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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 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

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 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 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 18, 2014

Iowa Keys to the Game

Filed under: Chryst,Football,Opponent(s),Players,Playoffs — Justin @ 9:45 am

With the Iowa Hawkeyes coming to town, Pitt has a chance to put another nail in the B1G coffin. So far this season the B1G is 1-10 against other Power 5 (PAC-12, SEC, ACC, and Big 12) conferences and there are four more opportunities this weekend to keep the downward trend moving. Headed into the season, Iowa was viewed as a dark horse B1G champ and playoff contender, but early season struggles have put a damper on that. However, this could be the type of game that helps Iowa gain confidence after an ugly loss to rival Iowa State last weekend. If the rest of the B1G continues to suck, Iowa could be the Mountaineer fan with the most teeth and still pull it off. (more…)

September 17, 2014

Onward With Iowa

Filed under: Chryst,Coaches,Football,Opponent(s) — Chas @ 7:13 am

The AIRBHG (Angry Iowa Running Back Hating God) has not yet struck this year, but last year he did so to a RB that some Iowans liken to James Conner.

“I’m not worried about how much he wants it as much as what we need and if he’s doing something with it,” Panthers coach Paul Chryst said last week. “I’ve worked with a lot of backs. We feel like we’ve got a pretty good gauge for workloads.”

Sound familiar, Iowa fans?

When the Hawkeyes visit Pittsburgh for Saturday’s 11 a.m. contest at Heinz Field, you might notice something familiar about the opposing offense.

A year ago, Mark Weisman ran the ball 85 times in Iowa’s first three games for a total of 425 yards (an average of 5.0 yards per carry).

He helped the Hawkeyes rebound from a 4-8 finish in 2012 to an 8-4 regular season in 2013, but the heavy workload took a toll. Injuries mounted and Weisman fell 25 yards short of the 1,000 plateau.

The 6-foot, 240-pound Weisman ran 60 times in Iowa’s final three games for a total of 198 yards (an average of 3.3 per carry).

Conner has run 80 times for 543 yards while helping Pittsburgh to its first 3-0 start in five years.

Is AIRBHG communicable? There is no known cure, but it is not been established that contact with Iowa infects others.

(more…)

September 15, 2014

A Tale of Two Halves: Chad Voytik

Filed under: ACC,Chryst,Football,Players — Justin @ 2:03 pm

Last week, some hack wrote about Pitt’s success in the red zone and the result against FIU was two turnovers in the first two red zone possessions. As recommended by readers, this week something negative shall be written.

Trey Anderson came in for a series in the early fourth quarter in a situation that once against perturbed Pitt fans. If you listen to Paul Chryst’s press conference, it won’t take a mind reader to see why: Chryst was not happy with Voytik’s play and pulled him for a series to calm his nerves. A quick second look at the game and it’s obvious Voytik was not finding open receivers and he would not let plays progress properly as the game wore on. In fact, there was a fine line between good Chad and bad Chad: the touchdown pass to Boyd late in the second quarter. (more…)

September 11, 2014

Looking Ahead

Filed under: ACC,Chryst,Football,Opponent(s) — Justin @ 10:49 am

Pitt is headed south for a matchup with the Golden Panthers of Florida International and as Chas mentioned earlier, there’s not a lot of important information to discuss. FIU is a team in rough shape; they’re one of the worst teams in FBS and have a true freshman starting at QB. To be blunt, if Pitt isn’t comfortably ahead in the 4th quarter it is cause for concern. The goals for the game are 1) health 2) comfortable win and 3) get backups good in-game experience. Anything beyond that is a bonus. Another statistically great game from James Conner would be a boon to his Heisman whispers.

With that said, it feels a bit prudent to look ahead a little. Pitt’s next two BCS opponents, Iowa and Virginia, have key games this week. Iowa plays in-state rival Iowa State and Virginia faces off against the newest ACC member, Louisville (Louavuhl). Thus far, Iowa appears to be a team that is trending lower than expectations and Virginia is exceeding them. (more…)

September 8, 2014

Red Zone Efficiency and Voytik

Filed under: Chryst,Football,Players — Justin @ 4:00 pm

One of the most impressive parts of the offense thus far has been red zone efficiency. Through two games, the offense has scored a touchdown on all 12 red zone possessions. Pete Roussel of 247 pointed out that this is not a trend unique to Pitt just this season. Paul Chryst offenses have been remarkably efficient in the red zone. (more…)

September 5, 2014

Boston Beatdown

Filed under: ACC,Chryst,Football — Justin @ 10:27 pm

A quick stat for yinz that I just tweeted.: last season Pitt averaged 23 points per game on the road. That total INCLUDES the 58 points from the Duke game. If the Duke score is removed, Pitt only scored a total of 57 points on the road last season, a mere 14.25 points per game. Pitt’s offense was not perfect. Voytik had a bad turnover, there were some early pass protection issues, and the defense let Tyler Murphy run wild on the first drive.

The football team opted to do the exact opposite of the fan base: not panic. (more…)

Anyone watch Pitt the Packers-Seahawks last night? Man, I can’t believe they would risk their biggest playmaker — Tyler Boyd Percy Harvin — on punt kick returns. What were they thinking using a weapon like that in such a risky place? He can run the ball, he’s a receiver. A vital part of their offense and they risk him on special teams. Why, it’s almost like they want to try and use a versatile and talented player in multiple situations to help the team.

There will be an open thread for the game tonight. I’ll be on Twitter as usual. Probably Justin, but you never know when it comes to games and coping with toddlers.

Remember, Pitt isn’t the only one that needs to raise its game after a patsy first game. UMass is a recent leap to D-1, and was picked for dead last in the MAC. They weren’t exactly a real challenge for BC.

(more…)

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