About midway through the first quarter, an ACC network cut to a University of Pittsburgh tailgater unceremoniously dropping a pan full of delicious-looking barbecue onto the ground just as it was being taken off the grill. If that isn’t a metaphor for the entire evening, I don’t know what is.
Still, It was just one game, and it’s not like Pitt was a complete and utter train wreck. There were positives. Penalties for example. I counted only one pre-snap penalty for Pitt. On both sides of the ball. That speaks to discipline. I counted only one holding call. That was surprising given that we were starting four brand new offensive linemen.
The defense played well. A couple of early PI calls were cleaned up. Paris Ford was outstanding. As was Kylan Johnson. Keyshon Camp was very good (hopefully he’s not hurt badly). The Star linebacker position made plays. Elias Reynolds looks like he’s a step more explosive. Damarri Mathis, after getting turned around on one play early played an excellent second half. For the most part the tackling was solid.
Oh but the offense. On one hand, it was a brand new system and it was the first game against a seasoned and well-coached opponent. Still, there were plays there for the taking. But…Kenny. Coach Duzz chalked it up to first game jitters. And honestly, we’ve seen Kenny make those throws. The happy feet were not encouraging. The lack of pocket presence has not improved on iota. He was clearly rattled in the fourth, to the point where one of the Virginia safeties even called it out in an interview.
Special teams were bad as well, giving up six points off of a blocked punt, and missing a field goal (albiet one that was 10 yards longer than it needed to be because Pickett took a bad sack the play before).
In hindsight the tailgater spilled about 2/3 of the pan…
As far as good bad and ugly, I’m going to change it up slightly this week because one of our posters wrote a very good comment that i’d like to leverage. I’ve always admired Tossing Thabeets’ level-headed, rational approach. His comment in yesterday’s thread covers every unit on the team and is for the most part aligned with my impressions.
Here it is in it’s entirety. My comments and notes are in non-italics:
Brutal game. I didn’t have a problem with the o-line because I walked away thinking Pickett held onto the ball too long most of the time … or not long enough a few other times. Just a really bizarre game from Pickett. IMO Pickett getting happy feet gave the illusion of line breakdowns when they weren’t necessarily there.
RB’s were not great pass blocking but did have a couple noticeable pickups. UVA just blitzed the dickens out of Pitt after half and knew that Pickett was getting happy feet. Two of the plays Pickett took rib shots on he could have sidestepped the defender. Instead he chose to step into the heat seeking missiles. Pump and slide to the right. The defenders went all out on shooting the gap and could not have slowed down. Momentum and physics were on Pickett’s side.
Defense looked strong. They were put in a lot of tough situations and stayed on the field way too long. I loved the toughness of the DB’s. I know the announcers were crying for PI’s but I liked the no calls and on the flip side I thought the refs made the right call on the actual PI penalties.
Wide Receivers were a let down. I think Mack lost the one in the lights. Tipton heard footsteps. No excuse for Gragg. Pickett missed a bunch of open guys too and big plays to boot. Editor’s note: I think he may have meant Griffin-Stewart instead of Gragg. Stewart dropped a key pass that hit him in the hands.
I didn’t have an issue with the running game because it appeared the game plan was designed to open it up later. Pickett kept going deep to get the safety out of the box. The problem is that you have to connect or catch it. Haha. Man, did Pickett miss some open plays there for the taking.
I liked the play calling. Execution was poor. Too many times it looked like several players didn’t know what was being run. Offensive position coaches have to get on it this week. That was really poor fundamentals. It was frustrating because you could see the open player.
This has the makings of another traditional Duzz team. Starts off slow, finds its footing and finishes at .500 or slightly better.
Defense: B … All units appeared to play pretty well. DL faded as the game went on but I think UVA kept a TE on the end in the 2nd half to help. Could be wrong. Did not go back to review tape but I watched the game with a UVA buddy and we both thought it looked like an extra blocker. Editor’s note: Outside of the final drive, where the defense had obviously quit and was simply playing not to get hurt, I saw that literally five mistakes. That’s pretty good. Here they are in order: 1,2: Two Dane Jackson PI calls early. 3: Dane Jackson gets caught in a pick and gives up the second TD. The play was well designed though and I think this was after a Pickett INT. 4: Chase Pine gets sucked in when Perkins rolls to escape trouble on third down and gives up a long first down pass to move the sticks. 5: Jason Pinnock has a clean shot at Perkins on a 3rd and long blitz call, Pinnock whiffs, Perkins runs for a first down.
QB: D … his feet saved him from an F. Both INT’s lead to points against. I don’t think Pickett finishes the season as the starter. Editor’s note: I was going to touch on this thought later this week, but what the hey lets talk about it now. Whipple’s offense is predicated on taking the top off with long passes. If Kenny demonstrates that he can’t do that regularly then we might have a Chad Voytik / Nate Peterman situation on our hands. The only question is whether Jeff George Jr. (or any other quarterback on the roster) is good enough to play the role of Peterman, and te only people who can answer that are on the coaching staff, on the team, or deep, deep insiders. I am none of the above, so at this point this is pure, uniformed speculation.
WR: C- … too many drops and too much chaos pre-snap but they did have 15 receptions. That’s like 6 games worth last year. Every receiver made a mistke. Even Tipton who otherwise played a great game. He could have highpointed that long ball at the end.
RB: C … not much of a shot. Decent pass blocking. Couple of decent runs. AJ Davis had a huge play in passing game. I would go C- but that is picking nits. Davis’ play was more on Whipple than anything else. It was a well executed route and Davis made the catch and ran with it, but he was open because the tempo caught UVA off guard.
TE: D … 3 catches for 4 yards and huge 1st down drop. I will point out that at this pace the tight ends will have 36 receptions. That is approxamately a 500% increase over last year. Still, I too would have liked to see them actually go for positive yards.
OL: C … I think most of the problems were on Pickett but UVA was able to penetrate and they did not establish a running game. I agree. I am not as bearish on the o-line as many other fans. Even the annoucers were commenting about how Pickett looked paniced. Hasselbeck went so far as to point out the Pickett stepped into a sack at least twice.
Special Teams: F … Huge missed FG could have made it a one possession game in 4th. Blocked punt lead to a TD. That’s a 10 point swing folks. We lost by 16, and I firmly believe that last Wahoo touchdown wouldn’t have happened if the Defense had a reason to believe.
Duzz: D … Team was not prepared. Originally I disagreed. I wanted to say the offense was not prepared. Then I remembered special teams. That’s 2/3 of the team. So yes, D.
DC: A … Defense played with energy until the final drive. I thought he called a great game keeping Perkins in check most of the time. Even then, Perkins just made a great play when he did get loose. Under 200 yards passing and only 2.4 yards per carry. No WR over 50 yards receiving. Running backs held in check. Firmly agree.
OC: B … I could see what he was trying to do and in the second quarter we saw the semblance of a real offense. Breakdowns and pre-snap confusion too often and did not help Pickett adjust to the blitz in the 2nd half. I disagree a little here. Not being able to keep his composure on the sideline loses him points with me. It’s going to sound cliche but he could have at least tried some screens and draws in the second half to counteract all those jailbreak blitzes. I’d go with C+
What’s frustrating is with better QB play I can see this team being a decent team. I just don’t have confidence that we’ll see better QB play. The happy feet are concerning. Once you have that it’s like the yips in baseball. You can’t overcome it. It’s ruined so many QB’s. Completely 100% agree. Quarterback play is the anchor holding this team down. As I said yesterday, Kenny looks like the exact same guy that played under Watson. I’m not confident he’ll ever be anything else.
What do you say readers? How do you grade each unit of the team?