masthead.jpg

October 2, 2012

Over the many years of blogging, both sides of this Pitt-Syracuse game have noted the complete lack of vitriol and hatred. Despite Syracuse being Pitt’s (tied for) 3d most played opponent in football. And the fact that they will have the #3 spot all alone in a few years when ND starts rotating on and off the schedule, there isn’t much of a burning desire to burn their city and make them cry when it comes to football. Everyone wants the win, but no one circles this game on the calendar when the schedule is announced.

In about five years, Pitt will be Syracuse’s #1 most played opponent. Yet, they too can’t muster the hatred.

My longstanding theory is that, despite the closeness of the historical series — Pitt holds a 34-30-3 edge — the fact that neither team has been good at the same time has muted it. Pitt dominated them in the 70s. Syracuse ruled in the 80s and 90s. Now Pitt has been the force for the past 10 years, winning 9 of 10. How do you build up hate if only one side is ever playing for anything? If the other is stuck in their latest down-cycle or rebuilding?

So, instead, what has the team been up to with a bye week?

Cutting down on penalties was a stated priority for Coach Chryst.

Chryst said a goal will be to reduce the number of penalties. Through four games, Pitt (2-2) ranks 87th in Division I-A with 7.5 flags per game, costing them 69.75 yards per contest.

Not to mention, improve the kicking game.

Ray Graham is trying to get closer to 100%.

“I feel like after a full year, once I start feeling good to where I’m not thinking about anything at all, it gives me no problems, I think that’s when I’ll take the brace off and keep things going,” Graham, 11 months removed from surgery to repair a torn ACL, told ESPN.com.

The biggest change from the first two games and the next two games, the defense was getting off the field.

“It’s a work in progress, but the guys have been working really hard, and they’re staying very, very positive and upbeat,” defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable said. “They’re giving us everything they’ve got. We’re nowhere [near] where we want to be yet, not even close, but we’re just going to continue to work hard as a coaching staff and as a group of players.”

The most common refrain coming from Huxtable as well as defensive players is that players have simply understood and executed their assignments better in the past two games. The Panthers were not physically dominated in the first two games, they just weren’t where they were supposed to be.

Those mistakes are particularly evident on plays such as the 58-yard touchdown run by Cincinnati’s George Winn on the Bearcats’ first play three weeks ago. If a linebacker had been there to fill the hole, Winn could have been stopped for a minimal gain.

Um, the defense was definitely dominated. The reasons may have primarily involved not being in the right place, but they were were being overwhelmed. That they now have a better sense of what they should be doing and where is a positive, but it still frustrates that they couldn’t get the understanding sooner.

At the same time, it isn’t like the defense was the only unit to have things finally start to click after a rocky first couple of weeks.

Like most of the team, Pitt’s receivers have been trying to answer questions about what had changed during the two-game winning streak that followed the team’s 0-2 start. The passing offense — which ranked 52nd in Division I-A with 258.5 yards per game two weeks ago — now is No. 23 at 299.25 yards per game.

Receivers have credited increased practice repetitions, assignment knowledge and hard work as reasons for improvement. Shanahan, though, also said the Panthers have simplified the playbook a bit.

“We kind of scaled back on the different plays that we’ve been running,” he said. “We rep a lot of the same plays at practice. We’re just getting really good and comfortable with them, and we know what can beat certain coverages.”

And of course, since Coach Chryst is the new coach, he has a style that the players are responding well to — especially now that they have won a couple games.

Receiver Devin Street, who hasn’t caught fewer than four passes in any game this season, calls Chryst “a great teacher.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever been around a coach with so much knowledge about the game,” he said.

Senior receiver Mike Shanahan, who has at least five receptions in every game, said he appreciates the respect shown to the seniors, which allows them to adopt leadership roles in the locker room.

But another side of Chryst has endeared him to his players.

“He is always cracking jokes, making fun of people,” Shanahan said.

A frequent target is senior receiver Cam Saddler, who isn’t afraid to give it right back.

“That’s another cool part,” Shanahan said. “We can fire some shots back at him if we want to.”

Of course, if Pitt had not won the last couple of games, the narrative would not be that sunny. Instead it would be about how he needs to be the head coach. Let the players know he is in charge. Crack the whip. Etc.





So here’s a team in three years whose first language was English, then Greek (as in “it’s Greek to me”) and finally, Gaelic.

Who could blame their heads spinning like tops?

Comment by steve1 10.02.12 @ 7:28 am

I like the type of articles which show a more personable side to PC for several reasons. The first being for me feeling like we’re heading in the right direction with a coach I like. More importantly, I think positive notions from players might help make good impressions on potential recruits.

Comment by Benzene 10.02.12 @ 8:15 am

Devin Street’s compliment regarding Chryst says a lot… means a lot.

Street having a great year. Becoming the complete wide receiver in terms of making big catches and big blocks.

Remember that it was Street who had the guts to step forward and speak the truth on Graham.

And to think that Graham blamed Street and the rest of the receivers for the team’s offensive problems a year ago.

By the way, Tyler Palko does a surprisingly good job of interviewing Tino on PittsburghPanthers.com.

Palko’s line of questioning sounds more intelligent and reveals far greater insight than any of the usual “milk toast” coming from the local contingent of “professional sports journalists.”

They should sit up and pay attention.

Comment by PittofDreams 10.02.12 @ 8:31 am

When I was at Pitt in the early 60s Syracuse was a rivalry. I think Pitt and Syracuse have always treated each other with civility, the way it should be with all teams.

Comment by Frank MD 10.02.12 @ 9:26 am

I hate Youngstown St.

Comment by JW 10.02.12 @ 9:38 am

I hate Nebraska and Wisconsins uniforms they wore Saturday night. Looked like a scene from a slasher movie.

Comment by Dan 10.02.12 @ 10:17 am

I dislike their basketball team and coach. As for football, as Chas would say…meh.

Comment by longsufferingpittfan 10.02.12 @ 11:14 am

This is my exact point on why the rivalry should continue with WVU – PURE F**KIN HATE! That combined with the uncertainty of who knows whether Pitt will ever develop another.

Obviously playing the Orange 67 times hasn’t done it so what makes anyone think one will develop with any of the ACC schools?

Comment by pghFred 10.02.12 @ 11:48 am

It is not possible to hate Wake Forest.

We once tried to hire their basketball coach but was rejected and ended up ‘stuck’ with Jamie Dixon. And the poor guy we tried to hired died of a heart attack a few months later.

Comment by wbb 10.02.12 @ 11:54 am

Pitt needs to jump on top early in this game and make Tino relax with a lead. Anything else is a formula for disiaster.

Comment by Dan 72 10.02.12 @ 11:58 am

On the 1st play from scrimmage the last time we played there, Tino threw a 1 yd pass to Street which ended up in a near 70 yd TD

Comment by wbb 10.02.12 @ 12:03 pm

Chryst studies opponents to determine their weakness. The team practices a limited number of plays to exploit that weakness (keeps it simple), so they execute those plays well. In the game, they keep pounding away at those plays (unlike some prior Pitt coaches whose approach was – well, that works, let’s try something else). It took him a couple of games to determine who the best players were in actual game situations.

Comment by 66Goat 10.02.12 @ 12:08 pm

Think about it, how can you work yourself up into a lather and really develop a despise for an opponent that has a smiley piece of fruit for their mascot? He’s so cute, I just want to give him a big hug!

Now if you actually want to get my “back up” just bring up the mention of that fu*king scarf wearing feline from Child Molester U and then you’ll have a cat fight on your hands. I’m hoping that O’Brian can continue to irritate me with his holier than thou attitude so that I can really get into my “penn state sucks” rant in a couple of years when we begin playing them again.

Now thats the one I’d like to keep on the schedule! With JoePa pushing up daisies, it should be a little easier to schedule home-home games against ped state for years to come now.

Comment by Dr. Tom 10.02.12 @ 12:17 pm

This one is going to be another tester for Chryst. He will be judged on many issues in this game. Can he keep the team focused on their bye week and avoid what has been a typical let down game after Pitt has had time off? Will he be able to continue to develop the schemes and player’s performances. Historically, we get “full of ourselves” pretty easily and end up getting bitch slapped after we post a couple wins. Will that be the case Friday? Also, Chryst has been finding the guys who want to play, sometimes out of necessity due to injuries of the veterans on the squad. Does he continue to play the young underclassmen who have been vying for time or does he fall back to the “experienced” troops now that a couple weeks off has allowed some to get healthy again?

Lots of things to watch for. I hope that we can pull out another win to get the home crowd out to Heinz Field for that early homecoming game. That one should really mean something if we do.

Comment by Dr. Tom 10.02.12 @ 12:28 pm

Going to the game Friday, and though I’m all for rivalries, it’s nice to be able to go to an away game in my Pitt gear and deal only with some good natured taunts rather than dodging coins, batteries, beer and every 3rd drunk wanting to fight (I’m looking at you WVU).

Comment by Iron Duke 10.02.12 @ 1:14 pm

Dr. Tom, you’re the best. Going to homecoming? If so, an IC and Double O on me.

Comment by steve1 10.02.12 @ 2:07 pm

I’m hosting a game watch Friday night at Fox/Hound, Menlo Park, NJ. Please say you’ll be there.

Comment by steve1 10.02.12 @ 2:09 pm

Maryland especially with Edsall there could turn into a nice rivalry. Edsall is a dick plus maybe that Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh rivalry will continue to the college game. Syracuse and Boston College were to civilized on the football field to hate. Va Tech and Virginia I can see us having a nice competitive rivalry with them. But I agree PSU and WVU and possibly Cincy are our natural rivals. I hate all three schools.
This Syracuse will be test, I do think this bye is being a little overrated just because Syracuse is going through the same thing. If anything the bye will help us more then SU. (I hope).

Comment by Beantown-Sean 10.02.12 @ 2:12 pm

Off topic but entertaining nonetheless. See McCoy, LeSean. link to network.yardbarker.com

Comment by Atlanta Panther 10.02.12 @ 2:45 pm

to renew a 4 yr old debate, I hope Shady has a great day at his return to Heinz but Eagles lose … much like what happened with Fitz when Steelers won their last SB

Comment by wbb 10.02.12 @ 2:59 pm

Best Pitt rivalries in order

PSU – ND – WVU (no more) – Miami – ?

Comment by Frank MD 10.02.12 @ 3:04 pm

Maryland could have developed, possibly, but, making Syracuse are “saved” game instead of them killed that I believe.

Just to show how bad that Syracuse is not a rivalry game, I myself, would much rather start playing Maryland every year. Even if it didn’t develop, much closer, and opens up a long weekend to doing other things.

Comment by Dan 10.02.12 @ 3:17 pm

dr tom, you just made my day

Comment by usd121 10.02.12 @ 3:25 pm

PittofDreams meet Milquetoast — a real English word. I hope you two have a long lasting and loving relationship.

Comment by Vocab King 10.02.12 @ 4:10 pm

FRANK//

I was a member of the Pitt Band in the early 60′s and will never forget going to Syracuse in 1960 (old Archbold Stadium, the concrete monstrosity)to see the Panthers take on the undefeated Orange.

Yep, we won 10-0 and Ditka and Company stopped one of the greatest football players of all time, Ernie Davis!!

Pitt//Syracuse was (make no mistake about it) a huge rivalry.

Comment by isnore 10.02.12 @ 4:13 pm

Frank – I went to Archabald a few years later on a freezing winter day. Pitt lost and I will never forget sitting on their frozen concrete seats.

Comment by Dan 72 10.02.12 @ 5:18 pm

@Frank and Dan .. drove up to ‘Cuse and Archibald in 1970 after Pitt was 5-1 and on a 5 game winning streak .. got beat 43-13 .. it rained in the second half and the water trickled down the concrete seats and made it even more miserable …

Comment by TheHoopZebra 10.02.12 @ 5:42 pm

Frank,

No way would I put ND in front of WVU as a Rival of ours…In the here and now its WVU in front of all of them. I don’t even really think of ND as a rival. When Pitt and ND play its a nice, cordial affair. There is near zero animosity between the two schools. Back in the day it went PSU-WVU. I don’t like losing to ND, but it makes me physically ill to lose to WVU (or PSU back in the day).

Comment by HbgFrank 10.02.12 @ 5:52 pm

I don’t know about others but after watching PITT/Cuse in hoops at a local huge sports bar with lots of Cuse fans. I built up a hatred for them real quick ! (highly suggested if you want to build up a quick dislike of a school and their fan base, gotta remember too, these ppl are mostly ALL Yankee fans too)

This was the game we would have been #1 in the country in the Brandon Knight years, when he hit a mid court shot that would have won the game.
BUT IT WAS A SPLIT SECOND AFTER THE BUZZER.
The Cusers were revelling in keeping PITT from being #1 for the first time in school history.

And I always couldn’t stand them when Bill Hurley was their QB, what a frickin irrantant. And then in the late 90′s we had them beat, only to have frickin Donavan McNab lead them in a last minute drive to victory. And who didn’t despise Derrick Coleman !

Screw the Orange, into OrangeJuice !

Comment by EMel 10.02.12 @ 6:22 pm

**Hurley was a frickin irritant **

Comment by EMel 10.02.12 @ 6:29 pm

Major rivals list:

1) Ped State (just because, and we’re the two biggest Universities in the state and our past history with them and of course Diaper Joe, lol)
2) Hoopie U (can’t put hillbillies as our major rival, just doesn’t seem right, imo) (plus they’re not even scheduled in either major sport atm)
3) Syracuse (see above)(**plus only school going forward we annually play in football & basketball therefore start developing a dislike for them if you haven’t)
4) Notre Dame (was a huge rival in the 1930′s as Pitt dominated to an extent ND took us off the schedule, however in Modern Era they have thoroughly dominated us)

Had PITT stayed as a National Power, as when I was in school, we would have many more and deeper hatreds of various schools. And those schools would have much more hatred towards us, naturally.
We’ve been so mediocre mostly, horrid at times that no schools other than Hoopie U, despise us.
And that’s more due to kids from Pittsburgh and surrouding areas, going to Morganhole, due to their grades and Pitt not accepting them. :-)

Or they were just born to be a billie. haha

Comment by EMel 10.02.12 @ 6:54 pm

**Oh another item to dislike Syracuse for**

All the clowns at ESPN that are alumni of Cuse.
Plus the Albert brothers !

If that doesn’t build up some hate, nothing will,
lol :-)

Comment by EMel 10.02.12 @ 6:56 pm

agree that psu and wvu are/were our biggest rivals. which you hate more seems to depend on your generation. class of 77 here. psu most despised by far and deepened by their better than thou attitude.

understand why the recent generation favors the wvu rivalry more, but as much as i dislike them, i’ll never attend another away game with them because of the “few” who make it dangerous to my person and property. behaviors seemed to become more negative in the early 80′s when the new field opened. i never had a problem in their old horseshoe.

it will take time to develop true acc rivalries. va tech seems most logical since we have a head start and a winning streak against them. a md rivalry will take longer unless it develops on the bb side first. i’ve heard they’re not happy with pitt as the bb crossover rival. let’s take it personally and start from there.

keep calm

hail to pitt

Comment by pittkeith 10.02.12 @ 7:02 pm

Emel, that was the game where the idiot Cuse fans rushed the court 3 times within a 5 minute span …. so much for that being a spontaneous event

Comment by wbb 10.02.12 @ 7:12 pm

right wbb

Another to reason to hate them, lol.
What’s not to hate about Cuse I ask you.
1) they are new yorkers
2) alot are worse, they’re New York Citiers
3) they think Syracuse is alot better than it is academically.
4) Some have an attitude I don’t care for
5) did I mention some are from NYC

And if you haven’t noticed in football, when they’re good we stink. SO THEREFORE THEY MUST ALWAYS STINK. yep I hate em !!

Comment by EMel 10.02.12 @ 7:23 pm

In fact I might redo my Major Rivals list.

Due to all this Cuse hate building up inside me.

I really hate they became a Fruit too !
As when I first noticed hatred towards them they were the Syracuse Orangemen. Boy did I hate them then. Even as a small child at Fitzgerald I hated the Orangemen. I mean how could you not hate a team with an old bald guy on it(back then nobody had bald heads but Mr. Clean), that being Marty Head. (yes that was even before Kojak) lol

And now they have that putz Boeheim and have you ever seen his gorgious wife. WTF is she doing with him. And they had a pedophile asst. coach.

Any team that changes their name, always good to hate. Redmen to the lame Redstorm, Indians to the Cardinal, pick any MAC team with a current lame name. And the Orangemen to the Orange.

I mean what’s not to hate about Syracuse.

P.S. Did i mention they play in the worlds worst football stadium. The Carrier Dump !

Comment by EMel 10.02.12 @ 7:42 pm

Saw on Twitter tonight that Pitt picked up a commitment from 2013 recruit Reggie Green out of Cranford, NJ.

Scout his him listed as a 3-star safety. 6’3″, 190 lbs., he also plays quarterback and there’s some talk on Twitter that Pitt also has some interest in him as a wideout.

Has offers from Michigan State, Boston College, Rutgers, NC State, Temple, UCF and IMass.

Comment by Stoosh 10.02.12 @ 8:22 pm

Right now, WVU obviously is rival #1 but that will change in the coming years since we won’t be playing them anymore. Unless we get things cooking with Penn St after the upcoming series, we’ll struggle to come up with a rival. Maryland is the most likely target IMO due to rivalries between the Steelers/Ravens and Pens/Caps, but it probably won’t come to fruition until Edsall gets that program turned around (which I think he will). Another big reason for MD is that the ACC kinda already has geographical rivals in place. Miami/FSU, the 4 NC schools, VT/UVA, and Syracuse/BC will probably get going again.

Comment by H2PinIndiana 10.02.12 @ 8:37 pm

Don’t understand the Wake Forest comments, but I would kill to have a football coach that is half as good as Jim Grobe. Not only does Wake have one of (if not the) smallest division 1 enrollment, they really do recruit student atheletes, and nothing else. They are just a lot less pompous about it than Notre Dame, Penn State (the JoePaterno version, at least), or even Duke Bay-bee. But this guy won an ACC Championship, which is a hell of a lot more than Walt Harris, Davey “the D is for D-fense” Wannstedt, or J. H. Graham won at Pitt.

And Skip Prosser, a Canonsburg native I believe, was their basketball coach, and he died, tragically, just a few years ago. Not right after Pitt tried to hire him (that was in 2002). He was a total class act. Pitt did try to hire him before they hired Dixon, and wisely so. I am pretty sure he could have gotten Pitt past the sweet 16 and even the Elite 8 without monumentally choking, at least once or twice. Though, he would not have coached that kind of legendary rugged, tough, smothering blue collar defense that Jamie Dixon features.

Comment by PO'd Panther 10.02.12 @ 9:45 pm

Meant “athletes”.

Comment by PO'd Panther 10.02.12 @ 9:47 pm

Enjoyed reading about games at Syracuse and sitting on concrete.
Dr.Tom. The Orange Irish and the Green Irish have a long standing feud. I will quote Sir Paul McCartney “give Ireland back to the Irish” as my clue on how some people might hate Syracuse Orange.
But, for being the only D1 team in what has been our most populous state until recent history, I have to conclude that Syracuse, much like Pitt, has underachieved for large time periods.
I only hate Syracuse when they beat us…that doesn’t qualify as a rivalry in my book.

Comment by SFPitt 10.02.12 @ 9:54 pm

I realize he has had his problems, but I like Marv Albert. The rest of the Syracuse ESPN talking heads you can flush at will. In fact, make that the rest of the ESPN/ABC talking heads, period. Shove Chris Collingsworth and Al Michaels in with them, and television instantly becomes more enjoyable.

Comment by PO'd Panther 10.02.12 @ 9:58 pm

I am sure reggie green will be a good player for us.
but i would sure like to see a couple of OT or OG
insted of DB. or a big DT and at this stage i dont care if they have any stars just as long as they are over 6 foot 4 and at least 300 pounds

Comment by FRANKCAN 10.02.12 @ 11:09 pm

All the praise of Tino the last few weeks in games where Pitt’s taken big leads.

But remember, Tino often falls apart in games that are close or where Pitt is behind in the 4th quarter.

Let’s see if he can right that, because the situation will come up again this year.

Comment by Jimbo Covert's My Dad 10.02.12 @ 11:56 pm

jim c’s dad

keep calm

hail to pitt.

Comment by pittkeith 10.03.12 @ 12:46 am

@PO’D, ya, Wake Forest has had a pretty good sports program. Hoops was in the top 20 for most of I can remember, (maybe not lately I realize), and football has beaten FSU something like 4 out of the last 6, gone to some bowl games.

Got nothin’ against Wake, and frankly, can’t wait for Pitt to play them in football, will be there. Heard the campus is magnificent.

Marv Albert, was he the one that was tied up in a hotel with claw marks on his back?? Or something to that effect years ago. Maybe I’m thinking of someone else.

Comment by Dan 10.03.12 @ 12:52 am

Gotta say, I’m with Jimbo. All the credit to Tino for his performance against VT and it’s not due to a lack of toughness, but I just don’t expect much from him at this point.

Comment by Cool Hand Nuke 10.03.12 @ 4:40 am

I expect Tino to wear number 12 jersey, and line up behind center.

Comment by paul shannon 10.03.12 @ 7:27 am

PO’d Panther, you made me review my post above about Wake Forest and I see what you are talking about. I meant to have posted that the coach died a few ‘years’ later … not months.

I was well aware that he (Prosser) was a local, class guy and actually met him once at the Palumbo Center during a WPIAL playoff game. He was coach at Xavier at the time.

Comment by wbb 10.03.12 @ 7:55 am

PO’d panther, .. and Wake Forest under Prosser was a bigger NCAA choker than Pitt … look it up

Comment by wbb 10.03.12 @ 8:15 am

here is Prosser’s post-season recordat Wake — note that he did make one Sweet 16 but otherwise was finished in the 1st weeelend — Wake was a No. 1 seed in 2002-3 and:

2001–02 Wake Forest 21–13 9–7 T–3rd NCAA 2nd Round
2002–03 Wake Forest 25–6 13–3 1st NCAA 2nd Round
2003–04 Wake Forest 21–10 9–7 T–3rd NCAA Sweet 16
2004–05 Wake Forest 27–6 13–3 2nd NCAA 2nd Round
2005–06 Wake Forest 17–17 3–13 12th NIT 1st Round

Comment by wbb 10.03.12 @ 8:19 am

@ Jimbo Covert’s My Dad,”All the praise of Tino the last few weeks in games where Pitt’s taken big leads”. I realize where you you were headed in that post and in expressing the tentativeness of putting our faith in Tino to continue his improved performances. But lets just not rewrite history. The last few weeks actually as of today is 19 days and involves only 2 games, one of which we should have beaten the FSC team by 4 or 5 TDs. Oops, we did do that didn’t we? But anyway there is a lot more rubbing to be done, IMO, before the previous tarnish that Sunseri has accumulated on his reputation is eliminated.

To really make me a believer I also want to see Tino lead that come from behind pull a victory out from the jaws of defeat type of win. Of course I’ll be satisfied if we just keep on winning, but I’m still skeptical about Tino’s ability to keep it going. We easily could end up 3-9 by season’s end with the arrival of new bad Karma.

This game on Friday will be a real tester for the entire team and coaching staff however. An away game in a noisey stadium after a week layoff is a recipe for defeat if you look at Pitt’s recent history. A win on Friday gets me one step closer to believing but I’m not there yet.

I sure would like to be exposed as a Tino hater blowhard however. Make me eat crow Tino, all season long.

Comment by Dr. Tom 10.03.12 @ 10:31 am

Actually, Pitts main rival in the ACC may very well wind up being Miami…We will play them every year, and we already hate them.

Comment by HbgFrank 10.03.12 @ 12:56 pm

Doesn’t everyone hate Miami.
Rivals have to have equal(or at least some) hatred imo. Miami fans do not have any hate towards Pitt. Cause we hardly beat them.
And the way we layed down in that end of the season, winner gets the Orange Bowl game in 2003, they should love us.
And they have Florida & Florida State to hate first. Then probably ND and then some more ACC schools, Pitt would hardly register on the Miami Hurricane hate meter.

With moving to a new conf. the only way to guarantee to generate hate, is to come into the conference and win it.

Comment by EMel 10.03.12 @ 4:11 pm

Good points EMel, but I need someone to hate! Gone are PSU and WVU. I would have picked BC but we are not going to play them every year.

Comment by HbgFrank 10.03.12 @ 4:47 pm

Vocab King,

While you might think yourself pretty good at vocabularly, syntax is obviously not your bag.

Quotations provide opportunity for uniqueness and variation.

Just thought this might help.

Comment by PittofDreams 10.04.12 @ 12:59 pm

Powered by WordPress © PittBlather.com