(As always here are the Georgia Tech Game Notes for Saturday as put out by the Pitt Media Dept.)
We face our second ACC conference team on Saturday at Heinz Field. The kick-off will be at 12:30 and at Heinz Field. As we remember last season we beat the Yellow-Jackets by a score of 31-28 on an almost-last minute FG by Chris Blewitt:
That was also Nate Peterman’s first three-TD game for Pitt as he went 14/21 (66.6%) for 162 yards and 3 TDs & 0 INTs. That sort of play is what we came to expect from Peterman last year – not a lot of yardage but production in what he did do. Let’s hope he replicates that Saturday.
What was best about that 2105 GT game to me was that it put the previous year’s 56-28 loss where we fumbled the ball away so much to rest. That loose-fingered play led to this post-game paragraph that I wish I had written as it fit the situation perfectly:
“Pitt did its part to help during a comical opening 10 minutes that practically gifted Georgia Tech a massive lead before the game was halfway through the first quarter. The Panthers fumbled four times in their first six plays, finding increasingly elaborate ways to give the Yellow Jackets the ball.”
That’s the past two games we played against them – what are we looking at for this week? Well, GT isn’t as formidable as it has been in the past. We’ll talk about the team here and then I’ll put some more detailed info in the first comment block as I do with these articles.
Right now GT sits at 3-2 with a 1-2 conference record. They opened this season beating Boston College, Mercer (?) and Vanderbilt. Then in the last two weeks they played two nationally ranked teams and lost both matches.
Their vaunted killer Triple-Option Offense has seemed to have deserted them.
Against #5 Clemson they went down 26-7 and then lost to #14 Miami by a score of 35-21. So looking at them dispassionately it’s hard to get a take on them – honestly they look kind of like us in some respects.
Tech’s HC, Paul Johnson, has a good record against Pitt at 3-1 including a 1-0 record at Heinz Field in the Fumble Bowl. He’s a decent HC but at this point he seems to be hitting his shelf life at GT. He needs a win Saturday to silence the critics as he’s already been there for eight full years so he’s in a position to be fired with ease by GT.
On the other hand I’d say Narduzzi needs the win also otherwise we’ll most probably whiff at a division championship again. But he’s only in his 2nd year and barring any sort of scandal or such he’s good for at least two more seasons before Pitt would even think of a firing with the accompanying required buy-out of his contract. We’re far from that happening at any rate. His 11-7 record is pretty good considering we are Pitt.
The two teams have the same record with both having two losses to the better teams. Here are some basic stats side by side as comparision:
Thank God GT’s passing game has sucked so far. And truth be told their running game doesn’t strike fear like in seasons past either. Although one thing does jump out at me – their rushing yards per carry average isn’t too bad at 4.85; ours is 5.21 ypc.
|Team Stats – Through games 10/05/2016|
|Team Passing Efficiency||108||114.13|
|Passing Yards Allowed||62||222.8|
|Team Passing Efficiency Defense||74||132.31|
Regardless of the past performance of their passing game HC Paul Johnson would be a complete fool not to throw deep early and often. That approach has just been a nightmare for us in the last four games. Hell, we fans crow about only giving up 240 yards to Marshall’s QB. Granted he had racked up big numbers against Akron and Morgan State earlier, but we really should have been able to contain him much better than we did.
I wonder what our rushing game is going to do against a rather stingy GT defense in that area? They give up only 119 ypg (we rush for 250 ypg so far) and they have held their opponents to an average of 18.4 ppg. Both are pretty good showings.
But I am suspect of our rushing game – the numbers are gaudy, but we have broken some big gainers that mask what I think are real problems in the lack of consistency with the short run game when needed.
Our 3rd down conversion rate is standing at 41.9% and that ain’t very good. And for some reason we have been running the QB on some short yardage 3rd down plays. Part of this is the fact that James Conner has been stopped at or behind the LOS on more than a few occasions this season, so that forward moving consistency he did so well in 2014 is gone. Sadly I don’t think we’ll see it again from him this year.
Luckily against Marshall we didn’t have that many rushing conversion failures – but we did against OSU and missed out a whole bunch of times. We ran the ball on 3rd down six times and converted only once. Overall we were 4 of 18 on 3rd downs in that game. Let’s hope that poor play is behind us – but I have to say this is one reason that bolsters why I can’t understand that Ollison isn’t getting carries.
The odds makers are heavy for Pitt in this one. It must be the 14 point home field advantage we get from sold out and the standing room only crazy loud fans we have for our games at Heinz Field. The predicted score is around 33-19 Pitt. Hmmm, I kinda doubt it but we’ll do our predictions piece tomorrow.
Here are the current standings of the ACC Coastal Division as of today:
If we start of ACC play with a 0-2 record we have a long row to hoe to get on top. Currently # 10 Miami isn’t going to be an easy game nor is # 25 VT. We get VT at home but have to go down to Miami for another late season match. In other words we need this game to stay in the hunt.
Personally, I think if we lose this game to an average at best GT team we need to really look at the future – especially if we get torched in the passing game. DC Josh Conklin hasn’t impressed at all in his first two season so far and neither had Narduzzi on the defensive side… actually it has been a shambles.
Here is a comparison between the two season with Conklin as DC – granted we are only five games into 2016 but boy does this hurt to look at.
Team Stats – 2015 Season
|Total Defense||37||363.2 Yards per game|
|Rushing Defense||40||148.5 Yards per game|
|Passing Yards Allowed||54||214.7 Yards per game|
|Team Passing Efficiency Defense||66||126.97 Rating|
|Scoring Defense||57||26.1 Points per game|
Team Stats – 2016 Season (after five games)
|Total Defense||72||406.6 Yards per game|
|Rushing Defense||4||69.8 Yards per game
|Passing Yards Allowed||126||336.8 Yards per game
|Team Passing Efficiency Defense||110||151.55 Rating
|Scoring Defense||T-90||31.0 Points per game|
Friends – that is an increase of 122.1 passing yard per game allowed – it is killing us and will ruin this season if it isn’t corrected ASAP.
I don’t think any Pitt fans were real happy with our defense last year even with a 8-5 record. But I think this game against a middling offense that GT possesses will be the harbinger of Conklin’s future as the DC at Pitt. Keeping the Yellow Jackets to the predicted 19 points would be a big help because IMO that will almost guarantee a win.
But the future of Pitt, and what Narduzzi promised when he was hired, was going to be a tough and stingy defense. What we have gotten so far is the opposite.
Let’s hope all the Pitt player’s flu shots have be been finished by early this afternoon. Heaven forbid we have a “Great Panther Influenza Epidemic of 2016” hit us before a conference game.