Grading On a Curve – Syracuse

I’m going to start a new series this week, and hope that I’m able to maintain it now that I’m mostly out of the woods on the COVID-19. For those of you who haven’t gotten the COVID, I wouldn’t recommend it. While my main symptoms were akin to a mild cold (chest congestion and a cough), the secondary symptom of fatigue is real and it doesn’t go away quickly. Three weeks later I’m still having to limit activity so that I don’t completely wear myself out. I also had a minor myocardia related scare but the initial prognosis on that is positive, pending more tests next week. With that said, I still believe that playing college football is absolutely the right thing to do. Nothing would keep an athlete more focused than having games to play, and the protocols that are in place will identify any COVID issue sooner than if there were no season and no screenings. Heart screenings absolutely need to be in place, but by all accounts the ACC seems to have enacted that safeguard. I will also say from personal experience that the mental health of fans is greatly improved by having football to watch; even if it is the maddening sort of “win ugly” football that Pitt tends to play 🙂

Speaking of football, I’m throwing MMQB out the window (you can post your good, bad and ugly on Sundays if you wish) and Mondays will now be devoted to grading all the units on the Pitt football team. After everyone has weighed in, I’ll post the PFF grades so show how your analysis compared to the “experts” who watch the tape. My grades will be my own and I won’t look at PFF prior to writing this.

Here goes. We’ll start with the Offense.

Continue reading “Grading On a Curve – Syracuse”

A (hypothetical) Recap of Saturday’s Game

The Pitt Panthers played their usual brand of crisp, disciplined football yesterday, en-route to a 30-0 shutout over the visiting Syracuse Orange. It was Pitt’s second shutout in as many games, and silenced many of the naysayers that claim this year’s team is really no different than the 2019 squad.

The Panthers jumped out to an early lead after running the ball straight at Syracuse’s undersized 3-3-5 defense, while sprinkling in timely passes to their sure-handed tight ends. In what was his breakout game, grad transfer TE Lucas Krull caught all four balls thrown to him and broke several tackles en-route to an 80 yard, one touchdown day. Once Syracuse adjusted to bring eight men into the box to stop Pitt’s well-executed inside zone scheme, OC Mark Whipple was able to open up the playbook. The offensive line gave Pickett a clean pocket all day long and he was able to complete several deep balls, en-route to a 300 yard passing day.

Additionally, the offense played a virtually mistake-free first half, with the exception of one lone procedural penalty where they were called for five men in the backfield. The offensive staff quickly corrected the issue, and penalties were kept to a minimum after that.

Special teams were also outstanding. “Automatic” Alex Kessman connected on all three of his field goal tries, two of them from the right hash. Also, as per usual, the snapping and holding was mistake-free.

The defense pitched its second shutout in a row. Pitt allowed just 51 yards rushing and 63 yards passing and enjoyed superior field position all day, due to the turnover-free football played by the offense. As you’d come to expect from a Pat Narduzzi coached team, there were no offsides, personal foul or unsportsmanlike conduct penalties committed by Pitt’s extremely disciplined defensive unit.

After the game Head Coach Pat Narduzzi had this to say:

“Like I said last week after Austin Peay, this is a different team. This is a senior-laden team. They are clearly holding each other accountable, and not reading too much into their own success. Today we showed the world that we belong in the ACC title race, but we still have to stay focused if we want to make sure we achieve our goal of playing in the ACC Championship Game. Also…Jerry could you just one more time explain to me why you didn’t put us in Top 25? Kinda having trouble wrapping my head around that one. A win’s a win right? Just wait till we bust out our alternate uniforms next week and nobody knows what color they are supposed to be throwing to or tackling.”


Editor’s Note: This was clearly written tongue in cheek. If you don’t like it, feel free to go pound some sand. Yes I am happy (relived?) that Pitt won. No, I am not trying do diminish any effort that anyone made on the field. Yes with just a few lapses the defense played Very Well. Still, I don’t think it’s too much to ask for a team that professes to pride itself on focus and culture to play disciplined football, and with the exception of one game against an FCS opponent I’ve not seen Pitt play truly disciplined football for a long, long time.

Hail to Pitt

Michaelangelo Monteleone