September 23, 2013

Briefly Recapping A Weird Win

Filed under: Football — Chas @ 1:22 pm

Not sure how to handle this one.

The offense was fantastic. The O-line gave Savage plenty of time and opened up holes for the running game. James Conner now appears to be the primary running back — even if not listed as the starter. Tom Savage had an absolutely brilliant game. Accurate throws. Looking off his receivers a lot more. Devin Street and Tyler Boyd are possibly the best 1-2 WR combo in the ACC. And Kevin Weatherspoon’s abrupt and clutch emergence as the 3d WR. The playcalling was aggressive and smart for most of the game.

It feels like that doesn’t begin to do their performance justice.

And that’s because…

Defense and special teams did so much to nearly undo everything the offense did.

Starting with the defense. It was a defense that had 4 interceptions — including one returned for a TD — and forced three 3-and-outs and a 4-and-out when Duke tried and failed on 4th down. Yet it could barely hang on to the game.

Giving up 424 yards (323 passing & 101 rushing) to the Duke back-up QB. Helped Pitt to a 20-point and 23-point lead only to let the lead dwindle back down to single digits just as quickly.  And it wasn’t because the defense was tired. Pitt held the ball for nearly 13 more minutes than Duke.

The defense lost focus for large stretches. Not being disciplined in their assignments when facing a team that could spread them out and have the QB run. Just like the Florida State game, where they looked confused and lost.

After Pitt went ahead, 51-28, with 3:18 left in the third — the Panthers’ largest lead of the game — the defense responded by allowing Duke to score on a 75-yard touchdown pass on the first play of its next drive, giving the Blue Devils hope and keeping them within striking distance.

“I wouldn’t say [I’m] frustrated,” defensive lineman Aaron Donald said. “There’s disappointment at times when you give up a first-play drive for 75 yards and let them score. But we stayed together and we kept fighting and we came out with a win. I’m happy with that.”

Pitt’s defense seemed to turn a corner last week when it shut down New Mexico’s option rushing attack. But against Duke’s spread, Pitt defenders had trouble defending the Blue Devils in the open field, similar to the struggles they had in the opener against Florida State.

“Last week we did a better job of, maybe, assignment football,” Chryst said. “When they take a defense and they spread you apart, there are components, there are options. If one guy is off on his thing, whether his eyes are wrong or doesn’t defeat a block, [it doesn’t work].”

A lot of blame should go on the players, but the coaches are the ones that prepare them. And they are the ones that kept deciding to send out Ray Vinopal to play free safety.

The defense has me terrified at this point. The side of the ball that has all the veterans. That has the experience. The weak spots on the defense, though, are being picked at with regularity and the coaching staff is showing little ability to do anything to adjust to or mask the problems.

Then there are the special teams.

Not included in that total, however, are Duke’s 211 return yards that, combined with other special-teams mistakes, nearly cost Pitt (2-1, 1-1) its first ACC victory.

It started when freshman kicker Chris Blewitt missed an extra-point attempt — the Panthers’ fourth in the past eight seasons — after the first touchdown.

Then Duke defensive tackle Sydney Sarmiento blocked a 24-yard field-goal attempt that wasted a 19-yard interception return by safety Jason Hendricks to the Duke 42.

It got worse just before halftime when Duke’s Jamison Crowder, who scored two other touchdowns from scrimmage on run and pass plays, returned a punt 82 yards for a touchdown. That turned what had been a 27-7 Pitt advantage into a 30-28 lead.

And every Pitt fan started flashing back (“Over Macho Grande?” “No. I don’t think I’ll ever get over Macho Grande.”) to December 2009 against Cinci.

The game appeared to be slipping away with 4:29 left when punter Matt Yoklic dropped a snap at the Pitt 30, setting up Duke’s final touchdown and the second by quarterback Brandon Connette.

“Our coverage units, special teams in general, all four phases,” coach Paul Chryst said, pointing out one of the areas where Pitt needs to improve.

Um, yeah. Who’s in charge of special teams? No, really. Who is in charge? It’s not listed on the “Coaches” page aside from one graduate assistant. I mean, I can understand not wanting to take the “credit” but usually someone is given the job. I have to assume it is the head coach. It might be time for him to put a little more time on that aspect. [EDITOR NOTE: Not sure how I missed this factoid, but it seems that special teams coach is “by committee” per Sam Werner of the PG: “Chryst said this morning that he isn’t going to revisit the concept of coaching special teams by committee (Chris Haering is sort of the de facto coordinator, but really all of the coaches work with the special teams units)…” Hopefully he revisits it after this year, because this approach hasn’t looked any better in year 2 than in year 1.]

Now on the silver lining front, Pitt didn’t lose the game. Pitt, when it has close games in past years has not handled that well.

We have to be better at closing out a game,” Chryst said.

“We need to work on some stuff,” said defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who had a sack and another tackle for a loss. “We got a win, so we’re going to be happy about the win, but I’m kind of disappointed as far as letting them score 55 points on us. I’m real disappointed in that part.”

Street, who has been around long enough to have seen some devastating losses, said he couldn’t help but think about Pitt losing leads against Iowa in 2011 and Notre Dame last year.

“Those close games, we couldn’t finish,” he said. “Today was a true test. I think it’s a good indication of where we’re at. Wins and losses come a dime a dozen, but effort can’t be matched.”

Then he added: “Of course, we have to get better.”

Pitt was 3-9 the past 3 years in games decided by 7 points or less (including those come from ahead losses to ND, WVU and Iowa). This time they at least hung on and did enough.

Now from the Duke side. Duke Head Coach Dave Cutcliffe saw that kind of offense Pitt ran back when he was the head coach at Ole Miss.

Back when Duke coach David Cutcliffe was coaching in the SEC, with SEC-sized players, he would run an offense similar to the one Pittsburgh used to shred Duke’s defense for 598 yards, he said. The Panthers ran the ball effectively to set up big passing plays, an age-old strategy that worked all day.

Due to the Panthers’ success on the ground, Duke safeties were cheating up and letting receivers get behind them. That happened on consecutive plays to safety Dwayne Norman, who was beaten on a 67-yard touchdown pass to Devin Street and a 69-yard toss to Tyler Boyd.

“Young men are fighters and competitors, and if they come out being successful running the ball on you, everyone wants to stop the run,” Cutcliffe said. “There are people that are pass-first, and there are people that are run-first, and you can’t cross over in that circumstance.

“When you’re in a deep zone, you’re trying to keep it all in front of you. You get mesmerized if you’re not careful at safety. I don’t have to see the tape to know you get mesmerized at safety with the play-fake. They’re big, they put that ball in there, and by the time you think it’s past, it is past. Well that’s too late with a guy that runs as well as their guys do.”

Duke — despite all the points their defense gave up — has to be wondering “what if” after 4 turnovers that led to 14 points. Cost them drives and possibly their own points.

Botched snap aside, what happened to Yoklic.

Senior, experienced, from what I remember, a pretty good kicker the past couple years.

Don’t know his stats, but seems like a lot of his punts were short, low, line drives.

Didn’t start raining till the end.


Comment by Dan 09.23.13 @ 1:43 pm

I haven’t seen a Pitt qb play pitch and catch with his receivers like that, since I don’t know when. You could say Duke’s defense stinks. Doesn’t matter, we’ve played stinky defenses every year, several of them every year. Still never saw that before in ages.

Defense, wow. Regarding House, and regarding my questions a few weeks back. Doesn’t anyone else see what is wrong, and can’t they go to him in the meetings and give suggestions. Is he out there on an island??? Shouldn’t he be getting input from everyone??

If Vinopal shouldn’t be the whipping boy, as someone suggested, then he has to do one thing. Get off the field. Sorry, maybe a nice kid, maybe a standout in the community. Wonderful. As for football and him, yikes.

Overall, I’m actually pretty happy. Won a game on the road, offense spectacular, all the scoring aside, I’ve seen us lose many a game like this.

Lots of work to do, but 2-1. Next up, UVA, see what happens.

Comment by Dan 09.23.13 @ 1:51 pm

If I was a betting man (and I only really bet when I get free slot play at Rivers), I’d say pitt Loses vs Virginia.


Because it would break the 2 win 2 loss streak we’ve been on for OVER A YEAR NOW.

Comment by Benzene 09.23.13 @ 2:05 pm

First off, I too am terrified of this defense, as it stands today. Unless they get things cleaned up quickly, They will cost us at least one game this season, probably more than one.

That being said, I think there is a spark of hope – if only a spark. Leading up to the Duke game I read that the team was focused on creating turnovers. Well gentlemen, they created four of them. As bad as the defense was, without those turnovers we don’t win the game.

So here is what I’m getting at. Pitt focused on turnovers in practice and the defense went out and created turnovers in the game. This shows me that if the team is to some degree coachable. They can improve.

Am I too, optimistic? Maybe. But at this point, what choice do we fans have? I’ve got to give House an company a chance to focus the players on their assignments or tackling, or both; because they aren’t going to fire him before Virginia.

Fear the worst. Hope for the best. Hail to Pitt.

PS – If Vinopal is the starter, how bad are the backups???

Comment by Atlanta Panther 09.23.13 @ 2:24 pm

I’m really looking forward to this week’s game. I like the way Pitt is playing. Even the defense, playing as poorly as they did, still had their moments, four interceptions, one for a pick six, Aaron Donald breaking through to tackle both the QB&RB in one fell swoop and Todd Thomas coming up big with his second snuffing out of a faked punt in as many games.

The other thing that I’ve sensed is that this team is really starting to play like a TEAM! Even the emerging Freshmen stars are all about playing for the betterment of the team rather than dwelling on their own personal highlights. That my friends is how a winning program develops and I think that is because Coach Chryst is fostering that kind of team family atmosphere. Sure looks like they’re having fun out there now!

I sincerely hope that recruits like Henry and Nicholsen are paying attention, we sure could use their help next season on the D.

Have no idea what to expect from the Panthers going forward, still a ton of unanswered issues and they will continue to be tested by tougher competition going forward. Exciting to watch though. A lot more fun than last year!

Hail to Pitt!

Comment by Dr. Tom 09.23.13 @ 2:26 pm

^Agree. Dr. Tom you’ve got one of the best big-picture perspectives on this board. This team is a lot more fun to watch than last year, and they are only going to get better on both sides of the ball.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 09.23.13 @ 2:31 pm

Vinopal is just plain awful. Can’t tackle, can’t cover anyone. At some point you have to put someone else out there. What’s the worst that can happen, they miss tackles & get beat for td’s, we’re already getting that so it wouldn’t matter much. Not sure who the primary backup is, but give them a shot.

Comment by Nick 09.23.13 @ 2:37 pm

Nick I do not disagree…but I just have to wonder.

Changing the subject – We are now 9th in ESPN’s ACC power rankings. A win against the Cavs doesn’t push us any higher though, because Virginia is right behind us at #10.

link to

Comment by Atlanta Panther 09.23.13 @ 2:40 pm

We were laughing in the stands, in the 4rth quarter because of these 2 extremely ironic plays.

1) Vinapol, after getting beat all day for long passes, long TD’s and missed tackles. Recovers Duke’s onside kick when they had built some momentum.

2) For all the ills of the defense and they were many and well documented on this site, Gonzo comes up with the game winning points, the points that got PITT to 58 points, with the INT return for a TD.

PITT is starting to get some consistency on offense, it’s very important we score a lot of points this week as well, against a middling Virginia team.

Plus it’s homecoming !!!

VeV !

Comment by EMel 09.23.13 @ 2:54 pm

Dan, last time I remember Pitt playing pitch and catch was Danny M to Collins and Dawkins vs FSU in 81. Our defense was a little better though.

Comment by wbb 09.23.13 @ 3:02 pm

let’s see, Pitt has

1) tall guy with big arm
2) 2 really good, playmaking WRs
3) a pretty good freshman RB, and
4) no D

In other words …. Pitt is last year’s WVU

Comment by wbb 09.23.13 @ 3:04 pm

Didn’t Aaron Donald play DE two years ago in 2011 and excelled on the end. Not as easy to get double teamed out there…. as being inside.
Plus that’s where he’s going to play in the NFL, DE.

Plug Tyrique Jarret at 340 lbs at NT along with Ezell at DE, Donald at DE and do a 3 man line with Price as a hybrid standup DE/LB where he kind of excelled as a true freshmen. He’s not big enough to go into a 3 point stance against a behemoth OT.

You could also switch into a 4 man front when the occasion demanded it (a running attack team) and plug in LaQuinten Smith, Daryl Render or Devon Cook as the extra linemen. All 3 have some playing experience and all 3 showed some promise.

These are some options available to House, or is he just going to keep trotting Durham & Murphy out there the whole season ? And let the defense continue to struggle ???

Comment by EMel 09.23.13 @ 3:06 pm

The poor Hoopies got the goose egg on Saturday against another one of their hated rivals.

Maryland of the ACC (at the moment). (38-0)

The toothless must be getting restless in Morganhole. lol

Comment by EMel 09.23.13 @ 3:14 pm

Wbb youare so right
EMel that sounds so very good mail the idea to
house becuse he is to dumb to think of it him self

Comment by FRANKCAN 09.23.13 @ 3:22 pm

Chris Dokish ?@ChrisDokish 4h
Todd Orlando, who Pitt passed over for defensive coordinator, currently has the No.15 defense in the country at Utah St

Comment by wbb 09.23.13 @ 3:29 pm

IMO they should change the D from a 4-3 to a 3-4 that’s what their personal dictates. It would get Donald off the double teams or free up Gordon and Thomas if they do double Donald. Price would be better standing up and could cover TE and RBs and try Galambos on the other side. Also Gonzalas could move back to free safety and get Vinopal off the field. Pick a corner and leave him on an island and put a safety over the top on the other side. The problem is they are getting killed on the weak side because where the LBs are lining up, they shift the LBs way to far over to the strong side leaving a smaller DE a LB and a DT to cover one side of the field. Also with a 5 man front they could run some stunts confuse the lineman and get some pressure on the QB they now just straight bull rush and it’s 4 on 5 or 6 if they leave a back in. They just don’t have enough in people in the box they play on their heels and need to start to attack trust the corners they might give up some big plays but not 55 points worth

Comment by Steve h 09.23.13 @ 3:32 pm

USA Today’s Paul Meyerberg has Pitt up eight spots to 69 link to
But unless there’s major improvement (and so far it’s been the same defense giving up gobs of points since the Compass Bowl)..don’t see us keeping it close against Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Notre Dame, and Miami. If we beat Virginia 6-6 looks like a good possibility, maybe 7-5. If Chryst truly wants to be a great head coach, he’s going to have to go outside his safety zone and hire a real defensive coordinator.

Once again, Frankcan, who threw the biggest stink of this board about House’s hiring, is right on the money.

Most of us would be satisfied by 6-6 or 7-5 after the chaotic summer. Overall, Pitt football is on an upward trajectory and generating real excitement.

Tino must have lost his twitter password.

Comment by TonyinHouston 09.23.13 @ 3:55 pm

Wbb you are right , good point but he must not have coached at wisconsin or with one of chryst frends
which means todd would not fit here.
15th ranked D or not.

Comment by FRANKCAN 09.23.13 @ 3:56 pm

A solution to our poor defensive showing — more offense. :-)

Hail to Pitt!

Comment by MariettaMike 09.23.13 @ 3:59 pm

TonyinHouston read panther prey bye dockish what
he posted to day i think you will like it.
give it a look buddy .

Comment by FRANKCAN 09.23.13 @ 4:00 pm

ND and NC are still very winnable games, ND is slow and boring as usual they’ll be ripe for an upset

don’t know if NC can keep up with our offense even if our D is still putrid

Miami and GT will absolutely kill us though if positive changes aren’t made

Comment by deepelemblues 09.23.13 @ 4:02 pm

Will the real Wahoos please identify yourselves? Looking back to Virginia’s beating (49-0) of VMI last Saturday there was little to learn. The Keydets were badly outmanned as most would have guessed. UVa Soph. QB David Watford threw two early picks which was interesting. Their starting TE had a knee injury and the MRI report is still out. Little to learn from the whipping they took at the hands of the Ducks. The 19-16 close win over BYU is a solid W but it is confusing as the game was delayed extensively by T/L and heavy rain. BYU looked the more talented squad but delay’s and conditions impacted their momentum. The Hoos want to run the ball with junior Kevin Parks being the first horse out of the barn. You can bet they are scheming runs for QB Watford after watching the Pitt/Duke tape. Don’t see the explosive talent that Duke showed. Hail to Pitt. Have a great week of practice Panthers! UPone

Comment by UPone 09.23.13 @ 4:04 pm

Ticket prices for Pitt-Virginia are up from two weeks ago on Stub Hub. With homecoming and traveling Cavalier fans, Pitt might break 50,000.

Comment by TonyinHouston 09.23.13 @ 4:15 pm

another reason to attend the game saturday… to see the 40′ duck.

Comment by pittkeith 09.23.13 @ 4:20 pm

@wbb, Dwight Collins, one of my all-time favorite Pitt Panthers.

And, ya, how about the Hoopies?? 0-39???

Double ouch.

Comment by Dan 09.23.13 @ 4:21 pm

Both Emel and Steveh have what I would consider logical ideas on “playing to the strengths of your personel” on the defense A concept that Coach Chryst prides himself on.

I really like the idea of going to the 3-4 defensive scheme, putting both Ezell and Donald at the DE positions and getting Price back into the LB spot again. I’d love to see opponents try to move Tyrique Jarret out of the middle at NT while Ezell and Donald are causing all kind of mischief around the ends.

Can you imagine Virginia’s OC’s expression the first time House trots out that new defense come Saturday. That would be a major quizical WTF look on his face if there ever was one.

I’m serious guys, email those suggestions to Coach House TODAY!

Comment by Dr. Tom 09.23.13 @ 4:58 pm

saturday– pitt vs virginia 12:30

lots open at 7:30 for very wary tailgating.

stage ae opens at 9:30.
morning madness at 10:30.

pitt band plays a pregame concert at 10:30 near entrance a.
and marches to the stadium at 11:30.

and let’s not forget the 40′ duck tethered close to the clemente bridge.

Comment by pittkeith 09.23.13 @ 6:07 pm

if memory serves, they did talk about practicing the 3-4 in the off-season although I haven’t heard anything about it recently

Comment by wbb 09.23.13 @ 6:08 pm

and this is homecoming weekend.

Comment by pittkeith 09.23.13 @ 6:13 pm

I think it is too early to be burying coaches or anointing passed over ones. We are 2 and 1 which is as good as anyone realistically could expect going in. No matter how well or poorly coached our kids have been. Why don’t we play a few more games before we pass judgement on these people. If we give up 50 a week again this week and win I can live with it.

Comment by spiritofsection 22 09.23.13 @ 7:10 pm

I think the 20th ranked defense from last year shows how bad the big east was. I don’t take that ranking seriously at all. Now I do think huxtable would have kept duke under 40 PTs

Looking over whisky offense last two years Chryst was there, they put up boat loads of PTs but gave up tons of points. I’ll take a 10 win season with great offense if it means have a crappy defense

Comment by Why me 09.23.13 @ 7:24 pm

Count me as one (along with Frankcan and Dokish) who thought House should have been axed in Feb before he was hired. The fact that PC took nearly 2 months to promote an unqualified assistant should have raised a red flag with everyone.

The defensive staff consists of the least qualified DC in the BCS along with 2 assistants with a collective experience of 3 years … plus guy taken out of retirement.

This is a unit with 8 returning starters; they should not be great but should at least be serviceable.

That the offensive staff surrounding PC all have great qualifications while the defense has very little is a total disaster … and all Pitt fans that care should be enraged.

Comment by wbb 09.23.13 @ 7:28 pm

Why me …. in no way shape, form or manner will this team with that defense come close to 10 wins. Yes, just like Saturday, they can scor on weaker opponents … but take a look at the schedule in November.

Comment by wbb 09.23.13 @ 7:31 pm

WBB you are right. But it would be impotent rage, because unless one of us is a big $$$$ booster – there ain’t $hit we can do.

All I have to say is that Savage better fill the air with footballs against Virginia, because our defense ain’t much.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 09.23.13 @ 7:37 pm

Wbb you are fair and a man who speaks the truth
i know there are some who dont like what i say
but you know Wbb is a fair man.
and what he says is fact house was a bad hire.and what makes me mad is if we had a serviceable D not even a great D just average we could win 9 games
this year.
but with house it will never happen.

Comment by FRANKCAN 09.23.13 @ 7:38 pm

It is hard to defend 55 pts., but the D actually made some key plays in the game. When it was 30 to 28 they did a 3 and out to start the second half. We scored again. I thought those points were huge at the time. It was bad but it wasn’t all bad. The D scored too they weren’t all offensive points. I think our defense is a cause of concern but let’s see if they don’t show some improvement. I don’t think we ought to assume the offense has arrived and will dominate the rest of the year either. We won and we have some stuff to build on and some areas that need a lot of work. We might actually win 6 games with a bunch of freshman playing. I think that’s great.

Comment by spiritofsection 22 09.23.13 @ 7:43 pm

Driving home from the pitt vs fsu game, savage said this offense can be very special this year. I told my friend what the heck is he smoking

That being said, I must be smoking the same stuff because I honestly feel pitt can play with anyone on this schedule. It will require many points to win most of these games if the defense doesn’t improve. I can see this team winning 9 games this year. If this defense can improve in the smallest of ways, pitt can have one lose going into November

Of course I could walk out of Heinz on Saturday afternoon complaining about another pitt lose. But with all the complaining I do, I also find myself seating in the same seat hoping for a pitt win for the past 15yrs.

Comment by Why me 09.23.13 @ 7:44 pm

Why me, I think you are way carried away. We will be lucky to win more than 5 this year and that could be a stretch. Don’t be fooled by beating on the weak, we have a long way to go before we smell nine wins with this schedule. I so wish you are right but common sense tells me you are dreaming.

Comment by spiritofsection 22 09.23.13 @ 7:52 pm

do not get drunk on how good the offense looks against the likes of New Mexico and Duke. Yes, they’re fun to watch … but I assure you they will look different against the better teams, especially when the Oline can’t dominate like they have the past 2 weeks.

When we run into teams that can bring the pressure, then things will change. Look what pressure did to a 2-time SB winner last night

Comment by wbb 09.23.13 @ 7:53 pm

I totally agree with my comrades above about changing to a 3-4 on defense. What makes no sense to me is that our head coach prides himself in adapting what he does to fit the strengths of his players on offensive. So, why in the heck wouldn’t you do the same thing on the D side of the ball? We have the talent for a 3-4 D but clearly not for the 4-3. How can they not see this? To say you can’t change in mid season begs the question: What do we have to lose? Our D can’t get any worse than they already are. GO PITT!

Comment by pittman4ever 09.23.13 @ 8:11 pm

yes we are dreaming but if we had a better D i think we would have a chance at 9 wins i belive
that we could do it.
but not with the D playing the way that they do.
so i think you are right 5 wins is abought right

but you see that is why i am mad becuse the offence
is good enough but the D is not.
and it did not need to be that way all that he needed to do was hire a good DC and who knows were
we would have been maybe 9 wins a great season thrown away with a bad hire.

Comment by FRANKCAN 09.23.13 @ 8:11 pm

This offense is and will be good for several reasons. Namely upgraded talent in each and every position and continuity of coaching. We didn’t put up points against FSU because it was the first game and they were just so freakin’ good. But we all saw Tyler Boyd run those jet sweeps, we all saw Devin Street beat coverage for a 50 yeard bomb in the 3rd quarter and we all saw James Connor run with authority when there was a crease. Offense is not our problem. If we stay focused we could hang 40 or 49 on Virginia and most of the middling team we play. Hell we put up 30 points a game last year with TINO FREAKING SUNSERI as our quarterback, and probably the worst O-line in recent history.

We can win six games, maybe seven just with our offense. If by some miracle our ragtag bunch of under-qualified defensive coaches can pull this defense together we might win 8 or 9.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 09.23.13 @ 8:39 pm

BTW I disagree with the good doctor on this one. You don’t switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4 mid stream. If you think the defenders are having problems with their assignments now, try teaching them a whole new defense in 5 days. Yep, that should solve the problem.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 09.23.13 @ 8:40 pm

Why do most think it is the coaching on D that is the problem. Could it be talent and not being able to defend the spread which they could not do last year either against sub par competition.

Comment by JP 09.23.13 @ 8:59 pm

I do think lack of quality DEs are hurting them – they get no push, no penetration from that position which really disrupts an offense. It used to be a strength just a few years ago.

They played 3-4 just 2 years ago under Fraud, and that defense did pretty well for the most part.

Comment by wbb 09.23.13 @ 9:13 pm

I agree with Atlanta. Watch the Duke game again…little improvements here and there would have made it a blowout. Also, I think the defense quit a little bit in the 4th because they thought Duke should have. But, you can’t put it all on a D that went and got 4 interceptions.

Also, you can’t switch schemes midstream.

Comment by panther94 09.23.13 @ 9:53 pm

Marquel Combs the best JC DT in the nation is to
transfer from kansas he is 6 foot 3 290 pounds what
do you think should chryst give him a call.
i guess kansas was to flat for him.
kansas said bye bye go any were but the big 12.

Comment by FRANKCAN 09.23.13 @ 10:10 pm

Saturday is going to be a great day to impress big time recruits – 76 degrees & plentiful sunshine ! After the game , check out all the spectacular sights & sounds of fabulous Oakland as it comes alive at night ; especially the gorgeous ladies. Ahh , the memories – how can you not choose PITT !!!

Comment by daddylonglegs 09.23.13 @ 10:16 pm

Frankcan…we could use some help next year. Let’s go get him.

Comment by panther94 09.23.13 @ 10:31 pm

panther94 boy could we use help that is a under statement ,
who knows maybe chryst will call him.

Comment by FRANKCAN 09.23.13 @ 10:43 pm

The reason I believe it is coaching more than lack of talent is that Paul Chryst and Joe Rudolph are excellent offensive coaches and look at what that unit is doing. Also think Bobby Engram has done an excellent job with the receivers, and Jim Hueber has coached O line forever and has even been an O coordinator at Minnesota. On the defensive side, look at the resumes of Matt House, Chris Haering, and Inoke Brecterfield, the lack of experience is frightening. John Palermo has to take on a bigger role. Although I do question that in 38 yrs of coaching he has never been a D coordinator

Comment by Pap76 09.23.13 @ 11:19 pm

…Although Palermo was head coach at Austin Peay in 1990 and guided the Governor’s to an 0-11 record. Lol

Comment by Pap76 09.23.13 @ 11:23 pm


Pitt must beat Virginia to have a chance to win 6 games. Great to be excited after beating Duke and NM however
Pitt will be mauled by any team with a decent QB. Be it
coaches and/or lack of talent the performance by the D
year to date is abysmal. Beating Virginai is the key to a 500

Comment by JR 09.24.13 @ 5:55 am

Pitt’s “Out-House D”

Pitt is ranked last in the ACC in total (445 yards per game), passing (251) and scoring (41 points) defense and next-to-last against the run (194). Pitt is the only team in the conference to allow a score every time the opponent moves into the red zone (15 chances, 11 touchdowns, four field goals).

Tribune Review

Comment by PittofDreams 09.24.13 @ 5:56 am

Despite the Out-House… Pitt SHOULD deliver a Win Saturday against Virginia… a more SOLID margin of victory than Duke.

Comment by PittofDreams 09.24.13 @ 6:00 am

Is it the players or is it the defensive scheme? For one touchdown, Duke was deep in the red zone. Vinopol stationed himself in the middle of the back of the endzone. Duke threw the ball to the middle of the endzone and scored. Vinopol showed up late to shove the receiver in the back. Why was the safety at the back of the endzone? It’s too late, then. So was that the scheme of the defense or the safety out of position?

Comment by Caw Miller 09.24.13 @ 6:32 am

Out-House D! LMFAO!!!

@ Caw Miller – I agree. Hopefully he was out of position. If that was the scheme, we have bigger issues.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 09.24.13 @ 6:38 am

Sam Werner put together a very good “Red Shirt Diaries” introspective analysis of the Duke game. There is a lot to be hopeful about with this team but man how can a defense with all these guys, with years of game experience, look so clueless against the likes of Duke?

We can all speculate, and then kick around the final record that we except the Panthers will have come December but at this point in the season, it is all BS.

As I always say, “that’s why they play the games”! So just show up for Homecoming and let’s see what Pitt puts out there for our football enjoyment come Saturday.

Hail to Pitt!

Comment by Dr. Tom 09.24.13 @ 6:46 am

I nominate myself for Special Teams coach.

Here’s my game plan let’s see if you can agree.


Blewitt Kicks the ball through the end-zone every time.

Other team gets the ball at the 25 yard line. I think we can live with this.


Yoklic Punts the ball “Out of Bounds” as far as he can.

No return No harm.

I know this seems “INSANE” to some but it’s much better than what we do now or have for years.


Comment by Tony in Harrisburg 09.24.13 @ 7:17 am

Why don’t they line up Donald all over the line and make the other teams o-line figure out who will be double teaming him. Our ends get no push, moving Donald around may help. The corners should play press coverage and Thomas can make plays at LB and hope that the rest of the LBs and Vinopal are not out of position.

Comment by Pittastic 09.24.13 @ 7:20 am

All would need to do is have the D ends, like Fields and Bam stand up instead of down. Thus it is still a hybrid 4-3 with speed guys on the edges. Not hard to pull that off so why not try it?

Comment by pittman4ever 09.24.13 @ 7:40 am

Tony, get off your ass in Harrisburg and down to Pittsburgh’s practice facility ASAP. You’re hired!

Comment by Dr. Tom 09.24.13 @ 11:20 am

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