October 9, 2012

Note: I didn’t write something right away because when you are getting 370+ comments on an open game thread pretty much everything has already been talked about.  Anyway, here are some of my observations…

Again, and with firm success, PITT snatched defeat from the jaws of victory last week.  Travelling to the Carrier Dome in Syracuse our Panthers dropped a close, low scoring game to the Orange, 14-13, in a match that may portend the way the rest of the schedule plays out in that we certainly played well enough to win but obviously didn’t.

The sad thing is I couldn’t even get too angry about that final ‘nail in the coffin’ intentional grounding penalty by Sunseri that deprived us of a game winning field goal opportunity because we have seen it, or something just like it, happen to PITT so many times over the years.  We just can’t find ways to win close football games coming from behind because we aren’t built for it, starting with our QB.  It isn’t only Sunseri that has been this way for PITT, Bill Stull before him had the same problem.

If I’m assigning blame – which is totally Tuesday morning QB’ing – then I’m pointing at the OL for most of the ills of the evening.  They didn’t open many holes for Graham or Bennett and they were just flat out terrible in pass protection.

How many times did we watch Sunseri have the pocket collapse around him and then he (finally) stepped up and completed the throw?  He did that on his own out there.  But the fact is that the only offense we could generate was by passing the football and Sunseri did that well last week.

That said, Sunseri certainly contributed to the loss also. Sunseri is what he is, an average at best college QB who needs all the other facets of the offense to be working well for him to get a win.  We know what his limitations are already and he’s a lightning rod for criticism.  But to lay the blame of this loss at his feet only is just tunnel vision.

I’ll also point at Ray Graham for our poor offensive showing last week.  He spent half the night running and jerking around behind the LOS before turning south.  Had he just gone into the line as the play was called he’d be getting better yardage.  This isn’t the first game he’s done this behind the line this season either.  I’m starting to think that his injury is still impacting him more than he lets on and that he’s trying to break off a huge run each play to make his worth as a NFL player look better.

Well, I just blamed to the whole offense for last night’s loss save the WRs who played pretty well – except for Carswell who had that fumble and subsequent return of a SYR TD and a crucial dropped pass in the 2nd half.

We had an article up on here prior to the game talking about how average the running game has been lately and last week it couldn’t even be that.  We had a grand total of 0.7 yards per carry.  That isn’t a misprint – 0.7 ypc – against a team that was pretty poor against the rush previously.

One of the reasons was that we wouldn’t, or couldn’t, play the best back we have capable of powering through the interior of the DL to get positive yardage when there wasn’t much of an opening by the OL.  Shell had one carry on the day.

There has been a lot of chatter on the message boards about why Shell didn’t get in the game more often.  One is that his back was hurting again.  Hmmm, another is that he was being punished for some minor infraction.  That’s hard to fathom though as you’d think he would have been sat down for the whole game rather than just part of it.

Regardless of what the reasons were we missed his abilities to get tough yardage, especially is short conversion opportunities.  On our first possession of the second half, down 14-10, we had a third and one at our own 39 yard line.  Up to this point Graham had little positive yardage per play on the ground yet we ran him into the interior line and got stuffed.  We had Bennett and Shell on the sidelines – both bigger and stronger than Graham and had TEs quite capable of catching a pass thrown by a QB who was completing passes all day.

The whole approach to the running game against SYR was very Wannyesque in the sense that Chryst stayed with something that wasn’t working solely on the off chance that Ray Graham would break one for a TD.  Isaac Bennett, who was averaging 4.9 ypc on the season and tore up training camp, got a total of three carries in the game.  If Shell was actually hurt and Graham was ineffective why wasn’t Bennett used more often in the hope that he’d be able got at least get better than a 0.7 ypc production?

We have to get our TEs involved in the passing game more often.  Paul Chryst has gone far from his model using TEs to produce as he did so well at Wisconsin. At this point our true TEs, Graham and Holtz, have 8 receptions (87 yards) which is only 7% of our completions.  If we add Drew Carswell to that, even though he’s split out a lot, the number jumps to 13 receptions (145 yards) and is 12% of our completed passes.

That is way too low for the way this offense is built.  Our OL is poor against the better teams.  Using the TE would be a way to execute the short, quick passing game and then to have the big guys leverage their strength for yards after the catch.  I believe we really need to incorporate this more,  especially with J. P. Holtz who did so well in training camp and flat out trucked a defender last week.

Another aspect of the offense that was missing last week was the deep pass.  We have seen Sunseri complete more of them this season that any other yet the OC/HC didn’t call one deep ball all game.  You can’t tell me that we didn’t have ample opportunity to let fly at least once or twice that game.  Hell, Street was having so much success with the intermediate routes with 10 catches with a 13 ypc average that a double move from him would have taken the DB by total surprise.

I’m become more disappointed with the offensive play calling as the season progresses.

As a result we totally wasted an excellent defensive effort in this game.  That is something we just can’t afford to do any longer if we want to get to a winning season – which is more and more becoming a reach to accomplish in 2012.

All in all it was a good game to watch if you like close games with good defenses but it was, as we have all seen before, a disappointing game to watch if you are a PITT fan.  To sum it up; Blah, blah and blahdeblah… again.

My nephew goes to Hopewell and was on football, basketball and track teams..
He got kicked off teams 4 times…
as far as never worked hard… it is well known and shell said himself he didn’t lift weights or do any conditioning in HS… he started Feb this year.. at Rod’s located on Main St. in Quippa.
As far as comparisons to Dupree..
Dupree had tons of natural ability.. a man among boys in HS… but lacked the committment to work hard to take it to the next level… that is Shell… in a nutshell.

Comment by Joe D 10.10.12 @ 1:53 pm

I like Chryst laying down the law…
no practice… no play…
it sent the appropriate message to Shell that what worked in HS isn’t going to work at Pitt.

Comment by Joe D 10.10.12 @ 1:55 pm

@ Matt N, I mentioned that earlier i this thread and couldn’t agree more. I’d even use Shell or Bennett back there for running between the tackles in short yardage situations. “Wildcat” Yeah.

Comment by Dr. Tom 10.10.12 @ 2:05 pm

The ‘hard worker’ thing applies to many, many HS players who get by on talent alone. That doesn’t make the two ‘peas in a pod’.

btw – Hershel Walker never lifted weights either.

Comment by pghFred 10.10.12 @ 2:24 pm

your kidding me regarding ur Hershel Walker comparison..
3000 situps everyday
2000 pushups everyday
1000 pullups everyday..
Plus I think 6 mile run 3 times a week…

As Switzer said… Dupree got injured a lot because he didn’t workout… only played in 16 games..

Comment by Joe D 10.10.12 @ 2:33 pm

I couldn’t do 1000 pull-ups over a two week period. I need to hit the gym. Ugh.

Comment by Upittbaseball 10.10.12 @ 2:50 pm

Now you’re kidding – He played in 16 games because he got a concussion early in his sophomore year then left school. I’m sure he would have been right back on the field if he didn’t leave. Switzer knew he gave the Sooners the best chance to win, Dupree was playing as long as he ran as he did.

Comment by pghFred 10.10.12 @ 3:10 pm

According to Wikipedia, “Walker is known for his unorthodox training and dieting methods. Walker says he sleeps five hours a night and eats only one meal a day (skipping breakfast and lunch). He is a vegetarian and his diet is made up mostly of soup, bread and salad. Walker has never tasted beer or liquor and has never taken aspirin or any other type of medication. Instead of lifting weights, he has a daily regimen of 3,500 sit-ups, 1,500 push-ups and eight mile runs. Walker has participated in a variety of sports including football, Olympic bobsledding, track and field, taekwondo and ballet dancing.

See, no pull-ups. Must be out of shape.

Comment by Pitt Dad 10.10.12 @ 3:56 pm

when did ballet dancing become a sport??

Comment by TheHoopZebra 10.10.12 @ 4:17 pm

watch the documentary on Dupree..

From Dupree wikipedia
On January 1, 1983, Dupree’s freshman season ended with a 32–21 Fiesta Bowl loss against Arizona State, in which he rushed for an Oklahoma and Fiesta Bowl record 249 yards, but was criticized by Switzer for not practicing hard and for being overweight.[7] Switzer told Dupree, “If you’d have been in shape, you’d have rushed for 400 yards, and we’d have won the game.”[9]

Sounds like Rushel shell to me…
lets hope not!!

Comment by Joe D 10.10.12 @ 7:09 pm

lol I don’t know TheHoopZebra. But I believe former Steeler WR great Lynn Swann took ballet lessons. No doubt to the music of Swan Lake by the great Tchaikovsky.

Use to date a girl who came to the Burg to be a ballerina, don’t know if what she did during the day was a sport, but what we did at nighttime certainly was. 🙂

Comment by EMel 10.10.12 @ 7:15 pm

Hershel Walker took ballet…

then again… Joe Namath wore pantyhose to keep his legs warm.. lol

Comment by Joe D 10.10.12 @ 7:39 pm

@EMel .. sounds like she was a first round draft choice and there was some scoring involved so I get the sports connection .. I stand corrected …

Comment by TheHoopZebra 10.10.12 @ 7:47 pm

In 1982, the oklahoma sooners averaged 60 rushing plays per game of which Dupree carried 13 times on average and led the team. He wasn’t the star and if you recall, they consistently had 3 or 4 backs share the load. I would accept that gladly from Shell as he is still a frshman. As far as PPG on offense, the scales are skewed because of the GW beat down. Need to consider two minor league teams this year when compared to prior years. Not a hater, just sayin. Hope the extended family is well. God’s speed!

Secondarily, and extremely important is that Shell has had problems picking up blitzes and that is all Pitt saw because the run blitz has been a proven defensive scheme to beat a tino led team. If you watch the syracuse film, you will see ray graham whiff on chip blocks and look silly doing it.

A bunch formation by the WR’s close to the line cures the run blitz. Unless of course the db’s are flawless getting around natural picks. Learn something from the pro formations practiced by the steelers in those situations. The OL is not the greatest and there are things you can do to help them. The coaches asked the players to execute chips and the qb to make quicker decisions, and they failed. That is a player problem. Coach Chryst will be fine and he is the right guy for the job.

Savage is not a gimme for next year so I would play Voytik, Shell and JPHoltz on offense from here on out if they are healthy enough to go. No issue with defense except to keep up pressure and win turnover battle.

Comment by dhuffdaddy 10.10.12 @ 11:45 pm

the lack of adjustments is what is worrisome. pitt has flaws but what happened to chryst and the talk about playing to the team’s strengths. what ever happenend to split backs in the backfield. what ever happened to helping out your tackle who is getting beat all game. what happened to making any sort of adjustment. if the game plan works all is well and when it doesn’t they don’t make any changes. like why keep doing teh same thing over and over when it isn’t working. that is the depressing part of what is happening. would like to see coach chryst stand up and take the blame for 13 points against a pathetic cuse squad. need some leadership somewhere. but i guess it was neat watching the same thing over and over

Comment by druc 10.11.12 @ 12:45 am

Ballet Dancing isn’t a sport by any means but it is probably one of the most physically intense activities one can participate in. Every single movement is measure and held – a task that isn’t found in any other sport/dance/arts activity.

For an activity that is a sport – I found fencing to require more physical stamina, and more intense concentration, then all of the other varsity sports I played (BB, soccer and baseball).

Comment by Reed 10.11.12 @ 5:43 am

JD – But Dupree STILL played. True he was criticized, but he still remained in the lineup. His only major injury was the concussion which cannot be blamed on conditioning.

I’m sorry, but there are no tangible similarities between Dupree and Shell. None.

Comment by pghFred 10.11.12 @ 7:52 am

Dupree had lots of injuries sophmore year.. then the concussion which is when he decided to quit.
Dupree lacked the committment…

I like that Chryst laid down the law… no practice… no play time.
what worked for Shell in HS will not work at Pitt… he needs that authority.

Comment by Joe D 10.11.12 @ 9:26 am

What were the nature of Dupree’s injuries? Can you say for certain they were conditioning related? How much game time did he miss?

In a nutshell, Dupree and Shell are apples and oranges. Their backgrounds were very different. The only similarity is they were highly ranked recruits. There’s nothing else. There is no evidence regarding a lack of work ethic with Shell at Pitt.

As I said before, there have been, and will be many highly rated recruits that get by on talent alone in HS. That alone does not make them similar.

Comment by pghFred 10.11.12 @ 10:59 am

Look at Dupree documentary…
Shell is skipping out on practices… you want me to do the Iverson “practice” chant…
I’m glad Chryst laid down the law… no practice… no playtime.

Comment by Joe D 10.11.12 @ 11:35 am

RIP Beano.

Comment by sfpitt 10.11.12 @ 12:43 pm

BEANO – A wonderful man who made you laugh

Comment by Frank MD 10.12.12 @ 9:02 am

I’ve watched the documentary.
Chryst said he feels like Pitt has Rushel Shell’s back issues under control “for now.”
“At this point, yeah [we have it under control,]” Chryst said. “So hopefully it stays that way.”
Back spasms can be tricky to deal with, so it’s understandable that Chryst would be cautiously optimistic about Shell. He has practiced this week, and should be ready to go Saturday, so hopefully nothing new crops up during the course of the game that would cause him to miss more time. We saw to some extent Friday how valuable Shell is to Pitt’s rushing attack.
Chryst said he was impressed by the freshman’s maturity when talking about why he didn’t play against the Orange. Shell said he was physically ready to go Friday night, but had missed to much practice time during the week that he wasn’t mentally prepared for the game. He accepted full responsibility and recognized that if he can’t practice, he won’t be ready to play. “I think he wants to be out there when the lights come on,” Chryst said. “I think those are moments that he relishes so I think his whole approach all along has been good. I think he’s learning some things also. I’ve really enjoyed being around him.”

I don’t remember Switzer talking about Dupree this way.

There’s no comparison between the two. None. Just because you post it 100+ times does not make it so. It sadly reminds me of my in-laws who truly believe whoever says something the most and loudest is correct.

Comment by pghFred 10.12.12 @ 9:26 am

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