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October 20, 2013

Shallow Thoughts After ODU

Filed under: Football — Chas @ 9:52 am

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

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

From the glass half-full perspective. Pitt didn’t have Devin Street, James Conner and Cory King for the offense. That’s the offense’s top receiver and team leader, the running back that is the effective starter and a starting offensive lineman. But Pitt still put up 35 points. Yes, ODU is 1-AA, but with that many key losses, it’s still a good showing. Pitt made a conscious effort to use the short-to-medium passing game. A good opponent  to go against and to make sure Savage stays upright for most of the game.

Isaac Bennett shredded the ODU defense. He had a huge night and carried the load. 240 yards is still a monster game no matter who the competition is.

Ray Vinopal has been a favorite (and for a good chunk, deserved) target for fan ire. He actually had a pretty good game, especially late. A key pass break-up on fourth down in the fourth quarter and an interception to help salt away the game. DE Ejuan Price was great at helping to contain ODU’s QB along the edge.

Half-empty glass. The defense was shaky for large stretches. The first quarter, and much of the second half. There were points — especially in the fourth quarter where it just seemed like they were one mistake away from blowing the lead. The decisions with the defensive scheme may have been sound on paper, but I still can’t support taking out the best linebacker on the team.

Pitt’s defense opened the game in a nickel package – four defensive linemen, two linebackers and five defensive backs – and rotated from that personnel grouping to a dime package – four linemen, one linebacker and six defensive backs – throughout the game. The Panthers never used their “true” base 4-3 personnel Saturday night.

– After recording a game-high 12 tackles in the loss to Virginia Tech last week, redshirt junior Todd Thomas did not play a snap on defense Saturday night. Thomas has not been involved with Pitt’s nickel and dime packages all season, and with the absence of base 4-3 personnel groupings, he stayed on the sidelines against Old Dominion. Head coach Paul Chryst said there was nothing more to Thomas’ lack of participation beyond the personnel demands of the game.

Again, it bears repeating: DC Matt House voluntarily kept the team’s best linebacker and one of their best defensive players off the field because he hasn’t played in their nickel and dime packages this year. There was no attempt to adjust the scheme to use the player. Instead, the scheme came first.

The pass protection by the O-line still looks really shaky. I am more worried about the O-line now than I was at the beginning of the season. There are struggles up and down the line and no ready answers.

Tom Savage was not sharp. His feet were dancing all night. He looked jittery at times. Not sure if all the rollouts were by design, but that isn’t his thing. It seemed like he wasn’t going to hang in the pocket and take a beating today. The passing game suffered for it.

Other thoughts. “Head slap?” That was an ACC officiating crew. A D-level ACC crew, but still ACC officials.

And yes, I know it is Four Roses, not Two Roses.





Yes, Coach House, so glad we had Shane Gordon lining up against a slot receiver several times when they went 5-wide. Gotta stick with that scheme.

Comment by JW 10.20.13 @ 10:09 am

I do not pretend to be an expert about football. I played as a kid and simply was not big enough to compete in high school or beyond. So, my knowledge of the complexities of the game is very limited. Having said that, huh? We don’t play Todd Thomas? What ever happened to putting our best players on the field? I am way confused.

Moving on. H2P. Sink the Midshipmen—who have a goat for a mascot. Go figure.

Comment by pmdH2P 10.20.13 @ 10:19 am

It is the ultimate in arrogance to think that your scheme is more important than your players. Football is won, ultimately, by the players.

Only a rookie coach doesn’t understand this.

Comment by DD 10.20.13 @ 10:19 am

we will be in real trouble if savage stays gun shy
from being hit coach must settle him down.
and why is OL geting worse insted of better any thoughts on this.
you would think as the year goes bye they wwould be better not worse.

Comment by FRANKCAN 10.20.13 @ 10:30 am

Thomas should have transferred out. For his own sake. Not having your best lb on the field is flat stupid. That’s on cryst IMO. I tell my 1st year DC that I want my best players on the field. It also tells potential recruits that they too could be lost in the shuffle because of Matt houses inability to coach their talent to fit his scheme, which isn’t executed very well by lessor talented players

Comment by Taylor 10.20.13 @ 10:38 am

going back, maybe House should have been the one to be suspended instead of Thomas. For goodness sake, Thomas has had more D1 experience than he has had!

Comment by wbb 10.20.13 @ 10:39 am

MY big issue is that in the 4th quarter the line could not get 3-4 yards on a 3rd and 2 or 3rd and 3 against a inferior opponent who they ran all over earlier. they gave the ball back two or three times with the clock running down. Frustrating.

Also for once would it not be nice to have a top notch quarterback.

The spread is so difficult to defend. There was no way to get to their quarterback. He was 7 yards behind the line of scrimmage and threw the ball within 2 to 3 seconds. No way to get there that fast.

Comment by JP 10.20.13 @ 10:53 am

House’s defense has gotten marginally better but honestly, he is mostly clueless. How can you find plays where Bam Bradley is on the field (getting easily beaten covering a slot receiver down the middle for a 50-yd TD) but you can’t find a place for your most talented LB.
Pitt’s D plays scared and reacts instead of initiating and forcing teams to react to them. Classic result of an inexperienced D Coordinator.

Comment by Taxing Matters 10.20.13 @ 10:53 am

If Thomas doesn’t fit the games defensive package how does Savage fit a run based offense? Not to criticize Savage but wouldn’t the offense be more effective with a mobile QB.

Comment by T Bear 10.20.13 @ 10:56 am

Also, I think Pitt’s Special Teams “coaching by committee” was once again exposed. I was at the game and mentioned in the first half how odd it was to see Pitt with 9-10 players up front and only one returner.
As it turns out, the ST coaching committee fell asleep because as soon as Pitt converted to a more traditional kick return formation, ODU made them look stupid with the onsides kick.
Would a dedicated ST coach make that same mistake?

Comment by Taxing Matters 10.20.13 @ 11:00 am

Don’t know how anybody can say how the line didn’t play well when one guy rushed for 240 and 3 TD’s, savage was sacked twice and it wasn’t because of a lack of time. HCPC was clearly frustrated (I think with Savage) if you saw his interview coming off the field. If everything is perfect Savage is a good QB, when things break down he is a head case thus the games against UNM and Duke were fools gold, receivers were running wide open in the secondary and our bigger O-line dominated, those things likely won’t happen against the last 5 teams they play, IMO it’s time to give Voytik his shot against a lesser opponent in Navy it’s going to happen at some point when Savage is running around like a chicken with his head cut off and taking sacks left and right. History is on the side of HCPC when it comes to making QB’s better, I hope he is so frustrated that he makes the change now vs later.

I think House is still learning my only beef is that he’s not aggressive enough. Having Gordon on the field vs Thomas is a little puzzling but the D has improved and hopefully will continue to do so. If the O had come out and dominated earlier and thru out the game yesterday I think the D wouldn’t have looked so bad also the onside kick didn’t help.

Comment by Steve h 10.20.13 @ 11:44 am

Chryst and House need to have their heads examined if they think that not using Thomas is appropriate.

He is clearly the second best defensive player on the team, no one even close. I have never in my life heard of such idiocy. They couldn’t figure out how to use him on a blitz package? Dopes!

Comment by gc 10.20.13 @ 12:18 pm

Calling for Savage’s benching is silly. the stereotypical meathead fan reaction is to always bench the starting QB.

Comment by 2$Chuck 10.20.13 @ 12:28 pm

It isn’t totally surprising that a rookie DC would stick with his ‘scheme’ rather than tailor it to accommodate one set of talents. He has just taken over a defense that has had numerous DCs over the last three years, and has just installed his own defense for the players to learn.

I’m not saying that is the correct thing to do as I too think Thomas is our second best defender on the roster, but only that it isn’t shocking that House is doing it given his circumstances.

I’ll expect it in the future also for at least the remainder of this his first season, especially if we keep winning. Which, for all the pretty strong complaints about House, we are doing.

Comment by Reed 10.20.13 @ 12:29 pm

Watching Issac Bennett tear it up last night was gratifying to me especially since I have been touting him as a quality RB since last season. What we saw him do against OD is exactly what he does in the practices and camps – get through the LOS, makes a cut to either side and uses his speed to pick up yardage.

He’s faster than a lot of people give him credit for but I think that’s because they haven’t seen him break open and run in the actual games up to now. He’s not a speed demon but he plenty fast enough.

We should remember that even last season Bennett had a good YPC average of 4.9. Compared to Graham (4.7) and Shell (4.5) that was nice even if his carries were limited to 22. This season he is at 5.8 YPC but I’ll expect that to drop off as the season goes on to around 5.0 for the year (I hope).

What Bennett does well also is score TDs. He has eight rushing TDs on 106 carries for his career which is a TD ever time 13 times he touches the ball. Last season Graham’s ratio was 1:22 caries and Shell’s was 1:35 carries.

Just for fun McCoy’s career TD to carry ratio was 1:17, Dion Lewis’ was 1:14 and Tony Dorsett’s was 1:20.

Comment by Reed 10.20.13 @ 12:48 pm

I had follow the game on GameCast because it was blacked out on ESPN3. Some questions for those who were able to see it:
– Was Connor dressed and “available” but held out as a precaution?
– It sounds like we were in the Nickel (4-2-5) most of the night. Were Murphy and Price the primary DEs? Were Gonzo and Gordon the 2 LBs used most? I’m in the camp that TT has to be on the field regardless of what scheme we’re in.
– Fill me in (as rationally as possible) about Savage. Did he do a good job of managing the game or was he shaky? Stats can’t tell the story.
– Was Old Dominion’s QB there punter also or did the have a lot of 4th downs were they lined up to potentially go for it but decided to punt?

Comment by JAM 05 Pitt 10.20.13 @ 12:57 pm

Chuck the benching of Savage is more of seeing Voytik get ready for next season at best this team is going 7-5 Savage will continue to struggle especially against top compatition so you will get a big I told you so from this meathead when that happens

Comment by Steve h 10.20.13 @ 1:18 pm

Jam didn’t see Conner at all, yes on all linebackers although bam Bradley came in late, Savage struggled on 3rd down

Comment by Steve h 10.20.13 @ 1:23 pm

ODU’s coach is apparently in love with the pooch punt

Savage got us that late TD that Tino never ever would have

He never should have gone back into the game vs Virginia after his concussion, if anyone is to blame for his bad play it is Chryst for putting him back in

Then he got mauled again 2 weeks later vs VT

I doubt that he’s 100% recovered from his concussion especially with the beatings he’s taken since

Yet he still did what Tino was totally incapable of doing and that is scoring to put a rallying opponent away

Maybe Joe Montana or Terry Bradshaw could have come back from the kind of last 3 weeks Savage has endured and played a great game, Bradshaw certainly had the same kind of experience getting walloped all the time

Savage didn’t lose the game and made a big contribution to making sure it wasn’t lost

If he plays as poorly again for most of the game again vs Navy, maybe his concussion is worse than they thought or he isn’t healing as fast as they thought with all the hits he took against VT and maybe Voytik needs to come in – for Savage’s safety and health. There’s no other reason Voytik needs to be playing right now.

Comment by deepelemblues 10.20.13 @ 1:26 pm

Steve Voytik hasn’t shown he can even consistently take the snap or hand the ball off

He doesn’t need gametime experience he needs to keep practicing on the barest of bare fundamentals

Gametime experience isn’t going to help him progress with that not until he improves more in practice

Comment by deepelemblues 10.20.13 @ 1:28 pm

deepelemblues, did you ever think that Savage may have issues with pre-snap reads … looking at the defense before the snap, and having a good idea where to go immediately if he gets immediate pressure …. or is he still to groggy from the UVa game to do something like that?

Comment by wbb 10.20.13 @ 2:14 pm

I should have added the before he came here, Savage has a history of being sacked a lot … primarily due to locking in on a receiver and not looking for alternatives

Comment by wbb 10.20.13 @ 2:16 pm

@@@@@@@

Keeping Thomas on the bench is unconscionable. Pitt
lacks speed and play makers. Thomas has speed and makes
big plays; also brings energy when he is on the field. Any
scheme by House that keeps Thomas on the bench is a
“bad scheme.” Wish someone in the press would ask pointed
questions of PC.

I want to believe in PC however when playing the sixth
game of the season results in keeping Thomas on the bench,
multiple penalties, poor special teams play, etc. one has to start wondering about his ability to coach this team. Yeah they
have won the games they needed to win however after Navy
every game will be a challenge and winning 6 or 7 games
Is going to be an adventure.

Comment by JR 10.20.13 @ 2:26 pm

Wait a second. Savage is playing the same type of QB play this season that he has over the course of his career and it’s because of a concussion? Really?

… or is Paul Chryst the cause of Savage’s play? You got me confused with all the excuses here. How about he’s playing the way he always has because that’s what his talent level is?

You have to be kidding about Steve Voytik, or maybe not. I do think that your observations apply more to his brother Chad though.

Comment by Reed 10.20.13 @ 2:32 pm

wbb no i dont

i think that pre-snap he picks one guy to go to if there’s pressure and doesn’t look anywhere else

saw him do it 3 or 4 times at least against ODU yesterday

if that guy isn’t open he’s making the decision to run instead of getting hammered

against the better defenses coming i’d rather him not wait around i think otherwise there are more 7-8 sack games on the schedule

maybe he just isn’t going to change his ways and go through progressions better but would voytik do any better or would he get hammered and possibly injured as well

is game experience at the potential cost of an injury or the combined physical and mental toll of being a pinata for several games in a row worth it

look at what it’s done to savage but he’s still getting the job done again tino would never ever maybe in 1 out of 100 games score that last touchdown and we really needed it to stop ODU’s momentum so why take him out unless it’s better for his health

Comment by deepelemblues 10.20.13 @ 2:37 pm

“You have to be kidding about Steve Voytik, or maybe not. I do think that your observations apply more to his brother Chad though.”

commenter was named steve h

that was bad (of you)

also i guess getting hit a dozen times a game at least 2 games in a row and a concussion and getting sacked 2 more times after that concussion would do nothing to a quarterback especially one prone to getting hit a lot and then playing badly

but yeah that’s his record and he’s to blame for it and he ran too damn much even though he gets hit too much. tom savage just can’t win… except that game yesterday he was the starting and winning quarterback right despite playing poorly most of the time he did anything but hand the ball off. he still didn’t lose the game and scored a crucial TD with his legs after he couldn’t or wouldn’t find anyone open yet again

but whatever steve voytik rofl

Comment by deepelemblues 10.20.13 @ 2:46 pm

Maybe if you had used a comma, the miscommunication could have been avoided.

Comment by panther94 10.20.13 @ 3:01 pm

deepemblues, I was at the UVa game, and long before the concussion, I saw a QB that would only look at one player for 4 or 5 seconds while open receivers, usually Garner or Orndoff were open underneath.

Hopefully with the off week, he worked hard on looking for secondary receivers but it didn’t appear that way last week. He’ll see another easy defense next week … then he’ll begin to play against better defenses.

Comment by wbb 10.20.13 @ 3:06 pm

Like Chas says, I am more concerned about pass protection now than I was at the beginning of the season. ODU should not have been putting pressure on Savage. I hope they get it figured out.

Sure some of the critique of Savage is justified, but the game plan was to run, the protection wasn’t stellar, he was missing his star wide-out on a unit that is not deep. He completed 11/18, 61%, threw a hell of a pass to Garner, on the run, who made a great catch. He escaped a sack and ran for a TD. No interceptions!

Face it, Boyd is not as good without Street either, especially with Weatherspoon and Tinker behind him. Sorry, he is not Larry Fitzgerald.
Maybe a superstar by the time he leaves, but certainly not without a great cast of characters.

In any case, Todd Thomas should be well rested for Navy.

Reed I am still shocked by House’s decision on Thomas. Coaches that leave their best player on the bench don’t deserve their jobs and won’t keep them for long. I know talent when I see it and the numbers don’t lie. I still think there is something else going on. Someone has an ax to grind.

Comment by gc 10.20.13 @ 3:14 pm

Well, if being a ‘winning’ QB is the yardstick then Stull in ’08 and ’09 was pretty damn good.

One thing is that Savage doesn’t have this season is a real good cast of players surrounding him that Stull did those two big winning years. I’ll say that the talent level on offense this season is one of the lower ones in recent memory and that is including Savage.

Every other year since forever it seems like we’ve had at least one very good RB in the backfield and solid WR1 and WR2 receivers. Street has been good as has Boyd but beyond them we really aren’t deep at the position.

TEs are very talented IMO but they aren’t being given many passes for whatever reasons both playcalling and Savage’s abilities and style of play. I personally wish that the staff would move Garner to WR permanently vice his playing the TE position. Blocking in’t his strong suit and he’s right up there with Street and Boyd’s talent level as a receiver.

Plus our OL isn’t near what they though it would be this year.

I do agree on your Chad Voytik opinions although time will tell just how well he’ll do when he’s a starting QB next season. I don’t believe he has developed as the staff would like so far and thus I’ve been saying that there is a possibility of a JUCO QB for 2014. Just a gut feeling I have. I doubt Chryst wants to start a true FR in that position so it may be Voytik or bust.

Comment by Reed 10.20.13 @ 3:29 pm

Agree on Garner, Spoon is ok but Garner adds much more, you still have three Tight ends.

Comment by gc 10.20.13 @ 3:45 pm

Too much meaningful football left to worry about 2014!!! We will have all offseason to agonize over C.V., so what’s the rush?

As for T.S., I think he is being unfairly criticized, although he did have a bad game. I’d just like to point out that last night was the first time Pitt had trailed at the end of the FIRST QUARTER and came back to win. Yes, under the other T.S. Pitt never had a comeback win of any sorts. The last QB to do that was Billy Stull, who I do think was a good QB, but I agree with an excellent supporting cast of NFL quality players, which the current offense lacks.

Call me crazy, but I think Duke, UVA, and ODU are all games Pitt teams of the past few years might lose, so I see winning those as progress.

The defense’s problem is some combination of poor scheme and poor players. Defense has some elite talent–Donald, Thomas, Pitts, Williams–but it also has a converted QB and FB playing. Not to mention Price, who really does not fit in the 4-3 scheme. I think leaving Thomas off the field is inexcusable and it smells to me like House is outsmarting himself.

For all the warts and all the problems, halfway through the season, facing a very difficult schedule, Pitt is 4-2 with a chance to finish with a winning record for the first time since 2010–wouldn’t we all take that if offered that “deal” at the beginning of the year? Losing at VT and to FSU are losses I can live with. Halfway through I am happier with where Pitt is at than I thought I would be at the start of the year.

Comment by TartanPanther 10.20.13 @ 4:02 pm

Greg Schiano will be available as a DC next year.

Comment by steve1 10.20.13 @ 5:41 pm

At the moment, the OL and QB are performing far below what they need to be for this to be a good team. Bennett and Conner, if 100% healthy, are good RBs, but not game breakers. We’ll have to see if Bennett’s game was a result of inferior competition or if he turned a corner health wise.

I’ve said all season he doesn’t look right. He looked much more explosive yesterday and if that’s a health thing, the team is far better for it. With Savage, I think the OL cracked him against Virginia and the VT game broke him. He’s more jittery than a toddler after an espresso. Savage was never great with pocket presence, but he’s abysmal right now.

What’s crazy is the season can still have a respectable w-l record even with a ton of flaws (OL, QB, defensive coaching). Drastically improved OL play and defensive coaching will be necessary for this team to be better in 2013. The schedule is a bit easier (VT is at home, FSU is replaced with BC) and the only big losses to the team will be Street and Donald.

Comment by Justin 10.20.13 @ 6:21 pm

I am still a Tom Savage believer and supporter. He has taken a tremendous beating behind this line the last few weeks. Can we lighten up a bit on him. Remember, the second team QB is always the most popular player on any team!

What bothers me most is House and his high school zone schemes where 1 or 2 players may man-up at any time. What it does is creat the utter confusion and “I thought you had him?” comments I saw over and over in the d backfield.

Special teams are still below the line in performance no matter what the reason.

HCPC was as critical of the coaches and schemes as I have ever seen him post-game.

On to Navy…H2P!

Comment by Dan 72 10.20.13 @ 6:35 pm

Here are my thoughts to the Pitt administration on this game:

1. Never schedule a 1-AA team again. They are nothing more than a money grab from your fans.

2. If you must do so, never schedule the game at night again. That crap should be on at 10:30 AM with the rest of the local high school games.

Comment by HbgFrank 10.20.13 @ 7:36 pm

Unsung hero award this week to Jarmar Parrish, lead blocker who paved the way for Bennet.

Comment by alcofan 10.20.13 @ 7:37 pm

Tennesse beat South Carolina; Vanderbilt beat Georgia; UCF beat Louisville ; OLE Miss. beat LSU – All of these are mediocre teams with great athletes who play with intensity because thier coaches have them fired up & ready to play. I watched parts of all these games and then watched Pitt and I didn’t see this at all – major difference !

Comment by daddylonglegs 10.20.13 @ 7:40 pm

I wouldn’t call any of them mediocre with the possible exception of Tennessee.

Comment by wbb 10.20.13 @ 8:21 pm

Pitt’s losses have been to the 2nd and 14th ranked BCS teams

Of course, it’s wins are against teams not ranked in the top 50

Comment by wbb 10.20.13 @ 8:28 pm

Anybody tired of getting soaked because of the damn no popups rule, coming from central pa this sucks we were soaked again besides a bull sh nite. Game

Comment by Paul Shannon 10.20.13 @ 9:16 pm

“Again, it bears repeating: DC Matt House voluntarily kept the team’s best linebacker and one of their best defensive players off the field because he hasn’t played in their nickel and dime packages this year. There was no attempt to adjust the scheme to use the player. Instead, the scheme came first.”

This is ridiculous. Todd Thomas besides being the best tackler on the team, is also the best LB in pass coverage.

Instead he went with a LB who has played a grand total of 6 or 7 games at the position (Gonzo).

House might be a success because of some weird or unknown thing at this time. But I personally think he’s an idiot.

But in coaching sometimes idiots succeed. Just as they do in all arrays of life.

Comment by EMel 10.20.13 @ 9:36 pm

agree daddylonglegs

Somebody mentioned that they like the unemotional workman like method of this coaching staff.

Well I guess if you had to label it something, that would be the tag you would put on it.

If your team gets the top recruits year in and year out and you truly outclass your opponent, you might be able to win with this method.

However since we’ve seen so many upsets of the favorite teams, just yesterday alone, one might conclude you have to get your team ‘UP’ to play each and every week, now more than ever.

Kids today have attention spans of that of a housefly, only really good coaches who can hold that attention span briefly are the ones who are going to succeed. I would imagine that would take pretty good communication skills.

As well as coaches who can get their teams to play ‘over their heads’ is the term. And that usually is based on getting their players to play with emotion. A Boise State could never beat an Oklahoma not playing with emotion. An App State could never beat a Michigan, not playing with emotion.

And if your a HC without it, you better have someone on your staff to provide it !

Comment by EMel 10.20.13 @ 9:54 pm

Savage may have his issues – rust or whatever – but he clearly gives us the best chance to win at QB right now. Voytik may work out well next year and beyond, but he doesn’t have Savage’s arm, size, or experience – and the guy never seems to panic. Nothing against Voytik, but the notion that they should bench Savage and start him at this point is ridiculous.

And I agree with Emel’s statement that coaching idiots sometimes do succeed – Todd Graham is the poster child for that. Unfortunately for us, House doesn’t appear to be making that work for him in the same way. Chryst is really going to have to make a change there, but I don’t seem him doing it until after the season is over, if at all.

Comment by SteveS 10.20.13 @ 10:01 pm

I want to believe in PC however when playing the sixth
game of the season results in keeping Thomas on the bench,
multiple penalties, poor special teams play, etc. one has to start wondering about his ability to coach this team. Yeah they
have won the games they needed to win however after Navy
every game will be a challenge and winning 6 or 7 games
Is going to be an adventure.
Comment by JR 10.20.13 @ 2:26 pm

All excellent points JR.

10 penalties playing at home in the 6th game of the season against a D2 team shows a lack of concentration. Allowing a D2 team to recover an onsides kick immediately after scoring in the 3rd quarter shows a lack of attention on special teams. With a coaching by committee approach, nobody is held accountable for that. Sounds like some gov’t agency. That play could have very well been the momentum swing that wound up winning the game for them.

We’ll see what happens this week, as playing a good triple option team requires players focused, attention to detail and discipline.

Navy ran for over 400 yards and 36 1rst downs this week against a team similar in talent to Pitt.

Will this week’s defensive scheme include your 2nd best defensive player ??

Who knows, but maybe it won’t include Aaron Donald this week ! :-)

Comment by EMel 10.20.13 @ 10:10 pm

Funny thing,

After getting clobbered for all of the Va TEch game, Savage had the moxie to score our ONLY TD of that game on the 2nd longest Pitt run from scrimmage in the entire game. And it made the final score much more respectable 9-19. If you’re into that thing.

And quite improbably Savage scored what amounted to the winning TD on another QB run after ODU had closed to 24-28.

Very strange indeed, in back to back games. Since nobody thinks he has any mobility. haha

Comment by EMel 10.20.13 @ 10:27 pm

Who says WVU’s Holgerson isn’t smart. Here is what he said when asked about the reasons they lost on Saturday…

“What went wrong?

“I don’t know,” Holgorsen said. “They probably played harder than we did. They probably called better plays.”

That my friends is at the heart of almost every loss in football.

Read more: link to post-gazette.com

Comment by Reed 10.21.13 @ 6:09 am

lol Reed Very true.

All I know is I’m glad we don’t play Baylor this year.

Paul Rhoads knows more about defense in his little pinky than House and ISU had 71 dropped on them.

We could give up maybe 100 to them unless the ‘mercy’ rule came into effect.

Comment by EMel 10.21.13 @ 6:24 am

gc – as I said about House’s decision. I don’t agree with it but I can see the external factors that MIGHT have led him to that conclusion.

Guys – I think a lot of us fans are looking at Matt House and comparing him to DCs who have held the position for multiple years. We tend to forget that he did a very good job with the DBs and the passing defense schemes last season which he was also rather inexperienced in.

Personally, I think that he’s making rookie mistakes just as a lot of other 1st year staff coaches and HCs do. I expect him to keep the defense improving – which it has been by increments and to fare better in 2014 when he has a full year under his belt.

@ Emel – the knock on Savage’s mobility hasn’t so much been that he can’t run around if needed. It has been that he’s poor in keeping his feet and legs moving around to keep an open pocket and extending the time he has to throw the ball. We have seen that problem come true big time this season as it has his whole career. It’s great that he’s been able to score twice on the ground though.

However, I’d prefer that he have the ability to create space and then have time to find the open receivers instead of being rushed to throw the ball to his lock-ed primary receiver.

Comment by Reed 10.21.13 @ 6:52 am

Taylor Heinicke showed Saturday what “Good Quarterbacking” is.

Prior to snap, he looked in total control of the offense… almost Peyton Manning like in the way he barked out audibles and directed the offense.

Once the ball was snapped, he showed himself able to maintain composure even under duress, stepping up into the pocked to avoid outside pressure… and seemingly always knowing where he wanted to go with the ball.

Kept thinking to myself how things might be if
Heinicke or a quarterback in his mold were given the reins to Chryst’s Offense. What fun would that be?

While the weather was stormy Saturday, a full-blown TSUNAMI could be headed our way with the season.

While Tom Savage’s character and toughness are admirable, his performance Saturday could not be confused for “Good Quarterbacking.”

Yes, he only got sacked twice. What a minute. We’re now thinking “TWO SACKS” are the mark of a successful outing? Wow.

And against Old Dominion… Geesh!

Again what was most concerning about Savage was his innacurracy with too many throws.

Contrary to what Heinicke was demonstrating on the other side, it just seems as though once the ball is snapped Savage is seeing a defense that it is totally unrecognizable from anything he viewed on tape or was instructed on during the days leading up to the game.

Something has got to give… and it will one way or another.

Comment by PittofDreams 10.21.13 @ 6:55 am

@ Tartan – TS actually had a couple games where we came back from a 1st quarter deficit. Splitting hairs I know but there it is.

However, in my mind there is a two-edged sword situation with that thought. The fact is also that we jumped out to some large 1st quarter leads, and then held or expanded those leads, in a lot of wins in 2010-12 so that a comeback wasn’t needed. It would be nice to have had that ‘come from behind’ talent at QB though which I think was lacking in those years.

One of the real positive things about Savage at QB, and I’ve said this for sometime, is that he has the ability to score TD points on a single play. So, I don’t have the trepidation that if we are in a close game or behind going into the last minutes we can’t pull it out. I had that with Sunseri like it was already a lost cause.

I’d just like to see a solid game from Tom Savage where he produces the offensive yardage and points we need to win against teams other than Duke and New Mexico. If we don’t get that from the QB position we’ll be hard pressed to win against the better opponents in the second half of the season.

We can’t be thinking that our running game is automatically going to cover for a sub-par QB performance this season, even though we saw that happen on Saturday.

In the past with McCoy, Lewis and Graham you knew that if the QB faltered that game we still had a good chance of winning with the ball on the ground.

Comment by Reed 10.21.13 @ 7:05 am

On the other hand, Issac Bennett’s perfomance Saturday was inspiring.

Great to see such a good kid have some well-deserved success.

Pretty obvious that he’s been hitting the weights and that might have helped him with the confidence that seemed to grow as the game progressed. Now, if he were just a step or two faster?

Would like to think he could look this good as the season goes on. But keep in mind again that this was Old Dominion and Defense was CLEARLY NOT the Monarch’s strong suit.

Still, this confidence builder should have a positive effect.

Comment by PittofDreams 10.21.13 @ 7:11 am

Reed, your statement about Savage able to strike quickly on a long pass play makes sense. However, you saw what happened against Va Tech when a DL, knowing that Pitt was forced to pass, just teed off and overwhelmed our OL. This is not a new phenomena … the OL, especially the tackles and as well as the RBs, have been ineffective in this situation for the past few years … especially in 2011 when the OL just seemed to fall apart every 4th quarter against the better competition.

The fact is that if we want to win games from behind, we can’t solely depend on a long bomb … it would help for the QB to get more than 2 seconds to pass.

Comment by wbb 10.21.13 @ 7:33 am

Again a little clarity..

The Offensive Line is not the biggest reason for the growing struggles with the passing game.

It is the quarterback.

Now is the line playing up to their full potential? No.

But the writing is on the wall. Savage requires PERFECT PROTECTION to truly be effective. Anything less, and everything breaks down.

Throughout his career, his two years playing at Rutgers and this year at Pitt… Savage has shown himself to be susceptible to taking sacks. At this point, it would seem a little silly to think that this is going change magically overnight.

the problem is his tendency to become oblivious to everything going on around him while looking downfield for a receiver. A lot of the time this happens when he focuses on his primary and is waiting for them to come free. Chryst himself has pointed to indecisiveness as another part of the problem.

The good news is that Navy has not shown a propensity to put pressure on the quarterback.

The bad news is this is likely the last team Pitt will face this year where that’s the case.

Comment by PittofDreams 10.21.13 @ 8:21 am

I was one that said this game would tell us a lot.
Either by blowing them out, or winning on a last second field goal or getting upset.

It fell right into the small area of, doesn’t say much.

Disappointed with the “D” or House or whoever on the opening drive of the second half (I believe, I could be wrong), when it was 28-10.

That is when the D must come out, must suffocate the offense and stop them, turn the ball over to the offense and they must score immediately.

35-10, game over, rout is on. This is how teams with killer instincts and talent do it.

Let them go down the field, now you’re in a game again. Very disappointing.

I’ve defended Savage. Something was different about him. Jimmy legs, still feeling the hit, something, some passes into the dirt, had the jitters.

Rolling him out?? For what, to cut the field down to 1/3??? Didn’t see that tactic delay the rush at all, on those plays, or when he would go back to a drop back attempt.

Bennett, fantastic.

Vinopal, ya, had some good plays, still slower than molasses and getting beat.

ODU qb very good. Pitt coach that said he could be the best qb in the NCAA must have had a night on crack.

It was a “W”, I guess.

Comment by Dan 10.21.13 @ 8:24 am

Looking ahead, facing the triple-option is a very unique challenge especially in terms of cut blocking and gap responsibility. Does anyone know how much experience the Def coaching staff has facing an offense like Navy or Ga Tech?

Comment by CalvinHobbes 10.21.13 @ 8:28 am

wbb – I agree. We all want a better football team and it does start with the QB all-around play.

Just as we saw last season – we can have great production out of that position but if the decision making and ability to pull games out isn’t there all those productive stats don’t overcome everything else.

Something that I think we are overlooking is that if there had been any question at all that Savage wasn’t 100% physically ready you would think that Old Dominion would be the perfect game to sit him down.

Now, I don’t think Paul Chryst is the type of HC who would risk further injury to a player, but if he had any doubts at all you’d think we’d see Voytik – yet he’s played just a few snaps all year.

I wonder it that isn’t a bit indicative of how the staff views Voytik’s readiness to play at this level this season.

Comment by Reed 10.21.13 @ 8:30 am

I thought the ODU game was BAD!! All aspects. I want to question PC but then I think isn’t the talent level between ODU & PITT supposed to be noticeable?? I saw no differnece in talent on the field saturday night. (ODU 7pm game really ??) Sure PITT ran the ball against ODU BUT THEY SHOULD w/100 lbs advantage on th OL. Pass protection was weak!! Did PITT have a sack?? I realize coaching problems & recruitment have hampered this program but PITT did not over-dominate any aspect of that game. What bothers me the most is the lack of improvement. Atlanta Panther mentioned ODU as a “measuring stick” game. If Atlanta Panther is correct, PITT I sadly write, may not win another game this season. I agree w/JR I want to believe in PC!! I know I need patience & great recruiting!! H2P !!!!

Comment by DC33 10.21.13 @ 8:46 am

Reed, I agree about Savage and thought the assertions that deepelemblues amde above were mostly pretty far off base .. especially the part where the concussion he suffered va UVa had a big effect on his play in the subsequent games .. especially when he had 2 weeks to recoup.

These day, no coach or med staff in their right minds would send a player out to play if he had any effects … and you will note that Street sat out this week.

Comment by wbb 10.21.13 @ 8:48 am

BTW, I didn’t think Savage played badly the other night. Fact is he didn’t have to play great because of the running attack, and most important thing is that he did not turn the ball over.

Comment by wbb 10.21.13 @ 8:51 am

Regarding House..as I’ve said many times …the only way to learn how to be a head coach (or defense coordinator) is to be one. We are paying dearly for House’s education starting with the non play of Thomas and ending with a high school defensive backfield alignment.

Coaching is all about handling details. The best head coaches have assistants who specialize in that area. HCPC is still learning on the job also.

Let’s hope for this season’s sake that they take an accelerator course!

Comment by Dan 72 10.21.13 @ 8:52 am

Heinicke stepping up into the pocket was frustrating to us, but a thing of beauty to them. His pocket awareness, and peripheral vision are outstanding. I think you are born with those talents. However you have to be confident that your O-line will take the rush behind you, so you have a pocket to step into.

With Savage, I think the problem is two fold, he does not have the natural ability to feel the rush and step away from it. Nor does he have the confidence in the O-line to move the defender where they need to. Most of the time he has not had the pocket to step into.

This type of ballet is developed over time and unfortunately he only has the rest of the year to perfect it. If the line just gets a little bit better, it could make a big difference. Having a healthy Bennett is a step in the right direction. I think they should give Conner another week off, so he can be ready for the rest of the year.

Funny statistic, Savage completed the same percentage of passes as Heinicke, he obviously did not look as good doing it.

I second the praise of Parrish (31), leading the way for Bennett, still would like to see Garner play more wide-out, he creates match-up problems.

The big question is how competitive will we be the rest of the year? We should beat Navy and probably Syracuse, but we are going to have to up our game for the rest. Seven wins will not be enough for many blatherers, but it sounds about right to me.

If we get healthy and Savage gets a hot hand we might even upset somebody, but I am not holding my breath.

Comment by gc 10.21.13 @ 8:55 am

OK, The Prozac is kicking in, (I washed it down with some Pitt Kool-Aid), so let me post my final comments on this board about the ODU game before I start looking forward to the Navy game.

Now, I’m only going to post the positives because if I simply add addition negativism to the Tsunami of “the glass half empty” derogatory comments already mentioned, my head might just explode from the increased pressure already existing!

+Taylor Heinicke is a really good QB. If he played for a team where he was surrounded with talent, he would shine even brighter.
+ODU’s coach, Couch Wilder, had his kids ready to play. They were anything but awe struck by playing a team that “physically” was superior to them at every position. ODU played an inspired game.
+Sir Issac Bennett finally got some primetime exposure and he took full advantage of it. With Conner on the sideline, in a condition less than 100%, if Bennett comes out flat, and does not dominate in the way that he did with his running game, then all of a sudden we have our hands full trying not to come up losing in a game that we should have produced a dominant victory. Kudos to you Sir Issac, the game ball goes to you!
+Garner made the catch of the game! That big time grab dragging his toes in the corner of the endzone are the kind of plays that win games, congrats! Honorable mention in the game ball dept to you!
+Pitt came out FLAT and ODU took full advantage of it by putting a quick 10 on us. This Pitt team got out of it’s own way, however, decided to wake the fu*k up and began playing actual football shortly thereafter, “the same old Pitt” would have managed to somehow continue the underachievement of such a slow start, but this team woke up in time and took control of the game before it was too late.
+Tom Savage scored his second rushing TD on a scrambling broken pass play. This is GOOD considering that they time his 40 yard dash in practice with a sundial. He did what was required to put points on the board!
+Pitt is 4-2! Did ANYONE on this blog expect Pitt’s record to be anything more at this point in midseason? I didn’t think so.

BTW, in case you guys didn’t get the memo, Pitt isn’t very good this season. Take away their team leader, their upstart leading Freshman RB and disrupt their “work in progress” OL by inserting a new starter,then for some obtuse rational, keep your most athletic LB on the bench for the entire game and Pitt becomes even a less dynamic football team.

My point, learn to enjoy the wins when they come! The constant pick, pick, pick of what is keeping this team from becoming the new FSU look alike gets kind of boring after the same half dozen obvious Pitt deficits surrounding this ugly Pitt win get rehashed a hundred times.

Bottom line, Pitt wins another one, we’re still not very good, but we are 2 games away from becoming bowl eligible. Beat Navy!

Comment by Dr. Tom 10.21.13 @ 9:04 am

OH, forgot to give some love OUT to the ODU kicker who now owns the record for the longest FG at Heinz Field, college or Pro, PERIOD!

Comment by Dr. Tom 10.21.13 @ 9:08 am

I think what we all struggle with when it comes to Savage is the same thing boxing fans struggle with when a boxer has knock-out punch ability.
Watching him overthrow 10-15 yard passes to open receivers or throw them behind or in the dirt is maddening. But then, out of no where he rolls to his right and on the run throws a perfect spiral to the only place where Garner can catch it over the DBs head in the endzone for a TD.
He’s a knock out puncher who has limited ability in the finer points of the game, ball control passing, reading defenses, and shifting to buy time in the pocket.
As for Pitt’s “Out House” coaching, I agree with Dan 72, we are suffering through a totally unprepared and inexperienced coach who has no one else on his staff who he can lean on to learn. His strategies are ill-conceived and to date he hasn’t shown the ability to adjust during the game to take away what the the other team is doing.
I still think PC will be a good thing for the Pitt program long-term, but you’ll have to excuse me if I dream about the possibility of Paul Rhoads losing his job after a terrible season at Iowa St. and him replacing House.

Comment by Taxing Matters 10.21.13 @ 9:13 am

Dr Tom, and a ballsy well executed on-side kick.

Well played!

Comment by gc 10.21.13 @ 9:13 am

I’m not sure I agree, literally, that we were superior to ODU at every position. They are better at the most important position (not that I think Savage is bad at all).

Another thing, there have been quite a few times where opponents WR’s have run right by our DB’s, even ODU did this to us, exposing one of weaknesses, a lack of speed at safety. I love Vinopal’s effort, but you can’t teach speed, so this is not an area we can improve upon unless we change personnel.

Comment by 1618mt 10.21.13 @ 9:16 am

I was thinking the same thing about Thomas the entire game. He plays hard, he makes plays, so it is politics. Now I am beginning to rethink my position on Shell, as I have lost confidence in this staff. Price should be an outside linebacker, not an end, he gets no where on the rush. As for schemes, the above comments are correct. We run a scheme they learned at Wisconsin where they could arguably out physical 90% of the teams in the Big Ten, and trying to do the same here. Our defense is robotic and will never get a pass rush if we don’t stop freaking out and being afraid of a QB running out of the pocket. We play to avoid a big play vs. aggressively letting the players make plays.

This week promises to be ugly. Navy will exploit House and Palermo on that side of the ball and Navy will stymie the offense with grit and blitzes. What’s worse is Ga Tech may be three times as effective as Navy the following week.

Let’s face it – ODU was horrible, a notch or two above high school. I’d guess only a couple of their players would start for us yet they outcoached us. Scary.

As to the original question, I think the coaches are full of themselves and quite arrogant to sit Thomas out vs. an inferior team. Obviously hoping for a big stat game from his replacements which didn’t happen.

Comment by PittMan 10.21.13 @ 9:41 am

Before anybody starts beating the Paul Rhoads drum, I remember his defenses at Pitt being God-awful. He had early success with Larry Coyer’s kids but as they graduated and it was him and Walt, the defenses went down the tubes.

One thing about that 54-yard field goal – it was the first game I can remember at Heinz where the wind blew – and blew hard – from the closed end towards the open end. It actually aided his kick, and hindered him on the next 2 54-yard attempts.

Comment by KeyboardKev 10.21.13 @ 9:52 am

I’d like to point out that we as fans have NO IDEA about the reason behind Thomas’s sitting.

Could it be because the coaching staff is a bunch of ignorant louses who don’t want to have their best players on the field? Yes.

Could it be because Thomas perhaps violated a team rule but they didn’t want to make it public? Yes.

Could it be because the coaches wanted to rest him for Navy because he tweaked something in practice? Yes.

Could it be because they knew were were facing an inferior opponent and wanted to get some other guy some work? Yes.

Could it be something completely off our radar?
Yes.

Does anyone on this board really, without a shadow of a doubt know exactly what is going on in the Pitt Panther’s organization or the heads of the coaching staff? No.

I think everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I too was surprised at the decision to sit Thomas. That being said. WE WON.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 10.21.13 @ 10:04 am

Some of you must have amazing HD TV to be able to see the direction of Savage’s eyes plus what his eyes are focused on. Lucky bastards.

Also, some of you have a different definition of ‘pocket presence’ than I do. IMO, pocket presence is the ability to feel the pass rush coming and escaping it in the correct direction. Savage does this well. Leaving the pocket early, as he did this past week, is another issue. Let’s call it premature evacuation :-)

Comment by notrocketscience 10.21.13 @ 10:17 am

Ok, FWIW, being positive:

There was some historic-ness to Pitt’s win last night; while I checked all the box scores the past few years and did find Pitt had trailed at various points and come back to win, Pitt had not trailed by 10+ points and made a comeback victory since doing it to UConn in 2009. So what I am trying to say is even though the opponent was bad, (and I don’t think they are the worst opponent on Pitt’s schedule–UNM gets that honor) coming back from 10 down is hard to do, it takes a lot of concentration and determination to do it, and previous Pitt teams have not been able to pull off that feat, including last year against YSU. For all the things that have gone wrong, this team has found ways to win and they deserve a ton of credit for being 4-2 at the halfway point. Schedule doesn’t get any easier, but there is no reason to doubt Pitt’s ability to win any of the final six games.

Comment by TartanPanther 10.21.13 @ 10:30 am

I do seem to remember Savage stepping up in the pocket more than a couple times. Certainly against New Mexico and Duke he more than likely did.

For sure I remember the play he stepped up in the pocket against Va Tech and connected on the long bomb to Street which led to the FG before the 1rst half ended. As I remember the announcers commenting on the fact when they showed the replay.

He does move around the pocket with bunny hops and other things, so I think that’s a bad rap. At least he doesn’t fall to the ground in the fetal position. And the other one certainly couldn’t have made the throw on the run to Garner in the EZ.

He’s probably going thru what they called, ‘shell shock’ in WW1. Now it’s called Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

As for Sir Isaac, great to see him finally do something big this year. Sure would love to see it continue against other than a mediocre D2 team with a sieve for a Defense and whom that D2 power, the Citadel scored 58 points on.

Comment by EMel 10.21.13 @ 10:30 am

**Assuming Aaron Donald doesn’t get benched because the scheme that week doesn’t include a DT 😛

Comment by TartanPanther 10.21.13 @ 10:31 am

@ Atlanta Panther

Since I was the first one to report on it. I’ll answer it.

Thomas played on special teams. PC was quoted in the papers TT didn’t play because in House’s new concocted scheme for a D2 team that lost 47-10 to Maryland and got slaughtered by East Carolina, House’s scheme didn’t include the leading tackler and best LB on the team.

You see instead he wanted a true freshman DB in the game who has played a handful of downs this year instead of his best LB and 2nd best defensive player on the team. A kid that actually can make some plays.

Maybe he had money on the game :-)

Comment by EMel 10.21.13 @ 10:37 am

After recording a game-high 12 tackles in the loss to Virginia Tech last week, redshirt junior Todd Thomas did not play a snap on defense Saturday night. Thomas has not been involved with Pitt’s nickel and dime packages all season, and with the absence of base 4-3 personnel groupings, he stayed on the sidelines against Old Dominion. Head coach Paul Chryst said there was nothing more to Thomas’ lack of participation beyond the personnel demands of the game.

link to pittsburgh.rivals.com

Comment by EMel 10.21.13 @ 10:42 am

Actually the 5th DB was ok.

What I can’t understand is the pick of Gonzo over Thomas at one of the two LB spots in the 4-2-5 defensive scheme. For that matter Gordon as well.

Thomas is a better pass defender than Gonzo(who has all of 6 starts at LB) and far better than Gordon. Plus he’s a better tackler and just a better all-around player.

I’m sure this didn’t go over very well with Mama Todd Thomas either. Don’t want to get her mad again do we. lol

Comment by EMel 10.21.13 @ 10:49 am

As noted this morning on the FAN, this week’s Navy game will be played on the exact date, 50 years to the day, of the loss in 1963 to Roger Staubach and Navy. The only loss of the year.

Just what we need. Fate going against us along with everything else.

I remember listening to the game and while I was young, I was devestated even then with the loss.

Comment by Dan 72 10.21.13 @ 10:52 am

Whatever happened to Cullen Christian btw ?

You know the other DB that transferred from Michigan.

You mean he’s actually worse than Vinapol and the true freshman Webb. Not to be the 5th DB in the nickle.

Oy Vey !

Comment by EMel 10.21.13 @ 10:53 am

That doesn’t sound to good Dan72

That was the 9-1 Top 5 no bowl team.

Only Pitt can go 9-1, be in the Top 5 and get no Bowl Bid.

Comment by EMel 10.21.13 @ 10:55 am

Speaking of Vinopal.

Congrats to him for his 1rst interception as a Panther.

Now can they bench him ?

Comment by EMel 10.21.13 @ 10:58 am

Dokish must have retired after he wrote this:

“That had to be one of the worst played 10-point losses in Pitt history. The offensive line was especially horrible and Adam Bisnowaty may find himself out of a starting job very soon. He has regressed and now looks terrible.

Other thoughts:

1. Tom Savage may still be getting sacked. Yes, he has to know that he has no time, but I’m not sure Michael Vick wouldn’t have got sacked 8 times in that game. He has enough mobility to elude one or two guys but not when they come in waves. On the game he completed 13 of 28 passes for 187 yards. He threw for no touchdowns or interceptions but he did show nice running ability on Pitt’s loan touchdown. “

Comment by EMel 10.21.13 @ 11:01 am

Lots of barking about House and his scheme. Here’s some more fuel for that fire.

…Palermo concedes he is asking Price to play out of position as a 6-foot, 230-pound end in a 4-3 base defense.“We are asking him to play like he’s a 260-pound end and he’s not, but that’s the system that we’re in.”…

Why is Chryst letting this go? I know he has his own problems to deal with on the other line… But when one of the assistants comes out and says, “We don’t have the personnel to run this scheme, but I’m being forced to run it, even though I don’t have the right players….” That is a problem, and reflects poorly on everyone.

link to blog.triblive.com

Comment by BostonsCommon 10.21.13 @ 11:09 am

@ Bostons

The other alternative is David Durham. We’ve seen that train wreck already in the first 4 games.

Price while undersized is much the better player.
He had 8 tackles last week against VT.
Although I gotta admit I thought Price would have a couple sacks against the Butterflies.

Maybe House told him not to rush to the QB, it wasn’t allowed in his scheme. We bend but don’t break (well mostly), blitz or allowed to hit hard.

Comment by EMel 10.21.13 @ 11:21 am

Classic line from Palermo: (especially this year)

“There comes a point in football where you have to overcome coaching. ” lmao

Comment by EMel 10.21.13 @ 11:30 am

@Comment by EMel 10.21.13 @ 11:21 am

It doesn’t bother me that he’s playing. It bothers me when they’re asking him to eat up blockers, and hold the edge so LBs can flow and make tackles. I mean he’s not Aaron Smith.

He should be flying off the edge, chasing the QB on every play.

Comment by BostonsCommon 10.21.13 @ 11:30 am

I wouldn’t come to that conclusion. Price has been inserted on all 3rd down and long situations this season so he should have far more sacks and production in the backfield than Durham. Durham appears more sound, especially against the run. Price was indeed rushing but not nearly as effective as Murphy. Durham has been solid at what they ask him to do, which is to be a first or second down gap filler. We have no idea how well he can rush the passer because he’s rarely in the nickel package and when they throw on 1st and 2nd down the opponent simply doubles down on Donald and washes our DE’s up field because they know they have contain and that’s where they are going. ODU’s QB simply stepped up and threw whenever he wanted.

I think Price should be on the field as an outside linebacker, and Thomas should be on the field as a linebacker. When we give up so many 3rd down conversions it is because of softness in the middle and that is two guys who are either benched or playing out of position.

Comment by PittMan 10.21.13 @ 11:36 am

Concur BC.

I think he’s kinda confused now. They had him in a 3 point stance for the first 5 games and he finally got use to it and had a pretty good game against a pretty good team (VT).

Then this week they had him standing up in a 2 point stance. Which I think is actually the way he should be playing so he could get around the O-Tackle easier instead of taking on the O-Tackle in a 3 point stance where he’s outweighed substantially.

Yep coming off the edge. 😉

Comment by EMel 10.21.13 @ 11:38 am

We are doing a lot of House bashing this today. But I want to be fair. At the midpoint of the season, including games against New Mexico, Duke, and Old Dominion, here is where Pitt ranks offensively:

Passing: 69th with 225.2 YPG
Rushing: 91st with 141.7 YPG
Total Offense: 92nd with 366.8 YPG
Scoring: T64 (with Navy) 29.7 PPG

Comment by BostonsCommon 10.21.13 @ 11:53 am

Pitt-Georgia Tech a 7 PM kick on ESPN-U

Comment by KeyboardKev 10.21.13 @ 12:18 pm

off topic, but I believe I read that 1st exhibition BB game will be on ESPN3 this Friday at 7

Comment by wbb 10.21.13 @ 12:36 pm

600 loyal Pitt fans will be attending the Navy pregame “bull” roast.

Let’s do a Blather table. Love to meet yinz. I’ll create a banner.

Who will be there?

Comment by steve1 10.21.13 @ 1:00 pm

Pitt is 4-2 at the half way point. Only losses against teams ranked 2nd and 14th in the country. A qb who hasn’t played in 3 years along with a center and 2 tackles that never saw the field until now. I’ll take the 4-2 any day.

NC, GTech, and Navy. Pitt wins two out of three.

ND is a toss up.

Miami. No chance unless we have freezing temps with couple inches of snow on the ground.

I’ll take a 7-5 record and would be very happy with 8-4 with all the freshman and first year starters that have seen the field this year.

Comment by Why me 10.21.13 @ 1:19 pm

Not very good O #’s, but the o-line stinks, running backs are young,hurt,not very good, WR & TE haven’t lived up to expectations, the wind was blowing from the north in several games, Primanti Bros ran out of coleslaw, and I heard a priest hiccuped during a pregame prayer, all things clearly working against the O. Things can be turned around tho if we just give the gunslinger 10 seconds to find a receiver also the curve is screwed up by teams who have the nerve to have a good QB on their team so there’s that to.

Comment by Steve h 10.21.13 @ 1:40 pm

I agree about the hiccups in pre-game and Primantis running out of slaw … but the WR and TE haven’t lived up to expectations?

Comment by wbb 10.21.13 @ 1:46 pm

@Comment by Why me 10.21.13 @ 1:19 pm

Pitt is going to be a least a slight favorite going into games against Navy, UNC, and Syracuse (although I bet the UNC line will be pretty close). With that in mind, 7 wins seems reasonable.

But they are going to be severe dogs against GTech, ND, and Miami. If I was thinking conservatively, I would say -10, -13, -20 respectively.

Comment by BostonsCommon 10.21.13 @ 1:48 pm

Calm down everyone. Was the game ugly, of course it was, but we need to be realistic.

Did anyone really think we were going to beat FSU and VT with the roster we have? Of course not. Our only two loses are to Top 15 BCS teams! They dont put an asterisk next to ugly wins. a win is win is win.

Look no further than Palermo’s comments on Ejuan Price. “We are asking him to play like he’s a 260-pound end and he’s not, but that’s the system that we’re in.” AKA we don’t have the personnel we need on this roster.

With all the coaching changes and player losses we don’t have the right men on this team to compete for a division title, let alone a conference title.

Our star RB is a true freshmen that every other school wanted to use as a DE! We have LBs like Price playing on the DL. Our only options at QB are a 5th year senior at his third school playing for the first time in 2 years and a freshmen recruited for a different system. We have 19 true and redshirt freshmen getting playing time and a headcoach who’s only in his second year as a Headcoach.

I want to win every game, right now too. But it’s not going to happen. Unfortunately there are huge talent gaps on our roster and no matter who the HC or DC is, it takes time to recruit quality players and let them develop from 18 yr old high school kids to 21 year old men. Judge PC by the quality of our team in 2 years in his 4th year on the job.

Comment by PittHW 10.21.13 @ 1:57 pm

Steve h is right. There are a lot of reasons why this team should lose.

Wait, how many freshman are we starting? Only a dozen.

I think we should all be pretty happy if we split the next six games.

That being said, I’m going to be happy as long as they show improvement every game. Maybe the game against a soft Monarchs D was the confidence booster that this O-Line needed.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 10.21.13 @ 1:58 pm

@Tartanpanther, rolling!!!

*Assuming Aaron Donald doesn’t get benched that week because the scheme doesn’t include a DT”.

Gold, Jerry, gold!!!!!

Comment by Dan 10.21.13 @ 2:05 pm

Off the House bashing onto the special teams bashing:

So I heard Steven Sylvester from the Steelers talking about how he is taught to watch for the opposing kicker to see if he lines up differently or at another yard marker or approaches the ball differently. He did all of the above and Sylvester sniffed out the on sides kick and recovered the ball yesterday vs Ravens. It was one of the biggest plays of the game.

I just went back to the Pitt game replay. The ODU kicker lined up 2 yards closer and approached the ball completely different (different angle and pace)than all his other kicks. Pitt of course was blindsided completely and it almost cost us the game.

Who is coaching these guys?? Anyone???

Comment by Dan 72 10.21.13 @ 2:13 pm

@PittHW, I agree with most of what you said.

However, the judging will begin next year. That will be year 3. Time to start taking notice of what’s going on and where we are going.

Year 4 definitely, but, it’s time for a little judging next year.

Starting again with a new qb next year, well, that’s on him now having 3 different qb’s start in a row.

Voytik wasn’t his recruit. If he doesn’t pan out, I can hear it already next year, the “you can’t start a freshman”, so Voytik plays. Then the following year, it’ll be the 4th year in a row with a new qb, and so on and so on.

I’m not even really debating the qb situation, it’s just a good and current example.

All I’m saying, as a person who has supported the head coach and always feels that a coach in any sport gets a few years to show what he can do, is that eventually, the head coach has to take responsibility for the program.

Is next year a make or break year?? No, I don’t think so, I think he gets 4 or 5 years.

But next year is certainly a year where questions can start being asked.

I’m not jumping the gun, still enjoying this season and looking forward to the 2nd 6 games. Just saying, year 3 time to start seeing what’s really goin’ on.

Comment by Dan 10.21.13 @ 2:26 pm

Progress being made this year???

You beat NAVY and go 5-2. End of story, no excuses.

Doesn’t have to be a blow out or even a big win, just a win.

Anything else, will not do.

Comment by Dan 10.21.13 @ 2:29 pm

The official attendance was 38,000+. This had to include paid attendance, not actual. Pitt announced it had sold out, or was close to selling out, its season tickets. Yet only 38,000?

Comment by TonyinHouston 10.21.13 @ 2:42 pm

@Dan That’s true, I guess I shouldn’t have said we shouldn’t make some judgements next year. I just think it takes 1 year to get your own recruits and 2 years for most of those recruits to get to the redshirt sophmore or junior season before they are impact players.

On the subject of QBs, I do think that 4 star QB Wade Freebeck might start next year, despite being a true freshmen. It’s impossible to say of course, but I wouldn’t be surprised. Chryst spends a lot more time talking to Trey Anderson on the sideline than Voytik.

Comment by PittHW 10.21.13 @ 2:47 pm

Pitt has a chance to be 6-6 with probable wins over Syracuse and Navy. Don’t know why anyone would predict Pitt over Notre Dame. Brian Kelly will outcoach PC. Predicting wins over GT and NC is a real stretch based on Pitt’s performance so far. The 1997 Miami miracle ain’t happening.

6-6 with a 2-4 record to close the season. Bowls will be clamoring for us.

I hope I’m wrong.

Comment by TonyinHouston 10.21.13 @ 2:48 pm

Palermo’s comment speaks to the point we have made on this blog continually. An inexperienced and totally unproven DC is incapable of fitting a defense to his personnel, but instead must institute the system he understands and can coach. That means your best LB sits on the bench for and entire game and your most athletic DL is utilized incorrectly.
Read article in the Sept 23rd edition of Sports Illustrated and see how knowledgeable coaches are utilizing the unique skills of players to be “hybrids” playing in multiple formations making it difficult of other teams to scheme. Barr (a hybrid LB and DL) at UCLA is the example they talk about and as I was reading the article I’m thinking why is this not being done with Price at Pitt. Very simple, House doesn’t know how to implement and utilize a “hybrid”, again not his fault, he doesn’t have the experience necessary to be a DC.
Again, I’m willing to be patient and agree PC needs time before he’s judged, but House is his burden and the problems caused by his inexperience and limited ability sit directly at the feet of the head coach.

Comment by Taxing Matters 10.21.13 @ 2:57 pm

As to anyone being surprised at something – is anyone surprised that the over talent level and experience on this roster is suspect after we just had three HCs, with three separate coaching staffs in the past three recruiting years?

Yes, we are playing a lot of redshirt and true freshmen; yes we have a new DC, yes we have a new QB. All those things combine to make a team hot and cold and not a polished product.

But… all those 18 freshmen will have a full year of playing time under their belt and will be ready to step up into being 2nd year starters or starting for the first time in their careers.

The bottom line is that the dust is still settling from the past few years and we are winning the football games we are “supposed” to win.

Sorry, but how can that be possibly a negative at this point in time?

As to Thomas – I could see the reason for complaining if that decision didn’t work out and we lost the game, but that wasn’t the case was it? Hell, we held out Street when he could have played, same with James Conner – but the fact is that the staff could do that because we handle their absences in a positive way – just as we did with House’s decision to sit Thomas.

None of these players on the roster are guaranteed playing time. Those fans who actually advocate Thomas either crying about not being in on defense the whole game or his leaving the team (again!) need to look at the bigger picture. The whole idea is to win the game guys… which we did.

Much ado about nothing and lets move on. I’m sure we’ll find new issues to put under a freakin’ microscope and bitch about after we beat Navy to go 5-2.

Comment by Reed 10.21.13 @ 3:00 pm

@Reed

I am not bitching. I am confused by the decision to not play Thomas. But, when the day comes that I know more about football than our coaches, I will run naked from the Cathedral to Heinz Chapel. No, better than that, from the Cathedral to Heinz Field. That will reduce attendance at the game dramatically.

H2P. Sink the Midshipmen. And, does anyone really know why they have a goat as a mascot?

Comment by pmdH2P 10.21.13 @ 3:06 pm

Having won this week I think anyone predicting a win over Navy is overly optimistic. Struggling to beat ODU at home at night is not a cause for celebration, but a cause for concern. My guess is we win 5 or 6 at this point, with 4 to 7 wins being possible. We aren’t very good and don’t look to be improving.

Comment by spiritofsection22 10.21.13 @ 3:06 pm

We’re going to smoke Navy. Whoever doesn’t think so is on crack. First of all, we’ve already played an option team this year and we did pretty well. Second of all, Navy is not that good. I’m not generally one for the transitive property in football but look at Navy’s stats: their leading rusher averages less than 4 ypc. And they are an option team. That’s not good fellas.

Say what you want about our defense but I think they’ve done a pretty good job playing disciplined ball over the last few games. Add in a well-rested Todd Thomas and our defense will be in great shape against Navy.

I’m optimistic about our offense as well. We can block Navy. Bennett is healthy again. Savage may not be everything to everybody but he now has three gutty, gritty wins under his belt.

And everything Reed said too.

PS – I’m calling it now…Voytik is going to surprise some people next year.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 10.21.13 @ 3:22 pm

@Reed I think you’re absolutely right when it comes to our freshmen taking a big step forward next year as they move in to starting or bigger roles. The experience they’re getting now out of necessity might pay big dividends going forward. And a it’s a helluva recruiting pitch.

I agree completely on being happy about winning the games we’re supposed to win – we sure didn’t do that last year. Other than ND (who we always seem to play close) and Miami, I don’t think anyone can say we don’t have the ability to win the other 4 games on the schedule.

Comment by PittHW 10.21.13 @ 3:27 pm

Wow Spirit, anything is possible, but have you seen Navy this year? We will stop their run and our big O-line will push em back for Bennett.

The only reason that the ODU game was close (but never in doubt) was because Street and Thomas did not play. Street picks up three first downs and Thomas stops three third downs.

Comment by gc 10.21.13 @ 3:31 pm

OUR ONLY TWO LOSSES THIS YEAR ARE TO THE #3 AND #14 TEAMS IN THE COUNTRY. JESUS PEOPLE RELAX.

Comment by MikePITT 10.21.13 @ 3:31 pm

@PittHW, point taken. A full cycle of a coaches own recruiting is the litmus test.

I think for the most part people have been very fair to HCPC, and understand the circumstances.
Ya, there have been a few jokers with the “he has to go” during the early recruiting of this year, but I think he has the time.

I just know, as fans, when it get’s to 3rd or 4th year, people tend not to want to hear about the kids coming in next year, or this guy was inured or it’s a new qb. People want to see some tangible progress. (i.e. more wins).

Hell, I’m not selling this season down the road by any means, just bs’ing on a Mon. afternoon.

I believe we beat Navy. 5-2.

I also believe we have a chance to win 3 more games.

GTU and Miami will be very difficult.

The other 3, very winnable.

Maybe even Miami, on a cold snowy day, UNC played them to the wire.

Who knows.

Flip side though, all 5 games are losable.

7-5 or 8-4 at the beginning of the season, I would have jumped on it.

Comment by Dan 10.21.13 @ 3:32 pm

I am not worried about Navy. Pitt’s biggest weakness is in pass coverage, and guess what? Throwing the ball is Navy’s biggest weakness! Duke slaughtered them, and Toledo beat them in a heartbreaking overtime game 45-44. I think Pitt matches up well against Navy, and I can tell you that their offensive line is not much better than ODU’s.

Consider:

–Navy’s rushing defense is giving up 196 yards per game, with a 4.86 YPC. These numbers are roughly comparable to ODU
–ODU was coming off a bye and had extra time to prepare, Navy is not
–Furthermore, as Navy’s schedule has gotten tougher, its defense has gotten worse: they are giving up 228 yards per game on the ground in October
–Navy’s defense also cannot generate a pass rush, having only 5 sacks on the year

So defensively, Navy cannot stop the run or pressure the QB. I’d say that sets up well for Pitt’s offense. Furthermore, Navy’s offense is schematically unable to take advantage of Pitt’s defensive weaknesses.

So while of course it is possible for Pitt to lose, and road games are always a challenge for this group, I expect Pitt to win more easily than they did against ODU, which all of Pitt’s defensive coaches described as a matchup nightmare. Heinike is certainly among the 3-4 best QBs Pitt will face (Winston definitely better, but I put Henie in the same group as Renner and Morris, both of whom are more turnover prone)

Comment by TartanPanther 10.21.13 @ 3:54 pm

To go along with gc – I remember one really nice deep ball that Savage threw, that Weatherspoon alligator-armed and couldn’t catch. We were in ODU territory then, and punted. Street probably catches that for a TD.

To be optimistic, maybe Weatherspoon learns from that and catches it next time.

Comment by KeyboardKev 10.21.13 @ 3:54 pm

Navy goat history – In the 1800’s both the US and British navy’s carried livestock aboard to provide them with milk and meat. The Goat was most important as the goat ate most of the garbage and returned milk and butter in return.

Thus the Goat become the Navy mascot.

I have not missed a Navy Game, at Pitt or at Annapolis since the 1963 Game, Pitt’s only loss that year to some guy named Staubach.

If you have not been to one in Annapolis, I highly recommend it. Watching the Midshipmen enter the stadium is breathtaking. Never has a single Navy game been played in bad weather in Annaoplis. As usual, Saturday, it will be cool and Sunny.

I became very good friends with several Midshipmen as I saved their asses after they got drunk at our fraternity partys every year they played at Pitt. I got them back on the bus safely.

I like Pitt a lot on Saturday. Pitt can stop the run and Navy cannot pass although I bet we see a lot more passing with this Pitt defense.

Comment by Dan 72 10.21.13 @ 4:41 pm

@ Dan72, what you speak of is college football personified, it’s true spirit and entertainment value remains intact at the Naval Academy.

BTW, Pitt has a chance to win six more games. That is why they play the games, gentleman. Now they are LIKELY to win only a couple to three of them, but they have a chance to win EVERY game that they play!

@ Reed, loved your rant! Pitt should be a total train wreck with our coaching turn over the last three plus years. The guys who are strapping on the helmets however are taking ownership for this team right now. If the groundwork that HCPC is laying right now, is permitted to mature to fruition over the next couple of years, then we might just have a program that is reminiscent of the good old days when I didn’t have any gray hair back in the day. What do they say? “Patience is a virtue”.

Comment by Dr. Tom 10.21.13 @ 5:22 pm

NCAA to finally announce its penalties tomorrow for Miami .. should be interesting

Comment by wbb 10.21.13 @ 6:38 pm

Heineke may be better than Morris and Renner but their lines and defenses are much better than what Heineke has

Comment by wbb 10.21.13 @ 6:41 pm

I love watching the MAC and our old American Conference foes in addition to Pitt.

Zenel Demhasaj who had a rough start against Ole Miss in the BBVA last year has caught on as a starter at Akron. Good to see a guy that didn’t fit with us move on to success.

Comment by AJ 10.21.13 @ 7:19 pm

@ Dr. Tom – for all the turmoil and all the bullshit PITT has been through lately we’ve still won eight, six and six games in each of the the last three seasons… with three different HCs. Many programs dip way down before and/or after coaching change(s) but PITT has stayed somewhat afloat, and we’ve been through something most programs will never experience.

We all want winning seasons as soon as possible but we also overlook that we’ve had some sort of stability, at least in the wins dept. That isn’t to say we should be satisfied with that. That should never be the goal of a program, only .500 ball, division and conference championships should be but the reality is that that isn’t going to happen every year for any program.

Believe me, if we get to seven wins this year I’ll consider it a real step forward for the football program. Eight and I’ll stand and applaud this coaching staff. Personally, I’m pretty happy with how things have unfolded on the big stage. Certain elements of play I’m not real happy with but the results are OK so far.

Comment by Reed 10.21.13 @ 7:23 pm

Have to agree about Heineke reading the D and having great mobility. I bet Travon Chapman would have been a player in that mold.

BTW, what a shit night. God bless the girlfriend for making it during the first half and then requesting to watch the second in the Pittsburgh Cigar Bar. I joked with several Old Dominion fans as to why they would travel several hours to watch a game in a bar. One gent said, “In VA, it was in the 70’s this week, my wife and I didn’t bring sweatshirts and I thought we were going to die.” Welcome to the rust belt. So excited that we have won everything we were supposed to so far.

Comment by AJ 10.21.13 @ 7:27 pm

Pitt is a 6 point favorite. That seems about right. I wish I shared the confidence some of you gents have that we will “smoke” Navy. I must be smoking crack because I expect this one to be tight.

I watched Navy v. Toledo. There is little separation b/w Pitt talent and Toledo talent, and I say that thinking that Toledo is a decent team. Navy has a couple bad losses, but they handled a high scoring Indiana team that thumped the Nitts. This is also Navy homecoming so I expect a good effort from the Middies.

Steve, I will be making the trip to Annapolis. Pretty excited about seeing a game there. Hope the weather is decent and we bring home a winner.

Comment by Iron Duke 10.21.13 @ 7:36 pm

pittsburgh is no rust belt pittsburgh is great
detroit is the real rust belt slum.

Comment by FRANKCAN 10.21.13 @ 7:57 pm

I am disappointed that I am going to miss the Navy game because of a must go to wedding. Of course I will tape and watch later.
I believe it is a sellout. Navy will play hard for homecoming but Pitt should win in the end. Pitt needs to win if it wants a bowl.

Comment by Frank MD 10.21.13 @ 9:34 pm

Right on Frankie.

Was in the da Burg in May and they’ve done a wonderful job resurrecting Market Square, the whole place was alive with ppl both inside and outside cafe dining/drinking.

We are one of the few cities to get awarded an authentic Hofbrau House and that whole new area on the South Side is just great, the Southside Works.

The rest of E. Carson is bustling as always, as is Station Square. And the North Shore has taken off with all the nice places over there like Bettis’s, the upscale Steak House, the Casino, etc.

Pittsburgh is far from Rust Belt, it’s a jewel to be appreciated.

When you live in some other cities that are such a far cry from what Pittsburgh offers, you truly appreciate it even more. Just like two guys who could live anywhere do, a West Coaster named Walt and one Jim Leyland.

Comment by EMel 10.21.13 @ 9:39 pm

As far as the game on Saturday.

Thinking back to the piece, Va. Tech’s blog, The Key wrote about how Pitt’s D plays the QB option read run. Had the video showing it, how teams are overloading one side of Pitt’s defense with more blockers. And Pitt’s DB is way to wide on the field to offer any help. Schematic problem.

That has me extremely worried against Navy.
As both the Duke 3rd string QB, Connett and the QB(Cole ?) who played in the 2nd half for New Mexico gained large chunks of running yardage repeatedly.

Navy runs that play better than both Duke & UNM.
And they are coming off of running for 419 yards, 35 1rst downs, against a more than decent Toledo team. Plus they passed just enough to keep Toledo off balance and from fulling deploying to stopping the run. About a 100 yards. Navy also totally controlled the clock with 37 minutes of possession to only 23 for Toledo.

Navy did lose badly to Duke, however Duke is use to practicing against the option read since they run it themselves. A big key in stopping the triple option is the DE’s. So Murphy, Price and Durham will have to play decent.

Let’s hope. HTP !

Comment by EMel 10.21.13 @ 9:58 pm

Toledo played both #5 Missouri (39-23) and Florida tough at their places.

So they could probably beat us.

Comment by EMel 10.21.13 @ 10:10 pm

hey guy’s ; don’t get me wrong I’m not bashing Pitt football – I just wanna see a winner. The dichotomy and huge problem we have that you have to view the big picture is – Tino is long gone & we still semi-suck. Unfortunately for us a coaching regime change is inevitable because Chyrst cannot coach or recruit. Period !!

Comment by daddylonglegs 10.21.13 @ 10:32 pm

By the way, love how Pedo St. gets a national TV game Saturday night. Must be part of the sanctions. I’m no Ohio St. fan, but I hope the Nits get embarrassed.

Fla St. still has Miami on 11/2 and Fla in The Swamp to end the season, but they have a great shot at being undefeated headed to the ACC title game, which could very well be a rematch with Miami. Miami has Va Tech at home on 11/9.

Comment by Iron Duke 10.21.13 @ 10:56 pm

Good news !

ESPN has upgraded PITT in their Week 8 Bowl predictions.

Sun Bowl now ! (was the Music City Thingie before)

Hopefully the ESPN chickie knows what she’s talking about. 😉

link to espn.go.com

Comment by EMel 10.22.13 @ 1:02 am

Steve 1 when and where? Hopefully we have a Pitt contingent on hand and make our presence known..Hard to believe after 6 games most of us still don’t know what the hell we have in this team. I do know we are 4-2 and things get tougher starting NOW! This will not be an easy game, hoping the D continues to improve(albeit marginally) and really hoping Street and Connor back, and maybe, a finally healthy Isaac Bennett back the offense can start clicking again? Hail to Pitt!

Comment by Pap76 10.22.13 @ 1:25 am

I have to chuckle a bit when looking at this blog and reading all the negative comments about our defense and our Defensive Coordinator.

What the facts are is that we stand at 4-2 and have held our last three opponents to 24, 19 (#14 VT)and 3 points. That is an average of 15 ppg against two of our ACC opponents, one of which is a very good football team. That doesn’t happen all that often and shows that this defense is actually getting the job done rather well.

What more do you want actually? If it is national rankings in defensive categories or defensive stats then you’ll be disappointed. But if it is holding the opponent to less points than we score you should be pretty satisfied.

We’ll see what happens when we get into the 2nd half of our schedule and start playing better quality opponents but to bitch at this point in the season, with us sitting at 4-2, I have to question the motivations behind that thought process. IMO it is just some fans dislike Paul Chryst so much that everything he does or anyone he hires just has to be a bad thing.

Well, too bad and get used to him being around as long as he wins some football games and wants to be here. He is exactly the type of person, leader and Head Coach the PITT administration wants in that position.

Comment by Reed 10.22.13 @ 3:06 am

Pap76, I’ll get to the pregame event early and secure a table if it looks like there’s enough interest. Chas, maybe you can drum some up.

Here’s the link to the event:
link to alumni.pitt.edu

Comment by steve1 10.22.13 @ 5:20 am

Oops, they deleted the page, link no longer works.

Anyway,

Summary of Event:

Pitt Panthers vs. Navy Midshipmen in Annapolis, MD

Pre-game Event starts at 10:30 a.m. (EST) Location: Water Tower Tailgating Area near Farragut Road

Kick-off at 1:00 p.m (EST) Location: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium
550 Taylor Ave Annapolis, MD 21401

Menu: Buffet, Assorted Soft Drinks, and Hosted Bar.

Rick’s Traditional Bull Roast, presented by BaySide Bull BBQ

Open Pit Sliced Top Round of Beef – & – Sliced Open Pit Smoked Turkey Breast
Western BBQ Baked Beans – & – Home Style Redskin Potato Salad
Crisp Creamy Cole Slaw
Pasta Salad with Fresh Vegetables and Balsamic Vinaigrette
Fresh Baked Kaiser Rolls

Sweet Endings
Assorted Cookies & Brownies

Beverages
Bud, & Bud Light, and Fordham
Copperhead ~ Red & White Wine
Assorted Sodas

Comment by steve1 10.22.13 @ 5:23 am

Reed,

Since your post was written at 3:00 AM, I’m assuming you’re still asleep.

Given the team’s record and points allowed in recent games, your points about House are well taken.

The improved play by the Defense SHOULD continue this week with Navy.

The one concern is how Pitt will do when it comes to the physical requirements of stopping Navy’s Run-Oriented Offense.

It’s going to be a good test for Gonzalez whose physicality at the linebacker position was a question early on.

One thing for sure, you won’t see Thomas sitting the bench. It’s going to be “all hands on deck.”

Comment by PittofDreams 10.22.13 @ 5:53 am

A final point about Old Dominion before we move on totally to Navy… which I suspect could happen at any minute.

Heinicke YPA 5.9 Savage YPA 5.8

This tells me Pitt’s Defense did do a pretty good job of hemming in Heinicke… outside of some big plays.

However, it also serves as a BIG RED FLAG for the Offense going forward.

If it weren’t for the O-Line overpowering a small and soft ODU Defense and a CAREER NIGHT from Bennett… it’s extremely doubtful that Savage could have been counted on to pull this one out.

Comment by PittofDreams 10.22.13 @ 6:21 am

While (as a fan) I question some of the decisions made by the coaching staff and QB, the fact is the program has been in turmoil for the previous few years and patience is recommended.

And Daddylonglegs .. it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that a change in QB would drastically improve everything. The fact is we may see an improvement next year, not necessarily because the QB is better but because the OL is.

The defensive coach (more than the players) is a work in progress. Funny how both Pgh papers had articles today about Thomas not playing the other night.

Comment by wbb 10.22.13 @ 7:02 am

correction .. it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that a change in QB WOULDN’T drastically improve everything.

Translation: (1) there was certainly many more things wrong with the program than just the QB (as many here would have you believe) and (2) the QB (and RBs) are only as good as the line in front of them

Comment by wbb 10.22.13 @ 7:06 am

@ steve1, There are NO WALK-UPS for this Pitt Panther Tailgate event at Annapolis. It is a presale event, the cost was $40/pp and may NO longer be availble at this point. That may be why the webpage announcing this pregame event has been taken down.

Comment by Dr. Tom 10.22.13 @ 8:34 am

Sorry to bring this up again, but since both papers did today, Tuesday, and I was questioning it during the game, some additional remarks regarding Thomas.

My theory is that a team rule was broken, Thomas was punished, Chryst does not want the media circus, therefore the “scheme”

Thomas is better than any of the linebackers that played at any of their positions, he is a better tackler, runner, blitzer, pass coverer, sheds blocks better and is more instinctive, than anyone on the team, other than perhaps Donald.

Sorry, there is no conceivable football reason that he would not play the majority of downs.

I just cannot believe that Chryst, House, Palermo, or any coach is that unaware of talent.

That’s it I’m done with that.

Reed, this blog would be no fun at all if everyone just supported the coaches and players at all times. I agree we should all be pleased that we are 4-2. We have beaten the teams we should beat, but have been killed by the good teams. We still have no idea if we will win 0-4 more games.

This is the fun of the discourse, everyone is entitled to their opinion no matter how brilliant, sophomoric, or just plain ludicrous. Some of us can be all three.

This also goes for those of us with rose colored glasses, that play it straight or are just morose, negative,and downright hateful.

The only ones that should stay away are those that don’t want us to get better and win more.

It is good that we are 4-2, think how bad the bitching would be if we were 2-4.

One thing I find very encouraging, is that we have found several different ways to win, on Savages arm, with Street and Boyd’s hands on Conner’s and now Bennett’s legs, and with strong defense. In the last game, we even had special teams contributions, one really good and one really bad.

We obviously have not put a complete game together, I hope we are saving it for somebody good.

As frustrating as they have been to watch at times, other times they have been great, let’s hope the best is yet to come.

Comment by gc 10.22.13 @ 8:41 am

@daddylonglegs

Yeah it’s obvious Chryst can’t recruit what with signing the higest rated recruit (Johnson) Pitt’s landed in 10 years, Tyler Boyd, James Conner and the rest of the freshmen producing this year. Give me a break.

Comment by PittHW 10.22.13 @ 12:49 pm

@ steve1
“Greg Schiano will be available as a DC next year.”
Schiano can bring his special teams coach with him, too. (Dave Wannstedt) And Pitt will have a special teams coach, finally.

Comment by Caw Miller 10.22.13 @ 1:18 pm

@ PittHW
“Chryst spends a lot more time talking to Trey Anderson on the sideline than Voytik.”
I’ve been watching that. I swear that Chryst is running his play selections through Anderson before the plays go to the field. One time I saw Anderson disagree with what the coach said and Anderson walked away and it looked like Chryst was so disappointed that he could not believe it. I also noticed that when Savage comes in to the bench at timeouts, the last person to talk to him is Anderson. Anderson may never play, but it seems like he’s already a graduate assistant coach (even though he hasn’t graduated, yet.)

Comment by Caw Miller 10.22.13 @ 1:19 pm

Pitt at 4-2 is solid. Win the ones we should and be competitive and improve during the games we don’t win. I expect Pitt to be 5-2 after Saturday so long as Todd Thomas starts and plays well. His speed is a difference maker against the navy scheme. I expect he will account for at least one turnover.

Offensively, Pitt should do well this weekend. Perhaps throw a few wrinkles in there to give GTECH something to think about. Pitt has an opportunity to make a run with W’s so long as they don’t get ahead of themselves. Total concentration and discipline defensively this week and next, but I get ahead of myself. One game at a time boys! Beat who you should beat!!

Interesting scenario in Tampa. If Schiano is relieved, which very well could happen, do not be surprised if Wanny surfaces as the replacement. Reason being, Revis island. Revis has the ear of management which bodes well for Wanny.

Comment by dhuffdaddy 10.22.13 @ 6:26 pm

gc – you are correct, all opinions are welcome. Even opinions about those other opinions.

Comment by Reed 10.23.13 @ 5:21 pm

The remark about Andersons contributions to this team IMO based on his knowledge of the game shown in his performance against N.D. 3 int. 0 yards I believe are assumptions back to the dark years of arguing about playing him.
He is Grahams remaining legacy to a kick in the ass to Pitt/using up a schloarship.
Pitt’s fortunes this year ride on Savage,Street, and Boyd. Both Bennett a pedesteran runner and Conners strong but with no runners instincts are going to control the game.
If the OL, especially the horrible LT can win a few battles and the coaching staff starts being imaginative on short pass routes Pitt can score because of Savage’s arm and size. Next year we need to recruit McKensie and hope him and the kid from Buffalo are the real deal because like Dixon squadered Adams we only have one shot with a quality QB then it’s back to Tino next year.
Be more aggressive on defensive. Throw more on early downs.
Do not get behind because we have no Oline and our defensive scheme guareentes 30 points plus for the opponent.
I think witth Savage, Boyd, and Street used properly Pitt can do it and win beat N.D. we match up well with them, GT, NC are teams we can beat with my uniformed off scheme. Syracuse and Navy should win unless out coached. Miami close maybe but defense is to generous and OL will be looking for someone to block as defenders sprint past them. Savage will be luck to survive this game especially with his “slow release” Chryst uses as an excuse for his poor OL that he is suppose to be the guru.

Comment by misshome 10.26.13 @ 12:17 am

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