Monday Morning QB – UMass

Monday-Morning-QB

Well, it was what we thought it was going to be – a blowout by the Panthers 51-7 over the Massachusetts Minutemen. Not a whole lot to take away from a game like that as far as seeing what our team may be like going into the harder games of the schedule.

So – lets start with some stats from the game:

Those stats stack up just like the 51-7 score does, pretty much a manhandling by Pitt. Here are Pitt’s passing stats:

Here we see what , on the surface, looks like a great passing game. But who knows what this means for the better pass defenses we will face.

We dropped seven passes again and as I wrote earlier I don’t think that is magically going to go away. There are lots of reasons for dropped passes – some are just a clunk off the hands, but some times the receiver just doesn’t think he’s going to be thrown to, especially if he’s the 2nd or 3rd progression receiver by the QB and is surprised the ball is suddenly there.

I saw that happened a few times Saturday and I know it happened a bunch last season. So if that continues I feel that will still be a problem, especially combined with other tough issues I think will arise playing against Power 5 schools – like us fielding an offensive line (OL) that isn’t all that good in pass protection.

How did our running game do? I wasn’t all that impressed to be honest. We moved the ball on the ground but didn’t get any breakaway runs like you would have thought we would given the level of the competition. Here are the numbers:

What I noticed this game –

and as with the receiver drops this has carried over from last season – the lack of long runs was due to poor or non-existent downfield blocking by the wide receivers and the tight ends.

Whether that is coaching, and I believe it is, or just some laziness on the part of the receivers, which happens sometimes also, that is something that a medium to poor running game has got to get right.

Remember RB James Conner racking up 1700+ yards? He had TEs Scott Orndoff and J.P. Holtz along with a good blocking Jamar Parrish at FB working hard downfield for him. Hall and Ollison grabbing big chunks on the ground in ’18 was due in large part to FB George Aston and WR Araujo-Lopes, who was an excellent blocker, moving people away from them as they got into that 2nd D level past the line of scrimmage.

A great running game demands that.

Our OL wasn’t blasting big holes against UMass and our running backs had to work for their yardage. You can bet the level of talent we will see in our ACC opponent’s linebackers and defensive backs will be way, way above who we played against on Saturday and if we can’t execute every block possible, especially downfield, to make those five yard runs into 10-15 yard runs then we’ll be hurting for first downs and red zone success. We’ll find ourselves in a one sided offense again.

What I also noticed Saturday is that the Minutemen WRs were pretty wide open downfield and their QB just couldn’t get the ball to them. That was evident in the first half when we had our 1st team DBs in. They weren’t all that great last year and have to be much better than we saw on Saturday to defend the better QB/WRs we’ll meet in ACC play. If not we’ll have the same great run defense but teams getting 1st downs and scores over the top.

Here is His Highness talking about the game two days after the match:

I’m looking at the team as it is and how the two-deep looks like it will shake out and I didn’t see anything that would make me change my win prediction from six or seven. Probably 7-5 again but I don’t think the defensive talent level is what it was last season. I think our offense will follow suit with big passing yards and not a commensurate amount of points on the board.

Here is a condensed version of the game from Youtube:

I’ll re-post the Tennessee article Rich in SC did up for us in a day or two and I’ll do what I did with BB games in that I’ll schedule auto-posts for gameday threads.

Here is what happened after the $20M donation was revealed:

Heather Lyke on Pat Narduzzi's staff changes: 'Ultimately, it is his  decision' | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Look Heather – Income for Life!!!!

I wouldn’t mind at all if someone(s) would volunteer to do a Monday Morning QB wrap-up for each game. That would help me out a bunch as I am volunteering at the USO greeting service members and their families arriving from the Middle East at BWI airport on Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays. So, not a lot of time to write…

36 thoughts on “Monday Morning QB – UMass

    1. If you want to use stats, I suggest using the ESPN site for a quick update. The Official NCAA data isn’t updated usually until Sunday afternoon. ESPN may not be official but it is timely and is usually accurate. Pitt stats (or any team) is usually posted a half hour or so after the game ends. Just don’t go overboard on the stats like I do.

      How about a wrap around article on weekly ACC results?

      I can help if you need something or where to find info.

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  1. I thought I watched the whole game. Where are these seven dropped passes coming from? I remember 2 drops – one by Mack on the perfectly thrown slant in the end-zone. And one by – I think it was Barden – on a ball that was a bit low toward the visitor’s side. Addison could have made a catch on an early deep ball, but that ball was contested and I don’t think that would be considered a “drop.”

    Could be my memory is going.

    Also, sounds like Deslin Alexandre has an injury – based on the question of whether he’ll be ready to go against the Vols.

    Looks like we need to recruit Clark Kent to play safety in the Duzzy Defense. Seemed to be plays where a DB or two weren’t involved in covering anyone and elsewhere a receiver was running open. Hope those were just first game communication problems…

    Go Pitt.

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    1. I watched the rerun today and saw 4 clear drops in the first half – lost interest in the 2nd half.

      In first half – Two by Addison and one each by Mack and Hammond.

      If I remember, Addison had one more in the 2nd half and so did Braden.

      Does AJ’s fumble after the catch count as a drop? If yes, there is your 7.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. AJ Davis fumble is definitionally not a drop.

        Is one of the Addison drops the one that was in the left side of the end zone right over the goal line? If so, I really didn’t think the pass was catchable and should not therrefore be considered a drop.

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  2. EE already made reference to the more important contribution above, but thank you, Reed, for taking time to write the MMQB article to hopefully set a precedent for those who will write post-game write-ups.

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  3. Pitt is ranked 33rd by CFN (College Football News) and UMass is 129 out of 130. UConn fills the bottom spot while Tennessee sits at # 38.

    FWIW

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  4. Good write up. Regarding the running game, this is a pass first team. The run is just there to free up the passing game. Under Whipple, that is just the way it will be. The QB and WR’s will contribute to the run game as well. I don’t expect a back to get 20 carries very often, haha. This was a preseason game. 3rd stringers were playing in the first quarter. It was very hard to take anything from this game. Good or bad.

    Drops are frustrating. Regardless of whether they expect the ball or not. You have one job … catch the ball.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The Flea was just about the only RB with some wiggle and the ability to get the first would be tackler to miss.

    And since we don’t play with a FB….to block that first would be tackler….that is mucho importante !

    The other RB’s mostly seem to be hole hitters….but if there is no hole….not much going on.

    So I expect him to probably start against the Vols,

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  6. Great write up Reed! I think Izzy starts at RB this week against TN. The crowd size might be a problem for younger players. A couple of early turnovers could prove decisive. Pickett could end up with 40 or more passes. If the defense doesn’t force a couple of turnovers it could be a bad day.

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  7. Reed – thanks for taking the time to do the MMQB piece and for your volunteer work.

    Difficult for me to volunteer to write up anything when attending games in person as Im either with family after the game or driving home. Might be able to help out for some of the away games as well as WMU. WIll connect via mail – hopefully you will have a couple other folks step forward to spread the load.

    Less concerned about the drops… for now. Will see if that repates this year. That said, Mack has been a Fairly reliable receiver in traffic during his time at Pitt, although he had some last year that hurt. Saturday’s was one he needs to make, no doubt. In a tight game that could mean the difference between winning and losing. Addison rebounded from his early errors, so lets see if he keeps it sharp this weekend.

    I did not like the slow start of the offense overall. Whether it was good coverage by UMass DBs or a lack of push by the OL, we still need to start fast this coming week in Knoxville. It felt like I was watching BigBen and the Steelers, who have many of the same issues Pitt has had…..time to change the water filters in the UPMC Sports Complex I suppose.

    Anyone else notice the size difference between UMass’ DL and Pitt’s OL? They had some rather large (i.e. fat) guys.

    I liked that the offense did not screw around between plays. Ball snaps were much quicker than I saw for the Vols, UNC or the Hokies this past weekend. I hope they keep that up and force our opponents to react.

    Crowd size has been speculated here by a few folks. Many of us said 25K was too low of an estimate and Ive seen a number of folks on other sites suggest 35-37K. 35K feels right. And its time to get on with tarping some of the stadium. Upper deck end zone and the upper half of the visotro upper deck would make sense.

    Also noted some comments about defensive starters playing later in the game. What I saw was constant changing on the D – platooning DL and LB units and trying different combinations. Made perfect sense to me. Some of the success in passing that UMass had appeared to be schematic or guys missing coverage assignments. Saw a few times that RBs weren’t covered en route to getting outlet passes thrown their way.

    As Mark/PittPT said (which made me laugh btw) – glad there is some glaring stuff for the kids to work on.

    Regarding Reed’s comment about “FB George Aston and WR Araujo-Lopes”, Kenny Pickett said just the other night that those two guys were the best players he’s been around in his time at Pitt…. or something to that effect.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “I liked that the offense did not screw around between plays. Ball snaps were much quicker than I saw for the Vols, UNC or the Hokies this past weekend. I hope they keep that up and force our opponents to react.” I only watched the first half of my recording (I was in Charleston, SC this w/e) and this was the main thing I noticed. Nard finally listened to our complaints about the KP-Whipple trot.

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  8. In watching the highlight video that Reed posted, both of our two opening touchdown passes looked like illegal pick plays to me. But I’m not an official, so what do I know.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. second one the pass was behind the line of scrimmage so true block is allowed

      first one was a blatant pick and should be called,
      #10 didn’t make it look subtle or accidental

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Soccer team tied the score at 1-1 only to give up the go ahead goal to the Zips.

    Coach Jay doing less with more in 2021. Time is running out in this game.

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    1. If PITT volleyball doesn’t go far this year in the NCAA tournament, it may simply be due to opponent’s with better height or just not performing well in that given match that eliminates them from the playoffs.

      However, for any with knowledge/theories, would libero/DS still be considered a weak spot? We seem to lack libero depth behind Browske in a sense, but is that not only negated but also overcome by the high number of six rotation players that PITT can rely on as well as the quality of our setters in the backrow?

      Or would the end assessment in a tournament PITT is bounced from be something along the lines of if we were a bit better at libero (or serve receive) PITT could have won it all?

      (Yes, I know in asking this question digs is one of the statistical categories PITT did better than Tennesee in during the most recent match).

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    1. They did add 8 new players and only lost 1 key defender that I am aware of.

      I attribute the downturn to lack of focus and if this is the response these players give to coach Jay, I see him leaving for a school that wants to win it all and will sacrifice it all.

      Let’s see how they respond to the next ranked team they play. What looked to be a fun season could end with a sub-.500 record.

      Wouldn’t that just scream SOP!

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  10. Pitt’s pass protection was exceptional. KP left the pocket early a few times.

    Pitt had good gains when the OL were pulling. When the OL seemed to be zone blocking there was no push. It’s Whipple’s scheme that sucks.

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  11. If impressions count…
    Watching UCLA take on LSU, I was impressed by the UCLA uniforms, the powder blue shirts and gold helmets with UCLA written in powder blue…just looked great. Like Pitt’s uniforms, although I wish they had used the mustard gold. The stadium, the iconic Rose Bowl, looked full enough on TV (62,000 fans in a 92.000 seat stadium) in large part because the end zone was tarped. The tarp didn’t look cheap at all and it prominently displayed the UCLA logo. UCLA plays off campus and the Pasadena Rose Bowl is far from the UCLA campus. Even so, UCLA had 40,000 fans show up to support a program that’s had a series of bad seasons. Pitt will have anywhere from 30,000 to 40,000 per game playing in a close to 70,000 stadium.

    Tarping is one option. Closing the upper decks is another so cameras focus on the ground bowl which usually looks full. Every time Pitt plays on TV is an opportunity to expand the front porch. Impressions count.

    The only sellout this season may be Clemson who will bring 20,000 or more fans. Pitt should do something to turn a stadium that is only 2/3 full into a positive.

    Here’s a link to the game via you tube TV: https://tv.youtube.com/watch/oVQblJ0vjhs?vpp=gAL0x96JBg%3D%3D&vp=0gEKEgIwARj0x96JBg%3D%3D

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