Here is some info to chew on as we get closer to Fall Camp which starts not too long from now in the beginning of August.
I put these two tables in first to show how well we did at some things last season (most of first table) then… because nothing is ever all good with Pitt football… the second table shows what we were poor at doing. Remember there were 129 Division I teams total last season so that is the ranking we are looking at – from 1st to 129th.
Good news first:
As you can see we were a well-disciplined team as far as penalties go. Not too bad with Passes Had Intercepted either even if we were somewhat low on the total pass attempts. Time of Possession was good (16th) with us keeping the ball 2:27 more than our opponents.
Rushing defense was OK at 41st; other than that we were in the lower two-thirds of the nation in almost everything else of note.
Which brings us to the next table (get the crying towel out).
Here I listed where we ranked among the worst nationally (123rd in Blocked Punts Allowed was our nadir) and then ascending to the lower third of the teams’ rankings.
Needless to say our special teams were horrid except for the Punt Returns. Not much better was our defensive Tackles for Loss (TFLs) at 106th (Team Sacks made was 74th) and jumping over to the offense for Sacks Allowed at 101st doesn’t make me feel any better… That stat and TFLs Allows at 99th shows what a very poor job our OL did last season – throw in that we were 85th in rushing the ball and it scares the hell out of me for 2018.
Look at our special teams coverage units’ work below… and get your barf bag out. We were 113th in Punt Return Defense and not much better at our Kickoff Return Defense either being five slots lower at 108th.
I have always thought these coverage teams are where young very athletic players can cut their teeth when they haven’t made a two-deep rotation spot yet… but looking at ours one has to wonder if we have any of those quicker and faster athletes on coverage teams at all.
The bad icing on the bad cake was having only a horrid 35% third down conversion rate (95th) – that was the root of a lot of our problems last year and absolutly has to get better. The Top one-third of the 129 teams had a conversion rate of 43% or better. On the flip side of third down conversions at least we were consistent with defense of them being crappy at 84th allowing 41% of the opponent’s conversion tried to be successful.
I don’t think we are going to see much better work from the offense this season. We’ll rise in the passing categories but I think we’ll regress in everything else the OL has a hand in. Which means QB Kenny Pickett will be running for his life and the RBs will find few holes to run through. Our Sacks Allowed may be less given Pickett’s quick feet and ability to run though, but that impacts the passing results.
But this is also why I have been consistent in stating that our defense wasn’t as good as some fans made it out to be for last season. We did a good job over the last two games but the truth is in the 10 games before those we really were sub-par on the whole.
Which begs the question if our defense, with a brand new DC and new terminology (spotlight on MLB Quintin Wirginis with that), is going to carry over the level of play we saw in games #11 (VT) and #12 (Miami) last year onto 2018’s schedule.
I do agree with some fan’s thoughts that Miami wasn’t as strong as a normal #2 ranked team usually is at the end of the regular season but that doesn’t take away the sweetness of the win.
Either way we were better on defense at the end of the year than we were at the beginning of it:
Duke – 17 points allowed; Virginia – only 14 points; then Whaaaa…? North Carolina – 34 points followed by VT at 20 points then the Miami win by allowing only 14.
That certainly looks like better play from the defense then we had seen over Narduzzi’s first 2.5 seasons, doesn’t it?