“Skin of the teeth“; “By a slim margin“; whatever… Pitt limped into overtime and snatched victory from the jaws of defeat today and looked like a HS team while doing it. I honestly can’t point to one unit on the team and say they were exceptional – maybe the running backs, but no other part of the offense or defense. Hell – even they averaged only 3.9 yards per carry today.
As a matter of fact our defense just may indeed be worse than our 2016 was. Hard to believe, but it isn’t like we haven’t discussed that on here since the Pinstripe Bowl. Every time someone over the offseason said “Well, it can’t get any worse” I cringed.
Should we start our critique with the offense – you know… the offense which YSU shut down completely for the last 30 minutes of the game today? Let’s do and let’s start with the guy who gets the ball to start the plays.
I wrote earlier about my reaching out to the local SoCal media back in July asking about Max Browne and what they told me, and what I wrote on here, was exactly what we saw out there today – that he is immobile; hurries too much with the ball then telegraphs and balloons some of his throws. Folks – those were their words, not mine. I cleaned them up a bit for the articles I wrote.
They also told me that he isn’t very cool under pressure. I think that is just what we saw today. A 5.8 yards per attempt should get him a seat on the bench if we had anyone decent to take his place. Maybe it is growing pains for him but the fact is that he’s a 5th year Senior and is, for all intents and purposes, done growing.
Skip to the other side of the ball… Our pass defense is as bad or worse than last year’s and it that all on Conklin – enough excuses already about how great the opposing QBs and receivers were in 2016 and that is why we sucked – that is malarkey and has been a way for fans to deflect assigning singular responsibility for what is obvious to anyone who knows an iota of football – Josh Conklin is in way over his head here at Pitt and if Narduzzi had any balls at all he’ll fire Conklin after our defense loses the next two games.
Oh, Conklin is still playing with Chryst’s recruits you may say? Well, I saw Narduzzi’s Garner, Jackson, Stocker, Mathis and Dorsey playing pretty horribly today and as I said before – you recruit three star players and you get three star results. Oh – unless we decide to play the youth card now.
The great and glorious Hunter Wells threw for 311 yards and 2 TDs and almost won the game for YSU. Here is his line: 18 for 32 for 311 yards and two TDs – with a good 9.7 yards per attempt.
We have a problem along the defensive front four also – Wells had a lot of time to throw and did it well. Here’s something to ponder – I have been hearing about how all these new players on defense – transfers, recruits and existing roster players were finally coming into the limelight and were ready to shine. OK – let’s look at exactly what our heralded DEs did.
No tackles between either SR Allen Edwards or Dewayne Hendrix- folks that is absolutely scary as hell. Not one damn tackle for either of them… forget about any sacks, they didn’t really get near the QB at all. The Penguin Offensive Line Wall shut them out completely.
How bad was our defense overall? Here we come around to our Interior Lineman. My favorite future trivia question answer, Shane Roy, had all of two tackles on the day; Keyshon Camp had two and Amir Watts had only one. Five tackles among those three DL and only one TFL among them – a nice sack by Watts. No wonder YSU’s QB could take his time and hit his targets, we allowed him to do that on a regular basis.
Look – It would be very easy for me to sit here and say I told you so, but I also know that this is one game out of our 12 game regular season. But the fact is that when Narduzzi released that Two-Deep last week it raised a ton of red flags for me and other fans. We went into this YSU game with really only three defensive players who had any real playing time at all – Maddox, Idowu and Briggs.
Of those three players I wrote that it was only Idowu who showed any positive consistency at all – and we saw that again today. Three of 11 players is minuscule and you have to be more that a glass half-full optimist to believe that good things were going to happen on defense this season when we had journeyman starters (Roy, Edwards, Briggs, etc…) taking the place of departed players that had a crappy defense on their own last year.
The bald fact is that we have a real dearth of experience on the defense and not a whole lot of talent to offset that. And that is exactly what we saw today; DBs running around not knowing who they are supposed to cover – and that is from Briggs and Maddox who Narduzzi has been pointing to as the stalwarts of the defense.
I’m not going to drag this one article out- we saw at Heinz Field what is the state of the team today. I do not believe we were ‘down’ or ‘looking ahead’ but what we saw is what we are. And I believe if Pitt fans say that, if they think this was some sort of aberration, then they are kidding themselves in a big way.
Look – when a team like YSU – a good one but also a team Pitt should handle easily on any given game day, has 48 offensive plays – to our 87 – and scores the same points during the 60 minutes of regulation play – well, warning bells should be ringing from the Southside to Oakland to Happy Valley.
But we won and if we fans care more about seeing a “W” in the column then seeing good solid football being played – then that is exactly all we got out of today. A win.