Pitt’s Passing Defense

Editor’s Note: Here is a well researched and thought out article from Jay Kaplan that hits the mark…and will generate good back and forth on the subject.

Question: Why did Pitt’s defense give up so many passing yards last season in the three games it lost?

(A question from 6&34 that is intended to elicit interactive responses from the POV community.)

Five teams threw for over 350 yards against Pitt this past year (two threw for over 425 yards). And they did that despite Pitt having more sacks than every other FCS team but one. I know these two facts by themselves don’t make the yardage allowed impossible. How could it be when the yardage allowed happened. (That’s what in philosophy should be called a true rhetorical question.)

It would be inaccurate to describe what I witnessed this past year with Pitt’s defense (the “Narduzzi defense”) to be inexplicable. I only know it is inexplicable to me. And the primary reason why it may be inexplicable to me is because I don’t regularly go to games. I watch every game on a large screen TV which means that I am limited in what I can observe by the limitations of modern television sportscasting productions.

The most glaring limitation factor is that college football television broadcasts limit what a viewer is able to observe occurring behind the defensive line. I am of the opinion that this limitation makes it impossible for a viewer to sufficiently evaluate a defensive scheme or a defensive player’s performance.

Of course, there are some things that may be observed with a degree of sufficiency that allows for intelligent contextual evaluation of a defensive player’s abilities. For example, we can for the most part observe how fast a corner back is in relation to the receiver’s speed or how skillful that corner back’s pass defense technique is.

What we can’t observe is the dynamic relationship between the moving parts, i.e. the various players’ involved in the receiver’s route running (other offensive players assigned tasks associated with the play)  or the other defensive players who have a role in defending against that particular pass play other than the primary defender.

Yes, sometimes the broadcast attempts to show parts of that dynamic relationship but even those efforts are mostly significantly limited.  

Someone watching the game from the stands, gets to see the entire field of play. Because my experience does not include a lot of those experiences, I can only surmise that such experiences provide a richer framework to evaluate what happened on a particular pass play. On the other hand, all of the many moving parts are moving rather fast. Pat Narduzzi’s “we’ll look at the tapes” to some extent constitute a rhetorical device to avoid answering a reporter’s question but there is a great deal of truth to the necessity of studying what occurred on the play using video tools not available to outsiders.

So let me get to the point of this article. I don’t understand why Pitt’s pass defense especially in games it lost so frequently appears so hapless and ineffective. I consider myself the proverbial blindman because I believe that the inability to observe the full picture is virtual blindness.

We hear over and over again that the weakness of the Narduzzi defense is that its structure leaves its pass defenders on an “island”.  This is not really disputed even by Narduzzi. The structure of the defense accepts that result, recognizes it as a weakness but argues that the weakness is manageable and provides critical benefits to other aspects of the defense, e.g. stopping the run or to a lesser extent strengthening the pass rush, i.e. blitzing.

This is all well and good but WTF, Pitt’s defense gets chewed up often and that includes the job Western Michigan did against Pitt which arguably resulted in Pitt not being considered for the College Playoff Series.

 And for me, here’s the rub: the pass defense to my limited and already aditted limited understanding gets beaten not so much on long passes where defenders are on an island, its on the shorter passes where Pit’s defense seems to get ass-kicked. You know perfectly well what I am referring to – those 3rd and 8 passes (or even 3rd and 12) and many other comparable infuriating situations. Those situations have nothing to do with a defender being on an island.

I admit it. I don’t understand how or why this happens. And I’m asking the POV community to engage with me in an interactive dialectic to help me (and any other POVer who admits to similar ignorance) understand why Pitt it so many critical situations Pitt was not able to stop the winning teams passing plays.

One last comment, blaming Pitt for allowing so many 350 plus yard pass defense games on the “smurfs” isn’t going to cut it anymore (and admittedly we don’t hear that species of criticism much these days).  But the fact of the matter is that even in the incipient years of blaming the “smurfs”, a few of those guys managed to emerge as NFL defenders which to my mind pretty much says that those casting blame so cavalierly did not know what they were talking about (and that includes me).  Then again, how would I know that Avonte Maddox would at the NFL Combine run a sub 4.4 40-yard dash or rank in the 97th and 99th percentiles on the 3-cone and 60-yard shuffle drills, respectively (yikes).*

I mention this because I am asking for POVers to really put their thinking caps on and use their best communication skills to answer my question. Any contribution will be appreciated especially from those POVers who regularly attend games. Comments that integrate the elements of Pitt’s defense components will be most welcome and receive extra credit. Please be prepared to defend your position because it is my hope that responses to comments be critical while at the same time respectful.

By the way, the reason the question is limited to the games Pitt lost is because if the question was not so limited there would be an easy answer to the question (glib as it might be), i.e. opponents were forced to pass against Pitt because they could not run against Pitt’s defense that ranked #3 in rushing yards per play allowed.

Also, by focusing on the games Pitt lost, we can engage in a more qualitative discussion which my instincts tell me is where the answer lies. I say this because whatever HC Narduzzi may have been thinking before the game, the actual game revealed in real time that stopping the run would not be enough to heighten the likelihood of a Pitt victory. In other words, at some point in each of those games the concern was winning the game which is not a statistic but a qualitative outcome. And yes, this does cause the question “Does Pat Narduzzi know what he is doing?” to pop up once again despite how anachronistic the question may seem.

* Statistics courteous of Bet IQ website (https://www.teamrankings.com/college-football/team/pittsburgh-panthers/stats)

** Statistics courteous of Section215.com (https://section215.com/2021/10/27/philadelphia-eagles-avonte-maddox-home/)

165 thoughts on “Pitt’s Passing Defense

  1. When you have an offense that passes 3 out of every 4 downs, you leave a ton of time on the clock for your defense to defend. Look at every high scoring passing oriented team and you’ll see mediocre to awful defensive stats.

    When you are playing press/man defense on every play (island D) it only takes one D player to make a mistake to beat. I give Duz huge credit after WM game for putting in some zone defense which kept offenses a bit off guard.

    Liked by 8 people

    1. Bingo! When you have the ball for less than 2 minutes and score a TD you are handing the ball over to your opponent who in most cases does not have the quick /instant score offense…end result you have a defense that can get gassed by being on the field for long stretches of the clock. I suspect that our STRONG defensive line play will continue to improve which will clearly result in more pressure on the QB’s. End result (I hope) is more passes against us that will not have the luxury of time to find the open receivers.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pitt’s total defense was 39th combined with 15th best 3rd down percentage and a #6 rush defense. The pass defense gets way too much attention. Pitt also was a high scoring team. When you shut down the run and have a lead on teams, the pass defense will be what suffers. Pitt focuses on shutting down the run and getting sacks. The passing game is what is occasionally exposed. You have to look at the big picture. Being average at both pass and run will get you to the same ranking, or worse. Pitt focuses on being elite in certain areas and hoping the pass rush forces bad throws. Sometimes, those will connect for big plays and college football is all about explosive plays. You live and die by the sword and Pitt lived a lot more than they died. The games they lost were as much on the offense as the defense. Team effort in losses … including special teams.

    If they switch schemes like a lot here pray they do, there will be sacrifices in rush defense and sacks. Narduzzi prefers this approach.

    Pitt was also #42 in scoring defense which is pretty in line with the total defense. They’re fine on defense.

    TL;DR: Nothing to see here …

    You can go through all the stats here … https://www.ncaa.com/stats/football/fbs/current/team/24

    Liked by 4 people

  3. The above answers by dan and TT are right on the money. Pitt focuses so much on stopping the run and blitzing the QB which in turn leaves the secondary with one on one coverage almost the entire game. One slip or one misstep by our one on one cover guys leaves us wide open for the long pass play and subsequent quick score. The better question might be why can’t the Pitt defense convert to some effective zone coverage at different times in the game to give the opposition a different look?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Jrn – Pitt did play a lot of zone post W Michigan debacle. The problem was our Mensa defensive backfield often times got confused on what D we were playing. If you want a huge defensive breakdown, try having 8 players playing “press man” and the other three playing zone. It cost us the Miami game!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree Dan, so that means our defensive coaches have a lot of work to do when getting our DB’s and safeties in sink when they convert to that zone coverage on occasion. I was referring to EFFECTIVE zone coverage when I asked the question.

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  5. The good thing about the Narduzzi defense is that it gets pressure. And when that pressure gets home, well, just ask Wake Forest.

    The bad thing about the Narduzzi defense is that it sells out to get that pressure. And when that pressure doesn’t get home, well. Miami.

    There are more technical nuances I’m sure. Tight ends down the seam and the Linebackers’ ability to read and cover. Similar with the Safety position. But at the end of the day it all boils down to the words of the venerable Dave Wannstedt:

    “If you blitz, somebody’s band is going to be playing. Guaranteed.”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I love Wanny’s comment, but I love Nard’s D also. Pressure, pressure, pressure…that’s his game.

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  6. It would be interesting to see if the corners are being beat or the crossing patterns and tight ends down the seam that get opened the most. I think the latter. I recall seeing many tight ends catching passes up the middle with linebackers trailing behind. They are the 8-12 yard plays that result in first downs. The blitzing with linebackers can open this up. I agree with the need to change to zone periodically to keep them honest but the corners we have had the past few years and the present seem to be highly regarded and compete for NFL spots. It appears we have some depth there this year also.

    I look forward to the coming year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The good thing about this year’s defense is that literally everyone is coming back. Except those linebackers. But the safeties are going to be very well seasoned. Hallet isn’t the most athletic dude but he’s good enough, and he’s heady. Hill, IMO, is primed for a monster season.

      Depth? We’ll see…

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  7. Other than the headline being wrong, it should be Pitt’s Pass Defense
    Anyway I agree with what was said above and add that it is impossible to maintain intensity
    when you are on the field as much as our defense was.
    Plus the fact that other than the inexplicable WM performance ( Their offense played their best mistake free game by far), every team that Pitt played had good QB’s and receivers and to beat Pitt you have to score lots of points and have many opportunities to do so.
    As I said on the last thread you only need one more point than the other guys to get the win.

    This year the defense should know they may not have the QB reliability in the final drive and may need to win more close ones before that final drive is needed.

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  8. Thank you for the article, Jay. The Pitt passing defense is a maddening topic, indeed. A couple thoughts your article triggered in my old brain…

    —Most fans at the game watch the ball, so unless you really make an effort, it’s tough to see what’s going on, or not going on, in coverage. Usually the replay tells a lot.

    —I think Coach Bates has gradually tweaked the “Narduzzi Defense” for the better. WF, for example, was completing down-and-outs pretty regularly until Coach B. dropped a LB underneath for the Pick-Six.

    —Another tweak, or perhaps practice emphasis, has cut down on the number of TDs we give up on wheel routes.

    —Cornerback Williams seems similar to Avante. Listed as 5-9 and lightning quick…

    —Western Mich had a QB who will likely be a free agent in an NFL camp and two pretty good WRs – one who is projected to be drafted. They used two plays and we didn’t stop them. Looked to me that when our DL didn’t stop their run, our backers were no help on the slants…

    —Finally, I think back to all the times when Avante was right on the WR’s hip and the WR would come down with the catch. Those “50/50 balls”ended up being 75% completions on exceptional catches (with some uncalled push-offs)…. Maybe last year, and hopefully this year, the percentages work back in our favor…

    —Also, Williams is the only DB listed as under 5’ 11” on the current roster.

    Go Pitt.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. “—Finally, I think back to all the times when Avante was right on the WR’s hip and the WR would come down with the catch. Those “50/50 balls”ended up being 75% completions on exceptional catches (with some uncalled push-offs)…. Maybe last year, and hopefully this year, the percentages work back in our favor…”

      plus the other non-completions all resulted in PI’s AGAINST Pitt,,,, even when the WR was the one to clearly PUSH OFF! 😦

      Liked by 4 people

  9. OT: Former PG Meechie from tOSU and the same hometown as Big John in Cleveland, OH commits to South Carolina and their new HC a few minutes ago.

    You would think that a former Duke PG and now HC, Jeff Capel could land a true PG after 4 years at Pitt. Many so called experts claim Cummins is NOT a true PG but a combo guard.

    If Capel lands one of the two bigs he is pursuing in Akok Akok or the big man from Rice 6’9” 260lb F, I’d be happy with the depth of Big John, F Hinson, F Akok or PF minute Rice, CG’s Nike, Burton and Cummins. The other two hopefully mature into very good bench guys in Jeffries and Santos.

    That would be a serviceable 8 man rotation.

    Go Pitt!

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  10. Jay. We have all been frustrated over the past few years for the amount of passing yards surrendered, and there was no excuse for the Western Mich debacle

    However, Pitt faced Tenn, UNC, Wake, UVA, and Miami all potent offenses, and in fact, UVA was 2nd, Miami 11th and Wake 12th in passing offense. Yet Pitt finished 39th out of 130 in defense last year.

    I also believe but can’t confirm that Pitt did play more zone than most people think. In fact, when Pitt gave up a long TD pass late in the UVA game to make the game closer than it should have been … that was against a 3 Deep zone. Mathis just blew it

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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  11. But Pitt was like 98 in passing D. Running D was top 20 though. But the ACC is a passing league much like college football in general these days. Tennessee would have had over 600 yards passing if their QB could hit the broad side of a barn. Receivers were wide open all day.

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      1. The fact is: Pitts passing D was horrid last year. Numbers don’t lie. It’s impossible to spin. So don’t even try.

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        1. wish Pitt could mirror the pass defense of Texass

          now THAT would produce, uh, well,,, ummmm

          .
          .
          maybe move over to trashing all things Pitt basketball and your obsession can establish credibility

          or not, fiction is entertaining to some as it provides good laughs

          Liked by 1 person

        2. They had the #39 defense and #42 scoring defense in games with a lot of possessions … No spin. Just facts. Lol.

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  12. Fact: Time of possession for the Western Michigan game: Pitt 40:15. WM 19:45, so the loss certainly shouldn’t have been due to the defense being winded.

    Fact: Except for the Michigan State game in which the difference was 5 minutes and 9 seconds in favor of MS, and the Tennessee game in which the difference was 12 minutes and 10 seconds in favor of Pitt, all other close games had essentially 50/50 times of possession.

    My concern is that, Pitt could have easily lost 6 games last year despite it having one of the best offenses in the nation. As one POVer said last year (I think it was Rich) when asked by Reed on a POV Zoom event, what he thought was the reason for Pitt’s success last year, “Luck” (the answer didn’t just mean that a butterfly’s wings flapped in our favor; it also correctly recognized that because of Covid we had a plethora of super seniors including KP and it was a down year for Clemson).

    One thing my untrained eye regularly sees when I watch a 2021 Pitt football game, is tremendous effort and skill especially in stopping the run. The defensive performance against Wake Forest was stunning even though it took more than a full half of play for that performance to be realized. But when it did, it was what you might expect from last year’s Georgia’s defense. And it started, of course, with the pass rush which built off of Pitt’s success stopping the run.

    Although I wouldn’t say that the second half defense against Wake Forest was the only time I saw the Pitt defense dominate a quality opponent for a significant period of time, when you consider Pitt’s pass rush – which to my eye is not driven by blitzes but stellar down linemen play – I would have expected more dominating defensive play than I witnessed in 2021.

    If you have a top two pass rushing defense especially one that achieves its success through stellar down linemen play, and you couple that with outstanding run defense, that double pronged success should put tremendous pressure on Pitt’s opponent’s passing game. Our pass defense was OK last year. But consider that the defensive backfield consists of some good to at least very good defenders (DM and BH may be better than very good). So to my mind, we should have had a much better defense than OK and its clear to me that the just OK grade is due to the pass defense.

    But why is that? And again why was our defense just not good enough in the three games we lost? Maybe DM not playing in the MSU game explains that loss – I’m OK with that. But is it a satisfying explanation that Pitt lost the WM game (with a 4&4 MAC record) because it played a nearly perfect game? It doesn’t satisfy me.

    Hey, I don’t claim I know the answers and that’s why I asked the question. Maybe the answer is as simple as, Jay, you have it wrong about the pass rush. Its the blitzing that gets the job done. If it were that, not having the blitzing defender to help defending the pass especially on relatively shorter passes might explain it. But as I have opined, I don’t think that Pitt’s blitzing answers the question.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 6&34 – Nice comment and enjoyed reading your thoughts. But:

      That wasn’t me in the zoom meeting saying luck was the reason for Pitt’s sucess. I can’t remember if I was asked that question or how I responded but I know I wouldn’t have said luck.

      Yes, Pitt had a lot of super seniors in 2021. Don’t blame Pitt for that fact. ALL teams had a chance to have numerous super seniors. Those teams without a lot of super seniors lost a lot of players to the TP and early departures (grades, medical, dismissals, and yes, the NFL).

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Nice find, JoeL.

      That second play, the score against Tenn. may have saved the season. We were down and looking shaky – then KP makes an awesome throw to Stovall, of all WRs…. The start of many good things last season.

      Go Pitt.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Great article and comments. I personally enjoy Pitt’s defense.

    If they were able to do what they did with a bunch of 3 stars, imagine what they could do with all 5 stars.

    They would most likely be up there with the top 5 teams in the country.

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  14. Off topic but is anyone having problems with their email delivery? I use Spectrum but emails are slow or even missing. I get an email notification when a new article is posted. The email for this article showed up around 3:30AM this morning and I know it was posted sometime yesterday afternoon.

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  15. OT – The Pitt women basketball team got a commitment from their third 2022 recruit in Avery Strickland from Tennessee. She’s a 6-foot wing.

    In a strange twist, Strickland joins guard Marley Washenitz as two players who decommitted from West Virginia and signed with Pitt. That may be good news as WVU usually has a good team.

    They join local recruit guard Ainslin Malcolm.

    All three players sound promising. Looks like Pitt’s emphasizing improving their shooting – certainly an area that needs improvement.

    Still need to find a ready-to-play center to replace 6’4” Rita, who left for the portal and will be a big loss…

    Go Pitt.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. The defections were directly related to the COVID year gained by seniors who choose to stay an extra year.

        One of my executive staff members has a son who is an assistant – the women’s HC has been in place for a few years. They really wanted these two girls that Pitt received commitments, but because a few seniors are taking the extra year, wvcc had to pull back their scholarships.

        I’m hoping the portal doesn’t cause them to visit Pitt for one year and then they jump back to the hoopies.

        You can’t make this stuff up…

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Yep another scholarship opens up with Belgrave jumping ship. The deadline for entering the portal is May 1st. So there may be a couple of additional others jumping ship before the weeks out. There are a couple of names I’d like to see enter right now.

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  16. Jay , thank you for this article, a great topic to stimulate POVer debate. As in all things I am probably oversimplifying things, but with Narduzzi’s “Island” defense, it seems like he is counting on stopping the run and then it’s a matter of if the D line gets home or our secondary is better than the opponent’s Receivers we win. If Lyke schedules the OOC games correctly that philosophy should net us 8-9 wins per year, and more when the offense is clicking.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That said, the Western Michigan game is a real head scratcher, but maybe ended up being a benefit in the end because it forced the Defense to adapt and add some zone coverage. If they keep those adjustments, hopefully the defense will gradually implement it better with more time in that system.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. If you’ll recall W Michigan took 6 plays to score their first TD. Not many more to score the others. While Pitt had much more time of possession every time WM had the ball they scored quickly. Pitt had many missed D assignments and seemed mesmerized by the WM QB and Star receiver!

        Still Pitt was playing them even until Pickett threw a horrible pick late. I truly thought the season and Narduzzi were done after that game.

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        1. I did, too. That was a bad game and what turned out to be an outlier combined with a scheme that traditionally does give Pitt a problem.

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  17. In 2019, Pitt lost a tough game at PSU and the next week, beat UCF in the final seconds. The following week, they struggled mightily at home against Delaware, pulling out a 4 pt win in the final minutes

    Last year, Pitt beat UTenn in front of nearly 90k fans and the came home to play Western Mich. yes, they should have still beat WMU, but being mentally prepared matters a lot. Plus, any time a MAC team plays a P5 team, they get really psyched

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Pitt women basketball adds a portal transfer – Gabby Hutcherson. From PSN:

    “Hutcherson is a 6-foot-2 incoming junior who played in 36 games over the past two seasons at Ohio State with no starts. She averaged 3.3 points a game, 39.1% shooting from the field, 35% from 3-point range, and 2.2 rebounds per game over those two seasons.”

    Would like to see a 6-4 center, but Gabby will help. Looks like a 5-star who hasn’t lived up to her ranking. Maybe she can blossom at Pitt… 👍

    Go Pitt.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. I’m way more excited about the additions to Womens Basketball the mens. It’s all about having more talent on the floor.

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  20. This article got me thinking… Sorry again about the wrong title.

    I looked at Pitt’s overall 2021 Passing Defense numbers for the 14 games and was surprised at some aspects of our Pass Defense and what opponents did to us in four categories. To wit:

    Opponents 1st Downs by passing: 11.6 per game and that landed Pitt at 111th out of 130 teams.
    Bad because I feel 1st downs lead directly to scores.

    Passing yards per game – #113 nationally at 264.3 ypg

    Number of pass completions – #110 at 21.6 cpg

    TDs thrown – #93 at 1.9 per game

    Passes thrown (as percentage of all plays) – #57 at 59.7%

    And this isn’t just passing but we were #42 in giving up 23.6 points per game.

    We are not going to have KP behind center this season and he was a huge factor in our scoring numbers. If we can’t get close to replicating his production of 41.4 ppg (3rd of 130!!) and I don’t think we will, then we’ll lose more games then the three we did last season.

    I’m just not as hyped up about the USC transfer Slovis as some are. That downward trend each year he played at USC worries me. https://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/players/kedon-slovis-1.html#passing

    …then again now that we have a real QB in Trey Anderson back all should be well (remember him – he was a Todd Graham favorite).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good stats, Reed.

      Be interesting to see how much effect a more balanced and hopefully a ball-possessing (while hopefully still high-scoring) offense will have on our defense….

      I’m also hoping having experienced safeties will help…

      Go Pitt.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Well every year will be different and you are right KP was a huge difference maker. In all probability we do lose more than three games. The defense will have to pick it up if the offense isn’t as strong.

      However, there is a whole lot of talent and experience on this team and everyone will be gunning for them as last year’s champs, but it is all good, we got a championship that no one expected.

      We are going into the season ranked for the first time in recent memory, will they live up to the ranking? Who knows, but last year’s stats do not matter.

      What I like the most is having two experienced strong lines, with depth going into the season, I can’t remember the last time we could say that.

      Liked by 4 people

    3. Reed, are you playing off of the similarity of the names between Trey AndersOn and Trey Andersen? When our current Trey Andersen was originally recruited to BYU from high school in 2019 he was a 6′ 4″ and 213 lbs3 5.3 star TE recruit. Now he is listed as 6′ 6″ and 280 lbs OL. Yowza, – not easy for a talent evaluator to anticipate that kind of size change and yet it is an important part of what they do.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. How many on this board really liked Pitt’s chances in getting to the ACC title game before last season? And for that matter how many on this board really thought Pickett would put up the numbers he did this past season?

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  22. GC – last years pass defense stats may not matter for the upcoming season but there are trends in CFB and some are good and some are bad.

    If you look at the same stats for Pitt’s 2020 season you’ll see that we got worse in those important stats of our pass defense from 2020 to 2021.

    https://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/years/2020-team-defense.html

    and we got worse from 2019 to 2020…

    https://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/years/2019-team-defense.html

    and also from 2018 to 2019.

    https://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/years/2019-team-defense.html

    Again, trends happen. Now – I didn’t look at every stat column but feel that overall the trend has be level in some categories at best but downward over all.

    Our offensive output

    BTW – if you go to these links and click on the open space right after the Pitt name it highlights Pitt no matter which stat column you are looking at.

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  23. Speaking of defense, today Pitt’s Women’s Lacrosse team just beat Louisville 13-10 in their ACC Tournament game with Pitt’s goalie, Paulina DiFatta, saving an ACC tournament record 19 attempts on goal. This is Pitt’s first ever tournament game in their first ever year fielding a lacrosse team in the ACC.

    Liked by 7 people

  24. Staying with trends – our offense had been pretty putrid before the famous YOP (Year of Pickett). May it live in Pitt hearts forever, because we aint going to see it again until an on-campus stadium is built…which is never.

    Here are the points per game totals…

    https://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/years/2018-team-offense.html

    2018 – 25.6 ppg – #94 nationally

    2019 – 21.2 ppg – #113

    2020 – 29.0ppg – #58 and then…

    2021 – 41.4 ppg – #3

    Now, if anyone is expecting a YOP again I’d like to, softly and gently, say that you are stone cold crazy. Meant in the nicest possible terms that is!

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    1. Pitt probably needs to put up 35ppg to be in the top 25 in offense. That gets them another great season. I have my doubts Cignetti can pull that off.

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    2. Reed points against:

      18 – 27.8

      19 – 22.5

      20 – 24.7

      21 – 23.6

      No real trend there and isn’t that what really matters?

      Again not expecting a YOP, but think there will be a pretty good football team this year.

      Liked by 2 people

    3. So Pitt averaged 40.9 ppg in 2016 with a QB that Narduzzi brought in and you’re saying we’ll never see an offense like last season ever again when we saw it before YOP?

      Liked by 2 people

  25. Pitt’s offense will be more balanced this year with more rushing scores. The OL and WRs should be stronger. Maybe the QB will get 30 TDS passing but add 5-6 more scores for the TE and red zone power running and I can see where 40 pts per game is possible.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Cignetti with an obviously different philosophy than Whipple. I see Pitt running the ball and clock much more when it gets a lead.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Well, we did put up 77 against the on-line football team New Hampshire. That always helps the points per game average. I agree with Reed that you probably want to throw that score out, like a darrin Hall 90 yard run to bring his total stats for the game at 28 carries for 102 yards. He set them up and tired them out on those other 27 carries for 12 yards. Not stirring the pot too much. It would be great if we can put up 77 against WV College, but believe we probably will not.

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  28. Fwiw, I never watch the NFL draft. Always thought it was silly since you can click on at any time and catch up immediately by watching the crawl at the bottom

    But this year, I’m still not watching the NFL draft

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I agree completely, Bill. I read that the draft begins at 8 pm and they expect the first round to be completed around midnight. Are you kidding me? Four hours to read 32 names? Four hours to listen to 32 grown men say that the team that selected them has always been their “dream team’? Four hours to listen to a GM say how shocked they were that Pee-Wee Herman was still available at the 17th pick? Give me a break!

      Liked by 5 people

    1. Hopefully we are playing the buckeyes at season’s end.

      I’m assuming as a yinzer you’d be loving that season ticket purchase.

      Liked by 1 person

  29. Never watched the draft but back in the day would listen to Hillgrove and Myron hosting the local radio broadcast.
    Always entertaining and filled with good stories.

    Liked by 3 people

  30. Nate – Yes, that’s what I’m saying. Why?

    1. Because we won’t have a 5th year (active seasons not redshirts) QB Kenny Pickett and…
    2. We won’t have a James Conner or Quadree Henderson running the ball.

    Also, we won’t have Aston at FB blocking the crap out of everyone and no Scott Orndoff to not only block downfield like a demon but stretch the field more than almost all TEs do.

    Addison does not balance out those players unless he has another great QB to throw to him and that is a huge Question Mark (?)

    Other than that we’ll be fine.

    Like

    1. Hey Reed, still thinking about you guys. Best Wishes!

      Not surprisingly Reed, you got your comment pretty much all wrong. Abandakanda, D Carter and Bart are as good or better than your three.. Before I make you all mad and turn your head all red, I know Conner Georgie and Scotty are proven and the newbies aren’t established. Yet but they will be just like Kenny Pickett with improvements by leaps and bounds… Your buddy ike. I think I’m in for the Tennessee game, hope to see you there.

      Liked by 2 people

  31. This armchair QBing. Thinking Kenny could have used the Bowl game to solidify his position in the draft. Yeah I said it… 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Hope to see you at Tennessee Uncle Iek!!
    I agree with Bart and Carter being key and won’t be shocked in Patti is the real deal.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Hoping KP gets picked by the Saints — QBs who play in domes have better stats…

    I still think the Steelers are a mess. Like to see them trade down and get more picks. As I see it, Steelers will be the worst team in the Division for the next couple years, despite having Watt and Heyward, so time to build a foundation with good young linemen…

    Go Pitt.

    Liked by 3 people

  34. If Davis isn’t there, I think the Steelers take Desmond Ritter. They had pretty good luck the last time they picked an Ohio QB.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. If Davis isn’t there, I think the Steelers take Desmond Ritter. They had pretty good luck the last time they picked an Ohio QB.

    Like

  36. Ike – you wrote:

    Yet but Abandakanda, D Carter and Bart will be just like Kenny Pickett with improvements by leaps and bounds…

    Are you talking about Daniel Carter – he of the two seasons with 22 carries, 86 yards, 3.9 ypc and a grand total of two (2 count ’em) TDs??

    TE Bartholomew who has a 11.6 ypc average and 4 TDs… I’ll take Orndoff’s career 15.6 ypc any day.

    Abanikanda is good. However, I’ll again take Q. Henderson over him as an all-around threat.

    Hope abounds that all players get better with age, but as someone on here pointed out that if KP hadn’t had that 17th year of eligibility we wouldn’t have had the YOP season. But sadly, not all players make dramatic gains in succeeding seasons – just as Lafayette Pitts who slid down over his last three seasons…much like Slovis did at USC.

    Lots of players play just like they did the previous year. We better hope that isn’t the case because an offense that had a 4.1 ypc average and only 1.9 TDs per game needs to make a big jump to help carry the team.

    Also, Before someone jumps up and says “We passed the ball all the time – that’s why the rushing yardage sucked” let me say that we carried the ball 522 times and passed it 543…almost 50/50.

    In other words we passed the ball 1.5 snaps more than we ran it per game. Now – if you are giving the ball to a RB (or two) then you need to beat a poor 4.1 ypc. The FBS average ypc was 4.9… that’s just average.

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      1. Ahhh, but were were talking about individual players and the prospects they hold for the coming season. But, I guess some fans just deflect the subject if thy don’t agree.

        If wins are so important, and you feel they are, what did you think about KP bagging out of what would have been our (almost certain) 12th win? You know, the most in Pitt history since our championship in 1976.

        Best record in in 46 years??

        Like

    1. Reed, Daniel Carter still has to produce on a regular basis but Izzy Abanacanda is pretty good and Bartholomew is a beast, for real…

      Like

  37. Talk is that the Texans are interested in Pickett. Both the Giants and the Panthers need a QB. If he doesn’t go by pick 13 he could slide.

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  38. I wouldn’t want Pickett or Willis. This QB draft is terrible. Pick one in 2nd round at best.

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  39. Only the Saints may want the QB before the Steelers…no one else besides the Steelers through Round 1.

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  40. The Steelers could trade down but the Ravens might take Willis. They will not pay Jackson 40+ million a year IMO.

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  41. Kenny looked like he just got hit by one of the early drafted edge rushers on that brief interview

    OMG!

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    1. The Steelers faked everyone out by pretending they had no interest in KP and wanted Willis instead. Loved Franco’s reaction.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. John, I too wasn’t loving Kenny to rhe Black and Gold, but I didn’t want to see him get passed over like Marino was.

      Like

  42. Round 1 • Pick 20 (20)

    As an experienced prospect with A-plus intangibles and swagger, Pickett is a pro-ready QB1 with the potential to take snaps as a starter early in his career. Although he lacks elite arm talent, the Pittsburgh standout’s collegiate seasoning (49 career starts) gives him a chance to make up for his deficiencies with superb managerial skills and expertise as a pocket passer. — Bucky Brooks

    Liked by 1 person

  43. Could not be more delighted as a Pitt and Steeler fan. Would have hated to see him go to Detroit. Thought he might end up in Atlanta or New Orleans.

    I’m all in on Kenny Pickett.

    Liked by 1 person

  44. Congrats to KP for being the only QB taken in the first round this year. Now it would be great to see Mathis go in the third round…

    Kenny coming back to Pitt for his fifth year worked out perfectly! Good for him.

    KP — thanks for the memories! (Where’s Bob Hope…😊)

    Go Pitt.

    Liked by 2 people

  45. More than a year ago I guaranteed that Pickett was a SURE NFL Draft Pick destined for a successful career as an NFL Backup.

    This was mostly ignored or shot down by the MAJORITY of PittPOV Posters, many of whom posting tonight in celebration of the Steelers’ 20th pick.

    Hopefully I am only HALF right.

    Like

  46. Pickett’s 1st round pick by the Steelers is also good to great news for the Pitt recruiting team going forward IMO.

    Like

  47. From Chad Reuter’s NFL Draft Analysis early this morning:

    Analysis: Pickett was a steal for the Steelers and a great story, staying in Pittsburgh after winning ACC Player of the Year for the Panthers last fall. He’s experienced enough to play this year if Mitch Trubisky doesn’t wow the team during training camp, possessing the pocket presence, athleticism and leadership skills to lead an offense early in his career. Pickett wasn’t selected early because teams weren’t sure he was a franchise quarterback, but I wouldn’t bet against him.

    Liked by 1 person

  48. Another first round draft pick for Pitt. Hoping that KP gets to ride the bench until the Steelers can rebuild their O-line and get some star wide-outs. His improvement in accuracy and throwing on the run last year was amazing, also stepping up when the occasion required him to do so.

    Were the Steelers lucky he fell to them or was his pick a reach? Time will tell. Also did they dodge a bullet not picking Willis or did the miss the next superstar QB? Again, time will tell.

    Hoping Pitt’s new/old QB whisperer gets the job done this year. The end and beginning of eras for Pitt and the Steelers.

    Liked by 1 person

  49. I think Kenny’s ability to read defenses and make good decisions made him the obvious choice over Willis who is a raw talent and therefore a project.

    This draft is loaded with receivers so hopefully some good ones fall into the Steelers hands. Maybe if they lose enough games this year they could get Addison next year. I kid the Steelers.

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  50. Story on KDKA that it was Canada who recruited Pickett. Now they finally get together. Ironically, Trubisky called Pickett about coming to UNC

    Trubisky only started one year at UNC, became the No 2 pick in first round, and then became the starter in his first year with the Bears. He probably would have been better off with another year at UNC

    Of course, Pickett in much different scenario

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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  51. Last night was special for me. I have been a lifelong JETS fan (waaay back to the pre-JETS days when they were the Titans) and the draft for the boys in Green was outstanding!

    Seeing Kenny P get picked as the only 1st round QB drafted was the icing on the cake. The draft has many players left that can help the Steelers if they chose wisely. Will Kenny give Trubitsky a challenge for the starting position?? Trubitsky is not a world-beater, however, his experience will probably keep him as the starting QB. The STILLERS need help all over the field and as things stand now they will have a difficult path to find their way into the playoffs. I think KP has the potential to be a much better than average QB in the NFL but he will need a stronger supporting cast.

    Liked by 1 person

  52. An interesting research project would be to look up all the 4 and 5 star QB’s that came out of high school the year Pickett came to Pitt. And where are they today. off the top of my head Trevor Lawrence might have bee a 5 star in that class.

    Like

    1. See additional comment I made. I posted it 5:07PM. Trevor Lawrence was in the 2018 class.

      Like

  53. Starting off the day another Pat Signal shows up on the Lair with the 4 star a distinct possibility. Maybe the recruit got excited to see KP get picked in the 1st round with Narduzzi in attendance at the Pickett home.

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  54. I love Kenny like almost all of you. We love him so much we don’t want to see him get hurt, as in his feelings. Think it’s time we show him the confidence to let him go and fly, after-all, look what he has accomplished so far while Canada has put his job on the line for KP.

    JoeL, When I saw KP with his head down I’m thinking he didn’t want to go to the Steelers?? Pictures can say a thousand words but not always the truth.

    Like

    1. I saw a kid sobbing over the realization of a childhood dream. All that work paid off.
      The knowledge that he indeed was going to retire his father His rookie contract enables that.

      The look on Ken Sr.’s face said it all. They are a happy family.

      Its time for the Steelers to get him some more targets. Some that don’t drop the ball.
      Freiermuth can rest easy knowing the new QB knows how to find a TE in space.

      We will get to see his press conference today and hear it directly from him.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Right JoeL, he was dazed and confused while struck by the realism of the moment. He explained it all perfectly “I’m speechless right now”

        Like

  55. Kenny wasn’t picked to sit on the bench. He’ll be 24. He’ll start day one. I’m sure whipple and Canada had some say in that pick. Whipple knows Big Ben when he first entered the league. Canada knows Pitt and how to use a young QB.

    Kenny’s now the face of the Steelers and should be for ten years. It’s a huge PR opportunity for Pitt. If he succeeds, Pitt succeeds.

    If his career turns out like Carr as opposed to Dalton, Steelers will always be in the playoff discussion. Kenny’s got those intangibles, intelligence, moxy, leadership, drive, that you can’t teach and he’s a far better human being and much more likeable than that jerk rothlisberger when he first entered the league.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I hope KP doesn’t start day one – Steelers have lots more building to do.

      KP and Trubisky seem like pretty similar talents to me.

      Go Pitt.

      Like

  56. WMU was simply Narduzzi made a huge mistake and prepared for the wrong offense. WMU ran RPO not spread. It’s impossible to make effective adjustments if you’re trying to adjust to something you did not practice. Narduzzi was so convinced WMU would run spread that the defense was left entirely hung out to dry vs RPO that game. Pitt did well against RPO the rest of the year.

    The vulnerability of the pass D is simply that the system magnifies the weakness of modern defenses against modern offenses if the pressure doesn’t get home. LBs and safeties one on one against WRs. If one player makes a physical or mental mistake there’s usually no safety net.

    Liked by 1 person

  57. Links work. I know more about the ACC recruited QB’s but do remember some of the others QB’s. Jelanii Woods dual style QB to Oklahoma State will probably be drafted as a TE out of VaTech.

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  58. ”And even though Addison would have still been the alpha-dog (at least as far as the passing game is concerned), it’s fair to say that his targets, and likely his stats, would have diminished year over year. Not great for a player’s draft stock.” –MM

    Nice objective run-down on this topic, MM.

    I think it’s still going to be difficult to persuade the masses, however, in terms of being fubared. (I’m still going to harbor the angst, regardless, because one can’t smooth over the rusty blade that is Addison’s now-legacy and the tainted impact-impression of his decision on the fb program.)

    The damage has been done, really. And it’s a turning point in college ball that centers on Pitt both today, as it will be tomorrow, too.

    Bitc**s get stitches in JA’s case and I know this from firsthand experience.

    Nice try, though, m’man, MM! I appreciate the effort on your behalf to soothe us!

    Like

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