Yes, Our Pass Defensive Was Unique

It is time to put an end to the excuses being made for our terrible 2016 pass defense.  Fingers are pointing at the great QBs we faced and the great WRs we faced – and someone behind those fingers forget that all those great players had other opponents who faced the same things Pitt did.

It is very clear to me that the reasons for our inadequacies in pass defense is completely internal to out coaching staff and our players.  Ours – not our opponent.

Here is a table showing what Pitt’s opposing QBs did against the other teams they faced in 2016 (less Pitt),  then the row below that shows what they produced against Pitt.

I highlighted in red the areas where Pitt was worse than the average opponent.  Red with an asterisk (*) shows Pitt was worst ( or tied for worse) than any other D1 school on their opponent’s schedule.

Quarterback CMP ATT YDS Pass
YDS Per Comp.
McSorley  PSU 16 29 273 16.1 55.1% 80 2 .5 156.9
vs. Pitt 24* 35 332 13.8 68.6% 40 1 1 152.0
Rudolph   OSU 21 33 296 13.7 64.1% 82 2 .3 160.1
vs. Pitt 26 46 540* 20.8 56.5% 91 2 0 169.5
Trubisky     NC 22 33 274 12.3 67.2% 75 2 .5 154.3
vs. Pitt 35* 46 453* 12.9 76.1%* 58 5* 0 194.7*
Litton   Marsh 19 31 215 11.2 61.6% 65 2 .7 136.3
vs. Pitt 20 30 240 12.0 62.5% 83 2 1 139.9
Thomas      GT 6 11 119 19.8 52.1% 81 .5 .16 192.6
vs. Pitt 7 10 130 18.6 70.0% 31 1 0 212.2
Benkert      VA 17 30 189 10.9 57.2% 84 1.5 .83 121.6
vs. Pitt 20 44 278 13.9 45.5% 74 1 1 101.5
Evans          VT 20 31 262 12.9 63.8% 62 2 0 153.5
vs.  Pitt 24 40 406* 16.9* 60.0% 41 2 0 161.8
Kaaya         UM 19 31 264 13.8 61.0% 77 2 .5 150.8
vs. Pitt 32* 47 356 11.1 68.1% 41 4 0 159.8
Watson  Clem 20 36 286 14.3 67.0% 65 3 1 144.9
vs. Pitt 52* 70 580* 11.1 74.3% 31 3 3 149.5
Jones      Duke 22 35 235 10.7 62.8% 64 1 0 130.6
vs. Pitt 28 46 243 8.6 60.9% 43 1 0 112.4
Mahoney  SYR 6 12 84 13.9 50.0% 81 .5 .5 114.2
vs. Pitt 43* 61 440* 10.2 70.5%* 49 5* 1 154.9
Thorson    NW 21 36 255 12.1 58.0% 58 1 .5 124.2
vs. Pitt 23 36 121 5.2 60.5% 32 1 0 117.4

12 of 13 QBs faced had more yards passing vs Pitt than they averaged against their other opponents. Some freakishly more as in the table below.

8 of 13 QBs had a better completion percentage vs Pitt than they averaged against their other opponents. 

8 of 13 QBs had a better QB Rating vs Pitt than they averaged against their other opponents.

But here’s what killed really put a damper on the season in my opinion: 

In three of our five losses the opposing QB threw for over 100 more yards than he averaged against other schools.  We still would have lost against Miami I believe.  If you remember OSU scored on an 85 yard TD pass with 1:20 left in the game and then North Carolina scored on a TD pass with :02 left in the game to win.

But we would have won three more games with an even ‘below average’ pass defense. 

That’s an 11-2 final record folks and 11-1 going into the bowl season where we probably would have gotten a Playoff berth.

Read it and weep:

Team YPG vs. Other YPG vs. Pitt Difference Outcome
OSU 296 540 + 291 L by 7 pts
NC 274 453 + 179 L by 1 pt
VT 262 406 + 144 L by 3 pts
Miami 264 356 +   92 L by 22 pts

I think we all agree that our passing defense and our DB were horrible last season.  I content that it wasn’t the opposition that made them that way – they just shined a bright light on it.

OK – that’s it for beating a dead horse. 


Note: Tuesday night Round Table call-in will take place at 8:00 pm this evening.  I’ll post the URL, phone numbers and unique ID codes needed to enter the meeting at around 7:30 and you guys can join-in at around 7:50 or so.

I’ll record the discussion and post it tomorrow.  Please don’t worry about what your voice sounds like – honestly, everyone’s voice sounds better when it is recorded than in real life.

If you don’t want the video part of your attendance to be recorded all you have to do is hit “Camera Off” and it will be just voice.  The site recording I use records both video and audio.  I’ll probably turn my camera off when we start recording also.

AI have subscribed to for our teleconference platform.  It is as easy as pie to either login with the URL I’ll provide at 7:30 or so… or you can call-in with your phones to the bluejeans phone number then enter this meeting’s unique ID code.

All a caller has to do is dial the websites regular phone number and then enter a 10 digit “Meeting’s unique ID code” and the screen will ask you what name you want to use then Hey Presto!  you are in the discussion group.

You can also get into the discussion just by clicking on a link I will provide you via email or via the POV comments section…

Here is the front page and at the top you will see a bar that looks like this over toward the right side:


You’ll click on the “Join Meeting” box and that will start you into the below process.

Before you do that I will have sent an email, text or posted the meeting’s ID number. An example of this is if you’re using your computer I will post  this link:

https:/ (that last number was our session’s unique ID # from last evening  – it changes with every meeting). Do that and you are in Bluejeans.

Truly is as easy as pie (fingers crossed)…  Then:


The screen above will appear and in a caller’s case you would click on the bottom circle on the left – “Enter meeting ID”.

Then you should see the screen below.

I put a red dot next to the “Camera on” question because if you don’t want to be seen by others you will click ‘off’. I put a green dot next to “Microphone on” because you want to keep that ‘on‘ if you want to talk to the group.


If you don’t want to be heard but want to listen-in real-time I believe you can click the microphone ‘off’ and still hear the session as it is playing out – but then you can join in the discussion at any time by clicking your microphone back to ‘on’…

It is as easy as that.  Ike was gracious enough to spend part of the day testing both Skype and Bluejeans and we agreed that Bluejeans is a better forum.

Here is a link to their video tutorials.

You guys don’t have to download the bluejeans app if you don’t want to – you can get into the meeting by the above steps.  But the Bluejeans rep I talked to said that if you are going to be doing it all the time then the app is easier.


46 thoughts on “Yes, Our Pass Defensive Was Unique

  1. Alright alright, I fully admit PITTs pass defense sucked and coaching and players were both to blame, …but..

    First off, you left off the Villanova QB for some reason. Unless you ere only including D-1 QB’s

    I wonder how many points were scored against these opponents by the other teams they played? My point, teams had to constantly throw to keep up with PITT in most cases.

    Obviously opponents figured out they could hike it and heave it while getting mostly single coverage.

    Finally, when PITT decided to allow the run (Northwestern) and not score as many points themselves, they didn’t give up as many yards passing. < Is this really an aberration or a real reason?

    C’mon guys, get on board for the round-table as I can’t be there tonite and let Reed know in advance if you can. Rkb, Upitt, Darkie, BigB, Dr Tom, tommymac, PittPT, Pittman4Ever and all others.. Lets get with it men?


    1. Very good point and question. Occam’s Razor might say that the explanation is that our linebackers and secondary were both awful. I’m hesitant to blame it all or even 50% on the secondary. With all due respect Reed I think the problem was a bit deeper than as presented by you.


  2. Ike – after the first three games teams were throwing like crazy on us at the beginning of the games… because they knew they could score that way. Plus in some games it was Pitt having to play catch-up to the other team.

    Remember the 1st play OSU had against us? A 91 yard TD on a fly pattern.


    1. Thank you Reed for mentioning the elephant in the room on your stats. Any DC worth his weight is going to attempt to expose the soft under belly of an opponent’s weakness. it became very apparent that betwen the lack of talent in our secondary to be able to win when the CBs were left alone out there on their islands and the stubborness of Narduzzi/Conklin to adapt the defensive scheme to mask those weaknesses, the result is a bunch of burnt toasts masquerading as defensive secondary players.

      Sure Narduzzi’s excuse was lame considering what he was working with, “somebody’s got to make a play”! Well, sometimes they did! Whitehead’s pick 6 before halftime in the Virginia game and the key interception that Brightwell made in the Clemson game to turn away a final dagger through the heart of our Panthers that subsequently lead to our next TD are fine examples of when the scheme worked. But a couple great defensive plays do not make for a successful defensive secondary. Once again I predict with guys like Coleman, Campbell, Stocker, Jackson, Miller, Hamlin and Ford coming into their own, this all changes with the personel. we’ll see if I’m full of $shit soon enough, won’t we?


  3. Reed, just a reminder. I will miss tonight’s round table but will be good to go after that. Hope some new guys step in. It really is fun!


  4. Reed, I did mention that opponents did figure it all out to just throw the ball..

    Dr Tom has a great comment in the last article, don’t miss.

    Here’s a list of football players planning on visiting PITT in the near future.

    Chase Wolf, QB, Cinncinati.

    Keaton Upshaw, TE, Lima Ohio.

    Jimmy McKenna, OT, Avon Ohio.

    David Green DT, PCC

    Chris Bleich, OT

    Jake Kradel, OL/DL, Butler

    Jay Symonds, TE, Cambridge Mass

    Shaquan Anderson-Butts, WR, Harrisburg

    Nihym Anderson, LB, NJ


  5. I’m waiting for the legendary Michigan State Narduzzi defense to show up, will it be this season? I hope so because if the offense slips it could be an interesting year with a lot of interesting comments.


  6. Reed – I’d love to join but with two kids who don’t go to bed until about 9:30 it will be tough. I’m a night owl so 10pm discussions would work best for me.


  7. Had we given some of the DBs safety help…..we would have won at least 2 of those games. The lack of adjustments was more frustrating than the players.


  8. Reposted from Reed’s previous Thread.

    Embedded at the end of this post is a link to listen to Chris Peak’s podcast from PantherLair. He goes into a pre Spring camp ranking of confidence in each of the 10 positions on the team. I found it interesting that he left both special teams and the fullback position totally out of this analysis. When you consider that in so doing you completely ignore the contributions of Quadree Henderson as our home run returner and George Aston who was a main cog in this offense last season especially in short yardage situations near the endzone.

    The thing that Chris repeats time after time in this podcast is the lack of experience at multiple spots going forward. Question marks all over the place. DE, LB, CB, DL, even at RB, the leap of faith has to be made if you want to be optimistic, since one has to assume that the personel in waiting are going to be up to the task of replacing the veteran players who are now gone. Just like Reed, Chris Peak recognizes the potential of the upcoming talent pool, especially the RS freshmen now competing for playing time from Narduzzi’s full 2016 recruiting class, but he wants to SEE IT FIRST, before he believes.

    Even though Pitt football isn’t there yet, with the elite programs, where they simply reload their ranks with 4 star underclassmen when the dozen or so veteran players go off to seek their fortunes in the NFL Combines, Pitt is on the “verge” of appearing to reload their roster for 2017. Why do I get this impression? Well the main reason is simply because Narduzzi has brought in a better pool of talent over the last couple of recruiting classes than HCPC ever did, with the exception of the quality of his OL recruits. So when you give a faster, taller, more athletic newbie a chance to play at a position that has been held down by an experienced veteran with inferior athletic attributes, the sum total of that transition could be considered a lateral trade of exchanging experience with better athletic potential.

    This is why I feel that our current worry of how do we compensate for the horrendous defensive secondary statistics produced in 2016, will take care of itself, in time. Narduzzi recruited just as well last year at the defensive secondary position in 2016 as HCPC did at the OL position during his time at Pitt. And as Chris mentions in his podcast, his confidence in our OL for 2017 is high because of both the returning experience already there plus the talented reserves ready to get their starting opportunities themselves. Thanks Paul.

    That is where Narduzzi is right now with multiple spots on his team, minus the elite talent currently NOT possessed by the experienced veterans that return. A fine example of this is at CB with Maddox being the best CB on the team when you consider experience. In this case, Maddox starts next season, no doubt in my mind. However when you look at the potential of the guys behind him, I could easily imagine a 6’3″ guy like Miller getting matched up against a tall opposing WR at some point in the season in exchange for Maddox sitting down, simply because, in such a situation, height trumps experience. And if such an opportunity is fully taken advantage of, then all of a sudden your veteran midget CB gets less and less playing time in favor of the underclassman who is just more endowed with both talent and physical attributes. That’s where this team is right now.

    So is it unbridled optimism to anticipate guys like Hendrix, Pine, Camp, Jones II, Ford, Clark, Browne, Hamlin, Sibley, Davis, Weaver, Wheeler, etc. to come in and perform at such a level to make us forget about star players like Jarret, Peterman, Price and Conner? Well, just remember that last year that all of the hand wringing then was focused around how in the world would Tyler Boyd’s numbers be replaced going into 2016, it’s Chis Peak’s position of supreme confidence now in 2017!?

    It’s a situation that Pitt fans just have to get used to, better players with higher ceilings coming into the program than the guys already starting. It’s actually a good problem to have if you want to see your program ascend to the next level. I see that potential and simply expect it to be realized on the field of play when these young guys get their chances. We’ll see soon enough, the YSU game will be upon us before we know it.


  9. I still believe Duzz should move Whitehead to the island corner spot as a shut down defender. Let Mattox’s experience pay off at weak side safety position. For a little guy Maddox is a strong tackler.


  10. For all you golfers going to the POV event. Wear two pairs of pants. You know, in case you get a hole in one..

    Reed, fun with your stats. There were 9 QB’s that attempted and average of 17 more passes a game when playing PITT. Is it any wonder they threw for more yards?


    1. Watson average 36 passes per games but threw 70 times vs Pitt
      both Trubisky and Rudolph averaged 33 per game but threw 46 times vs Pit
      Mahoney averaged 12 passes per games but threw 60 times vs Pitt

      9 QBs threw far more vs Pitt than they had vs others

      Of course they are going throw for many more yards …. vs our offense, teams had to continually throw to catch up or maintain their lead …. not to mention the fact how fast our offense would score.


  11. I have been and remain 100% in the Reed camp on the issue of the failures of our defense last season. The article is on the mark in revealing how close we possibly were to 10, 11 or even 12 wins. I do think that the loss in the bowl game was a different issue. We just never got into a flow on offense in the first half, and then injuries to several of our better players sealed the deal later. Now, lets turn the page. Horse has definitely been beaten. I’m with Dr. Tom. I think the potential exists for a much better season from our defense. The tougher schedule may not allow us to improve much in the win column, though. Maybe 9 wins. I’d love to say 10, but I’m not sure I can go that far. Lets start looking forward to the Spring game and beyond. Good things are ahead…. at least for the Football program that is.


  12. Reed, you missed one obviously glaring omission in the data you presented above. Look at the average number of pass attempts versus the number of pass attempts vs Pitt. Aside from the fact that these QBs faced were throwing against mediocre talent, the main factor was that because of our high scoring offense this past year … teams had to continue to score until the end of the game to either catch up or maintain their lead

    Average attempts vs No. of attempts vs Pitt

    McSorley 29 vs 35;
    Rudolph 33 vs 46;
    Trubisky 33 s 46:
    Benkert 30 vs 44
    Evans 31 vs 40
    Kaaya 31 vs 47
    Watson 36 vs 70
    Jones 35 vs 46
    Mahoney 12 vs 60

    Watson threw for twice the amount of attempts and Mahoney 5 times. Of course, they were going to get more passing yards.


    1. Did they have to throw that often or did they choose to throw more often? I would argue Rudolph, Evans, Kaaya and Watson threw because it was working and they could do it at will. Look at those completion percentages! At some point you really have to accept that the statistics sufficiently tell the story.

      Kaaya most certainly did not have to throw in the Miami game. That was the one game Pitt was never really in last season.

      I mean seriously, if the proposition is that you’re going to pick up 14 yards every time that you complete a pass, you’re going to complete a pass around 65% of the time, you’ve little risk of losing the ball (8 ints), and you’re going to score nearly every time you sniff the red zone (28 throwingTDs), why wouldn’t you throw more often?


  13. A topic I would like opinions on for tonight’s round-table and Reed you talked about this. What if PITT’s defense comes out and really doesn’t play all that well first 4 or 5 games but PITT wins 3 or 4 of them, does Conklin get fired mid season? I don’t see the point of that. If you would want Narduzzi or Partridge to take over? I don’t see the problem with that but leaving a void on the coaching staff may not be the greatest idea. Although a disgruntled Conklin may be a bit of a problem as well. Anyways my feelings on this is that there may be a defense by committee this coming year and putting the blame squarely on Conklin’s shoulders has never entered my mind. I just can’t see a PITT coach being fired mid-season under any circumstance… ike



    1. I will guarantee that Pitt’s defense will come out and play poor in the 1st month … namely vs McSorley, Barkley and Hamiiltn in week 2 and Rudolph, Washington and their top RB (forgot his name.) These are Top 10 talent and Pitt, or any other school, is bound to struggle. And Pitt, with its inexperience will struggle.

      Just remember, Wisconsin, with its 7th rank defense, could not stop PSU last year. USC, with 4-star talent all over the field, could not stop PSU, and 10th ranked Colorado gave up 38 points to Ok State in the bowl game.

      Partridge may actually take over this spring, who knows … but is so, he will struggle the 1st month also


    1. wouldn’t doubt if Wilson leaves also. Look for Pitt to go after some grad transfers really hard. Right now, Johnson and Luther only returnees with any experience of note


    2. Corey M., who is choosing to leave the BB team was Aaron Thompson’s high school teammate before he enrolled last fall. Aaron T., is Pitt’s top rated incoming freshman.

      Things that make you go Hmmm…


  14. Pitt will open spring football drills at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on Thursday, March 16. Coach Pat Narduzzi has scheduled 15 practice sessions, concluding with the Blue-Gold Spring Game on April 15 at Heinz Field. (A complete schedule with open practice times and media opportunities is listed at the end of this advisory.)


  15. OK Guys – get your voices ready to be heard!

    The URL is:

    The phone in number is:

    1-408-740-7256 then put in this unique code 224542# (don’t forget the pound sign (#))!!

    Pretty simple – if you have problems before 8:00 pm when the Call-in formally starts call me at 410-782-9981

    I may be away from the desk for a minute or two before 8:00 so don’t sign off if you don’t hear me right away.

    C’mon in, the water’s fine!!


  16. @Conjunto Panther

    I agree wholeheartedly regarding mixing some of the coverage with safety help. I am sure the coaches tried but it really looked like our db’s were mostly a step slower, a bit smaller and their coverage technique at times seemed to be very poor.

    Kinda just makes you wonder but who am I to second guess, I’m just an arm chair QB like the most of us on this blog.


  17. Ike – I will be on group roundtable someday but 1) sick and too much work right now 2) i have a face made for radio. 🙂 Seriously I am a techno idiot so this is gonna be different as I get the kahunas to try this, will probably ask Reed at the POV golf outing for something like a practice’run.


    1. Hey rkb buddy, you can turn off your camera, hell I don’t even have one. ( by accident?) Reed will practice anytime you wish, you prosecute alleged murderers, you can navigate Bluejeans by Gosh. You have too much PITT info to sit in the wings. Jump in!… ike


  18. Question for Dr. Tom Is there anything that concerns you about the Pitt football team. Have you ever been down on Pitt football? I am serious, Doc’s optimism is incredible. Back to the cold meds.


  19. Finally as the nyquil rolls in. i am rarely a fan of stats, and I was bothered by the inability to cover the pass in general and long sideline pass in particular but these stats were excellent and we were even worse than my eyes thought. Ike your point about trying to keep up with Pitt works for Syracuse, not so sure about the rest. the Cuse was one of the weirdest games i have been at, they rolled down the field all day but was never concerned because they couldn’t keep up. Good night everyone. H2P
    At the sake of redundancy Pitt for the past two days interviewed AD candidates at Greater Pitt Airport in the big conference room there. I have no names. Reason at greater Pitt – trustees have to fly into town so it is closer for everyone. Hope Tressell drove down – good short term mentor for Pat Bostick our future AD IMO.


  20. TX – you’re on schedule for next Tuesday evening. Ike is going to be in on every Round Table Call-in we have. He’s like Ed McMahon in that he keeps the conversational flow going.

    Now – if the recording did what my daughter and I think it should I’ll have this up by coffee break tomorrow morning.

    Thanks guys and especially Dr. Tom for the ‘interview’.

    I’ll have some ground rules for language for the call-ins also folks, but I was more concerned about content and getting things right tonight than anything else.


  21. If it’s all right for a newbie to call in I’ll try next week work permitting…maybe just to listen at first. Putting it on my calendar.

    Suggestion: it would be helpful to have some kind of loose theme in advance to prep for – assume it will be an open round table but being a guy who feels more comfortable preping in advance a loose weekly theme would help get the jitters under control lol.


  22. I can do it if not in the air but sadly I think I will be! Orlando to Fort Lauderdale. UGH. Stay on a few hours and I will hop on from Hotel.


  23. Reed – your stats 100% back up your thesis, as usual. I complement you on your tremendous ability to select stats to complement your point.

    However I believe in this case, you are completely ignoring perhaps 50% of pass defense. It would be wonderful to see how much time the above QBs had to throw per attempt against Pitt versus the rest of their competition (I doubt such stats are even kept)!

    I have long maintained that it is nearly impossible to complete a pass from the prone position – a position not too many of the above QBs experienced last year while playing Pitt. Almost as hard, is completing a pass while back peddling – again, an experience theses QBs didn’t often face while playing Pitt.

    It is obvious that Pat Narduzzi is no Reed Kohberger when it comes to defensive football – he fired the wrong defensive coach this year. I believe that was the Defensive Line Coach! And he had access to the same stats you did!


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