^^ Look at that photo above – Pat Narduzzi has Darth Vader as his police escort.
This win feels almost as good for me now two days later after the fact… I say almost because as I tend to do after one task is finished, in football’s case wins or losses, I look toward the next challenge at hand.
But the upcoming Duke game is a lifetime away, Clemson is still fresh in our minds so let’s look back at just what happened.
First off, what the Pitt football team and Head Coach Pat Narduzzi really needed to have happen this season happened, they beat a highly ranked team that almost everyone thought they would lose to. The icing on the cake with this win is that our opponent was the ACC Conference leading Clemson who entered the match carrying a 9-0 record.
It is one for the Pitt ages to be sure and very much reminiscent of our win seven years ago against our rival WVU in the Backyard Brawl when we kept them from a national championship game. But there are differences there also…
I am as happy as anyone that we pulled this off but something has been bothering me as I have been reading fan’s comments about the game on the internet and I couldn’t figure out what it was until I read someone who had written “It was like David and Goliath“.
But I beg to differ here – and without taking away any of the hard-earned glory these kids earned on that field down in South Carolina. Our team this year is a winning one even before this Clemson victory. We were also few points away from beating both OK State and North Carolina, both highly ranked teams on their own.
Going into Saturday we were strong in both rushing offense (30th) and rushing defense (7th) and were up there in Passing Efficiency (32nd) also. Which as it played out were the strengths we used to win that game.
Am I the only fan who while still thinking it was a wonderful win isn’t 100% surprised by it? Here is what I wrote on Friday’s Prediction thread even though I predicted a 17 point loss..
I feel that we will rebound in part from the Miami ass-kicking and play better than people are thinking we will….
...the only silver lining I see with the passing situation tomorrow is Watson’s 10 INTs to date. If we can get two or three INTs and/or fumbles and maybe a Pick-6 out of him then we may have a fighting chance to keep the game closer than Clemson would like going into the 4th quarter.
If we can avoid allowing those quick-strike points teams have been putting up against us in the beginning of the games then I think we’ll be within spitting distance of winning after the 45:00 mark …
Which lucky for us is almost exactly how it played out.
But fellow Pitt fans – let’s not think this is a ‘fluke’ win. Because it isn’t. It is a win that our team has been building toward over the last two seasons. We hit on 6 of 8 cylinders Saturday and, with the strong players motivations created by a focused HC and his staff, pulled out a win.
Wonderful – yes. Impossible – no, it really wasn’t. It was more like improbable and we went down there and did it anyway. This isn’t 2007 when we took a battered 4-7 team into Morgantown and pulled out that win. We have a different team and a much better team than that Mountaineer Killers one was.
Since we won let’s get to the three positives first:
* Game preparation by Narduzzi and the coaching staff. The approach to this game must have been different from the one prior to the previous week’s Miami game because we saw a different Pitt team on Saturday.
Hell, let’s wrap the coaching staff’s ability to change things up on the fly during the game also. We had a cobbled together starting lineup on both sides of the ball and were still effective.
* Nate Peterman’s play (see ‘Notes” below). Peterman isn’t a pretty QB. He doesn’t change games around in dramatic fashion with his arm. He misses easy throws sometimes also. But when you throw for 242 yards and four TDs in the first half when the opponent is scoring at pace also, you get the credit for keeping the team within a reasonable chance to win later in the game. Which we did.
* The defensive Front 7’s play. Wow – forget about that 4th & 1 shutdown we had with less than a minute to play. Well, don’t forget about it because it pretty much won the game for us – but their play overall made the Clemson offense one-dimensional.
Which anywhere else but the Alternate Reality this game was played in would have sufficed because Clemson put up 580 yards on us in a record-setting session of throw-and-catch.
But when they tried something different than throwing the ball, which they did to a tune of 70 (!!) attempts, we bitch-slapped them down to the deck. Clemson’s tired tailbacks tippy-toed to the tune of two yard per carry on the afternoon. Alliterative allusions aside we owned them asses.
It got so bad that it severely clouded Clemson’s HC Dabo Sweeny’s memory. He totally forgot that they had thrown the ball almost the length of six football fields with basically no opposition – so he ran the ball and lost the game when it mattered most. “Thanks Dabo!”
An honorable mention to Chris Blewitt here. He did what he needed to when the game was on the line. The pressure was on and he came through. Remind me to tell you the story of when I met him and his Dad at a PA Turnpike rest stop years ago.
* Our hilarious pass defense’s failures are becoming not only a regular occurrence but an actual beloved trait of those poor young bastards who have to keep getting rotated in and out of that defensive backfield.
It was a perfect afternoon for those DBs of ours because in this game they can, rightfully so, point to three INTs when asked why they sucked so badly in pass coverage. Those INTs helped win the game though so we can be happy for them at the same time we are calling their play a negative.
The only thing they have to yet to accomplish now is to grab that last 128th place in Passing Defense while we still win ballgames… That will not be an easy thing to do but I think under the teachings of soon to be ex-Cornerbacks coach Renaldo Hill the kids can pull it off.
Take a look at who resides in the Pass Defense basement right below us… Hi Toddy!
* Because I have to reach for negatives from this great win I’m going with some of Narduzzi’s in-game decisions. I’m not taking away one iota of praise for the way he handled game week and the match itself. As I said, I’m reaching here but his use of timeouts in the second half had me frustrated. We didn’t see the poor decisions as that fake punt and other plays in the last game against Miami so there was progress on that front. Kissing his own players makes up for anything else Narduzzi might have done anyway.
Note to reader – if you must kiss any young men who you are in a position of leadership over then do it ‘The Narduzzi Way” and kiss that boy in front of millions of TV viewers. I’ve used many leadership techniques my own self but that’s a new one.
* Injuries. Boy – that is a tough break for Moss and Whitehead both. They are tough kids and will comeback better than ever though. “After the game, Narduzzi’s only comment on the (Whitehead) injury was, “Jordan’s not as good as we want him to be.”
You’ll have your own take on this game and the positives & negatives – let’s here them…
LINK: Peterman Walter Camp
The senior quarterback engineered the Panthers’ stunning victory at Clemson.
PITTSBURGH—Pitt senior quarterback Nathan Peterman has been named the Walter Camp National Offensive Player of the Week following his incredible performance in the Panthers’ 43-42 victory over previously unbeaten Clemson.
In what will be remembered as one of the greatest games ever by a Pitt quarterback, Peterman threw for a career-high 308 yards and five touchdowns with zero interceptions on 22-of-37 passing. Entering the game, the Tigers had only surrendered five passing touchdowns the entire season.
Peterman threw for 242 yards and four TDs in the first half alone. His scoring strikes to James Conner (46 yards) and Scott Orndoff (55) were the longest against Clemson this season.
Following a fourth-down stop by the Pitt defense with 58 seconds left, Peterman led the Panthers into position for the game-winning field goal by competing two passes for 25 yards and running for another nine yards. Chris Blewitt completed the upset by nailing a 48-yard field goal with six seconds remaining.