My dog decided he wasn’t going to let me sleep in so I can post a few thoughts before I resume moving. As always, a win is a win is a win. I can’t emphasize this enough. This was Pitt’s first 3 game winning streak since 2010. If you told a Pitt fan that they’d start the season 3-1 and the loss was to FSU, I can’t imagine a fan who wouldn’t be happy. Have the past 2 wins been ugly? Absolutely. Last season, we lost pretty to Notre Dame. I’d prefer an ugly win.
The main reason Pitt won and Virginia lost was Pitt took advantage of miscues and Virginia did not. When Virginia turned the ball over twice in the red zone, Pitt’s offense punched it in. When Virginia drove into scoring position, they went for it on 4th down four times and only converted one (which was subsequently followed by a failed 4th down attempt). Obviously the offense did nothing after the 1st quarter but thankfully the defense stepped up. Virginia’s defense did exactly what I predicted they’d do: they pressured and rattled Tom Savage.
I said this on twitter and I want to emphasize it again. We’ve seen back to back TEAM wins. Last week the defense and special teams crapped the bed and the offense took care of business. This week the offense may have been shut out if it wasn’t for the turnovers. Outside of Blewitt’s missed FG, the special teams did a good job. There was a bad bounce on one punt, but those things happen. The overall results were good.
The real problem yesterday as Chas pointed out yesterday was the OL. They got dominated inside and prevented the run game from going anywhere. They were beaten outside and let their QB get sacked and hit repeatedly. They generally failed at everything they needed to do. The running game couldn’t get anything going, which put a ton of pressure on Savage. He had some impressive moments (deep throw to Boyd, touchdown to Street, but mostly he was just trying to survive. Very few QBs can succeed in games like yesterday. My only big complaint was the second interception. He had Boyd open, threw it way too late, and threw it to the wrong spot. He needs to throw it vertical and let Boyd chase it. By throwing it short and late, he let the DB catch up. I’m very annoyed the TE screen I predicted was dropped by Orndoff.
We saw yesterday what a Chryst offense looks like when the running game gets nothing. It isn’t pretty. But like last week, let’s keep some perspective. Everyone was calling for the defense to make massive changes and the defense was almost the same as last week (minus Matt Galambos at MLB instead of an injured Shane Gordon) and they responded with a great game. Virginia shot themselves in the foot numerous times but when they did succeed, the defense found a way to stop them. Aaron Donald was a monster as usual. Ejuan Price had some huge tackles in the backfield. Matt Galambos joined the list of true freshmen starters with impressive games. Last week’s whipping boy, Ray Vinopal, impressed.
Pitt heads into the bye week with 3 straight wins and relatively healthy. Tom Savage did display concussion like symptoms late in the game and was promptly yanked for Chad Voytik. I know myself and a few others were confused as to why Voytik was in the game, but if any player is showing signs of a concussion, you have to pull him from the game. I’ve seen some people question the coaches and trainers, but it seems like it was teammates who brought this to the attention of trainers, which is a great thing to see. Like I said, this is a TEAM. They’re looking out for each other. When one unit struggles, another steps up. Last year, Pitt loses to Duke and Virginia. This team found ways to win where others found ways to lose.
The team has 2 weeks to prepare for their best opponent since FSU, Virginia Tech. Tech is 4-1 and their only loss is to Alabama, so you can’t judge them for that. The list of teams that could reasonably beat Alabama doesn’t require a second hand to count. This is a big match up and VT will not underestimate Pitt like they did last season.