Pitt has a ton of problems. And, yes, I have posted for a couple straight days with attention to the coaching staff. There’s a reason for that.
The deficiencies and strengths on this team — regarding the players/talent/depth — were mostly known coming into the season. The unknown was how the coaching staff would use them. How they would coach and prepare them.
So far, it has not been pretty. There’s no way to pretend otherwise. Yes, the coaching chaos the last two years have taken a toll. Almost certainly it has had an effect on the team psyche. Yes it has impacted the overall talent on the squad. Yes, there are injuries — especially to the linebackers. Yes, there has been a bit of overestimating the overall talent on this squad.
None of that is sufficient to explain the performance of this team in the first two games. Losing by 14 — and never even leading — to YSU. Not being competitive in the Cinci game. Sorry. This team should not be this bad.
Coach Chryst will and should have the time to set up this program his way. He’s also a first-time head coach, learning and making mistakes. We wish otherwise, but the on-the-field performance and the way the team has started in the first two games demonstrate that right now he is finding 0ut how steep the learning curve can be in moving from coordinator to head coach.
Changes. Shake-ups to the coaching staff won’t happen until the off-season. (And there absolutely needs to be a shake-up just based on these first two games.) So, the position coaches had better find their own sense of urgency.
[Editor note/UPDATE: Holy crap, Wisconsin just fired their O-line coach, 2 games into the season!]
What I will be looking to see over the rest of the season and going forward: will there be improvements? Will the players be better prepared to start games? Will they have more urgency? Will they be in a better position to use their strengths, and can their weaknesses be masked?
It sucks to be in week two and already writing off even a .500 record, but that is the reality right now. It sucks for guys like Holley, Tags, Jacobson and seniors who have worked their tails off. Done all they can. Left bits of cartilage and brain matter on the field for Pitt.
The reality is, this season is lost. They lost a gimmee, and failed miserably in a game that was believed to be a toss-up before the season started.
The defense is a mess. The D-line is being shredded, and that further exposes the very depleted linebackers. The secondary, which was supposed to be the strength on this team is struggling badly to play man coverage.
Sunseri is not the reason Pitt has lost their first two games — the defense takes a larger share of the blame so far. He’s been his maddeningly-inconsistent-tight-when-it-matters-unable-to-hit-a-man-more-than-20-yards-downfield-self. But the offensive line remains lousy. Giving him no time, and not giving the running backs anything inside. That said, Sunseri’s not helping, and I am ready to rip the redshirt off of Voytik.
The only thing that gives me pause — and it has gotten much smaller the more I think about it — is playing behind the Pitt O-line. The O-line is technically at full-strength (Notwithstanding Juantez Hollins) — or at least closer to full available players than last year — and it is just as bad at pass protection. No one should feel that comfortable throwing a freshman QB behind that O-line, least of all the coaches. Of course it can rationalize that away because Voytik is supposed to be a better runner.
It’s defensible to keep Voytik’s redshirt in a lost year, but it less defensible to keep trotting out Sunseri. At this point it just seems like wasting time.
After that, what other changes do you make to the line-up? Plug Bisnowaty and/or Demhasaj in at the O-line? Give Rippy a look at linebacker (actually, yes).
Blame the loss of the 2011 recruiting class all you want, on the lack of talent, but those would only be sophomores and redshirt freshmen. As tumultuous as last year was, the 2012 recruiting class held together and brought in some good talent. To say nothing of how all summer, plenty were supporting the idea that stars and recruiting rankings were not the end-all-be-all.
Ultimately the only losses I can really point to from the last two recruiting classes that hurt in terms of present depth and need are all from the 2011 class: Gary Nova (QB), Marquise Wright (DT) and Quintin Alston (LB) — and the loss of Alston was arguably negated by picking up Ejuan Price after the Tressel firing. After that, there really aren’t many other players that decommitted from Pitt who would really be an upgrade at the position on this particular squad.
What do you want or hope to see from this team at this point?