We will again be in Fran Lokar’s 20+ year spot in Parking Lot Red 5A, which is bordered by General Robinson street to the south and Reedsdales street to the north and directly next to the Red 5 parking garage. It is also directly under the North Shore Light Rail station and adjacent to the Residence Inn. Very easy to find…
Fran will have the great 20′ flag pole and POV & Pitt flags that Bernie B. so graciously donated to the tailgating cause – thanks to both of you.
Fran historically gets to his spot five hours before the game begins (12 noon against OSU this Saturday) and I’ll drive up the night before and get there around 9am. This is going to be a blast guys – totally free of course and all we want is to meet, greet and drink a few with all the POV friends we have made on here over the last year… Can’t wait to see everyone… OK – onto Know The Enemy…
Here is Chris Logue with another excellent article to get us ready for the game on Saturday. Make sure to put your own predictions in your comments…
The reasons are not quite defined and I can’t say as though they will be until maybe a minute before kickoff, but I feel far more comfortable about this match up than that against Penn State. By comfortable, I mean confident in our ability to protect our home field and to help reinstate confidence in the ACC against other Power-5 foes. “Upset, Baby!” With my best Dicky-V impersonation.
Could it happen? Quite possibly, but the Panthers have to be more disciplined in the middle of the field and the offense must become more consistent. In particular, at quarterback. Sure, there were throws that should have been caught, but as the captain of the team, Browne has to be the one to take the next step in maturing in the pocket and putting his players in position to flourish.
This week we are joined again by a special guest. Scott Wright takes care of the Oklahoma State football beat for The Oklahoman and is definitely atop the mountain when it comes to reporting in that area and beyond.
Oklahoma State in 2017
Leading Passer: Mason Rudolph (638 yards, 72.2% completion, 6 touchdowns, 0 interceptions)
Leading Rusher: Justice Hill (159 yards, 6.1 YPC, 1 touchdown)
Leading Receiver: James Washington (8 receptions, 243 yards, 30.4 YPR, 3 touchdowns)
Average PPG For: 55.1 (Opp. Tulsa, South Alabama)
Average PPG Against: 15.5
Last season, we saw individuals in Mason Rudolph and James Washington run roughshod on the Pitt defense, well, the secondary. Washington had 296 yards receiving in the game and Rudolph went for 500 in the air, so what could they possibly do for an encore? For that, it all depends on what Pitt does on defense to combat the attack. But, Scott Wright thinks it could be a group effort of players not named Rudolph or Washington that will make the difference that Gundy will focus on.
“They’ve got guys like Jalen McCleskey, Dillon Stoner and Tyron Johnson who are dangerous in the middle of the field, and running back Justice Hill has already caught more passes out of the backfield this year than he did all of last season. So that could be an area they attack.
I’ll be curious to see if Pitt changes how they cover Washington from last year, when they tried to go man-to-man on him a lot. Obviously that didn’t work, but doubling him also makes the rest of the secondary more vulnerable to the other weapons.”
The middle of the field will be a major point of emphasis for the Panthers. With Narduzzi admitting that the linebackers looked slower as the game went on, that’s when Penn State began utilizing the middle of the field and having greater amounts of success(Barkley catch with Brightwell trailing).
This could be a game where Washington could be used as more of a decoy to open up the field for Hill out of the backfield and other receivers across the middle and down the sidelines. Of course, even as a decoy, Washington has the ability to break the will of a team. Here’s to hoping not.
Traditionally, Oklahoma State, well the entire Big-12, is a pass-first conference and that is great if your quarterback is on each game, but on his worst game, it’s the weapons around him who have the chance to lift the Cowboys to a victory.
“..Justice Hill was the Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year last year, but he really hadn’t had his breakout until after the Pitt game, when OSU was still trying to figure out who their running back would be. OSU has probably three other receivers who could be NFL players eventually. It starts with Chris Lacy, Marcell Ateman and Johnson. Now, if Rudolph is having an off day, things can go sour pretty quickly, because it’ll be tough to get the run game going without a passing threat,” Wright says.
Still, I consider how weak the Pitt offense has looked, well when comparing to 2016, and it makes you wonder how they match up against an often times weaker defensive team like Oklahoma State. Although to be fair, OSU is very athletic at all levels of the defense. Pitt is in wavering waters when it comes to quarterback and I look for Max Browne to have a shorter leash this week, which could make way for Ben DiNucci for the second straight week. Even with a potential quarterback quandary, and one the coaches are trying to dispel but keep stoking the flames, the Pokes will be prepared.
“..They prepared for Tulsa in the season opener not knowing who would win their QB battle, and both quarterbacks ended up playing. So I think they’ll take what they have film on and build the game plan around that. The OSU defensive line has been solid so far, and I’d expect them to push the issue up there to try to create pressure and keep the QB, whoever it is, uncomfortable from the start.”
Again, the overall flow of the Pitt offense could be up to how much WR Quadree Henderson can be effectively involved in the scheme of the offense. Sweeps don’t seem to be the answer to this point in the season, although early, it could be time to panic. I look for Pitt to take a page out of the Kansas City Chiefs playbook and look to how they use their dynamic receiver, Tyreek Hill.
Having Henderson in the backfield in the shotgun alongside Browne would diversify his abilities. Quick pitch, zone reads and as a receiver out of the backfield would create nightmares for defenses by isolating linebackers and putting him on an island. Not to mention, the shovel. How do you free up the tight-end for the shovel? You exercise the defense by continuing to pull the defensive ends and linebackers to the outside creating a void in the middle of the defense.
Oklahoma State doesn’t have Quadree Henderson, but they are doing their best to prepare.
“We aren’t allowed in to watch practice at this point in the season, but there’s a chance they’d be using fifth-string RB Chuba Hubbard in that role. He’s a true freshman who is likely to redshirt, so he could very well be working on the scout team this week. I don’t know if the speed took them by surprise last year, or if they just weren’t prepared to handle it.”
Now, the nitty-gritty. Edit: OSU had open practices all during camp. 😦
Does Oklahoma State cover the -11 spread, and how do they do it?
“It starts with the passing game (SURPRISE!). If Rudolph goes for 500 yards again, I’d expect the Cowboys to cover. The defense is improved this year, so I think Pitt will have a tougher time getting up to the 38-point range they reached last year.
But OSU is dealing with a lot of issues at linebacker, with one starter injured, and his backup suspended for the first half of this game for a targeting call in the third quarter against South Alabama. And another key backup blew out his knee last week in practice. So that’s a big question mark. If Pitt can take advantage of the struggles there, they might find a way to stay in the game.”
This is the point where Wright makes a very firm statement and it’s interesting the confidence.
Q: “Can you fathom a world in which Pitt can pull the upset, which they have a propensity to do? If so, what will it take for them to reach that point?”
A: “It can absolutely happen (this is the statement I was talking about). OSU wasn’t flashy on offense last week at South Alabama, and a better team might’ve made them pay for it early and stayed in the game. Instead, South Alabama didn’t even get past the 100-yard mark until the fourth quarter.
Pitt should have significantly more offensive success than that. Being at home always helps. And they showed last year against Clemson that they can handle speed. So it’s certainly possible. OSU hasn’t turned the ball over much yet, so if Pitt can get a few takeaways, it could really create some momentum.”
Before we get to the predictions, I wanted to know an outsider’s opinion on the comments made by James Franklin during his post-game boastful banter. Wright delivered.
“When I first heard just the “like beating Akron” line, I thought he was trying to either establish or strengthen the idea of a big brother/little brother relationship between his program and Pitt.
I don’t know if that exists up there, but that’s something OSU battled here with OU for a long time. OSU always considered OU its biggest rival, but OU’s biggest rival was always Texas. But for about the last 20 years, OSU/OU has been a more substantial rivalry and a lot more evenly split than it ever was before.
The initial sense I got from Franklin was of him discounting the meaning of the rivalry. But when I went to watch the entire portion of the interview to try to put it in context, I started leaning more toward the idea of it just being a horrible, horrible analogy he was trying to make, with no clue how bad it sounded. There still seemed to be some negative intent in there, but it wasn’t as bad as I initially thought from the first time I heard it. Being a guy who loves rivalries, and particularly, impassioned coaches, I thought it was something that will definitely add some juice when they meet next year.”
OSU’s Scott Wright – I’m taking OSU 45-20. I think the defense is physical enough to contain Pitt, and the offense has too many weapons.
Pitt’s Chris Logue – Pitt doesn’t have the dynamic playmakers in the receiving game necessary to out-battle the secondary of the Cowboys, but I am extremely encouraged by the traditional running game Pitt brought to the table against a superior run defense at Penn State. That makes the difference for Browne and takes the ball out of the OSU offense’s hands long enough to steal one at home.
Pitt wins 33-30 and is successful in taking two possessions away from OSU and is lucky enough to return one to the house early in the game.
Pitt’s Reed Kohberger – Boy, this is a tough one because I’m just not sure how good a team PSU really is this season, so I think we still don’t have real answers to a lot of serious questions. Either way though I’m not as satisfied about how we played last week as some fans are. We scored 14 points overall with only one TD – and we lost by 19 points. Spin that anyway you want but it isn’t good.
One startling fact: our QB has yet to throw a TD pass in eight quarters of regulation play… two full games, but also has three INTs in that same time period. The first TD last week put us down 7-0 with only 2:07 having been played and we never dug out of that hole.
I’ll have to be convinced by actually seeing it that our passing defense is truly better than last season – after all we just two weeks ago gave up 311 yards and 2 TDs, along with a very good 9.7 ypa average, to an FCS offense (by comparison Nate Peterman had a 9.3 ypa in his excellent play last season).
Fans also seem to think we looked good in the pass defense last week because we held McSorley to 164 yards passing, but tend to overlook that he tossed 3 TDs along with that.
I think the OSU passing game dominates the field and the game and we won’t be able to score enough points to keep up. I shudder to think what OSU QB Rudolph will do for an encore of his 540 yards / 2 TD performance of last season. The fact is they have better WRs this year than they did last.
We’ll score more than last week but our offense has a lot of problems right now and it starts with the QB. We won’t be able to keep up like last season when we at least made it a game., as it was 38-38 with only 1:53 left on the clock then before OSU scored to win. But that was with a much better offense than we have this season.
I’ll guess OSU 41 – Pitt 20 and wouldn’t be shocked to see DiNucci get a lot of playing time.