Dan 09.03.10 @ 9:17 am

“Here’s the deal in college football. This isn’t the NFL. There is no playoff. If you want to play on the national stage, you have to win. You have to win all of the time.”

Nuf said for me Chas. It is a freakin shame that Wanny wants to live in the past. I’m not drinking his koolaid anymore. You play to win the game and NOT TO NOT LOSE THE GAME (double negative intended).

Yes Wanny has won championships but as an assistant and NOT a head coach. With his draggin knucles cave man mentatlty he is either to blind or stubborn to change.

And Tony I don’t expect them to win the close games. That is easy for me to say because that great recriting, game day disaster dinosaur Wanny is stuck in neutral working his stale gameday philosophy. A great coach in his own mind for sure.

You play to win the game. Sixth year at the helm and still not playing to loose. Truly a legend in his own freakin mind.

Comment by Kenny 09.03.10 @ 9:23 am

EDIT

“year at the helm and still playing not to loose”

Comment by Kenny 09.03.10 @ 9:26 am

yes this game hurts esp the chances we had to win, the block punt, pick it up and run for the TD..
im not to worried though, if we can beat miami on national tv at home, pitt is abck on track.

Comment by mike 09.03.10 @ 9:33 am

A couple of things about what has been said.

1. how can you not say that Pitt didn’t adjust? I though that the D did a decent job taking away the underneath stuff…a lot of these spread teams use the offical to knock off coverage and a couple of times Mason & Gruder had to run around the official.

2. As far as picking up the punt block…what really gets me is how many people compare the Pitt football team to the Steelers. That is so frustrating. Especially to the point that many don’t understand that the college game has a different set of rules than the pro game. I haven’t seen the replay but I am pretty sure that the guy that recovered the ball was the guy that blocked the punt. He laid out to block the punt and was on the ground when he grabbed the ball. Therefore, he was down, play over. It is an instinctive thing to do since it is a live ball (the kicking team can pick it up and advance it for a first down).

Comment by George 09.03.10 @ 9:37 am

Not much to add. I think Reed’s comments are right on. I also agree that with whomever said that they were yelling at the tv after the blocked punt – there wasn’t a Utah player near the ball, someone needs to at least try to pick that up and run it in.

Three quick thoughts:

1. On offense, they need to throw on first down early in games. It doesn’t need to be downfield, but they have to take some risks. It’s easy to say Sunseri didn’t look good for the first 3 quarters, but it appeared to me that the coaches really put him in a position where he was unlikely to succeed – only passing on 3rd and long is a recipe for problems. Hopefully, Sunseri earned some trust with his 4th quarter play.

2. The linebacker play has to improve. For all of his talent, Mason bit on almost every fake, over pursued, and was torched by crossing patterns. They need for him to learn from this, and quickly.

3. When Pitt had the ball at the 14 with 40 seconds to play, I would have run Lewis on first down, then thrown twice. There is enough time there to run once, and Utah was back on its heels. I thought it was a good chance for Lewis to maybe break one; if he doesn’t, you have another play called and ready to go.

Comment by Pantherman13 09.03.10 @ 9:46 am

1st and Goal at the 7, 1st and Goal at the 3, 1st and 10 at the 14….no touchdowns, and NEGATIVE YARDAGE. That’s an effort deserving of a loss. As I said when Pitt scored to make it 24-21 “Damn this team for making me believe again.” Because I knew I’d be let down in the end.

How can anyone have any expectations, good or bad, for this team? They are so maddeningly inconsistent. I’m done trying to predict what ways this team will surprise or break our hearts this year…we’ll just see how the madness plays out.

Comment by Hollywood 09.03.10 @ 9:50 am

Am I the only one that believes Pitt was fortunate to only lose by 3? If it weren’t for Utah play as sloppy as Pitt, they could have been up 28-7 at the start of the 3rd quarter.

I’m a glass-half-full guy on this one. This was a tough OC game on the road to open the season. That’s a tough game for even top ten teams.

The Panthers showed some resolve by clawing their way back, Tino improved dramatically during the game, and the D made some adjustements too.

Let’s not go overboard with this loss, we can still reach the next logical milestone – a BE Championship.

Let’s see how we rebound against NH and then Miami before we declare the season over. I want to see improvement of the LBs and the OL as we head toward BE play.

Comment by ME2001 09.03.10 @ 10:04 am

Don’t think Baldwin let himself get bumped out of the game for 3 quarters. We didn’t run a play action for 3 quarters and didn’t run a passing play other than 3rd and longs for most all of the game. Give the kid a chance to succeed Frank.

Comment by Henry Hynoceros 09.03.10 @ 10:04 am

For starters, opening up the season versus Utah on the road is no easy task. I thought we showed a lot of guts in the fourth quarter and it was great to see Tino show confidence down the stretch (let’s hope the INT in OT doesn’t take any of that away). With that said, I hate to play offensive coordinator after a loss but that play calling was awful…just awful. Our offensive line is not what it was last year. I’m not saying disregard the run, not for a minute. But where was the play action on first down? Tino is mobile and comfortable on the move. Why no play action bootlegs to get him out of the pocket? Utah played 8 (and at times 9) in the box and pressed our wr’s. 16 Power 20 times a game will not work with our o-line against Utah’s d-line. Also, Wanny not going for points before the half was ridiculous. I know Tino was struggling but you have to play to win the game. What message does it send to your team when you just get a HUGE INT from Holley just to turn around and be content with halftime. There was 1:45 seconds on the clock and we had 2 timeouts. That is plenty of time to try for 3. Finally, first and goal from the 14 with 45 seconds and 2 timeouts and we don’t throw a pass to Baldwin? Content with the field goal because it is third and ten after 2 incompletions….I don’t know. That is Wanny’s style and I love him but geez, not showing any confidence in your team. We’ll move on and get better. It’s a long season and a lot to still play for. Go Pitt!

Comment by Jason05Pitt 09.03.10 @ 10:33 am

I think it’s Wanny’s style and desire to just have the team in the game in the 4th quarter, and then seemingly have faith that the team will pull it off. I’m dying for this team to seize opportunities and put teams away before the 4th quarter or early in the 4th.

Comment by Hollywood 09.03.10 @ 10:40 am

“Right now Pitt is a decent to good team, but not much more than that.”

Chas, you are being kind.

Comment by BigGuy 09.03.10 @ 10:41 am

Another point…Wanny always stresses playing our best ball at the end of the season. This is not the NFL!! Why can other teams be ready at the beginning of the season and make statements but we can not? I’m all for getting better as the year goes (obviously) but college football is a different beast. Games right off the bat matter. Especially, when you’re a program like Pitt trying to make the “next level.” Thoughts?

Comment by Jason05Pitt 09.03.10 @ 10:49 am

Tale of two Pitt coaches.Dixon wins the close ones and Wanny dosen’t.

Comment by alcofan 09.03.10 @ 11:01 am

I’m am absolutely sick of this B.S. every-game-doesn’t-count-let’s-use-the-early-games-as-preseason-games mentality. Come ready to play and go for the win because when you don’t you make us look like morons for actually thinking that you are a good team. Beat Miami and prove me wrong that this is nothing more than a prehistoric coaching staff with a couple talents.

Comment by Tony Cancilla 09.03.10 @ 11:03 am

Tino played decedent… is there any possibility that Tino was given more consideration in the QB battled given that his Dad coaches with a Cignetti at Alabama?

Comment by Tom K. 09.03.10 @ 11:03 am

It’s times like this when I’m just glad that I’m a Steeler fan. Without a college football playoff where every conference winner has a shot, losses like this are so much more painful

Comment by Tony Cancilla 09.03.10 @ 11:09 am

On the glass half full side: both of our offensive and defensive made adjustments at the half. When did that ever happen? Certainly never under Walt Harris.

On the half empty side: the Stache was reluctant to blitz because he didn’t have enough confidence in his D-backs and other linebackers to leave them shorthanded in case the offense picked up the blitz. His fears were confirmed last night.

Now, we did pressure the QB into a few bad throws, but the defense that led the nation in sacks in 2009 had a grand total of ZERO against Utah.

Comment by Patrick 09.03.10 @ 11:43 am

EVERY YEAR WE HEAR THAT THE DEFENSE IS GOING TO BE THE STRENGTH OF THE TEAM AND YET IT SEEMS WHEN WE LOSE IT’S BECAUSE OF THEM.I KNOW THE D DID’NT THROW THE PICK IN OT BUT WE SHOULD’NT HAVE EVEN BEEN IN OT.I THOUGHT THE OFFENSE PLAYED WELL ENOUGH TO WIN & SHOULD HAVE WON IF THE DEFENSE DID’NT GIVE UP SO MANY BIG PLAYS.

Comment by catamount 09.03.10 @ 11:43 am

The true measure of this team is how they are going to improve from game one to game two, the d-line had a hard time generating constant pressure on the Utah QB.

Mason looked lost, he kind of reminds me of Clint Session, he really bit on some play fakes, the big plays were short to medium passes with the receiver slanting into the middle and running.

Sunseri looked OK, he didn’t fall apart, the play calling was horrible, too conservative, I know we have mentioned this before, but you play to win the game, Wanny looked like he played for the tie with the chance in OT.

Throughout the entire game the defense flowed to Lewis, they should have used him as a decoy with play action.

Actually this was a game they could have won, if they hit the 1st quarter FG, they would have been kicking to win the game instead of going for a tie.

This is a game that they should have not scheduled as an opening game, 2 hour time differnce, high altitude and a very hostile crowd.

One last thing, Sunseri’s height was not an issue last night.

Comment by The Oakland Jew 09.03.10 @ 12:08 pm

Listen friends. “Loose” and “Lose” are two different words. OK? Penn State women tend to be “loose” and WVU fans are “losers”.

Had to get that off my chest.

Agree with previous posters on the play calling. We’re right there going for the win at the end of the game and he calls two passes on 1st and 2nd down and then runs Dion on 3rd and 9? WTF?

I, however, think this team can get their stuff worked out in time to make it a great season. We should have been playing New Hampshire, though, in game 1. Not Utah. That one I put on Pederson.

Comment by Bobby 09.03.10 @ 12:22 pm

This loss is so typical of Pitt. In a game they could have won, they went into a shell and blew the game tying field goal.

This has gotten very old. I’m not putting a lot of blame on Cignetti or Sunseri. It was Sunseri’s first start, and Utah does have a good (not great) team. But, dammit, I would love to see Pitt put away a team like this on the road and make a statement.

Heck, Pitt should have gone unbeaten in the regular season last year.

Without doubt, there will be another game or two just like this one later in the season. It never fails.

Comment by Penguins Fan 09.03.10 @ 12:24 pm

Game was just so disapointing. But one thing i liked a lot:

Tino showed a LOT of personality and confidence in that last drive. He put the team on his back. Sure he had his mistakes and threw the INT in the end but thas expected from a young QB.

Comment by Salgado 09.03.10 @ 12:25 pm

I’m firmly in the corner of the glass being half-full…Pretty much saw what I thought I would see…a sloppy football game played by two teams after 3 weeks of practice. Our mistakes were bigger than theirs. I don’t get the talk of “opening” up the offense more in the first half…Our QB was making his first start, on the road, with a great crowd, and in the first half he did was just about every QB under those circumstanes will do…Tino was throwing the ball 5ft over both of his 6’5″ receivers heads (I counted 3 times in the first half). The fade to Baldwin in the endzone was thrown short, the crossing pattern to Shanahan in the back of the endzone was thrown to the inside shoulder (where the defender with his back to the play was standing) vice his outside shoulder that was wide open. But in the second half Tino settled down and really impressed me. He has a lot of field presense and will learn from his mistakes. I have to say, other than the final score, the only things that disappointed me about the game were (1) The decision to throw the ball on first down in OT. Sorry, I’m giving that ball to Dion. This is how it goes with running backs. The ugly truth is, they may average 5 yards a carry, but they don’t gain 5 yards every time they run the ball. I just felt like he was due to break one. (2) The defense letting Utah smash the ball right up the middle in OT. All in all, the team showed me last night that they are talented and are capable beating anyone remaining on our schedule.

Comment by HbgFrank 09.03.10 @ 12:28 pm

The problem here isn’t this “loss”…it’s the pattern that we have seen since the Wanny era. If my crystal ball is right this is what we will see:

Pitt will have a some losses (Miami and ND — does anyone really think Wanny can handle Kelly’s offense at Notre Dame?) but will get on a roll with the BE schedule.

They will run a string of wins that keeps them in contention for a BCS bid…then they will hit WVU and be favored to win…

Then the true glory of Wanny ball will kick and we will lose a heartbreaker to WVU and then in the following weak our D will get sliced by Cincy and we will get an irrelevant bowl bid.

We will hit the offseason and Wanny will have a “very good” recruiting class and we will all have are memories wiped with the hopes of “this year will be different”…Tino will be more experienced, Baldwin & Dion will be vying for the Heisman.

Anyone disagree?

:)

DaveD

Comment by DaveD 09.03.10 @ 12:30 pm

Agree with all the sentiments here. Taking into account that this was the 1st game of the year for a rebuilt OL, I’m still pretty disappointed with the interior line play, in particular Gaskins (#60?). Couldn’t pull to save his life and got pushed around big time. I definitely think we can say the play calling (run, run, pass) didn’t help the situation either, but was hoping for a little more than what we got. Will be an interesting situation to watch as te season progresses because we clearly have no depth behind these guys.

Comment by Stache 09.03.10 @ 12:46 pm

I don’t believe in moral victories, or that points are awarded for close loses on the road, or that the first game of college football season can be considered a warmup. Call me glass half-empty.

Comment by pittjd 09.03.10 @ 1:01 pm

No way. No how. Baldwin comes back DaveD.

Comment by Exiled in Kansas 09.03.10 @ 1:05 pm

Exiled,

Not my main point…I just wonder if Tino’s growing pains bring his stock down if he does return.

But I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with your point…still my main point is we will continue with this Pitt version of “Groundhog’s Day”…I think I hear Sonny & Cher in the background…Yikes!

DaveD

Comment by DaveD 09.03.10 @ 1:11 pm

After reading all the posts, I can see both sides Chas. Yes, we can improve and be a good team, there is talent, road game opener, in a very hostile place. Ok. The frustration comes from many of us believing we were past that. Don’t want to hear, “it’s early”, “we can improve”, “oppurtunities for big wins still exist”. I think a lot of us were looking for Romeus and Sherrard to be blowing through, Lewis going for 125, balls up in the air to Baldwin, Shanahan, Street,…Sadler taking one back, or maybe a couple back 40 or 50 yards. Not a blowout, a nice 31-17, 35-21 win, coming into their own, waiting to hear sportscenter say, “watch out for Pitt”….. We didn’t want to hear “it’s just one game”, thought we’d advanced to the next level, instead, one more punch in the gut!!!

Comment by Dan 09.03.10 @ 1:29 pm

I was out of the country for the Meineke Bowl last year and never saw it. So this is the 3rd consecutive Pitt football punch in the gut for me. SilverPanther is down!

Comment by SilverPanther in NYC 09.03.10 @ 1:42 pm

If the effort Baldwin displayed last night continues, then his draft stock will plummet. He let a kid 9 inches shorter beat him EVERY TIME. No moves, no separation. Just trying to rely on talent. They didn’t even try to double team him.

I give the defensive line credit for 3 “moral sacks” – Utah took the holding penalty instead of taking the sack. So that’s 3 plays where they actually got push on their own.

But I think things will improve with experience.

Comment by KeyboardKev 09.03.10 @ 1:53 pm

My feelings too Dan

Comment by Tony Cancilla 09.03.10 @ 1:58 pm

I think the game simply boils down to one word – mistakes. This led to the kickoff turn over, missed ops to score TDs inside the redzone, blown coverages, etc., etc. Take away the mistakes and this game not only goes to a W, but goes to a double digit win.

The next 2 weeks including the NH game will go a long way to see how the season goes. Everyone needs to correct THEIR mistakes and then the team mistakes go away. Let’s see how they play against NH next week. Will it be the same old Pitt playing down to their opponent or will they come out mistake free and win 40-3? Big question. If its the former, we will start the season 1-3.

Let’s GO Pitt.

Comment by Pitt it IS 09.03.10 @ 2:11 pm

Everyone is forgetting Romeus, he played with absolutely no intensity/energy last night. For a guy who is supposed to be an Outland Trophy candiate/All-American/future NFL draft pick, he had an egregiously poor night.

Comment by Dave 09.03.10 @ 2:48 pm

Terrific commentary above! The good news…the most improvement on a team will be between the first and second game. The bad news, Wanny will still be the game day coach. A shame that the one play Cav left us was the pass out in the flat (see Ohio). Thought we were beaten on both lines all night long and NO coaching decisions can over come that. A bright spot by the O line in the 4th quarter was how they protected Tino. No one got close. Mistakes happen…the problem is the unforced ones. Wanny I love you but stop playing for the tie. Does anyone think Pitt would beat a high powered (and I think top 10) Utah team in OT.

I will be there for Miami. Pitt better win!

Comment by Dan 72 09.03.10 @ 3:14 pm

Oh yeah …one more thing. I thougt the Pitt Cheerleaders were improved for 2010!

Comment by Dan 72 09.03.10 @ 3:18 pm

Interesting blogs eh? I’d like to mention some of the “lesser lights” for Pitt who caught my eye last nite. They are:Hendricks, Holley,Reed, Tkach,Cruz and Harper. Pitt played much better as time moved on. Season is not lost, but the Offensive Line needs much work. Dion just did not have room to breathe let alone run. Just one more item from this perch in Columbus: Unlike some of the celebrated Big Eleven (soon to be Twelve teams the Panthers are classy enogh to play away games at Ohio, at Buffalo and at Bowling Green. And competing against the Utes at Salt Lake was like riding with Custer at the Little Big Horn. Rev. George from central, Ohio.

Comment by Rev. George 09.03.10 @ 3:28 pm

Good points, Rev. George.

I submit that Jarred Holley’s pick at the end of the first half kept us not only in the game but in the season as well.

We need more E. PA blood like Holley and Tkach.

Comment by steve 09.03.10 @ 3:36 pm

pitt needs to continue to schedule tough games. I’d rather lose to Utah than play a powder puff schedule. That will get pitt more respect with voters. Especially because the BE conference is perceived as weak.

Comment by Ronald 09.03.10 @ 3:42 pm

I believe we saw an inexperienced QB last night who still needs to learn how to perform under some pressure and make smart decisions. But I think e also saw a future leader of this team emerge at the same position. They way he conducted himself in those last couple drives in the 4th to get us back on even keel. He just acted like a man in control of the team at the end. The end result didn’t really look like that, but I bet he’ll be a huge presence and performer in the coming, months, years, etc…

Comment by NickW 09.03.10 @ 3:48 pm

Rev. George, where have you been? We’ve missed you.

steve, how was the turn-out?

Comment by BigGuy 09.03.10 @ 4:17 pm

ONE GOOD THING,IF BALDWIN & LEWIS HAVE MANY MORE GAMES LIKE LAST NIGHTS THEY’LL BE BACK NEXT YEAR.

Comment by catamount 09.03.10 @ 4:48 pm

Big, around 25 showed up. Pretty good considering a Thursday night.

Comment by steve 09.03.10 @ 5:38 pm

steve, good effort in putting it together.

Comment by BigGuy 09.03.10 @ 6:59 pm

Ron. Look how Alabama starts the season. Look at who Ohio State played last night. Look at who PSU opens against. Look at the hoopies. Any of them play on the road against a tough opponent? Any of them lose national respect? No one is saying play a lesser schedule, please just dont open on the road like this. I would much rather go 12-0 with a solid schedule with an easy opener and a BE Championship with the BCS win. That’s how you build recognition. Not being ranked 15, open on the road with a “good” loss as many say here.

I do agree with the good Rev – all is not lost and the team will improve (I hope by next week) – just VERY disappointed.

Comment by Pitt It Is 09.03.10 @ 7:41 pm

The secondary will ALWAYS look like shit when the d-line can’t get pressure.

When we started blitzing, SUPRISE, the secondary got a lot better all the sudden!

Comment by Jimbo Fisher's my Dad 09.03.10 @ 7:47 pm

HAHAHA!!! My FSU fan friend snuck on here, saw I was on this site, and changed my name to Jimbo Fisher!

I don’t know how long it’s been like that.

He got me good…

Comment by Jimbo Covert's my Dad 09.03.10 @ 7:49 pm

SCOOP & SCORE!!! Never fall on a blocked punt. That simple. Scoop and score, dammit.

I feel really bad for the players to have a chicken-$hit coach that plays for the tie and not the win. Fortune favors the bold.

Comment by Dan35 09.03.10 @ 8:42 pm

It is amazing that this team is just the same old Pitt. I have no idea why I expected more. Just once I would like to see Pitt go into a big game thinking they are going to win and then playing like they know they are going to win. I am so tired of this team playing not to lose, playing sooo scared. All spring and summer to game plan for Utah and this is what they come up with???? Afraid to throw downfield until the final quarter. Afraid to blitz because of their porous secondary…. absolutely what I should have expected. All you people out there that talk like Pitt will even be in the game against Miami are crazy. Wake up folks, this is the same old Pitt.

Comment by Pittman 09.03.10 @ 9:09 pm

They announced yesterday that Pitt is on the verge of selling out for the year. Have to give Wanny and Steve credit for that. We have seen this movie before, but we still keep paying to see it again. The ending doesn’t change folks. And anybody who thinks it will is, by definition, an idiot.

Comment by wally 09.03.10 @ 10:47 pm

I again fell victim to the offseason hype of this team. Have no idea why I thought this could be a team in the top ten and even higher. The realization again hit me when you take a look at our linebackers and secondary. Physically speaking, in comparison to the Alabamas & Ohio States, etc, we dont even come close. Mason has the size to match up with them , but not the quickenss. Everyone else forget it. I heard the announcer say last night that Gattuso said Gruder could be Pitts captain. He wouldnt even hold for extra points at Alabama! And the next tackle DiCicco makes where the ball carrier goes backwards will be his first. Ive never seen a strong safety try to make every tackle an arm tackle. Ok, feel a little better now.

Comment by Z-Boy 09.03.10 @ 11:00 pm

If we go 1-3 to start the season, bye-bye Wanstead.

Comment by Pitt It Is 09.03.10 @ 11:05 pm

if we go 11-1, wanny for president

Comment by Pitt It Is 09.03.10 @ 11:06 pm

Big 10/11/12 overheard saying, “this is why we offered Nebraska and not Pitt.”

Comment by Pitt It Is 09.03.10 @ 11:07 pm

We better throw for 350, run for 250 against New Hampshire and shut them out and then beat Miami to make up for playing like a bunch of scared, indecisive babies (coaching staff included) at Utah.

Comment by Tony Cancilla 09.03.10 @ 11:34 pm

“They are so maddeningly inconsistent.”

Alternatively, they are maddeningly consistent. The last drives of both the first half (they showed no emotion or intent to drive the ball in the last 1:45 or so), and the last drive in regulation–Pitt was playing for the FG; they had no intentions on pulling ahead in the final plays. That to me, is classic Wannestadt football. He fights when the OTHER team’s foot is on his throat, but that style leads to constant come-from-behind play. It takes enormous energy to play that way, and it’s draining emotionally when you lose a close one (that goes for fans, too).

Comment by Lou 09.04.10 @ 12:14 am

Saw enough of Santino Sunseri to know that Pat Bostick should be playing. Tiny Tino has a weaker arm than Bill Stull. He even underthrew the wide open TD pass to Baldwin (who had to stop and then come back for the ball). Pat Bostick has led PITT to the 2 biggest victories in the Wannstedt era. The fact that he isn’t getting a chance to be the starter is ludicrous. He has the most experience (which Wanny always loves), he has the stronger arm, he has the game experience by far, he supposed to be a coach on the field, he’s taller than Tino AND HE’S PAID HIS DUES. I don’t give a crap that Tiny Tino’s father played LB at PITT (a mediocre LB at that). Nepotism is never good. Play Bostick Coach, man up.

Comment by carolinapanther 09.04.10 @ 12:58 am

I’m shocked there was no media or blog criticism of Sunseri. He was terrible. We got the ball twice in the Red Zone, first and ten and the team went backwards, settling for FG’s. That was really the ball game. If you block a punt and get the ball at the 10, you have to score a TD. The interception in OT was an incredibly bad pass and a worse so bad decision, since it was first down. I guess even the media is giving Sunseri a ‘pass’ since he’s a legacy. That STINKS !

Comment by carolinapanther 09.04.10 @ 1:07 am

I dunno, the kid was making his first start, on the road, against a very loud crowd and a good team.

Pretty tall order, and I thought that once they took the reigns off of him, Tino didn’t do too bad. I’m not sure what you expected carolinapanter….

Oh, and after being shackled for 3 quarters, he still damn near led us to a game winning TD from a 10+ point deficit.

Plus, I saw him demonstrate a MUCH better arm than Bostick or Stull did the 3 previous years.

Was he on the line committing all of those drive killing false starts too?

And let’s end the “Bostick beat Notre Dame and WVU” fallacy once and for all.

Handing off to Shady 3094832094832 times beat Notre Dame and WVU. Period.

Anyone who is blaming this on Sunseri is just being unreasonable.

There might be a time down the road when we find out that Sunseri isn’t a good QB, but that time was not last night in Utah.

Comment by Jimbo Covert's my Dad 09.04.10 @ 1:57 am

Call me unreasonable. I think Bostick is getting the short shrift in favor of local kids. And I went to Central Catholic and grew up obviously in the City of Pittsburgh. Remember Bostick played those games in his true freshmen year and had some decent games with over 200 yards passing. Nearly threw for 300 yards against L’Ville in 2007, so he has some talent. We were fortunate Tino wasn’t called for intentional grounding on several plays and did he or did he not, even underthrow the wideopen TD pass to Baldwin. If Stull played like this, I can hear the howling.
I understand Jimbo Covert’s my Dad however.

Comment by carolinapanther 09.04.10 @ 4:10 am

A couple of things…

Pittman, you said: “Afraid to blitz because of their porous secondary….” and answered your own question. The staff knew we had a poor secondary going in and knew if they blitzed we’d get burnt – which in case you forgot was the exact result that lead to their last TD.

What I want to know is why are PITT fans so outraged at what we saw offensively when the beat writers were pretty much telling us these problems were going to exist with their reports from camp.

Plus, all you had to do it look at the results from both our game-speed scrimmages to realize the OL had no ability to run block or that Sunseri was having a hard time with his deep ball (all camp and it was reported more than once).

Instead I read two solid weeks of fans explaining away our problems with rationalizations based on what they wanted to convince themselves would happen… and then when Paul Zeise states that we could easily be an 8-4 team everyone criticizes him instead of the actual subject of the prediction.

But true rationality goes out the window with PITT fans.

Cracks me up….

Comment by Reed 09.04.10 @ 5:57 am

We will get better.

Comment by snala the panther 09.04.10 @ 8:27 am

Rational fans – definition of oxymoron.

Comment by shadyforpresident 09.04.10 @ 8:42 am

I watched the Notre Dame game and Bostick was the difference maker. I was wondering why he wasn’t at least given a chance to play? The kid was cool under pressure. This loss was a huge disappointment. I was thinking National Championship but my dream crashed Thursday night. Pitt was not ready for this team. Utah is good. Let’s get ready for Miami…

Comment by The Hagen 09.04.10 @ 8:54 am

Wanny’s teams always struggle in the opener because his attention is on what he likes his team to do, while the opposing coach focuses on countering that. He has a hard time adapting to his opponent’s scheme, because that would take him out of his comfort zone and waste all the effort put into his practices.

Comment by 66Goat 09.04.10 @ 9:28 am

Hagen Bostick was not the difference maker in the ND game. That is a delusional comment. He looked awful and they were lucky to win. In fact he looked so awful that Charlie Weiss had no second thought about going for it on that one fourth down and giving Pitt the ball inside the 50 with I believe around 2 minutes left. Tino is 5000x more talented and this game wasn’t on him. It was on our OC who looked like a western PA hs coach dialing up power play after power playand our DC who rarely blitzed (or rotated in fresh d-lineman, much like last years NC St. game) and when he did blitz brought the house and left our CB’s vulnerable.

Comment by Henry Hynoceros 09.04.10 @ 10:06 am

Okay cmon now….Wanny had no alternative but to be very conservative for the first half and we were lucky to get in only down 7. He did not get outcoached, he played the only cards he had, the best he could…and I am no Wanny defender.

Sunsari is a MUCH better QB than Bostick or Bostick would be in there. As stated above, we were very lucky to win those games Bostick QB’d.
No comparison to their passing or arm strength.
I have converted to the glass “Half full” theory and think Pitt did the best they could in the opener and made a very nice comeback to almost win it. Like the Rev George comment about Custer and now it must have felt for the Blue and Gold.
We could not have scheduled more difficult opener. Let’s move on….please

Comment by Dan 72 09.04.10 @ 10:22 am

I was hugely dissapointed by the loss but lets not forget Utah is a very, very good team. My only criticism of wanny is going for the tie on the road. I just dont get it. As for Tino, he looked good in the fourth and I was impressed by his composure.

Comment by dan 09.04.10 @ 10:48 am

The guys who won the ND game for us were LeSean McCoy and the cornerback who missed that tackle on Oderick Turner.

Not Pat Bostick. He’s perfect in his role as backup QB and will probably be coach someday but he’s not a Div 1 starter.

Comment by maguro 09.04.10 @ 11:05 am

Funny thing about perception…at one point during the game I commented to a buddy that for all of Sunseri’s problems to that point, at least he has a stronger arm than either Stull or Bostick. I think it was right after he drilled one in to Shanahan. Personally, I think you can judge arm strength more on the out patterns and posts than the bombs, and it appears to me that arm strength is not one of Sunseri’s issues.

Comment by Pantherman13 09.04.10 @ 11:47 am

Hyno, I agree that Bostick was not the major factor in the ND OT game a few years back (Shady, of course), but I can’t agree that Weis going for it on 4th down was due to his lack of respect for Bostick…Weis went for it on fourth down numerous times in his tenure at ND, and several times on his own side of the 50….I guess that is the “playing to win” attitude that everybody wants to see from DW…By the way, I guess none of the people saying we played for the tie noticed the seam route that Tino underthrew to Baldwin from around the Utah 40, yet Baldwin still mangaged to reach in front of the Utah defender and get his hands on it, just could not hold on to it. Cignetti made the right call on the last play of regulation before the kick to tie (draw to Dion 0n 3 and 7ish). If Bill Stull is your QB, then you drop him back (or dare I say even Pat Bostick). But, we are starting a new QB in his first start who has been eratic on the night, Cignetti (not DW) made the right call. I’ll close by saying that I think Bostick would have given us a better chance to win on Thursday night, but Tino gives us the better chance to win more games this year…His upside is much higher because he appears to have the ability to be equal to or better than Bostick throwing the ball, and far superior with his mobility.

Comment by HbgFrank 09.04.10 @ 11:52 am

anyone else think Baldwin looked fat slow and lazy Thursday? He almost lookes uninterested.

Comment by Pitt It Is 09.04.10 @ 12:55 pm

You guys crack me up., this game went exactly as we hoped it would. New starters at QB, O-Line, MiLB, and both corners. Play was sloppy, play calling conservative. Players got better, play calling opened up.

As ugly as it was, we were right there. Utah was stunned, everything was coming together. If Cignetti calls Dion’s number or Sunseri doesn’t throw that pick, we likely either win by 7 or go to another playoff set. Simple as that.

I think it was a bad play call -who calls the first rollout of the game at that point? It was an even worse execution. Shanahan was WIDE OPEN and Sunseri was dreadfully late on the throw.

We had the game and blew it. Just lime every other team on every level does quite often. Get over it.. Get better. Be ready for BigE play.

Comment by Chris 09.04.10 @ 1:05 pm

Weis’s decision was a complete lack of respect. It is one thing to go for it on 4th down. It is another thing to go for it inside your 50 in a tie game when any decent quarterback completes a pass or two and the other team kicks a field goal to win the game. That was not a situation where there was 5:00min left. There was 2 or less. And Weis made the right call because Pitt was not successful. Bostick would not have given a better chance to win then Sunseri and never will. He’s a kid who knows the offense well, seems to be a hard worker, and has improved. But his skills (mainly arm strength and lack of any mobility) are so far behind that it hurts the offense immensely.
Also, Baldwin didn’t look fat and slow, he torched Utah for the last touchdown drive. As for uninterested, I didn’t notice this, but I sure as hell would be uninterested if I was the best player on the field and my coach refused to dial up a play action or two to me before the 4th quarter.
I’ll say this, we can say Pitt didn’t execute, that their line struggled, that their D-line struggled, or that their QB made mistakes. We can blame Baldwin or blame Lewis but that is not the reason for the problem. Conservative play calling on both sides of the ball takes the blame off of the coaches and puts it on the players. This is because the players can always be blamed for execution (no play is designed to fail) especially in a conservative scheme. But if Pitt takes risks, blitzing/throwing deep, etc. the blame goes to the coaches if these fail. This staff played it safe to protect themselves, which hopefully is not a theme this year. Because at years end everyone will say, oh we don’t have a great o-line, but, the real problem will be that there are 10 guys in the box and we’re still running power with no chance at success.

Comment by Henry Hynoceros 09.04.10 @ 1:48 pm

Well then, Henry, the staff ended up not protecting themselves, they are just as guilty as they have been in the past.

This playing-not-to-lose crap has got to stop. No fun for the players I’m sure, and ridiculous for the fans.

Comment by steve 09.04.10 @ 2:18 pm

i agree with you completely steve, and this allows them say in the post-game press conferences, to the media, and to the team: we didn’t execute rather than saying I took a risk and missed and it was my fault. Everything gets blamed on execution.

Comment by Henry Hynoceros 09.04.10 @ 3:55 pm

Chris

WE WERE RANKED 15 IN THE COUNTRY. PERIOD. UTES UNRANKED. TEAM PLAYED LIKE SHITE, THE COACHING WAS FOR SHIT. THE 15TH RANKED TEAM SHOULD PLAY LIKE IT.

I AM ALIFER FOR PITT. I EXPECT MORE AND I WILL NOT ACCEPT EXCUSES.

Comment by Pitt It Is 09.04.10 @ 7:02 pm

Preseason rankings are stupid. Don’t pay attention to them.

Comment by maguro 09.04.10 @ 9:29 pm

Anybody thinks Utah is a very good team better watch the game again. They are better coached than Pitt and that was the difference.

One knock on Harris was his failure to recruit OL. Well Wanny is not much of an improvement in that area or DBs as well.

Comment by joel 09.05.10 @ 11:07 am

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