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.