This one was ugly; like Wannstedt’s mustache full of fish sammich ugly. I don’t know if I have the stomach to watch the defense and give you guys a review. If you really, really want it (post in comments what your opinion is) I’ll do it, but only because you guys are the best. I say that earnestly, not sarcastically. Here are a few quick thoughts.
1) Tyler Boyd, Devin Street, and James Conner are awesome. Kevin Weatherspoon had 2 huge catches today, a 3rd down conversion and the game winner. I think Boyd is hurt because there’s no other explanation as to why he wasn’t out there late in the 4th. Hopefully he’s OK, I bet he’ll do something even more special for homecoming next week.
2) To continue Captain Obvious statements, the defense and special teams were abysmal. While everyone is pointing fingers at Vinopal, there were a lot of goats. Shane Gordon missed an easy tackle on Connette near the goal line and Connette scored. Duke had a play where Connette pumped to the left, then came back right to a WR screen. That burned Pitt at least three times. There were a ton of missed tackles and guys who were way out of position. Aaron Donald was pretty quiet outside of a few plays, probably due to double teams, and the rest of the DL did not step up.
3) If you’re going to fire Matt House (highly, highly doubt it happens), you do it AFTER Virginia. If Chryst is considering it, he’s weighing his possible replacements now while the team prepares for Virginia. There’s a bye week after the Virginia game. This gives the new coach time to get things in place. Like I said, don’t get your hopes up. It won’t happen. As bad as the D played, a lot of it was on players screwing up.
4) Duke’s offense appeared to be crap before this game, but Virginia and Virginia Tech appear to be awful on offense as well. Virginia is ranked 111th in passing yards and 98th in rushing yards. They didn’t score against Virginia Military Institute until the 2nd quarter today and that was after 2 INTs by their QB. Logan Thomas, VT’s QB, is dreadfully awful as we saw last year and if anything, he has gotten worse.
5) The offense fired on all cylinders the first 3 quarters and stuttered a bit in the 4th. To be blunt, I think they got tired. What’s important to me is that Savage came up with a huge throw in a clutch situation with pressure in his face. I don’t think you can blame coaching in terms of a passive or aggressive choice. They tried aggressive, 3 and out. They tried passive, 3 and out. My big complain was when you’re running out the clock, don’t get cute with running plays. Don’t pull TEs or OGs when everyone knows you’re running. Everyone is firing up field to try and stuff the run and that unblocked guy made plays at least twice that I saw. Don’t get cute. Helmet on a helmet, no pulling.
6) Everyone was wowed with Savage’s deep throws to Street and Boyd but to be blunt, those throws didn’t impress me. Not saying anything bad about him, they were nice throws and he did exactly what he was supposed to do. The throws that impressed me were the game winner to Weatherspoon along the sidelines, a 3rd down completion early in the game, the dump off to Boyd, and a few throws he dropped between the CB and S in cover 2.
The throw in cover 2 is difficult because a CB is playing short with a safety over top of him and there’s a very narrow window for a QB to throw in. Savage nailed those throws. He did a much better job looking off defenders. In fact, the dump off to Boyd for his first touchdown involved him looking off a LB so Boyd had a little extra space, space he used to score. I’ll go over more on him later, but I was very, very impressed with the little things today.
7) Conner has obviously become the primary RB. The coaches are savvy and will continue to give the start to Bennett as he is the vet. It’s one of those subtle things coaches do to keep players happy when they’ve done nothing wrong. Bennett is fine; it’s not his fault Conner is playing better right now. I’m still concerned about Bennett. He just doesn’t look right out there.
8) I know we have depth issues, but there’s no reason for Ray Vinopal to start anymore. Cullen Christian, Ryan Lewis, or Jevonte Pitts can’t be worse.
Overall, it’s a win. Take some time, drink some beers, enjoy the win, and get ready for homecoming! Also, feel free to note the topic tags I used.