Note: the previous article’s comment thread was closed by me due to the fact that it veered into the political arena. We had our say and now it is back to Pitt football. Let’s all try to keep to the no politics policy that has worked so well on here… myself included.
Well, it is time for our post-match report cards in our Monday Morning QB articles where we all throw out our “Good, Bad and Ugly” for the last game to be discussed.
This will be pretty simple today, just as last week’s was with the OSU shellacking. We had the same result Saturday with a twist of the offense we had to face.
Where OSU passed all over the field against us, Georgia Tech did the opposite and ran up and down the green grass of Bobby Dodd stadium. But they were actually pretty generous in trying to give us the game with their four fumbles that our kids recovered.
Our OC Shawn Watson hates charity though and promptly called the plays so as to give the ball right back to them after each turnover. I have said many time Pitt football needs to humble itself and one way to do that is to take those altruistic offerings and score points afterward… then it is a win-win situations for the giver and the taker.
OK – onto the grading:
♣ Our first offensive drive if only for the fact that it showed we can actually score a TD in more than a couple a FBS games. Too bad that was it on the day. DiNucci hit Ollison with a nice pass on a seam route on one of the only good play calls by OC Shawn Watson all afternoon. It was like a tasty appetizer where no main course came after.
♣ Alex Kessman hit a long 55 yard field goal to make his record now 3 of 7 attempts. I’d like to say that we may really need him to become more consistent because we’ll have to depend on him in the clutch at the end to win a future game but from what we have seen from our Panthers so far that situation may not arise.
♣ We didn’t throw any interceptions.
♣ Pitt’s plane didn’t crash on the way back from Atlanta.
♣ Where to start? Like last week’s review the “BAD” tends to meld with the “UGLY” in this game. So let’s do this…
BAD & UGLY = BUGLY:
♣ And it sure was bugly out there. Giving up 436 yards (6.1 ypc on 67 attempts) on the ground jumps right out at ya, doesn’t it? I had written before the game that I thought GT’s running game would be Pitt’s ‘Death by 1000 cuts’ but that the back-breaker would be the GT QB hitting a rare long pass to totally demoralize the defense. But no – I was mistaken as GT’s passing game was a non-factor pretty much.
Yes, GT was the #1 rushing team in the nation going into the game but it wasn’t like we didn’t 1) know this already and 2) have a week to get ready for their ground attack. I sort of kept my fingers crossed that we might do what we did last season with GT which was be able to hold their running game to a semi-reasonable output of 241 yards and squeak out a win.
But this season we didn’t have those slow, white LBs and untalented Defensive Lineman that we had last year. No, this season’s speedy, Power 5 offered “obviously better than Chryst’s guys” defensive players didn’t come close to holding the GT squad to last year’s low total and we got our collective asses kicked. Bugly I say!!
Really – did anyone at all think that at this point in the 2017 season we’d be wishing for those 2016 defenders to be back on the field? Even if almost all of them ended up in NFL camps at one point or another?
♣ Shawn Watson’s play-calling and overall coaching. I don’t know what the answer is here but it was hard to watch our kids come out of the huddle looking confused and run horrid plays.
There has been a real constant between Brown and DiNucci at QB and that is that both of them look unsteady from the time they receive the playcall from the sideline until the play was whistled dead. I think what is happening is that they are getting plays sent in to them that they hadn’t gone over as using much during game preparation week.
Either that or both QBs are too dumb to execute simple plays and that sure isn’t the case. I think Watson is panicking on the sidelines and shifting things around to situational plays that weren’t discussed and practiced as laid out during the week prior to the game.
For instance we had one pass on 3rd down that was obvious executed as called but left us five yards short of a 1st down.
3rd and 11 at PITT 34
(4:36 – 3rd) Ben Dinucci pass complete to Matt Flanagan for 6 yds to the Pitt 40
4th and 5 at PITT 40
(4:36 – 3rd) Ryan Winslow punt for 46 yds, fair catch by Brad Stewart at the GTech 14
The weird thing about that play was that it was an Out Pattern timing pass where the QB had to throw the ball before the TE came out of his break – so it worked perfectly but was as stupid a play as could possibly have been called. A check-down pass is never a timing pattern so it wasn’t like everyone else was covered and DiNucci went through his progression.
Either Watson had a brain fart, which as we have seen so far this year is completely within the realm of possibility, or Narduzzi did it on purpose so to punt and try to get better field position by relying on our defense to hold GT back deep into their territory – which is complete insanity given our defense Saturday. Although that was something Wannstedt would probably do come to think of it.
Sad to say but we have seen this from Watson time and again and the season is only one-quarter of the way played.
♣ The disappearing 5* and 4* players. Ultra-Hyped and Narduzzi Acquired, these 4* and 5* recruits were supposed to waltz in and lead us to victory… but QB Max Brown, DE Dewayne Hendrix and TE Chris Clark have done absolutely nothing so far that would lead you to believe they were ever given those high ratings.
We’d have thought by the fourth game of the season these players would have shaken off any rust they had from not playing due to transfer or injury, or from sitting on another team’s bench for four years, and would start to really produce for us – and boy we sure could have used those phantom talents on Saturday.
But it isn’t to be it appears, and I wouldn’t bet the house we’ll see any miraculous turnarounds from them either this year.
Max Brown has been benched for cause; Hendrix has floated down the depth chart, been surpassed by Rashad Weaver and is currently the team’s 15th leading tackler (with five on the season) and Chris Clark has had all of 3 catches for 8 yards and is in danger of becoming the 3rd string TE.
Man, when you really depend on and need these so-called ‘highly‘ talented players to come through for you and they don’t that means even more inexperienced kids have to play in their place. Which then opens up even more problems.
♣ Speaking of young kids – these players have played in one game only, some burning their redshirts, and have not been seen again (at least so far): RB AJ Davis, DB Phil Campbell, QB Thomas MacVittie (on special teams), LB Anthony McKee, DB Henry Miller and DB Therran Coleman – each of these DBs were highly regarded as the ‘new breed’ who would take over and really raise the play of the defensive backfield.
That’s a quick overview assessment of my thoughts regarding Saturday’s game – what are yours?
Note: Here is the latest national rankings in the major categories for Pitt – remember when you look at this chart that there are only 128 D1 teams in play…
Folks – have we ever seen a Pitt team with rankings like these across both the offense and the defense? I can’t remember that we have. The best we are so far this season is an 87th rank in passing offense and that is still in the 68th percentile of the teams (or lower 32nd depending on your frame of mind when looking at it). Kind of makes you a bit sick in the stomach to look at this doesn’t it…?