Thank goodness Tyler Boyd verballed to Pitt on Saturday. Otherwise I don’t want to think about how angst-ridden we Pitt fans would have been Saturday night. As it was, it wasn’t pretty.
Starting with some football. Because, at least it means the season is officially finished.
Let’s face it, the signs and portents were there from the start. Doakes being suspended to make an already weak link spot on a weak O-line that much worse. With Ray Graham and a couple others unable to go, it was even less promising. I know Graham would never have done it, but if I were Graham and watching the O-line during the week. I might have been grabbing my hamstring and gimping up to avoid any stupid chances in this game.
And on the fifth play, the interception-free streak of Sunseri came to an end to at least try and snuff out hope early.
It was almost a distillation of everything we’ve seen bad from this team in 2012. The O-line was horrid -as feared/expected. Sunseri held the ball too long. The defense slept-walked through the first quarter. Then had their end-of-the-half-does-not-mean-halftime moment to allow Ole Miss one more score. Not to mention being unable to get off the field on 3d and 4th down plays (Ole Miss converted on those downs 12 out of 23 tries). Questionable special teams play.
Then to see Hubie Graham go down once again, because he hasn’t had anything but bad luck this year.
Any (very, very, very faint) hope there was that Pitt might make a game of it in the second half was excruciatingly snuffed out by Ole Miss never getting off the field. Pitt had two 3-and-outs, but Ole Miss had two drives that ate up over 11 minutes of the quarter. Yes, they only managed one TD out of it. But up 21 with one quarter left. Versus this Pitt team. That was more than enough.
As so often this year, the game was lost on the lines. Pitt’s undermanned O-line was overmatched, and only exacerbated the known issues on offense. On defense, the D-line couldn’t get any real pressure on Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace — who has shoulder and hamstring issues — but rarely had to worry about getting hit.
Pitt‘s defense, forced to retool after the pre-bowl departure of defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable to North Carolina State, allowed Ole Miss to rush for 224 yards while sacking Wallace (22 for 32, 151 yards) only once.
“They beat us in almost every phase,” coach Paul Chryst said. “They were clearly the better team today. I thought the guys prepared well, but they outexecuted us.”
Flashing back to the first couple games of the season where Pitt was not ready to play. That’s what it felt like when watching this one. Just not ready. Slow to react.
“We knew they were going to go up-tempo all game,” Pitt safety Jarred Holley said. “Ole Miss did a great job getting ready to play.”
Couldn’t do anything about it, but they knew what they were going to do.
This had be the last time Pitt makes a trip to Birmingham in January. So, there’s that.