MAC Loss – The Good, Bad and Really Ugly

Well, if no one else is going to chip in I’ll do a quick recap of the loss to Western Michigan- but honestly the thread of Game Day comments – some very long and well written – will provide more background and info as that post will.

The Good:

Pickett’s stats – great for padding the Pitt fan’s appreciation of him. Sorry – he played a good game yesterday but also had some troubles that we will discuss in the Bad and Ugly sections.

Also good (kind of) were are players that use their feet for success. Sam Scarton, our placekicker, almost got 100% of his Point After Touchdown (PATs) kicks through the uprights – only missed one for an 83% success rate. Maybe it was the crowd noise that distracted that last one.

The Aussie punter, Kirk Christodoulou, who we have had for years showed up to play, and not drunk like every other Aussie I have ever met, but his effect on the game wasn’t that great. A 37.5 average yardage is at a MAC-like level. Actually his first punt put the WMU Broncos on their own 19 yard line so that was well done.

DE Habakkuk Baldonado did a good job also with 5 solo tackles and seven total, one sack and 2.5 tackles for loss. – kind of like the only tree left standing after a forest fire. The rest of the DL and LBs? Blah at best.

The Bad:

Remember Pickett’s great stats yesterday? Well, sometimes numbers do lie. Six TD passes is pretty impressive in gaining points on the scoreboard. Unfortunately a huge part of a QB’s job is to keep the ball in his offense’s possession long enough to deny the other team’s scoring opportunities. That sure didn’t happen.

In seven combined 3rd and 4th down plays where Pickett dropped back to pass he either threw an incomplete pass, threw a too-short completion that was well defended or was sacked (twice!) for a loss of downs. If you are as appalled as I am by Pitt’s only have a 20 minute time of possession (TOP) in this game you can look directly at our QB play – and play calls by the offensive coordinator (OC)… then glance real quickly at the running game before looking back at the OC and QB.

I suppose you can blame the Pitt defense for some of the 40 minute TOP WMU had – but if we had gotten even a few 3rd down conversations (vice only 1 of 7) then the defense wouldn’t have had to homestead on the field of play.

But this has been somewhat of a trademark in Pickett’s 13 years as a Pitt QB – guady stats with not a whole lot to show for it. Fans don’t want to hear that but it’s true.

The Ugly:

In my 60 years of being a Pitt football fan (started going to games in the stroller) I’m not sure I ever saw a more ridiculous play then when at the 7:44 mark of the 3rd quarter two Pitt safeties tackled each other and allowed the WMU wide receiver stroll into the endzone for a 54 yard TD. That broke a 34-34 tie and WMU never looked back until their victory was complete..

Wasn’t just that play though – a rather average MAC QB lit up the defensive back’s islands by doing this: 23 for 35, 337 yards with 3 TDs and 0 INTs for a QB rating of….drum roll please…186.3. I say again: a MAC QB had a QB rating of 186.3 against our (crap) defensive secondary. Ugly!

I said this yesterday and will say it again – why is anyone who has followed Pitt football under Pat Narduzzi in any way shocked at this loss? Look, we had bona fide star defenders on our team last year and still played just about .500 ball at six wins to five losses. We replaced those 2020 stars with 2021 average talent players (or even poor in some cases) and we lose games. That is how football and sports work. You have to keep getting better talent, not worse.

Each year the local media falls for this HC’s bullcrap and they slobber all over him – then act oh so outraged when we don’t win games we are supposed to. Well, who in Hell says which games we are supposed to win or not? The betting line? Ask the bookies how much confidence they have in Pitt to do what they are supposed to do.

I do find it hilarious that now local pundits are calling Narduzzi “arrogant” and want him fired like that negative trait is something that no one had realized he had before. Ask anyone one who isn’t in his sacred closed circle of acquaintances what he’s like and you’ll have heard that word being used often since 2015 when describing him. Here is a quote from Pittsburgh Sports Now that says it pretty clearly (albeit years too late):

That certainly won’t be the case when Pitt and Narduzzi eventually part ways. I can promise you that very few people will shed a tear when that day comes, which certainly wasn’t the case with Wannstedt.

With the arrogance in which he has always conducted himself, you’d think that Pitt is currently a Top 10 program with a trophy case full of recent championship trophies but that’s hardly the case. The reality is his personality only drives people away from caring about Pitt football, which isn’t the smart thing to do when you’re a perennial 7-8 win team which draws 25,000 to 30,000 actual fans a game.

Now – I read PSN pretty often and I can’t remember anyone on there calling Narduzzi “arrogant” publicly before today.

One last thing: every local media outlet is full of outrage and vitriol against Narduzzi for this loss to a middling MAC school. They all are basically saying “I told you so” or at least implying it. But wait! Let the truth be told – the only media outlet on Pitt football who didn’t buy into the off-season hype was The Pitt POV when we predicted 6 or 7 wins on the season and stuck with it…

Take a look at this article in PSN dated September 2, 2021 – only two out of 18 writers (experts I tell ya!) felt that this season’s team would be just like every other season Narduzzi’s had his own committed players on his roster (save one 8 win season). All the others should be eating crow right now. Holy Hell – Paul Zeise was practically kneeling at the Narduzzi alter 48 hours ago and now he’s saying this: “

Narduzzi has been given a lot of time to build a program. He has succeeded in some areas but he has failed far too often when it counts. There’s a lot of football left to play, but if things aren’t corrected immediately, the end could be closer than you think. 

Seven years is plenty of time to build a program that wins, but — so far — Narduzzi has fallen short. At some point, time will run out.

2021 Pitt Win Total Predictions

Dave Wannstedt (Fox Sports): 10
Paul Zeise (PG/93.7 The Fan): 11 (Paul has Pitt winning the Coastal)
Chris Mack (93.7 The Fan): 9
Bob Pompeani (KDKA-TV):  9
Chris Mueller (93.7 The Fan): 7
Joe Kaap (93.7 The Fan): 8
Mike Asti  (Steelers Now): 8
Rich Walsh (KDKA-TV): 8
Chris Peak (PantherLair): 9
Joe Starkey (93.7 The Fan): 9
Mike DeCourcy (Sporting News): 9
Josh Taylor (KDKA-TV): 8
Brett McMurphy (Action Network): 8
Andrew Stockey (WTAE-TV): 8
Bill Bender (Sporting News): 7

Harry Psaros  (PGH Sports Now): 9
Mike Vukovcan (PGH Sports Now): 9
George Michalowski (PGH Sports Now): 9

Could go on and on and on… But will save some for the Monday Morning QB article tomorrow (any takers on writing that article for me?)

Here are Pitt’s National Rankings after three games- note that anything ranked with a number higher that 60 is pretty damn poor:

Hail to Pitt? More like:

Oy Vey to Pitt!