Well, no one wanted to send in a MMQB article this week – too disappointed I guess so I’ll just throw out some discussion fodder for the comments thread.
First off to recap the game we held the lead against the Western Michigan Broncos (WMB) for the 4:26 minutes in the first quarter. That was it; afterward we were either tied or trailing for the rest of the game. When the final buzzard sounded the scoreboard read WMB – 44 Pitt – 41.
Folks – what happened yesterday was the first time Pitt played a supposed inferior opponent (non-P5 or FBS) and got beat under Pat Narduzzi. It has happen every few years and with each of our last few coaches. However, Narduzzi lost to a MAC team when most expectations were high. Some expectations anyway, I figured it would be a regular Pitt season.
The spit in the eye though is how WMU pretty much controlled every important part of the game most notably the Time of Possession (TOP) by a full 20:30 – 40.15 to 19.45. Well, most notably was the three points more they had than we had at the end, but you get what I mean.
We were outplayed in just about every aspect of the game save a big showing by the Pitt QB Kenny Pickett as he passed well as seen below. You may want to advert your eyes from the rushing stats on that graphic – we truly sucked yet again in that aspect of play.
Our four actual RBs who carried the ball yesterday had a yards per carry (YPC) average of 2.57. Pickett’s passing yardage and TDs couldn’t make up for that deficit. Why is the run game so important – in college the target YPC is 5.0 yards because if you can get around that number on the majority of carries you will be getting 1st down via the ground game – which moves the flag and keep your offense in control of the ball and the clock in TOP.
Remember the old saying “When you pass the ball two out of three things that can happen are bad.”? Well, when faced with a short distance like one to three yards on 3rd down you want to feel confident you can run the ball for success if needed.
In all the short yardage 3rd and 4th down tries Pitt faced yesterday we called a total of one (1) designed running play. That was how little confidence the HC and OC had in our running backs. Thus we were 2 for 11 on those type of plays as the passing didn’t work there either. You could see the WMU linebackers drop back pre-snap on those plays because they knew we’d try a pass no matter how short the yards-to-go was.
We had a back and forth in the last comments thread regarding TOP. So – did my homework and saw that in 12 of the 13 wins we had over the 2019 and 2020 season we held the TOP. You want to win games – win TOP.
But truly, the onus is on the coaching staff for any preparations prior to the game being played. Obviously that was a failure in many ways. In his pregame week show Pat Bostick, jr. stated that WMU runs the Run/Pass Option (RPO) very well and we’d see that all game. Pat Narduzzi disagreed and said they were prepping for other offensive play.
Blew that pretty badly, didn’t he? WMU ran the RPO very well and put up 517 yards of offense against us. I won’t go into the attitudinal issues Narduzzi had during his post-loss press conference but two things did jump out – he obviously either doesn’t watch the game when the offense is on the field or he does but doesn’t understand what he is seeing – hence the quote “We’ll have to look at the tape” that we heard so often.
He also blamed the refs for being…well, refs. The fact that they were MAC referees seemed to be a real problem for him. Guess he hadn’t heard that the refs threw the flag more times for WMU than for us. Here is a quick box score:
Well, there is always next week! New Hampshire might not be as good as opponent as WMU was – but I ain’t betting on Pitt this soon after a loss like that.
Hail to Pitt!