Pitt is coming off a hard fought, at times frustrating, come from behind victory (38 – 31) in the renewal of the Back Yard Brawl. We all saw problems. Just “Fix ’em” and Pitt will be fine.
Tennessee won their game (59 – 10) in a stroll over Ball State, a mediocre MAC team preseason picked to finish last in their division. Ball State had a new QB starter for this game but he did have a start in the 2021 season.
Here is the Link to my preseason Tennessee article if you need want to review,
This is a comparison of Pitt’s and Tennessee’s OOC schedule.
Tennessee’s OOC scheduling is par for a majority of SEC teams. One beatable, at time of scheduling, P5 team. Two mediocre or worse G5 teams and an FCS team.
On to the review, starting with NCAA team stats through 9/5 games. At this time, the NCAA stats only show 129 FBS teams. There are 131 FBS teams this year with the move of James Madison to the Sun Belt Conference.
I did some thing different this year. I sorted the stats by offense, defense and miscellaneous. The grouping are separated by the solid lines. Notice the Time of Possession difference in the two wins.
In my opinion, Tennessee stats are better than Pitt’s but I chalk it up to level of competition. That is why stats comparison early in the season should take a back seat to the old eye test.
The offense revolves around QB play. Below are the numbers for Tennessee’s and Pitt’s QB’s after one game.
Hooker is a great QB but stat wise so is Slovis. Once again, it is the level of competition. Either Joe Milton suddenly got better, or competition got worse. My money is on the competition. Or maybe Mitton did not take any deep shots and overthrow his receiver by at least five yards.
RB’s and WR comparison.
Tennessee got more players into the action compared to Pitt. That was expected due to the score.
Tennessee got all four RB’s on scholarship some work. The WR group was the same except for TP entry Bru McCoy (from Southern Cal). What was missing was the TE group, mainly starter Princeton Fant.
At the bottom of the chart is a small stat that signifies nothing but is relevant to the show the difference between Tennessee’s upbeat tempo offense and Pitt’s offense. It is nothing but converting Time of Possession (TOP) into seconds and dividing by offensive plays. Tennessee got off a play every 19.1 seconds. Pitt, every 31.5. Obvious wrong (excludes punts in total plays) but shows the significant difference.
Last note on the Tennessee RB’s and WR’s. Last week, I briefly mention true freshman converted TE to RB De‘Carlo Donaldson. He received high praise from the coaches that was amplified by WVU writers and fans. I wrote it all off as hype, I was wrong as he was WVU’s leading rusher.
This week the true freshman ”hypester” of the week is Tennessee WR Squirrel White. He had three catches for 25 yards against Ball State. Remember the name.
On to the offensive lines.
Did Pitt start the game with “six” offensive lineman? Did Houy play? I thought he was injured an unavailable for WVU.
Besides those questions, I listed the TFL’s, sacks, and “true Tackles for Loss,” offensive plays by Run/Pass attempts and adjusted for sacks.
I was surprised to see Pitt’s Oline only give up only one tackle for loss on a running play.
That ends the Offensive review. On to the defense.
The pleasant thing about reviewing the first game of the season are the NCAA team stats are clean. (Except for questions about why a team has six Oline starters.) You can identify starters and backups who got on field play in the game.
I am only going to list the Tennessee individual stats. Names that are high-lighted in yellow are starters. For Pitt, I am going to do summary
This chart is to long. I am going to find a way to shorten it in the future.
According to the NCAA, Tennessee had 39 defensive players make it on to the field. Only 26 had a defensive stat. Pitt had 34 players with 26 making a stat. Of the 34, four were walk-ons. One of those walk-ons made a stat – Jehvonn Lewis with one solo tackle. I imagine Tennessee also have walk-ons.
Tennessee had two starters not making a stat – DE’s Tyler Baron and Bryon Young. ESPN reported Bryon Young did have a “hurry” but hurries are not an official NCAA stat. Deslin Alexandre was the only Pitt starter without a stat.
I did add a Pitt summary comparable to Tennessee’s.
I also added a Havoc Defense rate calculation. Tennessee was as amazingly low as Pitt’s was high. If you only saw the scores of each game, you would think the results would be reversed.
I am adding punting and field goals comparison. I believed it would be easy, but it was harder than I expected.
That wraps it up. Tennessee can score but their defense seems to be in a rebuilding mode. I think it is the opposite of Narduzzi’s time at Pitt. HCPN defense took time to develop but became Pitt’s strength three years before the offense came around. Josh Heupel is known for his offensive prowess. It will take another two or three years before the defense truly compliments the offense. Pitt will score but will not put up as many as the Vols.