As I said on yesterday’s podcast I’m going to make it a short and sweet Monday Morning Quarterback for the Virginia game this week.
First off I think the game was a fun one to watch; it was a good win and showed a team that is solidifying for the push for the last three games of the season to try to get back up to respectability.
All in all it was a good day at the office for those guys. Here’s my thoughts on some small items that I noticed during the game.
Running back Darren Hall came through with another good game on Saturday with 111 yards rushing. Those two back-to-back hundred plus yard games is the first we’ve had since last season. He is a true Junior this year so I don’t know if he’s going to be the feature back or not for 2018… but you can bet that he’s going to be the feature back for 2017’s last three games.
We showed a true balanced team for the first time this season in my opinion. We had a pretty decent running game with Darren Hall leading the way, but with also Ollison chipping in for a nice 25 yard scamper for a TD.
Ourp passing game wasn’t great but it was enough to get some first downs and to get a nice 19-yard TD to Jester Weah for a touchdown.
Our special teams play was pretty good on the return side with Q. Henderson’s nice 70-plus yard punt return. Our defense played well also and that showed in the final score… when you can hold a team in college to 14 points something must be going well.
The slant pattern touchdown pass for 19 yards that went to Weah from Ben DiNucci to give us a 14 nothing lead was a very good play. What I really liked about that pass is that it was one of the first ones I’ve seen this QB throw where it hit a receiver in stride so he could use his talents to take the rest of the way. It was actually a 4-yard pitch-and-catch and a 15-yard run.
DiNucci doesn’t have a big arm; he doesn’t have a consistent long ball and his intermediate throws from 20 yards to 30 yards are rather spotty so he’s got to be able to connect on these quick passes and he’s got to be able to lead these guys so they can get as many yards after the catch as possible. That’s what he’s going to have to do to be a successful D1 quarterback and we saw at least one play Saturday where he accomplished that.
Instead of actual bad for this item I’m going to say this is medium and that would be Ben DiNucci’s play at quarterback. It might just be the nature of how he plays football but there’s always an element of his being not in control of what he’s doing out there which I think leads to missed opportunities on his part.
Just like Chad Voytik did I think DiNucci tends to pull the ball down and start scrambling before he really has to sometimes and when that happens he tends to lock onto one receiver as he’s rolling right or left instead of tryingto see the whole field… so he left some very wide open receivers out there on Saturday.
He needs to be able to determine exactly when to scramble and when he does scramble and he’s getting forced out-of-bounds he needs to get rid of the ball before he loses yardage on the play. We saw that happened on Saturday and it’s happened many times earlier so that’s something he’s going to have to grow out of.
Ryan Winslow’s punting Saturday was pretty bad as it has been almost every game this season. I’m not sure what’s happening with him but what was the strength of our team last year has turned into a liability over the course of one season. It’s just not enough to average 35 yards per punt.
I could understand the low yardage if he was trying to have pinpoint accuracy on the kick so that he’s putting it in within the 20-yard line or placing it out-of-bounds of the certain spot.
But that’s not what’s happening with him this year. He’s kicking straight ahead punts and they’re just not going anywhere but he’s also kicking them low enough so that the receiver has time to get it and then make a play on the return. As opposed to Winslow’s putting up hang time and having our defense cover the receiver to force a fair catch or maybe a tackle for loss of yardage.
Two things combined for me here. The weather was pretty bad for a football game even though it’s mid-October when you can sometimes expected to be chilly but with the rain on top of it made a pretty miserable.
Along with that was the attendance issue. I touched on this in my podcast yesterday but no way in the world was there 30,889 people actually in the stadium on Saturday. Maybe 30+K tickets went out from the ticket office but not that many human beings showed up.
That was even with giving out a ton of free tickets to HS cheerleaders and families…
We are used to seeing yellow seats at Heinz but when Rich and I came back after the halftime festivities and sat down in our seats it was just yellow everywhere. You couldn’t hardly imagine even five thousand people being left in attendance. The student section was empty. It was as low attendance at any point of a game or a season that I’ve seen since I’ve been going to Pitt football games.
OK, Give us yours…