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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…)

(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.)

PITT travelled down to hot and humid Miami to play the Florida International University (FIU) Golden Panthers on Saturday and, after some worry-making moments, came out with a win by the score of 42-25. PITT fans, the media and maybe even the players themselves for a bit, went into the day feeling as if this was going to be a cakewalk but it wasn’t.  FIU played a pretty tough game given their lower stature in the FBS division.

POSITIVES

What first comes to mind is that our defense did a good job for the third straight game.  Don’t let the 25 points FIU had fool you, one TD was a long and freaky tipped ball reception that took FIU down to our three yard line and another two points were on a safety.  Other than that we kept FIU from scoring another TD for 40:40 minutes of game time when they scored with 5:49 left to play.  That is some solid defense.

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September 13, 2014

PITT – FIU Predictions

Filed under: Conference,Football,Opponent(s) — Reed @ 6:00 am

It’s that time of week again.  Hours before game time and we fans are ready, willing and nervous to sit for three hours watching PITT football.  Maybe some time when dreams come true we’ll be able to wake up and feel no trepidation whatsoever that PITT will win the day in solid fashion.  But until then we look at these games from every angle possible and, because we are PITT fans, find a chink in the PITT armor that will somehow let a loss shine through.

That’s how we roll.

Even with all that I can’t see a way PITT loses this football game.  I see ways we can be embarrassed by a way too close score or a very sloppily played game that will really make us doubt the team and the program, but a loss – no.  It isn’t even that PITT is so damn strong that there is no way FIU can keep us from moving downfield and scoring points, we can all understand an off day even though things have been steamrolling in that area for us.

Nor is it we get burned for a few stupid blown coverage TDs or have miscommunications in the defense that will allow more points by FIU then they should ever in a million years put up against a FBS team. Hell, we can even handle overconfidence by the kids while they look toward Iowa next week that might make us kneel and pray this afternoon.

No, it is that somehow the tides of fortune will suddenly reverse themselves on a whim and we’ll botch things down in Miami.  You say that can’t happen?  Tell that to the six players that were stupid enough to get caught doing something against the team’s disciplinary policy and found themselves in street clothes against Youngstown State in 2012.  Oh, by the way, what does 48-14 remind you of?  I’m telling you – not only did those games happen but being the PITT fans we are we came to accept the hand of fate involved in those and many other strange losses.

Again, that’s how we roll.

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September 11, 2014

On Saturday, September 13th our PITT Panthers will take on the FIU Golden Panthers on their home turf in Miami, FL at FIU Stadium (20K seating).   FIU, a university with 37,475 students, is in Conference USA (CUSA) and has a 1-1 record at this point in the season.  They lost their opener to Bethune-Cookman 14-12 then went on to beat a NEC member school in Wagner University by a score of 34-3.  FIU is coached by an old NFL head coach Ron Turner who took over from Mario Cristobal a year ago.  In Turner’s first season with FIU they posted a 1-11 record and just missed getting into a bowl game.

The Golden Panthers are returning 10 starters on offense and seven on defense. They are coming off a poor 1-11 year in 2013 where their losses were by an average score of 37-10!  Phil Steel’s forecast for them is four wins and eight losses and you can see that they have a way to go to be competitive at this level of college ball.

So far this season FIU looks like a team with two identities, a poor offensive team with a solid defense to go along with it.  On defense they are ranked pretty well nationally with: 6th in Scoring defense (8.5 ppg); 9th in total defense; 17th in passing defense (134.5 ypg) and 26th in rushing defense (91 ypg).  That is some fine defensive play even considering the level of competition they had.

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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 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…)

September 4, 2014

Tomorrow our PITT Panther football team travels up to one of the great US cities, Boston, to play the Golden Eagles of Boston College.  BC is an old rival of ours from the Big East days and our matches with them have always been pretty close games.  They compiled a 7-6 record last year (4-4 ACC) and then ended that season in fine fashion by going 4-1 with bigger victories over Virginia Tech, NC State and Maryland before losing a close one up in the Carrier Dome against Syracuse.

As we all know by this point we are coming of a convincing 62-0 drubbing of Delaware that, for me at least, didn’t answer too many of my preseason questions about the team’s strengths and weaknesses.

We last played BC in their home place,  Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, where they play their ballgames, in 2003 and won by 11 points 24-13 and surrounding that ’03 season we won two games against them, both close overtime games, at Heinz Field.   However and overall Chestnut Hill has not been good for us as we have lost games there at a 1 win – 5 loss clip. Ugh.

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September 3, 2014

Coastal Division

Filed under: ACC,Conference,Football — Justin @ 1:57 pm

Most will agree that Pitt’s upside this season would be ACC Coastal Division Champion and a good bowl game. If you have delusions of grandeur and think Pitt could beat Florida State in the ACC Championship game, maybe you should stop partying with Wes Welker. But, Pitt was given a nice start Monday night when Miami fell to Louisville, thus giving them one loss in the ACC already.

Why is that game relevant to this week? (more…)

August 28, 2014

Well, the dates are all set. The ACC television is set. The times for many of the non-con games and any accompanying TV coverage are still unknown.

The ACC released its complete schedule with dates and times yesterday (PDF).

Pitt’s ACC opponents were already known, just not the dates. February is going to be brutal (PDF).

Feb2015Brutal

The week before that is a Saturday home game against Louisville on CBS. Pitt’s ACC schedule definitely has a very difficult middle. The start and ends are noticeably weaker. But that middle. Oh, that middle stretch of late-January through the third week of Februrary. It’s very likely that in that 9 game stretch ND and Bryant will be the only unranked teams Pitt faces.

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August 1, 2014

I’ve been sitting down at the computer a few times over the last three days with fingers poised to write about PITT’s defense going into summer camp then the season and it has taken me some time to try to get a handle on what exactly to put out to you Blatherites.

I guess I’ll start from the very bottom and work up. Aaron Donald is gone and he ain’t coming back.  The “All-World” winner of every major award he was eligible for gave the defense its identity and leadership last year and he’ll be missed.  That isn’t cutting edge journalism folks as I just repeated what every single PITT already knows and is nervous about.

However, I’m a firm believer that in college football  players who have been in the shadows will frequently rise up and grab the reins of leadership by their play themselves.  This is what happens when underclassmen get a year or two of experience under their belts and become starters and sometimes stars.  We’ll not see anyone specific fill Donald’s shoes, he is a once in a generation player, but that doesn’t mean the staff can’t make adjustments to minimize his absence.

What I found interesting, and a bit disheartening,  is that this week Chryst stated publicly that he  heard from some of the DL kids after the season ended that they sometimes eased off a bit knowing that Aaron Donald was going to make the plays.  Here’s Chryst’s take on that and what it was like having Donald play for him.  I wholeheartedly agree that it will ‘take a village’ as Hilary says.

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July 22, 2014

2014 ACC Football Media Days

Filed under: ACC,Conference,Football — Chas @ 6:48 am

I’m not sure why the ACC starts media day on a Sunday. Other than to make it as clear as possible to BYU  that they will never receive an invite. I mean, it doesn’t seem like a bad deal for the media. Prepare the stock “Five things for ACC Media Days” column in advance. Show up on a Saturday to the nice resort hotel. Get one free night to party and have a good time. Nurse the hangover. Put the digital recorder on the podium and let those stock questions flow to the players.

I mean, it is media day. It isn’t really about the media any longer, as we saw from the 4-day long SEC event. It is about marketing the conference to everyone else. It is about getting the fans ready for football season. It is the starting point to coverage for the new season.

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July 2, 2014

The cycle has finally concluded. Yesterday was the official changing of conference affiliations for this year. Louisville entered the ACC. Maryland and Rutgers went to the Big Ten. East Carolina, Tulane and Tulsa go to the American. Conference USA called up some other teams.

There will still be moves. Navy is joining the American in another year. Cinci and UConn will continue to beg the Big XII and any other conference that might have them for a chance. But for now, things have reached a settling point.

So, this may be a bit rambling, but just some of my final thoughts on the whole expansiopocolypse thing.

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June 25, 2014

Isn’t it great that when all else fails we revert right back to discussing the apparently seminal topic of what wins college football games.  Of course it is the recruiting season, and recruiting season means star gazing, so let’s have at it.

Back in the spring of 2012 I did a three piece series on here about how recruiting stars equated to peer production – that is how many stars did leading college producers have and what the 1st and 2nd string All-Conference (BE and ACC) players had when they entered their respective college programs.  Just for fun, and especially if you are bored, here they are in sequence… remember to read the comments also as there was some spirited discussions back then too.   They are a bit lengthy but you guys can handle it.

So here they are:   Hitch Your Wagon to a Star,   Hitch Your Wagon II and Hitch Your Star III – ACC .  I don’t have the time or inclination to do all that research again to update to the 2013 results but I have a feeling the findings might not be that much different now and probably aren’t year to year.  Why?  Because unless you are running a huge, heavily financed football program such as the perennial Top Ten finishers do then your recruiting is going to look much like those posted results we see from two years ago.

To me there are two requirements as important as recruiting to building a winning football program. First and foremost you have to have a Head Coach and his chosen staff who get the best possible production out of the players on his roster, regardless of the players’ star factor.

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May 29, 2014

Happy National Pitt Networking Day.  I’ll be hitting the Cleveland one after work. Hope some of the Northeast Ohio readers make a showing.

The ACC will be supposedly be announcing something “big and breaking” today. Fingers crossed its the announcement of Bojangles coming to Pittsburgh.*

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May 28, 2014

No one has been arrested so far this offseason. And I’m not saying I want any players in trouble with the law. It’s just been real quiet the last couple weeks.

Nothing with recruiting. No police blotter. No conference insanity. Just ridiculously quiet.

So, what are still in my browser tabs that need to go?

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