October 31, 2013

Know Your Enemy: Georgia Tech

Filed under: Football,Opponent(s) — Justin @ 12:19 pm

Pitt heads down to the home of Coca Cola and a Delta hub, Atlanta, to face Georgia Tech (5-3, 4-2 ACC) in a battle for ACC mediocrity. This is actually a huge game for both teams because it’s needed for bowl eligibility. Georgia Tech has a tougher finish to the season than Pitt because if they lose, they’ll need to upset Clemson or Georgia to be bowl eligible. They have an easy win against Alabama A&M in there as well, but it won’t count towards bowl eligibility. Why? It’s due to playing Elon earlier in the season and only one FCS victory can count towards bowl eligibility. Pitt needs to win two of their last five and after losing to Navy last week, it’s obvious no game is a gimme. (more…)

So Many Basketball Links

Filed under: Basketball,Players,Recruiting — Chas @ 7:24 am

Lots of stuff basketball related I haven’t gotten to in a couple weeks. Hard to believe Pitt’s already played one exhibition game. There’s one more exhibition on Friday night and then it is realsies the following Friday.

I’ve made no secret over the year how much I like advanced stats in basketball. In particular the work by Ken Pomeroy has been very important. Turns out Coach Jamie Dixon likes the stuff too. He is quoted in an article about coaches who embrace advanced stats (Insider subs.).

Pittsburgh’s Jamie Dixon did his master’s at UC Santa Barbara on statistical analysis, and has been a numbers guy ever since he can remember, but even he is amazed by the recent explosion of analytical data.

“I love it,” Dixon said. “The numbers can be really helpful, but you’ve got to be able to understand them.”

Dixon said he has someone on his staff checking daily, and he’ll add different components each season. For 2013-14, he’s focusing on breaking down the Panthers’ efficiency after baskets, free throws, steals and offensive rebounds.

This also lends credence to my theory that Coach Dixon oft citing of rebounding margin (a highly discredited number by basketball stat people) is more as a motivating tool and quickie stat to look at after a game (like batting average and RBI are in baseball) rather than a vital statistic.


October 29, 2013

Per the intricacies of the ACC deal with the Mouse Monopoly, game times are supposed to be announced no later than 12 days before the day of the game. Not just the time, but the channel. So a game on Saturday, November 9 should be announced by Monday, October 28. But… out of the more than 100 ACC games that ABC/ESPN has the right to air, they can designate up to three of them for a decision only six days before the game.

ABC/ESPN chose November 9 as the day to play random flux. VT-Miami, FSU-WF and ND-Pitt are in the blender. All three will be shown by ABC or ESPN. But the when and which channel is a mystery until early Sunday afternoon. Which also happens to be when Daylight Savings Time ends, so you can add another hour to it.

So the sold out ND-Pitt game could be at noon. It could be at 3:30. It could be at 7 or 8 at night.


October 28, 2013

So Many Problems

Filed under: Football — Chas @ 6:29 pm

[EDITOR NOTE: Thought I hit “publish” on this before leaving for work this morning. Whoops. Justin ended up hitting on some of the same points I made earlier today. But I’m still putting this out there.]

For some reason, my DVR failed to record the game, so there is no reviewing this one. I am pretending it rejected the recording as being too offensive to save.

As the game fell apart, I asked on twitter if the blame rested more with the offense or the defense for the loss. The overwhelming view was that it was the offense. The defense may have caved late, but the offensive failings throughout the game put them into that position.

So let’s start with that offense.


Second Half Failures

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Players — Justin @ 10:45 am

After the Navy game, Chas tweeted how many points the offense has scored in the second half the past four games: 0, 6, 14, and 8, an average of 7 points. I decided to take it a step further and look at overall second half results the entire season. It’s uglier than I thought. If you solely use second half points, Pitt would be 0-6-1. Pitt has been outscored in the second half of every game but one: Old Dominion. To be blunt, tying Old Dominion in the second half should be considered a loss. (more…)

October 27, 2013

Navy Musings

Filed under: Football,Opponent(s) — Justin @ 8:41 am

There’s no better way to describe that loss than it was a Pitt. I firmly believe there is no other program who could lose a game like Pitt did yesterday. Plenty of programs could lose to Navy, but not like that. It took a special combination of offensive, defensive, coaching, and special teams failures along with ridiculously bad luck for it happen. Let’s look at how each unit failed. (more…)

October 26, 2013

Open Thread: Pitt-Navy

Filed under: Football,Open Thread — Chas @ 10:25 am

Now the wife has bronchitis. Got to love this time of the year.

It’s Pitt-Navy. Pitt hasn’t lost to Navy since that miserable 2OT home loss in 2007. Lord, I forgot how that loss really pissed off everyone.

I’m trying not to worry too much about the defense facing a competent triple-option with Matt House calling the defense. Really. As much criticism I have for the hire. As annoyed as the defense has made me at points. It is only fair to say that the Matt House and the defense haven’t cost the team a game (it’s been close at points, but they are still wins).

The offense has also struggled in the last three games. One dimensional in the previous two games and effectively no-dimensions in the Virginia game. Aside from guard Cory King out, the rest of the offense is healthy, so we will see if that helps.

It’s 1 pm on CBS Sports Network. Hope you have it.



October 25, 2013

The Home Stretch

Filed under: Football,Opponent(s) — Justin @ 1:02 pm

The next six games combine for probably the hardest stretch of a season Pitt has faced in a long time. All six opponents were bowl eligible last season (Miami didn’t go to a bowl due to the sanctions). All six could possibly be in a bowl game this season, even UNC, who has the talent to get hot and finish 5-1 down the stretch against a much easier slate of opponents. Three of their five losses were to teams currently ranked and they don’t play a ranked opponent the rest of the way. Navy and Syracuse appear to be inferior to Pitt on paper, but history tells us you can’t trust that.

It is not inconceivable for Pitt to drop five of their last six. Hell, they could win five of their last six too. There are still a lot of questions about this squad and how those questions are answered will determine how they fare. Instead of focusing on the questions, let’s focus on what we know right now. (more…)

Price Can’t Catch a Break

Filed under: Football — Chas @ 7:32 am

Ejuan Price has already lost one season to torn pectoral muscle. Now he looks to be out for at least two games with “back issues.”

“He will be out for a bit,” coach Paul Chryst said Thursday. “It will be a couple weeks at least, probably more.”

Price started the past four games, recording a sack and another tackle for a loss last Saturday against Old Dominion. Chryst said Price finished the game without a problem, and he doesn’t believe he was hurt on a specific play.

“That’s too bad,” Chryst said. “I thought he was starting to get into a good groove.”

From a depth perspective, it means freshman Shakir Soto will see more time in the game. Rotating at DE with Bryan Murphy (fingers crossed he doesn’t get hurt, given his own history) and David Durham.

Looks like Aaron Donald will have  a little more to do inside.


October 24, 2013

A Game for Meeting Expectations

Filed under: Football — Chas @ 7:42 am

Offensive line coach Jim Hueber is that frustrating superior who gives you nothing in your annual evaluation. Ryan Schlieper gets the start with Cory King out with back problems. How did he do?

“He met our expectations,” Hueber said.

“Meets expectations” is the “meh” of job performance evaluations. Nothing good, nothing bad. Just there.


October 22, 2013

Know Your Ally: Navy

Filed under: Football,Opponent(s) — Justin @ 1:00 pm

While I use the term “enemy” very loosely for this column, I refuse to call the Midshipmen enemies in any context. They’re men and women who are serving their country and deserve the utmost respect. They’re an opponent on the football field but remember to keep in context who they are. When their collegiate days are over, they’re serving their country and due to this, do not ever treat their players or fans with anything but respect. If you fail to do so, Reed will have you shipped to Guantanamo.

Save your booing for Notre Dame. I have no issues if people hurl insults at Notre Dame coaches, players and fans because they’re Notre Dame. K’wuan Williams did not interfere with Tyler Eifert, there should’ve been a penalty on the missed FG for two players with the same number, and I’m sick of you cheaters getting all the calls. Wait, where was I? Oh yeah, Navy game! (more…)

Running, Running, Running

Filed under: Football — Chas @ 7:44 am

Isaac Bennett obviously wasn’t complaining about getting to carry the ball thirty times on Saturday. What was also nice was seeing how the rest of the team was so happy for him to make the most of being the workhorse.

“He’s just the type of guy you want to have on your team,” Pitt quarterback Tom Savage said of Bennett.

“Obviously, with James coming out doing what he did, a lot of juniors could kind of put their head down. [Bennett] always has a smile on his face. He goes out there and loves the game. It couldn’t happen to a better person.”

Bennett was abruptly made the featured back in the spring when Rushel Shell started his drama. He looked sure to be the featured back, and all was well until getting hurt early in training camp. He missed a huge chunk of it, and freshman James Conner earned the coaches trust to share the load. Conner then earned more carries in the games, making Bennett the starter in name only after a couple games.


October 20, 2013

Shallow Thoughts After ODU

Filed under: Football — Chas @ 9:52 am

Am I too old to be sleeping on a buddy’s couch after a night out? Judging by the ongoing grogginess and discomfort in my back, I would have to say yes. So this won’t be the deepest, most well thought out post-game post.

After a very sluggish first quarter, Pitt asserted itself and took ODU out of the game. Even when there was the obligatory letdown by the defense in the third quarter after Pitt upped the lead to 28-10. Followed by a perfectly executed on-side kick that just made it ten yards before the Monarchs fell on it leading to another score. I wasn’t worried Pitt would lose. Just annoyed at their overall performance.


October 19, 2013

Sorry a little too much Two Roses with some friends this afternoon. But I made it.

Well of course it’s going to be cold and wet for a night game. Why not?

Yeah, it’s not like Youngstown State is out of anyone’s mind. Though, everyone will downplay it.

ODU is moving up from 1-AA to 1-A and the Big East American Conference minor league proving grounds of Conference USA. They have a dual-threat QB. A style that has been known to give Pitt problems on, um, occasion.

But everything is fine for Pitt.

Players haven’t fully adapted to new defensive coordinator Matt House’s system. It’s getting better, but how else do you explain 10th in the ACC in yards allowed and no interceptions in four of the five games?

Pass protection is only a concept coaches draw up on a blackboard, not yet a reality. The blame belongs everywhere; linemen, tight ends, wide receivers, backs and quarterback Tom Savage are botching assignments. Meanwhile, the running game has vanished.

On top of everything, two of Pitt’s best offensive players — wide receiver Devin Street and running back James Conner — are nursing shoulder injuries entering Saturday’s nonconference game against FBS newcomer Old Dominion at Heinz Field.

Aside from that, I mean.


October 18, 2013

Link Dump, 10/18

Filed under: Football — Chas @ 7:25 am

What a week. Kids sick. People at work sick. No time. Keep it simple.

Welp, the defense struggled initially last week before getting a better handle. It’s stupid, but I’m still dwelling on the near pick-six in the opening drive by VT. Can’t help but wonder if it would have completely gotten in the VT players and fans heads that everything will always go wrong against Pitt. Changing the whole game. Really shouldn’t. I know better. But still…

The play of the defense, did improve in the game. With several players standing out. Aaron Donald, as usual, is the rock and center of the D. The accolades and respect continues. Ty Ezell may benefit from playing right next to Donald on the line, but he is taking advantage of it. Todd Thomas was all over the field, with perhaps his best game to date.


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