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