Things are progressing like they should.  The ACC Coastal has a mediocre bowl record, and Clemson and Alabama have dominated the College Football Playoff.  No major news coming out of El Paso leading up to the bowl, other than the Paris Ford and Bricen Garner news earlier this week, and a couple of fights in practice.

First, the College Football Playoff business.   After that 30 – 3 Clemson beatdown of Notre Dame, the ACC Championship game doesn’t look so bad.  I mean, it still looks bad, but it’s pretty apparent that the College Football elite comprises Clemson, Alabama, and Georgia, and there is a pretty significant drop off to the second tier.

Using Notre Dame as a measuring stick, and assuming they are the top of the second tier, we can get a sense of where we stand.  Pitt optimists will point out that the Irish ran for only 88 yards against Clemson on 35 attempts.  Notre Dame’s season average was 190.  Pitt on the other hand ran for 191.  Our average was 229.   Granted, Notre Dame passed for 160 yards, and we passed for eight.  So no surprises there.  We overindexed in the running game, and waaaay underindexed in the pass.

More surprisingly our defense performed marginally better that the Irish.  We gave up 419 total yards against Clemson.  Notre Dame gave up 537.  Of course Clemson had two weeks to prepare for Orange Bowl, and just one week to prepare for us, but that cuts both ways.  It’s clear that Pitt needs to find a way to improve against elite teams, but it’s also clear that at least during the second half of the season we were maybe a little better than we are getting credit for, even from our own fan base.

Second, lets talk about ACC Bowl performance.  As of the writing of this article (Saturday evening at around 11 p.m.) the ACC is 5-2 overall, with two games left to play (Pitt vs Stanford and Virginia Tech vs Cincinnati).  5-2 is actually the best winning % of all conferences.  This is great for the ACC which has always been perceived as one of the weaker power 5 conferences.  For comparison’s sake the Big 10 is 2-2 with five games to go.  I don’t think they will run the table.

The ACC Coastal meanwhile is 2-2, with Pitt and Virginia Tech yet to play.  Pitt, as discussed in a recent post, has an uphill battle vs Stanford to say the least.  Meanwhile, 6-6 Virginia Tech plays a 10-3 Cincinnati squad who took down UCLA early in the season and held American Athletic Conference Power UCF to 38 points.  Pitt “held” UCF to 45.  I know that transitive property is not valid in college football, but I’m thinking that that VT / Cincinnati game will at least be competitive.  ESPN has Cincy as a slight favorite, despite the fact that most of their roster is filled with two-star players.

All this only proves what most of us have been saying all season.  The ACC Coastal is mediocre at best.

But hey, at least we are the Champs of this mediocre division, and I say that with my tongue only partially in my cheek.  I really am proud of what the team accomplished this year, especially given our team’s limitations, which were at least three-fold.  1)  We were forced to start a two-star Offensive Line which become one of the best run blocking units in the country  2)  We were breaking in a new quarterback, who certainly experienced growing pains, but also showed flashes of what he can become.  And 3) We experienced an extremely rocky start to the season, which might have caused lesser teams to fold.   So yes, we are the “best of the worst”, but at least we can say we are the best at something.  This is probably not good enough for many Pitt fans, but it sure as hell beats 5-7.

With that in mind, a Sun Bowl Win would be the icing on the cake for what has been a (mostly) fun and (definitely) surprising season.  And despite my gloom and doom game prediction (which I am standing by), I do hope Pitt wins.

If there is one way that Pitt can win this game, its the same way they’ve won all season.  A strong running game and strong play from our 19 seniors.  To that point, Senior Tackle Alex Bookser says the team is locked in:

One of the big things is, these seniors, we haven’t won a bowl game since we’ve been here. Over the last few weeks, that’s kind of been a thing we touched on, is we want to get one before we get out of here. I feel like that’s something — it’s really hard as an older guy. It’s your last thing you do, you’re somewhere you’re not familiar with, you’re looking to have a good time, but I think the seniors are really locked in. We’re actually down here for a purpose, and that’s to win a game. So I’m hoping our senior class, along with everybody else, can figure it out and get it done.  (From his interview with the Post Gazette)

I hope they can figure out a way to get it done too.

Hail to Pitt.

73 thoughts on “Things are Progressing Like They Should

  1. Nice article mike. I think it is just what we need to help us calm down and be slightly optimistic that we have a genuine shot at winning this game (even if it’s not quite 50%.) H2P, Soccergramps

    Like

  2. Alex Bookser —
    “…you’re looking to have a good time, but I think the seniors are really locked in.”

    Oh snap!

    The last time I remember being “locked in” was when HCPN reporter the same HLyke just ahead of the PSU debacle.

    Not a good omen. Might now be hedging my bets against.

    Not kiddin’

    Liked by 1 person

  3. After the last two Pitt games played this season if Narduzzi can’t get the rest of the team to lock in on this game then some if not all of the blame should be on the coaches.

    Like

  4. Mike – very well done. I enjoy your commentary – you have transitioned the POV nicely.

    Chris Peak with a nice article under his “123” tag line. In his last point, he believes KP will have a W_F type game and light up the Stanford secondary, provided the Oline gives him time.

    Starting to feel a little bit more optimistic. I want Pitt to win just lyke Mike – even though my prediction shows Pitt losing big.

    The senior leadership needs to step up and pull this team to a victory.

    By the way, the mascot of Stanford is not the bird, but the color.

    Like

  5. “Provided the Oline gives him time”, hasn’t that been the question being asked all season long? And as a result Pickett is so uncomfortable in the pocket that I believe he sees himself under pressure even when he isn’t so. Hence we have witnesed so many of those quick check down passes into the flat with the resulting 2 yard gains. Last game of the season and there is no reason Pickett can’t utilize his running skills much more often to loosen up the Stanford D.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I barely recall the Pickett “flashes” you speak of…barely a spark. And don’t get me wrong, I love the kid’s heart but when you can’t pass when you have such a strong run game teams need to stop, I have plenty of blame to distribute to him, receivers, pass blocking, missed pickups by RB’s and of course OC play calling.

    Saw this headline on ESPN and thought it was about bowl games:
    “Pac-12 caps worst December in decades as 5 fall”
    It is of course hoops, but I do think our team’s motivation should be high and we get this win close. Not expecting anything much from Pickett and the pass game, just hoping they don’t screw it up with any turnovers.

    What will really piss me off is penalties screwing it up and especially if there are ANY delay of game ones. 😦

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      1. Kidding a bit, don’t be so sensitive. Was exaggerating the flash versus flashes versus spark.

        If you must be so critical of my posts, I will stop thinking how great exactly ALL of your writing has been. And I mean ALL!!!

        H2P!!!
        H2MM!!!

        Like

        1. Lol I knew you weren’t serious. The only shortcoming of this blog is that you can’t hear the person write it

          Like

  7. Another excellent article Maestro…like your graphics too.
    KP doesn’t need to win the game, just not lose it.
    Minimize, if not eliminate mistakes we can win.
    WTAE’s Andrew Stockey reporting yesterday’s practice was loose and players appear motivated. He implied the cold windy weather affected their mood the past few days but now its “game on”

    Liked by 1 person

  8. MM — Reed is certainly a tough act to follow, but you’re doing a great job steering the POV. Thank you.

    Ever since your bowl preview article, I’ve had the thought that Pitt can’t even schedule opponents correctly in Bowl games. 😊

    Another thought from watching some of the “elite” games yesterday — even the elite talent teams make head-scratcher plays, it’s not just a Pitt thing…

    But, I think the elite talent teams do get away with more — like pass interference calls — than average teams. It’s like the refs think theses guys are so good, that must have been good defense, not pass interference. But just watch the flags fly against Pitt for doing the same things to Stanford’s receivers…

    Go Pitt.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not always when I go to “like” a post, do I check if it had been “liked” before, but when I do really LIKE one, it is most often Ike who has liked.

      Poet? No. That I will leave to EE.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. I second and echo Frans thought on your article Micheal, well done. and hey… sounds like PITT may have a chance after-all. While some may think the ACC is top heavy, I’m not so sure that’s completely true. If by top heavy you mean Clemson then I agree but there are different teams each year that are very competitive throughout the league, although this year is not the best example of that.

    Most think that PITT did not win that one game against a highly rated opponent at first glance but don’t look now as it looks like PITT beat another top team in Syracuse. They most likely will end up in the top 15 in the country.

    You may have a gambling problem if you bet on any of these subsidiary bowl games. With players just plain sitting out and the failed drug tests going on, how do you who is even playing and the impact it has on a particular team? << It’s become a worse crap shoot than before. (but you still have a 50% chance of winning)

    The playoffs have ruin the bowl season as we have known it for years. Just another reason to include more teams in the playoffs. All P-5 Champions and 1 or 3 at large.

    Tomorrow at this time, like everyday, I’ll be proudly raising my WUP flag in the front of my house and my PITT script flag on the back deck. Courtesy and thanks to the BigB. Sunday’s are usually reserved for the Steelers but today I only anxiously await the Sun Bowl. Pretty sure I’ve zeroed in on the final score prediction but I’ll wait until tomorrow to post it. It will make Reed happy as it will be my non-homer prediction.

    About that 3-0 Sun Bowl loss. It should be noted, again, that there was a cross wind of all crosswinds blowing that day making it nearly impossible to throw the football. I hope it’s a little calmer but a stiff breeze would be in PITT’s favor this time around.

    Here’s to a happy and healthy New Year to you all. … … ike

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ike – I just hope you don’t post your prediction tomorrow after 4pm.

      Pitt’s winning tomorrow will not reduce the nay-sayers too much because many will say the PAC-12 is weak as well. But, with a win, Pitt will be an 8-6 ACC Coastal Champion.

      Next year is a must win 9+ season – with that, a TE and OL+ JUCO/grad transfers are a priority for this staff to stay together. Anything less requires a break-up.

      Go Pitt!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. LOL EE, my prediction will be in before game time. In fact, I can predict the score before the game even starts.. 0-0 cha ching..

    PSN is over there thumping there chests giving discounts to their pay site. They go on to mention other PITT sports outlets but no mention of the POV…. That’s fine with me…. if anyone ever reads the Lair it can get pretty snippy over there. Makes us look like choir boys and girls…. ike

    Like

    1. Well in truth I’m more of an aggregator and analyzer than our outlet so it doesn’t really matter. I myself find the PSN articles to be informative and topical. They do a nice job. Alan Saunders has really added some nice depth to their operation too.

      Like

  11. Mike great article. I really enjoy your articles on Pitt. Keep up the good work. I appreciate your time and effort. Tomorrow could be a good day for Pitt. I’m optimistic about the outcome. Close low scoring game. H2P. Thanks for all you do to keep the old spirit going

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I will post a prediction now and repeat it later if there is a prediction thread. The score 35-28 Pitt is stuck in my head, with a special teams TD being the difference maker. The good bowl play by the ACC has me optimistic!

    Like

  13. Another enjoyable read. I must admit I didn’t think anyone would be able to replace Reed as editor and chief, but Mike has no doubt done just that. Reed must be a proud Founder.

    As I mentioned yesterday, I think a Bowl victory would make a world of difference in how I feel about the relative success of this season and certainly about the teams future and definitely the coaching staff.

    To me a Bowl win and 8-6 shows real progress and an upward trend and 7-7 takes most of the luster off the Coastal Title, especially if we lose badly. A loss means we lost all of our OOC games except Albany and that our season ended the day we won the coastal, except that it didn’t. It means it ended with a three game skid and a record fourth bowl loss in a row.

    So this can be a really big game for Pitt or business as usual. The elation we felt after the Wake game a distant memory. KP’s one excellent game an outlier fading in the fog of time.

    The one thing about Pitt is that when you least expect it, they have been known to surprise, here’s to hoping this is one of those times.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. We do well against elite teams that take us for granted. Let’s hope that Stanford, an education powerhouse with a solid athletic program with Olympic athletes (yes, you can have both), looks down at us as cupcakes.

    Like

  15. BTW, Bookser did have some penalties and missed some blocks this season —but will likely play in the NFL…. Just sayin’…

    Hoping he has a great game tomorrow – but I’m probably bias because his family lives about a block from my house…

    Go Pitt.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Bookser is the last member of the great Pitt O-line, with DJ just promoted to an active roster, O’Neill a pro, Bisno on a practice squad, Officer who was trying to make it as a pro and now sadly fighting cancer.

    Will be a while till we see another line like that one.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Yes, MajorMajors. But the overwhelming question, and the one they their fans constantly ask, is when will Miami get a good coach? Ever since they fired Larry Coker in 2006 for losing 6 games, they have stumbled and bumbled looking for their next championship coach.

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  18. The writing was on the wall regarding Richt when he was shown the door at Georgia.

    However, Miami hiring him did prove a blessing for Pitt. Otherwise, Narduzzi likely batting a BIG FAT Zero against the ‘Canes.

    Like

  19. I hope I didn’t already post this but I’m being lazy per usual so here goes…… The ACC is 5-2 right now in this years bowl games and PITT has beat 4 of those 5 teams. I point this out to all those who say and think the ACC isn’t all that good and PITT won the coastal by default. Tell that to the 5 losing teams so far.

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  20. don’t measure Pitt just against the Coastal. They also beat Cuse and Wake …. and both won their bowl games.

    Having said that … Pitt is just a bit better this year than they usually are. They just look bad because they have played more than their share of dynamic teams … much more than just about anyone else.

    Heck, when the team that has its own network only scores 3 points against Clemson, how could expect Pitt to be that much more? Va Tech was considered on of the Coastal favorites .. and Pitt annihilated them, scoring 52 points (but guess you all have forgotten that).

    Yes the title of this blog article is correct … “Things are ;progressing (whether you like it or not)

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Narduzzi has finished 8-6, 8-6, 5-7 7-6 with a game to go. 0 bowl wins and finished 1st in the coastal with a 7-5 record. Sorry, I’m not seeing the progress as some. This will be year 5 coming up and things don’t look that impressive for next year.

      Like

    2. Pitt has embarrassing losses to psu, csu, Miami, Clemson, and an inexplicable loss to North Carolina. Crap the bed against Stanford and things don’t seem so rosey.

      Like

    3. Everybody seems to be overlooking the terrible game against Miami which got beat by a so-so Wisconsin team. If we had won that game or made it interesting, I would agree that Pitt is progressing. As it stands now if Pitt loses tomorrow, this will have been another mediocre season.

      Like

  21. Here we go round and round again. PITT got lucky beating Miami because Miami lost the game by hiring coach Richt. PITT cannot win a game, the other teams always lose them….. PITT was actually 0-13 so far this year according to some.

    Like

  22. Does this guy in the photo actually play for Pitt? Is that Shockey?

    https://mobile.twitter.com/Pitt_FB/status/1079474233187520513?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1079474233187520513&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fpittsburgh.forums.rivals.com%2Fthreads%2Fsun-bowl-uniforms.144413%2F

    Smash Stanford so hard they bleed Cardinal red tomorrow.

    Bash em, bruise em, kick em in the teeth.
    Tie em up in a bow and wrap them with a wreath.

    It was just Christmas…not much rhymes with teeth. Now tooth and wvcc, that’s a whole nother poem, but we haven’t played them in a long time in FB.

    Enjoy Sun Bowl Eve!

    Liked by 3 people

  23. a 7-6 team is just a tad better than mediocre
    4 blow out losses and another to a very bad NC team
    those are facts
    Pitt isnt very good
    Narduzzi is an 8 win ceiling coach
    BoT is pleased

    Like

  24. Miami fired (Richt ‘resigned’) their HC for far less cause.
    Yet Pitt extends their HC’s after 5-7 seasons.
    One school wants to win while the other school wants to have the highest GPA in the ACC

    Liked by 1 person

    1. BTW, Coach Duzz is 20 – 12 in the ACC. And that was without having a QB one year.

      Maybe Pitt should hire Tomlin. (But that won’t work if we lighten our schedule because Tomlin is 17-12 when playing teams with a record under .500. 🤔. And that’s with a Hall-of-Fame QB… )

      Go Pitt.

      Like

  25. Well written article. I enjoy your writing style, With that said, I do have two corrections.

    The ACC conference has three games left: PITT – Stanford, Va. Tech – Cincinnati & NC State – Texas A&M. Eleven of 14 conference members made bowl games. The BC – Boise State bowl game was cancelled.

    I take issue with the use of the word “marginally” when comparing the defensive performance of ND – PITT against Clemson. 22% less is not marginal. Neither teams defense was good but PITT’s effort was only 18 yards more than our YTD 13 game average (401.4).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Pitt-cocks, You are right on the ACC. Might have gotten that crossed up with the coastal.

      I will also agree on the defense. Ours was apparently much better.

      Like

  26. did a coastal win give us a boost in recruiting?
    did it help us become ranked?
    did it really change perception with the program?

    it gave Pitt the chance to get blown out by Clemson on national TV
    it gave Pitt a chance to lose 7 games this year

    yet Pitt proudly displays the Coastal trophy in their window case
    championships matter not division titles
    until Pitt understands that, they are no better than Rutgers

    Liked by 1 person

  27. and thats fine
    but theres no denying there is a huge difference in priorities between Pitt and Miami
    Miami’s AD would have fired Narduzzi after last year
    Heather will give Narduzzi yet another 5 year extension

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Tx isn’t far off……

    And Ike isn’t far off…

    It’s the lens of expectations that are so different. Some might see 7 or 8 wins and think WOW, this is so much better than living through the 3-4 win years. It doesn’t mean that group of thinkers is wrong. It is just that it seems good when compared to the extra lean years.

    On the other end where some see 7 or 8 wins and think darnitt, we used to get double digit victories, and live through the lens of those years as well and think we now stink.

    I don’t compare this year’s team versus last years or next years or 35 years ago. I set high expectations in everything and have left organizations when leadership didn’t support the notion of what it took to be excellent. This is where leadership at Pitt has failed. For years, Pitt mislead its alumni and sports supporters by proclaiming to want to win championships, but gave support for a middling (at maximum) for its programs. Awful!

    This year, we have a change. We pay our head coach of football apparently $3.5M. That’s alot. We extend him for enough years so that he is not deemed a lame duck coach for recruiting purposes. We win the coastal in a very down year….for the coastal. We beat Syracuse, but I am not sure that Syracuse is that good. Okay, Syracuse is very average because they scheduled very easily in OOC and then lost to all the teams they should have lost to. They won a bowl game against an opponent that had many missing parts, including its starting qb and star OL, to name a few.

    Our offense was inept at best against what many would say were good teams (ND, Clempson, Dairy High, UCF, and so on). Who is happy with that? Those that thought the 3-4 win years were the best we could do. Change expectations and put everything into the program pulling directionally towards excellence and wins will follow.

    Our recruiting was good, not great. Not terrible. The coastal championship was supposed to lead to 2020 recruiting wins. Seems we lost that momentum. I could be wrong. Actually, if I were Narduzzi I would offer the Penn Hille TE today and push for him to verbal. Let’s not be coy. It’s a position of need and he is currently ranked in the top10 in PA for 2020. Do not let Salem talk to him…ever!

    Liked by 1 person

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