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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.





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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