November 25, 2013

Ever since the game on Saturday, I’ve been tossing this over in my head. Coming up blank at this point, because what Aaron Donald has been doing for Pitt has been beyond anything you expect or is within the norm for a defensive tackle.

Outside of the quarterback position, football is a game where you really, truly cannot declare one player is capable of taking over a game. There are special teams, offense, defense. Calls by the coaches. Too many facets. Too many players. Beyond the hyperbole and tremendous gaffes at some point, it is simplistic to declare one player that much of a difference maker. Especially when it comes to the defense.

Yet, what Aaron Donald has done all season. What he did against Syracuse. It has been nothing short of amazing.

Donald, who is a strong candidate for five national awards, recorded nine tackles — 3 1/2 for a loss to give him a nation-leading 26 — and blocked an extra-point try that was the difference in the game.

Chryst, who rarely praises his players, stepped outside himself briefly to talk about the effect Donald had on Pitt’s second victory in the past three weeks.

“Your eyes go to him, and he sees it and he gives you the nod,” Chryst said. “And more often than not, he comes through. That’s the mark of a great one.

“I think right now he is playing at that level. He impacts the game in such a big way. It’s pretty special to be around.”

That blocked PAT in the opening minutes. That which Syracuse fans knew would come back to haunt them. That moment of terror right before the block.

After the game, head coach Scott Shafer said he was unsure about the trajectory of the kick, and he credited Donald for his penetration up front.

“I saw the penetration and I said, “Oh boy, this isn’t good,'” Shafer said. “They did a nice job getting penetration over our A-gap guard.”

That’s because Aaron Donald doesn’t rely on his natural abilities. It has to do with how he prepares. He knew where to penetrate.

“It seems unfair almost that he is a man among boys out there,” Savage said. “That is no disrespect for Syracuse. It’s tough to block Aaron.

“It doesn’t matter what it is, he gets past the guy and almost disrupts the handoff. It’s pretty scary to have that.”

Donald said video study last week allowed him to find Syracuse’s vulnerability while blocking for kicks, and he used that knowledge to deflect an extra-point try in the first quarter.

“We pushed them back and got my hands up and got a piece of it,” he said.

We love the naturals. We gush over their potential. But when you have a kid like Aaron Donald. Someone who is so clearly working harder than anyone else. Who is learning the details and putting them to use. Those are the ones you really feel good about when they succeed.

Pitt is making the late push for possible Heisman recognition.

At the very least, an invite to NYC. It is also a good way to further push his candidacy for all the other awards for which he is a finalist or semi-finalist.

@ hoopzebra, I read a sports report today that has Coach Chryst quoted as saying that “Roc called that timeout”. IMO, that is Chryst’s tongue in cheek humor to deflect the attention away from “his” game saving action and keeping the focus on the “team’s” hard fought win. Not sure, just my opinion.

Comment by Dr. Tom 11.25.13 @ 2:00 pm

National publications like this help a lot too.

link to

Comment by Dr. Tom 11.25.13 @ 2:02 pm

@Big Time, I am curious myself, so I’ll put it out their again.

Anyone know for sure, if the sidelines saw the fake coming and called the timeout.

Or did they make the luckiest call of any of their careers by calling a timeout to ice the kicker???

As a Pitt fan……..I’d have to believe they got lucky trying to ice the kicker!!! LOL

Comment by Dan 11.25.13 @ 2:05 pm

First REAL basketball game of the season tonight and most comments today are about a 2 day old football game. Shows we are still a football school.

Comment by alcofan 11.25.13 @ 2:28 pm

Department of woulda, coulda, shoulda… If Pitt wins the Navy and GT games, Donald would have got a lot more publicity. His highlight film vs. GT is unbelievable, but in a loss, who cares.

What is the worst team record of a Heisman Winner, wbb probably knows, I agree with you on Winston, by the way, Heisman out of the question. Should Winston and Manziel even get to go to NYC?

Probably not fair to either, innocent until proven guilty etc.

Comment by gc 11.25.13 @ 2:29 pm

Question, is AD fast enough to play linebacker in the Pros?

Comment by gc 11.25.13 @ 2:32 pm

There is no way to prove it, but lets examine the evidence.

1. When a coach intends to ice the kicker, they stand next to the referee in order to guarantee that the time out is called.

2. Coaches don’t typically ice a 50+ yard fieldgoal kick being made by a bad kicker and thereby give the opposing coaching staff a chance to change their mind.

3. Neither Chryst nor any other coach was stannding next to a referee. Instead, he (and one of the assistants though I couldn’t tell who) was waiving his hands trying to the the attention of the Offical because they weren’t standing next to one another in order to get the call in.

Thus, it the evidence would suggest that they were not attempting to ice the kicker.

However, I believe the better question is this: Did the coaches deduce that there was going to be a fake, or did they see the TE uncovered out wide? That’s the tougher question IMO.

Comment by PittHW 11.25.13 @ 2:34 pm

alcofan, we are withholding judgement till after the game, maybe during.

Comment by gc 11.25.13 @ 2:35 pm

@ BigTime, hoopzebra, Dan, PittHW, anybody else who’s interested, Jerry DiPaola’s Saturday’s article had this quote about the TO prior to the fake FG. “That’s the drive where Chryst saved disaster with 1:03 left. With Syracuse lining up for a 53-yard field-goal attempt it had no intention of trying, Chryst quickly called timeout. Good thing. Holder Charley Loeb took the snap and threw too late to tight end Kendall Moore, who was lined up on the sideline with no Pitt player near him. It looked liked the makings of an easy touchdown. Chryst refused to take the credit. “Roc called it,” he said, referring to the Pitt mascot. But Donald said the call came from the bench”.

Comment by Dr. Tom 11.25.13 @ 3:27 pm

The high school football season is not over yet. All of the WPIAL winners will play at least 1 & as many as 3 more games. It takes 16 games to win a state title & they have played 13 so far. Shai McKenzie is the one who said he would decide December 21. I haven’t heard anything about Henry yet, although the Quips season did end this past Saturday.

Comment by Nick 11.25.13 @ 3:43 pm

@ PittHW..

Actually it might be a lot simpler than most think. Someone is always responsible on the sideline for counting players on both sides of the ball. When they only got to 10 on the Orange side, then saw where #11 “eased” onto the field, the Holy Sh!!, followed by Timeout ensued.

Comment by CompLit 11.25.13 @ 3:51 pm

Whomever called the timeout – Chyrst, Roc, House, whomeever – it was probably the 2nd best play of the day after Donald’s PAT block. Players are getting better, coaches are getting better. I don’t think there is a Pitt Panther fan who can say the coaching hasn’t improved year over year. That’s a great sign.

Also – after reading a few more posts on Donald – I think that a Heisman push is smart. No, he won’t win it, and no he might not even get an invite to NYC – though he certainly deserves it – but a Heisman push for Donald late as though it may be – does give him a better chance at the Outland – if that makes any sense.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 11.25.13 @ 4:00 pm

CompLit, that would have been so “the same old Pitt” to have lost that game with the faked punt. Special teams debacle once again. Thank God we got that TO. This blog would still be very dark and ominious if that TO hadn’t been called.

Comment by Dr. Tom 11.25.13 @ 4:00 pm


Sorry, didn’t see that you had replied to the time out question.

Sounds reasonable, icing the kicker, you’re usually standing by the ref waiting till the last second.

So, if he was sprinting, maybe he did see the wideout.

Wouldn’t have that been one of the bigger kicks in the nuts to Pitt fans, among a litany of kicks in the nuts over the years, if we would have lost on that play???

Chas’ site would have melted!!

Comment by Dan 11.25.13 @ 4:28 pm

ATL – Texas AM has billboard across the South and in Louisiana “Branding” the Football Program/School and SEC. I’d love to see Pitt spend 50K and get 10-15 Billboards throughout the Southeast and all through South Florida. Those kids for the most part have no clue about Pitt or it’s history unless we are playing a nationally televised game against a top opponent. I.E. FLA. St.

Comment by Upittbaseball 11.25.13 @ 4:40 pm

What’s pretty amazing about AD’s blocked XP is:

he’s only 6 feet tall. Usually the guys 6’4″ or taller line up in the middle.

Comment by EMel 11.25.13 @ 4:43 pm

That’s a great idea Upitt.

Very inexpensive way to get our name in ppl’s(and recruit’s) minds and a billboard can be there for a month or several months. Very cost effective as well.

You should send an email to EJ, cause Corhhole will just dismiss it.

Comment by EMel 11.25.13 @ 4:46 pm

If Hugh Green didn’t win the Heisman, then no true all defensive player will ever win….especially from Pitt.—No-5-Hugh-Green

BTW….there’s a hoops game tonight.

Comment by Jackagain 11.25.13 @ 4:49 pm

Btw wtf was with Syracuse. They are called the Orange. Their school color is Orange.

So they wear all black uniforms including helmets.

Hate UNC’s uniforms anymore as well. UNC is known for their own color, Carolina Blue. Why in the world would they want to veer from a color so associated with their school. Craaaazzzzy.

I don’t want to hear about mktg bs either. haha

Comment by EMel 11.25.13 @ 4:52 pm

That’s right Texas TEch tonite. Almost forgot.
Thx Jack !

Comment by EMel 11.25.13 @ 4:53 pm

FWIW, and I know, not much, SB Nation, has
Pitt going to Nashville for the Music City Bowl
vs. Georgia.

I’m assuming these guys look out to the future schedule and predict the games for the final standings. Must have Pitt beating Miami.

I also think Pitt will beat Miami!!!

Comment by Dan 11.25.13 @ 5:00 pm

Syracuse went with a jax jags style helmet, fortunately they play like them too

Comment by John 11.25.13 @ 5:00 pm

Yea I’ve seen BC going to Music City as well.

Lot hinges on what happens this week. For PITT to get an ACC bowl we need to win on Friday.

If not, it’s a crap shoot. And more than likely a non-ACC bowl.

Comment by EMel 11.25.13 @ 5:09 pm

Well I’m glad PITT hasn’t worn any of these ugly ass uni’s.

The all white ones are bad enough.

On the road I prefer, white tops with gold pants.

That’s a good enough combo for UCLA & GT and it’s our best look for the road.

Comment by EMel 11.25.13 @ 5:13 pm

The other GREAT thing about AD is the social side. Here is a kid who will graduate, is a good representative of the university, humble and stayed out of trouble – all while excelling on the football field. Could you want anything more from a player? His is a story to make you proud to be an alum and to cheer for Pitt.

Hail to AD and Hail to Pitt!

Comment by Pitt it IS 11.25.13 @ 5:23 pm

These 2 ESPN jokers have PITT going to the:

Military Bowl (blah) (we’ve come along way since the 1960’s apparently)

Pizza Pizza Bowl (double blah)

link to

Comment by EMel 11.25.13 @ 5:34 pm

If you haven’t watched the videos on this page, you should.

link to

H2P!!! Thank you Aaron Donald for making us proud on and off the field.

Comment by Pitt Dad 11.25.13 @ 5:38 pm

BTW….what bowl is the hoopies going to this year? (snicker)

Comment by Jackagain 11.25.13 @ 5:39 pm

For Frankie:

From ESPN:

“Only three undefeated teams remain at the top of the AP Top 25, and a logjam of one-loss teams sit under that. But past the best 25 teams, conference are struggling to fill their bowl slots, which has made room for some unfamiliar postseason names. ”

This bodes well for PITT !

Comment by EMel 11.25.13 @ 5:41 pm

Looks like we’re on ESPN 2 at 7:30 tonite.

Pitt is favored by 11 points.

Comment by EMel 11.25.13 @ 5:48 pm

Ad has had a truly dominant run. He has totally taken control of games. Even the games where he didnt have big numbers like nd he controled the line. That being said he has zero chance of winning the heisman. Pitt has had some great players over the years on defense that didnt get any rewards ie shear mcckillop tumpilty. And oh there is no way larry fitzgerald shouldnt have won it in my opinion the guy was the best college wideout ever. Hail to pitt beat miami and get ad some awards even if it aint heisman.

Comment by zach 11.25.13 @ 5:56 pm

AD… Steelers

Comment by 63 Team 11.25.13 @ 6:02 pm

Who goes to Texas Tech for basketball? Its a football school and west texas is only about football. Emel shiukd i take pitt – 11?? How dont you destroy a texas texh team by 30. Do tell??? I have no idea how good we are cause we play no body good until late december. .

Comment by Upittbaseball 11.25.13 @ 6:07 pm

Wonder how the ACC breaks down the #1-#8 ACC teams??

Just disregard the divisions, line them up and have some sort of tie breakers set up??

Not raising an eyebrow by my comment, have loved the ACC and John Swofford, have no qualms about them.

Just wondering how they do that.

Comment by Dan 11.25.13 @ 6:19 pm


Thanks. I forgot that the state playoffs were still to come.


Comment by pmdH2P 11.25.13 @ 6:19 pm

@Emel, yes and thank you.

I’ll tell ya right now, the uniform thing isn’t just an old vs young thing.

My neice Jenn, who is 23, is the one who walked through the room and said,

“isn’t this blackout thing with the uniforms getting a little over done?? they all look the same”.

It’s like they’re all trying to out do each other, because they have nothing else to offer.

I mean, other than Oregon, (and I don’t count Baylor, they are only very recently any good), the usual suspects in the top 25 don’t have to fool with their uniforms.

Gimmicks man, that’s all, gimmicks.

Almost like they don’t have any respect for themselves.

Guess the A.D.’s gotta try to get some funds anyway they can.

Tough way to make a buck though, to sell your soul and give up the traditional uni’s, afterall, the number one thing people talk about when they talk about college football, is tradition.

So, yes, a kudo to SSS for not jumping on that bandwagon.

p.s. Ya, the whites look like pajama’s.

Comment by Dan 11.25.13 @ 6:32 pm

The only alternative Uni I want to see on the Panthers is the Script! Hail to Pitt!

BTW, it is somewhere between slim and none that we beat Miami, cause they’ve owned us!
But that being said, it’s going to be cold on Friday and Miami has been inconsistent at best. Plus, we’re still waiting for that complete game from Pitt where everybody wonders, “who are these guys”? Would be a good time to pull out a completely unexpected win. Sure would help out ADs hopes for the Outland Trophy.

Comment by Dr. Tom 11.25.13 @ 7:03 pm

Didn’t Paul Hornung win a Heisman playing for a losing Notre Dame team?

AD should be a strong candidate. He has dominated but unless the talking heads of ESPN & now Fox talk him up he won’t win.

I’ve been talking about AD to my S.Carolina friends for over a month and I still have to go through the same spiel over & over on what he has accomplished.

Comment by PITT-cocks fan 11.25.13 @ 7:32 pm

EMel i would like the beef o brady bowl better then the little ceasars bowl in detroit.
detroit noooooo.
but better then nothing .
or we could do a birmingham noooooo.

Comment by Frankcan 11.25.13 @ 7:42 pm

EMel if you are still on have a good night i am going to bed.
but before i go to bed the Bleacher Report has in there latest report on bowls pitt going to the beef o brady bowl in st pete.
i just point that out becuse i came up with the same thing 2 days ago.

Comment by Frankcan 11.25.13 @ 10:32 pm

Thanks Frankie,

Just got home a little bit ago, after watching PITT dismantle Tubby & Texas Tech. Agree that Beef Bowl is better than Pizza Pizza Bowl !

Although I enjoy eating both ! lol

Have read so many Bowl projections the last couple days my head is spinning.

And yes Upitt you should have taken Pitt giving the 11. Whatsa matta wit ya !

Comment by EMel 11.26.13 @ 2:14 am

Fralic appreciates Donald’s body of work. So Aaron has that goin for him.

Comment by Dr. Tom 11.26.13 @ 7:36 am

A REALITY CHECK on how deserving Aaron Donald is when it comes to the Heisman.

link to

Comment by PittofDreams 11.26.13 @ 10:49 am

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