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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.

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October 25, 2014

Georgia Tech Predicitions

Filed under: Conference,Football,Opponent(s) — Reed @ 5:53 am

Another hard one for me to fathom, but they all are it seems because I have a 50/50 record at best predicting winners.

I think the weather is nice, crowds will be bigger and the defense will be focused and hold GT down below their average offensive output.  Big ACC game to win if we can….

PITT – 27 GT – 24

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 22, 2014

At least, they are the narrative at this time.

The consistency theme is for Pitt’s performance from game to game.

Dave Durham is ready to get off the treadmill.

Pittsburgh wins a big game and loses the next. The Panthers falter one week only to come roaring back seven days later. It’s a pattern that’s plagued the program for years as the seasons hovering around .500 have piled up.

The senior defensive end hopes part of his legacy is being part of a group that stops the trend. Time is running out, though Durham is optimistic Pitt has finally started to figure it out after last week’s rousing 21-16 win over Virginia Tech.

“What truly great teams do, they come back and win the next week and get better the next week and they’re hungry and they’re never satisfied,” Durham said.

The way Durham looks at it, the victory over the Hokies didn’t snap a three-game losing streak for Pitt, it marks the start of a second-half surge. He hopes, anyway.

It has been oh, so predictable… afterwards. Yet every damn time it happens it surprises me.

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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.

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October 15, 2014

What To Expect With VT

Filed under: Football,Opponent(s),Tactics — Chas @ 7:38 am

It will be kept simple.

After the Q&A with The Key Play was released, VT let it be known that running back Marshawn “Juice” Williams was also out for the the game. Three backs down in their depth chart. That means Caleb Johnson will be their primary back.

A couple other key injuries for the Hokies are on the defense. Starting DT Luther Maddy and CB Brandon Fascyson will not play. If you are looking for reasons why the line on the game has swung a bit. The injury list is a good place to start.

This means a bit more passing. Not deep throws, but much more of the short stuff. Slants. Quick outs. Controlled throws to create a little space. As for deep throws, they will take about as many as Iowa took. See if they can take advantage of the corners going one-on-one while the safeties play up to defend the shorter passes. Whether VT QB Michael Brewer will be accurate enough is the random roll of the die. (more…)

October 14, 2014

Even before the season started, this was a game many Pitt fans circled. Not simply because of it being a prime time Thursday night home game. Before the season started, it wasn’t hard to project Pitt at 5-1 or perhaps 6-0 heading into a showdown with a VT team that might have a similar record. I imagine many VT fans also circled this game considering their expectations and the history of Pitt screwing up their plans.

Now, this game is big for both teams, but not in the way envisioned. It’s more about surviving and salvaging at this point.

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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 9, 2014

Historical PITT QB Ratings

Filed under: Football,Opponent(s),Players — Reed @ 7:52 pm

(Before any statisticians or math majors get excited and start ripping this apart please realize this is done for fun and researched as well as I could with the internet resources available.)

Last week we put up an article titled Past PITT QBs’ Ground Games exploring how well PITT’s recent quarterback’s could run when they actually tucked in the ball and tried to get positive yardage.  We did that because at present we are having a lively discussion of PITT’s current QB, Chad Voytik, and his strengths and weakness in the position.  I think it’s safe to say that we all recognize that running the ball is perhaps the greatest strength he has at this point.

In writing that article and looking back over the numerous and lengthy debates we have had on here about how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ a QB was for us I wondered that because  it is so subjective an issue there must be a way to at least compare QBs in a somewhat standard way.

To start I chose to go back to Alex Van Pelt, because he was so good for us, then to Rod Rutherford and all our major starters since then; Tyler Palko, Bill Stull, Tino Sunseri and now Chad Voytik.  I  included Tom Savage in the initial comparisons even though he had a short one season stint with us.

The first thing I had to address was exactly how to show the QB’s side by side measurements.  We have all seen the “QB Rating” numbers at the end of a player’s box score after the game but do we really know what that means? I didn’t realize there was more than one way of numerically rating a QB’s performance, but there is.

Background of the Ratings
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October 8, 2014

Serious Troll Move

Filed under: Football,Opponent(s),Schedule — Chas @ 6:25 am

I may be in the minority on at least wanting the Backyard Brawl on some sort of rotation for the football non-con (good hate is so hard to find), so a home-and-(delayed)-home with Marshall isn’t exactly the same. But given Marshall’s relationship with WVU, and the outrage it is generating south of Pittsburgh. Well, I have to respect a scheduling troll move like that.

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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 4, 2014

Link Run Before Hoos

Filed under: Football,Opponent(s) — Chas @ 11:35 am

Open Thread will be tossed up a little closer to game time. 7:30 on Root Sports if you want the early reminder.

The glow from the good news of Jordan Whitehead’s verbal is still there, but it is giving way to the reality of this game.

Starting with the bad news, the O-line is going to be down another starter for the game. Left Tackle Adam Bisnowaty has been suspended for the game for violation of team rules. It is a one game suspension, and no other information as to the why is being given.

Jarryd Jones-Smith will be starting in his place. Jones-Smith has seen a good amount of playing time this year at that position. He has been rotated in there with Bisnowaty moved to guard and Dorian Johnson coming out of the game.

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October 3, 2014

Passing the Time On Friday

Filed under: Football,Opponent(s) — Chas @ 7:44 am

Man, a livestream of Jordan Whitehead’s announcement today at 2:30. You know, because those livestream announcements have gone so well for Pitt fans. I don’t know what the kid will do. He has played it close to the vest. He hasn’t tried to mess with the fan bases. He has his choices narrowed. I hope it is Pitt, but I won’t wish him ill if he doesn’t.

That said, man o man does Pitt and Chryst need him. And they really need to get some talent for the defense.

In the meantime…

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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.

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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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