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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.

 





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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