Monday Morning QB – Pitt vs OSU

monday-morning-qb

One of the great things about Pitt football, win or lose, is talking about or reading the thoughts and opinions of our fans after each game.  Sometime we find an issue that carries agreement across the board and sometimes we find issues the bring a great discussion and debate to the table.

After yesterday’s game I think we all agree on the fact that if we don’t do something concrete and lasting about our pass defense we are going to have a long season with some real disappointments.  It was that bad on Saturday…. and during the previous game. 

But there were some bright spots for the Panthers that showed on Saturday also. Our offense is still scoring points – even when we see our passing game limping along.  Our special teams play was better across the board, etc…  I’ll address some of the positive points in my “Three positive & Three negative” section later on.

But one thing I do after after each game is let a full 24 hours pass while I don’t read any media reports from other writers. I do that so that I can sift through my own thoughts and feelings, then come to my own conclusions about what I think the games show us, and the national audience in Saturday’s case.

I have written in the last week that I wasn’t overly impressed after the Penn State game when it came down to the actual playing of football by the Panthers; the win felt great but the way we played sure didn’t – and  now that is magnified after the OSU match.  We went into Stillwater, OK on a high and got carried out on a stretcher… maybe pushed out in a wheelchair… but you get my drift.

Forget about the final 45-38 score, the Cowboys took it to us right off the bat and kept the lead save for 1m 25s stretch when we were up 10-7 in the 1st quarter.  From the 4:26 mark in that quarter until the final whistle OSU firmly controlled the score and the game.

I think the worst part of watching these last two games has been seeing how very easily our opponents hit big plays against us in the air.  The interesting point here is that even though we have given up 872 yards passing against OSU and Penn State they have only had three passing TDs between them.  Compare that to our rather anemic 328 yards in the air but we have four passing TDs in those games.  Strange huh?

So – now we know what we have done in the first three games and at this point in a regular season, with a regular team, we fans would start talking about our apparent strengths and weaknesses and what the coaching staff would have to do to smooth out the lumps for the remaining nine games.

But this year?  With this horrid and crippled defensive backfield?  This ain’t no regular year and that ain’t a regular Pitt team.  I’m scratching my head trying to remember if, in recent history, we have had such bad play and such terrible results for one field unit.  I can’t find anything that even remotely compares to this season’s passing defense.

20072I suppose we can look at our 2007 team’s poor passing game when we were 104th in passing with only 104 yards per match, but that was with our 3rd string QB playing the last ten games of the year.

Maybe you guys can come up with something else but in my mind this season’s passing defense is about as bad as it gets…. and I’m not convinced that is going to change anytime soon.

We know head coaches tend to surround themselves with staff they are familiar with and our Cornerbacks coach is one of those in Renaldo Hill, who played DB at Michigan State before Narduzzi coached there; but Narduzzi has mentioned that he knew Hill well.  Get this part of his Pitt bio:

“His impact on Pitt’s corners last season was immediate. This was especially evident with Avonte Maddox, who in his first full year as a starter ranked third in the ACC in passes defended (1.15 per game, 15 total). Maddox was an All-ACC Honorable Mention selection and is primed for greater all-star recognition in 2016.”

I’ll disagree about how ‘immediate’ Hill’s coaching impact was considering we dropped from 34th nationally in passing efficiency defense in 2014 to 66th last year. Tag onto that the fact that in ’14 we gave up 2,471 yards and 17 TDs in the air to last year’s better 2,791 and 18 TDs.  And that was with Matt House as the DC and no dedicated defensive backs coach!

This year – if previous form holds – we’ll give up 3,636 yards passing…too much to even contemplate really.  The point is that under Narduzzi and Hill our pass defense got worse last season and and now it is atrocious.

OK – that said,  what are the three positive and three negative points we can takeaway from Saturday’s loss?  Because it is a loss I’ll start off with the negative.

NEGATIVE:

#1. See above.  Here are the stats – you figure it out:    The OSU QB went 26/46 (57%) for 540 yards and 2 TDs.  but here are the killer numbers – his yards per pass was an excellent 11.7 average and his yards per completion was an astronomical 20.8!  I’ll say that again – 20.8 yards average on passes caught.  Guys, a pass play over 20 yards from the LOS is considered a deep completion.

#2. QB Nate Peterman’s play.  We won’t win football games with our QB having a less than 50% completion rate.  Worse even was that some of those incompletions were to wide open receivers.  One specific instance of that was when the  Jester “The Human On-Off Switch” Weah was wide open on a deep route and Peterman badly overthrew him. 

Granted Weah caught an TD and then also dropped a sure TD earlier, but a good QB needs to give his receivers constant chances to catch his passes and some of Peterman’s throws were just plain bad.  His final tally was 14/30 for 237 yards, 1 TDs and an INT.  Surprisingly his yards per pass was respectable at 7.9 and his yards per reception was very good at 16.9.

But we need consistency back there and we didn’t get it on Saturday.

#3.  OC Matt Canada and his D staff coaching.    I could easily have listed just his playcalling here but I think his use of the personnel at his disposal is just as bad, if not worse.

First off let’s tie this back together to the ultra-poor defensive back’s play.  We have the almost the same personnel as we did last season yet we are playing much worse pass defense.  We lost DB Lafayette Pitts to graduation and S Pat Amara to transfer (due to Whitehead’s ascendance).  But our two deep is essentially the same as it was in ’15.  So far this season no matter what sort of substitutions we made back there PSU and OK State just kept completing long passes against us.

I don’t know how much influence Narduzzi exerts on his coordinators – he says he’s hands off but I don’t believe that for a minute when it comes to Coach Conklin and the defense.  Regarding the offense?  I just don’t know, but I do know that Narduzzi tends to hold grudges and sometimes his decision making is influenced by that.  Maybe ‘grudges’ is too strong a word, but if he gets pissed at something or someone it shows up later in his coaching choices.

It is almost inconceivable that we held out our #2 RB, Quadree Ollison, he of the 1121 yard season in ’15.  Instead Canada went with a Narduzzi recruit (Ollison was a Chryst recruit) in RB Darrin Hall who gained 17 yards on five carries for a 3.8 ypc average. For some reason Ollison has been the poor step-child with Narduzzi and not using him has cut into talent available to be played.

Ollison played just a few snaps and had one reception for 8 yards and not one carry… not enough in my book at all.

pitt-rushing-osuLook at this chart – Canada ran nine different ball carriers on called running plays Saturday including such players as WR Araujo-Lopes three times (!), RB Chawntez Moss twice and WR Tre- Tipton once.

Add that to Hall’s carries and they had is 11 carries for 2.9 ypc average.  I like the idea of giving Moss carries, especially now that we burnt his redshirt but you can’t tell me giving the ball to Ollison 10 or 11 times in that game wouldn’t have had better effect.

However giving the ball to WRs or Whitehead is what we are doing this season.  We do some jet-sweeps with a WR and it works sometimes so we think “Hey, lets do it all the time – that way when the next game comes around their DC will think we’ll NOT do it against them!”.

Seeing Henderson do well at a jet-sweep is one thing, he got 97 yards on 7 carries and 2 TDs – very productive; but understanding that Tipton and Araujo-Lopes are not Henderson is whole other thing all together.  I much prefer we used this so-called awesome OL for what it is built for – getting yards between the tackles as our bread and butter running game and then complement it with the jet-sweeps and end-around carries.

POSITIVES:

#1.  Our running game.  Even with the issues above we had to rely, again, on our rushing to keep us in the game.  Because of the poor showing by our passer we needed to get our constant yardage from Conner and Henderson (and Peterman’s legs also).  The three TDs we had on the ground were the 21 points that kept us close enough to at least have some hope in the latter stages of the game.

#2 K Chris Blewitt and P Ryan Winslow.  Blewitt broke out of his slump by connecting on the only FG he was asked to attempt – but it was a long 48 yard one and gave us the only lead we had in the game at 10-7.  The real impact Blewitt had was on his kickoffs though.  In his 7 kickoffs he had 5 touchbacks and only two returned for a total of 34 yards.

Ryan Winslow matched that with his 11 punts averaging 42.4 yards and putting 4 of those inside the Cowboy’s 2- yard line.  They had 4 punt returns for 34 yards with a long of 11.

So let’s add our kick coverage teams to this positive also – they did a good job limiting the return yards.

#3 James Conner.  He has come to play in each game so far and has done well.  I picked him as one of the positives in this game because he did some fine inside running against a stout OSU defensive line. He had 111 rushing yards on the day with 24 carries which is below his normal 5+ ypc average, but he made up for that in other ways.  He had a long run of 32 yards and then ripped off another 21 yarder to keep a drive alive in the 4th quarter.

Perhaps his best contribution on the day was a 55 yard pitch, catch and run for 55 yards.  That play took us from our 22 yard line to the OSU 23.  That also led to a Pitt TD to close the score to 24-17 and kept the game from getting out of hand early in the 1st quarter.

Conner totaled 171 yards in total offense on the day and his efforts kept us at least withing striking distance in the 4th quarter.

Note: – When I started this blog the only real rule that I set down was that it would be a politics-free blog and that I’d either curb or delete posts that dragged politics into the discussions.

I have noticed lately that we have posted some comments that have addressed politics specifically so this is a reminder…  Please leave the politics to other venues – Facebook and other websites are good for that – but not on here.

Thanks

122 thoughts on “Monday Morning QB – Pitt vs OSU

  1. #QuadreeOllisonStarts

    Quadree Ollison is the most talented running back on this team. Quadree Ollison has shown that he is a more talented, and way bigger Home-Run Threat than James Conner is. Rachid Ibrahim can’t get a touch, and well — man, Darren Hall is just an (sorry!!) OVERRATED RECRUIT — Zero Burst, Zero Dynamic-Speed, and Zero Vision. Is what it is haha.

    Quadree Ollison needs to play —– dunno what the coaching staff is after or wants?? I was all-in rooting for Darren Hall and all, but he’s just a Ho-Hum, Zero-Impact Back. (Dion Lewis, Ray Graham, were both 2-3 star no-hype backs so 4 stars means SQUAT for running backs)

    James Conner does not have the Magic anymore. 2014 James Conner, on THIS YEAR’S TEAM, is just a DYNAMO. But So-Glad he’s healthy, forget-the-rest. But as of now he’s just a “third-down”, “change-up” back.

    Everyone can sense it, what the heck is going on at this point??? Favoritism? Personal-Beef??? ……. Quadree Ollison gets put in for 1-play here-and-there, it is a straight-up, poorly-designed run play with poor blocking, then he gets taken-out. *** No screen plays for Quadree Ollison????!! **** — THE GUY on the team who who be as Fierce on a screen, in-space, as the fellow “Quadree” Henderson??

    Change of Pace, hahaha more bitching about why the Oklahoma State loss is Irkin’ Everyone: I keep watching the replay —- AND HONESTLY, maybe Jester Weah drops it anyway, that’s not the point hahaha 🙂 —- but how did Nathan Peterman miss Jester Weah streaking-open down the middle, on play action in that * “NFL OVERTIME / AKA 4th quarter” * pass???? That was a ” TINO SUNSERI – BALL ” .

    I agree with above-poster about the overall play of the offensive-line, and it 😦 😦 $ucks but gotta be real here, 😦 😦 — and goes along with people who try and say, “Pat Narduzzi’s wins are due-credit to INHERITING TALENT” —– Adam Bisnowatty and Dorian Johnson are looking like at-best, ABOVE AVERAGE offensive lineman this year. The rest of the line looks mediocre too. Look in Power-5, Every offensive line is gonna average 6’4”, 300+ , from UCLA to Texas A&M, to Minnesota in the Big 10 to Florida in the SEC, WHOEVER. — But Adam Bisonowatty and Dorian Johnson were being hyped by EVERYONE Nationally as 1st-2nd round at the Latest level-talents (i.e. Dominant Talents) —- what is going on with them??!

    Anyway, It’s all-good, ‘Cus Pitt FINALLY beats the Tar Heels!!! For 1-3 against them since Pitt joined the ACC, but it’s Way Better than 0-4 against the Baby-Blues!!!

    #HailToPitt —- BEAT THE TAR HEELS!!

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  2. My positives and negatives:

    Positives
    1. James Conner
    2. Quadree Henderson
    3. Juan Price

    Honorable Mention – Jester Weah and S.Sota

    Negatives
    1. DB’s – 1st AND 2nd string
    2. Not handing the ball to Quadree Ollison (ACC Rookie of the Year 2015 with over 1,100 rushing yards)
    3. Tie – NP and the left side of our O-line (all seniors)

    Honorable Mention – with under 4 minutes to go in the game and the ball at mid-field – Pitt has the ball on 3rd down with 4 yards to go (GAME ON THE LINE – tied at 38). O’Canada calls a toss to Conner with Henderson and Whitehead on the bench. Easy stop for the Pokies as they knew what was coming because JC was the ONLY threat in the game. THROW THE BALL NEXT TIME AND TRY TO WIN THE GAME!

    On to the next game – revenge game with unc…

    Hammer the Heels!

    HTP!

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  3. No one said the sky is falling but to look at what has happened in the last two games and not be very concerned is putting one’s head in the sand.

    Look, just beccause most fans predicted a loss to OSU earlier does not mean you can’t be disappointed when it happens especially if, after a couple of games, you have a better idea of what the team can do than you did during fall camp.

    Coaches make personnel decisions based on their personal feelings rather than strictly football issues all the time. It could very well be based on who Narduzzi recruited as opposed to who he inherited… not playing Hall last year means nothing as kids redshirt more often than not.

    But to shut out a 1100+ yard rusher who had a very good 5.3 ypc last season is strange esprecially since Hall hasn’t played all that well.

    I very much doubt the reason is academics either as that is usually accompanied by a suspension and the kid wouldn’have made the trip.

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  4. Erie – Connor outside of his catch and 1-2 runs lost yards or gained 1 yard or less on most runs.

    He is the 2nd best RB on the team.

    Play Ollison!

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  5. Our DBs suck – they are too small and too slow to play in Narduzzi’s system. When Narduzzi said at half we had to rush better Pitt did and the game was more contested. What puzzles me is that Narduzzi doesn’t seem to ever want to drop a safety. This made no sense against a team we knew was going to pass. Oh well, on to the Heels. HAIL TO PITT.

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  6. We got owned by OSU’s passing game, true. But after watching that game again, if you don’t appreciate what a great day Rudolph had, you just don’t understand good football. That QB could have beat the majority of the FBS with the game that he brought to the field against the Panthers.
    No excuses for this Pitt loss but as so many on this sight like to do, let’s keep it real. The Cowboys put a whole bunch of explosive pass plays right on the button to WRs like Washington that were just pretty much perfect. The fact is, when that happens OSU wins & their opponent loses. Last week, that was us. This OSU team is going to win a lot of games if they play like that week in and week out.
    On to UNC.

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  7. Reed,

    Speculating that Narduzzi is playing favorite is SOP fan conspiracy BS! None of us knows what goes down in practice. Here’s a F-ing idea, he isn’t earning the playing time in practice. He isn’t doing what is expected of him.

    My God, why do we always blame the authority figure. It is the teachers fault my kid is failing, it is the cops fault I punched him in the face and he shot me, etc etc. If he isn’t seeing playing time guess what….it could actually be his f-ing fault!

    Ollison is half the back Connor is, literally. If I saw him lower his shoulder once and run someone over I would say they are equals. Ollison runs soft for a big man. Period.

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  8. I still think Conner is our best back, especially in the redzone. But Ollison needs 10 to 15 carries per game to be effective and to keep Conner fresh in the fourth quarter. Have not seen the burst of a Lewis or Graham, or the lateral moves of a McCoy from Hall or Moss.

    Funny that Narduzzi says that it was execution and not the scheme. Technically true, but with little pass rush and receivers running past our defenders pretty obvious to most that our players were unabl to execute the scheme. Big difference in the second half when the d-backs played deeper and forced Rudolph tobeat us underneath.

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  9. Dark Knight

    Last year, weren’t you Nate’s biggest, non-stop, most obsessed fan. Now it is on to the next QB in line, LOL.

    So next year it is out with McVittie after two games, in with the next true freshman.

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  10. Canada has been very conservative with the passing game, got away with it vs PSU, but it cost us the OK ST game.

    I am hoping the emergence of Henderson, Weah and it appears Tipton is a very positive development. Hopefully we will

    see a little more balanced and less predictable offense and more throws on first and second downs.

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  11. Dark Knight makes some good points though needs to back-off the hyperbole.

    Connor probably looks the way he does because he is gassed. Why can’t Powell or Canada figure this out?? You can’t continue to run this guy they way they have – or he may have health issues down the road. 15-20 carries is fine. 20+ is nonsensical. I’m sure some UPMC doc is going to step in at some point.

    Peterman threw a Tino line-drive to Weah. Not catch-able. If you can’t put air under the ball – you can’t complete those passes. Notice how the OKST QB threw those high-arc balls? Even off-target it allowed the receivers to adjust. And those receivers were GOOD.

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  12. Cmon now upitt, do you think I would make up win loss records for Houston? Sumlins last 4 years at Houston were 13-1, 5-7, 8-5 and 8-5. Far from the 6-6 you argued back, but I get the point. Those are good teams from which to inherit good players. They beat Oklahoma this year and Ohio State blew out Oklahoma. Maybe OK is not great this year. Houston is the new Boise St. They only need to beat one or two good teams a year. They get to rest and heal up against inferior teams for most of the season. Put them in the big12 and they are .500 at best. I didn’t argue stars about Ward. I argued talent. He was Sumlins recruit and as he goes, so does Houston. I worked with Herman and he is solid, no doubt.

    I think the Pitt defense dials up the pressure this week and keeps the two deep in play. How about Akron clubbing Marshall? Anything can happen in the ncaa!! I think Narduzzi and company will look back at this season and kick themselves for the OKState loss. Very winnable. Watched it three times.

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  13. Agree on the conservative offense and it bit Pitt in the ass the last game.

    This is most likely the most inexperienced group of receivers in the ACC. To throw Narduzzi’s words back in his face, teams make the greatest improvement from game 1 to game 2, so the UNC game is really game 2 for the pass offense.

    I get being conservative with Villanova and surprising Penn State. It certainly worked. However, not throwing in those two games just delays the inevitable passing game growing pains.

    New receivers, new offense…it doesn’t click over night but the coaches delayed it even further.

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  14. Franco ran soft for a big man.. Not rocket .. Ollison probably having some difficulty with the new offense or the coaches have Conner getting some ” work conditioning” and will lean more toward JC this year

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  15. One positive that I’m surprised was not mentioned was the second half defensive adjustment… up until okst last drive (when Maddox fell down), it’s d controlled the half giving up only 1 td. In the first half okst was almost unstoppable. From what I heard, the diff was bumping was at the line.

    One of my biggest concerns is the lack of a passing game. NP had been average, and we haven’t helped by at least getting a short passing game going. And I don’t agree with our lack of Matthews involvement to this point.

    Finally, Connor is still out best back…

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  16. The first half defense was nonsensical. 4-man rush, no safety help (unless Narduzzi is correct by saying Whitehead failed to communicate to the DB’s) and Galambos basically just standing there in space w/ no one to cover so you’re basically playing 10 against 11. Beyond stupid.

    In this day of NCAA video game football – if you fail to adjust until halftime – you probably have given up at least 4 TD’s w/o just cause. Again… beyond stupid.

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  17. If you go back to my game comments, it was obvious that Galambos was caught in no mans land on several occasions. He then misses making a play by a step, which leads to a big play at a big point of game. That did cause us to play 11 against 9, especially if Whitehead was doing the same thing. All correctable.

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  18. John R: absolutely correct. The fact that it was obvious that Galambos was just standing there during each and every play is only surpassed by the fact I couldn’t even find Caprara on the filed, which he was. Poor poor schematics first half.

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