Here are the all important Game Notes to have when watching the game this week.
Pitt’s season has been one of opposites it seems. We’ve had a stout run defense that is currently 13th nationally with only 111.6 ypg allowed the opposition. Yet we have watched the coaching staff field a possible all-time worse passing defense that now sits at 126th and gives up 317 ypg.
Pitt scores a lot of points with 37 ppg production on offense… then we give up an average of 34.4. Our running game has been executing well yet our passing game is so hot and cold, mostly cold, that it can’t be reasonably relied on to keep us in games where we are behind and have to get quick scores to keep up.
All in all we are a team that in some ways can be viewed as better than it’s 5-4 record, especially if you add in the fact that we lost very close games to strong teams in OK state and NC, both who are currently residing in the Top 25 polls. But overall we are doing just what Pitt teams in the past seem to have done in that we are winning games we are figured to win and losing to teams that are more highly regarded that we are.
Both our ACC losses, VT and Miami, looked winnable when looking at the schedule over the off-season and they they weren’t surprise losses as the season unfolded. The Miami game last week was surprisingly one-sided though as we dropped the match by 23 point margin when almost everyone felt that would be a closer game.
One trend that has really hurt us though has been our scoring in the 2nd half of games; we have put up 130 points and have allowed 158. To wins games we need to hold teams close going into the 4th quarter and that’s been hard to do in our losses.
VT held a 29-21 lead at the end of the 3rd quarter and Miami was up 34-21…both times we fell short at the end.
Clemson, who is our opponent this week, is #2 or #3 in the nation depending on what poll you look at and has strengths on both sides of the ball. They score at almost the same clip we do in putting up 38 ppg on average but the difference ends there as Clemson’s defense gives up only 15.7 ppg. We are really poor this year in scoring defense giving up 34.4 ppg.
Compare Clemson’s 15.7 scoring defense to Miami’s at 18.8 ppg the held when going into the Pitt game and it looks like pretty scary Saturday is ahead. Here is how Clemson stacks up nationally going into the Pitt game:
You can’t help but be impressed, if not a bit daunted, when looking at those numbers and especially the defensive ones… Top 12 in four major defensive categories isn’t what you want to see when your offense had a hard time putting up points on drives just the week before.
Maybe, if our running game gets hot, we can capaialize on that Time of Possion defict and keep Clemson’s strong offense off the field. But our defense has to do its part with that.
When putting the teams head to head we see this as a comparison:
If our cobbled-together defensive line can come together and play above expectations we can take advantage of their less-than-stellar running game. RB Gallman has had a decent season and runs at a 5.3 ypc clip and their 2nd leading rusher, QB Watson only has a 3.9 ypc average – so if we can keep that big and unexpected QB run from happening that will help our cause immensely.
What kills my enthusiasm for a possible upset is that Clemson passing yards per game, already they throw the ball all over the field for 320 ypg so one just wonders what we have happen in Death Valley once the dust settles after the game.
As in all games so far that poor (terrible) passing defense has been our Achilles’s heel and I don’t see it magically getting better before Saturday.
Deshawn Watson, their QB, has already thrown for 28 TDs. But here is a crack in that part of Clemson’s game – he has thrown 10 INTs also which, if we can jump some routes and risk big plays ( which sounds funny to write that because we give up big plays anyway) and get a couple INTs we’ll have a good chance at keep their scoring within our striking distance.
Actually that my be our only hope when you look at just how good Clemson is overall. But Pitt as gone into other team’s stadiums and come out with surprising wins before – who is to say it can’t happen again.
It sure can and while it may be a far thing to make happen – the chance of an upset is the beauty of college football. Especially as a lot of team’s our built around one or two players. If Watson has to sit for any reason our chances go up dramatically.
Predictions Thread tomorrow…