2022 Season Up Next: Pitt at Western Michigan

What – No Rivalry or Classic? I already miss the special graphics.

Pitt is coming off a loss to Tennessee 30 – 37. I expected the loss but was surprised at how Pitt could have won. I will let it go at this time.

The Broncos won their MAC conference game over Ball State 37 – 30. Ball State was Tennessee’s season opener and proceeded to demolish the Cardinals 59 – 10.

This game will be Western Michigan’s (WMU) home opener.

I do not have any significant insight into Western Michigan. They did lose a lot of production from the 2021 upset. If you are interested in my Production Loss article on WMU here is the link:

2021 Production Lost – Western Michigan (pittpov.com)

If you are interested in reading about the Broncos first two games,  here are links to the SBNations site – Hustle Belt:

What We Learned from Western Michigan’s 35-13 loss to Michigan State – Hustle Belt

2022 MAC Football Week 2 Game Recap: Western Michigan Broncos 37, Ball State Cardinals 30 – Hustle Belt

What We Learned from Western Michigan’s 37-30 win over Ball State – Hustle Belt

I thought the “What We Learned “ articles were good reads.

 As usual, I start with the schedules and results. I only list the OOC games for non-conference opponents.

Both teams have allowed opponents 65 points.

On to the review, starting with NCAA team stats through 9/10 games. There are 131 FBS teams this year with the move of James Madison to the Sun Belt Conference. I am using a new NCAA stat list. The new list includes all 47 stats that the NCAA tracks at a team level. The old one only had 25. Besides national FBS ranking, the new chart adds conference rankings. I also sorted the stats by type so that offense defense and miscellaneous stats are grouped.

Both teams are deliberate in their offense by time of possession (TOP). Do not expect any up-tempo offense by either team. If you are watching at home, there will be plenty of time between plays to grab a beer or snack. See the bottom of the RB/WR chart for a rough estimate of seconds between offense plays (TOP divided by offensive plays).

The offense revolves around QB play. Below are the numbers for WMU and Pitt’s QB’s after one game.

Salopek, a Norwin HS graduate, deserves his low passing efficiency ranking (#113). He had a 103.4 rating against Michigan State and a 106.1 against Ball State.

Pitt, on the other hand, is concerned about who is the starting QB. BTW, Slovis rating of 160.1 is better than any of Pickett’s except 2021. An unfair comparison but true.

RB’s and WR comparison.

From the stats, WMU is better at rushing (avg, yard) while Pitt is a better passing team. Currently the duo of Sean Tyler and La’Darius Jefferson is a potent one/two punch. Pitt would match with Izzy and Rodney Hammond, but Hammond is injured. According to one of the linked Hustle Belt articles, the WMU backup QB is Mareyohn Hrabowski. He has rushed for two yards on one attempt. He did throw a completed pass, but it was called back because of a penalty.

Continue reading “2022 Season Up Next: Pitt at Western Michigan”

A View From the Press Box

Joe L. suggested I write a piece about sitting in the Heinz Field (yes, Heinz Field!!) press box during a Pitt game so here goes.

Our Very Own ID Card

First off as nice as it is to be invited it really isn’t as much fun as sitting in the stands with POVers. Everyone in the press box is really friendly, especially EJ Borghetti and the rest of his staff. They provide a great pre-game buffet and drinks with an adjoining room where you can sit and eat while watching a big screen with the pre-game shows on it. I don’t usually sit in there as if I’m in PGH I’m with the POV tailgaters until just before kickoff.

Here is a listing of all the seats assigned (I’m not real good with cell phone photos.)

Want to bitch about replays and bad calls – just turn to press box and scream!

There are four (?) levels of seats in the box – which is located on the side of the stadium next to the Carnegie Science Center. The left side of the actual press box starts at around the 50 yard line, the radio broadcast box sits right on it. The important print/internet/whatever media types have most of the first two rows starting from the left side. The left is closest to the 50.

Then here is what is around me looking over to there – past this is the main radio broadcast from 93.7 The Fan. Those are the two vertical windows by the left monitor facing the rest of the box (I think). In that lower left corner is where the most-favored media sits as stated above. I believe there is a Spanish broadcast booth off the right side of the box.

Those people are from, in order, Post-Gazette, the Trib, Panther Lair, DK Sports and such. Surprisingly The Pitt POV is also assigned a front row seat but much farther to the right and closer to the end zone but I don’t usually sit there.

The Blessed

The second row is where the decision makers sit – officials doing replays, scoreboard, game clock, and play clock, lots of radio personnel along with bowl scouts. This game we had reps from the Chick Fill-A and Gator Bowls sitting with the Maxwell Award scout.

The third row is interesting as it comprises Pitt Public Affairs kids along with local TV media personnel and NFL scouts. The NFL teams sending scouts Saturday were: Steelers, 49ers, Bills, Colts, Dolphins, Seahawks and Jaguars.

Something to remember about scouts of all kinds is that are mostly local ‘stringers’ who mainly do broad canvassing of local teams/talent then send reports into their employers – if they ping on someone special then the NFL teams send their major scouts to do follow-up and more in-depth reporting. Some major print/Internet outlets like Sports Illustrated and others use stringers like that also.

The bands attempt at a Panther Head? I couldn’t really tell…

When you’re done eating, drinking and schmoozing you are ready to move to your assigned seating for that pre-game stuff and coin toss. As you can see by the seating list graphic above The POV was assigned in the 40s for this game which is nice. However I always take a seat way up on the fourth (3rd? I’m confused) level so I can get closer to the mid-field and have less people around me as I like to, gently, cheer and groan as appropriate (and sneak a vape now and again – don’t tell EJ, usually I go to the bathroom for that).

Now, this was a big game. Next home game against Rhode Island seating will be much more compact as many less outlets will not care all that much.

Speaking of which they make a rather stern announcement about ten minutes before kickoff stating that the Box is a ‘professional area’ and as such no cheering, yelling, swearing, etc. will be tolerated and if you do so they will kick your ass out. I paraphrase there.

First here is my layout:

Looks like I know what I’m doing, huh? To be honest I mostly just comment on the game thread and take a lot of notes for my own info and maybe for future articles – like this one.

Continue reading “A View From the Press Box”