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September 19, 2013

Know Your Enemy: Duke

Filed under: Conference,Football,Opponent(s) — Justin @ 11:53 am

This week the Panthers travel to Durham, NC to face off with the 2-1 Blue Devils in a matchup most people would prefer to be on the hardwood. I love football, but Levance Fields’ game winner against Duke in Madison Square Garden a few years back may be my second favorite Pitt sports moment (I came to Pitt in 2004 you old farts). My favorite is still standing on the sidelines when Shady carried the ball every play but one on the game winning drive of the backyard brawl in 2008. While this matchup is on the grass, it’s still going to be an interesting one.

With an easy victory against an FCS school, a tough victory against an awful FBS school, and a manhandling by another ACC school (Georgia Tech), it’s tough to judge Duke at this point. They obviously aren’t that good, but how do they compare to Pitt, a team that could be anywhere for 4 wins to 9 wins this season?

Offense:

Duke took a hit when starting QB Anthony Boone broke his collarbone against Memphis. Boone looked very good against Wake Forest and Virginia last year, winning both games. Backup Brandon Connette came in and did a great job, leading the Blue Devils to 2 4th quarter touchdowns in a 28-14 win. The problem isn’t that Connette had a good 4th quarter. The problem is he needed that in order for Duke to win. Memphis has not beaten a BCS opponent since 2004. They haven’t been to a bowl since 2008. Since then, they are 9-39. That’s an average of 2 or 3 wins per season against the likes of UAB, Rice, Tulane, and Southern Miss. To summarize: Memphis is awful and Duke fans should be concerned it was even close.

After senior QB Sean Renfree graduated, Duke opted to add more option plays to the offense. While they will not be anywhere near as option heavy as New Mexico or Georgia Tech (they still pass 42% of the time, nearly identical to Pitt’s ratio), it’s absolutely an element the defense will have to pay attention to. The play action could be a problem if the back 7 bites hard.

Connette hasn’t racked up a ton of yards running, but he does have 2 TDs and runs of 14 and 18 yards. If you give him the field he’ll eat up some yards. That’s the key to any option run: you have to respect he QB’s ability to get some yards. That’s why it failed with Tino. With Connette, he can make plays if you key on the RB. The defense will have to respect that.

When Connette hands the ball off, expect a heavy dose of sophomore Jela Duncan and senior Juwan Thompson. The two have combined for 60 carries, 312 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Neither is a game breaker; they haven’t had a carry longer than 16 yards. To put that in perspective, all 3 of Pitt’s RBs have had a longer run. Duncan is the top guy and had a good game (16 carries for 89 yards) against GT, so don’t be surprised if the ratio shifts more heavily his direction.

When Connette is throwing, expect him to consistently look Jamison Crowder’s direction. The 5’9 senior WR has 23 receptions for 240 yards on the season, including a critical 11 catch performance against Memphis. The other performer in the passing game is TE Braxton Deaver, with 10 catches on the season. The big play threat appears to be 6’6″ Junior WR Isaac Blakeney. Blakeney has 4 receptions of 19+ yards and 2 touchdowns already on the season, including a 20 yard catch on 3rd and long due to a broken tackle.

Duke primarily runs 3 WR sets. This does present a bit of an alignment question for the defense. Normally, 3 WR sets dictate nickel coverage (5 DBs). However, they’re a run heavy offense. Do you risk putting a safety or LB on a WR or do you pull a LB and give them a better shot at running the ball? I anticipate 4-3 coverage for the most part with a safety on the 3rd WR. Duke struggled to pass the ball against GT (15/28 for only 122 yards) but they did have some success running the ball. I’m confident our CBs can lock down their WRs, as they did to New Mexico. If your weak point on defense is who’s covering their 3rd option at WR, you’re in good shape. We know the starting defense can stop the option runs.

Overall, Duke is not very talented on offense. Their primary players are not big play types. They had five 3-and-outs against GT in the first half, a huge reason for the lopsided time of possession (39 to 21). Duke was 3/14 on 3rd down. When you don’t put away an awful Memphis team until the 4th quarter, you’ve got issues.

Defense:

Duke runs a 4-2-5. That means 4 down linemen, 2 LBs, 2 CBs, and 3 safeties. One of the safeties is typically a hybrid LB/S. Overall, the defense appears to be much more talented than the offense. While the offense struggled against Memphis, the defense held their own. They only allowed 7 points and that touchdown came in the 4th quarter. They held on the first half against GT for awhile, but the inability of the offense to stay on the field (see above: 3 and outs) caused them to wear down. GT’s offense relies on wearing a defense down.

That doesn’t necessarily make Duke’s defense any good. They return 5 starters from a unit that ranked 105th in the country last season. The two best players on defense appear to be LB Kelby Brown and safety Jeremy Cash. They combined for 31 tackles and a forced fumble against GT. It’s tough to gauge the secondary because their first 2 opponents were garbage and GT only threw the ball 16x compared to 60 rushes. They do have All-ACC CB Ross Crockwell returning, which just means you throw away from him and you’re fine. Duke gave up a lot of long completions last season when they threw awal from Crockwell.

I imagine Duke is going to sell out on the run. They’ll keep at least one safety in the box, quite possibly two. That’s the advantage of the 4-2-5; you can put 8 guys in the box but still be prepared for the pass. The downside is the offense has a big size advantage in the trenches. Duke’s biggest safety is 6’2 210 pound Cash. That’s fine for a safety, but Holtz, Parrish, and Garner will eat him alive. I say they’ll sell out on the run because it’s an area they can “win.” If they play back to cover the pass, the offense will happily run the ball all game long. If they sell out on run, we’re still going to run the ball. Hope to force short runs and put the offense into low percentage 3rd downs where even the worst secondary can win half the time.

Like New Mexico, Duke’s DL will be significantly smaller than Pitt’s OL. That will be a trend all season due to how gigantic this OL is. The size difference is by design. They do not have a single DL larger than Artie Rowell, Pitt’s smallest OL. This makes the gameplan logical: line up and hit ’em hard in the trenches. If the running game gets going, Duke is going to be in a lot of trouble.

With a safety in place of a 3rd LB, this shouldn’t be too difficult. Pitt’s OL and TEs have a size advantage. Duke got manhandled by GT and the defense was on the field for nearly 40 minutes. Something you often see after opponents play a triple option team is that they struggle the following week against a different type of offense. They get so used to standing back and reading that when an offense plays them straight up, they arrive late.

Once the running game gets going, all Savage has to do is throw some accurate medium to deep passes in the area of Boyd and Street and we could see a blowout. If they are successful with stopping the run, who knows how this could turn out?

Summary:

Duke’s offense has been underwhelming with Connette at the helm. Memphis gave up 30+ points 7x last season and one of those was to Duke. Duke very easily could have lost to Memphis if one thing goes the other direction. The offense was pretty much useless against GT; they had 1 score before the 4th quarter and the game was over then.

Duke’s best way to win this game is to stop the run and force a few turnovers on defense. If Pitt’s offense is working, Duke does not have the ability to keep up in a shootout. They’re certainly more talented than New Mexico, but top to bottom, Pitt is much better, especially in terms of offensive playmakers and the secondary. Pitt has the ability to score a ton of points on Duke while the opposite is not true.

Pitt should win if they handle their end of things. I think it’ll be 31-20.





31-20! We’ll take it!

Comment by art 09.19.13 @ 12:15 pm

1. favorite Pitt moment is when Matt Cavanaugh twirled the ball after scoring first TD in 77 Sugar Bowl … SI cover picture taken a couple moments later when he raised 1 finger in the air (and it wasn’t the middle one)

2. 2nd favorite moments … the many, many times we hear “tackle made by Hugh” and everyone would respond “Green”

3. Levance’s FG vs Duke

4. 13-9 … post-game RichRod presser with Pitt loud, jubilant Pitt lockerroom in backround

5. Pitt beating Cuse at Carrier Dome in ’88 for first BE League title

Comment by wbb 09.19.13 @ 12:16 pm

Once the running game gets going, all Savage has to do is throw some accurate medium to deep passes in the area of Boyd and Street and we could see a blowout. If they are successful with stopping the run, who knows how this could turn out?

…………..

Oh my gauwwd, he better not stare dahn’ dem receivers!

Comment by NOPE 09.19.13 @ 12:20 pm

Two wins in a row? Forgive my skepticism.

Comment by PittMW 09.19.13 @ 12:21 pm

WBB

Speaking of the sugar bowl in on 1/1/77 I still have my game day program, is it worth anything?

I might go to the game not sure yet, Pitt has to win this one.

Comment by Why ask why? 09.19.13 @ 12:24 pm

wbb, add Tony D running for 303 to beat ND for the first time in forever. He kept making long runs ending holding the ball up to the student section.

Greatness!

Comment by gc 09.19.13 @ 12:26 pm

Still lmao, mid-afternoon madness

Comment by gc 09.19.13 @ 12:27 pm

Pitt should and must win this game. Simple enough.. to keep the momentum going, this is a must have.

This game is critical to make a bowl game this year and go along the plan to keep improving.

Comment by Snala The Panther 09.19.13 @ 12:28 pm

It’s on the coaching staff, IMO. Lets see if we’ve turned the corner regarding winning games we are supposed to win. Last week was a step in the right direction. Lets keep it going! Hail to Pitt!

Comment by Atlanta Panther 09.19.13 @ 12:34 pm

Favorite Pitt Moments 1) Tony Dorsett 303yds against a great ND defense. His first 3 touches were for 1st half touchdowns all longer than 60 yds. 2) Pitt beating highly favored Penn St. by over at 3 touchdowns at Beaver stadium in Fazio’s final game as coach. 3) Snuffy Everett kicking a 40 yd miracle finish game winning field goal in his first ever attempt as a walk on to beat Syracuse. In hoops 1) Larry Harris buzzer beating long range turnaround jumper to beat WVU at Fitzgerald. 2)Fields ice cold bomb he dropped on the Dukies in the Garden. 3)Triple overtime miracle comeback victory over the hoopies at the Pete. Honorable mention Ramon 3 pointer to beat buzzer against WVU.

Comment by spiritofsection 22 09.19.13 @ 12:40 pm

Snala,

I absolutely agree that this is a must-win game if we expect to make a non-crap bowl.

Comment by Justin 09.19.13 @ 12:43 pm

Anyone concerned about our first year players playing their first road game?

Comment by spiritofsection 22 09.19.13 @ 12:44 pm

Duke will come out passing like FSU did. Why wouldn’t they? Houses game plan was horrible. Until Pitt stops a team(that can actually pass) from throwing all over them teams are going to continue to try.

Agree Duke sells out to stop the run. If that is the case Pitt will have to throw some to get their DBs to play deeper. I think Garner will have a huge game.

Look for more variations of the jet sweep Boyd has been running.

Comment by notrocketscience 09.19.13 @ 12:44 pm

Take care of business PITT !!! 34-17 PITT !! (Have Sugar Bowl on 8 Track) Hail To PITT !!

Comment by DC33 09.19.13 @ 12:47 pm

No one mentions Jerome Lane’s thunderous dunk? Send it in Jerome!

link to youtube.com

Comment by Pitt Dad 09.19.13 @ 12:48 pm

Section 22: I’d be more concerned about the freshmen on the road if the environment were loud and unfriendly. It’s Duke. This is a great way to get your feet wet on the road. Their stadium holds like 33k people and they still don’t sell it out most of the time. Duke was 4-1 last season when Virginia came to town and they only had 26k people.

VT will be the first test in terms of crowd noise. Hopefully it’s a 3-1 squad looking for their first win over a quality opponent.

Comment by Justin 09.19.13 @ 12:55 pm

link to collegefootballtalk.nbcsports.com

What the french fruit cake?! Penn State schedules this shit show after all these years and not us?! What happened to extending the series?

STEVIE PPPP!!!! Why are you making me participating in Celebrate a Pirate Day!

ARRRRGGGHHHH!!!!

Comment by tedsptman 09.19.13 @ 1:03 pm

Favorite moment – TD breaks the all-time rushing record as Pitt beats the Nits 21-7 at Three Rivers in a packed house on national TV.

Comment by Joe Lawrence 09.19.13 @ 1:21 pm

If Pitt’s OL continues to gel for this game then the Blue Devils are in for a long day. Chryst would be glad to run Bennett and Conner all day long for consistant 5 yard gains. This should not be a problem if the front five play up to their collective potential.

This also keeps our defensive starters sitting on the bench for prolonged periods of time, staying nice and fresh. So if Pitt’s running game gets going, then things start going bad for Duke on both sides of the ball, fast.

Come on Pitt, keep the momentum going. Hail to Pitt!

Comment by Dr. Tom 09.19.13 @ 1:35 pm

BTW, How can you top the Marino to Brown TD pass in the waining seconds of the Sugar Bowl to beat the Georgia Bulldogs yet again, when considering your favorite PITT moment????

Comment by Dr. Tom 09.19.13 @ 1:40 pm

Won’t be able to watch the game, ESPN3 right?

I will be at a wedding.

I like a good wedding as much as anyone else, however, this is an acquaintance and that’s being generous. If it was up to me, but, I digress.

Anyhow, anyone know if ESPN3 stores their games and you can watch them anytime, or is it a one and done???

Comment by Dan 09.19.13 @ 2:01 pm

I expect this game to be a game that Pitt just runs the ball with purpose and play action the Dukies to death. Pitt in a romp.

Comment by chethejet 09.19.13 @ 2:16 pm

Favorite moments – Pitt beating ND in the final game at Pitt Stadium.
link to youtube.com

Anyone remember the light trucks they used to have to bring in for night games?

Hoops, it would be beating Oklahoma in the Field House January 1989.

Comment by KeyboardKev 09.19.13 @ 2:17 pm

Paul Martha running by me up the sidelines 50yds for a td to beat Nd at south bend in 1963 and on the sidelines I976 Whipping The dawgs for the National Championship.

Comment by 63 Team 09.19.13 @ 2:24 pm

The Pitt – NM was on replay in MD on Comcast cable. I think all ACC games in ACC territories will be replayed on Comcast but you must look for dates and times.

Comment by Frank MD 09.19.13 @ 2:24 pm

Dr Tom , I agree John Brown Touchdown was right up there in the Pac Man Game. Snuffy Everett was the injured kicker when Pat Viancourt a walk on who wasn’t even listed on the roster made the winning 40 yd field goal to save the game, sorry for the memory lapse but it was 30 to 40 years ago. I still remember the kick though, right down the middle for the win avoiding an embarrassing tie at the gun. Some of his teammates didn’t even know his name.

Comment by spiritofsection 22 09.19.13 @ 2:26 pm

I left this site after all of the inane complaining about the qb that threw 21 TDs and only 3 picks last year. However, a friend that is still on this board asked me to come back just to post my Top 5 Pitt Athletic moments

Just because I love discussions like this, where it is all subjective and interesting to see other’s opinions. here is my Top 5 Pitt Athletic moments:

1. Cavanaugh to Brown in the Sugar Bowl
2. Walt 12 joe 0
3. Revis punt return
4. Send it in Jerome
5. Fields dumps Duke

honorable mention
1. Tony DORsett’s long runs vs ND
2. Garrick Thomas’ game winning three pointer
3. Larry Fitz catching nearly every badly thrown ball
4. Darn near every Shady McCoy run
5. My son hitting his first homer in Pitt’s old baseball field

Comment by Ghost of Pete Gonzalez 09.19.13 @ 2:28 pm

I wasn’t there but the comeback from being down by 5 touchdowns at halftime against the hoopies has to be on most lists.

Comment by spiritofsection 22 09.19.13 @ 2:29 pm

Right again Dr Tom, how did we forget that?

Comment by gc 09.19.13 @ 2:29 pm

Randy McMillan running all over PSU

Comment by gc 09.19.13 @ 2:32 pm

@Dan
You can watch the game during the wedding on an iPad with the ACC app.

Comment by oklahomeboy 09.19.13 @ 2:38 pm

@@@@@ in no particular order:

Marino to Brown in the Sugar Bowl vs Ga
Levance beats Duke
Blair vs Uconn (22pts 23 rebounds);
body slam of Tabeat (sp?)
The dunk by Jerome
Ramon at the buzzer vs WVU
Revis punt return
13-9
Larry Fitzgerald
Shady
TD
Etc etc etc

Comment by JR 09.19.13 @ 2:44 pm

Gc, That was sweet, even a happy valley shower couldn’t wash away that memory.

Comment by spiritofsection 22 09.19.13 @ 2:45 pm

all great moments … but just thinking of Pitt football from mid 70s to early 80s is so bittersweet. It is when I really fell in love with college football and when the entire country paid attention to Pitt-PSu since they were both perennial Top 10 .. and many players from both were Western PA. Likely to never return (but who knows)

Comment by wbb 09.19.13 @ 2:54 pm

Fav moment: Scott McCurly – a walk on middle linebacker – picking off a pass to seal the deal in the last ever game at Pitt stadium vs. Notre Dame. We tore down the goal posts and were about to run through the tunnel into South Oakland with them when two rows of mounted police came galloping through the very same tunnel. We dropped the goalposts and ran.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 09.19.13 @ 2:58 pm

Pirates win 10-1, too bad they couldn’t spread those runs around.

Comment by gc 09.19.13 @ 3:05 pm

Dr Tom, love the positive vibes you bring. Anything the offense can do to limit the pressure on the Pitt D works would be great. Agree with all, that Duke will load up the line to stop the run which means that Savage has to (1) eliminate STUPID decisions throwing into triple, let alone double coverage and (2) find the open man no matter if they are 5 yards or 40 yards downfield and whehter they are TEs or WRs.
If Pitt can keep its offense on the field, they could bring home a CRITICAL first ACC win and set themselves up for a potential game with VT (after a beatdown of the Cavaliers) which could bring national attention.
Oh its great to dream, and helpful being in a real collegiate sports conference.

Comment by Taxing Matters 09.19.13 @ 3:07 pm

Won’t be able to watch the game, ESPN3 right?

I will be at a wedding.

I like a good wedding as much as anyone else….

Comment by Dan 09.19.13 @ 2:01 pm

……………

Better get slingbox!

Comment by NOPE 09.19.13 @ 3:08 pm

@oklahomeboy, thanks, I forgot you mentioned that last week. Excellent idea.

Comment by Dan 09.19.13 @ 3:11 pm

Wasn’t the Larry harris buzzer beater against Cincinnati?

Comment by d 09.19.13 @ 3:33 pm

Off topic a bit, and I’ve never commented on uniforms before, but for the record, the new helmets are great, both the stripe and the color (deeper/darker). If you look at the pic in the trib of Thomas, you can see the contrast between the new gold and the old, light yellow pants. the old, light yellow looks gay.

Comment by 1618mt 09.19.13 @ 3:41 pm

Road games means fewer players on sidelines and logistics are easier.
Not concerned at all about them playing their first road game. They played FSU 1st in front of a huge crowd. Nice ice breaker.
Duke will play to win so Pitt has to adjust, expect Duke to go on 4th down and be prepared to face a stacked line of scrimmage.

Comment by SFPitt 09.19.13 @ 4:18 pm

1618mt: I apologize, but rules dictate that any uniform praise that doesn’t involve the script pitt is an immediate IP Ban. My apologies.

Kidding, of course. There are some who froth at the mouth a little too much for script Pitt.

Comment by Justin 09.19.13 @ 4:21 pm

just listened to the lair cast on pantherlair. and I was glad to hear that chris peak thinks there is a good chance PITT will land McKenzie, Nicholson, and Henry, and then have a good chance for bookser as well.

Very excited for Saturday to see if PITT continues to progress and build on last week, if they do it could set up for a nice game against UVA on homecoming

H2P

Comment by rhyno527 09.19.13 @ 4:39 pm

– how about Coach Gottfried sprinting down the sidelines in late 80s when (forgot who) was returning INT for TD in 10-0 win over the Nits?

– how about the 97 game at WVU when Pistol Pete converted on the 4th and 17 (?) in 3OT?

Comment by wbb 09.19.13 @ 4:42 pm

I’m with you wbb, that 97 WVU game sticks out as one of the best IMO

Comment by Pitt2Cali 09.19.13 @ 5:26 pm

What fun! Thanks!!

Comment by steve1 09.19.13 @ 5:36 pm

wbb, 3minutes left with the peds driving for what looks like the winning score, all of a sudden the pick 6 with Omi Gottfried providing the escort. What a great memory.HTP

Comment by spiritofsection 22 09.19.13 @ 6:00 pm

Dan,

You can watch espn replays on the watch espn site

link to espn.go.com

it looks like they keep games on there for about 2 weeks under the replay tab

Comment by wrathofwalt 09.19.13 @ 6:36 pm

Same Old Pitt:

Loses a squeaker to Duke

New Improved Pitt:

Beats Duke 47-7

Which will it be?

Comment by gc 09.19.13 @ 6:58 pm

Didn’t Gottfried also jump on the pile, which exercised the sensibilities of St Joe?

Comment by gc 09.19.13 @ 7:03 pm

It was a night game at Pitt Stadium and Penn St hadn’t moved the ball all night. We led 3 to nothing when with only 2 or 3 minutes left.Penn St put together a real nice drive and all of a sudden the Nittany fans started making noise after being humbled all night. I can’t remember if Gottfried hopped on the pile but I do remember that after the celebration the Penn St fans had made a silent exit during the outburst.

Comment by spiritofsection 22 09.19.13 @ 7:14 pm

I remember the Pitt – PSU blizzard game we lost because the refs could barely determine we missed getting the two point conversion. Talk about a drive back to Johnstown in 3 feet of snow.

Comment by Frank MD 09.19.13 @ 7:38 pm

Frank MD, That was the 77 game

Comment by spiritofsection 22 09.19.13 @ 7:53 pm

How ’bout Palko being the first opponent ever to chuck five TDs vs ND, in their own house no less, to lead Pitt to a big win in a back and forth game…then dropping the F bomb during a live post-game interview — “…so f##king proud of these guys!!”? I enjoyed that a lot.

In latter days, have to agree Walt shutting out PSU in their last scheduled game was awfully satisfying…and seeing Uncle Joe’s tight grimace after.

Comment by Matt N. 09.19.13 @ 8:37 pm

wbb, spirit, The Gottfried sprint is a great memory of mine as well. Was at that game – though my memory is a bit fuzzy. Wasn’t that Yusef Washington with the pick? He came out of Duquesne High, I believe.

Comment by Rockymtnhigh 09.19.13 @ 9:29 pm

Also remember road tripping to Beaver Stadium and Ironhead Hayword have a really good game against psu in a winning effort. I remember the cheerleader’s yelling through the megaphones “We want” with the student section response “head” following by thousands of students holding the cutout of Ironhead over their faces… Though again, my memory is a little fuzzy on the details.

Comment by Rockymtnhigh 09.19.13 @ 9:38 pm

36-35 comeback win against WVU…I was there and half way through the 3rd quarter I made a pact with God that if we won, I would not miss a Sunday in church for a year…and I didn’t.

Still, the first win against PSU at Three Rivers on a night where the wind chill was -9 degress.

Comment by Dan 72 09.19.13 @ 9:44 pm

I have this fear that Duke becomes our UConn South. You know, the team we should always beat but struggle against, especially on the road? Same insignificant football program at a hoops school, same blue and white uni’s, same undersized stadium, same back up QB who will play over his head only vs. Pitt, same shaky Pitt special teams ripe for surrendering a return TD, same over-confident air permeating The Blather…

Not ever having to play UConn again in football is one of the best things about escaping the Big East. Hopefully Duke is not their ACC doppelgänger!

Comment by Iron Duke 09.19.13 @ 10:32 pm

Dude…damn it! I really hope you didn’t jinx us.

Comment by panther94 09.19.13 @ 11:38 pm

@WBB: That was Billy Owens that picked off that pass. 1987, I was there, 11 yrs old..That game made me fall in love with college football and become the Pitt fan I am today(for better or worse) Also that 3rd and 17 to Jake Hoffart at WVU in Walt’s 1st yr was tremendous! Surprised Pedo St and Hoopies agreed to a home and home. Really thought with Joe gone Pitt Penn St was going to become annual starting with 2015 game. Not sure how nor if this will effect that, only so many non conference games to be played…

Comment by Pap76 09.20.13 @ 12:26 am

Don’t forget how bad Pitt’s D was the first game. We all like to talk offense. I am worried about the defense proving they can stop a running QB and any passing attack. I am sure Duke watched the FSU tape and smiled.

Comment by notrocketscience 09.20.13 @ 5:52 am

Billy Owens and Jake Hoffart … thx Pap. Neither was a star but both were just good, reliable players

There were 2 players back around 10 years ago or so …. one was walk-on WR from Erie and the other a transfer RB who, who though pretty much unheralded, played quite a few years in NFL. Both of them made the most of their talents but can’t remember their names.

Any help?

Comment by wbb 09.20.13 @ 6:18 am

Durham Herald reports 15 players missed practice with illness this week.

Comment by alcofan 09.20.13 @ 6:27 am

just remembered – RJ English was the walk-on WR who actually made the Falcons roster before an ACL

and, Nick Goings, OSU transfer, who didn’t play a whole lot at Pitt but played in NFL for 4or 5 years or so

Comment by wbb 09.20.13 @ 6:30 am

Isnt Duke playing 3rd string QB? We win by 13

Comment by Upittbaseball 09.20.13 @ 6:50 am

Joe Lawrence – there are many good memories of Dorsett and PITT football but you are wrong on this one. Dorsett broke the all-time rushing record on the road against the Naval Academy.

Here is the beautiful run that did it…

link to youtube.com

Comment by Reed 09.20.13 @ 7:01 am

Good point about the kids on the road on Saturday.

I think the freshman will be OK especially since they won’t be playing in front of 100,000 rabid fans like they would be if we were playing at PSU or some other huge Temple of Football.

Duke’s Wallace Wade stadium only holds 34,000 and of those who will be in attendance carry a rather nonchalant attitude toward the football program in general.

Comment by Reed 09.20.13 @ 7:05 am

Durham Herald reports 15 players missed practice with illness this week.

Comment by alcofan 09.20.13 @ 6:27 am

Pitt has dropped to a 3.5 point fav. Despite all these Dukies missing practice.

Nick Goings was a very good backup RB who became a starter for the Carolina Panthers in the mid 200’s and had 5 100 yard rushing games in one season which led the NFL that year. He rushed for over 700 yards at PITT.

His career ended due to a series of concussions.

Nick was certainly an overachiever !

Comment by EMel 09.20.13 @ 7:20 am

@ Iron Duke

Oh, man. Don’t hit me with those negative waves so early in the morning.

Comment by EMel 09.20.13 @ 7:23 am

Robert Foster tweeted that he should have listened to his mother. Gotta love it!

Comment by gc 09.20.13 @ 7:32 am

@@@@@@@
Lots of great memories listed.

Palko leveling BC’s stud linebacker!
Palko 5TDs and an expletive deleted in a post game interview
Watching Iron Head run and jump over people…amazing!
We need a W tomorrow!

Comment by JR 09.20.13 @ 7:58 am

To further elaborate on what gc said, Mike White wrote this in the P-G this morning:

What did Foster mean?
Former Central Valley star receiver Robert Foster put an interesting message on his “Twitter” account Saturday, even though it didn’t last long before it was removed.
Foster tweeted “I SHOULDA OF LISTENED TO MY MOM.” (sic)
Read what you want into that. Foster is a freshman at the University of Alabama who is listed as third-team on the depth chart. When Foster decided on Alabama last year, he said his mother wanted him to go to Pitt.

Comment by Panther Pride 09.20.13 @ 8:41 am

Did Foster burn his redshirt yet?

Comment by alcofan 09.20.13 @ 8:47 am

Maybe this helps with guys that are on the fence, about staying home vs big time programs (Oregon)

Chryst is going to play the best player no matter the class.

Comment by gc 09.20.13 @ 8:51 am

Only 5 to pick from so many Great Memories.

1)Winning the 1976 National Championship after Johnny Majors moved Tony Dorsett to FB in the 2nd half & TD promptly ran roughshod over Georgia in our 27-6 win over the SEC champion in the Sugar Bowl.

2) Pitt’s #2 ranked team (who were shunned by the Major Bowls) absolutely destroying South Carolina & Heisman Trophy winner George Rodgers in the 1980 Gator Bowl, with Heisman Runnerup Hugh Green showing who was better. Final Score Pitt 37 S. Carolina 9

3) Pitt absolutely destroying #11 Clemson (who they voted the National Champion a few years later in 1980) in the 1977 Gator Bowl, 34-3.
We would have killed them in 1980.

4) Dan Marino hitting John Brown on the dime in the last minute against Georgia in the 1981 Sugar Bowl to beat them again. The last of 3 back to back to back 11-1 seasons.

5) Tony Dorsett running roughshod over #11 Notre Dame at Pitt Stadium ( I was in attendance as a teen) for 303 yards rushing in a huge Pitt win, which would launch the team towards the National Championship and boost us to #3 in the country and eventually #1. Here’s the story and a pic.

Love the Uniforms.

link to cbssports.com

Comment by EMel 09.20.13 @ 8:51 am

Rocky, My memory agrees with Pap 76 – Billy Owens. My favorite game at Beaver Stadium was when we only won 3 games all year but beat their 8 and 3 team by 3 touchdowns. Jopa got all worked up an ran on the field after an altercation and later berated his team in the locker room.

Comment by spiritofsection 22 09.20.13 @ 8:53 am

Agree with you all! So tough to rank them but I will rank the ones I saw live!
1. Send it in Jerome! I still have some glass!
2. Final game at Pitt stadium! Saw the Bus roll in with his gold Mercedes
3. Billy Owens pick 6 down the sideline
4. 12-0 over Penn St. Rutherford td run
5. Julius Page dunk on center at Gtown! Awesome dunk! YouTube it!

Hail to Pitt!

Comment by Sweet Caroline 09.20.13 @ 9:01 am

@emel, and you of course remembering that smashing of Clemson, Elliott Walker going down the sidelines for a touchdown, and turning around and holding the ball out, around the 5, to the defensive guy chasing him.

Got a taunting penalty on the play, but somehow when you’re young, and it’s your team doing it, I remembering loving it!!!

Comment by Dan 09.20.13 @ 9:02 am

You have all covered most of the moments that I can think of.

I would put this out there also, allthough one game could not define it, more of an era, that I combine into one good memory.

Pitt-Duquesne-West Virginia, triangular basketball rivalry of the late 70’s and 80-81.

One of the fiercest rivalries in sports, and that is not hyperbole.

All in the Eastern Eight, all half decent teams, fights in the stands of the Civic Arena, and even more fights on the courts.

Pure hatred from the fans and players.

West Virginia hanging Andy Sissini in effigy in Morgantown.

Catlett and Chipman always chirping at each other on the court and in the press.

4 or 5 years of some of the best basketball I’ve ever seen.

Clyde Vaughn
Sam Clancy
Dwayne Wallace
Gale Catlett
Greg Nance
Andy Sissini
Bruce Atkins.

Pulled up an article on it on Google.
Eastern Eight had third highest attendance for a conference for their championships for several years.

Civic Arena packed with 16,500 or so.

Great stuff.

Comment by Dan 09.20.13 @ 9:42 am

@Rockymtnhigh –
That’s also the era when the cheerleaders used a microphone and amp…and they would chant “We…Want…a Touchdown” to which the students would yell “No S**t”

And Roger Huston would make announcements over the stadium PA system with his distinctive “BE THERE!”

Great times, fueled by great Bacardi.

Comment by KeyboardKev 09.20.13 @ 10:42 am

Dan 09, Sometimes the hatred was too carried away. I remember the hot dog BB Flenary a Duquesne guard having to skip the WVU game off of death threats. In 76 I was at the backyard brawl at Pitt stadium and there were ejections when the hoopies started trying to hit Tony Dorsett out of bounds. If he would have been injured there would have been a war. Not a fight, a war. I remember Jackie Sherrill called time out with 1 second left on the clock to kick a school record 51 yd field goal as time expired against WVU. Final score Pitt 51 WVU 3. He didn’t do it out of admiration I can assure you.

Comment by spiritofsection 22 09.20.13 @ 10:52 am

Dan 09, Don’t forget Norm Nixon and Larry Harris from that era. Harris’ last tic game winning 23′ shot to beat the hoopies at the Field House was as exciting a finish as Pitt hoops has ever seen. Gale Catlett refused to return to the Fitzgerald off of that game. He new he had been homered and had it coming off what used to happen every time Pitt played at the Coliseum in Morgantown. Vintage stuff.

Comment by spiritofsection 22 09.20.13 @ 10:59 am

Spirit, think your mixing up your Catlett teams, Larry Harris last second shot was against Cincinnati when Catlett coached there.

Comment by marcus of schaumburg 09.20.13 @ 11:48 am

Marcus, My memory of the teams could be confused as I rarely attended sporting events of that era sober but one thing I’m sure I got right was that was about as amazing a finish to a basketball game as a lifetime of watching hoops has seen. What a shot, what a crowd, and what a game. I bet Cranky Catlett remembers. Do you remember the guard who who fed Harris the long pass into the corner. He was a local kid Tom ???? I ran into Larry Harris about 10 years ago and he lit up when I brought up the subject.

Comment by spiritofsection 22 09.20.13 @ 12:55 pm

I can’t thank all of you guys enough for the above posts, dusting off all the many remarkable Pitt football memories for me. There were quite a few that were mentioned above that I was blessed to witness in person. The NCAA rushing record broken by Tony D ranked right up there. And the Navy midshipmen were a class act all the way. Tony runs for a TD to break the record and they fire off their cannon which was ONLY to be fired when Navy scored. PRICELESS memory!

So maybe, being a Pitt Football diehard fan isn’t all that bad after all, even in the lean times. All that I’m sure of is that I love Pitt Football and I will always love Pitt football.

HAIL TO PITT! Beat Duke and on to a new era in making Pitt football history!

Comment by Dr. Tom 09.20.13 @ 1:24 pm

@spirit, oh Good Lord. BB Flenory. One of the main guys and greatest names in Pittsburgh sports. The Baron. He is who was hung in effigy. Sissini had the blood pouring out of him.

As I was typing Sissini, I knew I was missing something. Ya, they didn’t let him play there because of the death threats and the effigy.

Norm Nixon and Larry Harris, of course.

Comment by Dan 09.20.13 @ 1:51 pm

@spirit, Tom Richards???

Comment by Dan 09.20.13 @ 2:10 pm

Thanks Dan, the Baron BB went to Duquesne and his teammate from New Ken Big Benji Pryor played tight end on our football team. What a hotdog Flenory was, He put on a real show at the roundball classic, reverse thru the leg passes for dunks and the like. Not particularly popular amongst our southern rivals however. They are a little different down there. Almost NORMAL, West Virginia.

Comment by spiritofsection 22 09.20.13 @ 2:37 pm

Dan, Memories probably get enhanced with time but when Tommy Richards threw that half court heave into the corner there were so many people jammed in the field house that seemed like Tiger Paul and the crowd were setting a pick. As Harris caught the ball he jumped, turned and fired from full extension. 23 feet of perfect swish shot and 5 seconds later the floor was covered with partying fans. What a great win.

Comment by spiritofsection 22 09.20.13 @ 3:22 pm

Pap and Spirit, yes, you are correct. Billy Owens. One of the Washington brothers – Troy, not Yousef – had a pick six back in that era as well…

Comment by Rockymtnhigh 09.20.13 @ 3:32 pm

Reed – how could I forget that! Thanks for the link.

Comment by Joe Lawrence 09.20.13 @ 8:32 pm

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