First off, if the title doesn’t cause you to jam out to Rage Against the Machine in your head a little bit, I recommend the song as a great one to workout to. It’s quite angry, like most of us are at Matt House’s defense right now. Thankfully the defense is getting a huge break this week, going from NFL talent surrounding a future 1st round pick QB to…well, a team who has completed 10 passes in 2 games.
Here’s a quick look at their individual statistics. As you can see, they live and die by the running game. By live and die, I mean they go as far as Kasey Carrier takes them. Carrier’s 345 rushing yards is a whopping 45% of their total offense. He has 4 of their 7 total touchdowns. Carrier single handedly led them to victory over UTEP on Saturday with 41 carries for 291 yards and those 4 touchdowns, including the game winner in overtime.
How does Carrier get his yards? Mostly due to the option. New Mexico is going to use option runs quite heavily. They do run a bit of triple option, but I don’t see any FB carries on their stat sheet and very few WR reverses, so I imagine most if it is going to be a standard QB-RB play. Right now, their QBs have 177 yards passing (on 10 completions) and 172 yards rushing in 2 games. To put that into perspective, Tom Savage has 201 passing yards on 15 completions in 1 game. Yikes.
To be blunt, stop Carrier and you stop their entire offense. I wouldn’t be opposed to running 8 men in the box all game long. Heck, replace Vinopal with Todd Thomas and run a 4-4. If K’wuan and Pitts can’t cover New Mexico’s WRs 1 on 1 we’ve got a huge problem. Then you have Hendricks back there in “oh crap someone got loose” land. If New Mexico’s offense scores more than 20 when the game is still in contention, I’m going to be terrified. When a team is this one dimensional, a BCS level defense with bowl aspirations should be able to shut them down.
Even if New Mexico manages to drive the ball into the red zone, don’t fear, because without a touchdown they may not even score. Their kicker is 0/2, with misses from 42 and 21. Heinz Field is notoriously difficult to kick at, especially on the open end with the swirling winds.
The Lobos run a 3-4 base with a defensive line who seems way too small to be in a 3-4. Their 5-tech DEs are 6’3 272 and 6’2 288. Their NT is 6’2 280. Their best DL is DE Jacori Greer. He’s a good athlete who had 5 sacks and 8 tackles for a loss last year. To put their size into perspective, Pitt’s smallest OL, Artie Rowell, is a legit 6’2 305. That’s a massive size advantage for our OL.
Between the DL and the LBs, the Lobos generated virtually no pass rush against UTSA and UTEP. Their opponents have completed 67% of their passes for 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. No pass rush, no interceptions, and a high completion percentage for a team that allowed 270 yards per game and 33 touchdowns in the air last season? Not good.
With a small DL, inability to rush the passer, and an atrocious secondary, Pitt should be able to impose their will on this defense. The OL should be able to dominate in the running game. WRs should be able to find plenty of open space. Savage should have the time to throw.
Pitt does have a habit of playing down to opponents, but talent wise, this game shouldn’t even be close. There is such a massive talent gap between a New Mexico team who has only won 8 games from 2009-present and Pitt that fans should get to enjoy the second team offense and defense in the 4th quarter.