Well, let’s get right into it. It isn’t as if we haven’t been discussing the game in every way, shape and form since we missed that extra point. As you know the POV takes a look at the Good, the Bad and the Ugly and tries to find three bullet points for each one. Then you all will chip in with your thoughts.
To recap Pitt lost to rival Penn State 51-6 and our head coach Pat Narduzzi was shocked, shocked! that it played out that way. It was our worst loss since Majors II in 1996 when we lost 60-6 against ND in South Bend. It was also our worst home loss since 1971 when we lost 56-7 against ND at Pitt Stadium under Carl DePasqua. Carl effing DePasqua !!!
Great company we are now in wouldn’t you say? In his last five game Narduzzi is 2-3 beating an overrated Miami team and a lowest FCS team you can find. In turn he’s lost to a 2-8 NC team, VT and was completely embarrassed by PSU 51-6 at home…on national TV in prime time. It almost couldn’t get any worse.
♣ After looking at things from every angle I have found one-half of one good thing that happened Saturday night and the was Qadree Ollison’s rushing effort in the first 30 minutes of play. If I am reading things correctly during that time period he carried the ball 18 times for 127 yards on the strength of a 63 yard burst from our own 4 yard line to help set up a (missed) field goal attempt.
Of course, as we saw the whole team do in the 2nd half of the match, Ollison then went backwards when he rushed three times for -8 yards after halftime. But for me, and you may disagree, that was the only “good” thing to come out of our play that game.
♣ Where to start? OK – with the coaching and staff’s work from Pat Narduzzi on down to the dearly departed Ox Enright. Seriously, everyone even remotely involved with the football program needs to take some blame for the fiasco we watched out there at Heinz. Believe me, I just bet Narduzzi was wishing Ox was still here so he could somehow blame him for everything that happened – because folks, that is what this head coach does.
Don’t be fooled by this quote from Narduzzi: “But ultimately everything lays right on my chest. I’ll take it all. We obviously didn’t have them ready to go in any capacity, offensively, defensively or special teams.” Because directly afterward he starts blaming everyone and his brother, the weather and the refs for what happened. Like this:
“But we just didn’t make plays. We didn’t block them good enough. Again, give them credit; they’re a good football team, but we just didn’t execute like we need to.” In other words we told our players what to do but they just didn’t do it!!
“Even the first half, that guy (Pickett) was scrambling and making plays, but we still weren’t throwing the ball, he was making it all with his feet. But wasn’t able to get the ball down the field. We’re throwing T-swings and check-down routes instead of getting the ball to our receivers.” Right, no mention of the porous OL he put out there who forced Pickett to do all those things, you know – ‘throwing T-Swings and checkdown routes‘- when he should have been standing in the (non-existent) pocket and going downfield. He really should have you know!
Maybe that’s harsh on Narduzzi but with his Sensitive Compartmented Information Top-Secret crap attitude and not releasing any info about the camps or the two scrimmages at all I think Pitt fans have had enough. Combine that with his unjustified arrogance and it’s an act worn thin.
♣ The failure of the Offensive Line. Yes, the word is failure because when they are so truly bad at the one thing we desperately need with a decent QB, which is pass protection, it heavily impacts their other job of run blocking. I wanted to say complete failure but they avoided that by actually opening up some holes for the RBs to run through – though that didn’t last past halftime.
There was maybe two or three instances on Saturday of Pickett actually being able to stand in the pocket, follow his receivers and complete a pass down field. Maybe two. The OL was beaten down and pushed backwards on almost every passing play. I’m surprised Penn State only had four Sacks on the night – they would have had eight or 10 had any QB other than Pickett with his quick legs been in there – our OL was, and is, really that bad.
PSU figured it out rather quickly and made great adjustments at the half. Their staff realized that Pitt can’t make passing plays work so Pitt won’t try – and all they have to do is stuff the LOS and cut down their rushing game. And that is exactly what they did and what every other team on our schedule is going to do.
♣ Our so-called Defensive Backfield. They are horrible and the stats PSU ended up with; 15 of 31 for 179 yards and 3 TDs are very misleading – Penn State’s Trace McSorley had at least six perfect on-the-hands passes dropped by his receivers. I went back and re-watched those drops. What I figured is they missed out on over 100 yards of gain, four or five first downs and at least another TD. But their receivers were open all night. All…night…long.
This is a repeat of what Albany did to us last week and I don’t see it getting any better. Our personnel back there are not talented and are poorly coached by Friend Of Pat’s & Up from the MAC ranks Archie Collins. In other words they suck just like they have every single year Pat Narduzzi has been the head coach. It will get worse before it gets better – you can bet on that.
♣ The self-imposed “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” 15 yard penalty after a sideline warning for him not to go onto the field of play (o dispute referee’s procedures) committed by Pat Narduzzi when the score was 7-6. That was the beginning of the end for us Saturday night. When he lost control there it was infectious and things started really rolling downhill.
Up to that point the team had committed two penalties…after this big one the lid shot off and we ended up with 14 on the night. From that point on we had a missed FG, turnover on downs, fumble and the end of the half. When your leader shows no discipline and that actually hurts the effort out on the field that bleeds out to the already-nervous kids on the sidelines. Were you at all surprised how the kids played out there after watching Narduzzi have his total meltdown on the sidelines during the first quarter and first half? I sure wasn’t and was half expecting it.
This penalty is the only one written by the NCAA where the Referee gives the transgressor fair warning that he’s about to get the penalty. That was done so the head coach had time to reconsider his poor leadership actions and correct them on the spot. Narduzzi just doesn’t get stuff like that. Don’t believe what Narduzzi said afterward – he got the fair warning as was shown on TV.
Here is a salient point; last season were were #3 in the nation as the least penalized team with only 3.8 per game – 3rd in the nation. We did a great job there. So far this year were are 121st with 10.0 per game. Why? There is a reason for that and it’s called panic.
In the last six quarters of play we have scored a total of 6 points. One point per quarter. I wonder how far back in Pitt football history do we have to go to see that happen? And two of those quarters were against a low FCS team in Albany for heaven’s’ sake.
This is from an offense that fans were led to believe was going to be one of the best we had in ages – if you believed the staff. But when the HC didn’t release the two camp scrimmage stats like he did (and every Pitt HC did) every other year the warning bells rang loud and clear – there was something wrong with an offense that couldn’t score against an average , or worse, defense. Panic set in when we had to actually play the games… and rightly so I guess. If they weren’t in the panic mode before the better be now.
♣ The bullcrap and misdirections coming out of the Southside during fall camp, before the Albany game but especially this last week before the PSU game. It’s getting to the point I can’t even watch Narduzzi’s interviews during the camps or in-between games. Everything he’s been saying is either a flat-out lie or a misdirection.
An example: Back in the spring I was told by someone at Pitt that this year’s version of the OL was ‘maybe the worse we have ever seen in modern history at Pitt” . I asked about it again during the last week of fall camp and was told “its still bad – Pickett may get killed back there”. There was no progression or higher level of play by the OL from April to September…none. But if you read what Narduzzi, Borbely and Watson were saying at the end of August the OL was the ‘most improved’ unit in camp. Well, Hell then – it might have been given the crap state of the whole team so far.
But this is the crap they have been shovelling the fans who have been paying hard earned money to support the team and program. He treats them with disdain at every turn they acts like a ten year old who closes his door so no one can see the real stuff he’s doing. And yes Pitt fans he sure as hell does have an obligation to we fans – if he believes he doesn’t then he should be out on his ass tomorrow.
♣ Our Special Teams play. I’m not going to list the individual player’s errors or the horrid coaching decisions that led to them. We all saw what happened and won’t forget what we saw for a long time. But I’ll say this. We went from one of the best punters in the nation in Ryan Winslow to a Aussie who had never played a single snap of American football and almost single-handedly lost the game for us.
That’s not an exaggeration either because his botched hold on the initial (and only) point-after gave PSU an short seven point bar to meet for the win. And he’s out there holding when we have a grand total of seven QBs on the roster right now who have played American football and have actually caught and held our type of footballs before.
Maybe we’ll see walk-on Ethan Van Buskirk out there against GT.
That’s all I can bring myself to write – you guys chip in with your opinions in the comments.