Quick note: The Pitt POV just received the best Christmas Gift ever – a full 3′ x 5′ Pitt Script flag to go along with the generous POV flag that Bernie (BigB) had made up just last month. Now home tailgates are certain and it will be my pleasure to treat – the POV flag will fly directly over the Script flag and will be lowered to half-mast when my liver finally goes out.
I waited a bit to post this article because everyone does these holidays differently and I didn’t to miss any of the many celebrations that go on this time of the year. We had more out-of-town visitors than we thought we would thus the radio silence from my end…
A while back I posted the article “A Pitt Fan’s Holiday Wish List” where I laid out what I wanted for the University of Pittsburgh and then you all chimed in with your wishes.
In what was a very timely comment as to his wish list Jackagain wrote this:
- I would like Narduzzi to stay here for 10 years.
- I would like Barnes to learn how to hire a coach without having to hire a consulting firm to make his decision for him.
- I would like to beat the pedos again next year in front of 100K cultists and the great Pitt fans who make the trip.
Well Jack, two out of three ain’t all that bad.
We have just been through a two-week period that seems to happen with regularity as Pitt lost two key members of the Athletic Department. First Matt Canada is taking his Offensive Coordinator skills – and they were legion as far as the Pitt record books – to the Southeastern Conference and the higher salaries they pay across the board down there.
Then AD Scott Barnes announced he is pulling up stakes and hopping the red-eye flight back to the West Coast where apparently his little heart resides. Guess the coffee just isn’t as good in PGH as it is in the great Northwest.
One of those two I care about; that would be Canada, the other I don’t much at all. But change is the order of business at Pitt and so goes the long story of the recent decades of Pitt football. Don’t like what you see? Wait a year and not like what you see then either… if you are a pessimist. If you are an optimist then we are about to hire better guys.
I think these changes, and we may not be done yet, are as Pete Seeger wrote years ago… “Turn, turn, turn” and that is what makes following the football program at Pitt so interesting. There truly are a lot of changes and things to get used to anew every time you turn around.
So – we’ll have both of the soon-to-be-richer dearly departed in New York with us on Wednesday for our shot at the Pinstripe Bowl Trophy. Let’s take a look and figure out just who we are up against in this match.
Obviously Northwestern team is a Big Ten team. One that sits toward the bottom of the Western division. Right there is something that our AD could have tried twisting a few arms to get us a better opponent – but then again he was on the phone with Oregon State the whole time.
You can see with your magnifying glass that the Wildcats had a losing record against their conference foes and broke even at 6-6 overall. Here is how they stacked up against the 127 other D1 schools in different categories.
|Northwestern Team Stats – Through games 12/24/2016|
|Team Passing Efficiency Defense||33||120.84|
|Team Passing Efficiency||79||125.72|
|Passing Yards Allowed||108||264.9|
In any other year I’d worry about facing a team that had such a good scoring defense as does Northwestern in giving up only 22.1 ppg, but after that Clemson game my fears are allayed somewhat. Clemson allowed around 18 ppg and we put a ton of points up on them.
Offensively the Wildcats don’t look too imposing but as we have seen in every game so far all an offense has to do is throw the ball in the air to score points.
The oddsmakers must have tired out by this end part of the college season because in all games up to this one they delved into every small details of Pitt and our opponents before churning out numerous charts and voluminous info – now we have this:
So we are giving away five points and the over/under is 66.5. That’s actually kind of tough to figure especially given the length of time both teams have had to prepare for the game. Last year at this time we saw Navy run over us in every way possible and Narduzzi and Conklin had a long period to prepare for them also.
Who knows? I don’t formally bet but I’d take Pitt giving five points and stay away from the O/O if I was. Who knows how the kids are going to react about Canada leaving? I’ve been around college football long enough to know that the old “Win one For Matt!!” is a romanticized version of what the NCAA wants us to believe.
But that doesn’t mean the kids are pissed about him leaving either – I’ll say that the players are mature enough to know how the business of college ball works and they probably want to get a win both for Canada and for themselves. So we’ll probably score a lot of points on Wednesday.
When I was part of the call-in press conference with the four Pitt guys last week I asked Josh Conklin a short and basic question. Given our poor pass defense how are we going to handle Senior Austin Carr, Northwestern’s great WR?
At 6’1″ Carr works out of the slot position and Conklin admitted that we’ve had tough times stopping slot receivers who have played against us (see Ryan Switzer below). I think they will ‘spy’ on him – dedicating a defensive back man on man to shadow him.
If we look at Carr’s season total; 84 receptions for 1,196 yards (14.2 ypc) and 12 TDs it is scary to think what he may do against us. We thought that North Carolina receiver, Ryan Switzer was pretty good until he went against our defensive backfield and elevated himself to a god-like status with 16 catches for 208 yards and a TD.
This is what our defense does for kids – it allows them to become King For a Day. Carr will probably get over 150 yards and two TDs. our job is to contain the other receivers if we can.
OK – final travel notes before taking of for New York in the early am tomorrow.
If anyone is in Manhattan on Tuesday evening and wants a free drink or three then meet me at the “Pitt HQ Hotel” at 7:00 pm. That would be The Sheraton New York, 811 7th Avenue New York, N.Y. 10019.
I’ll be in the bar or if that is too crowded I’ll be in the lobby. As always I’m 6’6″ tall with a mustache and will be wearing a Coast Guard ball-cap.
I’ll also be around Yankee stadium around 12:00 on Wednesday until I go up to the press box around 1:30. Then after we win probably down by the Sheraton again on Wednesday evening unless someone comes up with a better idea.
Really looking forward to seeing some of you all….