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October 24, 2013

A Game for Meeting Expectations

Filed under: Football — Chas @ 7:42 am

Offensive line coach Jim Hueber is that frustrating superior who gives you nothing in your annual evaluation. Ryan Schlieper gets the start with Cory King out with back problems. How did he do?

“He met our expectations,” Hueber said.

“Meets expectations” is the “meh” of job performance evaluations. Nothing good, nothing bad. Just there.

Okay, he was a little better than that to Schlieper.

“We didn’t want to miss a beat, and I don’t think we did. I think he was really into the game, he knew the adjustments. For him, he would tell you that he’s happy he got the chance. He embraced it; it’s kind of what you wanted to happen.”

And then he backhands compliments him.

“I don’t know that we’ll turn him into Rudy or anything like that. But he is [a player for younger guys to look up to,]” Hueber said.

“He embraced the role as the backup guy, never misses anything, always there, always involved in the meetings and stuff, and then it paid off for him when it’s his turn.”

Embrace your crusty old man, role on the staff, Coach Hueber. Embrace it. Hold it tight and never let it go.

As for the Navy game, the Middies have something of an excuse for their Toledo loss. Injuries on both sides of the ball for that game. But against Pitt, they expect several starters to return.

The Midshipmen will welcome back a starting offensive lineman who was feared lost for the season and are hopeful a couple defensive backs who missed the Toledo game can go as well.

In addition, the Midshipmen will benefit from the improved health of starting quarterback Keenan Reynolds, who has missed considerable practice time the last three weeks.

Reynolds, had a head injury and then was battling the flu the last couple weeks  — including through the Toledo game where he still accounted for three Navy touchdowns.

The triple option offense is what the defense will see in practice and on the field for the two weeks.

Facing back-to-back option teams should allow Pitt to get comfortable facing a scheme it doesn’t usually see.

“It depends how we play,” coach Paul Chryst said with a smile when asked if he thought it was an advantage playing the two triple-option teams back-to-back.

“The next two weeks are totally different than what we saw earlier. I feel good about our guys and we spent some time in camp on it. Our guys should have a good idea of what to expect to face on Saturday.”

The big advantage for Pitt, is that both teams are so run heavy it plays more to Pitt’s strength. Provided the defense remains disciplined.

“They’re strictly option, pound it right up the middle,” [defensive end Bryan] Murphy said. “We have to be very disciplined in our keys. We can’t make any mistakes. If we make any mistakes, one person doesn’t cover their man, then they could hit us for a big run and we’d be in trouble.”

The Panthers got a slight taste of the option earlier this season against New Mexico Sept. 14. The Lobos run more of a pistol-option offense rather than the traditional triple-option, which rarely puts the ball in the air.

The main concepts carry over, though. Each defender is responsible for knowing his assignment and sticking to it. One missed read or overcorrection could leave a runner open for a long gain.

After the defensive mess against Duke, the Pitt coaches and players swore that the big problem was players not staying in their assignment and another player trying to cover that mistake. Leading to another missed assignment. We will have to see if the defense handles things like they did with the Lobos or the Blue Devils.

Either way, the offense needs to produce. Especially the passing game that has gotten ugly in the last three games.

The improvement was tangible against Old Dominion, but hardly satisfying. Tom Savage was sacked only twice after getting dumped 15 times in the previous two games, but his overall completion percentage (56.8) has fallen to 13th among 16 ACC quarterbacks.

Isaac Bennett ran for 240 yards, but the quality and size of the opponent were nothing like Pitt will see in its four remaining ACC games or against Notre Dame.

Offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph said his unit has lacked consistent execution. Pitt, which is ranked 92nd in the nation in total offense (366.8 yards per game), scored five touchdowns in a 29-minute span from the start of the second quarter to the outset of the fourth. But it gave up the football several other times, including settling for two punts and a fourth-down failure while trying to run out the clock.

“We were a little slow getting started and didn’t finish quite the way we wanted to finish,” Rudolph said. “We missed a couple things early, in the backfield, and then Isaac got going.”

I know Street getting back in the line-up will help, but it’s hard not to notice Savage struggle even last week to commit to and complete those shorter passes to the tight-ends.

The game against Navy can’t be called any sort of measuring stick at this point. Pitt should beat Navy, and from what we have seen from this team to this point, it may not be the prettiest win. Just so long as it is a win.





Guys like Hueber are the ones you remember most from your days in sports. Backhanded praise is the best you will get.

Ryan Schlieper is exactly the kind of depth you need to have to win games when your starter goes down. A fifth year senior that comes back, even though he has lost his starting job and may not see the field. A guy that comes to practice every day for the love of the game.

Great programs have lots of these guys, we have precious few. Guys like Shayne Hale last year, a guy that could have easily given up after being a high school superstar, who underachieved, but hung in there to have a pretty good senior year.

Hail to Hale and Schlieper! And to all the Guys that hang in there to make a difference.

Hail to Pitt!

Comment by gc 10.24.13 @ 8:38 am

I unfortunately be at a place where I don’t get the cbs network..does anyone know a website where I can get the game online?…for free hopefully

Comment by rhyno527 10.24.13 @ 9:24 am

GC – Back in the late 70’s early 80’s these were the kind of players Pitt had 3-4 deep at each position. You could not be more correct. These are the kind of guys that give a college team stability.

Pitt – 42 Navy 21

Comment by Dan 72 10.24.13 @ 9:42 am

Game not on ESPN3 so maybe try internet radio or Navy radio affiliate listed below.

link to navysports.com

Comment by Frank MD 10.24.13 @ 9:46 am

I have to go to some baby expo in Monroeville at Noon on saturday. Game starts at 1. Needless to say we’re going to fly through that sucker.

Comment by Justin 10.24.13 @ 9:55 am

After Va and VTech stuffed Pitt, no question Pitt OL needed a change. King has been a player who has just not risen to the occasion. Schlieper played very well and he gives the OL more movement than King. I though Schlieper should ave been moved to center as Rowell is pedestrian. Also DJ has to see more time as well.

Comment by chethejet 10.24.13 @ 10:14 am

well Justin, if you want to fly thru the expo .. don’t bring your wife!

Comment by wbb 10.24.13 @ 10:51 am

chet, big difference in blocking Va Tech and ODU. In fact, Va Tech likely has one of the Top 5 DLs in the NCAA

Comment by wbb 10.24.13 @ 10:54 am

Hueber strikes me as a coach that does not tolerate mediocrity and calls it like he sees it without any sugar coating. If you’re used to playing for a coach like this “meeting expectations” ends up being a damn good evaluation by such a coach that is rarely satisfied, especially if his particlar expectations for Schlieper were high in the first place.

I remember last year, anytime Hueber was asked his opinion of how the OL was performing and progressing, his comments were consistantly less that glowing praise for his charges actions. This years OL has improved and Hueber has said as much, although there is much progress that remains to be made. I think a lot of that improvement is due to increased competition for the various line positions. Many more big bodies available to stick into the various line spots spell improvement due to competition, always a good thing.

Back to that “measuring stick” concept. For this team, every remaining game on Pitt’s schedule is a measuring stick in one way or another. This week, it will measure the ability of the defense to shut down a triple option team, which will be an even tougher job to do successfully next week when we go up against the Rambling Wreck from GA Tech.

Comment by Dr. Tom 10.24.13 @ 11:06 am

Meeting expectations this Saturday would be great… if only we knew what they were for Tom Savage and the Pitt Offense.

Prior to the season, back in early August… I posted that Pitt had a “quarterback problem.” At the time, the criticism did not seem to be well-based… but it was. The problems we’ve seen with Savage are the exact same that caused him to lose favor with coaches and fans during his sophomore year at Rutgers.

Now with Navy being what it is, Savage has an opportunity to return to respectability and improve his numbers such as the pass completion rate in the low 50s that Reed labeled as “putrid.”

However after Navy, the games will not be so kind as Pitt will return to playing quality Defenses with the ability to pressure the quarterback and force turnovers.

Further compounding the “quarterback problem” is the fact that we have not seen Voytik take any meaningful snaps. This seems to support reports that the coaching staff does not view Voytik as a viable alternative and, worse… that Voytik may not have been worthy of the national attention he received as a recruit coming out of high school.

Even if that is the case, I remain convinced we’ll see Voytik in relief of Savage before the end of the season. Who knows, maybe this Saturday? It’s getting to the point where the coaching staff will have little choice if things don’t improve.

Last year with a VERY AVERAGE quarterback, we got a glimpse of what the Chryst Offense can look like when its firing on ALL CYLINDERS. This year with Savage seemingly hitting a ceiling in his quest to become a more complete quarterback, the Offense has been reduced to a sputter.

Who knows, with his athleticism and ability to run the ball, Voytik may show himself more capable of getting the Offense back to firing on all cylinders?

At this point, I think he certainly deserves the chance to prove his skeptics wrong, me being one of them.

Comment by PittofDreams 10.24.13 @ 11:07 am

Street and Conner will play, King and Price out for saturday.

Comment by Justin 10.24.13 @ 11:11 am

Meanwhile, back in Cleveland Tennessee…

Chad Voytik’s replacement at quarterback continues to put up some pretty astounding numbers.

After seven games, Senior Austin Herink has 32 TDs… 2,747 passing yards… a touchdowns-to-interceptions ratio of 3.2-to-1… and a completion percentage rate of 66%.

There were many who felt that even when Voytik was still at Cleveland… the left-handed Herink was a better quarterback with a stronger arm.

Now as a senior… the 6-2 209 Herink has many convinced.

I think Chryst would be wise to take a look.

Comment by PittofDreams 10.24.13 @ 11:20 am

I continue to feel strongly that Navy is likely to win and is almost a lock to cover. Our team is capable of beating them on the road ,homecoming but I am pretty sure that won’t happen. I don’t pretend to have any inside insight or advanced prognostic gifts, but my gut says we lose or squeak thru.

Comment by spiritofsection22 10.24.13 @ 11:24 am

And Jamie Dixon is taking Pitt to the Final Four…

Comment by PittofDreams 10.24.13 @ 11:36 am

My gut says no contest, we win big.

Comment by gc 10.24.13 @ 11:39 am

@Justin, LMAO!!! You’ll be lucky to see the 4th quarter my friend!!! Sorry!!!

Comment by Dan 10.24.13 @ 11:42 am

I don’t think Navy can win, if we play physical and really limit our mistakes we should win easily but were talking Pitt football here so yes, if we lose I would not be surprised !

Comment by Why ask Why it's Pitt football !! 10.24.13 @ 11:45 am

@gc I hope your gut is right.

Comment by spiritofsection22 10.24.13 @ 12:09 pm

I’m just not buying the “quarterback problem” as the obvious Achilles’ Healholding back this offense. Tom Savage’s performance up to this point in the season has not been stellar (with the exception of the Duke game) but to be fair, it has been far from “putrid” as well.

You can pretty much manipulate statistics to prove any argument that you want to make against Savage’s performance up to this point in the season but the one that matters to me is the win-loss record. Right now a 4-2, with what is essentially a first year QB at the helm, is not chopped liver, IMO.

Interestingly, I also find myself not cursing with frustration at the QB play as much this season as I have in the recent past. Is that just me, because maybe I was just so fed up with our previous QB’s inability to produce when we needed it most, or in contrast, does Savage actually manage the game better than his predecessor did in tough situations?

In any case, Tom Savage has shown to me that he can bring home a winner even when the offense is firing on less than all cylinders. He also stikes me as more of a team player and I think that is evident on how the team plays when he is in there.

There was a preceptable apprehension last season whenever Pitt was getting beaten that there was no way they were going to come back to win. This was palpable from both the players and the fan base, an was based on previous experience. I just don’t get that sense from this team, this year. Last season I saw “Quit”, this year I see guys putting it out there 100% for 60 minutes. For example even after being beat up for 55 minutes Savage and company still stick it in the endzone and never gave up against VT.

That kind of intangible dynamic often times will spell the differece between a win or a loss when the chips are down in the waning seconds of a close game. For that one fact alone, I’m just fine with Savage going forward, hisupside potential has yet to be reached and I like that potential, hope that it’s realized before the end of the season.

Comment by Dr. Tom 10.24.13 @ 12:33 pm

Agree completely with Dr. Tom. Go back and look at the excellent breakdwown in “A Savage Beating” by Justin. I’ll be here when you get back …

Now, as you’ve just seen, the Oline has been no better than average at any point this season and they have frequently been TERRIBLE. If you’re going to use the word putrid to describe an aspect of this team, it’s the pass protection, not the passer.

If Savage is given decent protection he’ll light it up. The Oline is absolutely critical to our success.

Comment by PittHW 10.24.13 @ 12:48 pm

I’ve been impressed with Savage and I think he deserves more credit than he is getting. Sure the numbers have been disappointing, but the wins are there. A few points:

–I think any reasonable person would have to give him a lot of credit for the Duke win. Not only did he have an ACC RECORD six TDs, but the coaches put the game in his hands on the final drive and he came though (as did Spoon with a big catch).
–I also think Savage deserves credit for the UVA win. Past Pitt teams have had difficulty finishing drives, and his TD pass to street in particular was a thing of beauty. If Pitt isn’t up 14-0, Mike London is kicking FGs instead of foolishly going for it on 4th down time and again. Those little things make a big difference, and I really think in this case that one throw changed the outcome of the game. Savage has the ability to win games.
–Lastly, Savage’s performance in key aspects of the ODU game has been overlooked. Yes he was 11/18 for barely over 100 yards, but on Pitt’s first TD drive he made two key 3rd down conversion passes (one to Boyd Wonder and the other to Holtz) that kept the drive alive and eventually let Bennett rumble into the endzone. Furthermore, the TD to Garner is a pass only a handful of QBs can make.

Yes, Savage can be more consistent, yes I want him to perform better, but I think if you really care about wins and not numbers, he deserves a big chunk of credit for Pitt being 4-2 for the first time since 2009. And don’t pull the “easy schedule” argument, because Pitt had one of the easiest schedules in its history last year and was 2-4 at this juncture. Finally, we all know of Savage’s struggles at Rutgers, but again, the dude won games, 9 of them in fact, as a freshman.

As for Navy, obviously Pitt could lose, but for all the threats the triple option poses, I just think Pitt matches up better against it than ODU. Now I think a big key is a hot start and an early lead, and if Pitt struggles early moving the ball, we could all be in the HOV lanes to Upset City. However, having watched a number of Navy games both this year and in the past (grew up in MD) I think Pitt will be able to stop the run. Aaron Donald is a force of nature and one of the keys to the triple option is decision making by the QB. Donald will get in the backfield and force Navy’s QB Reynolds to make quicker decisions, and with the triple option all it takes is one bad decision to kill the drive. The triple option has to stay ahead of the sticks otherwise it bogs down. Navy simply hasn’t faced a DT of Donald’s caliber and they will either have to double team him (which I expect) and allow Pitt’s other defensive players to make plays, or he will be in the backfield all day long. Yeah, there is a risk to Pitt’s D getting tired, but one thing I will give House credit for has been the defensive rotation. It was good all game against ODU, they did not get worn down against a highly up tempo offense, and against VPI Pitt lost the time of possession battle badly and Pitt’s D held firm all game. Thats impressive.

I think Pitt wins something like 38-20.

Comment by TartanPanther 10.24.13 @ 1:12 pm

I unfortunately be at a place where I don’t get the cbs network..does anyone know a website where I can get the game online?…for free hopefully

Comment by rhyno527 10.24.13 @ 9:24 am

These two websites stream games online free.

atd.net
firstrowsports.eu

Don’t download anything and let the ads run their course, don’t try to click them off.

Comment by EMel 10.24.13 @ 1:47 pm

whoops

atdee.net

Additionally, when on the page listing all the games, don’t click on Link 1 or Link 2 links beside the game.
Click on the link of the game itself, which is underscored.

Good luck !

Comment by EMel 10.24.13 @ 1:49 pm

I have to go to some baby expo in Monroeville at Noon on saturday. Game starts at 1. Needless to say we’re going to fly through that sucker.

Comment by Justin 10.24.13 @ 9:55 am

That would be a hoot to be able to watch you at his expo. You’ll be like, agreeing with everything your wife is saying, like yes dear, a huh, a huh. Ok let’s go !

Remember don’t into any long conversations, as time flys and agree, agree, agree…..out the door

Comment by EMel 10.24.13 @ 1:54 pm

off topic alert: I caught a bit of the OKC Thunder game last night and only watched because right as I flipped through Steven Adams was taking foul shots. He played well and Van Gundy was raving about him and what a steal he will be. Good pub for the program but would rather seem him with Pitt for one more year!

Comment by PittDan 10.24.13 @ 1:56 pm

I don’t disagree with much that was written above about Savage …. with the esception that he is to be credited for the UVa win.

Yes, Pitt was up 14-0 … on scoring drives of 18 and 19 yards. While watching that game in person, I could see precisely what had been written about him before by Reed and Justin (and others) … that he is locked in on his primary receivers and rarely checks off to look for others. That was so obvious , and it caused many sacks, incompletions and punts.

Comment by wbb 10.24.13 @ 2:00 pm

@Justin

Uh, you are dead meat. Unless this is like the 10th baby expo that you and she have been to, there is not a chance in the world that you will escape (with your sanity) in less than two hours. I sure hope that you have a DVR.

I watch no sports live. DVR everything and start watching football about 90 minutes after the game starts. Skip the ads and the worthless halftime chatter. Just about catch up when the game is ending.

Granted screaming “get him” and “go baby go” is kind of stupid when I am behind the real action. But, I still do it. And, the dogs get biscuits when we score a touchdown. So, it is not just me who is excited.

H2P. Sink (and wax) the Midshipmen on DVR.

Comment by pmdH2P 10.24.13 @ 2:05 pm

Who knows, with his athleticism and ability to run the ball, Voytik may show himself more capable of getting the Offense back to firing on all cylinders?

At this point, I think he certainly deserves the chance to prove his skeptics wrong, me being one of them.
Comment by PittofDreams 10.24.13 @ 11:07 am

While I love to believe Voytik is the real deal, there’s nothing to base your comment of his athleticism and running ability on…..other than that of the Blue/Gold game where the Defense wasn’t allowed to sack the QB’s. The QB’s were basically ‘off limits’.

And then you seem to contradict what you say above with this:

Further compounding the “quarterback problem” is the fact that we have not seen Voytik take any meaningful snaps. This seems to support reports that the coaching staff does not view Voytik as a viable alternative and, worse… that Voytik may not have been worthy of the national attention he received as a recruit coming out of high school.

So how does what you say immediately above correlate to this:

At this point, I think he certainly deserves the chance to prove his skeptics wrong, me being one of them.

So what is it. You seem to contradict yourself.

Also Savage lost his job due to getting injured in his sophomore year and then he wasn’t able to reclaim it since the Chas Dodd had some pretty big games.

Comment by EMel 10.24.13 @ 2:05 pm

While the exhibition season is typically met with yawns and complaints re: scheduling, men’s basketball has so many unknowns, the UC San Diego game can’t get here soon enough! What will the offensive style look like, how good are these freshmen and can the seniors provide leadership are only a few? Hate to disagree with the poll about women’s basketball but I can’t imagine our new coach allowing us to end up in last place in the ACC. Don’t know jack about the ACC ladies, just a hunch. Good luck to both squads in their inaugural ACC tours! H2P! UPone

Comment by UPone 10.24.13 @ 2:12 pm

There was a preceptable apprehension last season whenever Pitt was getting beaten that there was no way they were going to come back to win. This was palpable from both the players and the fan base, an was based on previous experience. I just don’t get that sense from this team, this year. Last season I saw “Quit”, this year I see guys putting it out there 100% for 60 minutes. For example even after being beat up for 55 minutes Savage and company still stick it in the endzone and never gave up against VT.
Comment by Dr. Tom 10.24.13 @ 12:33 pm

Concur bigtime Doc Tom.

If we got behind with the other TS, there was an invariable sense of doom. You knew he wasn’t going to the lead the team back, and so did the team.

No comparison this year with this TS and his big gun. All you have to do is give this TS a little time in the pocket for the WR’s to get downfield and in a heartbeat, you can have a TD. And the team knows this, so there is always hope.

The Achilles heel to the team is obviously the O-Line. As in the games the offense really faltered, UVA & VT. They could NEITHER RUN BLOCK OR PASS BLOCK. Savage has nothing to do with their ability or lack thereof of being able to run block. Nor does any QB. Unless some team is running an option read offense and the QB can’t perform the reads.

So again the O-Line needs to play better and the offense will return. Cause we know given the time to throw TS can complete and pinpoint the ball a long way down field.

Comment by EMel 10.24.13 @ 2:26 pm

FYI in case I forget tomorrow .. tomorrow night’s exhibition game vs UCSD is on ESPN3

Comment by wbb 10.24.13 @ 2:27 pm

I feel like a poor Pitt fan, for not knowing this and not keeping up, allthough, I think I always do try to keep up.

Pitt hoops, exhibition or not, starts tommorrow???

Comment by Dan 10.24.13 @ 2:32 pm

Finally, we all know of Savage’s struggles at Rutgers, but again, the dude won games, 9 of them in fact, as a freshman.
Comment by TartanPanther 10.24.13 @ 1:12 pm

Don’t think we’ve had a freshman qb lead us to 9 wins since….let me think……Dan the Man. (and he split time with Rick Trocano)

Savage also struggled his way to being named to the QB of the Freshman All-American team.

Hoops already, oy vey !

Comment by EMel 10.24.13 @ 2:42 pm

Oh almost forgot……

…….Torpedo the Navy !

Make them walk the plank, we take no prisoners !

Comment by EMel 10.24.13 @ 2:47 pm

oh for the kiddos we were 11-1 Marino’s freshman year. Although he wasn’t the starter to begin the season.

Marino would have been sacked 8 times against Va Tech as well. As he was less mobile than Savage.
Savage has 2 TD runs in 6 games. I don’t think Dan had more than 2 in 4 years.

Comment by EMel 10.24.13 @ 2:56 pm

The thing about Savage is that he makes plays. Except when he doesn’t.

Watching Savage play is like flipping a coin. 50% of the time you get what you want.

In all seriousness though he has proven to be a gutty kid with that intangible winning-attitude that Dr. Tom talked about. He may only hit 56% of his passes but I’ll take my chances with Savage when the game is on the line.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 10.24.13 @ 4:06 pm

Haven’t looked at any numbers but it seems that Savage’s red zone production has been pretty good.

Comment by gc 10.24.13 @ 4:14 pm

Inconsistent offense ,inconsistent defense. Homecoming road game against an improving academy team. Am I the only one sensing an upset?

Comment by spiritofsection22 10.24.13 @ 4:23 pm

@Dan, Yes the x game is Friday night.

Comment by spiritofsection22 10.24.13 @ 4:29 pm

Spirit, I don’t see this as a the game to worry about…The GA Tech game yes, this game no. I expect this game to go something like the ODU game. We are just too much bigger on on lines and will wear this team down.

Comment by HbgFrank 10.24.13 @ 4:46 pm

It’s the same as any other game against a physically inferior foe. If we come to play we win. If not we will get beat. I think we’ll come to play.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 10.24.13 @ 5:01 pm

@SpiritofSection22, short answer to your question, NOPE. In fact, I feel pretty much just the opposite. Panther’s offense on one week off the next, same with their defense, but for some reason I’m sensing a game where they decide to get both going full steam together in one game, this is the game.

We’ll see whose “spydie senses” were more accurate soon enough, won’t we.

Comment by Dr. Tom 10.24.13 @ 5:20 pm

I hope you are all correct and I’m only imagining them controlling this game while we implode. I have seen glimpses of bright spots from both sides but I keep getting this feeling that we are going to play a real bad game while the midshipmen play one of their best games of the year. I was worried ODU would catch us last week too so maybe I’m just gun shy.

Comment by spiritofsection22 10.24.13 @ 5:41 pm

Spirit, as a Pitt fan, you have to fight the paranoia. We have laid more than our share of eggs over the years and history tells us it can certainly bite us in the ass at any time.

Anyone that prognosticates will be right once in a while, so don’t go thinking your psychic if you are proved right.

So far this team has not reminded me of any recent Pitt teams. They have been able to make the plays when needed and until last week have not taken many stupid penalties. They have protected the ball well, even though they have not been the benefactor of many turnovers. The only way, I see us losing is if we get fumblitis or if Savage starts throwing it up for grabs. He has been pretty conservative and has not been taking chances so I am not overly concerned.

There is just as much chance of us putting together our perfect game, in fact because they are one dimensional, I think this is more likely.

Anyway, take a valium and calm down.

Comment by gc 10.24.13 @ 6:45 pm

It’ll be a beautiful day.

We’ll applaud the Midshipmen, eat bull and drink beer or whatever.

We’ll enjoy Annapolis.

We’ll remember TD’s record-breaking TD.

But most of all, we’ll laugh….whatever the outcome.

Comment by steve1 10.24.13 @ 6:45 pm

Nice Steve…..

Comment by Palm Beach Panther 10.24.13 @ 7:55 pm

@ sos22

I understand your anxiety. I think most of us have them, and over the last 30 years we well should. Hell over the last 3 years of the coaching carousel, the lost, almost lost, nearly lost, partially saved and saved recruiting classes, being a Pitt football fan tests your sanity.

Navy can’t beat us, only PITT can beat PITT this week.

As long as we don’t make too many turnovers, stupid mistakes and House comes up with a reasonable scheme to stop the triple option…..

……wait……Sorry. (jk)

Comment by EMel 10.24.13 @ 8:06 pm

@@@
Can Navy beat Pitt? Hell yes. Should they?
no way. Play mistake free FB, get a lead,
and play discipline D. We need this one
in order to go bowling.

Comment by JR 10.24.13 @ 8:39 pm

Welcome aboard Ryan Luther!

Comment by UPone 10.24.13 @ 9:19 pm

wonder if Stevie cut Jamie’s recruiting budget … his 3 future commits:

2014 Transfer Sheldon Jeter 6’8 Beaver Falls

2014 commit Ryan Luther 6’8 Hampton

2015 commit Maverick Rowan 6’6 Midland

Comment by wbb 10.24.13 @ 9:55 pm

… and they’re heavily recruiting the 7 footer from Kiski School in Saltsburg

Comment by wbb 10.24.13 @ 10:10 pm

Emel,

The reason for my comments about Voytik’s apparent athleticism is primarily based upon his performance as a high school All-Star in the U.S. Army Bowl.

Having played at a WPIAL “AA” level in Tennessee, it was the first time to evaluate Voytik against other BIG-TIME players from larger high schools.

Frankly, he looked completely outclassed when it came to dropping back to pass. However, his one shining moment came when he tucked the ball in and leaped into the end zone for a TD.

Voytik’s strong suit as an athlete also seems to be the conscensus from people who’ve watched him in practice… Reed among them.

Based on Savage’s difficulties, it only makes sense at this point to see what Voytik can do to provide a spark. This is especially true give that Pitt is about to return to playing some tough Defenses who can pressure the quarterback. Savage has shown nothing to suggest he’s going to improve in his ability to avoid the rush and make plays consistently.

While I have been consistent in the doubts I have in Voytik as a talent when it comes to passing the football… it is possible that he could exceed expectations.

We’ll never know for sure until he gets his chance.

Comment by PittofDreams 10.25.13 @ 5:49 am

You guys bashing Savage and our other players need to watch some tape and analyze the situations we are putting them in, with the coaching staff on offense continuing with a very predictable, NFL type mentality and on the defense having our players scared shitless of making a mistake. DB’s way off, front 4 in predictable gaps and LB’s with way too much middle to cover in between. With our OLine not able to dominate people we should adjust the scheme – I saw Ibrahim in trying to pass protect when we obviously have bigger guys to try to take on the first threat. Even with Savage we could bootleg on occasion. As has been noted, special teams are a disaster. I fear for this game because it is exactly what teams like Navy and Ga Tech do to exploit several wins a year with inferior talent – they outcoach coaching opposing staff’s like Pitt’s. So, if we see Navy moving the ball around, I won’t be pissed off at the players – this is largely the same defense that stopped Notre Dame last year, I will be watching the schemes and watching the endless rotation of players the defensive staff uses to “punish” players – anyone remember Thomas ? – that stay in their doghouse. This one shouldn’t be close – but will be and could very well end up being a “L”, and if so, turn our season the other way with much tougher games ahead. Let’s support our players and hope they can overcome and fight through an inferior staff.

Comment by PittMan 10.25.13 @ 6:16 am

Agree that the returning players on Defense have been thrown into a difficult situation with the change to a new and unproven Defensive Coordinator.

But, give House credit. Although we need more evidence, it seems he’s mproved while learning on the job.

Tougher to explain the dropoff in the Offense from what we saw last year.

Yes, there’s no Ray Graham and newcomers have been added to the O-Line… but that falls short of explaining things.

Savage simply isn’t making the kind of plays you need from your quarterback when running Chryst’s Offense. It’s about knowing where to go with ball and getting it out quickly to the right guy at the right time.

One of the BIGG knocks on Savage both as a freshman and sophomore at Rutgers was that he had difficulty reading defenses and making quick decisions as to where the ball needs to go. I think that’s what we’ve been seeing this year.

While the Defense has been getting better… and the O-Line has been getting better… Savage has been regressing.

At this point after watching him against a PUTRID Old Dominion Defense… there is no evidence to suggest he’s going to improve.

We can only hope.

Comment by PittofDreams 10.25.13 @ 6:44 am

McGarvey’s it is

link to blog.triblive.com

Comment by wbb 10.25.13 @ 6:52 am

question on hueber. does he have a son and is it his son who helps out on the sidelines?

Comment by jk 10.25.13 @ 7:31 am

The Pitt defense has the perfect opportunity tomorrow to prepare for GA Tech while also collecting their fifth win of the season.

This game can be lost, but as many posters have opined above, we lose this game only if we beat oursevles. Now there are plenty of ways to accomplish that but I just don’t see that occurring.

With a solid defensive strategy of dedicated man assignments for key players on Navy’s triple option I see us keeping the Midshipmen in front of us all day long. We don’t need to stop them, we just need to slow them down to a snail’s pace and then our defense has done it’s job.

I see a guy like Todd Thomas being assigned the duty of spying on their QB, Reynolds, and being encouraged to focus on tackling him consistantly even when he does release the ball to a trailing back in the option read. This would be a very effective method to wear the Navy offense down and at the same time increase the likelyhood of a mishandled toss to a RB eventually when a guy like Thomas disrupts Reynold’s pitch timing by closing fast and tatooing him squarely in the chops just one too many times.

It will be a huge boost getting both Conner and Street back into the lone up as well.

As I’ve said previously, this team is growing game by game and when they finally put a complete game together on both sides of the ball, well then, we’re going to be a hard team to beat. This game and opponent might just be the perfect combination to produce that kind of effort from Pitt. We’ll all see soon enough.

Hail to Pitt!

Comment by Dr. Tom 10.25.13 @ 7:47 am

Nice article wbb, too bad the post gazette sports page is worthless. Front page today has a long article with a color picture about the big PSU-OSU rivalry. A tiny article about Pitt-Navy follows.
Then a mention of the Luther verbal and a small article about UC-Santa Barbara.

It shows our relative value, when you get four or five pages dedicated to the Steelers or Pirates, even when they are bad. Obviously, we don’t sell papers. But how about some public service and local pride to the hometown team?

POD, you are getting to be a broken record are you just cutting and pasting the same stuff each time?

wbb, good point about local recruiting, I know it was tongue in cheek, but it does make you wonder, we were getting guys like Adams and Montreal’s gift and now a local kid recruited by Duquesne. No offense to the kid, I hope he is great, but no one special since Mostrella. Where is our ace recruiter?

Comment by gc 10.25.13 @ 7:52 am

gc, our 3 incoming commits plus the kid from Saltsburg are from a 25 mile (half) radius north and east from Oakland. We don’t need Roehrrsen, maybe we should have hired Yuri Dmetrius

Comment by wbb 10.25.13 @ 7:58 am

FWIW, Lucas Nix is starting at guard these days for the Raiders

Comment by wbb 10.25.13 @ 8:40 am

lol wbb

Yea I thought we brought Slice back to get some more NYC & national talent. Not kids from Saltsburg. Didn’t even know they played basketball in Saltsburg.

Actually I’ve been to Salzburg, Austria. Beautiful place, home of Mozart, JD should visit some time, maybe he’ll find some International talent ! :-)

Comment by EMel 10.25.13 @ 8:45 am

I’m gonna post this again since we got our daily POD.

Tom Savage was a freshmen All-American at Rutgers and led his team to 9 victories.

Being able not to read defenses, throw 4 feet to his RB and just generally being an all around buffoon.

Comment by EMel 10.25.13 @ 8:48 am

I bet the guy who made the decision to replace Savage wouldn’t mind having him down in Tampa Bay.

That is if Schiano has a job by the end of next week.

Billboards appearing around Tampa, ‘Fire Schiano’.

On the bright side, maybe DW will get the HC job.

Comment by EMel 10.25.13 @ 8:51 am

So I looked at Navy’s roster and I watched a couple of highlight clips. While this by no means makes me an expert there are a couple of obvious observations.

1. We should definitely be able to move the ball on their defense. They are not that big and they are not that athletic. Good opportunity to keep the run game going. Just like I’ve been saying all year, we need to come out and Punch ’em in the mouth, and keep up that physical playing style all game long. Interesting side note they do have one 300-pounder on D line and he’s from Monessen.

2. I only saw one offensive highlight and wow those cut-blocks look vicious. I’m hoping our line can fight them off, but I think the key to this game is going to be our linebackers staying disciplined on the edge. I have all the confidence in the world in Todd Thomas, less so in Anthony Gonzales. Hopefully he’s up to the task. Aaron Donald also needs to have a disruptive game.

Prediction: I want to say our defense will shut them down but I have the sinking feeling (no pun intended) that it will be more of a bend-but-don’t-break type of day. Overall it could be a pretty high scoring game. Pitt 35. Navy 31.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 10.25.13 @ 9:06 am

EMel – that “Freshman All-American” award, while nice to have, is a bit misleading. His competition was any other freshman starting at QB. That really limits the candidate pool. But yes, he won it.

My stance all along isn’t that Savage is a bad QB, it has been since last summer camp that he wasn’t going to be the greatly productive QB PITT fans were sure he would be. That was skewed by his being “ABT” also.

@gc – our redzone production is average, 81% scoring, & 74th nationally, although there is little difference in the rankings. Out of 22 redzone visits he has thrown six TDs, we ran for nine and had three FGs.

Last season we were slightly better at 82% scoring with 17 TD passes thrown in the red zone – which highlights the lack of deep passing TDs by Sunseri.

Comment by Reed 10.25.13 @ 9:16 am

gc… get over it.

Comment by PittofDreams 10.25.13 @ 9:26 am

@ EMel, Savage was an all around buffoon his Freshman year? Just a lttle too harsh there on the color commentary , aren’t you???

Comment by Dr. Tom 10.25.13 @ 10:00 am

Reed, 15 for 22 in touchdowns, with only 3 field goals, seems pretty good to me. Surprised that is only average.

How many red zone field goals last year?

Comment by gc 10.25.13 @ 10:16 am

@ Doc…..

……sarcasm

Comment by EMel 10.25.13 @ 10:29 am

@ Reed

If you remember I wrote several posts pre August camp and during camp, suggesting that a 3 year layoff for Savage wouldn’t be the easiest thing to overcome. And I also wrote that if he and Voytik were about equal, it would be crazy not to go with Voytik, since TS is only here for 1 year and why not get your future QB ready instead of going thru another new QB next year.

That all being said, I don’t think we’d be 4-2 at this point with Voytik. We certainly lose the Duke game and who knows, maybe ODU as well and UVA.

Savage is very good when given the time. Unfortunately for him and us, we have a crap offensive line and apparently no coaching schemes to provide more time, protection or otherwise.

Comment by EMel 10.25.13 @ 10:37 am

POD, I am over it, that’s the problem. It is pretty obvious that Savage has weaknesses. But I don’t think getting brutalized by VT and playing without Street means he is regressing.

He will be fine with Street and more time to throw, he is never going to be a quick release QB.

I am pretty tired of hearing about Buttgers though, redundant.

You are not going to see Voytik unless Savage gets hurt, or the game gets out of hand, positively or negatively, which one are you rooting for?

Comment by gc 10.25.13 @ 10:42 am

EMel, got it 😉

Comment by Dr. Tom 10.25.13 @ 11:03 am

@ gc, Savage just has to put together another Duke type of game and all of this superfluous chatter surrounding his current situation will evaporate. Only problem with that is the hill gets much steeper in the second half of the season so this might be the last opportunity for Savage to shine over an inferior defensive opponent. He had that chance against ODU too but Bennett kind of negated the need for Savage to have to carry the day in that one.

Two things are for sure however, Voytik WILL be the man next year, no matter if a JUCO QB guy comes in or not and even if either Freebeck or Bertke end up imitating the second comimg of Chryst at the QB position.

Second, this offense is going to look a lot different next year than it does this year with Chad in there at QB. It might be better, it might be worse, but it will show a whole different look with a QB that can be evasive and has some ability to earn yards with his feet.

Comment by Dr. Tom 10.25.13 @ 11:51 am

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