Sunday Podcast: Pitt’s 5-2!

(Reed is always a week behind!!)

(Please excuse the beginning of the Podcast – I had to edit the first few seconds out…)

The die was cast and Pitt won the football game yesterday over Virginia by is score 45 to 31. It was a strange game especially in the second half after the teams were sitting at 35 to 28 at the end of the first two quarters.  Everyone in the stadium thought we’d see another high scoring two quarters to end the game.

But that didn’t happen. Instead we watched both teams play looser and more error-filled football. The junior quarterback for the Cavaliers, Kurt Benkert, who passed so well in the first half … he had 147 yards in the first quarter… couldn’t complete a pass to save his life in the second half.

Our running game averaged only 4.3 yards on 49 carries. That is a kind of inefficient approach to the game, but again we scored 45 points and I think the offense we saw yesterday  will be exactly the same from now on.  It will have to be if we want to keep winning while giving up 31.4 ppg (to our 38.4 ppg).

Matt Canada is not going to change this offense because it works as far as putting points on the board and we’re getting wins. If we weren’t, then we’d see more of the passing game. That wouldn’t have helped us much yesterday as our passing was sub-par.

Peterman had a respectable QB rating of 134.6 for the match but missed way too many open receivers. His stats line of 11/21 for 137 and two TDs with a long of 38 yards (TD to Weah) was unimpressive.  However his 11 TDs to 2 INTs on the season is.

However, with the help of a beautiful kick return by Henderson and a Pick 6 by Jordan Whitehead we had a bigger margin of points which allowed us to carry that rushing average.

Here are the statistics from the game. Some of them look really good on paper but if you look more closely you’ll see that they led us to having to keep the ball on the ground – especially because of the passing game:

UVA Stats 1.png

UVA D stats.png

For those who didn’t watch the game – here is a bit that somewhat vindicates all the Pitt fans who want to see James Conner play both ways… Check out the finishing touch The Beast puts on the QB.

I spoke in the podcast about our poor scoring defense of 31.4 per game this season.  From the years 2008 through 2015 our scoring defense averaged 22.9.  That encompasses four different HCs and two different conferences.  An 8.5 ppg difference is huge my friends and bolsters why I think Conklin is not only disposable but should be replaced. 

In Narduzzi/Conklin’s two years our defense has given up an average of 28.8 points – that is in comparison to the other years 22.5 ppg.  If we keep this up for the rest of the season things have to change. 

BTW – Peterman’s career QB rating at Pitt is 142.4.   That is a career stat line of 293/472 for 3539 yards with 31 TDs and 10 INTs… not too shabby especially when we add a 12-7 record over those two seasons (so far)

Here are his historical peers’ ratings:

petermans-rating

Note: Big B – our stalwart commenter – sent me an email where he mentioned that Pitt has sent a video to the NCAA for review of the last TD pass North Carolina scored on us to win the game . Apparently we think they had five players on the backfield on that play.  See if you agree.

It may be true – a QB, two RBs in the normal backfield – then two WRs back off the LOS.  I’m no rules junkie but the score will stand. Here is a snapshot look:

NC TD2.png

Here are my friend ex-Pitt FB Lance Markle’s stats while at Pitt.  He was a blocking FB of old from ’88-’91 and kicked the crap out of the enemy defenders.  He played for HC’s Gottfied and Hackett.  He’s the guy scoring the TD in the title photo.

59 thoughts on “Sunday Podcast: Pitt’s 5-2!

  1. I more win to be ‘Sh8t Bowl eligible. We really need to ‘run the table’ to get a decent bowl, since the ACC has crappy bowl tie-in’s after the Orange Bowl.

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  2. *The formation must have at least 7 players on the line of scrimmage.[1] The 7 players are not required to be next to each other, so they may spread out across the width of the field, but this is rare; most offenses place at least 5 players together in a continuous line. Teams may place more than 7 players on the line, but only the 2 players at each end of the line may be eligible receivers, so generally this only occurs with the special formations used in kicking and punting situations.

    UNC only has 6 players on the LOS. This should have been a penalty.

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  3. Yeah Emel, I thought it was some kind of Reed joke myself. Burrow deep into the statistics but ignore getting the most essential of stats correct. Kind of a Captain Obvious moment wasn’t it?

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  4. Zero chance we’re cutting one of our best recruiters and a really good coach who appears to get along great with the HC. The weak points on defense are the secondary and depth. The secondary is mostly old regime players and there is no depth because of Chryst’s complete disregard for defensive recruiting. Conklin gets two more years. Next year we’ll see some improvement and what the potential is. Year 4 is when you’ll see the potential start to be reached.

    Programs aren’t built over night and the talent being added to the secondary next year is pretty significant.

    We’re 5-2 and continue to beat the teams we’re supposed to. Next step for the program is to win one that Pitt isn’t supposed to. It will happen.

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  5. Reed you are so right. When I walked into the stadium I thought this place is great. Told my wife this is what we need at Pitt. Sitting on a bench not good but so much better in every other way

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  6. Was a little worried when the announcers mentioned that it was the 85th anniversary, to the date, that Scott Stadium hosted it’s first football game. Usually all that kind of stuff works against us. So maybe the veil of SOP is slowly being lifted. And of course we get those painful reminders like someone knifing you in the back….not so fast.

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  7. The defense is horrid due to their insane mentality of playing press coverage by isolating their secondary in man to man coverage. They adjusted yesterday in the second half and guess what the pass defense looked good and the overall defense played a really good second half. Hopefully they carry this going forward and play to their defensive strengths.

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  8. Thought Peterman had his worst game at Pitt! Whatever that defense did in the second half…. Can we just keep it as the norm!

    Hail to Pitt! Great ending!
    Please everyone relax and get healthy for VPI except you Webb… just kidding

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  9. Only way you can play press coverage against teams with an avg to good QB is by pressuring him. There are very few Darrel Revis types. Very few in the NFL, let alone college.

    Pitt came with 5 and 6 guys on many plays in the 2nd half, They shot the tackle/guard gaps, which also works against the run.

    First half Pitt only came with 4 on most plays, Henceforth their QB had all day to set up nicely, pick out a WR and throw. Result 4 tD’s and over 200 yds passing.

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  10. @emel

    Yes they did adjust and it payed off hopefully they mix it up going forward because their defense actually looked like a real defense in the second half.

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  11. I tried to get the podcast and the article done within 60 minutes this morning as I had pressing business with my son… I’m his ‘home care’ nurse for the time being.

    I tried to hire a proofreader but Dr. Tom wants $1.00 per word.

    Peterman looked almost distracted out there. But he has been hot and cold all season.

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  12. Hi Reed….missed your ‘in game’ running commentary yesterday ! Hope Reed Jr. is doing better. He has to be if you’re nursing him, right. ha

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  13. Tossing – do you really think we need to let some guy learn on the job for four years? Do you think Conklin is that good? Why not use some of the goodwill Narduzzi is gathering from the Pitt administration and get extra $$$ for a proven DC in that staff position to make sure we win the game “we are not supposed to”.

    Had we held both OSU and NC to seven points less (24.4 which is reasonable) we’d probably be 7-0. Three points less in the NC game and we’d be 6-1 and ranked.

    I just don’t think Conklin is very good and he’s shown that over the last two years.

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  14. Reed

    Agreed Conklin could be in over his head but how much input does Narduzzi have in game planning, adjustments and game day play calling?

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  15. Game observations:
    a. James Conner is slowly but surely returning to Beast Mode. (note: you couple of guys who for the last 2-3 yrs keep saying the ACC Player of the Year should play defense must be the same guys who said Dan Marino should of stuck with baseball and Tony Dorsett should of played DB. Yes, putting both James C. And Jordan W. on the opposite side of the ball a few times each game is wise. You’re desires are not.
    b) WHATEVER the reason(s), when both A Maddox and T Webb were out of the game our D looked greatly proved – KEEP DOING IT!!!!!!!!
    #H2 P

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  16. @Reed: Reggie Mitchell, a fellow RS Senior Safety, is who came in and replaced Terrish Webb at Free Safety.

    Phillipie Motley is a 5’10”, 185 pound RS Sophomore Cornerback who started for Avonte Maddox, over RS Freshman, 6 foot Dane Jackson.

    😦 With Damar Hamlin seemingly not being ready to play 😦 , Phillipie Motley got the start over Dane Jackson at corner, and Ryan Lewis played the other cornerback spot all game.

    Reggie Mitchell needs to stay out there at Free Safety. He just looks better and everyone out there, and everyone on Defense seems significantly more confident with Reggie Mitchell out there with Jordan Whitehead at Strong Safety.

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  17. I’m thinking Webb is playing cause he’s either friends or related to LaMont Wade. Clairton is a very small town, almost everyone is related to each other.

    Seems to be the only logical reason he is out there, cause he’s ‘Burnt Toast’ several times a game.

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  18. I’m surprised at how many negative comments there are here. Pitt is 5-2, Narduzzi has won more games thus far in his time at Pitt (13/20) than his last 6 or whatever predecessors and the D held Va to 3 points in the second half after giving up 28 in the first. Sounds pretty good to me

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  19. @TT, we had UNC on the ropes this year and let them out of the bag on that last drive. VT will be our next chance to “beat somebody that we’re not supposed to”. With our recent history against thenw e have the Hokies talkin to themselves. They just can’t figure out why the Panthers have their number. Honestly, I have no idea why we have eaten their lunch over the last half dozen meetings either (minus one, the one that I had to be at in Blacksburg to witness Pitt lose in person, geez). In any case, this is the most important game of the season! Because it’s the next one, of course.

    But really, this is an important game for us. A Thursday night match up that we will be featured on Prime Time. A typical opportunity for the Ghost of SOP to make an appearance! We just can’t let that happen! I say wear the throwback uniforms again. I say feature fireworks after the game again. I say do an advertising blitz offering ticket incentives to fill up Heinz Field for the contest. This one gets us bowl eligible with a win and I just don’t see VT coming in with any self confidence after their loss up in Syracuse.

    Come on Pitt, kick em while they’re down. Give VT another ass whoopin. That will surely throw one more shovel full of dirt on that SOP corpse that Narduzzi is trying to bury right now. Hail to Pitt! Hammer the Hokies!

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  20. Reed

    Who is Cheo Angel? In your historical peer ratings. I think it’s Pete Gonzales.

    For all the abuse House took as DC (including from me), Conklin’s D is much much worse. Maybe he’s getting a pass b/c Narduzzi is a defensive guy whereas Chryst was an offensive guy. Hard to believe defensive talent has fallen off to the tune of 8 more points per game.

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  21. Conklin is NOT the best recruiter on this staff.

    Renaldo Hill as DB coach. We brought him in from Wyoming, I don’t see improvement in his area.

    Narduzzi – No way in hell in he’s only in one meeting per week and Conklin is calling the shots.

    Prior to the season everyone talked about how stacked we were at RB. 7 games in, were playing two guys. Ollison getting one or two touches per game doesn’t count in my book.

    Were finding ways to win games, in the past we found ways to lose games.

    Mathews, I know the board is really high on him and Narduzzi made one comment about him in camp but looking closely at Canada’s offense with all the running and all the jet sweeps, Mathews seems like an odd piece.

    Webb – The defense played better with him not in the game. Also noted, Narduzzi finally decided after 1/2 the game was over to start putting pressure on their QB.

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  22. Lee – that’s not bitching really but looking at, and talking about the goods and the bads (or not so goods). Just like we’d be doing for a couple of hours sitting around drinking beer someone else paid for.

    One of the reason I feel so strongly about the defense is that I don’t think the offense is going to do this well next season – we lose Conner (probably) and I think Ollison might transfer.

    Hall hasn’t shown anything to me yet and George Hill is out of football. I had heard he was a target for a move to RB after this year anyway. After that we have kids coming in who look good on paper but we know how that goes. Sibley may work out well but Moss will be the featured back with Hall behind him.

    We lose Orndoff and I’m wary of the hype for TE Chris Clark – if we weren’t throwing to Orndoff, who is about the best pass catcher on the roster, this season with an experienced QB we probably won’t in 2017 either.

    And there is absolutely no guarantee that rising rsFR MacVitte is going to be the starter. The staff already got someone in to compete for that position a year early.

    We may not be able to consistently win games if we keep giving up 31.4 ppg next year.

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  23. Narduzzi has said publicly and I’ve been told privately that he really has taken a hands-off approach to the nuts and bolts of the defense… and the results show that. If not, then he’s not the defensive mind we think he is.

    You just can’t put this on the players when every HC before Narduzzi had such better defenses. There is some value to the thought that a coach needs “his own players” but every new HC goes through this. Last Year Narduzzi and Conklin had some of Chryst’s #34 ranked recruiting class and some of DW’s defenders and still did crappy.

    Narduzzi ‘system’ isn’t complicated – use the front 7 to pressure the QB and leave the DBs out on islands. He says this constantly. He loses Price – who leads the nation in QB pressure so there is a disconnect there.

    It isn’t only the players. I believe the DC isn’t up to the part.

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  24. LOL @Reed:

    2017 (next year) will be Jordan Whitehead, Damar Hamlin, and 🙂 Lamont Wade time in the defensive backfield. With RS sophomores Saleem Brightwell and Anthony Mckee hopefully no longer ‘stick figures’ (lol) and Kazeon Pugh hopefully all up to 220lbs, and not to mention a Senior Quintin Wirginnis starting in the Middle (this dude must just goof-off in practice lol — when he gets in a live game he’s the only guy who looks like a real NFL linebacker with great size and speed). Dewayne Hendrix is back, along with Rori Blair — and Keyshon Camp and Amir Watts will both be back — probably at a full 300 pounds with more muscle — to solidify the two defensive tackle spots!

    Offense will be Sophomore Aaron Mathews, Quadree Henderson back, Jester Weah in all likelihood back (will he declare for the NFL?) —- Chris Clark at Tight End, Alex Officer, Alex Bookser, 6’7” Jaryd Jones-Smith will start at left or right tackle —- and heck!! Who knows, Brian O’Niell might (turn down that NFL $$$) and come back for his RS Junior Year, so he can play one more year and also graduate from The University of Pittsburgh before he embarks on being a perennial All-Pro 🙂 .

    Pitt will be STOCKED in 2017 (Next season) if Lamont Wade comes home, and if Brian O’Neill and Jester Weah stay!!! Not to mention Chawntez Moss is back for his sophomore season.

    @Reed you’ve spent too much time watching Pat Bostic, Tiny Sunseri, and Chad Voytik play QB at Pitt lol those were all “Dark Years”. Thomas MacVittie is gonna slice through ACC Defenses like a Samurai, chopping through warm butter with his Katana. Thomas MacVittie’s nick-name next year: “The Samurai” lol.

    This Year is the struggle. Can Pitt, still with all Chryst-guys — fight and claw for 8 wins, and a Bowl Game Victory??? This season is going to be a triumph if Pitt wins 8 — then wins the Bowl Game. Narduzzi knows after last year’s season ending Dud that Pitt needs to come out strong in their Bowl Game this season.

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  25. Have to wonder when the complaining about Chryst’s recruits will end. I suppose at worst it will be two more years. The complainers need to remember that through his recruiting Chryst is almost totally responsible for the offensive success that Pitt has enjoyed over the last couple of years.

    Many of the guys starting on defense this year got significant time under House. Webb, Jarrett, Soto and Blair played significant amounts of time under House’s defense. I believe Maddox and Galambos also played under House.

    Caprara, Bradley and Price are fifth year players who were probably originally recruited by Fraud Graham.

    Most of these defensive guys aren’t Alabama class athletes, but they have ability. They have flaws. The defensive coaching need to put them in position to succeed, not to demonstrate a system.

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  26. Pitt’s 346 yards of total offense represented its lowest total since the opener against Villanova.

    Passing Yards against Virginia in 2016:

    Richmond (D2) 337 yards
    Oregon 331
    Uconn 154
    Central Michigan 402
    Duke 324

    Pitt 137

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  27. Gonna have to ramp that up, the schedule gets much tougher defensively.

    Va Tech #7 Total Defense
    Miami #14
    Clemson #9
    Duke #39

    Then a breather #113 Syracuse

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  28. If HCPN has taken a hands-off approach with this horrid defense, then Herman needs to sit him down for a coming-to-Jesus conversation.
    As for running backs transferring, if they can’t sniff the field (or adequately perform on it), then they are just occupying a scholarship someone else can use. Oh sure, the argument exists: what about injuries? But look at the deplorable Back up QB situation, and yet we haven’t had a problem. Besides, it isn’t like we have Alabama’s third and fourth string warming our pine.
    Finally, McKee is behind a walk-on. I don’t see him blossoming anytime soon.

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  29. Barvo, no doubt that Pitt is benefiting by PC’s offensive recruits this year … particularly the OL and RBs. (Just like PC is benefiting UW’s defensive recruits this year and last.)

    But realize this …. while PC even had a QB Coach in 2013 (Brooks Bollinger), Matt House doubled as DC / DB coach and Chris Haering was the LB coach, he with the resume of Mt Lebanon High School. Is it any wonder that we were not able to recruits quality LBs and DBs … and if you don’t think those recruiting against us didn’t inform the recruits of that fact, you’re out of your mind!

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  30. Reed – no goodwill. The players he’s working with are really that bad. Next year the secondary should be much improved but inexperienced. Even with the inexperience, we should start to see progress. If not, then it’s concerning. This is the defense Pitt runs and they don’t have the players to execute it properly. Next year they will for the first time. And year 4 will be year two for that secondary. That’s when we’ll start seeing the old Duzz MSU defense start holding it’s own. Plus Conklin’s an ace recruiter. Ace recruiters get a little more benefit of the doubt. Pitt’s had enough coaching changes the last 5 years. Year 3 in the system will be good for everyone involved. Coaches and players.

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  31. TT – next year’s secondary could look like this:

    CB – A.Maddox
    CB – P.Motley
    FS – D.Briggs
    SS – J.Whitehead

    Will another year in “the system” allow the freshmen that are redshirting this year rise above this group?

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  32. If HCPN is indeed not involved in defensive planning during the week and he brought in an experienced OC then what pray tell is he doing during the week? Sound proofing the walls? Checking IDs at the practice facility? Making paper dolls? I cant buy he would keep his nose out of the defense. I look for Renaldo Hill to be gone after the year.
    Why do we wait till the second half of games to blitz? First series or two to confirm opposing teams offensive attack then adjust is fine but waiting a whole half to attack is too long too often
    BEAT VPI.

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  33. Reed when I first saw 4-2 I had not had coffee and thought gosh Reed is never wrong I must be. LOL
    Nice to see you have recovered from the Hoos Hootch,,

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  34. Reed – the players don’t fit the system so my criticism of the players is probably misguided. They may not be that bad but they are that bad for this system … and the one House ran.

    Duzz runs a system defense. He’s not going to play to his players strengths because they aren’t his players to begin with. That’s not what system coordinators do. Regardless of whether it’s an offensive system or defensive system. They implement their systems hell or high water to get the culture installed. Until he has the players he wants playing, the defense will struggle. Next year, we should see a majority of his players playing for the first time. If the defense isn’t showing promise, then it’s concerning. Year 4 is when it should all click.

    Chris Peterson at Washington is a perfect example. The Huskies struggled for two years on offense because he was playing with kids that don’t fit his system. He didn’t scrap his system to run a pro-style offense to fit Washington’s player’s strengths. Peterson insisted they run his offense regardless of fit and they are reaping the rewards of that patience now … in year 3.

    I really don’t understand why people can’t grasp this. This is who we hired and who we knew we hired going in.

    Replacing Conklin doesn’t really do anything since it’s still Duzz’s philosophy on defense. Reggie Mitchel doesn’t start ahead of Webb because he’s worse defending the run. The system implemented requires the run to be the priority so Webb gets the start. Like I said, Duzz is not playing to his player’s strengths. He’s playing to his systems strengths. In this case, the best player probably isn’t starting but the best run defender is, which his system requires.

    It’s a sacrifice that Duzz is willing to make and it’s probably to the detriment of the current team. It will benefit future teams though.

    I never said Conklin was the best recruiter. That would be Harley. Conklin is one of the best recruiters on the team though. He’s not going anywhere.

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  35. Gas I just dont see Maddox starting next year UVA played several true frosh, Maddox has to sit or Football Head and GAllagher must sit down with HCPN , Even morons could see the change without Maddox and Webb and I am a member of AAM 6 7/8.

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  36. TT – you are correct – 3rd season.

    I’m watching the replay of the game on Root TV. The 2nd half D looks pretty good. Bottle it and duplicate it.

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  37. Three Things:

    Thank you Reed for running the best Pitt Football Blog on the Internet, and not being afraid to stir the soup. Sometimes it’s maddening, but it always makes for good discussion.
    2 Thank you Tossing Thabeets for a much needed dose of rationality on the whole player / system thing. It is painfully obvious that we don’t have the horses at Corner to make this system work. And we don’t quite have all the horses in the front 7.
    Thank you Dark Night for you unending dosages of Pitt Football Optimism. Whatever it is you are spiking your kool-aid with, I would surely like some…

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  38. Agree that 2nd half D was totally improved and Motley and Mitchell were part of that but they also were mixing zone coverage in which Billy Osborne on Pitt radio was calling for the entire first half. Whatever happens we need to make adjustments like that to improvise and adapt as the Marines say.

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  39. There were a few on here, including myself that said it would take Connor at least half of a season to get back into beast mode. He ran great Saturday. After the week off, he will be really back.

    Peterman was way off. That is the first I saw him miss easy throws. However, there were at least two occasions when a young receiver didn’t run the route correctly. Tipton on the 3rd down comes to mind. He ran 5 yards past the first down marker when he should have gone about a yard past. Even the announcers pointed it out.

    The crappy defense is not entirely on Conklin. Sure he has to shoulder some blame, but let’s not act like Pitt has a ton of talent on D. It is very clear that the LBs and DBs need to be upgraded.

    Why Wirginis doesn’t replace Galambos more is mind blowing? He is so much more athletic. At least let him get reps at MLB. They use him as a pass rush specialist. Same with Brightwell. In the one game he played a lot, you could see his speed and hitting ability.

    I agree with the Webb replacement and Motley certainly didn’t do any worse than Maddox. I would have rather seen Jackson, he is a bigger CB. Webb seems like he has been struggling this year. I hope he is okay, that was a frightening play.

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  40. Tossing the salad is right. Webb is a good run stopping safety. No doubt. And he must really be hurt now because he is a warrior. That tackle he made against the UNC Rb in the 2nd half – if it didn’t partially separate his shoulder then it was a full separation since he’s been favoring that right arm ever since – and playing.

    And I know it’s unbecoming of PItt fans to actually give credit to the opponents… but that was just a great call to get him isolated on that TD pass.

    And the Tossing the salad is right about the other stuff, too. You guys need to pay attention to him/her.

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  41. Seems that Pitt, these days as a program, has big problems getting crankin’ on both offense and defense at the same time. With Coach Chryst, of course, we were good offensively but poor defensively…

    My suggestion is to try a different coaching paradigm. Have Coach Duzz (Dr. Defense), while remaining the “head coach,” take over full coaching of the defense. Have Coach Canada (Dr. Offense) have full responsibility for the offense. With the coaching spot that you gain, hire a full-time QB coach.

    Coach Duzz should be able to get the defense playing better if he focuses on it. Then there are the advantages of having a full-time QB coach:
    —would likely improve the play at QB (though NP is playing pretty well, we can all see some things that the QB could do better…);
    —would likely accelerate the progress of the younger QBs, like MacVittie; DiNucci, etc;
    —would likely help with recruiting higher level QBs, i.e. the prospect of having a full-time mentor at Pitt…

    My 2 cents. (I’m not blaming Coach Conklin, I just really like the idea of a full-time QB coach — lets score even more points, that’s the name of the game these days…)

    Great job Reed – and best wishes to your son.

    Go Pitt.

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  42. Makes sense, MajorMajors (bob newhart right)

    However there is probably an unwritten rule in coaching that a team MUST HAVE a DC and to go against that might send you into coaching banishment. (assuming that banishment exists in coaching) (actually there’s a guy that lives in my neighborhood that is on the banishment list)

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