October 1, 2013

The Late, Late Media Recap

Filed under: Football,Opponent(s) — Chas @ 7:05 am

Not really that much needs to be said on the Pitt side. I mean, it’s a win. The defense feels better about itself than it did after Duke. Pitt did just enough on offense to get the win. The cost being Tom Savage getting hit a lot. Eventually suffering “concussion-like symptoms” which has now been upgraded to a mild concussion.

It still amazed me that no targeting penalty was called on that hit. From the press box, there was a lot of amazement that no call was made. Coach Paul Chryst was asked about it after the game.

Chryst said Virginia linebacker Daquan Romero’s hit to the head of quarterback Tom Savage is what the NCAA is trying to eliminate with its new rule that calls for the offending player to be ejected.

“Yes, I think so,” he said.

Romero wasn’t ejected, however and no penalty was called. Chryst spoke to the official after the play, but he declined to reveal their conversation.

“I really believe there is not one official that isn’t for that (making the game safer),” he said.

Those comments came from a question during the post-game the press conference. Chryst also added after that, “And… I’m going to stop there.” He just decided that he wasn’t going to finish the obvious thought that the officials really, really missed that call.

For Pitt, the downside was that the offense didn’t match the performance of the defense. Still, it’s a win.

It beats the feelings on the Virginia side.

By the time David Watford’s late fourth-quarter pass to the end zone Saturday in Pittsburgh’s 14-3 win glanced off Jake McGee’s fingertips, Virginia already established this was not going to be the week for its breakout game on offense.

Now, after posting just 188 yards against a Pittsburgh defense that entered the day giving up 445 yards per game — worst in the Atlantic Coast Conference and 101st in the nation — it’s fair to wonder if the big payoff will come at all this season for U.Va.’s offense.

“What I told everyone is, ‘This has got to get fixed,'” U.Va. coach Mike London said. “It’s not about a popularity contest. It’s about finding those players that can be consistent and give us a chance to win. That’s the first thing we’ll work on Sunday — finding the who and the what and just move on and move forward from there.”

Road openers are not a good place for Virginia.

The Cavaliers have now lost 7 of their last 8 road openers. They also fell to 0-6 when facing a new ACC member for the first time in conference play. Virginia owns a 6-12 record since a 14-13 win at Florida State in 2011 – that contest capped a run where the team won 6 of 7 games.

Needless to say, the result at Pitt was a disappointing one. Virginia now stands at 2-2 and 0-1 in the ACC. The Panthers, on the other hand, were happy to grab the win and improve to 3-1 and 2-1 in the ACC.

“It felt great to go three in a row. That’s what we’ve been talking about all week,” Pittsburgh defensive lineman Tyrone Ezell said. “It’s something we haven’t done in a while here at Pitt, and it feels great right now.”

The frustrating thing for Virginia fans is that they saw this loss unfolding exactly the way it did.

A lot of signs in the match-ups point to a dead even game so I think it is a toss-up, but I don’t trust the offense to fix the turnover and scoring issues even though Pittsburgh’s defense is shaky.

And with Pitt now 2-1 in the ACC, they are at least establishing that they are not out of their depth in a new conference — at least to those that apparently wondered about it.

5. Pitt is at home in the ACC. The Panthers now have won back-to-back games in their new conference and have a chance to move into a tie for the top spot in the Coastal Division if they can win at Virginia Tech next week. Pitt’s lone loss was to Florida State in the season opener. If they can escape Blacksburg with a win, the Panthers could be 6-1 heading into Atlanta on Nov. 2 for another key divisional game against Georgia Tech. With the win over Virginia, Pitt put itself right in the mix in its first season in the ACC. We’ll see how long the Panthers can stay there.

Well, with a bye Pitt gets to stay there for at least one more week.

Dr. Tom… great articulation on Savage.

Honestly, the guy has out-performed my expectations to this point. This is despite his shortcomings which were evident back to when he played at Rutgers. Again testimony to Chryst, Rudolph… and yes Bollinger as noted above.

It was no secret that Savage had a great arm. Did not know he could be as accurate as he is on the majority of his passes, especially the deep ball. Ridiculously accurate.

His strength seems to be throwing to fast-moving receivers, especially outside the hashes. The trouble comes when he tries to taper his throws inside to a slower moving or stationary receiver.

Savage does have a problem with staring down receivers, namely the primary receiver on a given play. It’s not so bad when you do this when you have Boyd or Street outrunning the coverage on a deep pattern. But can be a major problem when you have a safety or extra defensive back in position to read the quarterback and come up to make a play on the ball.

This tendency to stare down receivers also leaves Savage vulnerable to the rush which explains his other problem which is taking sacks, especially when you factor in his lack of mobility.

VaTech undoubtedly knows this which is going to present the first big test as to how far Savage and the rest of the offense have come since Florida State.

Comment by PittofDreams 10.02.13 @ 10:46 am

We need to put an eye patch and a black “P” on that Duck and park him in the Allegheny right next to the Clemente Bridge for the St Louis game on Monday night. Now that would be real Pittsburgh style art.

Comment by spiritofsection 22 10.02.13 @ 1:47 pm

IMHO I highly doubt PITT is 3-1 w/last years QB. Savage has made plays. The throw to Spoons does NOT happen last year & my guess PITT is 1-3 @ this point w/prior QB. PC & JR need to tailor play calling to help Savage make quicker reads & release the ball quicker. Slant routes & more TE involvement. Draw play to keep defense honest. HTP!

Comment by DC33 10.02.13 @ 1:50 pm

Let me throw this out there.

Perhaps they aren’t throwing the shorter routes much(as in over the middle to the TE’s), as they would be much more devastating turnovers if they’re picked. Also higher probability for a pick 6.

Perhaps they’re willing to let TS throw the long bombs, to get the big plays and long TD’s (game changers both) and live with the occasional interception on the long passes. As a 40-45 yard pass that’s intercepted is just as good as a 40-45 yard punt. Without the risk of the punt being blocked or it being returned for a TD or a long return. Believe we’ve given up at least 2 long punt returns so far, one for a TD I believe against Duke and a long return against New Mex.

Until at least TS gets better in camouflaging his shorter passes better.

Comment by EMel 10.02.13 @ 2:53 pm

Agree DC33

Our passing game is a complete 180 from last year.
We don’t nickle & dime our way down the field due to said QB’s lack of arm strength. We go for the juggler. Cause we actually have a QB now with a D1 arm.

Comment by EMel 10.02.13 @ 3:01 pm

Had this posted on the basketball thread in error.

OK, am I the only one in the Pitt Faithful Clan that is excited about the news that I just heard, that Tyler Boyd has been named to the Bilenitkoff(sp?) Award Candidate watch list?

I just Googled if there are any other Freshman on the watch list and out of 75 candidates, only Corey Davis of Western Michigan is the other true Freshman on the list. Why in the world Chas/Reed/Justin hasn’t begun a thread about this news, I have no idea, because this is big time good news for Pitt football!

You guys have heard all the comments before, “Pitt football has been irrelevant for decades”, “Pitt Football continues to be a joke”, “many college football fans outside of Western PA don’t even know Pitt has a football team”, “what quality recruit in their right mind would want to play for the Panthers”, etc.

Well, all of a sudden, Pitt has a tandem of WRs that are BOTH on the Bilenitkoff Award watch list! And we wonder why Savage has a tendency to lock onto his deep receivers??? Kind of hard not to go to that well too often when the water seems to taste so sweet, often times!

Also, this kind of recognition for a true Freshman can do nothing but good things for Pitt’s recruiting fortunes. There are still four or five highly coveted quality recruits out there in Pitt’s backyard that are still seriously considering their Pitt offers. With Pitt playing so many RS and true Freshman already, and now Tyler getting some major love from the national media in this form has to be impressive to these guys. Lets hope that is helps land some of thos Bookser, Henry types that Pitt could so dearly use next year.

In light of guys like Robert Foster who, by comparision, is buried on the Alabama depth chart, while Boyd is basking in the national limelight, and at the same time is helping his team WIN, no downside there!

Great news! Hail to Pitt

Comment by Dr. Tom 10.02.13 @ 3:19 pm

@ Emel, but a QB that has the skills to throw the homerun as well as the technique to pick the defense apart when they give him the underneath patterns is a guy who is the entire package. You have no problems with developing that kind of QB for Pitt, do you?

I think that there is even a name for that kind of player. Oh yea, Payton Manning.

Comment by Dr. Tom 10.02.13 @ 3:24 pm

EMel – you are correct I believe. The staff is holding off on those shorter quick hitters because those are the throws that Savage is least accurate on and, as you said, most susceptible to INTs – strange in a way isn’t it? Almost 180 degrees from most college QBs strengths.

Dr. Tom – Since I had the benefit of actually watching both Voytik and Savage in action during the spring and fall there was no doubt in my mind that Savage was going to be the starter and to be honest, as I said in my novella above, he is performing – with the exception of the Duke game – exactly as I though he would. I predicted a 52% completion percentage with as many INTs as TDs and less yards per game passing. His real positive is that he’s able to quickly score points which we didn’t have out of that position last year.

The reason for that ‘average’ prediction were those technical issues we have been talking about with his passing game. So, I’ll disagree a bit w/ you in that coaching will make that problem get better game to game. I could well be wrong but I think we’ll see more of the playbook adapting to existing limitations rather than skills getting better. I’d even go so far as sometimes platooning the QBs to even out the offense but don’t think that will happen.

Which, if the short game problems remaining is true, it’s a damn shame as I have felt going into this season that the TEs would be a major asset in the passing game. Both are highly skilled in both catching the ball and getting YAC. Part of their disappearance has been the slower growth in the passing protection of the OL than expected as we are #113 nationally with 13 allowed (every year!). They are having to stay in protection more than envisioned. Maybe if the OL improves dramatically it will give Savage some breathing room and allow him to correct those mistakes.

As you might have been able to tell in past conversations I’m not super high on Chad Voytik as the stater for 2014 but what I think we will have is a more well rounded QB thus a more open playbook. We won’t see the ‘big hitter’ passes we are now; Voytik’s arm isn’t that strong or accurate on deep balls, but he’ll be much more of a ‘ball distributor’ to our skilled positions. That, along with the growth of the OL which I think will happen in 2014 along with Boyd’s fledgling superstardom, makes me feel a bit better about next season.

When a QB has an outlet like Tyler Boyd to use everywhere and anywhere on the field that can be a real game changing thing if the QB can get him the ball consistently. Also, we may see some called running plays for Voytik to keep the DEs in containment more and allow Voytik a bit more time dropping back.

Comment by Reed 10.02.13 @ 3:33 pm

It’s nice to see that somebody is giving Voytik at least a little bit of credit. I was getting the feeling that he was all but written off as the starter next year. Granted he’s only thrown a pass or two so far, but I think he’s going to be solid for us.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 10.02.13 @ 3:55 pm

Maybe with all the pub, Tyler is getting from the National Media (even moreso than from the Pedostate centric local Pgh. media), Foster will decide to transfer to Pitt.

Imagine that tandem if it could happen.

As far as Savage’s short throw problems, I think with more game experience that will get better. You probably won’t see many of those throws against Va. Tech, as they have one of the top Defenses in FBS. TS should get the opportunity to work on that in the ODU and Navy games.

It will be interesting (and I hope I remember) to look for that in those 2 games.

Perhaps they could have Garner & Ordoff run longer routes to take advantage of their speed and size against opponents who are doubling Boyd and/or Street.

Comment by EMel 10.02.13 @ 4:09 pm

Btw I’d much rather have the QB who can connect on the deep passes.

1) You can score TD’s quickly. Long nickle & dime drives, are much more susceptible to mistakes, including penalties, fumbles, etc., which either kill the drive or it results in a FG attempt.
I’ve seen enough of drives between the 30’s the last 3 years for a lifetime.

2) By being able to throw and complete long passes, stretches the opponents defense, vertically. Thereby opening up the running game in most cases. (didn’t work against UVA, but I think we gave up on the running game too quickly)

3) Nothing more demoralizing to an opponent’s defense and team, than them having to run 10-12 plays to get a score, while their opponent can score in 1 or 2 plays. The Quick Strike !

That very thing happened to Steelers in the 2nd quarter in London on Sunday. Steeler had a 9 minute drive(3/4’s of the quarter), to only get a FG. On the next Viking possession, they moved down the field QUICKLY and scored a TD right before the half ended. Must have been quite disheartening to the Steelers as they came out pretty flat after halftime.

Don’t know if using Voytik in certain situations(to throw short passes) would work. Well it might work in one game. But after that, you’d think the opponent would be wise to that when Voytik entered the game.

Comment by EMel 10.02.13 @ 4:30 pm

I was hoping we’d go to the read-option with Voytik.

(obviously just kidding fellas)

Comment by Atlanta Panther 10.02.13 @ 4:46 pm

re: Dr. Tom’s (excellent) Tyler Boyd Manifesto.

I would refer you to Exhibit B in support of this fine piece of work:

link to

Comment by Atlanta Panther 10.02.13 @ 5:11 pm

Voytik and Ibrahim both got thrown into the deep end of the pool in the 4th Q of the Virginia game and they came through for us. So we got that going for us.(Even though Voytik gagged alittle bit with a near fumble on one snap)

Has to be a confidence builder for both of them. I feel Voytik will be just fine.

Hell, we lived through 3 solid years of “you know who” and survived, so how bad can Voytik possibly be in light of that 3 year sentence?

Comment by Dr. Tom 10.02.13 @ 5:11 pm

Right on Dr. Tom. I mean the kid was a McDonald’s All-American. He has to have at least a modicum of talent.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 10.02.13 @ 6:10 pm

One note on Foster at AL, he is not on any statistics for the 11 receivers at AL. I think he is on the scout team. Pitt needs someone to replace Street, maybe Weatherspoon, who looks good.

Comment by Frank MD 10.02.13 @ 7:43 pm

Really looking forward to game on the 12th. Luckily got some playoff baseball to keep me entertained waiting for what is a REALLY big game in Blacksburg. Love that we have a bye before this game. Think if the O line and running game show up Pitt has a real shot. Think the defense has a good chance to build on the UVA game, not a good V Tech offense. Almost seems like Logan Thomas is their Tino. Minus the annual BBVA trip Paul Chryst is 7-3 in last 10. I am drinkin the Kool-aide again!

Comment by Pap76 10.03.13 @ 12:28 am

Atlanta Panther – your post is funny because I’m also the guy who has been publicly lukewarm about Voytik as a starter next season…

I guess for me it is the reality between recruit rankings, practices and scrimmages versus the actual games that matters. Voytik was highly praised by PITT fans when he was recruited and, by some fans, thought to be starting material right off the bat. Part of that was the fact that Sunseri was still around and hated but a lot of it was the over-hyping we tend to put on players who won awards in and recruiting stars in HS.

Fans forget that those awards were for playing HS football and not a projection into college ball. That said, some of the better college players also garnered HS awards for their good play. I suppose the more the better in the long run.

There are a couple of things that happened to for the 2013 QB situation in fan’s eyes. One was that Voytik had redshirted and had that year to acclimate to college life and football at this level. For some people that alone should be enough for a 4* QB to jump into a starter’s role. That obviously didn’t turn out to be the case.

The other is that Tom Savage didn’t just fall into PITT’s lap prior to the 2012 season, Chryst and Rudolph reached out to him once he was available specifically to have him as a starting QB for 2013. That is why there was no real competition at the position in the spring practices or summer camp of this season, he was already targeted to play. I don’t agree with not having a true competition but that is basically how it shook out. Part of that was because Voytik just wasn’t ready to be a starting QB at this level for this season and because Savage almost perfectly fits the mold Chryst wants in his QBs.

That isn’t a knock on Voytik at all as I think he has the skills to play D1 ball, I’m just a bit skeptical as to how well he will do it just as I am with any other player at any other position who hasn’t actually played yet. If anything it is a knock on the PITT fans who naturally assumed that Voytik would be ready to start in 2013 after only one redshirt year based on something that, truth be told, I can’t understand. It isn’t as if Voytik was some superstar QB in HS and, this is important to me, Voytik was specifically recruited by Todd Graham to fill that ‘read-option’ QB role. This staff didn’t recruit him and IMO most probably wouldn’t have based on his measurables and his type of play.

I’m not saying they don’t want Voytik; not at all, but it is different when the staff themselves recruit a QB they envision as a starter for them.

This week will be very interesting to watch if Savage can’t go; maybe VT gets a wake up call from an unknown QB! But next season will be the one for Voytik to really get playing time. I listed in that comment above what I though would be Voytik’s role and strengths as our QB next season. He showed some of that in his productive Spring Game. That said, it also wouldn’t surprise me a bit if Chryst went the JUCO QB route for 2014 to bridge straight to one of our pro-style 2014 recruits after their redshirt FR years (both of whom might also end up as 4* recruits once the dust settles).

Comment by Reed 10.03.13 @ 5:14 am

It would surprise me if a JUCO QB is recruited by Chryst for 2014. And if that happens Voytik has every right to be pissed. Chryst says that he “plays to his players strengths”, then come Spring ball he starts grooming the offense into the needed read option style of play that goes to Voytik’s abilities and plays the guy who has put in the effort and time (2 years) waiting for his chance. Now come 2015 that all is up in the air with at least 2 RS Freshmen in the mix to compete against, and maybe a JUCO QB coming in AT THAT JUNCTURE, if Voytik has proven that he can’t handle the job from his previous year’s performance. Just my opinion.

Comment by Dr. Tom 10.03.13 @ 7:46 am

Dr. T – all this is speculation of course.

But I don’t get your point about getting a JUCO prior to the 2015 season… at that point he’d have both Freebeck and Bertke on board along with Voytik. Now, Voytik might just as easily get PT this season and prove he’s capable to start to make all this meaningless.

As far as “playing to strengths”, I think that is coach speak in the main. One thing to consider, and again this is speculation on my part, is that if Chryst is set in having a big pro style QB – as evidenced by his getting Savage as a starter this season and then landing those two big (6’3″ & 6’5″) ’14 QBs – then shifting the offense around for one year to accommodate Voytik, then back again under either of the two new kids, may not be what he wants to do.

There is no promise or guarantee to Voytik for playing time like a HC may have done with his own QB recruit as some do. Fans might also point to the smaller Tra’von Chapman as a rebuttal to my thought process but remember that we were also looking at other QB recruits right down to LOI Day for 2013.

All this makes for good conversation and I’m just throwing out some “what ifs”. The word around the practice facilities is that Chryst loves PITT and wants to be here for a long while. With that I’m wondering if he’s not looking at either Freebeck or Bertke as the long term solution at QB. No?

“Who knows what QBs lurk in the hearts of Head Coaches? The Doctor knows …..

link to

Comment by Reed 10.03.13 @ 8:38 am

Frank MD, If Foster sees action this year, it will be because of a rash of injuries. If memory serves, I read about a month or so ago that Bama returned 4 of its top 5 WRs from last year, and its their deepest position this year.

However, he may well be in the mix next year as 2 or 3 of them are graduating.

Comment by wbb 10.03.13 @ 9:57 am

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