We are ensured a second straight winning season. That was the biggest takeaway for me when this game ended. Here is how our seven wins have played out… W2-L2-W3-L2-W2.
Not that it wasn’t a fun game to watch – it sure was, but we are becoming happily predictable in our high scoring and the only question remaining for a viewer seems to be what number of points we’ll allow the other team.
Seven offensive points for Duke was an answer to that question and 14 overall sealed the game. It is almost beginning to feel like another day at the office when we play our offensive game plan to perfection. But surprisingly enough the time of possession was almost equal… that is kind of strange when you put up 56 points.
But then again when you score that many it usually means you have some quick-strike points as we saw with the long passes to Weah and Orndoff… and both of Henderson’s scores. To wit:
Let’s get right into the Positives and Negatives.
* Nate Peterman’s second straight very good day at the office. The offensive playcalling over last two weeks have been what I expected Canada to do from the beginning of the season. We all figured we’d have a strong running game , especially when Conner came back and rounded into form. But even without his being 100% we were getting great yardage on the ground once we got the opener against Villanova under our belt.
That seems like ages ago and I had forgotten this but we only had 86 yards rushing against the Wildcats in that game – on 34 carries. Of course the next week we ran all over PSU to the tune of 341 yards. Canada and Narduzzi wanted to get the run game going and they did.
But I hoped we’d see the passing game be partners in the offense and that took some time. Fans tend to forget forget what a nice year Peterman had in 2015 (61.7 %, 2287 yards with 20 TDs and 8 INTs for a 139 rating). That was a good base for springing into his second season as a starter and I expected he’d do well.
But that is hard to do when it is obvious you and your receivers are 2nd fiddle in the offensive game planning. It worked out for us then and now the passing game is an important as the run game.
I had bet a beer with you guys in the preseason articles that Peterman would better Tyler Palko’s best TD production year of 2006 when he had 2871 yards, 25 TDs / 9 INTs for a 7.8% TD ratio and a 163 QB rating.
Given the way Peterman has played so far – in the last two games he’s 33/55 for 545 yards and 8 TDs to 1 INT – he may just match up to Palko’s year. At least in the yardage, TDs and INTs columns – getting up to a 163 rating won’t happen (probably).
Against Duke Saturday Peterman had a 21.5 yard average per completion – doesn’t get any better than that folks. Here is how they stand side by side now with two games left for Peterman to play:
We’ll see, but even with that slow start Peterman is having one of the best QB Rating years a Pitt QB has had. His 14 wins in 24 games isn’t too shabby either.
* Q. Henderson… again. It is becoming a bit repetitive but he was showcasing his talents again Saturday in both offense and special teams. He had the most all-purpose yards again, this time with 162 that included a 65 yard TD on a punt return and 52 yard run for another TD.
He is currently #1 nationally in KO TDs with three; #2 in all-kick return yards with 967; #4 in KO returns with 773 and #12 nationally with all-purpose yards with 150.9 per game.
* Coaching preparation for this game. Say what we will about senior leadership or players’ maturity, to get fired up and sustain that for 60 minutes after a game like we had in Death Valley last week is a real coaching achievement.
The kids were ready to practice and play hard, the coaching staff had specific goals for their units (Canada challenged the Offense to score 40 points – which they did in less then 45 minutes).
Let’s give Narduzzi et al. all the credit deserved for having two hugely successful weeks like we did after being shellacked by Miami. The season may have turned south after that game easily enough – sheer will and detailed preparations made sure that didn’t happen.
Honorable Mention: We didn’t give up our normal average of 343 yards passing… only 243 which still sucks (we averaged 214 last year). I know I harp on this but the truth is that had we any sort of passing defense at all we may well be 11-0 at this point. And don’t give me the party line that you have to sacrifice run stopping for stopping the pass – I don’t believe that one bit.
* Crap attendance again. If we can’t get the fans and casual visitors out to watch Pitt after knocking off the #2 team in the country then we aren’t ever going to fill up Heinz on a regular basis. Here is the bill of sale for the bridge Pitt wants us to buy:
Scoring Summary (Final)
The Automated ScoreBook
Duke vs PITT (11/19/16 at Pittsburgh, PA)
Duke (4-7,1-6) vs. PITT (7-4,4-3)
Date: 11/19/16 • Site: Pittsburgh, PA • Stadium: Heinz Field • Attendance: 35,425
Do not believe that for one second! The Truth is Out There!
It was embarassing to look out and see so much yellow – but that’s a refrain we Pitt fans say and hear all the time. Like it or not but we have also heard that recruits want to play in front of huge crowds and as much as we don’t want to acknowledge it that plays a factor in recruiting.
AD Scott Barnes better get his fundraising skills well in hand because aside from the ACC shared money we ain’t getting anything from the box office sales. I’ve been skeptical of actually getting an on-campus stadium and still am. But when I walked around the stadium pre-game and saw all the construction it is plainly evident PGH doesn’t give any concern at all to tailgating – which should be the life’s blood of football fandom… especially in college football.
I would like to have a sold out some-what smaller venue than a half empty bigger one – but the ACC has other ideas about that I’m sure.
The bottom line is I believe Pitt is, at best, 4th in the minds of not only sports fans but of the politicians and the financial movers and shakers in PGH – they just don’t give a damn about us at all.
* I missed tailgating before the game. I left Maryland early enough but crap weather slowed me down over the mountains of the turnpike. I didn’t get parked and out of the car until around 2:30 or so and pretty much had to go straight to the press box.
I wanted to see friends but even after the game I had other obligations in PGH. I did have dinner with friends at The Porch at Schenley Plaza on campus – just when it started to really snow hard. I left the table and took my drink outside and stood for a while looking at the Cathedral of Learning and the Pitt campus in the falling snow. Have to say it took me right back 40 years in a split second.
And yes, that was melted snow on my face when I sat back down to dinner.
* Still no beer in the Press Box. It’s ridiculous that Heinz Booze Nazis allow idiot 21-year-old students who are already half in the bag to buy beers during the game but adults doing a job in the press box have to lie, cheat and steal their way into the North Clubhouse to get a few drinks.
Get on that E.J. will ya? Honestly and seriously – I don’t get the reasoning.
BTW – those guys in the beginning of the video below are Jerry DiPaola and Chris Peak.