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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 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 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 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.

(more…)

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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Looking For Something Positive

Filed under: Basketball,Injury,Players — Chas @ 9:48 am

Maybe there’s some good news from Pitt basketball.

Senior guard Cameron Wright, Pitt’s leading returning scorer, had surgery Friday after breaking his left foot a week before the team’s first practice, a team source said.

Wright, who broke his foot Thursday, is expected to miss 10 weeks.

The Panthers’ first practice is scheduled for Friday.

/sigh

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.

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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.

POSITIVES

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.

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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.

(more…)

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 16, 2014

You would think that at the one quarter point in the season we’d have a solid idea of how good the team is and how well the primary players are producing.  It seems not to be the case this season for PITT.  Granted we are 3-0 going into Saturday’s noon game against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Heinz Field but really doesn’t feel like 3-0 given who the wins were over.

Delaware and FIU are both teams that PITT should beat handily even if the PITT team isn’t that great and in essence we did that, so for an optimist that is OK.  Beating Boston College up in Boston is on a different degree of difficulty level and the Boston College Catholics, err…I mean Golden Eagles, pretty much looked like a lost team out there for the majority of the game.  But they did have a couple of big plays early for scores and recovered an onside kick at the end of the game so at least there was some tension during that game.

(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…)

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