Here are the all-informative Game Notes for this afternoon…
Alright then… it’s that day of the week for Pitt football, except for when we play North Carolina on Thursday evening, but I digress. Todays match is the Pitt Panthers vs the Virginia Cavaliers, with VA getting 1 point on the betting line, down from an earlier 3 points I believe. Interestingly on the season to date Pitt is 1-6-1 for the over/under scores due to our poor offense.
I picked Pitt to win, and get our 4th in that column, on the strength of the fact that I have picked them to lose almost all the games so far so I thought I’d mix it up a bit. That is the way the season is going for me – I can’t get a solid grasp on either the offense or the defense and we are already eight games into the season with a 3-5 record.
I will say this though – our Panthers’ 1.43 yards per carry on 55 rushes for our offense last week (when you take out Hall’s two big TD runs) scares me. It was less than half of what we had been averaging… a poor 3.5 all season prior to playing Duke. I just don’t think Ben DiNucci can get this team a win if we revert back to that poor rushing production again.
Last week we saw hall as the featured runner with Ollison in a blocking H-Back role. However, if it is a mudder day out there I think we’ll see the bigger, stronger Ollison get more carries than he has been getting over the last few games.
Since the season opener we have seen his carries do this; 22 against YSU then 15, 7, 7, 6, 6, 2 and 3 carries the last week. He’s at 4.2 ypc and tied with Hall with four rushing TDs. I really felt that we’d be able to get back his 2015 production this year but with the QB shakeup and poor OL play that won’t happen.
I do look at this matchup and wonder if VA’s QB is going to have a field day against us. I know VA’s Kurt Benkert’s stats aren’t off the charts but over the last two years our pass defense has tended to make superstars out of the opposing QBs.
|PASSING STATISTICS For Virginia’s Starting QB|
If it is indeed as sloppy as we think it may be out there this afternoon then the score will remain low. That is when turnovers are magnified into game changing plays. Benkert doesn’t throw INTs much – just 1 out of every 70 attempts. That is superb and on Pitt’s side of that equation DiNucci is one out of 38 passes attempted.
Benkert and his receivers will be play a shortened pitch and catch I think – again depending of the amount of rain falling from the sky – and he has some pretty good receivers to throw to:
|Olamide Zaccheaus||49||505||10.3||81 (TD)||4|
|Doni Dowling||30||393||13.1||42 (TD)||4|
|Andre Levrone||16||386||24.1||73 (TD)||4|
Andre Leverone scares me a bit – his 24.1 YPC matches what Weah did last season. He played HS football in Laurel, MD which is right down right down the road from my home. He’s got speed.
VA’s place kicker, A.J. Mejia has hit on 5 of 6 tries but missed on his one attempt over 40 yards. Our Alex Kessman on the other hand is getting to be hot and cold after a very nice run of successful attempts.
He sits at 8 for 14 with three scores from far out. We may need him in crunch time this afternoon and as well we’ll rely on Ryan Winslow to keep up his good work in punting the ball deep enough to give our defense a decent shot at stopping opponent’s drives.
Today would be a good day for HC Pat Narduzzi to take a minute and introduce our TE’s to OC Shawn Watson. Apparently they haven’t met yet. But DiNucci is much more accurate on those shorter passing calls – as evidenced by his 12.0 yards per completion rate – not too shabby but we’ve seen only one or two deep balls caught while he’s been our passer.
DiNucci’s completion percentage is pretty low at 55% as is his QB rating of 113.8 so let’s hope Watson calls an offense that allows safer and shorter completions for 1st downs this afternoon. Ball control, which we have been pretty good at so far this year will be important in a low scoring game. That would be where the TEs kick in. But our problem is that we haven’t been converting those time-consuming drives to points at the end of them.
I have to say that with the weather forecast I really do feel like getting in my car and driving back home to watch the game in my living room. But a very generous reader, Jeff smith, has come through, again, with two club tickets… so I’ll have an extra one if someone at the tailgate would like to join me. Thanks again Jeff.
Speaking of which we’ll be in the corner of the Red 5 parking garage this time for Fran’s “Lastrow Deluxe” tailgating festivities. It’ll be on the Ground floor near the place we
usually are in the parking lot. Look for the tall guy who reminds you of Clint Eastwood if Eastwood had a moustache… or maybe this guy.
Here are some media links to wet your Pitt football whistle…
Pitt’s Phillipie Motley Bounces Back into Starting Cornerback Spot
By Brian Batko
Pitt Offensive Line Discovers Identity
By Jerry DiPaola
DK Pittsburgh Sports
Narduzzi: Ollison’s ‘Winning Performance’ Paved Way for Hall
By Chris Mueller
Narduzzi on Preparation, Virginia and More
By Chris Peak
A New Wrinkle, a New Role and More on Pitt’s Personnel
By Chris Peak
Pittsburgh Sports Now
Pitt Football Player Interviews
By Alan Saunders