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October 13, 2013

That wasn’t exactly fun. The OL got their asses handed to them and Tom Savage held the ball too long. The result was a putrid offensive performance. But, the defense turned in another respectable effort. They weren’t lights out like VT’s defense was, but after the dreadful performance against Duke, the defense made sure the offense was in position to win the game again. VT has certainly struggled on offense this season, but they’re not a team severely lacking talent like Virginia or New Mexico.

The first thing that jumped out to me was how they looked after VT’s touchdown drive. After the first drive, Logan Thomas was 16/30 (53%) for 184 yards along with 14 rushes for 16 yards. VT scored 12 points, although 3 of those were a gift from the officials after a BS personal foul penalty on Pitts put them into FG range. I don’t need any stats to tell you their RBs were useless. Granted, they haven’t been able to get it going against anyone else, but after the Duke game we need to be thankful when the defense stops a team they should stop.

I have one big gripe and one huge compliment for the defense. The big gripe is 3rd down defense. VT had 3rd down conversions of 9, 11, 11, 10, and 10. When faced with 3rd and 9 or longer, VT was 5/8. They were 8/19 overall. Do the math and they were 3/11 when the distance was 8 yards or fewer. You cannot give up that many 3rd and long conversions. I place those conversions squarely on defensive play calls. At least three of them were against a very passive defense. Two were soft zones and one was only a three man rush. When you’re calling that conservatively against a ranked opponent, you’re begging them to convert. I understand that you’re afraid of Logan Thomas’ running ability, but a three man rush with eight DBs just staring at him makes it way too easy for a WR to find a hole in the zone, which is exactly what they did.

On the other hand, when the defense did screw up, they clamped down. VT made it inside the Pitt 30 on six separate occasions. They ended up with only one touchdown and five FG attempts (made four). Six trips inside the Pitt 30 and they only came away with 19 points. Hell, should’ve been five attempts and 16 points, but I’ll stop complaining about the Pitts personal foul now. If you’re going to let an offense move the ball, force a FG. If there were any semblance of an offense yesterday, Pitt’s defense did more than enough to win the game. I would’ve liked a turnover and they were certainly close on two or three occasions. The only stat that truly matters is points and the defense held VT under 20. I’ll take under 20 points allowed any day of the week.

Here’s the perspective I want to bring: Pitt has beaten inferior opponents and lost to superior ones. VT is ranked #19 right now and should finish the season 10-2  or 11-1 (only team they could be an underdog against is Miami). FSU could easily play for the NC, depending on whether or not they beat Clemson next weekend. Outside of the Duke game, the defense has done everything you could reasonably expect out of them. With the benefit of hindsight, the FSU loss isn’t all that bad because of how good they are.  FSU is currently the #3 scoring offense in the country and they’re only trailing Baylor and Oregon. Pitt is simply not on the same level as FSU and it would’ve taken a perfect game to pull off the upset.

If the Duke game is the only game the defense plays below their skill level, we’re in good shape. Aaron Donald leads the country in sacks per game and tackles for a loss per game. That’s insane.  If he keeps up a similar pace he’ll be a first team All-American on virtually every list. Todd Thomas has had back to back great games and is flying all over the field. Pitts, Hendricks, and Williams haven’t been their best this season, but they are still quite talented. Ezell is quietly having a good year. Take a look at the upcoming opponents. For all of the offensive struggles, Navy, Notre Dame, and North Carolina are scoring fewer points per game than Pitt. Old Dominion is still transitioning to FBS football. The schedule makers gave the defense a huge gift when they put Navy and Georgia Tech back to back, giving the defense plenty of preparation for the unique triple option attack.

House’s defense can take the rest of the season and prove the Duke game was an aberration. I fully anticipate they will be good enough to put the offense in position to win in every game but Miami. I know I’m being optimistic here, but even I can’t anticipate keeping up with Miami, who’s 9th in the nation in points per game, ahead of Clemson, Louisville, and Texas Tech. Unless there are sanctions upcoming, it looks like Al Golden may finally have Miami where they belong again. Great timing, right after Pitt joins the ACC. Ugh.

The only goal Pitt can’t achieve is winning the Coastal Division, and while I liked to day dream about it, it wasn’t going to happen. Every game but Miami is against a team a notch below VT. I don’t expect Pitt to finish 6-1 or anything, but four or five wins is not impossible. The offense is a hot mess right now, but the defense is starting to step up. Let’s hope it continues.

 





Justin, you are definitely an optimist, focusing on the defense but it’s hard to argue against most of what you wrote. You should given L Thomas credit for those 3rd down conversions as his throws were right on the button … of course, it helps to have the time he had on most of those throws.

3 of the starting 5 OL did not play last year (actually Clemmings played defense) and the other 2 switched from T to G.

Pitt is still suffering from the coaching turmoil since DW was axed, and I urge patience. What we should be hoping and expecting right now is a steady improvement.

If this current level of play persists by the end of next year (remember, we’ll have a brand new QB and our best current player will be gone) then we can start to panic.

Comment by wbb 10.13.13 @ 7:13 pm

What really bodes well for next year is that there are only 2 players that will be difficult to replace: Street and Donald. Every other player we lose I’m confident someone can step up. Hopefully drastic improvement on the OL and RB will make up for losing Street. ON D, we’ll need DEs to step up big time.

Comment by Justin 10.13.13 @ 7:19 pm

4 starters return on the OL … and Dorian Johnson is getting some PT. Also, with all of the new OLs coming I, I would have to think there are a few that can provide back-up.

I am more worried about the DL although the DEs all return (Durham, Soto, Price and Murphy). Hopefully Render, Jarrett and Cook can plug up the middle. Not expecting any of them to be Donald, but hopefully they will be good enough. (By the way, I thought Ezell played very well yesterday)

Street will definitely be hard to replace but there are plenty of young WRs who may step up … and there will be 3 very good TEs returning

Comment by wbb 10.13.13 @ 7:31 pm

I’m going to save thoughts on this defense until we again play against a team with a QB that can actually run the read option. The UVA QB was lost, and their own blogs support that. Logan Thomas for the load he is, is almost just as lost as him, he’s just a slightly better passer.

Navy and GT will have QB’s well drilled in running the read option. And lucky for us (I mean that), we play them in back to back weeks.

So that could be either very very good, or very very bad. Like the little girl who had a little curl.

Comment by EMel 10.13.13 @ 8:07 pm

FYI

The ESPN girl analysts have us going to the Music City Bowl in Nashville. At least Gaylord is no longer the sponsor.

And Nashville is 100 times better than (dare I even say it) Birming….well you know.

link to espn.go.com

Comment by EMel 10.13.13 @ 8:10 pm

Why did PC burn the RS eligibility for D Johnson? At this point he should get some experience. If he still is too young at the position then PC should not have wasted his RS eligibility.

Comment by PITT fan in Atlanta 10.13.13 @ 8:13 pm

Congrats to our former BigEast brethren, Syracuse on their first ACC win (for them too it was on the road).

“For the second straight game, the Orange have racked up more than 300 yards on the ground. Say what you will about NC State’s defense, but the Cuse did it against No. 3-ranked Clemson, too. Syracuse’s ability to run the ball was key in the Orange’s 24-10 win at NC State, the program’s first ACC win as a member of the conference. Jerome Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley each ran for more than 100 yards and a touchdown as the Orange finished with 362 yards on the ground.”

Suddenly the game against them (being in the Carrier Dump) doesn’t appear so easy now.

Comment by EMel 10.13.13 @ 8:18 pm

my guess is that doesn’t think Johnson would stay for 5 years

Comment by wbb 10.13.13 @ 8:19 pm

I know EMel…was just thinking that. The Syracuse offense seems to be clicking a bit and ours has stalled. Lots can change between now and then, though.

Comment by panther94 10.13.13 @ 8:24 pm

i still think 7 and 5 could happen

Comment by FRANKCAN 10.13.13 @ 8:24 pm

hey Justin, good article.

Question for you, was there any thought during the game when the O-linemen were playing Matadors of replacing one if not both of the Tackles.
Juantez Hollins is a guy who has seen playing time in the past. As is Ryan Schlieper who played some last year I think. PC’s only move was putting a true freshman into the game (DJ).

Last year’s line manhandled VT’s d-line and that was with Rotheram and King playing tackle.
Are they worse at guard or what ?

Comment by EMel 10.13.13 @ 8:27 pm

they were vulnerable to speed rushers last year which is why they were moved to guards … don’t know why VT weren’t able to exploit them last year

Comment by wbb 10.13.13 @ 8:34 pm

With us losing and the Buccos going down.

At least the good ole Stillers got off the schneid.

Funny they have O-line troubles as well and can’t run the ball either (Bell had a 1.8 apc today) or protect the QB.

Comment by EMel 10.13.13 @ 8:40 pm

EMel you said bbva the birmingham bowl here is something to make one sick the american authletic conference the AAC second best bowl is the birmingham bowl it is were they will send the team that finishs second in there conference how sad is that.
there best bowl is the military bowl were we send are 7 thru 10 teams this starts in 2014.
thank god we are in the ACC.

Comment by FRANKCAN 10.13.13 @ 8:44 pm

Pens are 4 and 1 …. but playoffs are what matters

Comment by wbb 10.13.13 @ 8:47 pm

haha FRankie

2nd best bowl is in that old falling apart rusty old Legion Field ? C-USA probably has better venues.

Yes thank God we are in the ACC.

@ wbb

you are correct sir we’ve seen this movie before.

And thank Gene DeFilippo of BC.

Comment by EMel 10.13.13 @ 9:21 pm

Strange but true

BYU hammered Georgia Tech this week.

After losing to Virginia.

Virginia loses by 1 point to Maryland who was in the Top 25 last week (fraudulently but nonetheless)

Texas who was destroyed by BYU destroys Oklahoma this week.

#5 Stanford loses to Utah.
#8 Georgia got trounced at home by Mizzou.

Pedo State after losing for the first time EVER to lowly Indiana beats #18 Michigan.

BC has now covered a 20+ point spread twice against FSU & Clemson, two Top 10 teams.

Really tough to figure out these teams, and I guess they want it that way.

Even the top touts have no clue for the most part.

Comment by EMel 10.13.13 @ 9:34 pm

Emel I caught a little bit of the BC / Clemson game and all I can say is that I am now a huge Steve Addazio fan. You can see why he was successful at temple and you can see why he’s got BC playing good ball. He doesn’t take any sh&t and he gets fired up. I’m happy with Paul Chryst and I think we’re on the right path but I’m not going to say I don’t have a little coach envy.

Justin I think you are right on the mark with your assessment of the defense. I’ll admit I have not been much of a house supporter but he’s got them playing some pretty decent ball in the last two games. I still question some of his calls from time to time but it wouldn’t be football if I didn’t.

I think the true test of our D will be Syracuse – not GT or Navy. Tech and Navy run a triple option. Very similar to New Mexico. Syracuse has more of a spread look and don’t look now but they just shredded Dave Huxtable.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 10.14.13 @ 6:03 am

EMel – I truly believe there is no reasoning when comparing teams who have won or lost to common opponents. I don’t even look at that any longer as college football is just too unpredictable.

Does anyone remember a few years ago in 2009 when Navy was rushing for a million yards per game and we put a dedicated LB on the QB to shadow him wherever he went during the play? Navy’s Ricky Dobbs was their leading rusher that season and we held him to 21 yards on 26 carries. I believe it was Scott McKillop who was his shadow and the cause of the shutdown. Dobbs went on to have seven 100+ yard games that season after we beat them so we had the right idea.

This year their QB is again their leading rusher by a 2:1 margin over their second best ball carrier. However, this season Navy’s offense isn’t as super strong as it has been in the past; they are currently 82nd in Total Offense and a good 10th in rushing offense. The Navy Passing Offense is off the charts almost literally being 102nd at 102 ypg.

What does this mean? If our DC has any plans for those triple option offenses using a QB shadow is the way to go. Granted it basically freezes out that LB if the QB isn’t carrying the ball but at the same time that QB will be rushed on every option play. Use it against OD and we’ll be more ready for that Navy rushing attack.

IMO dedicating Todd Thomas in that Scott McKillop role of the QB shadow could be very effective for controlling the triple option offense. Thomas is both fast and strong and can execute well. His ‘closing speed’ is pretty amazing also.

I think the next two games will go our way but we’ll struggle with our ACC opponents. As Justin states the only real bright spot has been the improving play of our defense. It would be nice if we could have the offense make some sustained drives to keep our defense on the bench. Last game they were on the field for 35 minutes.

That is a lot of time but I didn’t notice the defensive kids being overly tired at the end part of the game. Liberal substitution helps with that a bit.

The offense will be better also. The current line of thinking is to devise a gameplan where there are more quick hitters to the TEs and RBs out of the backfield but I’m not sure Savage is ‘quick’ enough to accomplish that. He takes a windup and has a slower release than other QB but the ball has more velocity (thanks to a strong right wrist) so a two-step drop and sudden pass isn’t his best move.

Bottom line is that if there is any DL pressure whatsoever he’ll throw an incompletion or freeze for a sack. Which means our OL has to get it together chop-chop or we’ll be in big trouble. If Savage is given a firm pocket and some time he’s pretty effective but he’ll still look downfield first as is his habit and strength.

Comment by Reed 10.14.13 @ 6:19 am

FWIW, Duke beat the crap out of Navy.

I heard at least half a dozen analysts call Michigan the most overrated team around. Note that they barely beat Akron and UConn, who have combined for 3 Ws this season.

Sadly, the Wolverines kind of remind me of Pitt … don’t defend 2 Hail Mary’s in the final drive .. and then miss 2 chip shot FGs in OT.

Comment by wbb 10.14.13 @ 6:21 am

Reed, that player who shadowed Dobbs was natural freshman Dan Mason in his first start subbing for an injured McKillop. All he did was make something like 17 tackles and made BE Defensive player of the Week.

Of course, Russell Wilson showed the next week that he still had a few things to learn

Comment by wbb 10.14.13 @ 6:24 am

@@@@@@

Have been saying that we need to go into the GT game 5-2.
Our season will be determined by the outcome of the last
five games. Remember this team is young. Two out of the last
three recruiting classes have imploded. A 7-5 (4-4) record
and bowl game against a worthy opponent would be considered a success. All of us can see we are in disparate
need of running backs. Otherwise Ibrahim would have been
redshirted. The kid might weight 175 Pounds More like 165; way to small for D-1. Hopefully Connor will be back for the Navy game. We should be able to beat ODU without him?

Comment by JR 10.14.13 @ 7:25 am

Pleasantly surprised by the aggressive play of the Defense.

Finally, House let Pitts and Williams play their game rather than hamstringing them in some esoteric prevent scheme.

Maybe Im wrong, but did not see Durham as visible on the field as prior games. Was he hurt or substituted for?

Overall, the Defense did seem to have its act together. Have to think that replacing GORDON with GALAMBOS has made a BIG difference.

Still, not getting suckered into thinking this Defense has arrived and House is ready for the big time.

Again, what has been learned is that Pitt can play well against offenses with mediocure to poor passing attacks that have NO RUNNING ATTACK.

Until they go up against a blannced offense with an explosive back or two… and they will in the not too distant future… I am going to keep my entusiasm in check.

Comment by PittofDreams 10.14.13 @ 7:27 am

@ Justin, your thoughts are what I saw on Saturday as well. I spoke to plenty on VT fans after the game that complimented how our defense, even after failing to get off the field with those multiple VT long 3rd down conversions, stiffened up when the field shrank in the red zone. The very simple conclusion to draw from this game is that Pitt got beat by a team that should have beaten us. Their D line played awesome.

We all knew that this would be a telling game for Pitt. What it told me is that;
1) Our offense needs to more imaginative on 1st down, we are predictable. We run up the middle too much on 1st downs.
2) The OL and TEs and RBs need to improve their pass protection.
3) Savage needs to get rid of the ball quicker when pressured, this would be helped by the following.
4) Better coaching! Where were the bubble screens, quick outs to the WRs, throws to RBs out of the backfield or any imaginative trick plays to help this offense compete against a whithering pass rush???

In conclusion, realistic pre-season predictions, hovered around 6-6 and us quaifying for a minor bowl in our 1st year in the ACC. At 3-2, we are right where many thought we would be. No surprises!

Don’t pencel in OD as a win, this could be a tough opponent if we don’t come to play, especially if Conner and Street remained sidelined for a week. NEXT!

Comment by Dr. Tom 10.14.13 @ 7:45 am

Justin… you and Reed seem to be convinced that the Offensive Line is a major culprit in the offensive struggles.

Watching some of the plays again from Saturday, yes there are breakdowns. And those breakdowns are to blame for some of the difficulty Savage has had in staying upright.

However, it does not explain the general difficulty Savage is having with executing the Chryst Offense.

Unfortunately, what we’re seeing is Savage simply living up to the rap he had coming out of Rutgers… difficulty reading defenses, a penchant for taking sacks, and a tendency for throwing interceptions at inopportune times.

With a rare cannon arm and uncanny ability to throw the deep ball with pinpoint accuracy…. there was a reason why Savage was cast aside at Rutgers.

Unfortunately, at this point he hasn’t shown that he has been able to advance beyond the limitations that have plagued him throughout his college career.

And what really was surprising Saturday was how innacurate he was with the intermediate passing routes, a key to Chryst’s passing offense and something Sunseri did well with a year ago.

Savage holding the ball too long and apparent difficulty in executing the intermediate passing game is something Chryst himself alludes to in both Pittsburgh papers this morning.

“I think we have to take a look at that, certainly,” Chryst said. “You are kind of waiting for that space (between defenders and receivers).” – Tribune Review

It would be great if Savage could somehow magically transform himself into a more complete quarterback over the next two games before the meat of the schedule. But, I’m not optimistic. There’s just no evidence to suggest it’s going to happen.

That’s why with Old Dominion next Saturday and Navy a week later, the time is right for Chryst and Co. to get Chad Voytik a series or two of action. Let’s see what the kid can do.

Reed has been critical of Voytik’s ability to read defenses. Well, it can’t be worse than Savage. And personally I’m interested to see what difference Voytik’s athleticism and running ability can make in an offense where the lack of any threat from a running game now has defenses teeing off on an immobile quarterback who is a sitting duck in the backfield.

If Voytik is anything near the talent many here and elsewhere have made him out to be when he was recruited, it should help provide a spark to a Pitt offense now finding itself being SACKED into mediocrity.

Comment by PittofDreams 10.14.13 @ 7:52 am

“I fully anticipate they will be good enough to put the offense in position to win in every game but Miami”

………………

Wow.

Comment by NOPE 10.14.13 @ 8:00 am

The guys over at thekeyplay put up some gifs from the game, including 2 of Savage’s sacks. What worries me is on both of the plays, Savage has a checkdown option available tha the fails to find.

link to thekeyplay.com

Watch Isaac Bennett out of the backfield on first one. He’s wide open with no one within 5 yards. A quick checkdown there and Bennett probably gets 10ish yards. That was on 2nd and 12 on the VT 22. We ended up with a FG that drive. Let’s go super conservative and say Bennett gets 7 yards. Now it’s 3rd and 5 instead of 3rd and 19.

If Savage needs work on anything, it’s finding the outlet. I’m thinking Savage was more of an issue than playcalling. The second gif, he has Garner open to the left, he ran a drag route from the right side.

I’ll watch the offense tonight if I can and do a write up on it.

Comment by Justin 10.14.13 @ 8:02 am

Thanks Justin

Comment by PittofDreams 10.14.13 @ 8:14 am

We’re 3-2 right now, exactly how we were projected to be doing, even out last loss was by the amount of the point spread. With this, comes some positive signs and negatives as well, in my opinion:

1. First, the defense has clearly improved from it’s horrible start. I was one of many livid with House’s leadership early on, but from a coaching perspective, the one focus should be improvement, and without question this D has continued to improve. So, hat’s off! In fact, I feel much better with a solidifying D and struggling O, then I felt a few weeks ago with things the other way.

2. Personnel wise, Galambos and Thomas in particular are two big reasons for the improvement in our D.

3. Offensive disappointment obviously starts with our OL, however all 5 guys are new to their positions this year and are struggling to communicate against mature, physical defensive fronts, so I guess we shouldn’t be too shocked, eh?

4. QB: Savage is an upgrade over last year, so I’m still thankful, though he does hold onto the ball too long. When things are looking bad, such as against VT, I’d put Voytik in the game due to his mobility and possibly to provide the team with a spark. This would get him some experience too. I would prefer the philosophy, when the time is right, of not worrying about a qb controversy or the freshman taking some lumps, just suck it up and throw him in there.

5. Still like Chryst, I think he’s a good choice for our coach, but disagree with play calling against va and vt, I think he needs to call a lot more short stuff, especially to tight ends, quick slants, etc., to keep D on their heels a bit.

Comment by 1618mt 10.14.13 @ 8:18 am

One request when you’re watching the Offense.

Reed has been vocal about his criticism of Clemmings. However, based on what I’ve seen, he’s been playing well outside of some periodic breakdowns as has been the case with Bisonwaty on the other side.

Appreciate any conclusions you might be able to draw in comparing Clemmings and Bisonwaty.

Comment by PittofDreams 10.14.13 @ 8:22 am

a few notes

– FWIW, both Clemmings and Biz are first year starters at OT …. Clemmings was a DL until this spring. While they need to improve, it is obviously a work-in-progress

– Gordon was inserted late in the 3rd quarter. Galambos clearly was out of position on a few pass plays in the first half .. but he is also a work-in-progress

– when you can’t run or hold-off the rush, your playcalling is going to look bad. Games stll are almost always won in the pits.

Comment by wbb 10.14.13 @ 8:37 am

Justin, thanks for all of the info. I have to say that I disagree with your view of the video link provided. It looked to me that Savage had almost no chance to get the ball to 34 on the first clip, and no chance to get the ball to 82 on the second clip. He was hit almost right away on both plays.

PoD, I don’t disagree with your current analysis of Savage”s play, but please stop telling us that what Savage, or any other player, did as a Freshman told us all we needed to know about them as players.

Comment by HbgFrank 10.14.13 @ 8:40 am

Justin. …could not agree more with you. When I reviewed the game on Sunday, I saw check down receivers open 5-6 x and TS never looked their way. Cannot tell you how disappointed I am in Savage

Comment by Dan 72 10.14.13 @ 8:44 am

Keep in mind, it’s easy to play armchair QB when you’re looking at something in hindsight. Savage has less than a second to read the blitz and find the outlet receiver. It’s much easier said than done.

What I’ll try to do tonight is break down each sack, that’ll give us an idea as to why plays failed.

Comment by Justin 10.14.13 @ 8:54 am

I am ready to start talking about ODU. Is there an early line? I can’t find one.

And, what it is with these Virginia schools? The ODU team is the “Monarchs” and the mascot is a blue lion? Someone explain that one.

H2P

Comment by pmdH2P 10.14.13 @ 9:17 am

You can tell the defense has played better, when no one is calling for the firing of House. But let’s not lose or heads, the last two teams were pretty inept offensively. I did like the new blitzes which other than Donald is the only way they pressure the QB. The 3 man rush was a disaster. You won’t get interceptions without pressure on the QB.

You know you are in trouble when your opponent is blitzing on first down. This is obviously caused by a lack of any running threat. It turns out that Conner is our only decent back. I suspect he may have been dinged up against VA. Tried to go on Sat. but wasn’t ready. I thought they never gave the run a chance, sometimes you have to keep pounding till you break one.

They better work on some plays to counter the blitz, because that is what they will face until Conner gets healthy. The concerns about Savage are justified, what concerned me most was when he broke from the pocket, he did not look down field or reset to pass. He needs time to throw and the running game is essential to give credibility to play action.

If Boyd was a little bigger, I would try some wildcat. Until he puts on some man muscle, I think you might get him killed.

Comment by gc 10.14.13 @ 9:17 am

@ Justin – I agree with HbgFrank on the first clip. Bennett got held up getting through the line and didn’t have his head turned around until Savage was already going down. If Savage throws anyway it’s not likely to get intercepted since there is no VT defender in the vicinity but, if his arm gets hit or something else weird occurs, bad things can happen making that throw.

Just as each interception has its own story, so does each sack. I don’t mind him taking that one (although his head and body might).

Comment by Pitt Dad 10.14.13 @ 9:18 am

Respected Washington sports writer calls Pitt a mediocre team. I think it is because we cannot make the next step to improve.
There is always one or another thing wrong. Not sure what it is. Maybe it applies to all college FB teams.

Comment by Frank MD 10.14.13 @ 9:25 am

Mediocre is a somewhat ambiguous term. Many thinks it means below average; others thinks it’s average.

If compared to all 126 D! FB teams, I actually believe Pitt to be slightly above average.

Comment by wbb 10.14.13 @ 9:33 am

I think we are fighting hard to be mediocre. It’s better than being lousy.

Comment by gc 10.14.13 @ 9:45 am

I’d put Pitt somewhere in the 40-60 range if we ranked all FBS schools. I’d put us at 6th or 7th in the ACC. Middle of the road in the ACC is better than more than half of college football. Sure, we’d lose to most SEC teams, but we’d also beat most of the AAC, C-USA, MAC, Mountain West, and Sun Belt.

We’d be right smack in the middle of the Big 10 and Big 12 this season, too.

Comment by Justin 10.14.13 @ 9:45 am

Justin please help me with this. My concern is with the lack of touches for our tight ends. Remember JP Holtz taking off the hat of Shamarko Thomas last year. I was under the belief that PC and Joe Rudolph utilized tight ends more effectively when they were at Wisky. We have 4 studs at the position and we can’t seem to get them involved in the offense.

I would like to see JP or Manasseh running north-south with a head of steam mowing over DBs. When is that gonna happen? It seems like we are a one dimensional offense and we are locking onto our wide receivers on most pass plays and the TEs are left in limbo.

Comment by Panther Fan in Hoopieland 10.14.13 @ 10:03 am

We were at 46 out of 125 on USA Todays list prior to this week. I don’t think the new list is out yet. We may drop but not much. They had VT at 23 at the time.

Comment by Pitt Dad 10.14.13 @ 10:20 am

For us to move up to the low 30’s next year we are going to need 4 or 5 more freshmen impact players. Nicholson, Henry, and McKenzie could help right away, still like to see a D-lineman and linebacker, even a JUCO.

Agree with Hoopieland. Need to add that dimension, especially with the decline in running yards. Anybody ask the coach that question in his presser?

Comment by gc 10.14.13 @ 10:40 am

Also props to Ezell, he has really been punching them in the mouth. Too soon?

Comment by gc 10.14.13 @ 10:41 am

A bit of perspective: our only 2 losses are to the #5 and #19 teams, respectively (though not their rankings when we squared off, these new numbers are still the most accurate reflections of their talent within the national landscape). These are unbelievably tough teams; FSU’s offense might be the most lethal in the country (their 2 or 3 of their RBs who all get touches would all be significant starters on most rosters)and VTech’s defense is undeniably elite. I know we all would have liked to have come away with some meaningful W’s, but I’m very satisfied with our current situation, and look forward to finishing with a respectable record at year’s end.

Comment by MikePITT 10.14.13 @ 10:44 am

Pitt Dad, I don’t put much stock in USA Today ratings. They are certainly one of the most unsubstantiated sources of sports information available. They have our hoop team picked to finish 9th in the ACC as an example. This years team probably will likely need to hustle to make the NCAA tourney but barring injuries there is no way they finish 9th behind the likes of Boston College as they predict.

Comment by spiritofsection 22 10.14.13 @ 11:01 am

@@@@@

Call Pitt average or mediocre because that
is what we are. Need bigger, faster, stronger
players. That is achieved by redshirting
freshman. Coaching staff needs at least
2 additional recruiting classes.

Also Savage is playing because he is better
prepared that Voytik. Getting Votik experience
is not as important as winning games.

Comment by JR 10.14.13 @ 11:07 am

Pitt of dreams, I agree this team does need a spark on offence TS can really throw the deep ball well, but that seems to be all he does well. I would also like to see Voytick play and the question we have to ask now, does Pitt lose any more games with Voytick at QB? He probably beats ODU,Navy, and UNC with GT and Syracuse as toss ups. The gained experience for next year seems invaluable and with his legs and some check downs maybe he is better suited for this offence.

Comment by Steve h 10.14.13 @ 11:12 am

@SoS 22 – I agree about USA Today. I wouldn’t use any part of the paper to wrap fish. I respect fish too much. It was merely the only 1-125 list I could find quickly.

Comment by Pitt Dad 10.14.13 @ 11:16 am

Generally speaking, benching a player and hoping the guy behind him is better is a bad idea. It’s amplified at QB. You only bench a guy when you’re confident the next guy up an do equal or better.

Right now, Voytik’s development is key. You can absolutely hinder development by putting a player out there in a situation he can’t handle. If Savage is ruined by poor OL play, it doesn’t hurt Pitt long term. If Voytik develops bad habits, it coudl hurt Pitt for the next 3 years.

Comment by Justin 10.14.13 @ 11:17 am

That’s true Justin but you can’t put all those sacks on the o-line TS has zero pocket presence. Big Ben can’t run but he moves well in the pocket TS is like a statue. Voytick has been here for a year and a half now, we call for younger players to come in for vets at every other position, if Voytick can’t handle it now its time to find out, the next two games are against lesser opponents. If he gets shell shocked and can’t rebound next year what makes you think that that won’t happen early next year?

Comment by Steve h 10.14.13 @ 11:27 am

Wbb – I knew it was a MLB, thanks for the correction. As to Clemmings being a 1st year OL – perhaps it might help to have a player who grew up playing OL and is talented also. Dropping Clemmings to 2nd string and playing Johnson starting with OD could be a move that pans out. If not go back to the original lineup.

Pittofdreams – I’m not putting all the fault on the OL, although they played pretty poorly on Saturday. I’ve been pretty vocal in my opinion that Savage has problems with locking on and waiting until that singular receiver is open. That has happened in every game he’s played – it just happened to not matter against Duke.

Regarding Voytik; it seems to me that the staff hasn’t been all that excited about his readiness to play at this level. I’m not saying that they, or I for that matter, think he doesn’t have some talent but that is different than being ready or able to play BCS QB. Star rankings aside, Voytik’s HS career wasn’t all that great as he was a 54% passer on an average football team. PITT fans like to point to the team around him being a drag on him but I’m not sure that mattered all that much.

Still, recruiting scouts really liked him.

One big difference between Savage and Voytik is that Voytik has a much quicker release, very quick actually, and may be able to avoid some of those sacks Savage is getting. Plus he’s more mobile and it looks to me like he can keep focused on his receivers while on the move. I think that’s because he’s gotten used to passing on the run during his career whereas Savage is a pure pocket passer.

I wouldn’t mind seeing Voytik at QB if the season gets away from us or if the staff feels it is time.. If we don’t go the JUCO route in the off season he’ll be our starter next year unless one of our QB recruits of 2014 blows up.

I do think it was interesting that in mid-second half of the game against VT Chryst sought out Trey Anderson and talked to him for about a minute… while the game was going on. It might mean nothing at all but I got the sense that if Savage was knocked out the HC might have put Anderson in vice Voytik.

Maybe he was asking what the hell Savage was talking about on the sidelines with Anderson and Voytik or if he’s notice any physical problems for Savage, but it makes me wonder.

IMO if Voytik is going to play this season then give him a full week’s practices as QB1 and give him the best chance to succeed there is. Throwing him in suddenly in front of that great and fast VT DL would probably not be a good idea.

Note: ^^^ My opinions only.

Comment by Reed 10.14.13 @ 11:37 am

@Steve H, I am with Justin on this one. If Savage doesn’t start to evade the rush a little better soon this will be a moot point anyway because he won’t be throwing many passes from a hospital bed. I hope our line starts to pick it up soon. Voytik will get his chance and his development should not be a factor as it is Savage’s job that he earned. Next year will get here soon enough, let’s do our best to play this years schedule to this years teams best result.

Comment by spiritofsection 22 10.14.13 @ 11:41 am

Great points Reed, last year a certain QB was pounded for taking sacks, why is TS getting a pass? Didn’t you find yourself yelling for him to either move or throw the ball? I just don’t think we win more games with Savage in the game vs one of the backups in there. If Pitt finishes the season at 6-6 I will be asking how would we have done with Voytick in. If Anderson is the better call then so be it he’s certainly has earned the chance. But unless TS improves against better compatition the QB position is wasted for next year. Pitt will be starting all over again, why?

Comment by Steve h 10.14.13 @ 11:49 am

Savage was named the starter to win games, we can go 6-6 with me at QB why not try someone else?

Comment by Steve h 10.14.13 @ 11:52 am

Savage was named the starter to win games, we can go 6-6 with me at QB why not try someone else?

Comment by Steve h 10.14.13 @ 11:52 am

What I’ll do tonight for each sack is crack out the stop watch and time from snap to pressure. In an ideal world, a QB has more than 3 seconds. Less than 3 seconds and you need a quick release. If you’re under 2.5 you’re in a lot of trouble.

Comment by Justin 10.14.13 @ 11:56 am

Also count how many times he could have moved in the pocket a step or two and found a check down, not all those sacks were his fault but tacking two back to back in the red zone, well other QB’s would have taking some serious heat for that!

Comment by Steve h 10.14.13 @ 12:01 pm

Given the situation with the OL and VT’s overly aggressive pass rush, why didn’t we run a ton of screens and short outs? Seems like most calls were either runs inside or throws downfield, both of which were never going to work against their D. I would have at least tried to burn them on the outside or in front of the LBs a bit more instead of banging away with stuff that clearly wasn’t working.

Comment by Steve S 10.14.13 @ 12:06 pm

@ Steve H, The reason we don’t “try” someone else is that the grass always looks greener when it comes to QB’s. Your assumption that we win 6 with anybody at the position isn’t grounded in reality. In fact I am still not sure we will win 6 no matter who quarterbacks. Savage won the position in camp and he hasn’t done anything to lose the job, in fact I don’t even think it is a consideration by our coaching staff. If we are indeed going to win 6 or more games we had best win the next 2. I say start the players that give you the best chance to win now.

Comment by spiritofsection 22 10.14.13 @ 12:08 pm

If the O-line is going to be that bad then all the more reason to bring in a mobile QB

Comment by Steve h 10.14.13 @ 12:08 pm

If we go 6 and 6 i think we go to the military bowl
or the bowl in shreveport la.
at least no more bbva.

Comment by FRANKCAN 10.14.13 @ 12:10 pm

Spirit, if we don’t play someone else we will never know who gives us the best chance to win, all I’m saying is we have some games coming up that maybe we can find out who that might be.

Comment by Steve h 10.14.13 @ 12:12 pm

@@@@@
To Steve

Would like to see you try to win 6 games.

Comment by JR 10.14.13 @ 12:12 pm

JR lmfao!
What makes anybody think that Savage isn’t going to look great against ODU and Navy and get sacked ten times against ND? Reed has pointed out TS’s inability to really not be able to do anything but lock on to one guy and throw the deep pass. I just don’t know how that’s going to change!

Comment by Steve h 10.14.13 @ 12:20 pm

If we don’t start running again it won’t matter which QB plays, they won’t have time to throw, against the better teams.

A roll out QB, cuts the field in half, needs to throw to the back or tight end often. Lessens the quick strike potential of Street and Boyd. Savage made a couple of nice throws on the run earlier this year. He looked shell shocked yesterday. Don’t forget that VT has superior D-backs as well, I suspect our guys were well covered most of the time. Sometimes you get sacked because nobody is open. I suspect that happened a few times and a sack is better than an interception.

Steve h, you must be pretty good, why don’t you go out for the team. Just kidding, it is too early to panic and I think Savage gives us the best chance against the better teams. We need to establish the run and keep him on his feet.

Maybe Voytik or Anderson gets some snaps against OD and Navy, and end the speculation, I don’t think they will live up to your expectations.

We do know if we can maintain the pocket Savage throws the ball on the money most of the time.

I don’t think Street or Boyd would approve of a change.

Comment by gc 10.14.13 @ 12:29 pm

Ray Graham is the biggest differential from last year. If Conners is healthy, maybe he allows for some different play calling, but Pitt was whipped up front by VT DL. Only Ray Graham making the kind of runs that defeat defenses is what has changed.

Comment by chethejet 10.14.13 @ 12:30 pm

I know it doesn’t mean much but here’s an excerpt from USA Today – teams 40 through 60 (we’re 52):

40. Penn State (4-2, 1-1) – UP 15
41. Mississippi (3-3, 1-3)
42. Bowling Green (5-2, 2-0)
43. USC (4-2, 1-2)
44. Houston (5-0, 2-0) – UP 15
45. Tulane (5-2, 3-0) – UP 27
46. Rutgers (4-2, 1-1)
47. Marshall (4-2, 2-0)
48. Georgia Tech (3-3, 2-2)
49. TCU (3-3, 1-2)
50. Arizona (3-2, 0-2)
51. Kansas State (2-4, 0-3)
52. Pittsburgh (3-2, 2-2)
53. Iowa (4-2, 1-1)
54. East Carolina (4-2, 1-1) – DOWN 15
55. Washington State (4-3, 2-2)
56. Louisiana-Lafayette (3-2, 1-0)
57. Vanderbilt (3-3, 0-3)
58. Tennessee (3-3, 0-2)
59. West Virginia (3-3, 1-2)
60. Indiana (3-3, 1-1)

Comment by Pitt Dad 10.14.13 @ 12:34 pm

I do think that Savage can be able to do a better job on his pre-snap reads, so he can anticipate better and know where he can unload the ball quicker. And while at the stadium during the VA game, I did notice on a handful of plays what Justin and Reed have been talking about .. that he is totally locked in on his primary receivers while the TE was open underneath.

I thought Savage did a decent job of avoidng a few sacks. I think one thing we must reailze is that while we see the play on TV from a wider angle including the blind side, the QB cannot.
If I said this same thing the last 2 year, nobody would have believed me.

Comment by wbb 10.14.13 @ 12:34 pm

and here’s a link to the complete list

link to usatoday.com

Please don’t wrap your fish in it.

Comment by Pitt Dad 10.14.13 @ 12:35 pm

Chethejet,

Shell ran for 156 yards against VT last year, Graham for 95.

Comment by gc 10.14.13 @ 12:35 pm

@Steve h, I don’t see where we are in desperation mode and need to be consider changing QB’s at this point. Furthermore suggesting such a change indicates that you think it likely the change would benefit our offense and doesn’t have any risk off of the next 2 games being softies. I disagree on all 3 points. Savage earned the job and hasn’t done anything to lose it. There is no evidence that a change at the position would be of any benefit. We could lose both of these next 2 games trying a desperation mid season QB switch without any probable upside. You are certainly entitled to your opinion but I really think it is a bad idea. Fortunately I don’t think our coaches will even consider anything that ridiculous. No offense Steve but I would be real upset if our coaches tried anything that desperate at this point. If we were to lose the next 2 we might want to revamp but otherwise no way.

Comment by spiritofsection 22 10.14.13 @ 12:35 pm

I’d argue that winning 6 games in the ACC is a step forward vs winning six in the Big East. Yes non-con plays into it but at least 2-3 wins come against conference opponents if you win 6. No doubt that the bottom of the ACC is more talented than South Florida and Temple.

Now we do actually have to win those games.

I think we will get our swagger back against ODU and play everybody else tough down the stretch. Who knows with a little luck we might just win 8.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 10.14.13 @ 12:36 pm

gc are you saying we should sink or swim with the bomb? Even when he looks good he has not found the TE’s and it’s hard to remember when a back has had a catch. Boyd might not be to upset if someone could get him the ball on a short pass in space and let him show his skills.

Comment by Steve h 10.14.13 @ 12:36 pm

Pitt Dad, funny how IU beat PSU by 20 but is ranked nearly 20 spots below the Nits.

I assume that somehow MIch is still ranked, easily the most overrated team around.

Comment by wbb 10.14.13 @ 12:38 pm

IMO we would be better served to look forward. VT is a way better team this year than last. That’s why we got beat, we’re not better at the QB position just a different type of player is there now. Pitt needs to find something in the middle and if Pitt isn’t competing for an ACC title we should start looking now so some day we can compete for a title.

Comment by Steve h 10.14.13 @ 12:48 pm

Everyone seems to have assumed 6 wins, many are thinking 7 or 8, but I am still not convinced we will win more than 5. This team will have to continue to improve to win 6 and that remains to be seen. Anyone posting here remember Youngstown State last year? These kids are still capable of playing one of those games. I don’t want to come across like some kind of negative griper but we haven’t really done much yet, and I think the jury is still out on if we will get any better. All 3 of our wins are against pretty bad teams and two of them were pretty close. It is possible we suck. Hopefully not, but it is too early to totally discount the possibility.

Comment by spiritofsection 22 10.14.13 @ 12:55 pm

Steve h,

Savage is 77 for 137, 1239 yds, 10 td passes. Not all bombs. Street avg 109 yds, Boyd 89, Weatherspoon 23, Garner 13. Orndorf has two td catches.

I would say the running backs have their hands full trying to run and block. Have had some thrown their way with little success. Agree that the tight ends can be used more, but they too have dropped their share. Obviously Savage strength is the medium to long pass.

I like it more than the dink and dunk which it seems you may be advocating. We had three years of that.

Savage is exceptional at what he does well.
I think getting the ground game working and the mid range to long pass is the way to go. It worked for the Steelers in the 70’s.

If you think Boyd wants to catch floaters across the middle, I think you might be mistaken. We had a guy that was good at throwing the high one over the middle, just gets your receivers killed.

The sideline passes to Street and Boyd are a thing of beauty. You give that up with anyone else.

Comment by gc 10.14.13 @ 1:02 pm

Reed –

Interesting point about HCPC talking with Anderson during the second half. I noticed that too and it made me curious. Might have been nothing worth mentioning. Who knows?

Hats off to the D. Did they play perfect? No, of course not. However, they did play well against a top 20 team with a talented, albeit inconsistent, QB. Plus, they were on the field a lot Saturday and continued to battle, knowing the offense couldn’t get much going. They even had a chance or two at a big play. The near INT by Pitts on the sideline early in the game comes to mind.

I think (hope) we’ll see more variety on 1st down moving forward to get us into 2nd and manageable, thus, opening up the run.

Comment by JAM05PITT 10.14.13 @ 1:10 pm

wbb, Michigan and ND always the most overrated.

If we had to lose on Saturday, it is good that there are 4 ranked teams in the ACC, not counting Maryland and BC is pretty good as well. Hopefully more kids will want to play at Pitt in a pretty good conference. Louisville next year, another ranked team. Much more exciting than the Big 10, which added Maryland and Rutgers, two more patsies.

Comment by gc 10.14.13 @ 1:11 pm

Yes gc they are beautiful just don’t see them happening against a worthy opponent, and you don’t know if other QB’s can get the ball deep nobody knows cause they haven’t played. I guess I’m the only one having déjà vu watching sack after sack and having a one trick pony at the QB position, that’s just how I feel lets play the season and find out who’s right. Just prepare yourselves for this again next year.

Comment by Steve h 10.14.13 @ 1:14 pm

#3 Clemson
#5 F.S.U.
#8 Louisville (ACC next year)
#10 Miami
#19 Va. Tech

Not too bad. Actually, pretty friggin’ good.

Comment by Dan 10.14.13 @ 1:21 pm

@wbb – that’s why I included the whole group from 40 to 60. Relatively that’s where we belong. Absolute rank on a USA Today list is meaningless.

Comment by Pitt Dad 10.14.13 @ 1:29 pm

Steve h
Next year will be different. The o-line will be one year older, stronger and more experienced. Should have more depth at running back and maybe a freshman star to go with Conner. I might be wrong but I have written off Bennett.

Right now it looks like ball control with Voytik, but who knows. I am more concerned about a defense sans the great Donald.

You still may get want you want, if Savage goes down, he has been taking a beating. By the way we don’t know how tough Voytik is and Anderson has been knocked out before. So careful what you wish for.

Comment by gc 10.14.13 @ 1:33 pm

gc I’m just tired of the same old thing I want a playmaker at QB. Yes Savage can go deep but can he sustain a drive when we need it in a big game? I think your right about next years team, let’s answer the one big ? now. It’s not that I don’t want Pitt to win now I do I just don’t think we lose much with someone else, let the young kids grow together. Just look how much better Logan Thomas was this year vs last.

Comment by Steve h 10.14.13 @ 1:43 pm

Steve, I think what you mean by a playmaker is a Russell Wilson type who can avoid a rush, and outrun his pursuers for a 1st down or occasionally scramble until he finds an open receiver.

If you don’t have that, you need an Oline that can block and provide sufficient time for the passer, a la Bama (you like that!!!) When we had that, we had decent output the past 2 years .. but especially when we are behind and the defense loads up on the pressure, we are in trouble.

I’ve said this before, I’ll say it again. Out best season recently was 09, and it was no coincidence that we had out best recent Oline that different have many injuries.

Comment by wbb 10.14.13 @ 1:55 pm

.. that ‘didn’t’ have many injuries

Comment by wbb 10.14.13 @ 1:57 pm

Navy game at 1 pm on CBSSN. Comcast in MD has it. I think it is sold out.

Comment by Frank MD 10.14.13 @ 2:01 pm

Savage has struggled behind an O-line that has not protected him and he’s definitely not taking advantage of all that the defense is offering.. I hate to say it but I think we’re just going to have to be patient until HCPC gets his athletes in place and then we’ll see what happens. I just can’t help but think about how good Voytik looked in that spring game…Yeah…I know…but damn!! He looked great.

Comment by The Hagen 10.14.13 @ 2:27 pm

wbb I was thinking more like Tyler Palko. Voytick was an elite 11 QB and might fit that mold better. Don’t know about you but I would be good with that

Comment by Steve h 10.14.13 @ 2:27 pm

GC – You conveniently left these INT’s and Sacks stats off Savage’s stat sheet. 6 INT’s and 21 Sacks.

10 TD’s is good but half came in 1 game. 10 TD’s to 6 INT’s is no bueno.

Comment by Upittbaseball 10.14.13 @ 2:38 pm

Anderson will never play before Voytik.

Comment by notrocketscience 10.14.13 @ 2:54 pm

Jeff Long picked to chair the NCAA selection committee for the new 4 team playoff.

Comment by Nick 10.14.13 @ 2:57 pm

I was arguing the positive points Upitt, I leave it up to you, as usual to argue the negative.

Six INTs is too many, but none of them have cost us a game. Fifteen of the 21 sacks came in the last two games, coinciding with our inability to run the ball.

It is what it is. I just don’t think Voytik is the answer, yet.

Comment by gc 10.14.13 @ 3:00 pm

Question for the more astute; do the back-up o-linemen get much playing time? You can see that the d-line rotates guys in and out. I was wondering whether Johnson, Hollins and Schlieper get significant minutes during a game or are just in for a quick blow?

Comment by gc 10.14.13 @ 3:11 pm

Also, is Gabe Roberts eligible for a redshirt and what is his injury?

Comment by gc 10.14.13 @ 3:14 pm

Sporting News has us 6th in the ACC behind Duke, Syracuse,North Carolina,Notre Dame, and Virginia. I think it is interesting that all 3 Big East entrants are figures in the top 6. I don’t see where North Carolina and Virginia have anything we can’t handle either. Duke and Syracuse are coming to the Pete and I bet we win 1 or both.

Comment by spiritofsection 22 10.14.13 @ 3:17 pm

Since Roberts reshirted last year, he will have to apply for an exemption a couple of years from now when his eligibility is about to run out

Comment by wbb 10.14.13 @ 3:28 pm

Jeff Long is doing quite well since Nordenberg refused to negotiate a contract extension that would have involved a substantial raise. He is well respected by Arkansas’ rabid fan base at least for now. Long fired a popular coach who was winning. Patience is now wearing thin.

Comment by TonyinHouston 10.14.13 @ 3:51 pm

I agree and I think the worry about Logan running were uncalled for. As we saw he does not have breakaway or even danggerous speed. Very few atleletes at 6’5″ do. The Duke QB was faster.
My concern with Pitts D is two things.
Zone coverage h when we have 2 good corners , no safies. Also Price at DE is overmatched evry play he gets in a four point postion he is to small.
Everyone said clemmens is to soft to play D. The problem was that he only played one year of h.s. football. Mayh VMI and Navy coming up put him a DE, perfect size 6-6- 280. Put Johnson in move the kid from fox chapel to Guard to fat and slow to play tacklbig . This over 300 lbs only works in the big ten need OT about 280 with quick feet.
Thomas is a monster/ let him play a Polamolo move Price back to OLB

Comment by misshome 10.14.13 @ 3:52 pm

Current football rankings rate Pitt #52 out of 120 teams.

Comment by MariettaMike 10.14.13 @ 4:04 pm

GC – My point was when talking apples to apples you have to talk about the ripe and rotten ones.

I see zero value in playing Savage over anyone else that isn’t 25 years old and will be here for 2-3 years. So next year when it’s Chryst’s third year we will be going with a totally unproven QB. Makes no sense. If Savage was light years ahead and we were competing for a ACC Title or better but he adds no value in a rebuilding effort.

Comment by Upittbaseball 10.14.13 @ 4:14 pm

Pitt opens as a 10 pt favorite over ODU. This is precisely the kind of team/situation that Pitt has struggled with in the past

I have 20+ coming in for Navy. If anyone needs a hotel or tickets try all the brokers. While game is sold out, tickets still remain. Hotels available in Columbia, Towson. And north

Comment by Dan 72 10.14.13 @ 4:33 pm

UPitt, I respectfully disagree, no coach should ever play for next year. It’s not fair to the seniors or the fans. You play the best player available, the one that has earned the job.

Should Shell have got more carries than Graham because he would have been better this year. No the coaches decide who is best and play them accordingly.

Who knows who will be the best QB next year? Maybe one of the freshman comes in and like Pat White, lights it up.

Savage deserves his chance to beat Notre Dame and Miami, he has earned it. Voytik had his chance to beat him out and he didn’t. You can’t play him because of something he might do next year.

Comment by gc 10.14.13 @ 4:59 pm

I have attended several Navy games in Annapolis. We always parked several blocks away and walked to the stadium. We gave up trying to park in the lots next to the stadium as you get caught up in terrible traffic unless you get there very very early.

Comment by Frank MD 10.14.13 @ 5:07 pm

GC – That’s fair but how do we know Savage is better? Trust Chryst? I don’t put a lot of stock in that with 70% of his decisions are head scratchers. To light a fire, I’d pull Savage and play Voytik. Worst case scenerio you light a match under Savages backside. Best case scenario, Voytik outplays him. The way Savage is performing at his age is unacceptable. There are rookies starting in the NFL that are younger than he is.

Comment by Upittbaseball 10.14.13 @ 5:11 pm

I said I wouldn’t be opposed to Voytik getting a couple of series in the next two games to see how he does.

Comment by gc 10.14.13 @ 5:21 pm

Savage is not perfect.

(I can’t think of anyone on the squad who is.)

I would’ve taken him out only because I feared for his safety.

Comment by steve1 10.14.13 @ 5:28 pm

Hopefully Voytik will get his share f snaps this week … in the last quarter and a half.

It isn’t fair to the rest of the team if the best player isn’t out there .. whether QB or any other position except for legit disciplinary reason

Comment by wbb 10.14.13 @ 5:53 pm

@Upittbaseball, As usual you come with absurd and brash ideas that fly in the face of common sense. 1) don’t trust the coach 2) pull the starting QB 3)in short show no patience and rip everything apart that isn’t perfect You might be right as I am no expert but my guess is your approach sounds way lees desirable than the path we are on.

Comment by spiritofsection 22 10.14.13 @ 5:58 pm

*less not lees, sorry

Comment by spiritofsection 22 10.14.13 @ 6:00 pm

If indeed Upitt did play baseball…he wasn’t very popular with his teammates/coaches, etc…quick to point out the negative, he wouldn’t watch your back as a teammate!

Comment by markp 10.14.13 @ 6:08 pm

@@@@@
Long has done really well with his hiring
of the former Wisconcin coach. The
coach is learning that the SEC is not the BT.
Look for him to fired.

To GC: your Votik argument is weak. Votik
would be playing if he gave the team the
best chance to win.

Comment by JR 10.14.13 @ 6:39 pm

You guys crack me up. He is 23 and a Senior. We are rebuilding. He isn’t playing good. Gosh you guys love accepting mediocre play. If he was a freshman or a sophmore you stick with him. You don’t when he isn’t your future or answer. Markp – You know zero about what you are talking about. If we had a Senior who wasn’t getting the job done he was replaced. A QB is a leader of a team. You like Savages leadership he has shown offensively over the last 2 games? I don’t.

Comment by Upittbaseball 10.14.13 @ 6:43 pm

JR, I don’t understand your comment, that is exactly what I said.

Comment by gc 10.14.13 @ 6:49 pm

@@@@@
To GC: I happen to think Savage is our best
option and also believe the coach is a better
judge of this issue than us.

Comment by JR 10.14.13 @ 7:07 pm

UPitt you crack me up, most QB’s show little leadership when there is no running game and they are on their backside much of the time.

The o-line play is much more disappointing and mediocre than Savage.

How well have Big Ben, Manning and Flacco played behind weak lines with no running game? Have they been showing poor leadership skills too?

Comment by gc 10.14.13 @ 7:09 pm

JR read my comment at 4:59, I agree 100%

Giving him a series or two against weak opponents is like giving the third string back a couple carries.

Read the whole thread.

Comment by gc 10.14.13 @ 7:12 pm

Upittbaseball, one could argue that putting a younger QB in harm’s way…and there ain’t no denying it’s an obstacle course back there…would stymie rebuilding.

Comment by steve1 10.14.13 @ 7:14 pm

Steve1 – That’s a risk for sure.I just think as a leader it’s his job to get in his Olines face and demand they get better. This kid is 23 and the 18 to 20 year olds would follow him. Have some energy Savage.

Comment by Upittbaseball 10.14.13 @ 7:37 pm

Upittbaseball, I think we’re an average team with an average OL.

I don’t think that effort is the issue.

Comment by steve1 10.14.13 @ 8:09 pm

Everyone knows that I’ve been posting since last Spring Blue/Gold game if Savage & Voytik were about equal, you gotta go with the kids who will be here next year and the year after, etc.

Makes you wonder why PC only played Savage for a few series in the Spring game when he needn’t reps in a game like situation on his short passing, checkdowns, etc. I believe PC also played him limited in the big August scrimmage.
One question why? When he needed as many game type reps as possible. Why ?

However just as last year, we have to defer to the coaches on whether anyone is better than Savage on the current roster.

And seriously this offensive line is a mess, they can’t pass protect, NOR CAN THEY RUN BLOCK apparently against decent (I guess) (UVA) to above decent teams (VT). Although after the last two UVA losses you have to question whether they have a good defense, after giving up close to 1000 Total Offensive yards.

Against UVA we ran for 8 yds on 35 attempts.
Taking out the sack yardage it was still an embarrassing 65 yards on 27 attempts for a paltry 2.4 ypc.

A lot of folks said, while UVA had a very good defense. Maybe so, but it didn’t appear very good in it’s next two games following the Pitt game. Ball State ran for 160 yards and threw for 346 yards, over 500 yards of Total offense. Apparently MAC teams have better O-lines than Pitt that can actually run & pass block. I bet Ball State has an offensive line of mostly 2 star recruits. So they’re either extremely motivated by their coach to play above their limits or they outschemed (outcoached) the UVA coaching staff.
Or maybe BOTH !. As that Mike London seemed like a dolt to me.

This past weekend Maryland ran for 136 yards on UVA’s supposed good defense and threw for….wait..over another 300 yards just as Ball State did, actual total 332 yards and close to another 500 Total Yards offense.

So this would lead one to conclude PITT’s O-line is more of the culprit, much more the culprit than the QB. And if it’s not the O-line, it has to be the offensive tactics meaning the scheme.

I won’t even get into Va TEch, since UVA seems more than enough to prove the point.

Comment by EMel 10.14.13 @ 8:16 pm

I’m glad I missed the Dolt Bowl the other week.

Watching it on TV was torture enough.

We need later games since it’s tough to drink enough to bare these games sometimes. Especially with all the anticipation that built up in the 2 week period leading up to it.

Wonder how many words were typed on here in the 2 weeks leading up to that game (?).. flogging more like it in Blacksburg.

We were worse prepared than a Wannstache team after a 2 week layoff. Dare I say !

Comment by EMel 10.14.13 @ 8:26 pm

ACC midseason Report

link to espn.go.com

You’d hardly know PITT is even in the conference with this ding-a-lings report.

We’re passingly mentioned twice, both in a negative manner.

God I hate ESPN and their nitwit women analyzers, in studio hags and sideline no nothing eye candy.

And at one time football was a man’s sport !

Thanks for helping to ruin a once grand sport.

Comment by EMel 10.14.13 @ 9:01 pm

Emel, unfortunately I don’t think it is an unfair evaluation. Otherwise, I agree, not a fan of ESPN in general.

Comment by gc 10.14.13 @ 9:35 pm

Upitt – my comments did not mention Savage or anything related to the FB – I was speaking to you and your constant negative attitude…this is a young team with little upper class talent – and the results are not surprising (frustrating for those of us who were around Pitt when we were a consistent national power).

Comment by markp 10.14.13 @ 9:48 pm

Reed: I also thought the conversation between Chryst and Anderson was interesting? In the 1st half he also had a pretty animated conversation with Trey. may just be Trey is someone he trusts as another set of eyes. But unlike when Graham put in Anderson, he didn’t want to blow Voktik’s redshirt, I really hope Chryst does not see Anderson as the better option…

Comment by Pap76 10.14.13 @ 10:21 pm

Markup- my answer to you was talking about baseball. We had various juniors and seniors who screwed around. I out worked them and started as a freshman. I’m not negative to be negative I’m negative because Savage is 23 and isn’t a damn leader.

Comment by Upittbaseball 10.14.13 @ 11:29 pm

As for the Voytik vs Savage debate, what harm is there (either to the “win at all costs view” or the “get Voytik experience view”) to have 5-6 plays each week designed specifically for Voytik as a change of pace for which the oppostion must game plan.
I don’t see this as creating a QB controversy, nor does it mean Pitt has to abandon the current offensive strategy.
Voytik is a completely differnt style of QB and his play (on a limited basis) may cause fits for opposing defenses. Thus, it might improve Pitt’s chances of winning now and also gives him some needed experience.

Comment by Taxing Matters 10.14.13 @ 11:48 pm

I don’t think Chryst sees Anderson as ‘better’ than Voytik. At the time I thought that maybe Chryst felt like Anderson could handle that intense VT pressure better than Voytik would. After all, that would have been Voytik’s real introduction to college ball and it could have been a bloodbath. I certainly think that if Chryst is changing QBs for a game he’ll give Voytik the start.

As to ‘lighting a fire’ under Savage. None of the motivational stuff would work because it doesn’t need to. Savage isn’t dogging it out there, he’s giving 100% and taking a lot of physical beatings doing it. He is held back by his limitations that are a habitual result of four years being in college ball and doing the exact same things. He’s doing now that he did back in 2009 at RU, rely on the long ball to succeed.

The fact is that Savage has locked on and looked for the deeper throws, at the expense of open shorter routes, since he went to RU and then came over to PITT. He’s always done this and in his case I really think its the saying ‘can’t teach an old dog new tricks’. We saw him doing this in practices as far back as last summer camp.

gc – Savages stats look good over five games but take the freaky Duke game out of the equation and you’ll see that Savage has play average at best in the other five games. In those matches he’s averaging less than 200 ypg, has a 53% completion rate and has 4 TDs to 6 INTs. Sorry, that isn’t what a winning team gets from a decent QB.

Comment by Reed 10.15.13 @ 12:59 am

Reed, you can’t take his best game out of the stats, why not his worst game. Stats are always padded against weaker competition.

Savage is like a home run hitter in baseball, he may strike out a lot but he has the potential to change the game.

I don’t disagree that he has all of the weaknesses that we speak of, I just don’t think he is the weakest link.

Interesting that Chryst came to the defense of his o-line today and said Savage shared the blame. Yes maybe a couple of times, but as Justin’s evaluation and my eyes tell me that was one of the poorest efforts of blocking I have ever seen.

Maybe Tom Brady and Peyton Manning can get the ball away in under two seconds, most guys can’t.

Comment by gc 10.15.13 @ 7:51 am

The fact that we have to decide between a 5th year senior at this third school who’s playing his first football in 3 years and redshirt-Freshmen at QB is precisely why we need to be patient with this team and our coaching staff.

The reasoon there is a 3 year gap between our only non walk-on options is because our porgram has been a mess for 3 years. If we were in any kind of shape to compete as program, we wouldn’t be talking about Voytik starting until he’s a redshirt sophomore or junior. But instead, we have massive holes in our recruiting and no matter who the coach is our program will take a few more years to get back up to par.

Finally, give Savage and this team a chance. We could very well post an 8-4 year, finish 5th in the ACC with our only loses coming to FSU, VT, ND and Miami. Maybe we finish 6-6 again, but lets give them space, support the program and give the coaches and players time to build the program up.

Comment by PittHW 10.15.13 @ 10:35 am

cg – I get you but IMO when there is a huge difference between one game and the other four my eyebrows get raised.

Just like two years ago when Sunseri tossed for over 400 yds and two TDs against UCONN and everyone and his brother said that was a fluke game for him, which it pretty much was that season. No, we PITT fans looked at his other games also to form an opinion of how bad or good he was.

Personally I look at the four games Savage played ALONG with that Duke game and my opinion is that he isn’t doing that great for us overall at this point. Now, I also think that Savage is the best QB on the roster and deserves to keep playing as you never know when another monster game might break out. Plus, he has the ability to change the score by seven point on any one play from almost anywhere on the field which our other QB don’t have.

A major difference for me in watching Saturday’s game was that when we were down in the 4th quarter I knew we had a chance to pull it out and quickly if things went our way, even if it was getting an onside kick with little time. I’m sure I’m not the only who didn’t feel that way with our last QB.

Comment by Reed 10.15.13 @ 5:05 pm

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