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.

I need some guidance. Where is the cutoff for explosive/chunk rushing gains. I know it is at least a 76-yard run. But is it lower and by how much lower? Why do you ask? Because Bronco RB Sean Tyler had a 45-yard scamper against Michigan State and a 60-yard run against Ball State. QB Salopek also had a 61 run against Michigan State.

Really, it does not matter. Explosive/chunk plays occur. They are part of the game. If it occurs by your team, it is a great run/pass. If your opponent makes the same play, you are looking for scapegoats.

Crooms and Galloway are their go to receivers. WMU have two TE’s that have been targeted.

On to the offensive lines. Chart includes players with game experience, TFL’s and sacks allowed statistics and a breakdown of pass/run/sacks ratios.

Usually, I leave off players who players with no prior game activity. I added the last two players as Vandervest saw game action in 2021. Anderson is a grad transfer from Sam Houston State (via Baylor). The balance of OLinemen are freshmen.

Stats and rankings wise, both teams have Not done a fantastic job at protecting the QB and opening holes for RB’s. In fact, those numbers are quite bad compared to their peers. I must say that WMU 7 sacks and eleven TFL’s occurred against Michigan State.

That ends the Offensive review. On to the defense.

You can identify starters and backups who got on field play in the game. I am only going to list the WMU individual stats. Names that are high-lighted in yellow are starters. At the bottom of the chart is a comparison of havoc defensive rates.

Pitt has used 32 scholarship players on defense but only 23 have made a stat. WMU has used a total of 28 players (classified on the roster with a defensive position) but only 22 with a stat. There may be a mixture of defense and special teams play on my games played listings.

I am adding punting and field goals comparison

Other special teams’ stats can be found in the miscellaneous section of the NCAA stats chart.

If either Slovis or Patti starts, I would call for a Pitt win.

If Pitt has to start Yarnell or Kylar, I still expect a Pitt victory depending on the Oline, RB’s, and the defense stepping up their play. The OLine needs to dominate and open holes for the RB’s. The defense has to limit explosive/chunk plays. All have to eliminate unnecessary penalties. That is how you say something without taking a definitive stance.

I will not be doing a review of the Rhode Island, Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech games. I will be attending the GT game and travel arrangements will impact my normal stellar work. If it is not stellar, it is not worth doing. (Hey, I am a narcissistic dilettante sportswriter).

72 thoughts on “2022 Season Up Next: Pitt at Western Michigan

  1. Great as always Rich. Could you put up the link to the new NCAA stats please. I can’t seem to find it.

    I’m not so sure about Pitt winning with our QB3 and QB4 under center. I don’t know that we’d lose with that, but not positive we’d win.

    If experienced guys like Slovis and Patti are running for their lives behind this OL…then the two new guys might have on-field panic attacks.

    Maybe the Center should stuff some paper bags in his waist band for the QBs to breathe into to calm down.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Reed – Can you get to the Pitt old 25-page stat list. Link below:
      http://stats.ncaa.org/teams/544711

      At the bottom of normal 25-line stat page are these words: “view complete ranking summary”. click on it & you should get the Pitt 47-line stats.

      I had to go to both WMU and Pitt’s to get the data for comparison.

      That makes three stats charts, I am aware of – The 25 lines, the 47 lines, and the one you have used that gives ranking by conference.

      I also think you can do the same for the individual team leaders stats but haven’t explored it.

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      1. Thanks Rich.

        I think either TVAX or Tossing Thabeets mentioned that there are websites that use ‘new’ ways of formulating stats like “NextGen” but when I looked them up all I could see were NFL teams.

        Does anyone know of a different website than NCAA that would hold more detail?

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        1. I know you had a Pro Football Focus (PFF) subscription at one time. They are big into stats. Do they have comparison stats summaries? Connelly now at ESPN does a lot of the next gen type stats but he is now behind a paywall.

          I think a lot of next gen stats use artificial intelligence (AI) to get their stats. If you look at what NCAA uses, it all based on what those guys see in the 2’nd row press box. That’s why “Hurries” are not a NCAA tracked stat. Commentors have used 25/26 “Hurries” Pitt OLine allowed. ESPN had 19 in the Pitt-Tennesse game stats. While the number is still terrible, it shows that AI is based on someone programming something that says it’s a hurry.

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  2. Even if Slovis is mostly recovered from his concussion he probably hasn’t watched much film or taken many snaps in practice. Very doubtful he will play on Saturday.

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    1. Good news is Slovis was spotted at the practice facility at 7:30 a.m. with donuts in hand the other day. He wouldn’t be there that early if there was a good chance of playing on Saturday.

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    2. Narduzzi said that there was a chance that Slovis would play. Accordingly, there is no chance that Slovis will play. Unless he does.

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      1. Similarly, Duzz tried to tell us that Patti really wasn’t hurt last week against Tennessee. When anyone with two eyes could see that he was playing on one leg.

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  3. I believe, and Richard, with his Gamecocks ties can correct me if I am wrong, but South Carolina had some success playing with a QB who started as a grad assistant last year. So here’s hoping our Ivy Leaguer can hold down the fort this week!

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    1. You are correct. Gamecocks used a grad assistant coach with eligibility and a QG TP entree from ST Francis (Pa.) after starter was injured early in season.

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  4. As much as I want to see Slovis start Saturday night in Kalamazoo I have to admit that I
    have serious concerns. No, I am definitely not a doctor and I trust our medical team to make a proper evaluation of his condition, so he if he is given a green light to play we all have to hope that the diagnosis is 100% correct. My problem with his early return is that our somewhat shakey OLine will fail to give him the protection that he needs and a serious setback will occur. WMU is not an ACC game and payback is our goal from the debacle last year, however, Slovis must be protected because Patti is ?? how many weeks away from returning and Kyler is totally untested against high-level competition. Ivy QB?? Ryan Fitzpatrick fron Hahvahd retired after 17 years of making serious NFL money– not available.

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  5. Do we know who actually provides medical care to the Athletic Dept?

    We assume it is UPMC but as they are a complete and separate entity from the university itself I just wonder.

    Inquiring minds want to know…

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    1. The UPMC Sports Medicine building is almost next door to the Pitt / Stillers practice complex. Started and run by Freddie Fu. I’ve been in there (as a patient) several times. The people who work there – at all levels – are all A Team. Can’t believe there would be any reason to go elsewhere.

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  6. I’d be shocked if Slovis plays but…. Slovis may feel, and rightfully so, that if he doesn’t play and Patti has a super game that he may lose his starting job. This is a huge year for Slovis and his NFL chances.

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  7. I think Slovis had his brain rattled before the play that knocked him out. He got slammed to the ground several times hitting the back of his head. He is tough, I give him that.

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  8. Richard, a belated thanks for your excellent work>>>when I see Columbia in print all I can think of is my basic training at Ft. Jackson>>not a garden spot!!

    I don’t think Slovis has anything to fear about losing his position to Patti. If the diagnosis of a high ankle sprain is correct he will be out for more than just one week. I will repeat what I said earlier I fear Slovis coming back too soon and risking a major head injury!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My daughter lives in a gated community that borders on the Columbia side of Fort Jackson. You can hear Taps in the evening and cell phone reception is terrible when near the base.

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  9. This one is for Tex. $$$$ MAJOR college football is no more than a business. The schools that are loaded with $$$ to spend can almost always out-recruit any institution that does not have deep pockets. The Longhorns are a money machine, however, coaching quality is not represented by the size of the money showered on recruits…..LSU spends a ton and at this point in time, the jury is out. Nebraska gave Frost a big contract clearly that was money down the drain. Will Texas challenge Alabama?>>>you tell me.

    https://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/34603436/texas-ran-280000-tab-recruiting-visit-arch-manning-8-others

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  10. Additional thoughts on the game…

    The line on the game moved up overnight from 10.5 to 11…so look like bettors are still putting money on Pitt and the wiseguys in Vegas have concluded that moving the points up is necessary get some WMU money… and perhaps they know who took QB reps this week at practice. Heck, the FBI office overlooks the fields…perhaps a couple “guys” in for a friendly visit innocently looked out of an interview room and made a phone call? (sorry – been binging on The Sopranos this month).

    From what I have read elsewhere, Slovis’ concussion was grade 1, which means he can practice/play provided he has not exhibited any symptoms since Saturday…and it sounds like he’s been OK. So, guessing he will play.

    OCFCjr has obviously had a difficult week and I wondered how that might affect his ability to plan for the game. A lot of football (coaching) families are amazing in how they compartmentalize life events which would bring most of us to a grinding halt. Looks like there is (or was) a private memorial for his father at Heinz Chapel and a celebration of Sr.’s life will take place at a later date. Jr’s brother Curt (head coach at JMU) has a bye week, so perhaps things were organized to allow all to get together to grieve, while still giving OCFCjr time to get his unit ready for Saturday. Also sounds like he will be making the trip to Kalamazoo.

    As for the game itself, THE ideal situation is for Pitt to effectively move the ball and score a lot. Getting a really comfortable lead in the first half would enable them to get Derek Kyler some reps in the 4th qtr. (I will be stunned if Nick Patti is suited up). If Slovis plays, there is a decent chance this could happen.

    It would be somewhat understandable if the team is a little flat emotionally after the last two weeks, and if so that’s a problem. But I do think the defense will want to show they can stop these guys after the embarrassment of last year’s game. The defensive staff will want to get Duzz off their backs for that for sure.

    If Kyler is forced to start, who knows?… but I believe the lack of reps will show on the field and Pitt will have to rely on the run more. Izzy can do it and perhaps the OL will open some holes. If that happens, I think we win but don’t cover.

    If Slovis plays, I think Pitt wins and covers. 31-13.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Gamblers must think Slovis will play this week. I imagine WMU will blitz a good deal regardless of what QB plays behind center. If Slovis starts he may not finish if our OL fails to protect him. I’d expect quite a few holding calls on our OL if Slovis starts.

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  12. I have no problem with million dollar recruiting visits as long as boosters pay for them. No student at Texas is experiencing higher fees or tuition because Texas wants to take on Alabama. And yes. Texas can and will beat Bama because Texas has the best AD in the nation and has far more money than Bama. They are the Yankees. They won’t win all the time but they have the resources. No excuses.

    And don’t forget Texas basketball. Their new arena is very nice and on campus next to the football stadium. They find the room to build sports facilities unlike Pitt. Pitt finds excuses and fans willing to accept them.

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  13. If Slovis is concussed, he has no business playing. That injury is at least two weeks to regain physical ability. Mental takes even longer. And with QB it’s mostly mental. Pitt would be negligent rushing him back too soon. Another hit on the head so soon could end his career. I’ve experienced two concussions personally. Nothing to write off and dismiss.

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  14. I have been to Austin and the campus is not only huge, it is not intermingled with businesses and a handful of hospitals like in Oakland. In fact, one has to remind oneself that Austin is the state capital … as the campus dwarfs the capitol complex

    In fact, I just looked it up. The capitol complex is 51 acres. UT campus is 431 acres.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  15. The campus is far more dense than Pitt. And it’s right next to downtown unlike pitt with The Hill.

    It’s also right off a major highway that gets more traffic than any in Pittsburgh.

    It’s actually more of a city campus than Pitt. And it finds room to build.

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  16. I think the WRs have to prove themselves this week. Except for Wayne, they under performed as a group. We may see some long throws tomorrow if Slovis plays, and I also suspect they will focus more on short passing, quick release plays to protect the QB. We may see more passes to the RBs.

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  17. Richard, I would happy to heap my usual high praise for such a great job but it seems to have gone to your head. 🙂

    Have a safe trip my friend

    Thanks JoeL

    I’m not going to speculate on the Slovis head injury. To many degrees of concussions.

    Great job Richard!

    Liked by 3 people

  18. I say tomorrow is a beat down!
    Last year, everything went right for WMU: the reads, the passes, the catches…lightning in a bottle.
    Not gonna happen two times in a row.
    Salopek, in an effort to show Pitt what they missed, is going to press and make mistakes.
    This one is going to be a rout:
    41-10.
    H2P!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Since we were missing 1 online starter for the Tenn. game, another got injured during the game, and the starting center also got hurt, I wonder if we will only have 2 of 5 online starters for this game?
    Whatever the case, we sure do need to build some better depth there as evidenced by the backups play during the last game.

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  20. No home game tomorrow, so we will have a light, no-contact tailgate walk-through, to ensure we remain sharp. Everything will be simulated except the drinking. The drinking is never simulated.

    Speaking of drinking, next Saturday we begin a grueling string of three straight tailgate weekends. We should know by the Virginia Tech game whether the winter conditioning at Hemingways has paid off.

    Liked by 6 people

  21. A reminder that our Lady Panther volleyball team is currently playing Tennessee at the Field House. Pitt won the first set and leads the second 2-0. The game is being televised on ACCN Extra.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Nothing in that article surprised me, but for some reason I did not experience much of what she reported this time. I guess where you were seated made a big difference.

      We rode to the stadium with a boat load of hoopies. Sat at a table with several old timers who were very civil.

      During the game the E-s-P cheer was mostly drowned out by crowd noise.

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  22. My grandson is a HS junior in Ohio. He started looking at colleges early. Among those on his list so far: Clemson, Miami of OH, KY, ND, Penn State and, gag, tOSU. We had dinner together today and my son (hjs father) mentioned, after I pointed my finger down my throat and, that I may want to reconsider where my 529 contributions are going.

    Liked by 4 people

  23. Pitt women’s volleyball gets back on the winning track with a sweep against Tennessee, 3-0. Pitt had to survive two “won” challenges by the Tennessee coach to win the third set and the match.

    Coach Fisher went back to the lineup he used during the road trip after the San Diego loss. The only change was Akeo was the second setter instead of Ennis. Ennis was used as a server specialist and for defense. Buzzerio and Browske had great matches. Nwokolo was used as a server to limit the number of substitutions.

    Sunday Ohio State comes to the Fitz. It is going to be tough going.

    The Pitt announcers on the digital channel were not very good, especially the male announcer. They need to give someone else a chance.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, that should have never occurred. I believe the following are the two main reasons happened.

        Towson is a very good, well coached team that Coach Fisher grossly underestimated. Fisher was experimenting with lineups for most of the match. This was only Lexis Akeo’s third match back and the first against very good team. With all the different combinations, Pitt had problems. Towson took advantage of this and pressed them at the net. Pitt got out blocked by a huge margin, 16-3. If Pitt would have played the lineup they used against Tennesse last night, Pitt would have had a much better chance of winning the match.
        The more serious problem I see right now is that there is no one on the Pitt women’s volleyball team that has been willing to step up and be the vocal leader of the group. Last year if Pitt had lost the first set to Towson, Kayla Lund would have been in the team huddle letting everyone know that this level of play was unacceptable. The two Pitt players who are super seniors that should be taking that role are portal transfers, Serena Gray and Courtney Buzzerio. Both of them are the leading scorers and blockers on the court but their personalities do not seem fit the leadership mold. I am hoping for underclassmen Rachel Fairbanks and/or Valeria Vazquez Gomez to step up and fill this leadership role. Both are in the regular rotation and have played for their country’s international teams. One super senior that does have the personality to be the leader is Sabrina Starks, but she is not playing due to better players being ahead of her.

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  24. Well, what else do people in Morgantown have to get excited about? Not condoning their behavior but it isn’t like they can turn to the spouse and say “There are so many cultural things to do here…what’s up next.”

    No – they say “I can’t wait until FB season, but until then let’s either go to the bar, or better yet, let’s go get some catfish with our hands for some good eating!!”

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Watching some of Central Catholic and Mt Lebanon. CC soph WR Peter Gonzales is looking really good. Wears no. 7, Pistol Pete’s son?

    Jason Pinkston is Asst Coach and Andrew Taglianetti is on the sidelines

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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  26. Today will be WMU first home game of the season. Their fans will be juiced and loud – the atmosphere will be electric for the home team and they will treat this game like it is their Super Bowl.

    King Pat better have all the king’s horses and all the king’s men ready to play FB today in Kalamazoo.

    We need to pound these guys hard with tough nosed Pittsburgh FB – Daniel Carter, Izzy, Blue Mtn Bart, Transfer TE Johnson, Kradel, Zubovic and Houy if available on offense need to move the chains, eat clock and crack the end zone to break the broncos spirit.

    On D, the front seven has to put pressure on the QB – we need 6 sacks and 25 QB hurries to win. Our secondary will be tested often and the game cannot come down to the last drive to win it situation with Pitt’s 3rd or 4th string QB.

    No excuses today – this Panther team should win – I’m nervous that our coaches don’t know how to win this game. I hope I’m wrong and we break the broncos and ride them for a walk in the park.

    I don’t want to see our guys cleaning up horse dung from their shoes tonight after the game.

    Speaking of shoes…never mind.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Pulled this from a 9-11-22 Chris Dokish tweet:

    Pitt is currently 23rd nationally, and 3rd in the ACC, in average attendance

    ====

    Today they play an away game at a MAC directional school that pasted an “L” on Pitt at Heinz Field just 12 months ago.

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  28. Richard, a question about South Carolina high school football. Both Georgia and North Carolina seem to have so much talent coming out of high school that it must grow on trees. South Carolina for reasons that you might be able to explain seems to underperform in producing talent>>>why?

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  29. Please let me add to the previous post that I neglected to say that Clemson is able to recruit the cream and the Gamecocks often have to settle for the low-fat milk coming out of South Carolina high school football.

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    1. You are right about where SC recruits go. After a few years under Spurrier the cream went to SC. Things turned sour with Spurrier and Clemson now dominates.

      Also, could be the different areas of SC HS football. Upstate dominates but that is Clemson country. Midlands (Columbia) is last. Low Country is fought over.

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  30. Way too much “dreaded Pitt optimism” on here. Slovis starts but gets KOd by another corner fire blitz
    in first quarter. Dartmouth rallies us to a 27-26 win late.

    This is a decent Bronco team. They hung with Michigan State for three quarters.

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  31. A few ACC games to pay attention to

    Miami at Tex A&M; Tex Tech at NC St; Purdue at Cuse; Liberty at Wake; Ole Miss at Ga Tech

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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  32. Expecting a win, something in the range of 31 to 3.
    Pitt’s d is rounding into form, Slopek is in for a rough day.
    Brandon Hill is a stud, let’s go Brandon Hill.
    If Slovis or Patti can’t go expect Kyler, experience over youth.
    Let Izzy do his thing but use Dan’l Carter near the goal line.

    Hail Pitt!

    Liked by 3 people

  33. My concern is playing a game in 2022 with a 20th century offense. If the d fails the Duzz will deserve any and all criticism. ( I know, I know, he hires the o coordinator also).

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