As I said in the podcast yesterday – it was a strange game to watch. It is also a strange game to try to dissect for MMQB. Let’s start with the positives first:
* Nate Peterman’s efficiency in passing. For only throwing 18 passes he had one of the best days I can remember from a Pitt QB. Here is his box score:
Notice that his yards per completion were an astounding 27.8 ypc. That is better than anything I could find in Pitt’s historical records for a QB who threw more than 10 passes in a game. As always there were some overthrows and some drops Saturday but he has become a real weapon for us over this last half of the regular season. Here’s those numbers:
In our last three wins he was 41/73 (56.1%) for 796 yards and 12 TDs to 2 INTs… which is a QB rating of 196.1 and is truly exceptional.
* Our receiving corps – three players; Jester Weah (4 for 99 & 2 TDs), Dontez Ford ( 2 for 89 & 1 TD) and James Conner (2 for 45 & 1 TD) all made the most of their yards after catch abilities. Weah had a long reception of 59 yards; Ford 79 and Conner 35.
Right there are only seven receptions but they accounted for 233 yards and four TDs… and that is awesome.
* Our defensive penetration accounted for three sacks and six tackles for loss on the day. Of course when the opposing QB is still slinging the ball for 43 completions, 440 yards and five TDs that positive stats gets a bit lost in the shuffle.
Which leads us to the three negatives…
* Our defense. Usually in these MMQB segments we’ve pointed fingers at the Passing Defense as culprits to be chastised but today we get to include the run defense also. Oh Joy!
45 carries for 228 yards, four TDs and a 5.1 ypc average isn’t outrageously bad; some teams would consider that an average day at the ball park, but Pitt has prided itself on our run defense up until this game that is.
As can be seen by the total offense and points Syracuse put up, 668 yards in just rushing and passing alone, you can see why we gave up a dreadful 62 points.
* Our defense again. “Half of me jumped for joy with what our offense did [Saturday] and half of it makes me sick,” Narduzzi said. “We didn’t make enough plays on defense. We have to go back to ground zero.”
* You guessed it – our defense. But there is a silver lining to this decripid showing. It just may be the straw that broke Josh Conklin’s back at Pitt. There is a real, and I hope a strong, sentiment for replacing him at the defensive coordinator position.
It isn’t just Conklin’s work this season that has been poor at best. Five weeks to prepare for the Navy team in the bowl game last year and utterly flopping on the field of play was an omen of what was to come this year. Navy averaged 330 yards rushing per game in the regular season and we spotted them an extra hundred to ensure their victory.
Now we ‘ll shift into the Pre-Bowl Game mode for the next five weeks and you can be sure that our almost-nonexistent defense will be talked about, criticized and in case of at least one bowl-bound team who is to be our opponent, slobbered over.
I suppose as Pitt fans we are used to taking the bad with the good; we’ve lots of practice at that. But it is a damned shame that an utter collapse of our passing and scoring defenses (343 ypg and 35.6 ppg respectively) had to happen in a year when our offense was certainly solid and good enough to win at least 11 games – maybe even 12.
I mean Holy Hell! Would any Pitt fan have thought that in scoring 42.2 ppg it would only be 6.7 points better than our opponent’s scoring? That is less than one TD per game difference. Unbelieveable.
Folks – that has to change and do so before next season or we may be in a world of hurt. Wishful thinking isn’t enough when you have an average at best defense one year then an absolutely terrible one the next.