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November 5, 2013

Road Woes

Filed under: Football,Players — Justin @ 5:00 pm

I saw someone on one of Pitt’s message boards talking about silent snap counts and how the OTs struggled to get back in time against Georgia Tech. I brought this up as an issue after the Virginia Tech game. But, I think it may go deeper than that. I think the offense struggles in an environment with any type of noise, which is every away game thus far except for Duke, because that stadium was emptier than even the worst Pitt fan’s nightmare. When I looked at the stats, it gave me a glimmer of hope that maybe the offense can turn it around against Notre Dame.

I’m also going to leave out the FSU game because I firmly believe they’re the best team in the country right now. This is a little bit of selective statistics, but we can’t judge Pitt against FSU. I’m rooting for Stanford against Oregon this weekend so FSU’ s guaranteed a title shot if they win out. I hope you join me in that so as many FSU players go pro as possible to knock them down a peg. Someone forge Jameis Winston’s birth certificate. Back to Pitt!

At home+Duke, the offense has averaged 423.5 yards and 37.25 points per game. That’s a top 30 offense points-wise. On the road minus Duke, the offense has averaged 258.7 yards and 13.3 points. Those numbers would be one of the worst in college football, along with the likes of Purdue and UConn. This is quite the contrast and perhaps the difference isn’t early season vs. late season, it’s home vs. away.

Pitt started off the season at home three of the first four games. This was followed with three road games out of four. Now, the season closes as it opened. If this is correct, the offense can get on track this week in a friendly environment. I’m probably wrong and it’s more that Virginia made the blueprint to beat the offense and everyone else is just copying, but at this point, I think we all need a glimmer of optimism to hold onto.

By contrast, the defense thrives on the road (minus Duke, again). Yardage wise it’s almost identical: 348.8 ypg at home and 333.3 ypg on the road. Points-wise, however, is a big difference. At home/Duke, the offense is allowing 27.3 ppg. On the road? They’re only giving up 21.3 ppg. It’s odd, because GT was almost the exact statistical average of our offense and defense on the road. (21-10 vs. 21.3-13.3).

Like I said, it’s probably not a home or away game thing, but I just wanted to toss out a little hope that maybe, just maybe, the offense can play well against Notre Dame, UNC, and Miami.

Thanks for the glimmer of hope, Justin!
Has recent results have rendered the O vs. P debate moot?

Comment by 2$Chuck 11.05.13 @ 5:13 pm

And if “if’s and but’s were candy and nuts!

Me too Justin…I wish I wish I wish…
Unfortunately Notre Dame doesn’t have to wish. They will completely own both sides of scrimmage and much like in the FSU game, there is no way of overcoming that.

Comment by Dan 72 11.05.13 @ 5:16 pm

Hafta love your optimism, Justin.

Comment by dinosaur 71 11.05.13 @ 5:18 pm

Mobile QBs hurt us, they have consistently for the last two years. Rees is about as mobile as Savage, though so that’s a plus for us. He also, from I’ve seen over the years, tends to throw high when he misses a reciever. That should give our guys, who constantly play to keep the reciever in front of them, some opportunities to intercept the ball.

Comment by PittHW 11.05.13 @ 5:31 pm

That was a glimmer.

Now if we can only somehow exchange the players from Old Dominion & New Mexico for the players who will be in the Notre Dame uni’s……

I am kind of shocked the line is only PITT +5

They’ve must of not seen our offense
Especially our dynamic… inches per carry running game.

Comment by EMel 11.05.13 @ 5:35 pm

Perhaps we can encourage Scott McKillop to keep offering advice to House of Usher at halftime.

Seemed to work a little last week !

Now what former Pitt offensive player can we get to offer halftime advice to Chryst and pals.

Comment by EMel 11.05.13 @ 5:50 pm

Tony Dorsett will lend Chryst a hand and Pitt’s backs will run for over 100 yards each.

Comment by TX Panther 11.05.13 @ 6:20 pm

If the problem was the snap count and noise, then that could be the biggest indictment so far of the coaching staff … after all, we are 7 games in

Comment by wbb 11.05.13 @ 6:26 pm

2$Chuck: there’s nothing to be optimistic about lately.

EMel: look at the past 5 results between Pitt and ND and you’ll see exactly why it’s +5.

wbb: not necessarily. it means the players aren’t experienced enough to play without verbal cooperation.

Comment by Justin 11.05.13 @ 7:21 pm

Starting to capitalize in the red zone might help, another missed receiver and a pick last week hurt. Savage seems to have the short game going better now maybe they can look deep, I think they wanted to last week but of coarse there was no time. Is Biz or King coming back this week? I saw Biz for a short stint and he looked good but went off never to return. If those two guys are healthy they could make a huge difference

Comment by Steve h 11.05.13 @ 7:27 pm

Justin you are right on about the snap count. None of us are on the field, but I watch games on tape after going and it confirms we rarely if ever use a hard, or long count. Why? because I can see the defense timing our count and are coming out of their stances at the same time our O lineman are.

It was written this prevents us from going deep. True. But how about using screens, shuffle pass etc. ?

I am a broken record but it is our scheme. We are handing the ball off way too deep for the talent of our O Line. Our RB’s take the ball and run 5-6 steps just to get to the line. We need some quick hitters occaisionally.

Comment by PittMan 11.05.13 @ 7:29 pm

exactly PittMan,

These genius’s never change the formation much.

Take a page from Pitt’s past, move the GD RB’s up closer to the line of scrimmage for as you suggested ‘quick hitters’.

It seemed to work for Johnny and Tony in the ’76 Sugar Bowl.

@ Justin: past results do not predict future results. As stock market bettors and football bettors will attest to. Wish it was that easy cous.

Comment by EMel 11.05.13 @ 8:42 pm

Is PITT going to try ANY trick plays this year.

You know this is college football.

Men in motion prior to snap count might be something for the genius’s to look into as well.

Sheesh most boring college offense since the Duke game I’ve seen in college football.

Comment by EMel 11.05.13 @ 8:45 pm

sorry I missed the Idaho/Temple barnburner.

Comment by EMel 11.05.13 @ 8:49 pm

I’m still not buying this …what’s the excuse for Virginia .. there wasn’t much crowd noise that day

Comment by wbb 11.05.13 @ 8:59 pm

right wbb

i think everyone that hadn’t left was fully asleep by mid 3rd quarter.

(see Pitt couldn’t do anything offensively for most of the game and neither could UVA, commonly known as a Snoozer)

Comment by EMel 11.05.13 @ 9:12 pm

To pile on some more positives, I missed the 1st quarter of the GT game. From what I saw, I thought the team played well and I saw improvement. The next day I read the Blather and was hit with the negativity. Maybe it’s that I missed the bad part of the game or maybe I just drink too much cool-aid.

Comment by Caw Miller 11.06.13 @ 7:23 am

I think the negativity comes from when will Pitt get over the hump or off the snide. They didn’t in this game and disappointed once again. There are no feel good losses.

Comment by TX Panther 11.06.13 @ 7:40 am

Three positive Pitt articles in the Post today, Boyd/Engram, Johnson, and Wilson.

There are always some positives in a loss. The fact that they made adjustments and had a strong third quarter was huge in my opinion. Boyd being used as a possession receiver, shows that he is growing and getting better. Savage looked more confident throwing shorter or intermediate passes.
Aaron Donald played even better which doesn’t seem possible. Darryl Render took advantage of his additional playing time, between him and Donald, 18 tackles by interior linemen, wow. Grigsby played well, bodes well for the future.

We still lost, got gouged by a fullback, gave up too many passes and got fooled by a punter. Couldn’t score or defend when it mattered most in the fourth quarter. Got beat on a ridiculous pass when it mattered most. worst of all can’t run the football.

So what have we learned….

Comment by gc 11.06.13 @ 8:08 am

we have a qb at lb,lb,s at de,s,de at fb,te at wr,who can win with that consistently

Comment by paul shannon 11.06.13 @ 8:32 am

Good teams

Comment by Nick 11.06.13 @ 8:42 am

@ gc, what we “have to learn” is HOW TO WIN! A good start would be getting out of our own way with a little more imaginative play calling on the offense so we’re not so GD predictable.

Still waiting for the game that Pitt wins that we have no business doing so. This one would be my pick for such an occurance.

Read that Tony Dorsett has not been invited to speak to the team prior to the game yet. I sure hope that that invitation is in the mail! This coaching staff has to learn how to build a fire under this team and begin injecting some emotion into the process. You would think a gameday team visit by TD would be a no brainer, but Bashful might be too shy to ask him.

Comment by Dr. Tom 11.06.13 @ 9:25 am

This team does not seem motivated. I think of our opponent, ND and that sign they touch before every game–Play like a champion today.
In the Pitt locker room the sign likely says–Execute well today.
That’s the difference between winners and Pitt.
Makes me wonder what PC’s huddle talk is right before the game. “Offence, execute today. Defense, prevent the home run score. Um, isn’t there a third part of football? Whatever. Everyone execute today so we can have a neat game to analyze in the film room. Execute on 3.”

Comment by Caw Miller 11.06.13 @ 9:59 am

Up until the last two games, I thought much of the play calling this year has been reasonably creative and balanced. I don’t know why they suddenly decided to go so conservative and predictable, but I have to assume it is because the O-line play has gotten that much worse and the opposing defenses have gotten that much better. (As evidenced last week, Navy has got a pretty good defense in spite of being undersized.)

It all comes down to the O-line, and ours is really bad. That is what is dictating the play calling right now, and I don’t think people seem to realize how much that limits what they can resonably expect to succeed with. You can’t run misdirections and counterplays and trickeration if the defense is three yards in the backfield on every play. Hopefully, it is simply an issue of inexperience and not a lack of talent. Time will tell on that.

Comment by Steve S 11.06.13 @ 10:16 am


I prefer to call the negativity frustration
on the part of Pitt fans. We want this program
to win really bad!

Comment by JR 11.06.13 @ 10:28 am

I didn’t used to be negative. In fact, I was the opposite. But too many bad losses and too many bad mistakes broke me. The process all started at the Glass Bowl in 2003.

Comment by Wardapalooza 11.06.13 @ 10:52 am

And here I thought it all started in 1938 when the nitwits in charge forced Jock Sutherland out after PITT dominated Eastern/Northern football for over a decade.

2003 ok.

Comment by EMel 11.06.13 @ 12:21 pm

As Justin previously mentioned, for some reason, Pitt always seems to play ND tuff. Or maybe ND plays down to our level.

Whatever the reasons, the facts are, that over the last 5 years, with three different head coaches, coached by three different staffs and systems in place, utilizing four different quarterbacks under center (if you include Kevan Smith’s minor contributions in the 2008 game), Pitt vs. Notre Dame have had their games decided by an average difference of 4 points, with two of those contests not decided until after multiple overtimes.

This ND team, just like Ga Tech last week and Navy before them is a BEATABLE TEAM. Question is when does this young team decide that they are all going to get off of their collective a$$es to play one complete game on both sides of the ball?

Call it missed assignments, lack of execution or just plain bad luck, if you prefer, but Pitt is overdue for some good fortune.

If we get the turnovers going in our favor, we have to capitalize on those opportunities with touchdowns and we have to eliminate our own miscues that have resulted in effectively beating ourselves over the last two weeks.

Notre Dame would be the perfect opponent to get all of the frustrations created over the last two games out of our collective systems. Pitt historically has played ND close, thats why the spread is only Pitt+5.

One opportune TD coming out of nowhere, a pick 6, a punt runback for a TD or a short field ND fumble that we immediately stick into the endzone could spell the difference in such a narrow spread game.

Will Saturday be the night, we’ll see soon enough. We can do it! But to accomplish that we have to take a page out of the Notre Dame playbook and “Play Like Champions”! Hail to Pitt!

Comment by Dr. Tom 11.06.13 @ 12:21 pm

I’m afraid Pitt fans have been too accustomed to always expect the worst. If the gane is close, we are likely to lose it in FB.

And in BB, I cannot recall us winning a close NCAA game.

Comment by wbb 11.06.13 @ 12:42 pm

“Boyd had six catches for 134 yards and a touchdown the next week against New Mexico. He had three touchdown catches against Duke. He had 11 catches for 118 yards and a touchdown Saturday against Georgia Tech. It was his fourth 100-yard receiving game, matching Fitzgerald’s Pitt season record for a freshman.”

Believe I predicted this kid would be the next Larry Fitz back in August. And I think we haven’t tapped into 50% of his abilities yet.
Would like to see Tyler moved around the field more pre-snap to cause confusion in the enemy defense. Would like to see him initially line up in the backfield and throw him some swing passes or screen passes, as a solution to all the blitzes.

There is so much you can do with this kid than just line him up as a traditional WR.

Comment by EMel 11.06.13 @ 12:50 pm

@ wbb

We beat Xavier one year in a close game. Might be another one or two.

Comment by EMel 11.06.13 @ 12:53 pm

Some other close NCAA wins:

VCU in 2007
Wisconsin in 2004

Also beat Oklahoma State one year by 8 in the 2nd round.

We we only remember the losses, but that’s pretty common among fan bases unless you have tremendous success like somebody like the Steelers.

Comment by EMel 11.06.13 @ 1:11 pm

EMel, 2003 was for me personally since it involved me being in Toledo for a weeked. I’m sure for most of you guys it is a lot earlier.

The more Tyler Boyd touches the ball the better. He should be getting the ball all the time.

Comment by Wardapalooza 11.06.13 @ 1:56 pm

Emel, I guess I can only remember losing to Marquette(and D Wade) by 3, Nova (and S Reynolds) by 2, and to Butler (and S Mack) by 1

All 3 went to Final 4

Comment by wbb 11.06.13 @ 2:17 pm

It’s something that we’ve all talked about a lot this year, but look at the number of seniors v. freshmen on this week’s two deep.

By my count there are 12 Seniors, 9 who are starting and 16 Freshmen, 4 who are starting, including special teams. That’s just really incredible. It bodes well for the future, but damn.

Comment by PittHW 11.06.13 @ 2:24 pm

Hmm…the start of mediocrity….for me that would be Pitt 24, Penn State 24 my freshman year, 1938 – JoePa goes for the tie with a field goal in the era before overtime.

Or maybe Temple 19, Pitt 13 at Pitt Stadium in 1986 when Paul Palmer ran for like 200 yards in a downpour.

Or maybe Temple 24, Pitt 21 at Pitt Stadium in 1987 when Temple stunk and Pitt blew a 14-0 lead and Todd McNair ran for like 250 yards.

See a trend????

Comment by KeyboardKev 11.06.13 @ 2:28 pm

Pitt/Penn State in 1983, not 1938. I’m not that old.

Comment by KeyboardKev 11.06.13 @ 2:29 pm

I blame the 2 Temple losses on the fact that Gottfried remarkably didn’t hire Joe Moore who then went on to Temple

Comment by wbb 11.06.13 @ 2:59 pm

keyboardkev, I was about to congratulate you for being alive at age 93, quite the accomplishment.

Comment by Justin 11.06.13 @ 3:37 pm

The start of mediocrity. One factor was Iron Head Heyward. When Iron Head got here he had a remarkable body resemblance to Hall of Fame runner Jim Brown. He only got a few touches his freshman season but I swear he looked like our next Heisman Trophy winner. Then in the off season he smacked a paperboy with a crutch ,got suspended and gained about 80 pounds. He ended up having a great career but he wasn’t half of what he could have been. Of all the players I have seen at Pitt in the last 40 years I think Iron Head Heyward could have been the very best. The fact that he carried at least an extra 60 lbs. for the rest of his career, both college and pro, only allowed us a glimpse of what could have been. He would have been a superhuman talent at 225 lbs. ,proved by the fact he was darn good at 285. If Iron Head had reached his potential that soon after Dorsett other top rushers would have probably followed. Instead he was very good, what a shame.

Comment by spiritofsection22 11.06.13 @ 4:21 pm

lol Justin….93 is the new 35. didn’t ya know.

Anyway we could have an ACC team in the National Championship game this year. Which would great benefit our much maligned conference.

Florida State is now # 2 in the latest BCS standings

And in the 6 computer rankings used to form the computer ranking they are ranked #1 in 5 of them, ahead of Alabami.

Yet the political human polls have them at #3.
Something fishy with that.

See if FSU’s #2 holds up if Oregon beats #5 Stanford this week. Stanford’s BCS average is only .7930

Comment by EMel 11.06.13 @ 4:27 pm

The issue here is THERE WILL BE AS MANY NOTRE DAME FANS as Pitt fans in the stands.

They are LOUD as the local Notre Dame fan only goes to one game every two years. As most of those folks are not traveling (many do) but the local ND fans that can’t afford to make a trip to South Bend will be the ones screaming.

Comment by Tony In Harrisburg 11.06.13 @ 5:35 pm

There a large handful of ND fans who purchased the tickets in the 5th deck just to see the Irish. I was sitting next to a pair who was at the FSU game, and told me they would be back for ND and possibly Miami (but not sure)

Comment by wbb 11.06.13 @ 6:11 pm

Re ND fans attending…I expect about 20,000. I spoke to my three Hotel chains as I was looking for a room in the area. Marriot, Holiday Inn and Sheratons have been sold out for weeks. There is no other event in town (Steelers on Sunday but like I said,no other event)except Pitt/ND.

I still remember my Aunt Helen taking me to my first Pitt game vs ND when I was 10 years old. Pitt Stadium was packed but very quiet…right until the ND band came onto the field. To this day, I have never heard such a cheer. Suspect there were 30,000 ND Fans that day.

Comment by Dan 72 11.06.13 @ 6:56 pm

Well enjoy this PITT/ND game, due to joining the ACC we won’t be playing them much anymore.

Hopefully we can get a win since we got robbed last year.

This is a game where we NEED to PLAY WITH SOME EMOTION. That should be a given based on the opponent and a full Heinz field. Plus we need a win or I see the season going into death spiral mode.

We better not come out flat like last week and like ODU.

Comment by EMel 11.06.13 @ 7:44 pm

For those claiming that there will be 20,000 ND fans in Heinz on Saturday, please pass me what you’ve been smokin’…..I’ve attended every Pitt-ND game in Pittsburgh since the ’75 game and no way, no how have there ever been nearly that many ND fans in the house…..not even close!

Comment by PantherClaw 11.06.13 @ 8:17 pm

September 1, 1982

The hiring of Ed Bozik as AD. Pitt football hasn’t been the same. Posvar hand picked him. Didn’t Nordy hand pick Stevie as well? The incompetence continues.

Comment by TX Panther 11.06.13 @ 9:28 pm

Big game — big big game. Two clear chokes in a row vs teams we probably are better than…definitely Navy at least. Time to man up and play like its the last game of the season…just blow it out. If we win, especially a solid win, that could turn it around for the final stretch. Miami lost to FSU just as badly as we did, and we were fresh out the gate on that one. Go Pitt, stomp ND!

Comment by Matt N. 11.06.13 @ 9:31 pm

I think that the wind during the Navy game made the OC and HC a bit more conservative in their playcalling then they had been previously. If you were there in person you realized it was blowing pretty well and that took the deep ball off the table.

Not sure why we didn’t try more deep balls against GT but I said before the season that for our offense to have any success Savage had to go deep at least two time each half.

I think we’ll see a close game Saturday as stated above regarding the line. Who wins is a toss up but PITT does seem to get up to play ND each year.

Comment by Reed 11.07.13 @ 7:41 am

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