Why Stubbornness is Bad…Mostly

It is certainly no secret to see what the main drawback is on the Pitt football team is this season – it is our pass defense which as it stands today is (still) putrid – we’ll talk about the details of that in a minute.

But it isn’t only the pass defense which is hurting us.  We have fielded a stout run defense all season on the whole in giving up only 103 yards per game which is great and lands us 6th nationally.

Yet even with that going for us we been suspect in one of the most important overall defensive areas and that is our Red Zone defense where as you can see we sit dead last in the FBS.

Team Stats – Through games 10/29/2016
Stat Rank Value
Total Defense 70 415.5
Rushing Defense 6 103.3
Passing Yards Allowed 125 312.3
Team Passing Efficiency Defense 115 145.34
Scoring Defense T-98 32.4
3rd Down Conversion Pct Defense 32 0.345
4th Down Conversion Pct Defense T-111 0.667
Red Zone Defense 128 0.968

But wait!! Stats are decieving…

When you drill down into that category you see us doing this:red-zone

Our stat is on  is the left side and the opponents’ is on the right.  So you can see that even with us giving up scores deep in our own territory we do pretty well in holding the other teams to field goals in 35% of their visits.

We saw that writ large in the first 16 minutes of the VT game when we held fast in three red zone series and forced VT to settle for FGs rather than TDs.  That happened in three out of the first four times VT had the ball and truly kept us in the game.  That is how good our run defense is.

But I wondered why that 65% TD rate happened so I looked back at a bunch of our games.  The best I can figure out is that opponent’s have been shredding our pass defense so well they are getting deep into our red zone by the air- by that I mean inside the 10 yard line – and thus felt they could use the run to finish off the drive.

Well in 35 % of those instances it didn’t work out so they had to settle for FGs.  None of that is really good news actually, but is just a bit of a silver lining to our defensive work. It is kind of hard to believe that after the first few games we played the opposing DCs would do anything but pass every play on us.

That is the good kind of stubbornness Pitt has going for it.  However, the other stubbornness we have is killing us in our losses and hurting us in our wins also.

I find that a contingent of Pitt football fans can’t bring themselves to acknowledge anything that isn’t 100% positive about Pat Narduzzi… or they figure that nothing else matters except Ws in the win column. I love Ws also but as a fan I want to look past just the first level of the scores.

So in watching Pitt play out this season we fans should face the fact that Pat Narduzzi is contributing directly into our lost games.

Even on the surface you see that in our losses to OK State, NC and now VT we have given up a horrendous number of passing yards. Against OK State we gave up 540 passing yards and lost by seven points; against NC we gave up 453 yards and lost by one and against VT we gave up 406 yards and lost by three.

That hurts just to type it – in our three losses we averaged 466 passing yards against us and lost by an average score of 3.3 points. Yet here we are going into the ninth game of the  season and Pat Narduzzi and our DC Josh Conklin have stuck with exactly the same defense as we have had all year.

What is the definition of insanity again?

Narduzzi’s insistence, and I think that is exactly what it is as he’s calling the defensive system and tasking Conklin to execute it out on the field, of sticking with the ‘defensive backs on an island‘ (his words) with front four (or front seven) pressure on the QB is contributing to the defense’s failing.

Yet we see them trot out the same pass defense approach game after game after game… and some Pitt fans feel that if he’s doing it then it must either be a good approach or, and I really dislike this opinion, he must have his own players to make it work.

Well hell, if it isn’t working at all with the players you have available to put out there the why in the world is he sticking with it??

After all, isn’t this exactly the same criticism that we fans heaped on Todd Graham with his instance of the ‘pedal to the medal’ offense and having only Tino Sunseri at QB trying to execute it? Every Pitt fan and his brother felt that Graham should have adapted his offense to fit the personnel he had on the roster until he had his recruited players in place to run it.

Let’s all admit it – we criticized the hell out of Graham for that yet are giving Narduzzi a free pass for doing the exact same thing.

Narduzzi could have and still can adapt his defensive system to accommodate his existing personnel – he has a Pitt contract until 2021 so what would be wrong with his adapting his defense in his second year while still recruiting the type of kids he wants to play his favored defense down the road?

This is what is most frustrating to the fans, readers and writers I talk to in the press box … the stubbornness to stick with something that is absolutely not working and is costing us wins at the present moment. The probability is that if we could have kept those three teams we lost to even 100 less yards per game passing we would be 8-0 right now.

8-0 folks and I truly believe we could be there now if Narduzzi could have swallowed enough ego to change his approach to pass defense when he got here and saw what he had to work with.  Instead we got another coach who adheres to the square peg in round hole approach.

Look – DBs Webb, Lewis and Mitchell are SRs this year; Maddox is a JR… why not use those guys who will be leaving in an adaptive defense for better effect this year – it ain’t like they are learning Narduzzi’s “on an island” pass defense system for future seasons.

If we completely sucked this year – and I mean throw the season away sucked – then he could have played all his DB recruits as two-deep players from game one and taught them the “island” defense for next year.  But we don’t suck and have had a shot at an excellent winning season had he adapted his plans to fit his tools.

Then next year Narduzzi will have a ‘better’ crop of his own recruited DBs to institute his favored defense with the younger, taller and (hopefully) better DBs as his starters.

Instead we have Pitt fans who point to the players themselves for everything wrong with our pass defense in saying they are too short or too slow or whatever… without ever pointing a finger at the coaching staff who is paid well and who is expected to do the best they can with what they have at hand – and that means being smart enough to change their approach when things start to go in the toilet… which was in the second game of this year.

 

94 thoughts on “Why Stubbornness is Bad…Mostly

  1. Reed I’m not sure what type of new defense will help the cornerbacks. We play a cover 4 almost all the time and it is about the simplist zone you play. The corners are only responsible for their area along the sideline. The safeties and LBs, depending upon depth of the route, pick up anyone turning into the field. Against VT, most of the time our corners had good coverage but simply are not talented enough to make the play once the ball is in the air. Now as a Pitt fan I would have liked the refs to call 1 or 2 offensive pass interference calls early in the game to get VT receivers to quit pushing off so much. IMO the game was definitely refereed to the advantage of the VT receivers, but now it seems like I’m whining. But right in front of me Dane Jackson was absolutely mugged by the VT receiver and the dam ref still called interference on Dane. That was a really bad call, along with a few others. Lets go beat Miami.

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  2. Reed, at this point, with the ACC Coastal Crown now effectively out of reach for this season I would go in a completely different direction. “Insanity” IS doing the same thing over & over again, IF you do it with the same personel. I say sit down the guys who have proven to be less than competent, like Webb, and burn some more RSs besides Hamlin’s and play our future players right now.

    IMO, now that Damar Hamlin has seen the field, he should START at one of the CB spots for the rest of the year. I would also take a good hard look at the guys like Coleman, Miller, Campbell, Garner, Stocker & Henderson. Everyone of these guys is six feet or taller and some of them have a high ceiling coming right out of HS. I say burn another RS or two and get a couple of these kids some real game experience right now. Sure It would be nice to preserve this stable of young freshmen secondary talent until they are truly ready to perform as RS freshmen next year, but right now we don’t have that luxury. Plus, hopefully there will be more secondary talent coming in next year above and beyond Paris Ford (although I don’t see the likes of Lamont Wade in a Panther uniform next year). I’d much rather see a true freshman getting torched by the likes of Miami and Clemson than one of our experienced midgets who have already demonstrated their limitations over the last eight games.

    The argument on doing this, of course, is the damage that can be done to the pysche of these impressionable youths while they are made to look like toast against superior opponents when they are not ready to compete. I say too bad. Bad experience is better than no experience at all! Plus if you are putting the right individual in that sitiuation in the first place, he’ll use those defeats as motivation to get better.

    So play right now for the future. Hail to Pitt!

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  3. Reed, I agree with all you wrote here except for the following:

    After all, isn’t this exactly the same criticism that we fans heaped on Todd Graham with his instance of the ‘pedal to the medal’ offense and having only Tino Sunseri at QB trying to execute it? Every Pitt fan and his brother felt that Graham should have adapted his offense to fit the personnel he had on the roster until he had his recruited players in place to run it.

    Let’s all admit it – we criticized the hell out of Graham for that yet are giving Narduzzi a free pass for doing the exact same thing.

    In fact, my memory was quite the opposite. As I had written many times, up until the day Graham left town, I considered Pitt Blather as “Graham Apologists Central” It’s amazing how the opinions towards him changed in one day.

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  4. My concern with switching the defensive scheme would be that we would no longer stop the run the way we have been able to.
    That would potentially lead to teams being able to hold on to the ball much longer, limiting our own offensive opportunities.
    Hard to say what the outcome of that would be.
    If we recruit and have dbs who are better than the wrs they cover, I would think we would be okay.
    No idea if that is possible. There are some talented qbs and wrs out there.

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  5. I agree with the good Doctor. PITT does not have the depth to be red-shirting folks, we are not Alabama. You have to play the kids, you recruited them as they fit the vision of your program. They may take their lumps but they can’t possibly be any worse then the guys out there.

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  6. Somebody rather stridently defended Narduzzi on the Blather saying that he should be given a pass until he get his players in place because college ball is “scheme” based. I call BS on that to begin with. Then I say that if one really believes that college ball is scheme based that Narduzzi has personnel on roster to play his scheme. Miller, Coleman, Hamlin and Jackson are all 6′ 180 lbs or better. Play them if you insist on playing your “scheme”. Also might want to play more athletic linebackers like Wirginis, Brightwell and Pine if teams insist on throwing.

    I think Pitt’s d-line is shockingly better in 2016 than they’ve been since Donald graduated. The front 7 are capable of doing a decent job of stopping the run on their own and don’t require the emphasis on safety help.

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  7. Couldn’t agree with you more Reed. I wish there was a way to have HCPN asked these exact questions and hold him to an answer. It’s stunning! On another topic, we are likely driving to Death Valley to watch the Clemson game. Is there ANY indication anywhere on what time kickoff may be?

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  8. I don’t think very many are giving Narduzzi a complete pass here. Maybe a few. As someone mentioned above that PITT does play a helping cover 2 zone. These passes are predominately down the sidelines so how would you propose to double team the wr? It can’t be done. What irks me is that everyone not only thinks Narduzzi is dumb but also think they know more about defense than he does. The question he should be asked if he is being stubborn and if yes for what reasons. The guy didn’t become stupid upon arriving in Pittsburgh but Michigan State’s defense sure has.

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  9. Reed I disagree with a lot of what you are saying. Check out the “film study” article over on pittsburghsportsnow. Very informative and sheds some light on some things that a lot of us fans don’t know. Some have called for double-teaming certain receivers. Imagine how that would have worked out against VT. It’s a pick your poison scenario. If we play the pass all out, we are going to give up big running yards and get gashed. Everyone complained about PCs recruiting of MAC level athletes. That’s predominantly what we are playing with on the D side of the ball. I agree that we should have burned redshirts and let some of these guys play early on in the year so that they would be more comfortable now.
    And I’m sick of hearing the whining about PNs sideline actions. He’s old school – and we need more passion and enthusiasm in this football team and fanbase.
    As for the refs of the last game, well we committed def PI on about every play and they committed off PI on about every play…..only problem is none were called on them. They should have set the tone early and been consistent. Some of them were definitely momentum changing calls.

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  10. Oh, and Dr Tom – don’t be so sure on Wade. I’m not saying he’s coming Pitt’s way but for a while now a lot of people have thought Tenn to be the leader. Have you seen/heard any of the news coming out of Knoxville today? Team is in disarray. Their best player is said to be transferring. Several players have said to have quit the team. Special team meeting called for tonight. Heck when Wade was there his name tag had his first name spelled wrong. And Butch Jones and Brian Kelly are so much alike.
    All I’m saying is don’t count Pitt out yet. The guy has to see that he can play Day 1. That has to be enticing.

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  11. You think there’s anyone who wants to win more than Narduzzi does? He plays the scheme because he believes it gives them the best chance to win. He plays the guys that he believes give them the best chance to win.

    I don’t believe the scheme is the problem anyway. I don’t see WRs streaking down the field wide open, or TEs tearing down the seams uncovered. By and large I see DBs who are in position to make a play on the ball but don’t or can’t – due to ability or technique.

    Changing the scheme isn’t going to make those guys turn their heads when the ball is in the air, or get a hand up. Changing schemes isn’t going to make them all 6’3.

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  12. Nice post BC, why do you think PN was so pissed off when the wr’s were pushing off the PITT DB’s when they were in position to make a play? All the DB’s are at the mercy of the officials and they let them down. I know PITT was grabbing but the plays should have been offsetting and or called at the very beginning of the game.

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  13. Corners going one on one with great receivers will lose most of the battles no matter the scheme.

    The biggest variable is the pass rush. We have one really good pass rusher, that’s it.

    Don’t understand why we don’t blitz on every play. What have we got to lose.

    Also, don’t understand why Whitehead isn’t given a shot at corner, if he is your most talented guy give him a chance to make a play. Also Mitchell was a decent corner 2 years ago. Have Brightwell and Crocker play safety.

    I don’t agree with burning any more redshirts, we will need these guys for four years, but why not play the redshirt freshmen.

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  14. If you still have the replay of the VT game, all you have to do is listen to Jesse Palmer, the college commentator/former Florida Gator QB/5 yr. NFL QB who was doing the broadcast. He kept POINTING OUT that Duzz was putting his corners on an island with no safety support and it was KILLING the Panthers. He continued saying that Duzz had the horses to get away with that at Michigan State but at Pitt he doesn’t have the players yet to use it and it is costing the team dearly!!! Palmer would not let this fact go and even called Duzz stubborn for not adapting to the talent level he now has. Which again, in my opinion is why Duzz lost control of himself and ended up being fined for it. Our coach needs to show a higher football IQ in this matter and in my opinion – adapt to the skill level you have presently and adjust when the skill level changes.
    Or, as Dr. Tom suggests burn all the freshman red shirt DBs and give them game experience now during this less meaningful year.

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  15. Interesting to note: UNC rolled into Charlottesville to face Virginia the week after Pitt did.

    I had the game on the radio and noted that UNC’s Gene Chizik did not play his base defense to open the game against Virginia.

    Instead he came out with a 4-1-6, since Virginia is a passing team. They were able to hold Virginia to their lowest passing Total of the season at only 143 yards and only 253 Total yards. That scheme was obviously instrumental in the Tarholes having an easy time with Virginia, winning 35-14.

    Virginia had more passing yards in the 1st Quarter against Pitt than they had the entire game against UNC.

    So here we have a veteran DC who based on Virginia’s strengths, changed his base 4-3-4 defense to 4-1-6, so they could double Virginia’s WR’s along the sidelines.

    And won an easy game while Pitt struggled because it refused to get out of it’s base defense.

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  16. I don’t really like to talk about officiating – if you let them impact the outcome of the game, then you should have done something to put the game farther from their reach.

    That said – again, there’s a reason Narduzzi was losing his mind. You think he would be acting like that if the game was being called fairly, correctly, or even just consistently?

    I know those guys have a tough job. But that was an awful performance.

    My solution? Don’t get shut out in the first quarter. Don’t go 3 and out on back to back 4th quarter drives after tying the game. The refs were a problem – but there was plenty that could have been done to make them inconsequential.

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  17. Like Reed wrote, we could be having a really excellent season (which doesn’t happen often at Pitt) and undefeated in the ACC. With a chance of getting into the Championship game.

    Now that would do wonders for recruiting, wouldn’t it ?

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  18. I’m looking forward to Miami, though. I like Pitt a lot in this game – DBs and officiating aside. They’ve lost 4 straight and have struggled to put up points against P5 competition. I’m sure that will probably change Saturday. But I don’t think they will be able to keep up with Pitt.

    Their ranking was gained largely by lopsided results against Florida Atlantic, Florida International, and App State. Let’s get back on track – and ready for a showdown with a National Championship contender.

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  19. Emel — I didn’t see the UNC-UVA game, but did UNC actually run a different defense than normal, or did they just change up personnel? Obviously Narduzzi could move his safeties to LB, and then bring in a couple more safeties, but that isn’t going to change things for the CBs.

    You can’t realistically double team wide receivers all game. You could do it on some third and longs, but in general you’re going to get gashed in the box.

    I’m not a Narduzzi apologist. I think he does need to try some different things, whether it’s the players’ techniques, the defensive play calling, or something else. On top of that, I realy disapprove of his sideline antics. I love his passion but he needs to direct his passion at inspiring the players. Nobody will be inspired by repeated, constant whining. Complaining to the refs after every play isn’t going to influence their calls, especially when the time comes for something that you truly need to complain about. Sure Coach K and other very successful coaches behave similarly, but you will have a hard time convincing me that Coach K’s whining is the reason why Duke has a good basketball program. All that being said, the reality is that there’s no easy foolproof way to fix our defensive woes.

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  20. Boston. .. that is what a lot of people had pointed to after that Virginia game ended.

    There are ways to work around any problems if one is willing to change.

    Narduzzi’s not willing to do that because it worked for him at MSU. .. but we are seeing the result of that stubborn attitude here at Pitt.

    Fans accept it because we have two more wins than losses. Thank God we have an offense that can cover his mistakes.

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  21. I wanted to go 8-4 this year. Now it looks like we will be 7-5 or even back to our classic 6-6.

    I’m starting to feel a little UPittBaseball-ish suddenly. 😦

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  22. There’s not a whole lot of different ways to do it, guys,” he said. “We have 11 guys out there. If you’re going to be gap sounds in the run game, there’s not a whole lot you can do. … They did have help at times. We played from different things at times. But again, they’re a team that likes to run the football. There’s not a whole lot you can do or you’re going to get the ball run down your throat. … You have to make a play, that’s what you’ve gotta do.”

    That is HCPN’s stance – worry about the short runs while the DBs are on an island and giving up massive yardage thru the air

    And Nero fiddled…

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  23. If I remember correctly in the UVA/UNC game is that Virginia had the lead for a good while and UNC didn’t pull away until late. I point this out because without knowing and seeing the entire painting you’re never figure out what the painting is.

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  24. Victory – Don’t do it. Fight it as long as you can. I think we beat Miami but damn yhey are home and lost 4 in a row.

    I’m sure Kaaya has a banner day and gets in the Heisman Race after our secondary. Haha.

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  25. If you look at both the CBS and ESPN rankings that rate all 128 teams, you will find that we are much lower than all the teams that beat us (by a total 11 points) …. in fact Ok St is 18th in ESPN ranking, We also beat the 20th ranked team in one poll and 24th in the other.

    I do think that HCPN is stubborn and is not getting the maximum output capable of our defense … but still, we have played a bunch of really good passing teams with pretty good WRs and QBs, that have had much success against many other teams.

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  26. 4-1-6 dime defense means you take 2 LBs out of the game and replace them with defensive secondary players. It doesn’t necessarily mean that, on a usual 1st down and ten, the extra DBs that came on the field are going to be playing pass first and double teaming receivers.

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  27. If I remember correctly in the UVA/UNC game is that Virginia had the lead for a good while and UNC didn’t pull away until late. I point this out because without knowing and seeing the entire painting you’re never figure out what the painting is.

    I suggest you read the boxscore and the recap. If you won’t believe me.

    Additionally UVA’s first TD was on a trick play, fake FG. UNC’s defense just totally dominated them. UVA avg’d 2.8 yards per rush and a measly 3.2 yards per pass.

    I point this out, so you can see THE ENTIRE PAINTING !

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  28. Emel my friend, I do get the adjustment point but it was 21-7 with 1.31 to go in third quarter and 28-14 in the fourth, UNC tacks on a TD with seconds to go. Hardly a beat down. Virginia was held way down passing wise.

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  29. Annomous, interestingly my dad had a Nero Halloween custom he’d wear each year back in the day!
    Thanks for bringing back good memories. This year I might dress up as a Pitt CB in a Smurf outfit!

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  30. Didn’t Chryst adjust his offense about 1/3 through the season to Voytiks strengths to improve the offense? As I recall that made the offense much better.

    Didn’t WLAT scrap his hurry up about 1/3 of the way through the season and turned an inept offense into something some what respectable?

    I’m a bit perplexed at what’s going on regarding the pass defense.

    As a coach don’t you want to win every game?

    Adjustments can be made if you realize there is an issue.

    Is it stubbornness or just something else?

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  31. His mistakes? What mistakes? He’s not on the field in position to make a play and getting beat… players make plays, coaches coach. Especially in base defense…

    What would you have him do? What scheme do you want him to run?

    Buckey Hodges is gonna play in the NFL. There’s a good chance Isiah Ford will too. A lot of the WRs Pitt has faced will play in the NFL. Ryan Lewis, Terrish Webb, Avonte Maddox, Phillipe Motely, ect. aren’t playing in the NFL… The team has bad DBs right now (or young). The solution isn’t putting more of them on the field… more crap doesn’t make a crap sandwich taste any better.

    You want to talk about burning redshirts, or wasting timeouts, or other coaching decisions that impact the game – ok. But scheme isn’t the problem.

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  32. Reed, I think you should look more closely at the 2nd half of the Marshall game. I do believe Pitt tried to give their corners more help in pass coverage. But the result ended up with Marshall running quite successfully on us in that half.—I think Woody Hayes said two bad things can happen every time you pass the ball versus one good thing. Unfortunately that one good good thing continues to happen for our opponents almost every game. Narduzzi will not change from stopping the run first, and I for one totally agree with that defensive philosophy.

    Marshall had a total of 104 yards rushing – it wasn’t a problem.

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  33. “Emel my friend, I do get the adjustment point but it was 21-7 with 1.31 to go in third quarter and 28-14 in the fourth, UNC tacks on a TD with seconds to go. Hardly a beat down. Virginia was held way down passing wise.”

    ~ ike my friend….lol. You’re twisting this every which way, for some reason.

    It was 28-7 UNC at the end of the 3rd Quarter. UVA scored at the 9:01 mark of the 4th Q to make it 28-14, on the ensuing drive UNC answered back immediately and score in 30 seconds at the 8:30 mark to make it 35-14.

    There was no late UNC tack on score with seconds to go.

    FIRST QUARTER UNC UVA

    TD 0:33
    Elijah Hood 4 Yd Run (Nick Weiler Kick)
    5 plays, 29 yards, 1:23
    7 0
    play
    SECOND QUARTER UNC UVA

    TD 5:27
    Evan Butts 11 Yd pass from Matt Johns (Sam Hayward Kick)
    14 plays, 73 yards, 6:51
    7 7
    play

    TD 2:52
    Bug Howard 40 Yd pass from Mitch Trubisky (Nick Weiler Kick)
    8 plays, 81 yards, 2:35
    14 7

    THIRD QUARTER UNC UVA

    TD 7:39
    Thomas Jackson 10 Yd pass from Mitch Trubisky (Nick Weiler Kick)
    10 plays, 94 yards, 3:52
    21 7
    play

    TD 1:31
    T.J. Logan 4 Yd Run (Nick Weiler Kick)
    6 plays, 41 yards, 2:11
    28 7

    FOURTH QUARTER UNC UVA

    TD 9:01
    Taquan Mizzell 1 Yd Run (Sam Hayward Kick)
    12 plays, 53 yards, 4:54
    28 14
    play

    TD 8:30
    Austin Proehl 46 Yd pass from Mitch Trubisky (Nick Weiler Kick)
    2 plays, 57 yards, 0:31
    35 14

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  34. ‘UNC tacks on a TD with seconds to go. Hardly a beat down. Virginia was held way down passing wise.”

    Are you serious. UNC didn’t tack on a TD with seconds to go.

    And yes when you win by 3 TD’s and there are ‘tack on’ TD’s …it most certainly is a beatdown.

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  35. 28-14 with 30 seconds to go lead by a favorite team is not a beat down in my opinion. Secondly in the post you quoted I acknowledge the fact that Virginia was held below their passing yard average. Thanks for helping but I know what I posted and how I feel. Maybe read my post again.

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  36. Owe you an apologize Emel. I bounce in and out of my computer room and have failed proofreading and comprehensive reading many times over. No UNC did not tack on a late TD. I did watch the first part of the game though and it was obvious the UVA was not going to pass much on UNC. I guess I’m as stubborn as Pat? I’ll add another argument then. UNC has much higher level of talent throughout their lineup than PITT. I’m just not convinced that there is anything much different that PITT can do to slow down the 3 step drop and heave to the one on one coverage.

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  37. BC “I don’t see WRs streaking down the field wide open”?!?! I think you need to rewatch the games starting with the OSU game. I am firmly in the group that believes Narduzzi needs to adapt this defensive scheme and not be so rigid in it. I mentioned this over at the Blather as well, we seem to be having a lot of injuries to cornerbacks. Perhaps too much is expected of them in this scheme. College offensives have gotten better at throwing over the top of this. Baylor showed it was possible but didn’t have a defense that could stop the MSU offense.

    Yes, our dbs are being pushed off. Our dbs are also doing enough clutching and grabbing to make a NHL defensemen proud. Our receivers are also pushing off and getting away with it most of the time. The officiating in college football seems to be allowing more of this “contact”. Overall this contact probably should benefit the defense same as in hockey but Pitt sure isn’t experiencing that!

    I blame Narduzzi not Conklin for this. Conklin is the defensive coordinator but this is Narduzzi’s scheme and Conklin is stuck with it. I don’t expect any changes the remainder of this year, because it would have happened for the VA Tech game. Hopefully Narduzzi will come to his senses over the winter and along with Conklin go over to the Steelers and discuss a Tampa two option to his base defense. Totally agree that what is happening over and over and over again now is total insanity.

    This all said, I still would take Narduzzi over Franklin every single time. I still have hope!

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  38. Didn’t see your last post ike. Fair enough, easy to do.

    My point was that the UNC DC (Chizik) changed his scheme to a def. formation with 6 DB’s to limit UVA to their lowest passing yardage of the season (143 yards) And that was their low passing total by a good 50 yards.

    After UVA had gouged Duke for 336 passing yards and Central Michigan for 421 passing yards, you would have thought a Defensive Guru would come out in a 5 or 6 DB scheme. if you’re next on the schedule as Pitt was.

    I think the best thing about the Nard Dog is his passion and energy. Wanny had that too. Neither are great with X’s and O’s.

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  39. Holy crap… a few folks here get it. These db’s can’t make a play on the ball. period. DB gets hurt… his backup comes in – he can’t make a play either. How many INTs do these DB’s have?

    Now if they were playing for OU (ohio univ) or BG – might be OK. You know since Pitt outrecruited OU and BG for most of these DB’s.

    There is NO solution this year. Get over it.

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  40. I dont know how easy it would be to change the whole defense at this point but would it kill him to drop the free safety to cover 1 of the 2 WR going long?

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  41. Funny that the DB starters last season were Whitehead, Maddox, Webb and Pitts and we gave up only 214 ypg in passing and 18 passing TDs all year.

    Now we are returning three starters from last year, losing only Pitts (who everyone loved to criticize), and we are giving up 312 ppg and have already given up 14 TDs in only eight games.

    Folks – it is pure bullshit to place the blame for this at the feet of the players – the same three out of four starters who did so much better at pass defense last season. To do that is to protect Narduzzi from honest criticism of his decision making.

    And I don’t get why that is happening. We have a real problem here and one that didn’t exist with the same coaching staff and, again, basically the same players just a season ago. Yet fans feel that they can’t possibly look at Narduzzi and say he’s doing something wrong… “it just has to be the players because Narduzzi does no wrong”.

    Giving up 214 yards per game as we did in 2015 isn’t something to crow about either but the fact that it was almost 100 yards better than now slaps us right across the face.

    Like

  42. I know the ACC refs are doing their best but the ACC must pay more and have more training for them. Last year’s Duke Miami game was a disaster and this year’s games have been better but … Wait until BB starts and hopefully …

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  43. BostonsCommon,
    Which one of Duzz’s kids are you?
    LOL
    -The players play where the coaches put them! Ultimately the guy making the million dollars is responsible, not the unpaid kid doing what he’s told.

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  44. Coach Narduzzi was given a bad hand when he was dealt this deck of DBs. Plus they seem terribly under-coached (pre-snap positioning; player body and hand language before the ball is snapped leading to poor CB/ safety communication; has the CB’s coach told them during practice that it’s OK to turn around and LOOK at the flight of the ball?). Narduzzi has to see that. What is troubling about Coach Pat is his recruiting this year. He could be dealing himself a bad hand that will burn him in the years to come.

    The bad hand DBs have hurt this Pitt team of players who have exhibited excellent football play: Peterman, Offensive Line, yes the receivers particularly Quadree Henderson and the running attack and we wasted Jarrett’s and Soto’s leap-frog improved play.

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  45. What makes this all so hard is that if we had even an average D backfield play we could be undefeated right now. Instead we are struggling to stay above 500. because of a coach that refuses to stop doing something that DOES NOT WORK.
    Very sad:< (

    Like

  46. Good point Reed and one that’s overlooked way too often. 3 of the 4 DB’s were starters last year.
    Pitts wasn’t that good, in fact he seemed to regress after his freshman year. Yea he made the Taxi squad after being cut on Sept 3rd. So maybe he had some talent but got poor coaching at Pitt…ya think.

    Like

  47. Something is always amiss at Pitt over the last 30+ years. We have the offense and then don’t have the defense(2016 & 2014). We have the defense and then don’t have any offense(several Wanny years).

    It’s always something from stopping us have a great season sans the 10-3 season in 2009. And even that didn’t get us into a Top Tier Bowl game. One 10 win season since 1981.

    The cards appear to be ‘stacked’ against Pitt.

    Like

  48. Narduzzi has brought or bring in:

    Whitehead
    Hill
    Hamlin
    Miller
    Garner
    Coleman
    Briggs
    Jackson
    Campbell
    Stocker
    Ford
    Wade??

    with returnee’s
    Maddox
    Motley
    Williams

    There are some good players in the cupboard. + this season isn’t over yet. Stay with it men! Let’s not fall apart at the seams like we don’t want the players to.

    Like

  49. Don’t worry Ikester!
    We’re all ALL IN!
    Just blowing off a little steam right now!
    Hard to lose when you could of easily won.

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  50. Reed – name a college coach who adapts to his players and does not stick to a system on the side of the ball he cut his teeth on. NFL coaches and College coaches have different jobs. The NFL is personnel driven. College is scheme driven.

    Not Harbaugh, Meyer, Saban, Jimbo, Sweeney. They all run the same systems they’ve always run. Look at the new coaches in the ACC. Richt, Fuentes, Bronco … all running what they’re known for. Brian Kelly … same offense he had at Cincy. Same in the Pac 12. Peterson runs the same offense he ran at Boise St. Look at the SEC … same.

    Players adapt to the system not the other way around. Sometimes coaches go to teams with the personnel to match their scheme and things click quicker than others. That doesn’t mean the coach adapted to the players though. It just means he already had the right players.

    If you don’t like the scheme or don’t think the scheme will work. That’s one thing. I think Emel falls into this category. Big Ten offenses vs. ACC offenses. That’s just personal preference though. Hard to argue against it.

    But to blame stubbornness is to not understand the college game and how it’s played. This is the coach Pitt hired. The scheme isn’t changing until he leaves. I can see why that sounds like stubbornness but it’s really just part of the process in how you build teams in college.

    I really think Pitt fans watch with an NFL eye. That’s not how it works though.

    College football is an offensive game right now. Points will be scored. How doesn’t really matter. Narduzzi wants to make teams one dimensional. Which is working. Once the corners are good enough to make plays on the ball, you’ll see a different team … but they will still give up points. High risk. High reward. I believe Narduzzi even said it in his introductory press conference. To be honest, the corners would be in much better shape if Pitt was getting a rush. The DL is not getting the pressure Narduzzi needs and is exposing the corners more than they should be. The goal is to get the QB to throw it before he’s ready. He even mentioned it in his presser today. Outside of Price, the other guys have to get pressure with the front 4.

    Oklahoma is #12 in the country with a worst pass defense than Pitt. It’s better to be great at one thing (stopping the run) than being bad at everything (what would happen when Pitt stops selling out for the run). Sure you move your safeties over the top, but then teams start getting 5 yards a pop on runs instead of under 4. ToP swings … etc.

    The bigger question is if this defense will work in the ACC. I think it will. I can see Emel’s argument that it won’t though. Regardless, until he has a team full of his players, judgement should be tamed a bit. Next year is a big year. He’ll be playing with a lot of his own players. Year 3 is typically when you start to see progress and year 4 is when it really starts humming.

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  51. Dan72.
    At the end of the day and the dust has settled………. You’re absolutely right! The bottom line is how many did we win and how many did we lose. Pretty simple isn’t it?

    Like

  52. TT, your analysis is spot on IMO. I like what Narduzzi is attempting to do. Let’s just hope he is able to recruit enough quality DB’s and Safeties to implement this system.

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  53. the difference I see from last year vs this year is (aside from Lafayette Pitts:

    replace Akron with Ok St
    replace Marquese Wiliams with Mitch Trubitsky
    replace Frank Beamer with Justin Fuentes … and whoever that QB VT had last year vs Evans
    replace whoever was UVa’s coach last year with Bronco Mendenhall
    replace YSU with Marshall (whose QB Chase Litton is 17th in passing in NCAA)

    By the time this year is over, Pitt will have faced 8 QBs who are in the Top 50 in passing offense; that probably has never happened before. That may be common to B12 teams, but not to Pitt

    Like

  54. Wwb, good point about the competition. In 2015 regular season, we played 2 teams that finished in the top 25 in the final rankings (and played a 3rd in a bowl game). We lost all those games. This year, we played 4 teams currently sitting in the top 25 (and with their remaining schedules, there is a possibility those teams of remaining there). We have won one of them.

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  55. Newbk, if rankings remain as is , and they stabilize the longer you go in the schedule, then Pitt will play 5 teams this year currently ranked. #12 Oklahoma has played 2 and lost one; #18 WVU played one and lost to them by 17 points; PSU played 2 and amazingly will probably be favored the rest of the year; and #9 Nebraska has played 1 team so far in Top 25 and lost.

    Pitt has played a rough schedule in a QB strong league .. with out of conference games versus 3 QBs in Top 50 … #12 Rudolph, #38 Litton and #49 McSorley.

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  56. Thx wwb and newbk. I was just catching up on the latest critiques, and thinking: this summer when I was feeling really confident about this team, all I kept reading was how much stronger our schedule was going to be.

    Now that we’re seeing that play out before our eyes, you two are the first to acknowledge the fact! The reason we are giving up 100 ypg passing than last year is because we are up against more (better) talent than last year. As has been previously mentioned: same DBs,; same scheme. We are out-talented. Pick your poison. We need much better QB pressure, and much better DB play.

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  57. It will be interesting the see what Pitt does against Miami. Looking at the Sagarin ratings, Oklahoma St is #25, PSU is #26, Miami is #27, UNC is #28. Pitt is at #36. VT is sitting at #14.

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  58. and we really didn’t do that well against the good passers last year …. Kizer (ND), Kaaya (UM) and even Dungee (Syr) before he got hurt. We did beat Lamar Jackson but he like M Williams of UNC and the GT QB are better runners than throwers

    Like

  59. Well,
    I guess I’m not as patient as I use to be. I’m tired of our team looking like fools for much of the last 30 years. Watching the VT QB just throw the ball high in the air time and time and time again and then watch our helpless corners unable to do anything about it was quite frankly, EMBARRASSING !!!!
    Then to watch our coach on the sidelines making a fool out of himself ( because of his stubbornness of “scheme”) was even more EMBARASSING!
    Just had a thought. I wonder if when my wife gets mad at me when I do something embarrassingly stupid I can just tell her “Well that’s my scheme honey and you have to wait for some years before I get it how I want it to be.”
    I’m sure sure she’ll be fine with that!

    Like

  60. I still don’t understand why Whitehead is not given a shot at cornerback. He was listed as a 4 star cornerback coming out of highschool. Last year they made him a safety because it was a position of need and easier to play as a freshman. It seems that he would be the most likely guy to be able to cover a guy one on one, and break up a few passes. We have other safeties that can do the job. Whitehead sat out a game. But we haven’t seen a corner break up many passes.

    Whitehead seems to be having a sophomore slump, not as many tackles, not as effective on offense. Maybe it is the knee, but if not, why not challenge him at corner.

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  61. Guys – if the only thing that matters at all is Ws & Ls then why in the world are you reading this blog, any other blog or any media reporting on the football program?

    Seriously, why?

    Because we fans like to look at and dissect every facet of Pitt football then discuss it among people with the same interests… which is what this blog was created for as were all the others Pitt blogs.

    If you think 5 wins are better than 8 wins – which we would easily have with a better pass defense then that’s OK. I prefer to discuss not just what is but also what might be and what was and what could have been… that’s what fans do.

    BTW – don’t ever kid yourselves as Pitt fans that Ws and Ls make all the difference to the Pitt administrations – otherwise Pitt wouldn’t have fired their two winningest coaches in recent times and they would have paid the $$$ to meet the offers to coach elsewhere that best two coaches we had in modern history in Majors and Sherrill received and took .

    And it isn’t a ‘brand new day’ completely either – watch what happens if someone dangles 4 or 5M in front of Narduzzi’s nose – Pitt won’t match that and why??? Because that would set the salary bar way higher for coaches who would come after him than Pitt would be willing to pay.

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  62. wwb, you are making a strong case, competition is tougher, guys are making great catches. But is still very sad to see our corners getting torched time after time.

    Like

  63. Hold your horses there Reed. While it’s true that PITT could very well be 8-0 with better coverage and less spectacular catches against them, it’s also true that with a couple of key first downs in each of the three loses they could be 8-0 bad pass coverage and all.

    Heard a rumor on the sports call last night. Purdue is rumored to be interested in Narduzzi and said to be opening up their pockets for him. Whatever that means and just passing along some stuff.

    Sherril’s salary was a new NCAA record for a head coach at that time. No PITT was never going to match that number.

    Me? I going on the PITT football boards to vent, pass time, and gather information. There is a certain element of kinship as well that one can get over time.

    Lastly, it seems to me that many of you are familiar with each other and come from the Blather which is cool but some may have not. The fact that one can post under a different screen name every time posting seems a little weird to me. Have any of you thought about a roll call if someone wanted to share a former screen name and what other message board/blog they posted under or at?

    That’s it for this morning guys………………………ike

    H2P 🙂

    Like

  64. Reed..the post game loss funk this week has been way different and more difficult to stomach than any past Pitt loss at least for me under the last 2 coaching regimes and from what I am reading many are probably experiencing similar emotions.. this all relates to the really exciting and good football team that we are fielding with the exception of the terrible pass defense..We are so close to reaching the next level of being ranked that we can taste it and at the same time know the defenders can’t get the job done and throw in questioning of the coaching…Damn we are close..3 loses by a grand total of 11 points but we always play in close games so our margin of victory is also small…..the VT loss is a real downer for me as a fan but we can never give up..our boys don’t…one of these days it will all come together and we will turn the corner..was hoping it would be this year with all (18)the starters returning..we knew the D would be a problem but most thought it would be the interior DL..WRONG..Keeping the faith that we will own Saturday…will make my trip to Clemson even better….Here’s to breaking up passes and turning heads to INT and no stupid offsides or illegal procedure penalties and no Pitt turnovers… Beat ThugU..

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  65. Hendrix was going to be a difference maker. Losing him in game one was a devastating loss greatly affecting our pass rushing ability.

    We are one season away from a big upgrade in our defensive secondary being apparent. Damar Hamlin will be a God send within the next few games. His development will show exponential growth with significant playing time. He’ll start a game at CB before the season concludes.

    No one debated that this season was significantly tougher than last’s years. So here we are at 5-3, what did we expect? Preseason consensus was 7-5 to 8-4 realistically, right? So I guess that we are pretty much on schedule then.

    What happens in the next four games defines this season as a bust or a success. My prediction was 8-4 IF Peterman stayed healthy. Let’s play a complete game against Miami, give them their fifth loss in a row and all of a sudden an 8-4 successful season doesn’t look like such an insurmountable task. This team can accomplish that. Plays just have to be made by the good guys!

    We’re not that far away.
    Maul Miami, Hail to Pitt!

    Like

  66. @ Pittman4ever, which thankfully keeps me from having to deal with the moralistic dilemma of whether I myself would succumb to being just another expensive whore or not.

    Like

  67. Interesting that no one else wants to see Whitehead at Corner.

    His stats are definitely off this year 46 tackles, not going to beat the 109 last year.
    He has 1.5 TFL’s compared to 6 last year, 2 pass Break ups vs 6 last year.

    Some of this has to do with the front seven making more tackles this year, but we just haven’t seen the dynamic plays this year.

    Like to see him at one corner and Jackson and Hamlin sharing the other corner.

    Like

  68. totally agree about Hendrix, Dr Tom. If you go back to pre-season, you will note that the thing I was most looking forward to on defense this year was the tandem DE rush from Price and Hendrix. I sure hope we get a better pass rush next year … Hendrix, Edwards, Blair, Gilbert, Wheeler, Camp, Watts … anyone?

    Like

  69. gc – Whitehead is not at corner because he’s our leading and best tackler. Stop the run first. That’s Narduzzi’s mantra.

    The Hendrix injury was devastating to the team defense this year.

    Like

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