I’m not convinced Wake Forest is our true opponent this Saturday.
Yes they have the #32 ranked offense in the country, and yes, they have an all-ACC caliber receiver who is 79 yards shy of 1000, and yes they have a quarterback that threw for 372 yards against NC State, and yes they beat then-14th-ranked NC State last week on the Road. And yes it’s Senior day.
And so you’d think Wake Forest is set up to exploit our less-than-stellar pass defense which is ranked #82.
But the reality is that Wake’s quarterback, Jamie Newman, is their backup, and the defense that surrendered those 372 passing yards is ranked 128th in the FBS. Yes folks, 128th. Kind of makes you proud to be a Pitt fan doesn’t it? 128th is the second worst in the entire FBS. Right behind Texas Tech and right in Front of Houston.
Thats not to say that Wake Forest isn’t dangerous. Sophomore WR Greg Dortch, is a 5’9″ speedster, and he’s just the kind of player that could give our defense fits. He’s fast, he’s shifty, and I’m sure they will move him all over the field. I fully expect him to have a big day. He also returns punts and kicks, so keep an eye on special teams, especially if the game is close.
Wake’s Running game is no slouch either. They have two backs that can gash you, and a seasoned offensive line that specializes in run blocking. (Sound familiar?) Senior Matt Cobern at 5’10”, 200 lbs ran for 243 yards vs Louisville (yes I know… Louisville is bad, but 243 is 243). Cobern has run for 698 yards on the year with a 4.8 yd average. He is physical and has good speed. Cobern is a “little banged up” according to Blogger So Dear, but he’s listed as the starter this week, perhaps because it is Senior Day.
Junior Cade Carney (Cade…you don’t hear that game up north) is a little bigger at 5’11” 215 and has run for 629 yards on the season, with a 5.2 average. Oddly enough he seems to show up in big games. With the exception of Syracuse game, his rushing average is higher against the better teams he’s faced this year.
Wake’s offensive line features three RS seniors in in the middle and two redshirt Junior tackles. They are experienced, and they are pretty darn good at run blocking. They rank 27th in “line yards” which is a measure of run blocking effectiveness. (For the record Pitt is 10th). However they rank 85th in sack rate, which tells me we should have a chance to get to the quarterback. (Pitt is 92nd). I believe I heard Narduzzi mentioned the Deacs runs some of the same zone schemes as us, so I suppose the silver lining here is that our front seven should at least have an idea of what to expect.
Wake Forest Achilles heel is their defense. They are 102nd in rushing defense, 123rd in passing yards allowed, and 120th in overall yards allowed. You have to think Watson and Borbley are licking their chops over this matchup.
Which brings me to my original point. Wake forest is not the real opponent on Saturday. The real opponent is ourselves. If we go down there and execute, we should win this game handily. We are statistically equal or better in nearly every category (except passing, except passing…), and we’ve played a tougher schedule by half. (Ours is ranked 27th, Wake’s 59th).
You would like to believe that after a statement win last Saturday, the 19 seniors on this team are focused 100% on the task at hand, and they’ve got everybody else focused on it too. With nothing other than my gut to guide me, I’d say there is about an 80% chance of that being true. And while I do not want to sit here and be the naysayer while we we have so much positive momentum, I have been a Pitt fan too long to put blind faith in any Pitt football team. So for me, last week is over (and yes it was a great week). For me, this is a “Prove It” game, just like every game left on the schedule. I’ve had my heart ripped out too many times to go all-in.
Hail to Pitt
18 thoughts on “Scouting Wake Forest”
Pitt rolls through Wake Forest Saturday like Sherman rolled through Georgia. Being a long time ACC fan (dating back to the 1960’s) Wake has never scared me as a fan. (However they broke my heart in BBall when Rod Griffin scored the game winning shot with seconds to go, literally right in front of me during my Freshman year at UNC – the only time I sat in the student bleacher section at the old rollicking 9000 seat Carmichael Auditorium, and it was my 19th birthday to boot).
Wake will eventually fold like a house of cards when faced with the Pitt players resurgent ‘football mean’ attitude and swagger. Dare I say this team is #PittsburghStrong…they have seemed to take that classic hard nosed Western PA meme about toughness and perseverance in the face of adversity to heart and it shows on the field.
I have only been around Pitt the last 18 years or so since moving to the South Hills, SOP does not have the same stigma for me that it seems to have for those that have been fans since the ’70’s; this team has something special going for them now and I do believe in them 100%. I would be remiss not to say I was a tad wrong about the coaching staff earlier in the year – they are talking the talk now and the players are listening and executing for them. They still deserve some criticism, but that can wait until January. Kudos to HC Narduzzi and the entire team staff and players for turning things around in such a spectacular fashion.
Pitt wins comfortably – they are going to wear WF down as the game goes on, push them around and stomp on them, run hog wild and leave the Deacon’s in the dust.
Great piece, MAM.
I was saying basically the same thing to my daughter this evening- while watching Pitt dispatch that hoops juggernaut from Central Arkansas.
She said, “That’s cool you’re going to the game. Will we win”. (“We”? She’s almost 16 but clearly I’ve brainwashed her. I’m proud but ashamed I’ve doomed her to such frustration.)
But the question made me examine the REALITY of the situation. I said,”We SHOULD win. But, it’s Pitt so, who knows. We’re the only team that can beat Notre Dame and lose to Red Land (a local high school) in the same season.”
And that’s the REALITY of Pitt football. There is absolutely NO reason Pitt shouldn’t win this game. And yet?… Who among us doesn’t feel some real butterflies? Well, we all know ONE on here. (HAHA- just teasing buddy!) But the rest of us? We’ve seen this movie before.
I’ve read here that previous seasons have nothing to do with this one. I’ve heard there’s no such thing as SOP. I may have believed that myself for the first 25 years of my fandom but at this point it can’t be denied.. SOP is real and it’s spectacular! (a wink to you Seinfeld fans.)
Here’s to Pitt finishing strong and putting to bed the Coastal title and the dreaded SOP. It starts in Winston-Salem.
Go get ’em boys! H2P
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What he said…
Great work MAM. I’ll follow up more tomorrow but I’m on the same page….
I believe what you are experiencing is paranoia. It is very normal for a Pitt fan. Hopefully the team is focused with the task at hand. Wake Forest helped us out a bit by beating North Carolina State last week which shows they are capable of winning any given game. Wake Forest runs a hurry up offense which is our defense’s Achilles heel. Pitt will have to score a lot of points on Saturday or they are going to lose.
On the basketball front, Pitt continues to do well against lower level competition. That may not seem like much but it sure is a major step up from last year! They stumbled out of the gate but got things under control about midway through the first half. They never letup until the game was over. It is amazing what a little coaching and recruiting can do in one short year. Hopefully some of the bigs Capel is recruiting are paying attention!
MAM – your writing degree is shining through on that piece. Think your analysis is spot on as well.
Great article MAM. Spot on. I feel WF and NC St is a bit of a rivalry so there were probably some juices flowing for them last week.
I’m nervous simply for the fact it’s hard to win on the road. If this game were at Heinz I would feel more confident. I think the 1st Quarter will be dicey as I’m sure WF will come out swinging but I’m again going to try to have patience and wait for our true fame to develop.
Senior day and they need this game to be bowl eligible. We just need to be 1-0 this week. I’ll be there rooting on the team. H2P!!
Excellent article by michaelangelo.
Perhaps this season is different. I keep thinking back to the Duke game. No way on earth we should have won that game, but we did. And the next one, and the next one…
BTW, was at an event tonight and Guy Junket happened to be there. Introduced myself and asked him what he thought about Pitt’s chances this week. He said something I agree with — If Pitt falls behind, they could be in trouble. Need to get the lead. But he thought Pitt would win…
Nice work MA!
I hear the hesitation from you and others and I totally get it but at the same time, what an absolutely warm and exciting feeling it is to have the anticipation of being a strong team in a big game.
Again, we’re no Alabama but this level of “can’t hardly wait until…” feeling has been missing for too long.
Adding to my trepidation..
ESPN’s “Stanford Steve” (37-15-1 ATS) picked WF. He pointed out that Pitt has been a road favorite once this year, at UNC. We know how that turned out. Obviously, Steve believes in SOP.
Let’s pray we don’t fail again.
I believe Bates is going to tinker with the D, to confuse this WF QB (who will only be starting his 2nd game) much like he did with the Notre Dame QB. And if we don’t we will just outscore them.
Interesting to note (at least for me), Wake Forest’s last 2 games have been against teams that were ranked #22 in the country at game time. Cuse & NC State.
22 keeps popping up in some form or another…..and you know what that means 🙂
Love the ‘added touch’ of how the Demon Deacons got their nickname. Very nice Maestro !
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Deacon means servant. Servants of Satan? Funny they embraced that moniker…
Yea and we’re playing on Saturnday. The planet of u know who.
The point is I simply never know what defense is going to show up for Pitt any given week. The fast paced WF offense(which I fear) can play sheer hell with our inability to cover the slot receiver adequately much of the year IMO. I’m much confident in what offense will show up for Pitt. And it would appear we have added to the oppositions worries defensively by showing an improved passing game last week against VT.
Great article Mike, and I had to scroll back up to the top to confirm that you had written it as it seemed very much like something Reed would have written. Really appreciate you stepping up to administrate the POV!
Yes, we should be able to run the ball tomorrow, but will we be able to stop them? Just hope the team approaches the game with much more urgency than many of the POV fans based on a lot of the comments I’m reading above.
Pitt does get a Mulligan if they lose this one though. They get to then play Miami for the championship. Then there’s the possibility that Virginia loses out…
It would look a lot better though if our conference had a 8-4 team to play Clemson.
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