Pitt stands at 5-2 after beating the Virginia Cavaliers at their place down in Charlottesville, VA. The final score was 45-31 and a 14 point win is good in anyone’s books – especially since in came against a conference opponent.
With that we are 2-1 in ACC play losing to North Carolina then beating Georgia Tech and now Virginia. We play eight conference games per season and for the home stretch that is all we play – so every game means something.
Can’t take away anything from the nice Villanova and Penn State wins but they are window dressing wins compared to the task at hand. Very nice window dressing with the PSU win of course.
But moving forward we start to get into the meat of the ACC contests. North Carolina was a tough match and they are considered one of the better ACC Coastal Division teams, but after this bye week we have Virginia Tech at home then follow that with two very hard games against Miami and Clemson – both on the road.
It is this three game stretch that will make or break this season. I’ve said before that the final number in the win column can be deceiving if it is wins against out of conference opponents. At 5-2 we have a great chance at an eight or nine win season if we can do something Pitt hasn’t been able to do yet under Pat Narduzzi and that is beat the teams that are ‘better’ than us.
He needs to start doing that now if we are to have any shot at a Coastal championship.
Since we won the game POV MMQB starts off with the three good things.
James Conner’s play. His stats line was pretty good at 20 carries for 90 yards and two TDs. He also chipped in two receptions for 28 yards. That was a 4.5 ypc average and puts him at 531 yards on the season with a 4.3 average. What he did Saturday is score 14 of our team’s 31 offensive-generated points and accounted for seven of Pitt’s 19 1st downs… in other words he kept the team out on the field and moving forward.
He was a huge part of our offense in that his rushing yards was 43% of out total 209 and his reception yardage was 20% of that total. Over all his production with the ball in his hands was 34% of our total yardage.
That pales in comparison to his role in 2014 but we know things are different now, both with him and with our offense. Saturday saw 10 different Pitt ball carriers and five different receivers. Two years ago it was pretty much just the Conner/Boyd show – so for him to contribute that well with the diluted offense is pretty impressive.
Our Special Teams play again. How many times can Quadree Henderson run back kickoffs for TDs? As many times as he damned well pleases. But he doesn’t do it by himself out there.
Take a look at this video of his return TD against the Cavs. Note the downfield blocking by #23 Idowu and #15 Lopes at the 40 and 30 yard lines. The great part is after his early left to right cut back they took perfect angles to put themselves in front of the play and execute their blocks.
Here is what our special teams did statistically on the day…an avegarge of 48 yards per punt:
In the 2nd half when we started with only a seven point margin our Punter Ryan Winslow did this with his leg:
52 yard punt (VA started at VA 30); 44 yard punt (VA started at VA 20 on a touch-back); .52 yard punt (VA started at VA 08).
That is a good days work for someone who started off the season rather slowly.
Our 2nd Half Defense. We fans at the game thought that Avonte Maddox had been pulled benched and that was why we shut down tier passing attack – which had started so well with 147 yards in the 1st quarter alone… and 185 by the half
That wasn’t really the case. He didn’t play again but that was because of injury to his shoulder and Phillipe Motley came in and did well enough, with six tackles for second place on the day and good WR coverage to get a bit of a controversy going (on the media side of things; Pitt fans want Motley.)
Whatever the reasons we put a clamp down on Virginia’s offense almost completely in allowing just a late game FG. After scoring 28 points in the 1st half and getting the Pitt fans reaching for the nitro-heart meds they couldn’t do a thing after the Cavalier band finished their halftime show.
How is this for a late-game stand by our D ?
Even though they got a FG when was the last time we saw an opponent miss three passes in a row against our DBs? That alone is heartening for the future games?.
Our 2nd half offense. For as nice as it was to get out to a 35-28 halftime lead; 35 points in a half is great in anyone’s book, we were putrid in the 2nd half. In scoring only seven more points – on a defensive TD by Whitehead we allowed the Cavaliers ample opportunity to not only stay in the game but close the gap if they could.
We now know the couldn’t but a full 30 minutes without an offensive TD didn’t help at all and is a recipe for failure against the better teams we’ll face in the future.
QB Nate Peterman’s passing.
Pretty darn bad overall even with his two TD throws – one of which was another shovel pass to FB George Aston. He was 11 for 21 for 137 yards and two TDs with no INTs. The no INTs part was perhaps the best thing he did all day.
When a QB is throwing for only 6.5 yards per attempt that’s trouble. The fact that he had a pretty good yards per reception of 12.5 mitigates that somewhat but overall he left a lot to be desired.
He threw too long on almost all of his incompletions in this game and that is usually nerves –
this photo is of a wide open Jamar Parrish being missed on a pass.
a silver lining in his play on Saturday was the fact that ran the ball fie times for 26 yards (5.2 ypc) and picked up a couple of crucial 1st downs in doing so.
He’s been hot and cold this year and its a crapshoot to whether or not he’ll be able to do more than ‘game manage’ from one week to the next. Let’s hope this extra week off gets him ready to be a full contributor against VT.
But if he’s reading this (and some players do) this was a nice pass and catch to Jester Weah for a score.
Qadree Ollison’s play. I usually don’t like to single our one particular player unless that kid’s good or bad play made a real difference to the outcome of the game. Ollison’s play didn’t do that on Saturday. But I’m listing him because of the disappointment I feel with him not being able to seize the day and make the most of the few opportunities given to him by Matt Canada.
Ollison had only one carry on the day and that was for no gain. That is bad enough. But at the mid-point of the 3rd quarter when we were still only seven points ahead he had an opportunity on a 2nd & 9 at the VA 29 yards line to take in a swing pass with open field in front of him – and the ball clanked off his hands.
He would have easily gotten those nine yards for a 1st down and maybe a bunch more. Instead we threw incomplete on the next 3rd & nine play and had to settle for a FG try by Blewitt… that missed.
Rather than being in the red zone with at least four more plays our offense left the field with nothing to show at the end of a 50 yard drive. These are the types of mistakes that keep players on the bench. I’m not sure what the future holds for Ollison at Pitt, but if he doesn’t make the simple and basic plays he’ll keep getting played over.