Here is a good article by Jay (6&34) who is a reader and commenter on the POV…
With the first game of the season less than a week away, the tension and apprehension, optimism and pessimism mounts. At this point it’s all about The Team. How good are they? Everyone – all the Negativos and Optimistos are about to find out if not this coming weekend the weekend after.
The Negativos have every right to think they are right to be negative. Pitt is coming off a rough 5 and 7 season with a terrible SOP 2nd half against Nothh Carolina in game ten. I was by myself watching the game on my computer using my Hot Spot connection that had insufficient bandwidth. It was one of my worst sports viewing experiences ever because it seemed to confirm the growing conviction that our optimism for the Pat Narduzzi Era was misplaced.
I am big on sports statistics but in football statistics require more context to best understand what the data means than for example baseball. This is not to say that statistics in football are meaningless. If your team does not have a lot of rushing yards that is meaningful information but it may not mean whatsoever that your running backs are no good because the problem may be the offensive line.
Or your primary running back may be good but the statistics lead you to think he is the greatest running back ever ala Ron Dayne some years back for Wisconsin. Or for that matter with Melvin Gordon just a few years ago. Or with Darrin Hall for a few consecutive games for Pitt just last year where the other teams run stopping skills were poor.
But there is one statistic in football that does matter and it’s called the “season record”. Our Commander likes to say the “game is played on the field” and I am pretty sure to some extent what he means is that there are 12 games to a season and you may win some against “better” teams and you will lose some against weaker teams but the idea is to win more games you should lose, lose fewer games than you should win and most importantly win as many games that are toss ups as you can.
Certainly Pitt’s schedule is tough this year. But a decent team can beat a very good team on any given Saturday. Pitt Nation knows that from its experience these past two seasons.
What Pitt Nation has not experienced in quite some time is Pitt winning just about all the games that are toss-ups or which Pitt is a touchdown or less underdog.
I don’t know what the odds would be today for the Pitt-UCF game but irrespective of what those odds would be Pitt had better win that game if this mildly optimistic Optimisto is going to keep thinking that Pat Narduzzi knows what he is doing. I am a big believer that many of the Negativos fail to either recognize the structural problems that work against our head coach or just fail to give these problems the weight they deserve. I do.
And I judge him with these problems in mind. But UCF has structural problems too – significant ones and it managed to win those games last year. . And barring major injuries to Pitt between now and that game, to my mind if I am going to continue to think that Pat Narduzzi knows what it’s doing, Pitt better win that game.
And Pitt better beat Georgia Tech and Wake Forest and every team that it will be favored to win (not saying it will be favored to win these games). If Pat Narduzzi knows what he is doing Pitt better win those games.
Right now I am thinking that Pitt will win those games. I think that because to my mind in college football how many returning starters and senior starters (especially 5th year seniors) are on the team is a hugely important statistic. I believe this not just because it is a generally recognized significant predictor of success or failure but because of the underlying reason why it is. College football is played by man-boys.
I remember a few years back a Pitt coach had said that the biggest jump in sports is from high school to Power 5 football. In making that case I think he said that in high school you may be playing against a tough kid weighing 150 lbs at center but in Power 5 football there’s no kid at center – there’s a 300 lb man.
That 300 lb. man may have weighed 300 lbs when his first Power 5 game began and he stood on the sidelines as a true freshman but we all know that five years later that 300 lbs. of freshman body was a very different 300 lbs. five years later. I don’t have a clue what the qualitative boy to man improvement rate is but I do know that whether it’s four or five years later those 300 lbs have been transformed.
Nor do I know how to measure the incremental improvement in a player’s ability that is derived from knowledge gained from experience. But I do know that such knowledge is critically important and a very real factor in a player’s capability especially with certain skill positions and limiting mistakes.
And although some players develop more slowly than others – and I guess some players can regress, but it’s the players that do improve from physical and knowledge development that play, so they are the ones that matter.
Then there is an individual player and team’s desire to win. Whether we call that “getting a team ready to play” or character, we all know that in college football this is real. Pitt had that in the Miami, Clemson and 2016 PSU games. If the team can be up for those games why can’t it be up for twelve games? And if it’s not whose fault is that?
So does Pat Narduzzi know what he’s doing?
We are about to find out because whether we think the schedule is too tough or this is not fully his team yet because he has only recruited for 2.5 years for this team ((Editor’s Note: Should read 3.5. Narduzzi has 3 full recruiting classes and 7 of 15 recruits in the class of 2015 committed to play for Narduzzi), enough of the players are his either because he recruited them or he has had enough time to mold them. And as we can all agree, the game is played on the field and it’s almost game time.