Of all the games to miss. I was in Germany all week and got back on 2 p.m. Saturday. Needless to say, it was going to be tough to justify spending an additional four hours away from my family, so I didn’t even try.
But I did watch the replay on Sunday, and what a replay it was. From Pitt’s near perfection through most of two quarters, to their slide into Same-Old-Pittiness after the AJ Davis Fumble, to the self-implosion of a physically beaten UCF team late in the game, to the Play that will go down in as one of the greatest in Pitt Football history, this game was nothing less than an instant classic. I am supremely proud to be a Pitt football fan at this present moment, and I am supremely jealous of those who were able to attend this game in person.
Here are my goods, bads and uglys, and please be assured I’m sorely tempted just to list the goods.
That defense. Down to their third string cornerbacks and backed against a wall in the fourth quarter, they stood up again and again and again and gave Pitt a chance to win. Those who say Pat Narduzzi can’t recruit haven’t watched these guys over the last three games. Also, I now believe that this defense can be the cornerstone of the program for the foreseeable future, and Randy Bates needs to get paid whatever he asks after this season.
Aaron Matthews. I can’t say it any better than this, so I will steal a fellow writer’s words:
First Half Kenny: Accurate and composed. Really moved the offense well. Ran effectively but still stayed in the pocket when he needed to. If this Kenny shows up for the rest of the season, our offense should be in pretty decent shape.
Last Drive Kenny: Go look up grit in the dictionary. You will find his picture.
Taysir Mack: How clutch is Taysir Mack? That 19 yard catch that got Pitt to UCF’s 11 with 1:32 left to go will be forever etched in my brain. He also led all Pitt receivers with 6 catches for 87 yards.
Nick Patti: I think we can all see why Kenny is starting ahead of him (That pass into double-coverage where Butler-Jenkins had to bail him out with a nice “defensive” play -oof). Still, there aren’t many quarterbacks I know that can come off the bench, spin out of what should have been a sure sack and then throw a touchdown during a crucial time in the game. Patti helped this team win today and he looked good in the RPO game.
The Offensive Line: Kenny was under pressure, but UCF was clearly coming after him. Still, the pass protection held for the most part and at the end of the day Pitt gave up only one sack and five TFL. Also, their run blocking was light years ahead of what it was against UVA and Penn State. It seems hard to believe because no runner ran for more than 65 yards, but Pitt totaled 196 on the ground. Morrissey and Company stepped up big time.
Mark Whipple: He did a nice job with the game plan. Still want to see a more balanced run/pass mix, but heck we scored 28 points on offense. If we can do that every game we have a really good chance to win eight games, maybe even nine.
Jaylen Twyman: I’m not putting him in here because of the sack. I’m putting him in here because of the obvious UCF troll-job after the sack. That folks, was no leg cramp. Well played Mr. Twyman. Well played.
Pat Narduzzi. Again I’m stealing this from another writer because he said it better than I ever could.
Also there is this:
Pitt Special: Poetic justice in so many ways.
Injuries to the Secondary: Both Pinnock and Mathis knocked out of the game. The good news is that we play Delaware last week and if there if we absolutely need to sit them. the younger guys should be able to fill in.
Mid-Game Kenny: As good as he was early, and as gritty as he was after he came back into the game, he still needs to work on putting touch on his short passes, and putting air under his long ones. The entire team went to sleep in the third quarter but as a leader he needs to be more consistent out there.
Not Strong in the Kicking Game: Alex Kessman is now 3-for-8 on field goals. He’s 1-5 outside of 30 yards. Technically Kessman’s slump has not cost Pitt any games yet, but Special Teams coach Andre Powell better get Kessman right soon, or it probably will.
The Entire Third Quarter: Tell me you weren’t thinking “here we go again”. I was following along on my phone on Saturday, and I know I was. Whatever Narduzzi is doing in there in during halftime IS NOT WORKING. He needs to change it up.
That Defense: (And I mean ugly in a good way). Six Sacks. 12 TFL. Two INT’s (one of them a leaping end-zone grab by Jason Pinnock that was a thing of beauty). Thunderous tackling. Speed to burn. And four plays of final-series dominance that brought Heinz field to its feet and UCF to their knees. Light ’em Up & Hail to Pitt.
Postscript: The Pitt POV Tailgate hosted by Fran “Lastrowofsection4” is always a good.