I must say I swung and missed on that game yesterday, so I will.
I was totally wrong…and not just about the score of the game.
I’m a Show Me kind of guy and really wondered, not believing actually, that Pat Narduzzi would pull this one out – not after watching the Miami and Navy games last year. But I was wrong. This was his first Big Win and how grand he must have felt at the end whistle yesterday. Notice I said ‘first’ big win… there will be more.
I was totally wrong with my thoughts of how Pitt was going to come out and play against Penn State yesterday. I thought it would be a slow start for us and that PSU would steal the win on a pivotal turnover play in the 4th quarter in a low scoring game. Couldn’t have been more mistaken on that one, especially when both teams scored 81 combined points.
I had my doubts about Narduzzi’s ability to strongly motivate his players when those Broadway spotlights lit up and the music started to play the overture. He faltered with that in the last two game of 2015, but that was then and this is now and boy what a difference a season of experience makes.
He sure did have that team ready to play their parts well, wow the audience and to deserve more than a few standing ovations after the final curtain fell. And I gave them one and bragged about the coach’s preparations and the team’s play for the rest of the night to anyone who would listen.
I wrote yesterday morning that I woke up and my first reaction, an emotional one, was to change my prediction around. But I’m glad I didn’t because 1) after all the research I did I logically thought we’d lose a close game and 2) I try to be as honest with you readers as I can possibly be.
With all that, with as many whiffs as I had on the day, I was one of the happiest Pitt fans at the stadium yesterday. Why you may ask? Because it doesn’t bother me one iota to be wrong about something like a sporting event – and in this case it sure made my day and my week. I’d say my season but I’ll reserve that for a wins against our conference foes. But I’ll savor it all year, that’s for sure.
Hell, I almost got booted out of the Press Box because I couldn’t stop “showing your emotions so loudly, Sir!” I did OK with that in the 1st half of the game – but then former Pitt DB Shawn Robinson and I (more on that in a minute) really got into the game in the 2nd half and started to jump around and exhort our boys on just a bit.
Although I have to say that there was more noise, albeit not actually noisy, and more movement in the Press Box yesterday than I’ve ever seen before – but given the circumstances you can figure that followed. That was by the Pitt and national media – the PSU media guys just kind of sat there stunned all afternoon.
As to the game itself. I’ll have our normal in-depth Monday Morning Quarterback article up before your lunch hours tomorrow and there I’ll give you my detailed thoughts on what went down, and why, in that win. But in a nutshell…
Our OL execution sucked against a FCS team in game 1 and looked great against a Big Ten team in game 2. Our running game faltered in game 1 and exploded with success in game 2. Our defense played very well in game 1 and… well, we won the game.
But we came out like gangbusters, took control at the start and built a lead that was, finally and most satisfactorily, insurmountable. And thank God for that because we did just about everything possible to try to give that lead away in the 2nd half.
But unlike some Pitt teams in the past we didn’t do that – we fought hard and used big defensive plays late in the game to keep that lead switch from happening and hung on for a three point win.
Although I have to say James Franklin helped a bit on that last PSU drive.
But Franklin didn’t go up and snatch an interception out of the back of the end zone like our DB Ryan Lewis did to effectively end the match and give us that big win.
I’ll be wrong again this season, probably about my game predictions because I’m lucky if I have a .500 batting average with those, and I may feel bad about that. But not now and not after that great win yesterday.
Now I’m full of nothing but satisfaction that we beat an old rival and that Pat Narduzzi can breathe a bit easier and get on with doing the same thing more often.
I mentioned in the comments yesterday that I was watching the game with Shawn Robinson and his brand-new fiance yesterday day as we ended us sitting on stools in Blogger Purgatory together. First off I’ll say this – his fiance might have been the prettiest girl in the stadium. She was certainly the happiest and it wasn’t because Pitt won either.
Shawn was smart and proposed to her on the field hours before kickoff – nothing like some subliminal pressure to get a “yes” answer when it really matters.
If you remember Shawn Robinson played defensive back and punt returner under Walt Harris and DC Paul Rhoads back in 2000-2002 and had six INTs in one season. He needs to get on the practice field and teach that skill to our guys… although we do have two on the year so far. He played on that nine win team in 2002 so he knows what a winning season feels like.
We had a long discussion about the great charity that Shawn has started and is the president of; Orange Arrow. It’s a program that helps young athletes strive for, and have, as much success off the field as they have on it:
To coach young student athletes to aim for success off the field.
The emphasis of this organization is well grounded in reality – that being the chances of these young boys and girls making a living in the NFL, or other professional sports, is so slim that the kids have to prepare for a full life if they don’t reach that particular goal.
I think this one statement echoes my personal thoughts about student-athletes perfectly…
The goal of Orange Arrow is not to discourage young athletes from pursuing a dream of professional sports, but to broaden the reality of those with athletic aspirations.
We aim to provide a practical vision of success in life, no matter which path they choose.
Earlier Shawn had asked Narduzzi if they would used the Orange Arrow logo on the signboard that the line coaches use to signal in plays and Narduzzi agreed.
So if you saw this on the sidelines yesterday that’s the reason. Pretty novel way to get your message out there.
Shawn wasn’t real happy with the current DBs’ play against PSU. It is interesting to watch a guy who excelled at something discuss what others are doing, or not doing, out on the field. But he had nothing but praise for Jordan Whitehead and he thinks Narduzzi is good and just what Pitt needs at the helm.
Take a look at the charity – the Trib-Review had a piece on it back in May and I referenced it in an article also. The current Pitt football players who have given their time and effort are: Mike Caprara, Ryan Lewis, Jordan Whitehead, Avonte Maddox and Darryl Render.
Another good and positive thing to come from the student-athletes at Pitt.
Monday Morning QB will be drafted today and up on Monday – makes sense. Until then enjoy the win and start thinking about Saturday’s score against Oklahoma State – who was upset yesterday.