September 11, 2012

Various Things

Filed under: Football — Chas @ 7:20 am

Well, it could be worse. At least Pitt isn’t involved in an ongoing academic scandal that could impact its basketball and football program. Oh, and now losing a top fundraiser because he started taking trips with the mother of a former basketball star of the school on said school’s dime. Yeesh.

The new depth chart for the VT game is out, and there are a few changes (PDF, page 3). No, not to the QB. Going to have to let that one go for another week, people.

Bryan Murphy will start at DE on the other side of T.J. Clemmings. Jack Lippert will now back-up Clemmings and redshirt freshman Devin Cook will be behind Murphy. Shayne Hale has dropped off the two-deep. Jarred Holley is back as the only starter but at strong safety. Ostensibly he shared the starting free safety spot with Andrew Taglianetti in the first two games, but he was out on the field for the entire Cinci game. Jason Hendricks has moved in front of Ray Vinopal (who simply hasn’t looked good in the games) to be the starter at the free safety. (Honestly, I don’t know if that was some sort of typo in the 2-deep with regards to free and strong safety listings.)

Ronald Jones dropped off the two-deep at WR, with Josh Brinson in his place. And that is the extent of any changes to the 2-deep.

Don’t think the defense hasn’t been really bad so far? In two games this is what the defense has done:

  • 65 points allowed
  • 8-8 on scoring opportunities in the red zone
  • 845 yards in total offense
  • 382 passing yards
  • 463 rushing yards
  • 1 sack
  • 0 interceptions
  • 0 fumbles

Pathetic only begins to describe the defense’s performance to date. No pressure up front. No contain in the middle. No coverage behind. Waiting for the blame to fall on Sunseri for this as well in 3… 2… 1…


From a notes piece at the end of last week. As much as this season may be done. There really aren’t a lot of changes to the line-up that can help for this year. One more reason why the more the losses pile-up, the more likely the line-up changes that will have to happen will be about the future.

So, after being unable to handle a dual-threat QB in Cinci, a bigger version comes to Heinz Field on Saturday. Great.

Go figure. It’s frustrating to only move the ball between the 20s.

Recruiting better is always the hope for the future. But you still have to coach and try to win with what you have now.

Over in Wisconsin, they reacted to two games of bad times with the O-line by firing their new O-line coach.

When UW coach Bret Bielema hired [Mark] Markuson in the offseason, it was considered to be a coup at the time. Markuson spent the last 14 years coaching offensive lines in the Southeastern Conference at Arkansas and Mississippi. Since 2003, he coached six different players who earned All-America honors.

But Markuson had big shoes to fill, following Bob Bostad, who was regarded as one of the best offensive line coaches in college football. Bostad originally left after last season to go to the University of Pittsburgh, after former UW offensive coordinator Paul Chryst was named the head coach there. Bostad left Pitt after a short time to become an NFL offensive line coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Markuson and some of the team’s veteran linemen admittedly had problems adapting to each other during spring practices, but both sides said the situation got better during preseason camp.

However, UW’s inability to run the ball in the first two games may have uncovered deeper issues that UW’s players were not adjusting well to Markuson’s schemes and techniques.wise.

It does seem like a panic move after two games — though Bielema stressed that he slept on the matter. An interesting counterpoint, though, raised by Big Ten Blogger Matt Hasty. By taking this kind of action, it was a rare admission by a coach that the coaching was the problem more than the players or “execution.”

The one thing I will say about it for Pitt and Coach Chryst. He just saw his friend and former boss make a tough call by pulling the trigger and firing a coach that — in his mind — wasn’t able to do the job. That is another part of being the head guy. Chryst went out and hired people he’s known or has personally been recommended to him by friends and family. Will he be able to/willing to see which coaches are not doing the job or will he just conclude it was in the execution by the players?


bastards get you down hit wrong key but you know what i was saying.

Comment by FRANKCAN 09.11.12 @ 7:33 pm

Joe D you like pitt blather so that is 7
we all know you like tino so that is 8 joke.

Comment by FRANKCAN 09.11.12 @ 7:38 pm

The medical staff needs to be called in. First they need to check Chryst and the rest of his staff to see if they have a pulse. Then they need to check their testosterone level. This is a lifeless bunch. Maybe they can be treated.

Comment by Houston Panther 09.11.12 @ 7:53 pm

I don’t think we should blame huxtable for d problems just yet. Last year our defense gave up points and 700 total passing for buff and Maine. By the end of year we thought Patterson did a hell of job and some hoped he would stay. We all know are linebackers are very young and dline not very athletic.

Comment by why me 09.11.12 @ 8:20 pm

Joe D
Interesting that you did not mention on your “top 10” (deficient version thereof) the location of your season tickets. Since you know so much about Pitt football, you must be a season ticket holder, a member of the Alumni Association and a member of the Panther Club — correct?

Comment by Pitt73Pete 09.11.12 @ 8:50 pm

JoeD, good list so far. Let me help you try to get to 10.

7. The watch party on the Pete lawn was pretty cool.
8. Johnson, Foster and Boyd haven’t committed to another school yet.
9. The Pitt v. VaTech game is on ESPNU for us out-of-towers to watch…but the rest of the country likely won’t tune in and see us get destroyed.
10. Penn State is 0-2 also

Best I can do!

Comment by JAM 05 Pitt 09.11.12 @ 8:53 pm

pitt73pete now you play nice with JOE D he is new here.

Comment by FRANKCAN 09.11.12 @ 9:13 pm

I will add one….but it has to be as time is expiring…

Tino throws a good field goal.

Does anyone really question the calls from our head coach? I mean really? He has not done anything egregious in my mind. The only negative comes from the lack of pressure and turnovers caused by our defense. Pressure and more pressure in the college game works. See note about not many high caliber nfl draft choices at the qb position each year and…we don’t usually play against them!

Comment by dhuffdaddy 09.11.12 @ 9:19 pm

Wbb — well, we can always cherry pick moments in particular games, can’t we now? For example, the second half vs. Cincy after Tino brainfarted and also threw an endzone bad interception on another red zone possession. I guess the pretty obvious (but apparently not obvious enough) point I was making is his overall trend of not delivering in the red zone…or any other zone in terms of scoring threats…puts constant pressure on the D to always come up big, which they can’t. Average D needs at least average O to break even, and our D was pretty good last year, but they still wore down in many games from being called on too often. Tino had what, 11 td passes last year? Russell Wilson had 33, playing in a fairly conservative offense for Chryst…so what you think o’ that?

Comment by Matt N. 09.11.12 @ 9:58 pm

I have been as negative towards the administration at Pitt, in particular, ole’ Stevy Petersen, as anyone on this board. The shear incompetence that was displayed in firing a coach who admittedly had to go, but without a solid replacement lined up, defies belief, and the rest is history. My old Poly Sci pal Nordy deserves some of the criticism for that as well.

But let me point something out, which I think has to at least temper the criticism of Nordenberg a little.

The Guardian, in the UK, just published its list of the top universities in the world for 2012. Pitt was number 98. In the world. In the f’n world. Above such schools as Vanderbilt, Dartmouth, Georgetown, Emory, Syracuse, Virginia, USC, Cal-Davis, Wake Forest, and least but certainly not last, State Penn/Penn State. Not to mention, a host of prestigious schools outside the U.S. Now that is someone’s opinion, for sure. But, nevertheless, that is something every alumnus can take pride in. That is what we are about. And lest I diminish my standing as a nabob of negativism, that is what is supposed to be important when it comes to anything related to a college. That is why the ACC, clearly the classiest, albeit perhaps not the most successful football conference, wanted Pitt and Syracuse, and not WVU and its drinkin’, ramblin’ and gamblin’ athletic department.

Steve Petersen has to go. That is clear. He is an abysmal failure as an athletic director. His hopes to survive rest on Jamie Dixon having a final four year, and that is like relying on the Titanic to limp into New York with everyone aboard. But Nordenberg has done great things with this school. In the end, that will pay dividends for the college and the athletic programs. Not sure that will be in our collective lifetimes, but I think it will happen.

Chryst may not work out, ultimately. But I think, unlike his phony predecessor, he deserves a chance. I just do not think anyone, coming from a solid program like Wisconsin, could ever have anticipated the situation at Pitt. He clearly is willing to set limits, and stand by those, even if it costs him games. A refreshing contrast to a guy that gives a one game suspension to a defensive starter that throws a kid through a window.

So I will give him some time, maybe even the 3 years, to sort this out. In the meantime, I would still rather have a Pitt shingle on my wall, than Penn State, Ohio State, WVU, UConn, Nebraska, or Cincy, and, based on the Guardian’s analysis, a lot of other really good schools.

Comment by PO'd Panther 09.11.12 @ 10:32 pm

Fire Huxtable now. Should’ve hired Tomsula in the first place. Go get Randy Shannon.

Comment by TonyC 09.11.12 @ 10:46 pm

man, as bad as pitt is right now, i am so jealous of those of you that have easy access to get to the games or see the games. very seldom do i get to see the games, and when i don’t i have to either live it through the live blog on here or by watching espn gametracker. so all this talk of not going to the games etc is a bunch of bs. if nothing else go and have a good time, let your boos be heard, and support the players who are doing well. we will be ok in the future, but i too like everyone else am tired of losing and losing with tino. but at the end of the day, i love pitt and would be more than happy to see anygame either on tv or in person.

Comment by pittisit37 09.11.12 @ 10:56 pm

@ PO’d Panther.

Well said good sir.

Comment by The Atlanta Panther 09.11.12 @ 11:23 pm

It’s been a long time since I have bet an Oreo (Dan09) on a game but if I had one, I would take Pitt and the 10.5 pts on Saturday. I believe history gives us lessons. Under Walt Harris, VTech came into Pitt 2x as a massive favorite…18 and 15 pts and at least once Pitt was 0-3. Both times VA Tech walked out with a loss. Neither game was even close. This team simply cannot be this bad and I am willing, no matter what, to give PC a chance. Frankly, it’s obvious, he is all we can get. No false bravado here, we could get killed…but I remember this scenerio playing out.

This whole city is in a sports “death spiral” right now. Wouldn’t it be great if our Panthers reversed the trend?

Hail to Pitt!

Comment by Dan 72 09.11.12 @ 11:24 pm

PO’d Panther, Wonderful comment. Thanks for the info. from the Guardian. I agree with pretty much everything you said. My main concern about Pitt is not about football (although I care greatly about Pitt football), it is who takes over when Nordy steps down. Nordy has been around for a while and is no spring chicken. He is the best chancellor we have had in my memory and I’m not a spring chicken either.

Comment by opfim 09.11.12 @ 11:38 pm

Dan 72, hate to crush your dream but we’re gonna lose by about 40 on Saturday

Comment by TonyC 09.12.12 @ 12:30 am

Somebody mentioned it above, but changing the style of defense played by the front 7 is really difficult. The assignments are different, gap responsibilities are different, and they call for different types of D-linemen and linebackers to fill those positions. Not justifying the fact that YSU dropped 31 points on us by any means -that’s awful regardless of the scheme – but that’s one aspect that I anticipate improving as the year goes on. Glad to see Holley back as the official starter.

At quarterback, though, it’s different. I don’t like piling onto everything that’s been said thus far, but I’m having a hard time seeing why Sunseri’s still starting. It’s not that he makes mistakes; it’s that he still makes freshman mistakes despite being a 3rd-year starter. Obviously he has a physical ceiling, but at this point in his career he’s got to make better decisions in clutch situations.

The last play before halftime was a perfect example. The double-pump was terrible; a quick throw-away would likely have left enough time to either kick a FG or (hopefully) take another try at the end zone. Annoying but understandable for a freshman; infuriating and inexplicable for a guy with the experience that Tino has.

I have nothing personal against him, but you have to be wondering why even after all of this, the coaching staff still considers him to be their best option. Obviously our backup QBs have no experience to speak of, but at this point, why not? Can it get any worse than getting worked by an FCS team?

If, and this is a big IF, Tino does have some potential, maybe that’s what he needs to get fired up – and if not, what is there to lose? Insanity is doing the same thing over and over under the same circumstances and expecting different results.

Comment by Gravel Lot Guru 09.12.12 @ 1:58 am

The winning will start soon; I can feel it. If not this week, then next.

I have been a Pit fan for 40 years and irrational optimism has been my best friend for the last 30 of them.

Go Pitt!

Comment by Gas 09.12.12 @ 6:19 am

Matt N, I have never said that Tino was a good QB. My whole mantra, both last year and this, has been that he has been getting WAY too much blame for what has gone wrong .. and your assertion that he is the blame for the defensive problems is just plain ludicrous.

Here is a quote from Chryst from Monday’s presser (and this should apply to last year and this year):

“Everyone is responsible for those sacks. Certainly, the O-line, you have five guys and their job on a pass is to protect. We’ve got backs, where we gave up one where we had both backs in there and both could have taken a hit off of the quarterback after the line did a pretty decent job on it. The quarterback has to get the ball out of his hands. Getting the ball out of his hands means the receivers have to be precise on the routes.”

Yet all you and others of your ilk (and there are many) will read from the abobe is “the QB has to get the ball out of his hand” .. and totally ignore everything else.

Comment by wbb 09.12.12 @ 8:58 am


I have a friend who says Pitt fans are the biggest idiots going, but I like your explanation of irrational optimism better.

Comment by longsufferingpittfan 09.12.12 @ 9:23 am

@DAN72, LOL, would seem that way. However, my same rationale for the Cincy game back fired!!!

Allthough, we do have the added bonus, of history, beating them the last 3 times.

I think I’ll sit this one out, get a quart of milk, and make like Sherman on Atlanta with those Oreo’s!!!!

Comment by Dan 09.12.12 @ 10:03 am

Oh, I should say, my rationale, was, taking the opposite of something so obvious. That’s what back fired.

Va Tech -10 is another “so obvious”. So, go with Pitt +10.

Nah, I’m just gonna destroy a sleeve or two!!

Comment by Dan 09.12.12 @ 10:07 am

Chryst has got a particular, low-key style, but we aren’t going to know whether that works for him as a HC or not until we see how things play out – not just over the season but over the next couple of years. If the season continues like the first two games, then I fully expect some staff changes, but they won’t happen until the end of the season. He will give the assistants a reasonable chance, especially given what they have to work with.

And that really is the bottom line – there’s just isn’t enough FBS-level talent on this team right now. Just watch the games – slow and sloppy. DW’s recruiting was vastly over-rated, and the last two classes were transitionary. Nothing personal against the guys on the team, I’m sure they are doing their best, but the speed and ability just isn’t there compared to their opponents.

So, people need to consider the notion that if the schemes are simple or vanilla, that it’s because that’s the best approach given the players we have, not because the coordinator can’t dial up anything more sophisticated. We saw that last year, and it wasn’t all because of the change to a spread. And as far as the QB, I’d really like to see Anderson get a chance, but I wouldn’t expect a big upgrade. If you put Voytick in and he isn’t ready, then things not only get worse, but you risk getting him injured for nothing. Frankly, with our O-line you could put Dan Marino in there and we’d still have major problems.

As bad as it’s been, it’s way too early to start calling for the coaches head. And to agree with some of the other posters above, this is still a college football team, not the NFL, and as an alum, I’m more concerned with keeping it that way than winning. Sure, I want to see some success on the field, and I don’t see any reason why that isn’t possible. However, I’m not willing to have Pitt become a jock factory / party school like the so-called “universities” that compete in the BCS every year to do it. I’d rather drop to the FCS than become another WVU or OSU. Top100 in the world as a university means a lot more to me than a Top25 team, and it should to everyone else who actually went to Pitt. It’s a shame that it has to be that way, but that’s the messed up society we’ve created.

Comment by SteveS 09.12.12 @ 10:14 am

It’s official..

Notre Dame joins ACC for all sports except football.

It’s just a matter of time.

Comment by Joe D 09.12.12 @ 10:34 am

Wbb — Like many other posters here, I never said Tino was the source of ALL Pitt’s problems, just a truckload of them. Unlike you and your “ilk”, we recognize that the QB in football is clearly the most important single position and has effect on the rest of the team like no other — obviously many others are important too, but not as dominantly as a QB, who literally touches and controls the distribution of the ball on every play. Not sure why its so hard to understand how a scuffling QB sabotages an offense, which in turn puts even more pressure on a defense…guess that’s overly adventurous thinking or something.

Pitt clearly is not a championship caliber team but I think it has plenty of talent to go 9-3 or even 10-2, especially with our schedule. I doubt my ilk thinks a better QB would turn us into ‘Bama or Oklahoma overnight, but it sure as sh#t would turn us into a more competitive, interesting, and hopeful team.

Comment by Matt N. 09.12.12 @ 2:11 pm

lmao… 9-3 or 10-2 for season… you are dreaming… run the table for the remaining 10 games???
I hope you are not serious…
Have you seen the other teams play? Pitt will be lucky to go 6-6… and quite frankly 4-8 is not out of the question.

Comment by Joe D 09.12.12 @ 2:51 pm

Matt N, real quick .. who were the 2 starting QBs in last year’s national title game? (no looking it up now)

Some QBs are more important than others … note that Marino, Fouts, A Manning never won a Super Bowl but Mark Rypien, Trent Dilfer, and Jeff Hoffstetler did — and that is the NFL where the rules pretty much mandate that you have a passing QB!!

Comment by wbb 09.12.12 @ 4:15 pm

Looking at Walt Harris and Dave Wannstedt history of W-L…
Chryst will be with Pitt for 5 years…
My thought of being on a 3yr short lease I think is wrong.
Lets hope Pederson strongly suggests assistant coaching changes… Pederson did that before.

Comment by Joe D 09.12.12 @ 4:38 pm

Joe D — I was suggesting a 9-3/10-2 record with a different QB at the start of the season…now, of course, with two, and probably three losses since Tino looks to be playing vs. VTech, we’d be hard pressed to pull that off.

Wbb — I’d take Rypien, Dilfer, and Hostettler any day of the week…all were EXCELLENT college QBs and high draft picks. Regarding Marino and Fouts, sure they never got a Super Bowl ring but they racked up alot of wins for their teams and were widely respected by their peers. Can we say any of those things for both sets of QBs about Tino?

Comment by Matt N. 09.12.12 @ 5:42 pm

Pitt is hard pressed to win 6 games regardless of who the QB is….
It’s the defense that is the most problematic!!
Did you watch the game?
I like your optimism… but… C’mon man.
some consider me as a pessimist… I consider myself a realist.

Comment by Joe D 09.12.12 @ 6:06 pm

Yeah, I guess I’m an optimist but I saw enough moments in these first two games where we could have put points up on the board and made a fight of it — and once you’re in there swinging, you never know…but you got to at least be in there. People also forget, when your O puts points up, it not only helps your D, but puts pressure on the other teams O as well…and of course D. So these things don’t happen in a vacumn, they have ripple effects.

Comment by Matt N. 09.12.12 @ 6:34 pm

@PO’d Panther. Your assessments, written on 9/11, on Pitt as a university and the athletic department should be required reading for every student, alum, employee, fan et al.
Levels of international achievement as a body, but one glaring area of underachievement.

Comment by SFPitt 09.13.12 @ 6:07 am

Powered by WordPress ©

Site Meter