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November 24, 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.)

POSITIVES

1.  Any RB not named James Conner, again. What a great supporting cast at RB we have. Conner gets a hip pointer and is pulled after tying the ACC TD record and chasing hard after Famous Tony Dorsett’s record and our running game doesn’t skip a beat.  We were up against a Syracuse defense that wasn’t too bad against the run (139 ypg & 30th nationally) and pretty much had our way with the.  True FR Chris James was the lead horse but the other two RBs certainly chipped in when needed.  The box score reads like this:

James: 19-122, 6.4ypc;  Bennett: 11-75, 6,8 ypc;  Ibrahim: 3-23, 7.7 ypc.  When you have three backs that average above  6.4 ypc over the course of 33 carries both the backs and the OL are clicking.

Bennett had a nice 9 yard ramble on a 2nd &3 play that got us a 1st down and led directly to Voytik’s TD pass to Ford to make it 17-0 and an easier game to play. But all three of those guys had very nice running skills and are a mixture of some power, Bennett and James particulary and shiftiness (all three).

We all want Conner healthy and able to set some records of his own against Miami this week but it helps us fans to know that we have some pretty reliable backs behind him.  I thought earlier this season that if Conner had gone down with an injury it would be a loss but we would also have the OL and the RBs to still mount a successful rushing game.  Glad that it didn’t happen for many reason and on is that having Conner behind Voytik has allowed this staff to bring Voytik along slowly and that has paid dividends in the second half of this season.

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November 22, 2014

PITT 30 – Syracuse 7

Filed under: Coaches,Football — Reed @ 8:22 pm

Can we talk about this like adults?  ( I just heard that for the first time in 33 years of marriage and thought I’d share).

Hey, we played a football game today against a long time rival and won convincingly. Let’s devote at least some time to it.

Defense played well, offense was efficient and there were enough weird plays for us PITT fans to debate .

Personally I think 5-6 sounds a lot better than 4-7.  We actually have a shot at a post-season game based on Paul Chryst’s personality – you know that the bowl game sponsors are dying to get him for their event, he’ll put butts in the seats for sure!!

So what say you?

November 19, 2014

One of the great things about college football is having friends who also follow it and then debating with them the different points of view about our favorite football program.  We do that like crazy here on the Blather so as a switch from all the negative things we fans have been dealing with when it comes to the program lately let’s sit back and take a look at some past and present team and player comparisons.

A bright spot of the 2014 season is the production of some of our underclass starters on offense.  Boyd is replicating his great ’13 season, Conner has blown up after a pretty darn good true FR year and it looks like Voytik has settled in a bit and could be more productive in 2015.  Next season we should see even more increase in the offense play of these three as a whole.

The thing that jumps out to me first and foremost is how exceedingly productive James Conner has been at Defensive End Running Back. PITT has a great history of running backs especially going back to the 1970’s with Heisman Trophy winner Tony Dorsett. For timely comparison sake let’s go back 10 years and look at the best rushing yardage years of five of PITT’s most productive RBs of that decade with the best production in red.

RB GP Carries Yards YPC CPG YPG TDs
Dorsett 11 370 2150 5.8 33.6 195.5 22
Lewis 13 325 1799 5.5 25.0 138.4 17
Conner* 10/12 250/300 1562/1874 6.2 25.0 156.2 21/25
McCoy 13 308 1488 4.8 23.7 114.5 21
Graham 12 222 1042 4.7 18.5 86.8 11

* – Conner’s projection for the whole 2014 season is in bold italics, assuming no bowl game :(

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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 17, 2014

Monday Morning Quarterbacking Vol 10

Filed under: Football — Reed @ 9:59 am

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.)

When I started this I told myself that I’d never write something that I didn’t want to write so that is what in play here.  I didn’t watch the game.  I took a look at the box scores and watched the video highlights and that’s it – you guys can do the MMQB’ing this week if you feel like it.  I don’t have the energy or desire right now. 

I’ll travel to PGH to see the SYR game and do one after that.…

POSITIVES

NEGATIVES

Ying & Yang

This is a special weekly section dedicated to the quarterback play of Chad Voytik so that we can look specifically at how he’s doing, whether he is progressing or not, and what his impact on the team and games are week to week at this point in the season.

 

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 15, 2014

12:30 pm on the syndicated ACC Network.

Which ever team loses will have a fan base barely holding on to a shred of hope for a very minor bowl. Well, I’m sure UNC could turn to basketball as they usually do. Albeit with the academic/athletic scandal seemingly creeping closer and closer towards impacting their sacred cow ram.

In a way this game is a simple and cliched one. For Pitt to win this, they have to disrupt UNC’s offense. They cannot let them get into a rhythm on offense. The tempo of the UNC offense depends on them moving the ball. They don’t simply come out and try to run all the plays at a speed pace. They increase the tempo and pace as they get success and confidence. That is why their heavy volume of penalties this year has been such a problem. Self-inflicted disruptions and slowed pace.

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November 13, 2014

Hello fellow disappointing ACC Coastal team. You seem so familiar.

In ranking the most disappointing teams in college football this year, arguably Pitt can’t even win in its own division. That honor goes to UNC followed by VT. Pitt only manages a 3d place finish in the Coastal Chaos Mess. Is there any doubt that Pitt is in the right conference?

Heck, in the weekly ACC power polls ESPN.com does, Pitt moved up two spots over the last two weeks — with an OT loss and a bye. If that isn’t a #goacc moment, than I don’t know what is.

I’m even more excited than before for the Pitt-UNC game on Saturday.

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November 12, 2014

Mental Health Break

Filed under: Football,Players — Chas @ 8:07 am

From the comments, many of you have checked out on the season. Some have stated or threatened to check out even further than that. Oddly, despite how maddening, frustrating and agonizing the last couple weeks have been I haven’t checked out on this year.

Oh, my expectations/hopes are extremely shallow at this point. And it is probably more about individual stories, performances and that feeling of being unable to turn away from a wreck. Still, I’m feeling connected.

I’ve checked out before. I know the feeling. 2007, definitely checked out early (notwithstanding that final game of the season). Same with 2010. More detached. Les angsty. Much more focus on basketball.

Having said that, I needed a little time after the Duke game.

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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…)

November 2, 2014

Writer’s Block

Filed under: Football — Chas @ 3:08 pm

That was something. I’ve been struggling with the words. After staying for the entire game. Then a trip to Oakland for dinner and a milkshake from Dave & Andy’s as a reward to my daughter for braving the entire game. The drive back to the Cleveland area seemed longer than usual. Too much time to think, as my daughter immersed herself in some game on her tablet. We left in darkness and returned in the same.

Wiped out from all parts of the day, I barely made it through the second half of the Auburn-Ole Miss game before giving it up and collapsing. The bright side was I made it the bed instead of sleeping on the couch.

I began this morning making breakfast and making sure all the clocks were set back. Busy work. Anything to put off writing about it.

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November 1, 2014

PITT – Duke Predictions

Filed under: Conference,Football,Opponent(s) — Reed @ 6:51 am

As bad as last week was I still don’t think it was an accurate reflection of the talent this Panther team has or its ability to play well and win games. With that I’m expecting a much better showing by PITT this week with a return to a strong running game and the staff getting the other RBs and different WRs the ball more often then in the past.

Conner gets 100+ yards and two TDs, Voytik throws for one and we score another by some other player.  Trey Anderson might be that other guy.

PITT – 31 Duke – 27

What do you think?

Open Thread: Duke-Pitt in the Slog

Filed under: Football,Opponent(s) — Chas @ 5:50 am

It seems I may be a sadist as well as a masochist. Not only am I heading out the door to attend the game today — highs today in the mid 40s, some wind and rain in the mix — I’m dragging my daughter with me. I know, get those “I’m reporting you to CFS,” jokes in before they get too stale.

To be fair, she wanted to go. Despite the weather. Despite the way Pitt has played. She enjoys going to the game and doing all the other activities. And disturbingly enough, hanging out with her dad and his friends. Strange kid.

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