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November 18, 2014

The System is Fine

Filed under: Chryst,Coaches,Football — Chas @ 7:20 am

When you check the boxes for a head coach on Paul Chryst, there is one you can fill in completely. Then slap a coat of paint and epoxy to be sure it is never going to be unchecked. Bland, predictable, non-judgmental coachspeak.

The defense has been a decaying, desecating hot mess for the last three games. Does Coach Chryst think more time needs to be spent working with the defense. Helping the coaches and players? Probably. But you won’t get him to admit it.

Despite the lopsided nature of the box scores, Chryst said Monday that he doesn’t plan to spend more time focusing on the defense this week as the Panthers prepare for Syracuse in their home finale.

At his weekly news conference, Chryst initially declined to answer when asked if he would change how much time he spends in defensive meeting rooms this week, only noting how the Panthers need to improve defensively.

But when pressed, he said he still believes consistency is the best approach.

“You’re going to be watching film and, every week, you make comments,” Chryst said. “I’m going to make sure I’m doing that weekly. It’s no different than how you coach and interact with your players.

“You better coach them all the time and not just wait for the scoreboard to dictate when you’re going to coach or help or do something.”

Chryst added that it is a bit puzzling to see the defensive problems in the past three weeks, given that the unit played well early this season but has struggled to maintain that consistency he preaches.

“There have been some moments where I think we’ve been playing really well, and certainly some moments when we haven’t,” Chryst said.

The system is in place. There is no problem with the system. All will be well, as long as the team continues to follow the system.

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November 16, 2014

No Defense

Filed under: Assistants,Coaches,Football — Chas @ 9:11 pm

The numbers are damning over the last 3 games.

— 1552 total yards surrendered.

— 140 points given up by the defense (We won’t count the 7 given up by special teams).

— 1 takeaway by the defense.

As the offense has improved and progressed over the course of the season, the defense has made no progress from the start of the season. It was masked by the competition, but there is no hiding from this mess.

But this has been coming a while. When Matt House was hired as the defensive coordinator, no one could actually defend the hiring from a football standpoint. He was unqualified. He had very limited experience even as a position coach. He was Chryst’s comfortable hire because it promoted staff continuity. The defense of House essentially came down to either trying to shift the blame on the AD or to say that we have to trust Head Coach Paul Chryst’s judgment on his own staff.

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November 6, 2014

The bye week feels like a great time to break out my old column Optimist vs. Pessimist. There’s not a whole lot to be optimistic about the rest of this season, but perhaps a bowl win could inspire a little hope like it did at the end of last season. Naturally, two more wins are needed before Pitt can even think about going to a bowl game. Let’s examine whether or not James Conner and company can win two of the last three games against UNC, the ARCHRIVAL ORANGE, and Miami. (more…)

November 3, 2014

Monday Morning QB

(This is a weekly series of articles entitled “Monday Morning Quarterback”.   I will try to post them two days after the football games are played so as to have our wilder emotions under control by then.  It will be my take on the positives and the negatives we saw happen and a chance for commenters to agree or disagree and to add their own thoughts.)

I have to start off by saying that because of external family issues; a death of a good friend, my having to set up his Memorial Service ,  having the wake at our home and then having house guests all weekend I didn’t watch the game and I didn’t record it either.

I took a look at the box scores and watched a few video highlights and that’s it – you guys can do the MMQB’ing this week…

POSITIVES

1.  Chad Voytik. That is his second consecutive game that he’s shown improvement in his actual passing production.  From watching a couple videos of his passes it looks like his passing skills are getting better also. 16 of  24 for 236 yards (66.8%) with a ypa of 9.8, which is excellent! And two TDs is a good day at the office for any QB.  Good for him.  He lead the team to 31  regular game points.

On our second TD drive we had to go 32 yards and he did that with only two plays, a 16 yard pass and a 13 yard run.

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Ugly October

Filed under: Chryst,Football — Justin @ 1:28 pm

Fans are panicking. Questions are flying. Four wins and five losses. An ugly October killed any hope of a successful third season. Is the coach anything more than a great offensive coordinator who can’t handle running the show himself? A few good wins have been countered with ugly losses. Does this team have a QB that can win next season? The defense is in shambles and has looked like one of the worst in the country. All the hope and promise of a 7 win season last year is gone. Should the coach be fired and let the program start all over again after recent turmoil? With a little luck in the remaining three games perhaps the season can be salvaged, but two tough opponents make that unlikely. (more…)

October 28, 2014

Picking Up the Pieces

Filed under: Chryst,Coaches,Football — Chas @ 6:01 am

With about 10 minutes left in 4th quarter, I slammed down the laptop. Shoved it into my bag. Got myself composed, and started out of the press box. Stopping briefly, I bitterly asked someone — who I knew would stay for all of it, and go to the post-game — “Do me a favor, keep a running tally of how many times Paul Chryst utters the phrase ‘correctable mistakes.'”

I stalked out of the stadium. Trying not to think about the first 50 minutes of that mess. All I wanted to do was go meet back with my friends.

It was homecoming. For all the grief Pitt football can inflict, the ties that bind me to this school are about my friends. I went to Pitt at the end of the Gottfiried and the Hackett era. Football success was not exactly a part of my student experience. There has never been a lot of reveling in past football success when looking back on my college years.

We have kids. We have lives. We live in various other states. We came into Pittsburgh this weekend ostensibly for a football game, but that was just the cover we needed to tell our wives so we could just be around each other for a day. A date set out well in advance that we could all make sure to have the schedule cleared.

So that’s what we did that evening. Without any verbal consensus, we avoided all talk of the GT-Pitt game. We had a great night. Talking, drinking, a good meal, indulging in cigars. The times you can immediately appreciate, because the opportunities to all be together at the same time get harder each year. And we would be damned if a debacle on the field was going to take that from us.

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October 27, 2014

Monday Morning QB

(This is a weekly series of articles entitled “Monday Morning Quarterback”.   I will try to post them two days after the football games are played so as to have our wilder emotions under control by then.  It will be my take on the positives and the negatives we saw happen and a chance for commenters to agree or disagree and to add their own thoughts.)

We met the enemy and they are us.  After some games this season it has been kind of hard to find three positives to list in this series’ articles.  Today it is virtually impossible.

POSITIVES

1. The holder on our PATs. At least he didn’t fumble the ball.  Seriously.

2.  Our Running Backs. A while ago I mentioned ‘every RB not named James Conner’ in an article. I’ll do that again here. Ibrahim, Bennett and James all had good plays to try to keep us in the game.  Ibrahim (3 carries for 66 yards)  took a handoff down the left sideline for 50 yards to set up a Conner TD; Bennett, although he was one of the now-record breaking PITT fumbling crew, took a beautifully thrown wheel route from Anderson down the right side for a 35 yard TD and Chris James contributed a nice show of yards after the catch on a short dump pass from Voytik that James turned into a 23 yard gain.

(more…)

October 26, 2014

Matt House’s Defense

Filed under: Chryst,Embarrassing,Football — Justin @ 1:00 pm

It was painfully obvious to anyone watching yesterday that the defense was woefully unprepared for Georgia Tech’s offense.  Even disregarding points and blaming it on turnovers, 612 yards of total offense is so high no amount of expletives can come close to calming the justifiable anger. I’ve defended Matt House a lot this season and the narrative right now is that Pitt’s defense had high ratings due to inferior competition. Let’s explore the stats there to see how close Pitt came to holding opposing offenses to their season average. (more…)

October 23, 2014

Georgia Tech Preview

Filed under: ACC,Chryst,Football,Opponent(s),Players — Justin @ 10:51 am

The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are coming to Heinz Field this Saturday in an attempt to continue the craziness that is the ACC Coastal Division this season. Everyone in the division is 2-1, 2-2, or 1-2. That means each team is still within one game of first place. There are scenarios in which the entire division goes 4-4, a cluster%&#@ that would certainly make things interesting. A win this weekend and next will suddenly put Pitt in the driver’s seat to take the division. (more…)

October 18, 2014

Monday Morning QB

(This is a weekly series of articles entitled “Monday Morning Quarterback”.   I will try to post them two days after the football games are played so as to have our wilder emotions under control by then.  It will be my take on the positives and the negatives we saw happen and a chance for commenters to agree or disagree and to add their own thoughts.)

We met the Virginia Tech Hokies on the turf at Heinz Field on a rare nationally televised Thursday night game and came away with a very satisfying 21-16 win.  It was a close game and one that even to most optimistic of PITT fans had to doubts about as the 4th quarter unfolded.  The win puts us at 4-3 on the season with a 2-1 ACC conference record that is just about what we figured we’d have at this point of the season.  It is safe to say that we needed to start the second half of the season with a conference win if we want to have any chance at a Coastal Division championship.

POSITIVES

1.  Our defense, again. When you hold a team, any team, to 26 yards rushing on 21 carries (1.2 ypc) and 2 of 14 on 3rd and 4th down conversion tries you are playing excellent defense.  That is the kind of stout play that results in low scores for the other team (16 points with three FGs) and a win.

(more…)

October 12, 2014

Monday Morning QB

(This is a weekly series of articles entitled “Monday Morning Quarterback”.   I will try to post them two days after the football games are played so as to have our wilder emotions under control by then.  It will be my take on the positives and the negatives we saw happen and a chance for commenters to agree or disagree and to add their own thoughts.)

Now that we are in the middle of the 2014 schedule let’s take a moment to look at what we fans have liked or disliked about the staff, team and players after six games have been played.  We stand at 3-3 with a 1-1 record in ACC conference play.  Last week we lost a close one to Virginia Cavaliers on their home field and this coming Thursday evening we play the Virginia Tech Hokies at Heinz Field.  It is safe to say that we need to start the second half of the season with a conference win if we want to have any chance at a Coastal Division championship.

POSITIVES

1.  Our defense. Yes, we have given up some big plays and yes, we have allowed the other team to score more points than us in three games but there were a lot of factors that went into that.  One factor that stood out and pretty much crippled us in our recent three games losing streak was our crap offense (see “Negatives #1″ below).

But we are holding our own on defense this season and while it doesn’t seem like it at times it’s true.  Granted we stumbled a bit against Akron when we let a team not know for its run game tear up the field but that was mainly due to a couple of long runs through pretty poor arm tackle and angle taking attempts.

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October 6, 2014

Monday Morning QB

(This is a weekly series of articles entitled “Monday Morning Quarterback”.   I will try to post them two days after the football games are played so as to have our wilder emotions under control by then.  It will be my take on the positives and the negatives we saw happen and a chance for commenters to agree or disagree and to add their own thoughts.)

These MMQB articles are getting harder and harder to write given the inconsistencies of our coaching staff’s decisions, our team’s efforts and our individual player’s success’ and failures, even from play to play sometimes.  I’m still not sure exactly what caliber of PITT football team we have this season.   I’ll put down some more personal opinions at the end of this article.

POSITIVES

1.  Todd Thomas’ play at OLB on defense. He came rigged to play last night and ended up with 12 total tackles; seven unassisted, five assisted with one tackle for loss, most of which seemed to come in crucial situations. He was all over the field and at least two of his tackles stopped important 3rd down conversion attempts.  There is a lot of fan discussion this morning about how DC House is substituting for Thomas in certain situations, most specifically passing downs and against the spread formations we have seen in some past games.

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October 3, 2014

Pitt Lands Jordan Whitehead

Filed under: Chryst,Football,Recruiting — Justin @ 1:53 pm

Pitt just landed what is at worst the second biggest commitment of the Chryst era in Jordan Whitehead. The four star cornerback from Central Valley (Monaca) chose Pitt over Ohio State, Penn State, and West Virginia. Whitehead is rumored to will be enrolling in January and could push for a starting position as a freshman. Also important is that Whitehead ends the run of bad luck in Beaver County for Pitt.

Celebrate the victory today and hope for another tomorrow, Pitt fans.

*Quick edit, the early enroll isn’t a rumor now, it’s confirmed.

September 29, 2014

Quicksand

Filed under: ACC,Athletic Department,Chryst,Embarrassing,Football — Justin @ 9:44 am

There’s a scene in Oscar-snubbed film “The Replacements” where Coach McGinty (played by Gene Hackman) asks his NFL replacement players what they’re most afraid of. After some typical responses, QB Shane Falco (played by the enigmatic Keanu Reeves) hits the nail on the head:

Quicksand (more…)

September 28, 2014

Monday Morning QB

(This is a weekly series of articles entitled “Monday Morning Quarterback”.   I will try to post them two days after the football games are played so as to have our wilder emotions under control by then.  It will be my take on the positives and the negatives we saw happen and a chance for commenters to agree or disagree and to add their own thoughts.)

I tried to tell myself to wait until Monday to do this edition of this series but for a few personal (travel) reasons I just can’t put it off.  This will be short but not sweet as there aren’t many positives to talk about at all. We had our asses handed to us by the freakin’ Akron Zips of the MAC conference! That says it all really.   I’ll put down some more personal opinions at the end of this article.

POSITIVES

1.  Our kicking game continues to do well. Punter Ryan Winslow was tasked with punting seven times due to the ineptitude of our offense and had a 42.1 ypp average. His longest was 49 yards; he put two punts inside Akron’s 20 yard line, had one touchback and two fair catches.  That leaves another positive in that two of his punts were returned for a total of 10 yards, which means our Punting Team covered well.  Our own punt return team didn’t fare so well and looked like the Two Stooges at one point.  This one play is burned forever into my eyeballs.

Chris Blewitt stayed his good kicking self as he went 1/1 on a 34 yard FG and kicked off three times for three touchbacks. When a kicker can limit the opponent’s starting field position to their own 25 yards line that’s playing well.  So far on the season Blewitt is 7/7 for 21 points and has completed 19 of 20 PATs for a total of 40 points.

2.  Hmmm, let’s see.  Ok – RB Rachid Ibrahim continues to shine in his very limited role. He had three catches out of the backfield for 40 yards, a 13 yarder which was and a 26 yarder, both for 1st downs and all YAC, and one rushing attempt for 10 yards.  His abilities to run with the ball are as good as Boyd’s so use Ibrahim more and don’t rely on Conner up the middle so much.

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