Ahhhh. The one silver lining to Pitt’s Thursday night game. Sitting back all day with some nice beer and watching college football until my eyes bleed. No stress over what Pitt will do. Able to take breaks as needed. Fall asleep on the couch for stretches. Appreciating the misery of other teams losing. I’m looking at you Miami, Iowa, Colorado… and yes, Penn State.
One of the games I took a particular interest in was the Wisconsin-Oregon State game. Probably as much as Pitt Coach Paul Chryst took in the game given his mentor and place where he got his start at the 1-A level versus his alma mater and place that made him a reasonably hot head coaching candidate.
A chance to see what the program looks like without Paul Chryst directing the offense. And perhaps to get a glimpse of what we hope to see Pitt become. Instead, it led to some other questions and a bit of speculation.
Wisconsin came into Corvallis ranked #13, and exited with a 10-7 loss. Shut out for almost the entire game — scoring that TD with 1:31 left.
What really was noticeable in the game, the lack of a Wisconsin running game despite Monte Ball and the vaunted Wisky O-line. Not to mention seeing Danny O’Brien under constant pressure — taking 4 sacks.
This followed a less than outstanding effort against Northern Iowa — but at least they could beat a 1-AA team. Leading to Badger questions about how much they miss Paul Chryst running the offense.
Of course, at the Pitt end, the offense under Chryst isn’t exactly setting the world on fire. And after watching the Wisconsin-Oregon St. game, I’m wondering if both teams are missing the same guy. No, not Russell Wilson. Bob Bostad.
I have not hidden my concern that Bostad taking the O-line coaching position for Tampa Bay in the NFL rather than being Pitt’s offensive coordinator was a big deal.
It’s hard to say that there is much of a change to the Pitt O-line as far as performance. Still really poor pass protection. The run-blocking is adequate at times, but it seems more often than not it is the talent carrying the ball that seems to be making things happen.
But Wisconsin? Not only was O’Brien sacked four times against a Oregon State team that went 3-9 last year and allowed 21 points or more in every game. Monte Ball was limited to 60 yards on 15 carries (with 14 coming on one carry).
Against UNI, Wisconsin still surrendered 3 sacks. While Ball went for 120 yards, it took 32 carries and 37 yards came on 3 carries.
The Wisconsin offense, and the offense Chryst wants to run depends on a strong, stout O-line. Disciplined, well coached and able to play above their recruiting rankings/initial talent evaluations. Neither seems to have that this year. And to varying degrees both are struggling.
It may seem premature, but I think both the coaches and the fanbases underestimated (or wanted to downplay) just what kind of impact Bostad had on coaching the O-line. How the coaches for their respective programs address the issue is unknown.