Some Websites’ Projections for Pitt

Here is the latest from this site. It has been rather accurate for Pitt in the past…

From Pro Football Focus:

Pitt put the clamps on its competition in 2020, ranking 14th among all Power Five defenses in EPA per pass allowed. The team’s menacing pass-rush certainly helped, but the secondary did its part when the unit didn’t get pressure on the quarterback.

Despite losing their two pressure leaders from that unit (Rashad Weaver and Patrick Jones II), along with three key defensive backs (Jason Pinnock, Damar Hamlin and Paris Ford), expect this defense to still be a good one in 2021. In terms of PFF WAA generated, they return top-three players in the conference at interior defender (Calijah Kancey), linebacker (Cam Bright) and corner (Marquis Williams). And they also have cornerback Damarri Mathis and interior defensive linemen Keyshon Camp back and healthy after their careers were disrupted by injury.

Per usual, the ball is in the offense’s court. Quarterback Kenny Pickett is back for his fifth year and his fourth as the starter, and he has been uninspiring throughout that stretch. In his three years of starting action, not once did Pitt rank in the top 10 in passing efficiency.

What is EPA per play?Expected Points Added per Play (EPA/P) – The average Expected Points Added per play in which an offensive player is directly involved. EPA/P is a measure of an individual player’s impact on the scores of his games, on a per play basis.

BTW – for math geeks this website may interest – I could figure it out at all…

It’s Happening…!

Lots of news today:

Perhaps more importantly

Discuss Y’All….

New Conference Soon?

The Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 are expected to formally announce an alliance between the three leagues in the next seven to 10 days, according to multiple sources involved in the conversations, but the substance of that agreement remains in flux.

A confluence of seismic shifts within the college sports landscape — including name, image and likeness (NIL), playoff expansion, a Supreme Court ruling that opens the door to antitrust litigation against the NCAA and its membership, and the SEC’s addition of Texas and Oklahoma — has created a desire among the three leagues to find philosophical common ground to chart a path forward.

“Is that about philosophy, governance, scheduling?” one athletic director asked. “It could be all of those things.”


A Preseason Look at Western Michigan

Rich in SC strikes again…

I was only planning to review Pitt’s eight ACC opponents and Tennessee. But Danh72, Tex and Erie Express are pretty adamant in their belief that Pitt will lose to Western Michigan (WMU). So, I said what the heck let’s do it. What’s it going to cost me – five or six hours of research and eight to ten hours of typing. Maybe I would find something that would shake my complacency. Maybe I should be afraid, very, very afraid.

The WMU Broncos are led by Tim Lester. He took the reins when P.J. Fleck rowed his boat to the Minnesota Golden Gophers after playing in and losing a New Year’s 6 bowl game. Lester, In his four years at the tiller, is 24-20 (18-12 Conference, 6-6 Out of Conference (OOC), 0-2 bowls) with the Broncos. After a fifth place division finish in 2017, his team has finished in second place the last three years.

The Mid-America Conference (MAC) (12 teams, two divisions) were late to playing any kind of a 2020 football season in 2020. The MAC decided on a six game season with every team playing the other five division teams and one crossover game from the other division. The MAC regular season started Tuesday 11/4/2020 and ended Saturday 12/12/20. They did play Tuesdays and Wednesdays to fulfill their ESPN contract paying $1M to $2M per team per year.

The MAC is considered either the ninth or tenth best conference (depending on your feelings toward Conference USA) in the 10 conference Division 1 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).

With that being said, what did WMU do against MAC teams and in their national rankings?

Lots of point scored. Just one blow out (Akron). Two three point wins (Toledo and Northern Illinois). Losses to eventual conference champion Ball State and a 2-4 Eastern Michigan team. If you take out the Akron game, WMU scored 192 points and gave up 192 points. (Then again, Pitt playing Austin Peay skews Pitt’s numbers.)

What is really  concerning to me is the last three games. A close loss to the worst team in WMU’s division. An 11 point loss to the second worst team and blowing an opportunity to still win the division title at Ball State.

On to a comparison of 2020 NCAA team and individual rankings compared to Pitt.

Go ahead and make any comparisons you want. Just remember that WMU played a MAC only schedule. Pitt played a mainly ACC schedule.

WMU offense is led by QB Kaleb Eleby. I believe Dan and Tex have mentioned that Eleby is fifth best QB Pitt will face. Wouldn’t surprise me if Erie Express (Rick) saw the same article or tweet. I did. Besides Eleby, I remember Howell from North Carolina and King from Miami. That leaves Sims from Georgia Tech, Uiagelelel from Clemson, Burmeister from Virginia Tech and Armstrong from Virginia as returning or named starters to finish out the top 5.

What were Eleby’s stats from 2020?

Both Eleby and WMU as a team were ranked #3. Not a bad showing for any QB and team. No matter what team, a 195.1 pass efficiency rating is pretty impressive.

Who caught the passes Eleby threw?

His main target was WR D’Wayne Eskridge. He caught 34 passes for 784 yards (23.1 yard/catch) and 8 touchdowns. He was drafted in the second round by Seattle.

Other returning receivers were:

WR Skyy Moore – 25 for 368 yards (16.5 yds/reception) and 3TD’s

WR Jaylen Hall – 12 for 323 yards (26.9 yds/reception) and 7 TD’s

RB Sean Taylor – 11 for 68 yards (6.2 yds/reception) 0 TD’s

RB Jaxson Kincade – 5 for 44 yards (8.8 yds/reception) 0 TD’s

Skyy Moore attended Shady Side Academy

WMU has 8 TE’s on their roster. Two players caught passes. They combined for 5 receptions for 33 yards (6.6 yds/reception) 0 TD’s

In rushing offense, WMU was ranked #41. Who toted the Rock?

RB  La’Darius Jefferson – 112 for 624 yards  5.6 yds/carry and 5 TD’s

RB Sean Taylor – 40 for 263 yards  6.6 yds/carry and 2 TD’s

RB Jason Kincade – 31 for 218 yards  7.0 yds/carry and 2 TD’s

QB Kaleb was the #4 in rushing for WMU. His stats are in with his passing numbers.

The leading returning defensive players are:

Safety A.J. Thomas 46 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 Pass Breakup (PBU), 1 Int, ! TD

Safety Bricen Garner 45 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 1 PBU

LB Corvin Moment 37 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2 PBU

DT Ralph Holley 29 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 PBU

Speaking of leading returning players, here are the WMU players on the 2020 All MAC team. Players moving on are color coded.

Bricen Garner and Therran Coleman are on the WMU roster for the 2021 season. They were members of Pitt’s 2016 recruiting class. They used  the transfer portal after the 2019 season. Coleman did not play in 2020 due to injury.

Also, at WMU is Brandon Honorable. He committed to Pitt for the 2021 class but something happened and here he is now.

Besides Skyy Moore having local Western Pennsylvania (Shady Side Academy), there are two other locals at WMU. Dorian Jackson (Obama Academy) played at St. Francis where he made Honorable Mention All FCS team as a cornerback. The second is QB Jack Salopek (Norwin). The name sounds familiar. Was he or a brother on the Pitt roster as a walk-on?

If you want to see the Bronco’s in action, here is the time, OOC opponents, and channel.

Yes, The WMU at Pitt game is on your local Regional Sports Channel.

Pitt Wins.