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September 27, 2013

First off, there’s going to be a giant rubber ducky floating around the Point this weekend. If that alone doesn’t make you want to come to the game, then something is wrong with you. But seriously, who isn’t excited for a 40ft rubber duck, LASER PANTHER, and HOMECOMING!!!???!!! For those who don’t get the laser panther reference, during Friday’s fireworks off of the Cathedral, there will be a laser panther crawling around.

On to football!!!!!

Virginia is not all that different than Duke. They are better defensively and a bit more talented. One thing to immediately look for is they will try to pressure Tom Savage. Duke was a bit more passive defensively than I anticipate the Cavaliers will be (I’m calling them the Cavaliers, not the Hoos). Duke was too passive and got eaten alive because of it.

Virginia will blitz and try to put pressure on Savage. He’s too talented to let him stand there in a clean pocket. If they want to stop this offense, they’ll have to rattle him. The good news is the offense is ideally set up to combat the blitz if the right plays are called and the offense makes the correct reads. The best way to stop the blitz is a quick pass. If the ball is out in <2 seconds, most blitzes aren’t there yet.

I anticipate this will be the day the TEs get really involved in the passing game. If blitzes are coming, they’re mostly going to come from LBs and Safeties (obviously). Those guys cover TEs. If we’re consistently in Ace packages (2 TEs, 2 WRs, 1 RB) like we’ve seen most of the season, one of the 2 TEs will be open on blitz plays. The other option is screens. We’ve seen some screens to Boyd this season, but something the offense ran in the spring that really worked was TE screens. Orndoff had a huge touchdown on one in the Spring game. I bet we’ll see that play come out Saturday.

Add in WR screens to Boyd (Street has been a superb blocker thus far and Boyd is more dangerous in open field) and the offense has the ability to make the Cavaliers pay if they blitz. The question is whether or not the plays are called at the right times. Something I would love to see is if the offense could audible. If they’re showing blitz, I hope the coaches give Savage the ability to change plays. That’s the next stage in his development given that he’s seeing the field a lot better now.

If all else fails, pound the rock. When you have a 230 pound brute averaging nearly 7 yards per carry, nothing makes life easier than a decent gain on 1st down. The entire offense opens up on 2nd and 4. The offense won’t move the ball at will like they did against Duke, but I expect them to break 30 points.

Pitt’s defense is still a huge question mark. The good news is that Virginia is possibly the worst offense in the ACC. The defense and special teams pretty much beat BYU on their own in what looked like a monsoon at times. Their touchdown drives were 16 and 13 yards each; they were set up thanks to an interception and a blocked punt. The defense added a safety and their kicker nailed a 53 yard FG and that’s how you get their 19 points. They did not cross the BYU 30 yard line once. They only made it past midfield twice.

I’m willing to ignore the Oregon game (like I’m ignoring the FSU game for Pitt) but when you fail to score until the 2nd quarter against VMI, that’s an issue. VMI gave up 37 points to the North Greenville Crusaders. Yes, a D2 school. VMI plays Robert Morris this week.

I said the same thing for the Duke game that I’ll say for Virginia. If the defense executes and doesn’t screw up big time, Virginia’s offense will struggle. Now, given that we know this could be a major issue, it’s difficult to tell what Virginia will be able to do on offense. They aren’t that talented, but neither was Duke. Outside of their 2 RBs, Park and Hamm, there’s not a whole lot to be scared of.

Virginia’s key to victory will be pressuring Tom Savage and taking advantage of mistakes by Pitt’s defense. If the defense is merely mediocre and the offense has a respectable game, Pitt wins easily. I’m predicting Pitt 34 Virginia 17. One of the three TEs will have a big game and the front 7 will be much more disciplined.

Quick note, I’m moving this weekend. While I’ll be at the game, there won’t be any columns from me until Monday at the earliest. My apologies if this column feels rushed, I wanted to get something out before the game. Enjoy homecoming, enjoy the giant rubber duck and as always, HAIL TO PITT!





to put this post in a more appropriate thread, an interesting fact about Virginia from today’s ESPN.com ACC Blog:

VIRGINIA: The Cavaliers have faced Pitt five times, but this is their first meeting since the Panthers joined the ACC. Virginia is 0-5 when facing a new ACC member for the first time in conference play, dating to when Georgia Tech joined the ACC in 1979. Virginia lost to Georgia Tech (1982), Miami (2004), Virginia Tech (2004) and Boston College (2005).

Comment by Pitt Dad 09.27.13 @ 1:11 pm

4th game. Wouldn’t mind seeing Savage getting a little pressure, and still performing in an excellent fashion.

The offensive line, that has been good, should really be starting to gel at this time and coming together as the competition gets tougher.

Can pass, opens up the run. Can run, opens up the pass.

The “D”, scares the hell out of me.

Hoping for a win, but a little nervous about this game. Hope my nerves are all for not!!

H2P!!!!

Comment by Dan 09.27.13 @ 1:46 pm

Maybe someone already addressed this on another post.

Any word on Boyd??

Comment by Dan 09.27.13 @ 1:47 pm

Oh yes the North Greenville Crusaders, a team of renown.

Would that be Greenville, South Carolina or North Carolina ?? (yes there are 2)

I’m betting South Carolina.

Comment by EMel 09.27.13 @ 1:50 pm

@ Dan-o

Me thinks I saw that Boyd was NOT listed on the required ACC injury report, as ‘not playing’.

Comment by EMel 09.27.13 @ 1:52 pm

let’s hope our backs are better in blitz pick-up than they have been

Comment by wbb 09.27.13 @ 1:55 pm

Rest easy Dan-o

I think UVA’s offense could be what cures this defense’s ills.

The speed of the game for the Wahoo’s should be significantly different than playing D2 VMI last week.

So PITT needs to jump on them quickly. And then just keep piling on. haha

Comment by EMel 09.27.13 @ 1:55 pm

Good luck with the move Justin.

Chill, moving days can be sometimes quite dramatic.

Oy Vey I’ve had some real doozies.

Comment by EMel 09.27.13 @ 2:02 pm

I don’t see Pitt’s defense getting itself figured out yet and our offensive line being shaky at first. Pitt 52 Virginia 43, with Virginia getting a safety early from our non-mobile quarterback. Oh and the weather will be fine and …

Comment by Caw Miller 09.27.13 @ 2:30 pm

EMel, I’m not looking forward to it. We’re on a time crunch too due to some crazy extenuating circumstances. Also, my pregnant wife can’t really carry anything of weight, so she’s going to sit there and look pretty and tell me what to do.

Then again, she did that before she was pregnant…

Comment by Justin 09.27.13 @ 2:43 pm

@Justin – and she will continue to do that long after the kids are grown – if you’re lucky.

Good luck with the move.

Comment by Pitt Dad 09.27.13 @ 2:46 pm

lol Justin,

Yep they are really good at that !

Comment by EMel 09.27.13 @ 2:59 pm

All I ask for is a Pitt victory. That will put me in a good mood and carry me through the move.

Comment by Justin 09.27.13 @ 3:04 pm

Good luck with the move. It’s always good to have a hot pizza and cold beer waiting for you at the end of it.

Comment by TX Panther 09.27.13 @ 4:14 pm

Justin – thanks for the analysis! It’s clear you work well under pressure.

Good luck with the move! Glad it isn’t me!!!! Haha

Comment by Joe Lawrence 09.27.13 @ 4:34 pm

UVA got thumped by Duke by almost 30 last year and have lost 4 of the last 5 against them. Hopefully it will not be close.

Comment by CNorwoodAZ 09.27.13 @ 5:10 pm

In NC for the weekend, is there any TV?

Comment by gc 09.27.13 @ 5:15 pm

Just checked the current line/total

Pitt has dropped to (-5) vs UVA

O/U is 50.5

Weren’t we (-7) when the line came out ??

Comment by Emel 09.27.13 @ 5:16 pm

@ gc

Yea we’ve had TV in NC since I moved here in ’92.

Amazing isn’t it !

Comment by Emel 09.27.13 @ 5:18 pm

Black n white only with rabbit ears.

Comment by TX Panther 09.27.13 @ 5:40 pm

Seriously gc

Game is on multiple channels: it’s on all over.

1) YES
2) NESN (New England Sports Network)
3) CSNMA (Comcast Sports Network Mid Atlantic)
4) ROOT
5) Fox Sports Network (just about every regional Fox Sports is carrying this game, even Fox Sports Florida)

Being that is game is going to be widely carried, PITT needs to win convincingly to help recruiting.

Comment by Emel 09.27.13 @ 5:49 pm

Pitt is nowhere close enough to “good” yet to even hint at disrespecting any opponent on the schedule. If Pitt gets the impression that they can mail in this win, like a couple posters here infer, that’s just about the time for another YSU type ass whooping to bring Pitt back to the reality that you have to play a solid 60 minutes of error free foltball to ensure your future “W” in the win column. This team has shown signs of it’s future potential but Virginia could easily beat us if we come out flat and inept.

Always respect the game and your opponent!

Hail to Pitt!

Comment by Dr. Tom 09.27.13 @ 5:51 pm

i hate to move i hate it.

Comment by FRANKCAN 09.27.13 @ 5:52 pm

You can also watch the game on ACC.com I think

Comment by Atlanta Panther 09.27.13 @ 6:23 pm

Sorry link to theacc.com

ACC.com is a site for lawyers.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 09.27.13 @ 6:24 pm

Someone mentioned on the other blog.

Shane Gordon is most likely ‘OUT’ for tomorrow.

Oy Vey ! While he’s not great at least he’s played a few games. Even managed to be out of position and Duke’s QB threw the ball right to him for a pick.

Matt Galambos expected to start at MLB.

Hopefully ‘is there a Dr. In the House’, won’t have Galambos covering UVA WR’s in the slot.

That never seems to work out very well.

Comment by Emel 09.27.13 @ 6:27 pm

If we play well, it shouldn’t be close. I have a good feeling about this one. The duck is a good omen.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 09.27.13 @ 6:40 pm

Beware boys, this Dave Watford comes from the same tidewater area as Mike Vick, Aaron Brooks and Tajh Boyd. In hs he just ran the ball. Need the early lead.

Comment by alcofan 09.27.13 @ 7:42 pm

Pitt wins if:
1) Keep UVa under 200 yards on the ground
2) No long kick returns against
3) Max 1 INT by Savage
4) Tyler Boyd is healthy

I’ll say Pitt 38-34. Virginia is cursed by Ducks this year (Oregon and Rubber) H2P!

Comment by Iron Duke 09.27.13 @ 8:32 pm

Pitt wins if they score one more point than VA…

Comment by DJS 09.27.13 @ 8:43 pm

Or if they allow one fewer point than UVA.

Comment by Jeff 09.27.13 @ 8:50 pm

I think once again Pitt will have to outscore their opponent to win (brillant isn’t it?) 44-38 LET’S GO PITT!!!

Comment by pittman4ever 09.27.13 @ 9:23 pm

Game also on computer ESPN3 if your provider has it. Better picture than TV sometimes and ahead of TV by a second.

Comment by Frank MD 09.27.13 @ 9:45 pm

Pitt wins. It’s Homecoming dammit.

Comment by TX Panther 09.27.13 @ 10:03 pm

I’m going a little different, low scoring game! These things happen in football and I think Pitt comes out on top. I’m going with a 24-10 game. Doesn’t sound that low but compared to last week I guess it is. London is on te hit seat down here and they reconfigured their staff this summer. Actually good old Tom Obrien is an assistant, not bad! UVA is one of those tes we should beat but we know how Pitt is at times. Control the line and please step up the defense. London has recruited well but hasn’t had the wins to back it up, a la Wanny! 3-1 by the end if the month is what I said and I hope it comes true! The Coastal is there for the taking boys! Lets go Pitt!

Comment by Sweet Caroline 09.27.13 @ 10:36 pm

I know there is bias on this site (there should be) but if the so-called experts favor the good guys, why should I differ? 31-23

Comment by wbb 09.28.13 @ 5:10 am

Wbb, are you accusing me of a pro Pitt bias?

Banned!

Comment by Justin 09.28.13 @ 5:36 am

Good teams win with good defense. Pitt’s D sucks.
They will need five touchdowns to win. I hope this week proves we actually have that high octane offense we were promised years ago.

Comment by notrocketscience 09.28.13 @ 7:01 am

Thanks guys, anyone know a good sports bar in Asheville?

Comment by gc 09.28.13 @ 7:22 am

If it weren’t for Pitt’s “Out-House D”… a win against Virginia would be a slam dunk.

Pitt SHOULD still pull out the WIN, even more handedly than Duke. News that Galambos will get his first start should help in the middle.

An interesting challenge will come fromm Virginia’s D-Line. We’re going to see just how far Pitt’s front five have come since Florida State. Think they’ll do just fine.

Comment by PittofDreams 09.28.13 @ 7:29 am

Best thing about my beloved panthers in the ACC.? They are on TV here in the ATL every weekend!

Comment by Pitt Fan in Atlanta 09.28.13 @ 8:12 am

I like Pitt and the over.

I also like LSU tonight getting points and Ole Miss getting 15 at Bama.

Comment by Upittbaseball 09.28.13 @ 8:24 am

Is anyone really going to go watch basketball at 10:30am. Where do these people come up with these ideas? Did they all go to CCAC school of marketing? Amazing they have jobs.

Comment by Upittbaseball 09.28.13 @ 8:26 am

10:30 BBall – When do the student buses start running? 11:00am ? Inquiring minds want to know..

Comment by CompLit 09.28.13 @ 8:51 am

gc many cool pubs in Asheville, new fave is Wicked Weed, they brew some fantastic beers.

Comment by Iron Duke 09.28.13 @ 9:05 am

Apparently it wasn’t an issue getting kids there:

link to facebook.com

Comment by Pitt Dad 09.28.13 @ 9:15 am

Upittbadeball has just declared chapter 11 status after betting on Pitt and the over LSU and Ole Miss.
There’s a house in Houston you can get cheap.

Comment by Sfpitt 09.29.13 @ 5:20 pm

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