I’m not going to take a lot of time and expound on who, what or where Penn State is as a football team. We can go to other places to get that info and I’ll throw some links up for you to do just that later in the article.
But first here is all you need to know about this game, its history and the details surrounding it. The Pitt Media Dept. puts out a Game Notes document prior to every game and I always print them out to have when I’m watching the games. They are free (as opposed to $$$ for the Game Programs) and have a ton more info.
Here is the one for Pitt-Penn State this Saturday… and here are some excerpts that interest. First some tidbits:
Here is the Two-Deep going in. Note that Hendrix is still listed as a starter at DE and that Ziese is 2nd string at LB.
Sorry – but I think that is pretty crappy to list kids that may not even be in uniform that day. I may be wrong and both those guys will be fine to play… Jerry DiPaola of the Trib addressed the issue on Tuesday. I say plan on seeing Rori Blair at DE opposite Price and Seaun Idowu and one of the rsFR LBs rotating at the Star LB position.
Here is the PSU two-deep as of Tuesday. They have some experience on their OL also and there DL is the same mixture of JRs, SRs, and a rsFR. I think their WRs are pretty shifty and have good hands – I don’t see any long bombs by their QB McSorley but a effecient passing game that gets them 1st downs via a good completion percentage.
As for the game itself. We’ll post up a predictions article tomorrow but here are my thoughts.
I wouldn’t bet on a Pitt win this Saturday with your money. That doesn’t mean I don’t think we can win. I sure do and am hoping we pull it out. But at the same time I watched the Villanova game in person and wasn’t all that impressed with the team Pitt overall.
Yes, the Defense ‘threw a shutout’ – against a FCS team. That is a world of difference than going up against a Big Ten in-state rival. I didn’t see team speed on defense last week save for blitzes and it looked like the DL and the LBs were not any quicker or stronger than we were last season.
I think we’ll have a tough time containing PSU’s very good RB Saquon Barkley. He is a true SO this season and had a great FR year for the Nitters. He’s not small at 5’11” and 223 but runs a 4.38 40 (fastest on the team) and has power to break arm tackles. He’s also the 3rd strongest kid on that team and that includes the lineman.
Folks, tackling in the open field has been a problem for Pitt’s LBs (for years it seems) and I think we’ll have problems with this on Saturday.
And the fact that our leading tacklers last week were the four DBs means that their RB Barkley is going to get past the LOS and the LBs on a regular basis – and if that happens then we are screwed because he can make things happen in the open field.
We think Ollison did well for us and he did – but Barkley had just a few less yards (1121-1076) but a better YPC average of 5.9. That is the same YPC average Conner had during his great 2014 years and if you watch the Barkley film you’ll see there are some other similarities as well. Barkley isn’t a jitterbug type HB but can move the ball forward in many ways.
He did that while missing almost three full games last season due to injury, and he did this on a team that wasn’t afraid to pass the ball around either.
Overall PSU’s running game wasn’t that great in ’15 – again their most productive rusher was laid up for almost three full games… but that was last year.
I guess the more research I do into this opponent the more I’m thinking this game can be a real toss-up that may hinge on a turnover or two. Our QB is pretty good at protecting the ball overall – the last two games of the season last year not withstanding.
But we haven’t been getting the turnovers that we all thought we would when Conklin came over from the FIU program where he excelled in getting his kids to create fumbles and INTs. We pretty much sucked at that last season where we were 66th in the nation and dead even at giving and taking 16. PSU had a +4 in that area.
I’m also not sold on Blewitt being able to come through in the clutch if necessary. So I’ll say this. I don’t believe we have a home-field advantage in Heinz Field anyway and especially not when there will be a seas of screaming PSU fans there Saturday so throw that +3 points out the window.
But if we can get more that two TOs and if our rushing game can put up over 200 yards we’ll do OK. If Peterman and his receivers progress from last week and get 200+ yards and 2 TDs with no INTs then we’ll win.
So I think we win a close one. But my score prediction itself will be given tomorrow.
BTW here are the full PSU Game Notes for this game. Interesting look at the other side of the field…
Oh – and before pledging your dislike for anything PSU-related watch this video – not all the good and decent kids sit only on the Pitt roster.
Now I’ll add my personal and intimate thoughts on this game.
We love to hate Penn State’s football program and its team. That is pretty damned obvious. But I hope that we Pitt fans can limit our antagonism to the arena and not let it bleed out toward visiting Penn State people who, after all, love their team and university as much as we love ours.
I’ll greet PSU fans on my way to the stadium and the writers up in the Press Box with a handshake and a smile and I would hope that given the opportunity the majoity of Pitt fans will do the same thing at the tailgates and in the stands.
I have read for five years since Penn State’s scandal how much better Pitt fans believe they are than Penn State fans and in my opinion – if you truly do feel that way – then show it by taking the high road of civility rather than the low road of vitirol and spite.
You are adults and will do what you want. I just hope that what I see outside and inside the stadium on Saturday makes me feel a part of something, the Pitt family, that I can be even more proud of than I now – and I’m pretty damned proud of Pitt and its peoples.
Win or lose – to me life is bigger and better than just a game played on a field and I’d hope others feel the same way, no matter which way the score ends up.
Thanks and HTP!!