Monday Morning QB: Pitt 28 Villanova 7

*** Looks like DE Dewayne Hendrix will be out with a broken foot****

We are off to a good start of the season, at least in the win column,  with a victory against a semi-strong FCS team.  On Saturday we started slowly against a team who we should have come out strong and start pushing around right away.  But Pitt doesn’t do that, especially with teams who are big underdogs.

I don’t know why exactly – but it really bothers me.  I keep expecting to see a skilled and well-led team come out of the tunnels and instead I always watch a team that bumble around until the fans are angry enough to piss blood. Only then does Pitt play well enough for a semblance of happiness at the post-game tailgate.

But with that happiness Saturday came some real concern about what this team is capable of doing and what it actually will do.  And deny it or not – some of those worry lines are due to the upcoming big Pitt vs Penn State game.

Put it this way – if Saturday’s 1st quarter Pitt team shows up we get our asses handed to us on PSU game day… if Saturday’s 4th quarter team shows up then we may win by that 4.5 point spread.  A point spread that dropped like a rock after our tepid showing last week.

It isn’t gloom and doom – but it sure was a feeling of SOP during that first half the other day. Lots of shaking of heads and muttering up in the Press Box.  That was because for 29+ minutes of play we had scored only 7 points against a FCS team. That isn’t good even if we were playing Ohio State or Alabama let alone the Wildcats of the City of Brotherly Love.

But if you took the time to really watch what happened out there – then watched as much video of the game as you could you’ll see that not only did our defense carry the day but it threw a shutout by not giving up and offensive scores on Villanova’s part. It played well over all and that is good because we’ll need that to happen consistently.

vn stats 1

Aside from two big runs by the Wildcat’s QB – one on the first play of the game that stunned the crowd – we held them well enough for them to get only 53 net yards on the ground.  However we tried to match that mediocrity with our feeble rushing attempts which got us only 86 net yards.

Look, when you hold the other team to a total of 172 yards then it was a good defensive day – and it was.

So for all that we come to the Monday morning QB’s 3&3’s.  Three points to talk about what went well and three points to talk about where we dropped the ball (literally in one case Saturday):

POSITIVES:

One I have to go with our defense on this one.  They played very well as the day went on.  All those points mentioned above were good but lets take a look at some things that aren’t so obvious.

Their QB, Zach Bednarczyk, who was a shifty and good runner ended up with only 2 net yards on 13 tries  and that was after he ripped off a 24 yarder to start the game.  The reason for the -58 yards was the sacks we threw at him.  He was dropped six times with even reserve Safety Dennis Briggs getting into the act – and who looked like he was shot out of a cannon in doing it.

LB Mike Caprara and DE Ejuan Price teamed up for a sack and those two also had solos to their credit.  Caprara, while not real fast, is becoming a very good LB in that he takes a great line to the ball.  DB Maddox provided the other two for that total of six – but we were in their backfield a lot more than that.

I thought it interesting that when being interview after the game Caprara was asked if we blitzed a lot more during this games then in matches last season and he said “No”.  It sure did seem like it from where I sat in the press box though.

Two Our two receivers TE Scott Orndoff’s and WR Jester Weah’s contributions.  I have been mentioning Orndoff’s name in this capacity all during the off-season because he did well as a receiver last season also.  Against Villanova he caught five passes for 98 yards and led the team.  He’s much quicker off the LOS than you’d think for a kid who is 6’5″ and 225 lbs. and on his 19 yard reception he got some nice yards after the catch with his strength.

Weah was the big question mark coming into the game due to his self-confessed case of the yips when trying to catch the ball.  We have been hearing about his better play in every interview during the fall camp and I, along with other fans, was wondering if this was the year his actual gameday play would catch up to the positive reviews he was getting from the coaching staff.

First reviews on his play are very positive as he caught four passes for 38 yards and a 16 yard TD.  He looked like a veteran out there and used his speed to get open on a deep route that was incomplete by a poorly thrown pass – but he had his defender beat by a good three yards.

Three James Conner’s return to football.  It was so very nice to see the excitement on everyone’s part when Conner came running out of the tunnel.  We knew it was going to happen and it did.  However, the actual game playing unfolded just as I thought it would – he was rusty, as expected, and it showed in his play.

His rushing numbers are pretty poor but that was true across the board for all of our running backs.  A porous and ineffective offensive line didn’t help an iota in that regard, but it was evident that Conner was not 100% the Beast Mode running back we know.  But he will be; it just wasn’t happening in that respect on Saturday.

His TD run was a blast from the past however as he was typical James Conner in getting to the edge quickly then manhandling the defender with a stiff arm take-down while he crossed the goal line.  That was the play that reminded me of the old Conner, not the two plays where he picked up eight or nine yards up the middle by bouncing off people.

Those were nice but he countered them with some unneeded dancing around behind the LOS and by being brought down by arm tackles – something we didn’t see at all in 2014 or the game last season.

I believe Conner’s play relies on instinct and muscle memory – Big Cat animalistic if you will and that wasn’t happening.  He was tentative, even on those bull runs he started off slowly, and it was evident that he wasn’t real comfortable out there yet.

Note the “yet” because that will shake off in practice this week – at least the mental part will.  I have no idea what he is like physically compared to 2014 but can say that when I looked at him closely he looked a bit thinner than he was then.  I think he lost some muscle with his cancer battle.

Well, I just looked it up, and in the 2104 season he was 250 lbs, last year at 240 and now he’s at 235.  I guess because we didn’t have much chance to see him last season at all the 15 pound difference looks more dramatic.  He needs some home cooking I think.

Overall he finished out the day with 17 carries for 53 yards at a paltry 3.1 yards per carry, way down from his 2014 mark of 5.9, and one TD and a long run of nine yards.  But as referenced above he got virtually no help from our OL.  Even as good and strong as Conner is he still needs holes at the LOS to run through.

He caught a TD pass also.  Let’s talk about that last part folks.

We heard Pat Narduzzi say more than once that Conner would be split out as a receiver and Receivers coach Kevin Sherman talked about that at the open Media Day also when oi sat down with him.  But I was somewhat skeptical as we hadn’t seen that before (at least to my recollection).  But he was on a handful of plays.

The TD pass he caught was on a wheel route out of the backfield so he wasn’t a ‘receiver’ per se on that play but he was on others and caught two more passes while doing it.   A few times he lined up in the slot while Ollison was the halfback.  That is a nice twist to the offense by our Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada.

Honorable Mention:

NEGATIVES:

OneOur offensive line.  Where to start with this one?  Honestly, I have not seen OL play that terrible, and that is the word for it, since we were last in the nation in sacks allowed back in 2011.  It was that painful to watch.

Here is why. QB Nate Peterman (more on his play later!) wasn’t sacked all that much, only once actually, but he was either running for his life or trying to field very poor snaps from our Center Alex Officer.  I mean really bad snaps too.  That was one drawback to the offense, the other was just plain bad play on the OL’s part.

Consider this.  Villanova, a FCS team mind you, had seven tackles for loss against our supposedly great OL.  That is horrid and six of those were our RBs getting dropped behind the LOS.  As said above Conner’s first two carries were losses – something I can’t remember happening twice in whole games before.

Every RB, and the QB, who touched the ball lost yardage at some point in the game.  Three times that happened on 3rd and short yardage with one being a Conner carry.  Our 3rd down plays were terrible across the board though as we only converted six of 15 tries for a 40% success rate.

BTW – here are the official stats if you want to read them.

Two: Nate Peterman’s play at QB.  I’ll put this up in the negative column just because I expected more from him after a full fall camp under his belt.  If you remember during last year’s camp he was splitting reps with Voytik but this year was a different story.

So even with a different offensive coordinator he should have been more polished out there.  Now, I don’t go along with some fans’ opinions that he played as poorly Saturday as he did against Miami and Navy at the end of last season – that just isn’t true.  First off he threw for only two TDs and had four INTs in those losses.  Saturday he had two TDs vice no INTs in a 21 point win so that’s that.  But even looking at his below par for him stats showed his QB rating to be  126 on the game which is about the average for a college QB.

But his play overall was disappointing.  There is that word again.  He went 19 for 32 (54%) for two TDs and no INTs.  However, two key indicators of how well a QB is producing in the passing game – yard per pass (YPP) and yards per reception (YPR) were way below what is necessary to win games against the better opponents.

On average when he passed the ball yesterday we moved forward 5.3 yards.  When the a receivers his passes it averaged out to a little better (relatively) 9.2 yards.  Both on the south side of the ‘good play’ line.

To put that in perspective of what we saw him do last season; he was 44th in the nation in passing efficiency with a 138.6 rating and a YPP of 7.3 and a YPR of 11.8 – way better than Saturday.

As I said he didn’t play all that well but I believe we also have to factor in some just horrendous center snaps (at least six) and five drops by his receivers – and four of those were passed right on the money.  I’m going to quote a commenter, Damage Inc., who hit the nail on the head about the poor snaps:

A bad snap throws off the quarterback’s timing, whether that’s getting to the handoff point or going through passing reads. Once it happens a couple of times, the QB has to put more concentration on just tracking and catching the snap, which puts him behind in timing. On an ideal short to mid-range pass play, the pass leaves the QB’s hands in less than 2.5 seconds. If you bobble a snap or have to adjust to catch it, half that ideal time is already gone and the QB hasn’t even started his reads.

That doesn’t absolve Peterman from a sub par game or the receivers from multiple drops, but the fundamental aspect of hiking the ball should not be an issue for a college team, much less a Power-5 team.

Couldn’t have said it better myself so I didn’t.  Thanks – that BTW was from an excellent comment posted to yesterday’s podcast piece – thanks for that Damage, Inc.

I do think that if those snaps were accurate and those four drops didn’t happen we’d feel a bit better about Peterman but the bottom line is that aside from two TDs passes (one nice 16 yarder to Weah while rolling out) he didn’t contribute much to the win.  QBs are supposed to do just that, lead the team to wins by their play.  He played down to the opponent’s level and that shouldn’t happen again, especially to a team we should be passing with success against.

I expect better from him and we’ll see that happen but it didn’t this game.

Three: Kicker Chris Blewitt’s inefficient leg.  He missed both his attempts on Saturday – one 39 yard try went wide left and the other 47 yarder was blocked.  If you watch the reply of the blocked kick you’ll see that the Villanova DL didn’t get any penetration at all – they were stood up at the LOS as the OL is supposed to do.  Blewitt kicked a line drive straight into the jumping defender’s hands.  No bad snap, no bad handle by the holder – just a line drive vice getting immediate lift on the ball.

I picked this issue because after watching the offense yesterday I think we are going to be in a lot of close games this season.  That’s what happens when your defense plays well and the offense not so well – you get games that are determined by seven points or less.

The majority of those games, to be won, rely on efficiency in offensive series by coming away with points at the end of them.  We had 14 series Saturday and scored on four of them – that is a 28% scoring clip and will not be acceptable against the better teams on the schedule.

OVERALL IMPRESSION:  

I have to look at this game and think that because of the change in offensive coordinators there were problems that will be worked out.  That happens sometimes and we saw it writ large against Villanova.  I do think the offense will smooth things out but that might have to come from a reshuffling of the OL.

One of the things I mentioned yesterday, and have in writing also, that I was a bit wary of all the hype the OL was getting and it seem to spring from the fact that the five starter’s had 98 games experience between them.  hey – that almost two years per kid.  But the fact is that we lost a lot of games over these kid’s career at OL and the sad fact is that each of them also played poorly at times during that period.

Not to be a total negative guy but I was pretty surprised no one in the media mentioned that at all – but that is the nature of professional sport writing, optimism must rule the day.  So I wonder, given the same personnel, just how much better the OL is going to be against a stout opponent next week.

My final impression of Saturday is this.  That game left a bit of a sour taste in fan’s mouths because we were expecting so much better play out there, especially on the offensive side of the ball.  If you are saying you didn’t have that feeling while watching that game I think you are trying to kid yourself.

A 21 point win looks great on paper and that is fine but what happens over the course of a football season is that your team gets better each week or it falters.  I know I’m not betting on that Pitt-PSU game. Not after what I watched happen Saturday.

I do truly believe that many Pitt fans still harbor some doubts about Pat Narduzzi’s ability to win against stronger opponents – simply because he hasn’t done that as a head coach yet.  But here is something to contemplate. Every fan I talk with thinks we totally blew those last two games of the season last year and we did.  We were under prepared in almost every way to play our opponent’s on gameday and that happened again, especially in the 1st half, against a FCS school in Villanova.  That is nervous making to me and to others.

I’ll say right now that Pat Narduzzi needs to beat PSU on Saturday to dispel any doubts about his competency under pressure.  If he doesn’t do that then Katy bar the door because Pitt fans can turn ugly at the drop of a hat.

He needs a win against a good opponent and let’s not kid ourselves – those PSU players and their fans want to beat us as much as we want to beat them.  I think he pulls it out in a close win – formal predictions toward the end of the week – but he won’t do that if they play anything like they did on Saturday.  Yes, including the defense, because  Penn State isn’t Villanova.

Notes: 

I just got an email with a pitch to get people to pony up their money in a nice way… here is a copy of the Pitt Panther Club “Invitation” to join their group.  All I could think of was that 1) this should go out to Pitt fans after a big win and 2) we haven’t had one of those yet with Coach Narduzzi so Pitt took the easy choice and sent it out after any win.

Look – I joke about this a lot but the Panther Club really does do good things and the members I know love it.

Pitt Panther Club

For IMMEDIATE Release

September 4, 2016                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Pitt-Penn State to be Nationally Televised by ESPN

The game will have a noon kickoff at Heinz Field.

  PITTSBURGH—The highly anticipated renewal of the Pitt-Penn State rivalry on September 10 will be nationally televised by ESPN, the network announced.

The game, played at Heinz Field, will kick off at noon. The ESPN broadcast crew will consist of Bob Wischusen (play-by-play), Brock Huard (analyst) and Allison Williams (reporter).

2016 Pitt Football Weekly Media Planner
Penn State Week

Monday

Pat Narduzzi Press Conference                                Noon

Tuesday

Open Practice Window                                                9:05-9:35 a.m.

Select Assistant Coach/Player Interviews           11:30 a.m.

 

Wednesday

Open Practice Window                                                9:20-9:50 a.m.

Select Assistant Coach/Player Interviews           11:30 a.m.

Pat Narduzzi on ACC Call                                             12:10 p.m.

Transcripts and audio files available on www.theACC.com.

 

Thursday

Pat Narduzzi Final Press Briefing                            1 p.m.

Thursday practice is closed.

Friday

No scheduled media availability.

 

Saturday

Pitt vs. Penn State (ABC or ESPN)                           Noon

73 thoughts on “Monday Morning QB: Pitt 28 Villanova 7

  1. “We will make our best improvement, like we always do, from Week 1 to Week 2,” Narduzzi said. “Some guys (outside the program) would like to push the panic button, but I’m not worried.”

    Not with the stakes as high as they are.

    “We’re playing for the state of Pennsylvania,” he said

    .Looks like Narduzzi actually had Ped St in his thoughts afteral.
    http://triblive.com/sports/college/pitt/11071581-74/pitt-conner-game

    at 2:29 Frankenliar takes shot at Pitt.

    Let the fun begin.

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  2. Biggest “negative” may have been the losses of Hendrix and Zeise to injuries. Need to play whichever backups play that read-option the best.

    Blewitt did hit a solid kick on the miss – I mean at least it wasn’t a shank. It was a strong straight kick that missed by a couple feet to the right. Perhaps the blocked kick was a tad low, but Villanova did seem to get up in the air pretty good on that play. Pitt kickers reportedly made 12 of 12 FGs in their Heinz Field scrimmage – go figure.

    The passing game looked crisp and well-coached when the pass was to Orndoff; and the shorter passes plus the TD pass to Weah looked good. But the two deep throws to Weah were disappointing. On the first, I thought Weah didn’t make any adjustment on a catchable ball; on the second, I agree that Peterman led him way too much.

    Great point on the snow-ball effect of bad center snaps…

    Still concerned about whether Lewis can cover better receivers, like PSU will have. Really like our safeties.

    Looks like Villanova may have ended up being a good tune-up for the Nits – with their spread offense and with them confounding our Oline. And Pitt coaches certainly have a ton of teachable moments on the tape.

    Go Pitt.

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  3. I’m actually more disturbed with the fact that we will be missing Hendrix than our overall showing on Saturday. I take openers with a grain of salt, and there were teams which much higher rankings than Pitt, that looked just as bad and worse.

    On the other hand, we will need all the defensive talent we have in the next 3 weeks starting with PSU which not only has an extremely gifted RB, but also a very good running QB.

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  4. Lol @ Reed a poster ‘pulled a Colin Kaepernick’ (lol i.e. brought-up interesting questions to address, albeit unintentionally as they were not being so enlightened and thoughtful) by not understanding the other commenters and saying they’re “negative” and “whiners” on your previous thread, as in they clearly don’t “get” the passion here from the “Regulars” — which is what makes it so great to come here. People who don’t have that mindset don’t understand that the posters are angry that Pitt Did not perform so much better on Saturday. Wanting Pitt to play like an Elite team and pointing out what needs to be improved when they don’t, does not equal= I am a whiner who hates Pitt.

    I read a ton of great, true, constructive criticism here from @Reed’s articles and the posts that’s on point and I love it.

    @Reed you noted in your podcast that some Rambunctious Young Males who were having a good time were acting like Villanova was an actual “win”. Not just, “Okay, learn and move along, lots of work to do, at least it’s a 1-0 in the win column.” -type win, but that Pitt fans were literally happy about the game!

    I recently had the pleasure of working with a group of Tennessee Volunteers Alumni — polite, delightful and well-educated people. Well guess what: all but one huge football fan in the group was ecstatic about their overtime win vs. Appalachian State, and didn’t remotely realize that they just coughed-up almost all their top#10-national hype nationally by barely beating a Sun Belt program. They thought it was a really cool, exciting, overtime win!!! 🙂 lol except for the one guy who “got it” — that game was unacceptable and should have been a home-blowout!

    @Reed and other posters here are the true Pitt-lovers, who want Pitt to be great! People here rightly SCOFF at someone spewing insane-nonsense like it’s great that Pitt has won at least 6 games like 10 years in a row, and that other programs might be happy with that! Yuck! hahaha

    …. lol: “Well, we beat Villanova by like three touchdowns, so we beat ’em by a lot, shouldn’t everyone just be happy??”

    Luckily many here see the light, that Mediocrity is NO LONGER ACCEPTABLE, and it’s not about the score vs. Villanova, it’s about the fact it’s about time the when PITT shows up vs. an FCS or “Group of Five” football school, Pitt should be so much faster, and more powerful across the board matchups like that should no longer be fair. It’s about Pitt’s offensive line, averaging 6’5”, 305 of Muscular Mass-of-Humanity, that is Nationally Hyped—looking like Powder Puffs against a front that is not Alabama. 2.7 yards per carry or whatever.

    If that was okay with anyone, well then they just have nothing to offer a Pitt football discussion so they will indeed just think people are being mean lol.

    —– Programs evolve: Michigan TRANSFORMED the moment they got Jim Harbaugh. Bumbling-Stumbling Alabama BLEW UP when they stole Nick Saban away in the night from the Dolphins. More than Michigan State, I see Our Pitt evolving into a Mid-Atlantic Oregon Ducks —> with Power offenses, Great Special teams, and a $warming Killer-Bee defense, along with the $exy $cript becoming a National Brand.

    #MediocreIsOver , #HailtoPitt

    —- I saw right away the Pa$$ion here and I Love that some Bull$hit win over an FCS team where the offensive line looked like Hot-Garbage, Pi$$es you guys off. Because Pitt is not Delusions of PITT-iful grandeur, Culty, “we got nothin” else Penn State, or some other mediocre program. Pitt can go as high as our Head Ball Coach can take it. And I think we have the Man to do it in Pat Narduzzi. But man, we Gotta Beat Penn State this upcoming week at Heinz. We Just Gotta.

    PITT IS IT!!!!

    And Pitt deserves — no, NEEDS, to become a National Program and a National Brand. Hopefully Pat Narduzzi gets control of his ship this week, because it almost veered-off into the rocks against Villanova.

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  5. The execution on Saturday was awful. Snaps, kickers we’re biggest offenders. Piss poor!
    That said, how many traps did you see? How about linemen pulling? Misdirection? Crossing patterns? Bunch formations? Anything other than vertical routes? Yup, didn’t think so!,
    Still, you would like to see the QB hit Jester in stride. You would think all that beef could push get some push. Winslow and Blewitt short kicks will cost at least 2 games.
    PN is nothing if not stubborn. He showed nothing, nothing at all. It looked like the first time they ran that offense,didn’t it? Well, I hope it was, but still no excuse for such poor execution!
    Oh, meant to say earlier but Upitt, prayers to your Mom.

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  6. FWIW, Pitt BB just got a 3-star 6’10” recruit, Terrell Brown, much needed. In fact, they could use another front line recruit ….. since only Luther, Nix and Manigault will return on the front line

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  7. I don’t think you gave Henderson enough credit. His first runback that gave us great field position after playing in our own end for the first qtr. was really big. Of course his kickoff return to start the second half, pretty much sealed the deal. And he made some good catches. He is a huge difference maker.

    Was not aware that our all-time points leading kicker has missed 5 of his last 6 field goal attempts. That
    is really not good.

    Losing Hendrix is a big problem, Blair just too light vs the big tackles and tight ends. Zeise, not as much since Odowu and Bradley are just as good.

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  8. Wow! Hard to know what to think about the Vill game!
    Was Nard Dog trying to look bad on purpose ( showing NOTHING but meh) OR were we really that BAD?
    As big of a Pitt fan that I am – I still have to conclude that WE WERE THAT BAD!!!
    So what’s the answer? Don’t know, sure hope Nard Dog does!

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  9. I say it every year….. The only way to learn how to be a head coach is to actually be a head coach. Narduzzi is still learning as exhibited by his sideline behavior Saturday. Good call on that Reed! Pitt was not ready to play Saturday.

    #2… The most improvement by any team is from game 1 to game 2. It better be because if we play anywhere near to Saturday’s level the Nits will crush us!

    Absolutely no excuse for the foul play of Officer and Blewitt!

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  10. I know you guys love Hendrix and its bad that he is hurt early and maybe it was just the few plays I keyed on Hendrix but he appeared to be heavy and not so fleet afoot, more like an interior lineman but we can ill afford to lose anyone on the DL in or out.

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  11. While I’m with most of you in feeling left down a bit on Saturday but like I always try to do is rationalize somewhat about what went down on the field. I was sitting with my wife in the club (east side) in the direct sun and it was hot, so I admit to running inside a few times to get cooled off. Actually I can see the game better inside on TV and the two Billy’s were busy being themselves. I liked Osborne first time around but he sounded a little forced first game. Kind of like the Panthers.

    Now I believe there are two basic approaches to openers for football teams and they may depend on what is going on next on their schedules. For PITT it looked bland and they were not as crisp as I would have liked to have seen. Although the transition between units seem to flow fairly well. Some teams like to fire out of the tunnel and want to score 100 pts against their weaker opponents, not sure if this is Narduzzi’s style or not. His closed practices considered makes me believe he may have tried to fly under the radar a bit on Saturday. This is just a guess mind you but I think he did a good job winning the game while focusing on psu the whole time. btw, anyone remember Jackie Sherrill’s approach to practices. He once had a couple questioned a half mile away sitting on a park bench while making out. A coach up high on a scissor life spotted them through binocular’s and thought they could be spies and Jackie had them investigated. True story as I remember it.

    Now what if’s? If the fumble doesn’t happen and Blewit makes both field goals, how would we be feeling today? A little better but I guess not all that much but 34-0 sounds and looks a whole lot better then 28-7

    On another note, Narduzzi seem really over pissed off about the headphones not working again. I don’t think it contributed to any problems down on the field but I like the fact he is willing to call out the Heinz field officials and say he’s had enough of it. Gaad knows steve would have done nothing about it the lap dog that he was.

    Over-all it does kind of want me to say SOP but I just hate that phrase. These times are different. There, to me, is nothing that resembles the old administration and maybe it’s time to stop looking back and start to look ahead. Regardless of what happens this year it won’t be anything like we were forced to watch in recent history. A win is a win and let’s beat the living schitt out of those pedo enablers.

    H2P brothers……………..ike

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  12. Nice synopsis. My positives are that we won against an inferior opponent. This is an important win. Any win is important, but to get the first one can create confidence, which is what this team lacks. See Negatives, coming. Orndoff in the passing game was my break out player in the prediction thread. Having a TE that can beat a LB all the time and a Safety most of the time is a big advantage for an offense. It stretches the defensive personnel and will be huge against the Dairy College. It also allows the WR’s space to beat their CB’s. The third positive was no key injuries at key positions on the offensive side of the ball. QB and TE specifically. The defense played as expected, which was solid except DL pressure (on their own). The defense should dominate against lesser opponents as most coaches build strong defenses before offenses.

    My negatives have been touched upon. Offensive Confidence. We are brittle psychologically on offense. We all touched on the OL play, which is triggered by our center. Officer didn’t play “nasty” and I think it is because he lacks confidence. As awful as this sounds, I don’t think we have vocal and execution leadership along the OL. Nice guys, yes. Nasty guys, not so much. We saw it with the Texas center last night. Texas was talented enough to bounce back after bad snaps. The QB did not take bad snaps and make good things happen. He took the loss and lived for another play. Our offense isn’t wired that way. An interesting stat to measure offense would be to determine how many first downs were achieved by the Offense, after a tackle for loss or penalty occurred on the series. I would call it the rebound statistic. My thoughts are that we don’t rebound well from a setback because of our skill group isn’t dominating.

    My second negative is the RB position and the running game. I do not think Conner is as quick and as fast as he was pre-cancer. That is expected. He is tentative. Another tentative running performance and we are 1-1. This is chicken or egg. Did he run tentative due to rust, anxiety and some fear, or did he run tentatively because the OL did not open holes as designed. Will Narduzzi pull JC if he runs the same way next week? I would. Hall ran hard and I expect him to do better with more carries. Ollison, the same way. Going against 8 in the box will not get easier. We better learn to deal with it and run blitzes asap. My third negative is team speed. I don’t think we got faster this year which is a problem going forward. Lastly, when the majority of your sacks come from DB’s and LB’s, your DL is not getting the job done. We need help there and that became evident against an inferior DL. Without pressure The Dairy College QB will have a field day. Need to step up.

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  13. O line seemed totally dis-interested and that is a shame since it was Conner’s return. Defense is going to carry this team the next 3 weeks. If d plays lights out we could be 3-1 or 4-0, if d struggles then 1-3 is a real possibility. Offense will play much better the next three games I guarantee it.

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  14. Here is my question for the day…..in general when a middle of the pack team lime a Miami run up the score big time again an inferior opponent , are they doing running vanilla plays with great execution, or just running their full package in order to practice it at game speed? Preparation or Philosophy ? ? ?

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  15. Vanilla? We didn’t show them much. I say BS. We had to try hard to win the game. That is our offense. Chubbs>Canada. Canada was fired for a reason.

    Thanks Joe Knew!!! 😊

    Like

  16. This Saturday’s game is the bellwether of the program under HCPN.
    Not recruiting – which has not significantly improved.
    Not an 8-5 record…with a blow out loss to Navy.
    Not all the empty hype and glory of new this and shiny that.
    This game and all that it entails is the measuring stick for the program as we know it.
    There was a posting a month ago about the importance of this game…because this is the game that will be remembered and discussed above all others.
    Three trips to the sun bowl…I can’t even remember who we played.
    Or the bowl game with Houston.
    Or finally beating a shitty injury-ridden Georgia Tech team. Who cares!
    That is all fluff. But PSUcks….that is what it is all about, fellas.
    And that is why I say if we shit the bed this weekend, we undoubtedly are the SOP, no matter how much we don’t want to believe it.

    Like

  17. Just read that Hendrix has broken foot. Out for awhile. It hurts that not a lot in cupboard to replace. Blair is light for full time big time teams. Last week over and none of us are enthusiastic over the play of the ream. We waited and had high hopes in anticipation of a decent season. It turns away this week as we either play tough grow up a lot and win or it will be long stretch coming up No more cupcakes. They are all tough games We pay Coach and assistants good money to prepare them and show well for the school. Hopefully we as fans can be great fans stay for the whole game and be ramped up. WE MUST. BEAT PEEN STATE. Hail ti Pitt

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  18. Can any of the 3 RBs that played on Saturday get outside and turn the corner around our tackles or tight ends? Not any of the 3 I saw playing last Saturday. The only way any of those 3 can get to the outside is by going off tackle and then breaking to the out side. I was hoping to see Moss deliver that type of speed and agility in the Villanova game. Maybe will we see some of he is made of this weekend.—I know many of you don’t want to hear this but we just may need to see more of Whitehead on offense. Somehow someway we need another Henderson out there on the field to put some fear in those opposing defenses. Also replacing Ford with Mathews might just be needed if he keeps showing in future games up as he did against Villanova.

    Like

  19. Chryst’ beat #5 LSU, if Narduzzi doesn’t win 2 of the next three we will be wondering if we really got the better coach.

    Hopefully it was first game jitters and Vanilla offense, but still doesn’t explain the offensive line’s inability to dominate.

    Coaches better get things straightened out.

    Like

  20. I think a positive comment is in order. For what it’s worth i thought our defensive backfield played quite well and were very fast to the ball. And as Reed commented, Briggs looked like he was shot out of a cannon on the QB sack. I don’t know were we can play out there, but IMO we need to see him on the field more often than we would in having him just replacing either Webb or Whitehead.—-Back to being negative once again: Anyone else see how far back from the line our linebackers play most of the time? That IMO is from their lack of speed and their need for the space necessary to get an angle on the opposing backs. It docent seem to being much good since most of the tackles on the D are coming from our secondary and not the linebackers.

    Like

  21. The first HS basketball game I coached the clock malfunctioned and the refs kept the time. I literally lost my mind and almost pulled my team off the floor. We got killed by a team we should have beaten easily. Two years later, same issue and I laughed about it to the team and we pulled a huge upset.

    Players notice coaches demeanor. Narduzzi losing his mind on the sideline over malfunctioning equipment did not help the cause. He will learn as he grows as a head coach.

    I care about 1 game. Beat Penn State and the season is a success. Lose and no matter what happens, this season is shot. Pitt favored by 4.5. False favorite. It should be the Pedophiles favored by that much. Barkley will run wild on Pitt. Time for Nardog to earn his pay!

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  22. Not optimistic at all for next week. for a team with that many seniors it was hard to watch. hard to guess whether the seniors are “in to it”. looked like a typical under coached apathetic Pitt team.

    Like

  23. Question. All last year I kept hearing about Hendrix and Allen Edwards both tearing up the practices. Was up with Edwards? I thought he may have been injured but is big and athletic.

    Like

  24. As I posted Saturday on the Blather, Potato Paul won because he gets much better players to come to Wisconsin than any coach in the nation could recruit to Pitt right now. The fat slob walked out on us into the bowl game and couldn’t (wouldn’t) recruit when he was here. He was more lazy than Dixon in that regard. He was too lazy to get off his couch to search for an actual DC too so we were stuck with Out House….

    And it looks like the ‘great’ OL that he built here stinks too….

    Like

  25. Reed, glad to contribute in a very small way to your great work here. I hope I never feel compelled to write another comment about botched snaps again.

    JoeKnew, agree on your comment and to buttress your point:

    “That said, how many traps did you see? How about linemen pulling? Misdirection? Crossing patterns? Bunch formations? Anything other than vertical routes? Yup, didn’t think so!”

    Conner’s TD run was a Double TE set (1 each on R & L), with the Full-Back (I think it was Ollison) going in motion right, then back to pull left with the RG (Bookser) pulling left and the the H-back (Zach Poker, who knew?) lining up offset left and also crashing off tackle. They caved in the right side of the Villanova defense really well on that play, sealed the LBers, and got at least one safety. Biz let his guy crash to the inside a little too fast and that pushed Bookser back, so Conner cut outside. Bookser ended up getting a piece of 3 guys. BTW, on that play Officer actually got a good drive block. It seems like pulling a lineman and crashing with two backs worked well on that time.

    That would be a great play to run a play action fake to Conner with the TE on the right releasing into the flat. Hopefully, Canada was setting up some things like that for the future.

    Sorry, I didn’t keep track of other situations, but think you are accurate, they were very vanilla and still didn’t execute.

    Like

  26. 3 rookie Pitt players made NFL rosters … T Boyd, N Grigsby and L Pitts. That means the 2 most criticized Pitt defensive players by POV / Blather posters made NFL rosters. Aaron Berry actually played for 4 or 5 years.

    Like

  27. Reed, I believe the point here is that playing versus the best WR each game is a thankless job. When you do your job, the ball isn’t thrown your way, and when you do get beat, the ball is thrown your way. CB is a thankless job

    Like

  28. PITT V PENN STATE —- Shoulda Been: “THE BATTLE FOR PENNSYLVANIA: THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE” hahaha

    If you have not seen “Highlander”, you have not yet lived a full-life 🙂 lol.

    All at Heinz will don the Hair-Band Wigs placed under each yellow seat, and this will play at Max on the Heinz loud-speakers after a resounding Pitt Win in 5 days:

    ……… 🙂 🙂 Yeah, “Highlander” was the best movie, like, maybe ever.

    #HailtoPitt + #PittIsIt !!!!

    #PSU$ux$wettyBall$ lol

    Like

  29. Henderson now has 2 KR’s for TD’s in his last two games. When was the last time someone at Pitt did that ?

    Now without that KR and his PR for 31 yards that set us up on the Nova 32 for our 1st TD, that is a 14-7 game. You think ppl are bitching now. ha

    Plain vanilla offense or not, our mammoth hyped O-line with 2 seniors (Johnson & Bisno), who they are hyping for All-ACC and even All-America, should have been able to blow FCS Nova off the line of scrimmage.

    These guys better get mean and get mean fast. And if you can’t hike the ball in the shotgun, easy solution is to put NP under Center. Play action passes work better as well, and with opponents crowding the line of scrimmage to stop the run, play action should be part of Pitt’s offense. Hello Mr. Canada.

    Like

  30. That 4 pmPG article linked by RKB, doesn’t mention Hendrix broke his foot. Just lower leg injury.

    “Update on Zeise, Hendrix

    Defensive end Dewayne Hendrix and linebacker Elijah Zeise are “day-to-day” with lower leg injuries they suffered in a 28-7 victory last Saturday against Villanova. Both players exited the game against the Wildcats and stood on the sideline in walking boots.

    Narduzzi provided no further details.

    “We’ll find out,” he said of their respective statuses. ”

    So where did we get the info he broke his foot.

    Like

  31. ^^^^^ @ Emel 🙂 🙂 Yeah, lol.

    Penn State week!!! — how is any Pitt fan gonna get anything accomplished during this holiday-shortened week??

    Hail to Pitt.

    Pitt’s offensive Line: every starter 6’4” or taller, 300 pounds of brute-strength and they all are clearly weight-room warriors ….and they show up for the Home Opener and play like softies, embarrassing themselves and Pi$$ing-off all the passionate Pitt fans who know how good they can be if they get their Crap-together. Pitt doesn’t have a $tar Quarterback. We don’t have a LeSean McCoy, a Dion Lewis, a Larry Fitzgerald —— This Pitt Football season runs through the offensive line —- Step It Up Boyzzz.

    Like

  32. Good news for hoops, 2 recruits already for 2017 class and one is a 6’11” big man.

    At least we’re aren’t waiting until most of the HS kids are ‘picked over’ which had become a yearly thing
    in the last several years.

    Like

  33. If this team beats the pedos on Saturday, I vote no more psu meadia biased coverage until game day.

    HCPN is attempting to give Pitt fans what they want – a winner. Last year’s 8-5 record was the appetizer. Both want better.

    HTP!

    Like

  34. http://www.blackshoediaries.com/2016/9/5/12798608/penn-state-football-what-does-the-pitt-rivalry-mean-to-you-franklin-narduzzi#comments

    —– 🙂 🙂 🙂 oh man — some very logical PSU fans acknowledge that both Pitt & Penn State need to step up our respective games, but we are now in great-footing with the absolute potential to be top 20, top-tier programs. Some logical PSU fans are even angry their lady-AD stupidly, stubbornly, foolishly made a rash-choice and only scheduled the Pitt-PSU, “Battle For Pennsylvania” rivalry only 4 years —– silly, awful decision and both of us fanbases are going to be fiending for more after our brief 4 games…. but for US — we get to exact our revenge on WVU a la how Michigan State has beaten Michigan 6 or 7 times in a row!

    —- anyways it’s great-fun Spying on the enemy haha 🙂 🙂

    Man — PSU fans hate Pitt (mostly within the realms of sportsmanship though) — well, ditto lol

    Like

  35. Lol, some Penn State -fan funny comments 🙂 🙂 lol direct-quotes:

    “I hope we smash. I don’t want a close game that’s a heartbreaker, I want an embarrassment, where Pitt cannot recover. Pitt has continually tried to make themselves into a program that deserves respect, but when they act the way they act, they don’t deserve respect.

    I want Mark May to cry, I want Dan Marino to pretend he never went to Pitt and I want all these little boys and girls who don’t support their team but talk mad shit to shut their mouths. 39-14 or better would be perfect.

    TL;DR Fuck Pitt”

    lol

    “Narduzzi, aka…the Dickhead…just closed practices to the media and muzzled his players. They’re so pathetic.”

    etc., etc., etc. lol ya’ll get the jist.

    ……..Pitt is….Tom Cruise from “Tropic Thunder”….PSU are (“We Arrrre“!!! hahaha) the Asian guys??? okay I’m-out, 🙂 lol

    Like

  36. Lol more PS-‘Who’er’ comments:

    http://www.blackshoediaries.com/2016/9/5/12798608/penn-state-football-what-does-the-pitt-rivalry-mean-to-you-franklin-narduzzi#comments
    “PSU alum, not from PA and only experienced Pitt games in the late 90s. Pitt fans are the shittiest fans of any team I have ever interacted with. When IT happened thier shittiness multiplied exponentially as they gleefully made broad sweeping comments about every alumni that ever attended our school. Football rivals, not really, but nothing would make me happier than to see our Lions stomp those ignorant, white trash yinzers.”

    ooooo, burn! 🙂 haha

    “What if we trash talk based on the game and whether or not we think your team sucks?

    I’ll go first: Narduzzi sucks and is nothing but hype. James Conner is going to get eaten alive by Shareef Miller and company. And 48-14.”

    Bring it PSU, we’ll be there at Heinz, ya’ll gonna show up???

    Like

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