I buried Same Old Pitt last week, but apparently someone forgot to put a stake in its heart, bash its head or shoot it with a silver bullet.
As you know, attention to detail is important.
And as a result, SOP was alive and well on Saturday, and busy playing havoc with our Football Team. With the exception of three quarters of solid defensive effort, the rest of the team looked sluggish, undisciplined and lacking in the fundamentals.
Here is where I will need to clarify. Same Old Pitt, by my definition has nothing to do with talent level, and has everything to do with playing the best game possible. Every Pitt fan on the board, even the most ardent optimist, knows that Miami has recruited much better than Pitt in recent years. If Pitt had played a clean game and had simply lost to a more talented team that played an equally clean game, no Pitt fan in the world would have the right to hang the SOP collar on this loss.
But Pitt did not play a clean game.
And neither did Miami, and that is what makes this loss so much more frustrating.
As good as the Miami Defense was (and they were very good), their offense was equally as bad. Miami’s quarterback, N’Kosi Perry, finished 6-24 for 56 yards. Fifty-Six Yards! That was for the entire game. All we had to do was play good special teams and stop the run, and we could have shut these guys out.
Yes that’s right. If we had played a clean game, we could have gone into halftime with a six point lead, nursed it, played good defense and special teams, and probably won 9 – 0 . Instead we did things like this:
- Phil Campbell committed a 15 yard penalty for running into the punt returner, who had called for a fair catch,
- which effectively put Miami in field goal range. If Campbell kept his head screwed on straight you could have take three points off the board for the ‘Canes.
- The Punt Return Unit allowed a Punt return TD where we missed four tackles. Yes there was a slightly questionable targeting / crackback penalty that was called and then revoked, but the missed tackles happened before that block anyway.
- Darren Hall fumbled on the Miami 47. I’m not saying this would have been an automatic field goal, but 8 more yards would have put is on the edge of Kessman’s range.
- Down 10 – 0, knocking on the door of field goal range, Shawn Watson called an end-around that was blown up in the backfield, lost us eight yards and forced us to punt.
And this was all in the first half.
The biggest issue for me was the penalties. If last week I’d thrown out “10 for 100 yards against Miami” as a clue, you would have responded “What is Darren Hall’s rushing stat line Alex?” Nope. That would have been our penalty total. 100 yards of penalties is not
ACC championship football. Heck, it’s not even Pop Warner championship football. 10 for 100 yards was was half of our offensive output folks. If you back out the defensive penalties (I think there were two maybe three) we netted about 130 offensive yards on the day. Don’t blame the officials either. The majority of our penalties were false starts, delay of game, personal fouls. All of those things are completely controllable.
The second biggest issue was the offensive game plan. It would be unprofessional of me to question Shawn Watson’s preparation. We all know he and the rest of the staff work extremely hard.
But doggone it three plays into the game it was plain to see that any play, running or passing, that took more than a second or two to develop was going to get blown up. I know they were coming at us fast and furious, and I know that we had a new center and all, but there were some basic (dare I say…elementary?) things Mr. Watson could have done to scheme around Miami’s speed and aggression, and it just didn’t look he did that…at all, and what’s worse, he kept calling long-developing plays as the game went on. Hopefully the light goes on against Clemson.
Yes there were a few bright spots. They were mostly on defense. Damar Hamlin played a very good game. He’s go some nice athleticism and it looks like he’s starting to get it. If he stays healthy he will be a difference maker next year. Rashad Weaver batted down two passes (too bad he couldn’t have caught one of them…), and got a QB hurry (don’t get me started on lack of QB pressure). Elias Reynolds looked solid at linebacker. If he sharpens up his speed he will be very good next year. On offense, Rafael Araujo-Lopes (South Florida native) clearly came to play. Also Kenny Pickett did not throw an interception although we was sacked six times.
So there are some thought starts for your folks. Go ahead and tee off with your good, bad and ugly.