2022 Season Up Next: Pitt at North Carolina

Pitt is coming off an enraging, angering, incensing, exasperating, infuriating loss to Louisville. If that does not describe your feelings, let me know in a one “Word” comment.

Pitt now stands at 4 – 3 (1 – 2 Conf, 3-1 OOC) and is tied for fourth place in the Coastal.

North Carolina (UNC) is coming out of a Bye week at 6 – 1 (3-0 Conf, 3-1 OOC). They are odds on favorites to win the Coastal now that my preseason prediction of Miami is 3 – 4, (1-2 Conf, 2-2 OOC) with a tiebreaking loss to UNC.

I am now in color coding mode. Red is for Transfer Portal (TP) entries. Green is for season ending injuries. Names highlighted in yellow are defensive players starters. (Games started are next to players names.)

On to the review, starting with NCAA team stats through October 22’nd games. I am using a new NCAA stat list. Besides national FBS rankings, the new chart adds conference rankings. I also sorted the stats by type so that offense, defense. and miscellaneous stats are grouped.

Here are the NCAA offensive stats comparison after week 8 action:

Excluding the last four stats, the UNC offense is top four in conference except rushing offense. Outside of rushing offense, Pitt is truly mid or bottom of the pack.

The offense revolves around QB play. This week, I am showing some of the ACC QB stats I update weekly. I use ESPN game stats for my individual team stats but always verify with NCAA stats. Why, you ask? Because sites like ESPN, CBS, Team Ranking, and others use “game day” stats. Like HCPN, the statisticians watch the tape and update their stats with the NCAA after review. Those other sites do not pick up the changes.

As I implied, Maye is an excellent QB and has consistent numbers across the board. Be it against P5, G5 or FCS opponents. I cannot say the same about Slovis. Two great stat games against P5 opponents than a downhill slide. IMO, multiple issues involved in the offensive output besides Slovis.

RB’s and WR comparison.

Another opponent with a QB as the leading rusher. The second leading rusher (Hampton) is a true freshman. Hood played sparingly in the first four games but seems to be the lead rusher in the last three games.

On the back of Izzy and supporting mates, Pitt is putting together it is best rushing attack since 2018 with Hall (1,144) and Oates Ollison (1,213) with Pickett as QB (120.3 QB rating). BTW, did you know Alex Van Pelt and Dan Marino had career QB ratings of 126.8 and 127.7?

UNC receivers are a different story compared to the rushers. They have a possession receiver in Downs and deep ball threats in Green and Jones. The Backup WR (Paysour) with 18 catches is more than Pitt’s two backups (Thompson (3) and Barton (2). UNC also gets three TE’s involved with 40 catches combined. Pitt also has used three TE’s but only 22 catches. Both teams use RBs as outlets.

The biggest surprise on UNC offense – the use of TE’s.

UNC Football Midseason Review: Biggest Surprise – Tar Heel Blog

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, average offense plays per games and a new one True TFL’s Allowed as a percentage of Adjusted run plays. I will explain after the chart.

All stats tell a story. Looking at the above chart, UNC has had limited injuries. You cannot say the same about Pitt. Both teams are not good at protecting the QB or opening holes for RB’s. Both teams have a senior dominated starting lineup. Note – the NCAA data classifies anyone from the class of 2017, 18 or 19 as a senior be they a true senior, redshirt senior or a Covid super senior.

The new addition to this chart is the True TFL’s as percentage of adjusted rush attempts. Like most stats, you need to know the methodology of how that stat was constructed. It draws on the NCAA stats for TFL’s, sacks, passing attempts and rushing attempts. But there is further methodology. First off, passing attempts are just those plays that leave a passers hand. Sacks are any negative yardage of a QB be it a blown-up pass attempt or a designed QB rush. TFL’s are composed of ANY negative rushing/sack play. That means sacks are a subset of TFL’s. So, it is easy to construct True TFL’s (total TFL’s minus Sacks) and Adjusted rushing attempts (total rushing attempts minus Sacks). Then it is simple division to produce a percentage of true TFL’s to true rushing attempts.

I know I get wordy when I explain something, but I believe stats are especially useful but at times I need to explain all the relationships involved. You will not see the above explanation in the future.

BTW, I have no clue what a good, average, or excellent percentage should be.

That ends the Offensive review. On to the defense. I am starting with NCAA defensive stats.

As good as UNC is on offense, they are the exact opposite on defense. You can say the same about Pitt’s offense/defensive play. Pitt has a better defense except for red zone defense percentage. An explanation of that stat.

The definition of a Red Zone (RZ) offense/defense attempt is a play where a snap occurs from the 20-yard line or inward. That triggers the attempt. A snap that occurs outside of the RZ that results in a turnover within the RZ is not an attempt. The RZ offense/defense percentage calculations are just the total number RZ opponent scores (TD’s or FG’s) divided by the number of attempts. Pitt’s defense has 26 attempts with 23 scores or 86.5%. UNC’s defense has 24 attempts with 20 opponent scores or 88.3%.

UNC’s defensive RZ stat is better for rankings but a better subset of RZ stat would be points allowed per attempt. Too bad the NCAA does not track it. Since they do not, a close but inaccurate measurement would be assigning 7 points for a TD (ignoring missed extra points or two-point conversions). UNC allowed 17 TD’s and three FGs for 128 points. That is 5.33 per RZ opponent attempt. Pitt allowed 14 TD’s and nine FG’s or 125 points. That is 4.8 points per RZ opponet opportunity.

Fun with numbers. I am in hog heaven and love explaining data and stats but not as much as being outside and working and approving my property.

Let us take a look at the individual defensive player stats. I am only showing those defensive players with five or more total tackles. Starting with North Carolina.

North Carolina has 32 players making a defensive stat. I am showing the stats of 23 players on a 5-tackle two deep. All 32 players stats by designated position group, and the stats of the 14 listed starters.

Where does UNC need to improve? Defense and specifically sacks.

UNC Football Midseason Review: Where do the Heels need the most improvement? – Tar Heel Blog

On to the Pitt defensive players statistics and Havoc Defense.

Pitt now has 32 players making a defensive stat. I am showing the stats of 26 players on a 5-tackle two deep. All 32 players stats by designated position group, and the stats of the 16 listed starters.

As I explained in the QB section, I track weekly QB statistics. Doing that, it is easy to compare an opponent season to date QB rate against their Pitt performance. So far, all Pitt P5 opponent QB’s have underperformed. In 2021, six of the nine regular season P5 opponents overperformed.

Compare the defense stats from this season against 2021 results for Total Defense (# 39 – 353.6 yds/game), Rushing Defense (#6 – 89.3 Yds), Passing Yds per game (#115 – 264.3). Pitt’s defense is actually giving up 30 yds less even with an underperforming rush defense.

Next is the NCAA miscellaneous stats:

Besides the normal needed improvements in punting and penalties, I want to turn attention to Turnover Margin (minus 0.29/game or minus 2 YTD).

Pitt has lost twelve offense turnovers and gained only ten on defense. One of the five factors in predicting a win in S&P+ is winning the turnover battle. In Pitt’s three losses Pitt has given up the ball 9 times but only gained 3. Tennessee was a wash at two each, Against Georgia Tech, Pitt had 3 turnover and zero gained. Against Louisville, Pitt had four turnovers and only gained one. In Pitt’s wins the turnover battle was won by Pitt (3 lost and 7 gained.

It is not only an offense turnover problem but a lack of the defense in forcing turnovers. I attended the Georgia Tech game and saw at least 2 passes that should have been interceptions. IMO, the first pass by Sims could have been a game changer.

To win this game, Pitt has to win the turnover battle by two and hopefully more. Pitt also has to hold QB Maye to a season low QB rating of 150 or less. IMO, neither of those will happen. Pitt loses.

I predicted a regular season record of 10 – 2. I was wrong but I still drink the Kool-Aid.

Thanks for reading my stilled and overexplaining commentary. Afterall, I am not a journalist. I am a narcistic dilettante sportswriter.

78 thoughts on “2022 Season Up Next: Pitt at North Carolina

  1. Great summary -as always! Thanks for putting in the time to post.

    This all adds up to a messy embarrassing loss. In the other post I had us as a 52-10 loser. I’ll stand by that.

    Narduzzi backed himself into a corner by so vocally standing behind Slovis as “the best option we have”. That’s also saying the others are not very good. How does he move on if Slovis continues to play poorly? Does he put the blame on Cignetti for saying Slovis is still his man?

    UNC defense will look like the best in the nation as they bring the pressure to rattle Slovis from the first play.

    Will the stadium be empty at the start? Halftime? When do the students stop showing up? But, “let’s go 1-0 this week…”.

    Hope I’m widely incorrect, but I just don’t see this dumpster fire getting better.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Thank you, Richard. Excellent job!

    Hall and Oates! Juggernaut!

    Anytime I see Ollison’s name my brain flashes to him throwing down that VT defender like a rag-doll as Ollison ran down the sideline…

    So Pitt leads the ACC in time-of-possession. Shows how meaningless that stat is. Points! We need POINTS!

    No way we cover UNC’s passing game. Going to be another long, boring night, I’m guessing…

    Go Pitt.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Richard – My comment didn’t show up. Is the word that starts with a “j” and ends with a “not” still out-of-bounds in the comments?

    Go Pitt.


    1. Could be but I use it occasionally in my article. I read your comment and approved. It’s right above.


  4. It was an exceptionally good analysis and all shows towards a negative result for PITT. I’m going the opposite way and saying PITT wins (not predicting the score but it will be ugly). When things look the bleakest for us, we always pull the rabbit out of the hat. Also, despite Narduzzi’s words, my guess is Patti or Nate are getting more reps in practice this week.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks – I can see a Pitt win if UNC comes out flat and let’s Pitt hang around. Kind of like the Georgia Tech game where Pitt came out flat, losses the turnover battle, penalties and average starting field position. I doubt it happens.


  5. Well, Richard, you have done it again with an excellent comparison of 2 ACC non-juggernauts and just in time for midday coffee.

    Tarheels passing vs Pitt pass defense….my guess is that Maye will win out because unlike other QBs we have faced he is a much more accurate passer and that spells T R O U B L E.
    There is only so much Izzy can do to overcome the points left on the board from Slovis’s attempts “to find himself”. Prediction Patti (if healthy) will see the field in the 3rd quarter.

    Carolina 41 Pitt 10……..OUCH!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. You hit it out of the park every time Richard…sent the link to my 2 UNC grad accountant buddies , Greg and Frank who have been to RedA a few years back hwen we lost to the Heels in the last minute-ole Nuch couldn’t complete the come-back…

    With Duzz’s penchant to give up the deep ball/quick TD there’s no way we win if Drake Maye and company are on their game. PITT’s D hasn’t been as disruptive as they have in the past whether it’s due to injury/lesser quality play(ers). If you haven’t see the 17-18 year old young man play then you are in for a treat. He can run, he can take a lick, and make all the reads and throws to his talented receiving corps…the kid was born to lead and be a field general. Best young QB at this stage I think I have ever seen after watching several of their games.

    All the games vs the Heels have usually come down to the wire…don’t see in happening in 2022!!!!( unless this the game that we win that we should lose)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The NC D only has to focus on the run game. Louisville was giving up 31 points per game prior to facing Pitt. They ended up playing like the Alabama D against Pitt’s one dimensional offense. The NC defense will look the same.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Word Press had my comment for lunch…no big loss. Bottom line Tarheels have a very good QB who will test our defense. Izzy can’t do it alone despite a weak UNC defense. I believe that Patti will see the field in the 3rd Q. Again Richard a BIG thanks for keeping all us very well informed.


  8. Thanks – I read and approved your comment, Nothing I can see that would put it in the WP trash bucket. Yours is second today.

    The approved comment is above at 12:00 Noon.


    1. Richard – for some reason it’s the word in a comment that starts with a “j” and ending in “not”.

      I suspect maybe someone with that word in their blog-name was banned a while back…


      1. I vaguely remember someone using that word in their blog name.
        I don’t want to try to post a comment with that word in it as I may be considered a “golden boy” in WP (some administrated functions).

        The only way to check is to have someone reply to this comment using the word (which can be found in your comment at 11:00am).

        If it goes thru it’s a WP hiccup. If it doesn’t, the commentor would need to reply to this that he posted but didn’t post.


        1. Richard – you solved the mystery. My message with the suspect word did not show up.

          And it’s such a good word! ☹️


  9. Thanks Richard. A lot of information to digest. I noticed that six of our 13 Offensive Linemen are Sr’s. If the other OL are not getting more time, than logically, one would surmise that they are of equal or lesser talent than our Sr’s. That doesn’t bode well for next year.

    Portal kids make deals where the coach says it will be your position to lose. The kid has to stink in order for the coach to squelch on the wink and promise. Not many portal kids transfer in and sit. Look at our WR’s this year. Heck, you can look back at all of our portal kids with the majority starting.

    I like Ike. The comment around no uproar when hammond fumbled is revealing. It was his first fumble. He is injured. He actually gains more yardage per touch this year than any of our backs. I know many will find this to be a shocking revelation because izzy had some big games against really bad competition (wmu, rhode island and vtech). He will hit 1000 yards this weekend, and although a great total, it should be tempered a bit when considering the opponent. He did very poorly against wvu. I like Izzy, but I like Hammond as a better running back. Izzy reminds me of Darrin Hall. Same kind of size, speed, one cut ability. Runs hard.

    As far as UNC, we can win the game and probably should. I expect them to win because I never go into a competition or watch a game when I think I should lose. I don’t like the cignetti offense with our personnel. College offense is about innovation and to take advantage of others weaknesses. We don’t have any mismatches athletically, and defenses don’t gameplan against any of our dudes. This is the Watson offense all over again. Innovate!


    1. Huff – There has actually been qite a bit of rotation going on this season, due in part to the injuries on the line. Feels like more than in the past few years.

      Hammond’s fumble was helmet on ball vs the Davis fumbles which cost Pitt the GT game. Duzz indicated as much on his show and said there isn’t much they can teach a player to avoid those.

      I hope your expectations are met on Saturday evening. I do disagree with you on Cignetti because Watson did not – and said as much – think the TE position was pass-catching. Which is why Pittt entered a TE desert after he left.


  10. Heard rumors that NC saying that they have already won the Coastal. If we lose Saturday we probably go to a very very minor bowl if the kids vote to go (I doubt they would).


  11. I’m looking forward to this game, I read and we all mostly agreed that PITT should of could of won both recent losses. If UNC doesn’t come out to play, then they will surely pay. This PITT football team isn’t done for the year.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Say what you want about the losses, but Narduzzi’s boys do not quit. I agree IKE; I’m looking for a good game Saturday night. I’m looking for Slovis to step it up against this defense. I’m looking for Jalen Barden to cement his hold on a starting WR spot and I’m looking for our D to rattle their boy wonder QB.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. I don’t think Pitt will end up being bowl eligible this year. I can’t see them winning 2 more games to qualify with the 6 wins needed. Best thing for Pitt football going forward might just be losing the rest of their games to put some pressure on Narduzzi from Heather.


  13. I expect that in order for Pitt to win on Sat., they may need to beat two opponents.

    While there is new leadership at the top of the conference, the DNA inside the HQ bldg in Greensboro probably hasn’t changed much since Phillips arrival. Could be one small reason why he is moving the HQ to Charlotte… although still in NC its a city populated with lotsa transplants from the north.

    Home-cooking has always been a problem when playing in Chapel Hill and with a kid like Maye almost ready for the national spotlight, the provincial Tobacco Roaders will want to help that along. Hallett and Co. will be well-advised to be mindful of that when defending passes.

    The other opponent is themselves. Avoid turnovers and stupid penalties. Be unpredictable with disguised blitzes and call some downfield throws. And have the courage to pull Slovis from the game if he is not getting it done.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Been thinking the same thing, JoeL. I expect at least four big pass-interference calls against Pitt’s DBs.

      We do play too “handsy,” but our history with UNC is that their WRs push-off and our guy gets called.

      Go Pitt.

      Liked by 4 people

  14. Narduzzi made a comment today that Slovis is very talented and likely to be an even better QB next season. I’m sure many POVers are happy to know that Slovis just may return to Pitt for another season next year. Yikes!!!


    1. And with the talent we will lose through graduation and portal hopping a Slovis team in 2023 might go 2-10……Acrisure will be an empty graveyard. SOP!!


  15. Now I know why my 12n post got delayed. I wish there was another way to keep the POV going without Word Press.


  16. totally agree with Huff III regarding Izzy = Darrin Hall

    it’s why I don’t see Izzy drafted and making it at all in the NFL

    I do think Izzy has a bit of a better foot in the ground first cut and better YAC ability than Hall and seems a bit faster which frankly was Hall’s best trait

    I’m not sure Hall ever exhibited that critical first cut


    1. Is he or isn’t he? Yes, he IZZY.

      Israel Abanikanda is a BETTER running back than Darrin Hall.

      This coming from the person who first said Hall out of Youngstown was a SOLID pickup by Paul Chryst.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I know. I know. Hall ended up never playing for Chryst and some of the Chryst “Haters” refuse to give Chryst credit for recruiting him.

        But he didn’t and he did.


      2. should’ve written I agree with the comparison of Izzy to Hall rather than using the = sign

        I do agree Izzy is better but still think he lacks that ability to make guys miss which will be his downfall because at the next level his speed alone isn’t enough and he’ll never run through or over people


        1. Personally not sold on Izzy at the next level. Seems a little fragile.

          But he does have the ability to CUT with speed which is critical for a running back in the NFL (see Herschel Walker).

          One thing that I have to give to Abanikanda is his improvement at hitting the hole hard with the ball. This is something that Dorsett always did even as a freshman.

          Still, my one concern with Izzy is not his ability or inability to make people miss. It’s what appears to be some fragility. Can he take the beating which is certain to come at the next level?

          Liked by 2 people

  17. Not a big deal, but I thought I’d pass this on. I heard a bit of the Coach Narduzzi radio show. Larry Richert said that the Aussie punter had suffered an off-the-field injury and was replaced by Cam Guess. Duzzer came back and said the change was going to be made regardless of the injury.

    BTW, Cam Guess is a local guy – went to Belle Vernon where he averaged 40 yards per punt. He walked on at Pitt.

    Go Pitt.


    1. I missed that part of the show – thanks for pointing that out.

      Perhaps this is a stupid idea, but with the ho-hum punters we’ve had since Andy Lee, perhaps they should start a tradition of bringing on a WPIAL football – or soccer – kid instead of searching beyond the backyard. Hard for me to believe there isn’t somebody in WPA who can boom punts. Doesn’t matter if they play 6A or 2A. And maybe get one who is also the team’s QB (or a backup).

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Look at the statistics>>> Ivy League punters are often better than ours>>>not funny.
      Recruiting a strong punter for next year should be a priority. You would think that good field position would be of interest to Duzzi.


  18. Watched about 2 minutes of VT vs. NC St. tonight. Saw VT’s WR No. 80 score an 85-yard TD. He reached back and stiff-armed the CB before the ball arrived to get nice separation. I was a bit surprised there was no call…. Can’t imagine a Pitt WR doing that and not having three flags thrown…

    Go Pitt.


  19. Before the line for this game came out I was thinking PITT would be about a 7 point dog. So I was surprised when PITT opened as a 2.5 point underdog. An old bookie friend of mine used to always say if the line stinks, bet the stink.


    1. Very true. Something off with the line. I personally would have set at seven. Some professional gamblers I know are all taking Pitt. I have friends in low places.


  20. As called for, “new blood” now getting the call.

    But if Narduzzi is smart, he’s gotta make sure one is Gavin Thomson. That is if he’s healthy.

    Anyone paying close attention when Thomson got his chance against Louisville would have noticed the kid has the ability to run some really precise routes.

    Precise is good.


  21. Narduzzi commented in the Trib that his team is undefeated. Delusions of grandeur from King Pat? I see that as excuse making thinking. Well if our QB didn’t get hurt. If the ref got the call right. If our back didn’t fumble the ball. If we just didn’t commit that critical dropped pass or get a holding call.

    Excuses are for losers. Rationalizing defeats are for spineless coaches like our EIGHT million dollar man.


    1. Tex, I thought the same thing about the excuses after I read Nard’s quotes in the trib. You know what Pat, if I didn’t have testicular cancer ten years ago I’d have two….ya know.
      We are a 4 and 3 ball club with 2 garbage wins. A real adult doesn’t sugar coat it, they dust themselves off and prepare for the next challenge. I think we need to be patient with Pat and continue letting him build the program but his personality rubs a lot of us fans the wrong way.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. We haven’t won a game against any FBS team with a winning record…

        WVU 3-4

        WMU 3-5

        VT 2-4

        Not a good opponent track record so far especially since in those four total wins we gave up an average of 25ppg…just think how many points we’ll give up tomorrow. Not sure our offense can outscore NC.


  22. I hear ya. I just expect any well compensated individual to deliver on his promises. The Coach promised a division title. Now I knew that was bravado at the beginning of the season, but if you talk the talk then walk it. The loss of Kenny and Addison really hurts this offense. And don’t forget the loss of OC Whipple. I can’t believe there isn’t a QB on this team that can jump start things. Narduzzi is also too stubborn for his own good sticking with Slovis who is playing a bit scared right now given his recent injury and doesn’t seem able to break some bad habits like staring down receivers and a slow release. NC will steam roll Pitt as long as their freshman QB stays upright. Pitt won’t have the offense this year to keep up. Should be a far more entertaining game than any steeler one however.


  23. Pitt News article was well written and in my view very much on target. Our offense is weak and if it fails to pile up points we are in trouble against an excellent QB. There is only so much a defense can do against (I have to use this word) a juggernaut offense.


  24. Thanks for posting/fixing the word Juggernaut in the Word Press system. My head was hurting from trying to figure out what started with J and ended in naut or not, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

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