October 1, 2014

Past PITT QBs’ Ground Games

Filed under: Football,Opponent(s),Players — Reed @ 3:00 am

(Note: “Fun with Stats!” again – there maybe some small math errors and lapses in info from RR’s years but this is a pretty accurate take on this subject.)

We have spent a good amount of time discussing Chad Voytik’s short career as a starter with both articles and hundreds of reader’s comments. We have talked about his past, his time since coming to PITT, his winning the starting job and his performance in that position through the first five games of this 2014 season.

What has been one common thread in those discussions is Voytik’s ability to move well with the football.  That includes called rollouts on passing plays, called running plays where he is the primary ball carrier and scrambles away from the defensive line pressure.

His box score with ‘ball in hand’ is as follows:

Opponent Rush Attempts Yards YPC Long TDs
Delaware 2 11 5.5 7 0
BC 6 47 7.8 23 0
FIU 12 144 9.5 40 1
Iowa 5 6 1.2 15 0
Akron 8 7 0.9 15 0

So on the season, adding back the sack yardage (-38 yards) which comes off the top of his rushing totals, he’s has 33 carries for 253 yards at a 7.66 ypc clip with a long of 40 and one TD.

QB Games Played Rush Attempts Yards YPC YPG TDs
Voytik 5 28 253 9.0 50.6 1

Now that is his production when he has the ball in his hand and makes a positive move to pick up yards on the ground, and is what I consider a basis when talking about a QBs running ability His stats in this are very good.  He accounts for almost 20% of PITT’s 1,347 yards rushing total to date.

That is a good thing for a QB to be able to do and we have seen Voytik use his legs to both keep series alive on shorter 3rd down conversions but also pick up 1st down on his longer runs.  It is a great skill for a QB to have but it has to be used to make Voytik a more effective all around QB.  After the game on Saturday I wrote the MMQB article and in it I said this about Chad Voytik’s runs during the Akron game:

“Even his running game, which is his only actual strength, was hesitant save for that one good (15 yard) 1st down scamper, which was great to watch.  When that goes out the door I think some real serious decisions have to be at least talked about and considered by the offensive staff for the future of the team.”

It wasn’t that I thought his skill at running was diminished but that if whatever emphasis the staff, and Voytik himself, put on his ability to run the football diminishes then his total worth as a starter goes down also in my opinion. Just to be clear, I think he’s a great runner, has been since he got to PITT and it is an aspect of his game that has to be used for him to be a successful college QB.

In the comments section of that MMQB article our long time commenter, Emel, made this observation:

“Oh, I think Voytik is plenty athletic enough. He’s probably the most athletic QB we’ve had since Rod Rutherford, although they never let Rod show his running ability as QB (that was another one I could never understand).

Voytik doesn’t have the strongest arm especially in the pocket. He seems to throw much better when rolling out. Reed and I tossed this around a few weeks ago. Are they trying to make him into something he is not? That being a pro-style QB. Square peg into round hole kind of thing.”

That is something that we have talked about here on The Pitt Blather for months.

Anyway, the reference Emel made to Rod Rutherford got me thinking about which QBs we have had over the last 10+ years were decent runners.  So I crunched some numbers, and this chart is without the sack totals or sack yardage accounted for (red is the leader):

QB Games Played Rush Attempts Yards YPC YPG TDs
Rutherford 46 419 880 2.10 19.13 14
Palko 43 275 364 1.32 8.47 12
Sunseri 44 276 (-)148 .54 3.36 7

Now, subtracting the number of sacks and the lost sack yardage and it is a different story, remember it is a positive move to pick up yards on the ground):

QB Games Played Rush Attempts Yards YPC YPG TDs
Voytik 5 28 253 9.0 50.6 1
Rutherford 46 290 1546 5.3 33.6 14
Palko 43 182 1080 5.9 25.1 12
Sunseri 44 152 738 4.9 16.8 7

Note: Here are the number of sacks and total yardage lost by each QB: Rutherford – 129 sacks for (-) 666 yards; Sunseri – 124 sacks for (-) 886 yards and Palko – 85 sacks for (-) 716 yards.

So, if you project Chad Voytik’s numbers over a full three full career  you get:

QB Games Played Rush Attempts Yards YPC YPG TDs
Voytik 39 210 1973 9.4 50.5 8

That is pretty impressive overall and would put him firmly in 1st place among the four QBs if his career goes that way.

What is interesting about all of this is that when we think of a ‘running QB’ we believe that their passing would suffer because of that trait, but this isn’t necessarily the rule, at least at PITT.  All the of those past four QBs were very good passers also and are standing at #3 Sunseri, #4 Palko and #5 Rutherford as PITT’s all time passing leaders (behind Van Pelt and Marino).

Note: I dropped Bill Stull out of this because after looking that the stats he really wasn’t much at running the ball.  But for those who are interested here are his numbers after sacks and sack yardage are taken out:

QB Games Played Rush Attempts Yards YPC YPG TDs
Stull 30 27 26 0.9 0.8 3


September 30, 2014

The Flaccid Response

Filed under: Football — Chas @ 5:58 am

Don’t think there will be much more concern that the players are starting to believe their own clippings — at least as far as being a sneaky, good team.

Of the many things that Pitt did wrong on Saturday, the thing that still has me most upset — as opposed to bothered, worried, angsting, etc. — it was just how unconcerned the team was the entire game. Whether it was the flat way the team came out and stayed for the entire first half. The lack of urgency as the team kept slipping further behind in the second half.

It almost seemed as if the team was just waiting for Akron to collapse for them. That they didn’t have to bring any effort to beat the Zips. Even as they were shooting themselves in the foot with bad penalties, poor execution and bad game plans. There didn’t even seem to be frustration on the sidelines. Plenty in the stands, but the sideline was a little too stoic in the face of humiliation.


September 29, 2014


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.


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.


September 27, 2014

Open Thread: Akron-Pitt

Filed under: Football,Open Thread — Chas @ 5:56 am

Have to throw this up early. Beyond the usual need to hit the road before sunrise, I am abandoning the press box for regular seats so my daughter and I can attend the game. That means some actual time to tailgate with friends, walk around the family-friendly activities and no laptop. I’ll still be tweeting in-game, but it will be nice to wear Pitt gear to the game and cheer out loud today.

Akron has struggled to stop the run. That happens to be what Pitt does really well on offense. James Conner should have a good day, and hopefully the rest of the running backs get some work. I know he has been a workhorse, but with seven conference games to play there is still the concern of wearing down.

Defensively, Akron does play a spread-style offense. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some early struggles by the Pitt defense — just like with FIU — before really clamping down on the Zips. Not to mention their running backs battling injuries. Their offense hasn’t done much since their opening game against Howard.


September 25, 2014

Looking To The Zips

Filed under: Football,Opponent(s) — Chas @ 7:39 am

My film watching of Akron consists of rooting for them in the 2d and 3d quarter of their game against Penn State. Otherwise, not much else. From the brief watch it looked like a decent enough defense with a weak to scattershot offense.

This is the second home game with Akron in a 2-for-1 deal. Next year at Infocision Stadium — which I’m kind of looking forward to attending. I think that will be the last 2-for-1 series Pitt has to complete that was leftover from the budgetary constrained Big East era.

Akron is coached by Terry Bowden. The former Auburn coach and son of the legendary Bobby Bowden. Terry Bowden also played at West Virginia so there is extra hateablility.


September 24, 2014

The Brief Media Runthrough: Iowa Edition

Filed under: Football,Media — Chas @ 9:02 am

Pitt became a charter member of the Big East football conference back in 1990. Ending a lifetime of independence. For a few years it was 6 conference games and 5 non-conference games until the addition of Virginia Tech in 1993 to make it 7 conference games within an 11 game season. Flash forward to 2014, it is the ACC for Pitt with 8 conference games and still 4 non-conference games. The 24th year of Pitt having conference and non-con games. Pitt has yet to make it through a season without at least one non-con loss. That’s how traditions get made.

One other final note. The issue of adjustments. Decrying Pitt not making adjustments after the half would suggest that Pitt was doing things wrong in the first half. On offense, there were no adjustments to make. Can you imagine the complaints of outsmarting yourself if Pitt came out throwing more to start the second half?


September 23, 2014

(Note:  For some time I’ve been wanting to do a separate piece on Chad Voytik, his recruitment and what he was like in the camps and practices leading up to his winning the starting job.  This is that article and I’ll remind readers that if what I write isn’t a solid fact like a statistic or a direct quote then it is my opinion.   That said, here are Voytik’s current statistics:  He has started all four games and has a 3-1 record; He’s passed 48 completions in 79 attempts (60.8%) for 534 total yards and 133.5 ypg along with 5 TDs & 3 INTs for a 130.83 QB efficiency rating.)

 Now is the time, with four games into the 2014 regular season behind us, that we should take a minute to review the question marks we had going into this year and we all felt that QB play was the biggest of those.  Let’s look at the background and history that brought Voytik to his starting position at PITT and while we do that let’s also remember that Voytik has been in the program for over two years and is a first year starter at QB.

After attending some of the 2012 spring practices, and watching Voytik in practices and scrimmages since then, I’ve paid close attention to his play and skills because it wasn’t too hard to figure out that he would be our starting QB  sooner or later.  Sunseri was going into his last season at PITT back in ’12 and we had Trey Anderson as the only other valid QB on the roster for ’13.  Tom Savage wasn’t on PITT’s radar screen yet so the field was open for Voytik to fleet to being a rsFR starter in ‘13.


A Disappointing Dose of Reality

Filed under: Football — Chas @ 7:26 am

That felt like a big thud.

A frustrating, upsetting, watching it happen in slow motion in the second half — thud.

Pitt started the game strong. James Conner was breaking the vaunted Iowa run defense down. Bouncing right off and through the defenders as they tried to hit and arm tackle him in the first half. A run defense that had averaged allowing under 66 a game had given up 100 yards to Conner alone in just the first half.

Chad Voytik looked as sharp as he’s been. Going 12-14 for 132 yards and fulfilling his word from earlier in the week about looking for Tyler Boyd more frequently.


September 22, 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.)

Coming down off a loss after three straight wins sucks of course and we have at least eight more games to play, but the feeling after the Iowa loss two days ago ain’t a happy one.  We can point to a 3-1 record as decent and it is, but we also know that there are certain issues in this loss that will continue reverberate unless quickly corrected by the staff and individual players.


1.  I’ll come right out and say that I really should start this section off as the “Negatives” because that’s what I tend to remember most.  However, we had some real positive play out there and while it wasn’t enough to win it should be recognized.

I need to acknowledge Chad Voytik’s play on Saturday.  The ironic thing is that I’ll do that in both sections of this post.  But the positives outweighed the negatives and there were some things we saw that (hopefully) portend other positives down the road.  Let’s look at the stats first: 19-30-1 for 250 yards (65%) with an average of 8.6 ypa and zero TDs.  That looks very efficient and heads and shoulders above his previous three games.  Aside from his zero TDs that is acceptable.


September 20, 2014

Open Thread: Iowa-Pitt

Filed under: Football,Open Thread — Chas @ 6:00 am

Got to get moving. It is not quite dark, but the morning gloom is only beginning. The drive to the Burgh awaits.

No idea how this game breaks. Pitt should be able to win this game, but this has something of a must win for Iowa.

To start the season 1-2 is not the hole expected for a team that before the season, was believed to have a chance to win their conference division. Lose this game and beyond the record, the fanbase will essentially be checking out of the season in September. Kirk Ferentz may not be going anywhere because of his contract, but that doesn’t mean the fans have to stay.

For Pitt it is about one more step in trying to change the narrative of a flailing, fumbling around program that has been the embodiment of mediocrity and bad bowl destinations. A win doesn’t mean Pitt will win the ACC Coastal division. Nor does it mean they will land in the top-25 rankings. What it represents would be one more step out of the doldrums.

September 19, 2014

James Conner Has Some Focus

Filed under: Football,Players,Puff Pieces — Chas @ 7:42 am

It’s been quite a week for James Conner and media attention. But he is trying to ignore it.

After Conner rushed for 177 yards against Florida International, he broke another Tony Dorsett record, this time for most yards by a Pitt back in the first three games.

Conner trumpeted the achievement, placing a photo on Instagram. It didn’t take long for his phone to ring. It was Aaron Donald, Pitt’s highly decorated former defensive tackle, who knows a little bit about how to handle fame.

“He said to me, ‘Just stay focused and just play ball,’ ” Conner said. “ ‘Those individual awards will come. You can’t worry about that now.’

“I listen to every word he says. I’m not thinking about that stuff anymore.”

Conner took Donald’s advice one step further and decided to take a break from social media.

“People have negative things to say,” he said. “If I keep thinking about that, it will throw me off my game.

“I figure time spent on Twitter could be spent in the weight room or in the film room. I’m glad (Donald) reached out to me.”

Still, there has been a good deal of media attention this week. And the thing that I keep seeing in these stories is a very different kind of focus. One that seems to be on a big picture of his future and an unshakable confidence.


September 18, 2014

Iowa – PITT Predictions

Filed under: Football,Opponent(s),Players — Reed @ 1:37 pm

(P/S: Please read Justin’s “Iowa Keys to the Game ” first then jump back over here and get your prediction down for us.)

Two day until game time and we’re playing at Heinz Field  again, this time against the Big Ten opponent the Iowa Hawkeyes.  I think other PITT fans are with me, at least the ones with tickets to the game, and have been really looking forward to see our Panthers in live action again.

The weather report for Saturday at noon is great with cooler temps in the low 70s and sunshine – perfect football weather.  We have three wins with no losses, an awesome running game, stout rushing defense and a chance to see just how well our QB and the passing game can work against a FBS opponent at home.

Reed:  PITT  27, Iowa  21.  Lower scoring and hard fought on Saturday. I’m not sold yet on our passing game seeing a breakthrough although I can see Voytik getting 100+ yards passing and throwing one TD pass with an INT or two. He’ll help again with his running ability.   I think our rushing game gets 175-200 yards and we win.

Justin: Pitt 24, Iowa 14. Voytik throws for 180 yards and 2 TDs, Conner goes for 90 yards, and Ray Vinopal has a huge day for the defense.

How about you guys?  Give us a  winner, final score and why you think it will turn out that way.


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.


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