With an extended time period between the last game and MMQB a lot of the Good, Bad and Ugly has already been discussed… But here goes anyway with one additional category.
GREAT!! (Old Gold font)
Fran’s work each and every week to make sure the POVers attending the home games can have the best time possible. I really regret missing the “BigB Memorial Tailgate” (even though he isn’t dead yet) on Thursday afternoon and evening before this game. Fran started setting everything up soon after 2:00pm and from all reports the festivities were fantastic.
For those who missed the tailgate and didn’t yet see photos please jump over to this article and check them out.
We have to start with RB Darrin Hall’s excellent day. To keep his 100+ yards per game streak alive is a real accomplishment but to do it while scoring 28 points is superb. That was, save a FG by Kesserman, all the scoring we did on Thursday evening.
His stat line for the NC game was this: 23 for 121 at a 5.3 ypc rate and 4 TDs. Excellent again but I think one of the more important facts from his work is that he did this with a longest rush of only 17 yards.
It is one thing to pile up 252 yards in a game when you have a 92 yard run and a 79 yard run – hell, that alone is 171 yards but in his last two games he’s broken 100 yards with longs of only 14 and now 17 yards.
In his last three games he’s carried the ball 72 times for 486 yards (6.75 ypc!!) and 8 TDs which is a career year for most D1 RBs.
Quadree Ollison and the TEs blocking for Hall... including #45 Devon Edwards on one of them.
In the video above you’ll see that Hall didn’t get those TDs all on his own. Since Shawn Watson opened his emails and read the one from Ike suggesting that he move Ollison into the H-Back position to lead block for Hall we’ve been getting great yardage on the ground. Kidding about the email thing – but let’s do give Watson some kudos for making that move as it has turned out extremely well.
BTW – as you are watching said video remember that first passing play on it – more on that later.
I’m not going to label our QB Ben DiNucci’s work on Thursday ugly because when a QB throws zero INTs that is a real plus… but I have no qualms about calling it “BAD”.
Overall DiNucci completed 11 of 16 pass attempts for 142 yards and no TDs or INTs. That was his passing but here is something else to note; that first play on the video above was a 30 yarder to a wide open Hall on a swing pattern out of the backfield which only succeeded because it was on broken coverage by the NC DBs.
While Pitt fans will take 30 yards through the air anytime with this QB… if you take that lucky play away DiNucci was 10/16 for 122 yards.
I don’t know. Maybe I’m splitting hairs here but DiNucci is just so very ineffective that it drives me crazy. However his passing isn’t what lands him in the “BAD” column this week – it is his overall decision-making and simplistic approach to playing the position.
It is like he’s in binary mode out there. Primary receiver open/closed? No progression, no looking off defenders and really, no run/don’t run? choices either. Once he leaves the pocket it is like his brain blinks off…. on/off?
Maybe we should get him a shock-collar like the ones your dog wears to keep him in your yard. Make him wear it in practice and that way he’ll learn to trust his offensive lineman and stay entrenched in the pocket.
I think the setting #4 would do in his case:
Our run defense. While we had contained NC’s running game well during the first 57:15 minutes of play when we really needed stops on NCs last drive to burn the clock down to 00:00 for the win we just could not do it.
Look at the sequence below – we had them in positions you would want; 2nd and 18 and 3rd and 2 and we blew it both times. It was hard to watch but to tell the truth when NC started that drive I turned to my wife and said that NC would run over our tired DL – and they did… even though they only held the ball for 13:24 seconds in the 2nd half of the game.
2nd and 18 at UNC 29
(2:35 – 4th) Jordon Brown run for 23 yds to the Pitt 48 for a 1ST down
1st and 10 at PITT 48
(2:00 – 4th) Jordon Brown run for 6 yds to the Pitt 42\
2nd and 4 at PITT 42
(1:25 – 4th) Jordon Brown run for 2 yds to the Pitt 40
(1:09 – 4th) Timeout PITTSBURGH, clock 01:09
3rd and 2 at PITT 40
(1:00 – 4th) Jordon Brown run for 10 yds to the Pitt 30 for a 1ST down
1st and 10 at PITT 30
(0:25 – 4th) TEAM run for a loss of 2 yards to the Pitt 32
Qadree Henderson’s fumble on their one yard line. He is fumble prone – we know that. But this one was a killer for us and was, in essence, a 10 point swing to NC’s favor. If you can point to any one play of this game that was a back breaker it would be this one because instead of going into the halftime with a 21-21 lead we trailed 24-17.
Our special teams play overall. Yes, the opening KO returned by NC for a TD was bad. The tackling on that play may have been the worse coverage I’ve seen Pitt do ever, but after that Henderson had only one kickoff return for 16 yards and didn’t return any punts at all. Pitt’s punting game was OK with Winslow’s 46 ypp average and Kessman was 1/1 on field goals so that was fine.
But because of the impact of that first play of the game had on our team and the way it took the positive emotion right out of the players and rocked them back on their heels I think it was the defining moment of the game.
Narduzzi’s use of time outs. We already knew this is an area of game day coaching that Narduzzi is poor in but this game he swapped timeouts with NC to try to “ice” their NC kicker when he knew, or should have known, there would be times ahead where he would really need that TO back.
What happened then was the NC kicker made the FG anyway (as they always seem to do, I don’t believe these ‘icing’ TOs are ever worth it except maybe at the very end of the game) and we got the ball back by kickoff down by 7 points and :30 left in the 1st half.
So instead of having two TOs in his pocket Narduzzi had only one and couldn’t stop the clock twice while we tried to get into a last-gasp FG position. That led to the ridiculous snap and scramble where DiNucci ran around like he had fireants in his crotchal area while the clock expired.
(0:30 – 2nd) Freeman Jones kickoff for 65 yds for a touchback
1st and 10 at PITT 25
(0:25 – 2nd) Ben Dinucci run for 8 yds to the Pitt 33
(Needed that wasted TO right here)
2nd and 2 at PITT 33
(0:05 – 2nd) Ben Dinucci pass complete to Chris Clark for 15 yds to the Pitt 48 for a 1ST down
(0:02 – 2nd) Timeout PITTSBURGH, clock 00:02
1st and 10 at PITT 48
(0:01 – 2nd) Ben Dinucci run for 31 yds to the NCaro 21 for a 1ST down
This was a terrible loss to a terrible 1-8 team and this game ensured that in no way could we end the regular season as a winning one. I have seen Pitt lose to underdogs many times but for me this was a tough one.
W.e remember the 31-17 loss to YSU under Chryst and DW losing to Ohio 16-10 ans Bowling Green 27-17 and because those weren’t D1 or FBS schools they seem to be magnified losses. But I felt that losing this one at this point in a down season but still coming off a two win streak and playing a 1-8 team (which lost 16 starters since the offseason) was as bad as anything.
We needed this win badly because it would have shown that we could still ‘beat the teams we were supposed to’. Instead now it is that we are just a crap team with crap coaching and seriously looking at an 4-8 record… which would be our worse in 20 years since Walt Harris’ 2-9 year in 1998.
Good lord – that looks as bad as can be doesn’t it?