Still have to drive back tonight, but stopping at the Monterey Pub for a beer, bite and to use their wi-fi to post.
It wasn’t pretty, but it was a win. Where last week it was the offense that did everything and the defense hung on by its fingertips. This week it was the defense playing well and the offense barely doing enough. As Coach Paul Chryst put it in his post-game comments, the script was flipped from one week to the next.
The Pitt O-line did not have a good day. They struggled against a much better and more disciplined Virginia D-line. Compounding that problem was a poor effort at blocking by the running backs and tight ends. It was almost as if they were trying to get Tom Savage killed.
Let’s put it this way, the running game had only 8 yards because Savage accounted for -57. And that includes a 12 yard run he did have. He took an absolute beating. If I have it correct, he was sacked 6 times and knocked down more times than I could count. Even if you think he sometimes holds the ball too long at times (like me), that was no where near the reason he took such a beating. As if that wasn’t enough he took a helmet to helmet hit when he slid. Somehow that was not flagged as a flagrant targeting penalty despite the defender diving at him leading with his head. (And yes, Ray Vinopal got away with what sure looked like a targeting play as well, but it wasn’t nearly so flagrant.)
Per the post-game presser, Chryst said that Savage passed the base concussion tests after the hit. He did, however, begin to show concussion symptoms later. Which was why “he didn’t finish the game.” He obviously wasn’t made available for interviews afterwards as he was receiving treatments.
Now, let’s not lie. The Virginia offense was hideous. When David Watford wasn’t missing his receivers, it seemed like they were dropping big passes. Their running game was as unproductive as Pitt’s, but Watford has more running ability.
Still, that shouldn’t diminish the work by the Pitt defense. They got penetration up-front. Aaron Donald continues to wreak havoc up the middle. Ejuan Price responded really well to his first start at defensive end — blowing up a couple plays in the backfield.
Aaron Hernandez [geez, I was tired] Anthony Gonzalez looked more comfortable at linebacker than I’ve seen him all season.
Pitt’s offense struggled — as may have been mentioned — but they took advantage of the Virginia mistakes. Both Virginia turnovers were turned into 14 points. That pass in the corner to Devin Street for the TD was as perfect a pass as I’ve seen. It really seemed that Pitt was going to blow out the Hoos. If for no other reason that Pitt was at least avoiding big mistakes. Unfortunately the line really couldn’t hold. The offense started making mistakes. While the turnovers continued to be blunted by the defense holding, it kept the game’s outcome in doubt.
The one weakness the defense continues to display is being able to handle teams when they go no-huddle. UVa was at its best when it didn’t give Pitt’s defense time to set or sub, but Virginia couldn’t sustain going no-huddle. In no small part because that isn’t how they want to play. They want to be a power-running team that grinds you down. They don’t want to spread teams out and put teams off-balance. That gave Pitt’s defense chances to regroup and adjust.
3-1 and hitting a bye week. All things considered, that’s where Pitt needed to be.