September 13, 2011

Iowa Mid-Week Thoughts

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Players — Reed @ 7:15 am

It’s mid-week between our win over the might Maine Black Bears and our upcoming scrum against the corn fed Iowa boys.  Last game has generated more discussions than any since the Cincy loss in 2009 I think.  First and foremost the debates and bitches have been on the QB play so far, setting aside the defense which I can’t bear to talk about.

   Todd Graham took some time to go into (surprising) detail on the subject of where we stand at QB right now, how the starting QB has performed and what is expected from the QB in his offense:

We are a timing passing team — 1-2 and out on our quick passing game; 1-2-3 and out on our drop-back passing game,” Graham said. “The play has no chance because we are not reading what we are supposed to be reading, and we are not getting the ball off on time.  “There are about 10 or 12 plays a game like that. Then, the play breaks down, and it becomes a mess. Fans get frustrated. We get frustrated.”

Basically you need to be able to count to three and throw the ball.  Here’s one example of this problem: “Pitt quarterback Tino Sunseri threw two interceptions against Maine, but Graham said an even bigger issue is Sunseri “freelancing” on some plays rather than trusting the offense and executing it.  He said one of Sunseri’s interceptions Saturday was a ball thrown to a receiver “who wasn’t even in our progression.”  That had to be the sideline INT where Sunseri forgot which color uniform we were wearing.

Now I’m projecting a bit, but add to that the 11 plays that Graham said failed in the same way in the Buffalo game and that’s 22 plays over two games.  22 out of 65 attempts folks… a 34% failure rate because the QB didn’t execute the play as designed properly.  Given he has 37 incompletions in total, let’s assume that means that he missed on 15 properly executed passing plays in two games; that isn’t shabby at all.

Boy, imagine how well he’d be doing if he was actually running the plays as taught and practiced, even knowing not every pass would be complete it might be a whole different story for Sunseri and the offense.  This has got to be giving Graham and Dodge heart palpitations.  If Sunseri can turn that around and he quite possibly could, then things will look a lot brighter going ahead.

On the flip side of this issue imagine what we could have if we played Anderson who has three years, albeit HS ball, experience in this offense.  I dare say that he’d at least run the play as conceived and that 34% failure rate would drop dramatically.  This is why Graham calls Anderson “the Little Operator”, because he executes the plays as expected.  It would give the other players on offense a fighting chance to finish the plays as called.  Again, I’m projecting with this because Anderson will miss  his share of passes also.

   To switch subjects.  You just know that as the season moves on we are going to hear a lot of discussion on the staff’s personnel decisions and redshirting players.  That seems to happen every year regardless of the HC.  Graham’s stance is this:

I think more of them need to play. I think we’ve got to get some young guys in the receiving corps and get some more speed on the field. 

You like to redshirt them. There’s some guys we’d like to try to redshirt but the bottom line is if we have to play them to win, that’s what we’re going to do. Nicholas Grigsby is coming back this week, he’ll be back. I doubt that he will redshirt. LaQuentin Smith played last week, he’s not going to redshirt. Ejuan Price definitely is not.  Lafayette Pitts is our backup bandit (safety) and backup on most special teams and we’d like not to play him but if he progresses and he can help us win then we’ve got to play him.

OK, that’s three true FR who have played right there.  Add Cory Davis, Ronald Jones, Trey Anderson, K.K. Smith, and Darius Patton to that list and you have eight true FR who have already seen action, and burnt redshirts, so far this season.  I may be mistaken but I did a quick look back over DW’s 1st and 2nd games of his seasons and didn’t see those kinds of numbers for true freshman playing time.  It shows a different approach IMO.

   Regarding Anthony Gonzalez’s attitude and return this Saturday, Graham says this;

“…outstanding. A lot of people would probably tell you that was a pretty harsh punishment and it probably was because it wasn’t just the two games. He had to do a lot of other stuff, community service, things like that. Anthony’s a great young man. He made a mistake. I’ve got tremendous belief in him. He’s a winner. …He’s a very selfless guy in that he’s going to play another position for us this year.” (emphasis mine).

I think that settles the Gonzalez as QB issue once and for all. As I have said previously Gonzalez will play QB only if there is a string of injuries or completely disastrous play from the other three QBs.

   So, looking forward to Saturday’s game Graham has said that there could be a little bit of a “package” installed for backup Trey Anderson.  We’ll see Anderson for sure against Iowa and I think that package will involve getting the most speed in the receiver corps as possible on the field at the same time.  When this system is executed as planned it revolves around the short to intermediate quick passes (1, 2 and out with the ball!) and letting the receivers get as much yardage after the catch as possible.  Anderson can do that.

   It also looks like “freshman EJuan Price was elevated to the starter at “panther” linebacker. Graham said Price is just too good of a player not to play the maximum number of snaps available. In order to make that happen, senior Brandon Lindsey moved to defensive end and is the starter, and Aaron Donald moved from end to backup nose tackle.”

   Obviously this is a “Big Test”, (gut check, where the rubber meets the road, separate the men from the boys, see what we are made of, men to move mountains – thanks Stew –  etc.) for our team and we need to see things click, both offensively and defensively, as much possible.  Even if we lose we just have to show progress.  If not… it will be a long, long season.

Melvinbennett do you think coach will pull tino or do you think he goes with him to the bitter end like dave did. Iwould rather lose with anderson or myers knowing they will get better in time than lose with tino who as you point out is not goin to change he is what he is and that is not good. once agein melvin you have nailed it you are so right.

Comment by FRANKCAN 09.13.11 @ 6:16 pm

I gotta believe if Tino doesn’t get it done in the 1rst half, he will be pulled. Contrary to what TG said(of course all coaches do the same thing as to not totally wreck the confidence of the player pulled), I don’t think he had plans to play Trey the WHOLE 4rth quarter. maybe half the 4rth quarter.

What changed his mind, were the 2 picks Tino threw in the 3rd quarter and on the last series Pitt had the ball in the 3rd quarter. Meaning he gave Tino the hook, rather than just making a substitution to get Trey some playing time.

Also the issue that over 25 plays were not run at all, as Tino freelanced or whatever, has to weigh on that decision as well. This is a system type offense and as I’ve blogged several times, this is a ‘timing’ offense. The ball HAS to be thrown immediately to the WR or the play ‘blows up’. Tino’s limited abilities are even more exposed in this ‘timing’ offense and even more so in the triple option read aspect of this offense.

And your right about Wannstache, he is much more steeped in coaching fraternity loyalty and coaching cronyism, so he’d be much more likely to stick with Tino indefinitely.

Comment by melvinbennett 09.13.11 @ 6:49 pm

Btw, I’m not saying TG doesn’t have coaching fraternity loyalty, as he clearly does, since he brought so many of these guys that use to coach with him at WVU. But Wanny being around so much longer, is much more steeped in it obviously.

Comment by melvinbennett 09.13.11 @ 6:58 pm

Melvinbennett did you read were coach Calhoun said he could see BB and FootBall schools spliting up. No time frame or any thing but it is someting to think abought why did he say it?

Comment by FRANKCAN 09.13.11 @ 7:41 pm

For melvinbennett info FSU forming realignment committee posted bye chip patterson CBS SPORTS. I wonder why.

Comment by FRANKCAN 09.13.11 @ 8:10 pm

Your news is a day old and a day in this business means a lot. Oklahoma is getting out of the Big 12. Texas did not convince them to stay. I hope the attitude you have is not the prevalent one in the Big East where “wait and see” has almost always meant do nothing. The conference picture is changing and Baylor’s embarrassing attempt to slow it down and the Big East’s recalcitrance to do anything proactive won’t stop it.

Comment by TonyinHouston 09.13.11 @ 8:26 pm

To Jam – You raise a concern about how much playing time Donald will get now that Price is playing linebacker and Lindsay is moved to down lineman. Also you say need to get best players on field. Well if we were not forcing a 3-4 defense on to Pitt personnel not suited to play it we could play 4 down line men (making room for Donald) and bench a linebacker (Gruder) getting our best players on the field.
Again I have no problem transitioning to a 3-4 once you recruit the right players but in the interim play your best which translates to 4-3. TG has to demonstrate he is a game day coach by applying the right formations, not a systems guy forcing the players on hand to play a system they are not suited for. TG coach the defense don’t pigeon hole it to your system.

Comment by Spindler's Spirit 09.13.11 @ 8:43 pm


Hard to make out, what is what with this conference crap. One insider(apparent) blog seems to contradict another supposed insider blog.

I have no idea of what to think about FSU since I was led to believe the SEC had a gentlemen’s agreement not to have 2 schools from the same state. (ie. Clemson & SC, UF & FSU, etc.)
However when you think about it, they ALREADY have two schools in the same state in several instances. ( Auburn & Ala., Miss St & Ole Miss,
Tenn & Vandy). So that’s go to be a lot of hogwash.

Comment by melvinbennett 09.13.11 @ 8:54 pm

right TonyinHouston,

According to Orangebloods, the big weekend meeting between the bigshots of TExas & OU did not go over so well. OU is not happy that the conference appears to be so unstable. However they might be playing Texas for concessions or might be trying to get something more from ESPN or Fox Sports.
Who the frick knows.

Comment by melvinbennett 09.13.11 @ 8:58 pm


Any word whether Calhoun was drunk or sober when he made those comments? haha

Comment by melvinbennett 09.13.11 @ 9:01 pm

FRANKCAN – I misread your post. Yes, I agree that 10 teams would be ideal. Nine conference games and two OOCs would be about right.

I wasn’t angry. I was just stating a fact. I really don’t care and since I have no control over any of it I don’t read all the rumors.

I follow PITT football for the program and the play on the field. Whether or not that is in the BE or somewhere else all means the same to me.

Comment by Reed 09.13.11 @ 9:44 pm

TG is doing the old coach trick, put him out there and he will “fire himself”. Andersen will be put in midway thru 2nd quarter,

Comment by black and blue 09.13.11 @ 11:39 pm

^^^ Nine conference and three OOC games obviously.

Comment by Reed 09.14.11 @ 4:44 am

Texas talking to ACC, does it ever end????

Comment by DAN 09.14.11 @ 9:23 am

Great post, I cherrish playing a round of holdem.

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