The Midseason Article

It’s midseason, and boy did that go fast. On a related topic, I was flying from Memphis to Chicago and I just so happened to be sitting next to a Pitt Alum and football fan. (Neal Martin, CBA, 2006. Hey Neal!). His take: “nobody ever talks about the defense”. And he didn’t mean in a good way. Chris Peak, in his “Morning Pitt” podcast series went into this topic himself just the other day, and in my opinion, both of them are right. The defense just isn’t as good as anyone expected it to be this year.

The vaunted DE’s have combined for 3.5 sacks and 8.5 TFL’s. Preseason all-ACC Haba Baldonaldo has 0.5 sacks (maybe he’s hurt?) The DT’s have been better, with preseason all-American Kalijah Cancey putting up good production (8.5 TFL, 3 sacks), and the supporting cast of Devin Danielson, and David Green chipping in with 2.5 sacks and 4.5 TFL’s. But still… the DL has been underwhelming as a whole.

Outside of the DE’s the problem seems to lie with the linebackers.  They are, to put it lightly, an inexperiended unit.  And in Narduzzi’s style of defense they need to be technically solid.  On paper their numbers aren’t bad – lots of tackles, good amount of sacks (12.5 TFL, 9 sacks).  But when it comes to the eye test, it looks like things are being missed on the field. 

And when Pitt’s opponents are routinely busting off long runs, you’d have to think that linebackers are at fault, no matter what Narduzzi says.  As far as the DB’s, I think they’ve been better than expected, with the exception of AJ Woods, who seems to get burnt pretty regularly. 

The windup is that here we sit at midseason with a record of 4-2, with two close losses in winnable games. The Tennessee loss (and Neal would agree), looks better and better by the week. No, Tennessee is not going to beat Alabama, but if the Vols give the Tide a fight, then Pitt’s reputation should rise by association. (It won’t of course).

All of that is offset by the horrible, ugly and all-around no-good loss to Georgia Tech, which would have been staved off (IMO), if Safety Eric Hallet had just held onto ONE of the three Tech passess that hit him in the hands, or normally reliable Running Back Vince Davis had just managed to fumble just one less time.

But alas, that is the way of Pitt football.  They always seem to lose a game they should win, and they usually manage to win a game they should lose.  Well we already had the embarassing loss.  Where then is the upside?  I’ll leave it up to you to decide. 

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