VT is one of those teams we fans talk about when we say that Pitt has to start winning ‘big’ games. But the fact is that all our remaining games are ‘big’ as long as we keep winning them – it is what will keep us in the hunt for the ACC Coastal championship.
So what are the things we need to know about and then see our team do to win this game? Here are my thoughts…
We need to knock the Hokie QB Jerod Evans out of the game. Seriously.
This kid has thrown for 19 TDs against only two INTs in seven games and this is his first season to boot. That scares me and it better scare both HC Pat Narduzzi and DC What’s-his-name.
That was the first thing that popped out of my mind. Sorry it was negative but when a QB has this stat line:
…one has to wonder what they will do against our poor and now jury-rigged defensive backfield. But there is more to Evan’s game than just passing – he has 85 carries for 417 yards at a 4.9 ypc clip and has three TDs in doing it. That places him as the 2nd best rusher on the VT team.
Here is Evan’s Game Log for your perusal:
I’m not too sure we are equipped to handle this young man defensively. As a matter of fact I think he tears us up tomorrow night. Evan’s passing over the last two games, against Miami and Syracuse, has averaged 289 ypg. That is what I’m talking about above – if he gets close to that number we’ll have problems.
Here you can see our head-to-head comparisons with VT. Their allowing only 17.8 ppg is going to be a problem – actually if they hold us to less that 30 points I believe we’ll lose . Our defense is just not equipped to hold an offense like theirs down to a lower scoring game.
Here is this odds maker’s background info on this game – I like the way they lay the info out so understandably. One other bit of numbers I think is good to have when trying to predict the outcome of a college game is how the team did in their past games of the season.
From this you can see that our passing defense does have an upward trend – the shutdown of the Cavalier’s passing in the 2nd half of last weeks game was a pleasant surprise in that regard.
You can see that after the two pass defense debacles in our losses against OK State and NC our pass defense has given up an average of 216 ypg in the last three games – a far cry from the first four games of season. Still, an average of 328 ypg passing over the last five games isn’t all that heartwarming. Let’s hope our upward trend in defending the pass continues.
That is a lot of info on VT. How does Pitt stack up in this game?
Well, first off you have to address the running game of Pitt if you’re an opposing DC. We have an heavy impact ground attack that has us rushing for 240 ypg which lands us 20th in the nation. Some of that is thunder in the form of James Conner; 124 carries for 531 yards (4.3 ypc) and 7 TDs and he’s offset with lightning by Quadree Henderson’s 32 carries for 349 yards (10.9 ypc) and 3 TDs.
Those are the two main runners and isn’t it interesting that one is a WR and kick returner?
Rounding out the ball carriers we have true FR Chawntez Moss who kicks in a 6.2 ypc clip. he’s getting more work as the games roll around. I’d like to see him become the main ball carrier for one full game and wonder what he’d produce if you gave him the ball for 20-25 carries. I’d think he’d break at least one long gainer. That 6.2 ypc is nothing to sneeze at and he could easily get 150+ yards given more carries.
Will this be another game where the OC, Matt Canada, puts the ball in Peterman’s hands more often and allow him to throw some deeper passes? Who knows? Here is what Peterman’s done this season:
You can see that he had QB Passer Ratings of over 150 in three games (150.0 is a quality benchmark like batting .300 or 1,000 yards rushing); Penn State with three TDs, Marshall with 280 yards and two TDs and just two weeks ago GT with 192 yards and a TD.
Right now he’s sitting at 11 TDs against two INTs and that is very nice. He hasn’t thrown a INT in the last four games. But his whole season has been kind of weird in that the passing game has, for the most part, been an afterthought behind the strong run game we have put out on the field.
Perhaps that is as it should be. But I can’t help feeling that in one of these next three harder games against VT, Miami and Clemson, our run game might be stuffed to the point where the pass will have to get us the win. I’m hoping Nate Peterman and his receivers have been kept sharp enough to make that happen if needed.
So this guy’s prediction for the Thursday night game against VT is this:
I don’t think there is any real home-field advantage for Pitt at Heinz Field anyway so we’ll start off the game with a real 0-0 score. Our passing defense doesn’t give up monster yards (like over 300) tomorrow night but QB Evans surgically throws for 1st downs and TDs. I think he’ll have three TDs on the day in a mix of passing and his running.
As to the outcome. I’ll go with the head’s thinking over the heart’s feeling and say that VT comes into Pittsburgh and leaves with a win that will swing on a play or two in their favor – most likely a long QB run late in the game that takes us by surprise.
VT 31 – Pitt 28
Note: TE Charles Reeves chose Pitt today…