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September 13, 2012

A nooner on ESPNU with once and future conference foe, Virginia Tech. A game that was greeted with great anticipation before the season started is now viewed with dread as to the outcome.

Somehow VT is only favored by 10 points or so. Apparently the oddsmakers are confused that this is a game in 2012, not 2002.

Brian from THE KEY PLAY got in touch with me to do a little Q&A exchange. I sent him my questions on Tuesday night, right before the latest round of expansiopocolypse hit — rendering some of my questions a little dated even before the responses came. My answers to his questions can be found here.

When Pitt joins the Big East in some 290 days, The Key Play will definitely be a part of the ACC link selection. One of the finer blogs out there, and like Pitt Blather not part of the SBN borg collective. You can also find them on Twitter at, well, THE KEY PLAY.

1. Sooooo. Logan Thomas. Really, really good. After that, any other offensive weapons you trust?

Well…that’s really been the problem thus far. After Thomas, no one has been a completely proven commodity. Everyone else is young and unproven. Marcus Davis is a receiver that has really everything you want physically (size, speed, vertical), but his hands and…well…effort have been inconsistent. The running backs have shown flashes, but it’s really hard to gain consistent confidence when you don’t get carries.

I think there are a lot of solid weapons…just no one that has my full confidence yet. And if the offense keeps playing like this, it may take a while to find confidence in one.

2. Let’s say you are an opposing offensive coordinator. How do you attack the VT defense? What really gives them trouble?

Um…can I say Clemson? Seriously though, spreading them out and finding the bad matchup. If there is a weakness to the defense it’s the depth at secondary, and if that causes Foster to try and put an outside linebacker on a slot receiver, there could be trouble. If you just try to run into the line and find holes up the middle…well good luck with that. You can probably console yourself in a corner with Paul Johnson.

3. Any advice in how to cope with an inexplicable loss to a 1-AA team?

In the words of the great Bluto Blutarsky: “My advice to you is to start drinking heavily.” After the Hokies lost to JMU, I didn’t leave my room for days. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I didn’t want to go to parties. I just wanted to dwell on what was then an 0-2 start. Other than that…hope your team wins 10 games, the ACC and makes you forget that it happened? That’s really all I have about that.

4. Couldn’t help but notice over the summer with the expansiopocolypse rumors swirling, that it seems many VT fans have SEC dreams. Can you explain how this scenario unfolds that allows VT to get out of the ACC and specifically from UVa, after all the political wrangling, favors and debts incurred that took place to get VT into the ACC? (Not intended to be snarky or an asshole. I’m actually very curious about this, because in every VT scenario I’ve come across, this aspect tends to get glossed over despite the amount of political pressure that would be expected.)

You are completely right. It’s a fascinating scenario that is unfolding, and it just shows how expansiopocolypse makes for short memories. Personally, I don’t think that it will ever happen, especially while the current administration is in power (Beamer and AD Jim Weaver specifically). They were there when Mark Warner (then governor of Virginia) used everything he had to pressure Virginia into voting us in. They love the ACC, and can’t talk enough about it (at least publicly). Also, in a sneaky move by the ACC, with the addition of Notre Dame they also raised the exit fee to 50 million dollars (aka a huge middle finger to Florida State and Clemson’s Big 12 dreams). So unless there is a new administration and the SEC wants to foot the $100 million bill for 2 ACC teams (my guess would be Tech and NC State) there’s no way they go.

But alllsooooo (WARING: COMPLETELY UNSUBSTANTIATED EXPANSIOPOCOLYPSE TALK) if Florida State and Clemson leave, that will probably start the dominos of ACC mass exodus. Miami and Georgia Tech may want to go to the Big 12 as well, which means Tech and NC State would get the hell out of dodge. The “smart” schools (Virginia, Maryland, UNC and Duke) go to the Big 10, and everyone else is screwed.

Again, I don’t believe anything I just wrote.

5. Penn State scandal to the north. UNC slow-mo scandal to the south. Hell, even Duke’s getting into the act. How do you take this much schadenfreude? Regarding the UNC academic scandal, though, what is the VT and even the rest of the ACC’s feelings towards this? Waiting for an actual punishment from the NCAA and/or the ACC. Or is it that somehow UNC will continue to get away with the claim that it was an academic scandal only that has nothing to do with athletics?

Eh, no one really cares. No matter what they think, their football team isn’t one of the big fishes, and haven’t been particularly relevant in November since Mack Brown was there. They’ll definitely get theirs, punishment wise though. It’s just that no one cares, because they’ll still probably be 7-5.

6. One more expansiopocolypse. Lately the ND to the ACC in all sports but football — but playing ACC teams 5-6 times/year — rumor has been popping up. What do you think about this rumor?

It sounds pretty accurate…I’ve heard this once or twice today. (OR FOR SEVEN CONSECUTIVE HOURS ON ESPN)

7. Really, do you see any scenario that doesn’t end in a VT win on Saturday?

If the offense puts up a 0, Pitt could win 3-0. Seriously though, if the offense struggles and they don’t return a Tino pass for a score, it could happen. I shudder every time I think about Tech going into Heinz field…I just tell myself that Rod Rutherford, Larry Fitzgerald and Antonio Bryant are gone. THEY ARE GONE RIGHT?!?!

8. Final score?

Tech 28-3

28-3 at this point would be a moral victory.

Comment by Coach Ditka 09.13.12 @ 2:07 pm

Pitt improvement. Tech letdown. ?????????

Comment by alcofan 09.13.12 @ 2:18 pm

28-3 was accounting for a Pitt improvement and a Tech letdown

Comment by Coach Ditka 09.13.12 @ 2:44 pm

Nice to see Werner picking up the Zeise flag and carrying it now that Pzizzle is gone…like DiPaolo. Sal must’ve really dug deep into his pocket to pony up these hacks — bet he could have got them at half the price…sh#t, a sandwich a week at Primantis’ probably would have done it.

To read Werner repeat the gaseous belch that Tino ‘is the best option’ was nauseating enough, but to read his comment that all Pitt fans pretty much know Anderson isn’t the answer at this point and that Voytik can’t possibly be ready as a freshman is beyond pathetic and insulting. Anderson played about 10 minutes last season, as a true freshman, last minute walk-on with an injured hand, and somehow ‘we all agree’ that that was enough of an assessment for the kid’s entire career?!

If he thinks we’re that stupid to swallow that horsesh#t, he is beyond in contempt of us. Why can’t we get a smart writer like Collier to cover Pitt? What have we done to deserve this shameless amateurism?

Comment by Matt N. 09.13.12 @ 3:03 pm

I’m anticipating watching this game similar to the way a driver would view a bad car accident as the backed up traffic slowly passes by,,,,,,you know you shouldn’t be looking but the scene is so awful you just can’t take your eyes away from the horriffic scene.

If we can beat the spread, then this game should be considered a moral victory for the Panthers. I have absolutely no clue how this game’s spread is Pitt+10. Have none of the odds makers watched a Pitt football game this season yet???????

From the sounds of it, Coach Chryst is remaining solid on sticking with Tino Sunseri at QB. That is a sorry situation but I guess that’s the battle plan. I think we’re looking at a 4-12 season unless this team, and Tino in particular, go through some kind of miraculous metamorphosis by midseason.

It would be nice to get some of the injuried LB’s back into action like Todd Thomas and Eric Williams, we need all the help we can get there ASAP.

Hoping that VT comes in looking for an easy win and that we surprise them by actually playing hard WITHOUT being our own worst enemy.

I hope that I’m wrong but I’m expecting a train wreck for Pitt.

Comment by Dr. Tom 09.13.12 @ 3:04 pm

Can we carry forward some of the excess points from the 2001 game?

Comment by Pitt Dad 09.13.12 @ 3:04 pm

Matt N…
I agree with you regarding Werner…
totally clueless..
However, I do like what DiPaolo writes.
You should send emails regarding your dismay in their coverage and opinion… also .cc their bosses…

Comment by Joe D 09.13.12 @ 3:08 pm

there is one good thing abought football this year
and that is this is the last year tino can play
after this year we will never hear tino give us the best chace to win.

and these gut less and blind coachs will have to find another QB even thou they would like to keep tino for 4 more years they cant .

Comment by FRANKCAN 09.13.12 @ 3:16 pm

It is very heartbreaking to have the feeling of a lost season already after two games. What is even worse is can anyone of us see it getting better anytime soon? The real problem we have is lack of talent and that problem is going to take years to fix. This game Saturday and I pray that I am wrong, but VT is going to hammer Pitt. VT is one of the better teams in the country this year and I don’t see Pitt being able to pull out a W.

Comment by Ian K 09.13.12 @ 3:26 pm

What if Tino gets hurt & can get a medical redshirt!?! Yikes!

Comment by The Big A 09.13.12 @ 3:39 pm

werner is awful, you guys thought zeise was bad, but at least he was realistic. all around this season seems like a loss

Comment by pittisit37 09.13.12 @ 3:47 pm

You get better writers when you win more games and get a better following.

Comment by alcofan 09.13.12 @ 4:14 pm

Zeise was just as bad if not worse…
at least Werner writes regular articles, etc… Zeise was no where to be found or just cut/paste EJ’s press releases.

but, write to Werners boss’s boss.. in other words, skip Micco.
David Shribman

David Shribman will respond at times!!!

Comment by Joe D 09.13.12 @ 4:14 pm

in other words, please hire a Pitt beat writer that writes exactly what we want to read and matches our opinions of how we see things are.

Sounds like the right who follow Limbaugh and Hannity … or the left who follow Oberman and Maher

Comment by wbb 09.13.12 @ 4:29 pm

I wouldn’t say that…
but this weeks articles from Werner were ridiculous…
– Defensive backs shine dispite dismal start.
– Pointless exercises vex Pitt
– Pitt line is taking a personal approach.
vs Trib/Dipaolo
– Solution for Pitt football is to simply recruit better.
– Plenty of blame to go around for the Pitt offense.
– Pitt problems start at the top…

Sam Werner should just put on a skirt and grab some pom poms and cheer on the sidelines!! Totally clueless about football.

Comment by Joe D 09.13.12 @ 4:39 pm

My problem is when he writes abought tino he will
say things like tino needs to try to get better at this or that.
or tino knows he must improve on this
or tino will get better at this or that

does he think tino is a freshmen he is a dam 5th
year sr a 3 year starter if he hasent got it bye now he never will.

Imean it the way he writes abought tino is the way you write abought a first year player.

not the way you should write abought a sr is
werner stupid or brain dead or what.

Comment by FRANKCAN 09.13.12 @ 4:39 pm

While the odds are not good, VA Tech has four returning starters on offense. FOUR. That’s 7 new starters on offense and they are a team that took OT to beat GA Tech two weeks ago scoring 17 points. Too bad the defense has been our weakness. This is not a VA Tech team of 5 years ago just as we are not. Should be interesting.

Comment by cnorwoodaz 09.13.12 @ 4:50 pm

Werner like the others seems to regurgitate whatever they’re told by the coaches or the players.

No important questions ever asked, such as “Hey Shane, was it possible that you or the other linebacker were out of position and that was the reason for the gaping hole up the middle that lead the way for the first big run by Cincinnati?”

Does the local press realize what a disservice they do to the team and its fans for going so soft?

Putting a little fear into someone by having them know they will be held accountable can be a good thing.

Comment by PittofDreams 09.13.12 @ 5:43 pm

I am glad none of us are the beat reporters for the PG. For one, if you are to ask a player if he is the reason for an embarrassing defensive breakdown, good luck getting that player or the coaches to ever talk to you again. I think the beat reporters have to pick their battles and maybe now is not the time.

When he says that Tino is the best option, perhaps it is because Tino actually IS the best option.

I did find this nugget from Redshirt Diaries interesting:

– Former Pitt coach Walt Harris stopped by practice yesterday, and I spoke with him today for a story I’m working on for later this week. He commended the current Pitt players for their determination sticking through such trying times with all the coaching changes, and said he plans to be around practice and whatnot to support the team this year.

“I admire what the team has done, and I really have a lot of respect for Paul and his staff,” Harris said. “That’s really why I’m coming to practice, because I respect the staff and I’m a Panther. I come out, and I don’t think anybody knows who I am. I just want to be there.”

Comment by A 09.13.12 @ 6:44 pm

PITT will win bye 6 points

Comment by FRANKCAN 09.13.12 @ 7:25 pm

Espn article by Forde regarding coaching changes…
Note where the coaching change paided off…. AZ, ASU
and where it has not… Wisky, Pitt, PSU, etc.–forde-yard-dash–coaching-moves-shake-up-college-football-landscape.html

Comment by Joe D 09.13.12 @ 7:25 pm

I agree with Dr. Tom, the train wreck is coming, I’ll say 45-10

Comment by Moe Greene 09.13.12 @ 7:48 pm

And there isn’t even a statue to this great man, Moe Greene, a man of vision, who had dream of a city in the desert. Anyway I agree with Moe and Dr. Tom. PITT is going to get hammered super bad. I’m thinking 45 to 10 by half time. I’m sooo sick over this season. What a total let down.

Comment by LUV PITTBULLS 09.13.12 @ 8:04 pm

Watching the RU USF game is like watching Pitt toggled from 33 to 45 RPM

Comment by steve1 09.13.12 @ 8:13 pm

Even without the $50m exit fee, there’s no way VT leaves the ACC and it’s a vocal minority of fans without pull who pine for the SEC. The diehards who financially support the program – the Golden Hokies – love the ACC and dreamt for years of being in it. They love the easy travel to road games and being one of the elite teams. They’d have neither in the SEC and the smart ones know it. And BTW….they love the annual thrashing they put on the Cavaliers. It’s an extra home game for half of them when they play in Charlottesville.

Comment by Joe Lawrence 09.13.12 @ 8:24 pm

Comment by wbb 09.13.12 @ 8:32 pm

I still think Pitt will keep the game close thru 3 quarters (Vtech 17 Pitt 10). Pitt will then f up within the first 5 minutes of the 4th. I say Vtech 31 Pitt 10.

Comment by why me 09.13.12 @ 8:52 pm

The curse of Tino will continue. VT thumps Pitt…

Comment by Pittastic 09.13.12 @ 8:56 pm

wow, Rutgers and South Florida look horrible. If Pitt can only get their crap together.

Comment by why me 09.13.12 @ 9:02 pm

In other other words, please hire a Pitt beat writer who waffles and equivocates and is too chickensh#t to take a stand for what they believe…sorta like most cable anchors between the two groups you mentioned.

I think what most of us might be hoping for is to see writing that matches what we actually see on the field, not on the propaganda talking points or personal agendas…that would be neat.

Comment by Matt N. 09.13.12 @ 9:18 pm

You know a few months ago this game was slated to be on ABC. Now, since we are so horrid, it’s on ESPNU. I wouldn’t be surprised of it wasn’t available in HD.

Comment by OrlandoAlum 09.13.12 @ 9:48 pm

And toggled to 78 vs. a BCS team

Comment by steve1 09.13.12 @ 10:05 pm

I’m still waiting for a medical redshirt for Tino so that we will be stuck with him for one more year….it’s Murphy’s law!

Comment by Marco 09.13.12 @ 11:31 pm

@ A, Walt Harris had his faults but its obvious the guy really loved his time at Pitt. Glad to see he’ll be hanging around practices. I say hire him as the new OC next year after Tino is gone and he has a chance to work with Voytik and some of the incoming QBs.

I will always give praise to Walt for turning around the pathetic Panther program and he did it while I was in school at Pitt. I still remember the Thursday night game in 1997 when we took down a ranked Miami team. It was really a major turning point for a program that only won 15 games total in the previous 5 seasons. It was also the first time Pitt beat Miami since 1976 and our first victory over a ranked opponent since 1989. All of that hope and promise 15 years ago and now we’re getting mopped up by Youngstown State, my how times have changed for the worse.

God Bless Pete Gonzalez.

Comment by Coach Ditka 09.14.12 @ 6:55 am

By the way, Frank Solich is building quite a program in the middle of nowhere Ohio…guess who fired him….???–frank-solich-transforming-ohio-into-the–boise-state–of-the-midwest.html

Comment by Coach Ditka 09.14.12 @ 6:59 am

After watching the USF-Rutgers game last night, I feel that Pitt has a couple more potential wins available in their future. Both teams took turns doing their best imitation of playing Pitt football.

I don’t think that I’ve ever seen more penalties in the first 10 minutes of a football game. Did anyone notice that the starting Line Judge Official had to be replaced by a back up official at the conclusion of the first quarter?

Injury report was that he had worn out his flag throwing arm for the evening.

Comment by Dr. Tom 09.14.12 @ 8:37 am

@Dr. Tom, oh, was that horrible. I couldn’t take more than a quarter and a half.

Just bad, bad, football. Maybe it got better??

Comment by Dan 09.14.12 @ 9:24 am

Haven’t read the writers too much lately.

I am disappointed in the press conference guys.

I should say, not disappointed yet, I guess.

Couple more losses, time for them to stop throwing the snowballs.

I don’t want them going after Chryst so much, I like him, he deserves time.

But, need to let him, and Pitt admin. what the fans are thinkging, and you help do that, by asking some real questions.

Maybe we get a big win tmrw., and not necessary.

I get that, his personality, is his personality, but you can’t be saying thing like “this is what the fun is, teaching these kids”, after losing to Youngstown and blown out by Cincy.

Not jumping on him, he’s got some time, I just hope he knows, from the fans perspective, the name of the game is winning.

Comment by Dan 09.14.12 @ 9:51 am

@ The Big A — thanks! You just ruined my day with that possibility

Comment by Hank the Tank 09.14.12 @ 4:00 pm

[…] Brian from the Key Play mentioned that the Hokies offense is struggling to be more than just Logan Thomas. One area they will look to improve when facing Pitt is the running game. Tech is 74th in the nation (fifth in the ACC) in rushing offense, averaging 141.5 yards per game. The number of plays that have gone the wrong direction are most concerning right now. […]

[…] for VT, maybe they can make that argument defensively. Perhaps. But not offensively. As the Q&A last week revealed there were real questions about the offense after Logan Thomas, even among the Hokie […]

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