Now that the house guests have cleared out from a busy and hectic weekend I had a chance to watch the Duke win this morning. A very strange game to say the least – and I understand that I was watching it on TV and not live like some of our POV commenters were.
All I can say is thank goodness for Hall’s two great runs – otherwise we’d be singing a different tune today.
Yesterday a reader sent along his Good, Bad & Ugly thoughts and I’ll incorporate those, along with other commenter’s thought in the listings today.
- Two instances that the line created big holes for Hall to run 79 and 94 yards for TD’s
- No fumbles
- Fairly aggressive pass defense in the first half
- Pitt was capable of making first downs on the third try
- Weah had two nice receptions and really fought for the ball
- Ra-Ra Lopes definitely is the most consistent receiver on the field for Pitt
- Say what people will, DiNucci can launch a long ball too but seldom does
- Duke’s overall speed actually seemed better than Pitt’s
- Pitt LBers still had problems covering the right person and tackling them
- Maddox’s injury as he recorded a sack plus played very aggressively
- No Pickett at all in the game, that was a huge mistake in the third quarter
- Pitt kept letting Duke eat away at the score and take the lead with long TD passes
- Maddox’s injury
- Failure to give Pickett more experience, DiNucci did just mediocre and didn’t screw up
Here are some extra thoughts:
Any win is a good one – especially if your team is sitting at 2-5 more than halfway through the season. That was a win and I’ll take it. Three more like that (hard as it may be) and then I’ll start thinking about a bowl spot. Until then I’ll leave that up to the AD whose job it is entails blowing smoke.
What was up with this series by Pitt and the plays called by Blinky Watson?
We were down 10-7 and only 52 yards from the endzone (30 yards to a FG attempt) when the OC feels like 6’0″ & 205 lb Davis just has to be a better chioce than 6’2″ & 230 lb Ollison to get one (1) yard there?
Our playcalling isn’t just bad in my opinion but sometimes makes no sense whatsoever. I am all for rolling the dice sometimes but we set Duke up for a shortened field TD there. If it works then good – if not, and with our overall poor pass defense, it’s a bad call and a 10 point deficit. Maybe a Winslow punt inside the 20 would have been a better call – 50/50 shot I guess but since we are MMQB’ing…
As to the QB play: All in all DiNucci hung in there and did make some good completions to put us in scoring position in the 4th quarter. Those two passes for 74 yards and two 1st downs gave us the chance to grab the lead we didn’t give up.
Ahhh, but I have to say this: even though he was behind Center for his first full 60 minute game and is credited with a “win” – Ben Dinucci really isn’t a very good D1 QB.
I had written last year that I felt Dinucci didn’t have D1 talent and, sorry to say, I’ll stick with that assessment. We can cherry pick his completions and his good throws – he makes some – but the bald fact is that he is below the D1 average in completion percentage at 56% on his 115 attempts and his yards per attempt average is a very poor 6.6 yards.
Any D1 starter is supposed to make normal completions because that is what they are out there for. It isn’t enough to have one good throw when really needed when you missed on most of your attempts the previous three-quarters.
What we saw of his running skills yesterday doesn’t make up for that either. One commenter made a good point that on those running plays where he hit the dirt way too early that he might have been cautioned to do so because the #2 QB, Kenny Pickett was under the weather.
I very much wonder if that was the case on Saturday as we have seen him dive too soon in every game he’s played so far. I will say I have no comment on if Pickett should have played or not because watch a game after you already know the score removes all sense of pressure and urgency – so I’ll say that the staff made a good decision to keep him in – but only if indeed Pickett couldn’t play.
So the question is does Narduzzi stick with DiNucci or not? I don’t buy into playing for next season for many reasons – one of which is that too many things change over the offseason to waste a year getting ready for a future season that just might be as bad if not worse. I say grab wins when you can. That helps young players as much as an extra series or three.
So I think Narduzzi and OC Shawn Watson will stick with DiNucci until he starts turning the ball over and we’ll see what that brings. This staff, because of the inept 23.4 ppg offense we have, are deathly afraid of turnovers as we have seen by the ultra-conservative and repetitious playcalling by Watson.
This is seen by the happiness the staff showed post-game after DiNucci had zero TOs even if he had zero TDs to go along with that. Apparently anything above the null line is fine with them. As we said last week – this coaching staff has no ability to face, accept and take risks in their approach to any facet of playing football… hence we will see DiNucci for the lion’s share of the remaining games.
But I want to make one point about Pickett’s play; he is the first Pitt QB since Tom Savage whose passes continually lead the receivers so they can catch and run without breaking stride. Those passes are not always on the mark yet – but they will be soon. That is the way he plays QB and it isn’t only a learned skill but really instinctive and involves more risk taking comfort.
DiNucci’s passes tend to get near the receiver a bit slower so that there is a stutter step required or a reach back catch by the target for the completion.
Watch the best of the best QBs and see how they approached their part in the passing game – they don’t settle for a pitch and catch… they are taking some risk to make it a pitch, catch and run outcome.
NOTE: I’m sure some fans hang of Sagarin’s every word if you bet money on the games and such but I’ll stick with the NCAA for stats and such. With that Pitt is shown to have the 29th toughest schedule in D1 after this last weekend’s games. Here is that listing:
Which bodes well for some Pitt fans if you like the fact that the future opponents have more losses than our past opponents. Me, I think you play who is in front of you and your won/loss record states how good you were at the end of the year.