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”

2022 Season Up Next: Tennessee versus Pitt in the

Pitt is coming off a hard fought, at times frustrating, come from behind victory (38 – 31) in the renewal of the Back Yard Brawl. We all saw problems. Just “Fix ’em” and  Pitt will be fine.

Tennessee won their game (59 – 10)  in a stroll over Ball State, a mediocre MAC team preseason picked to finish last in their division. Ball State had a new QB starter for this game but he did have a start in the 2021 season.

Here is the Link to my preseason Tennessee article if you need want to review,

2021 Production Loss – Tennessee (pittpov.com)

This is a comparison of Pitt’s and Tennessee’s OOC schedule.

Tennessee’s OOC scheduling is par for a majority of SEC teams. One beatable, at time of scheduling, P5 team. Two mediocre or worse G5 teams and an FCS team.

On to the review, starting with NCAA team stats through 9/5 games. At this time, the NCAA stats only show 129 FBS teams. There are 131 FBS teams this year with the move of James Madison to the Sun Belt Conference.

I did some thing different this year. I sorted the stats by offense, defense and miscellaneous. The grouping are separated by the solid lines. Notice the Time of Possession difference in the two wins.

In my opinion, Tennessee stats are better than Pitt’s but I chalk it up to level of competition. That is why stats comparison early in the season should take a back seat to the old eye test.

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

Hooker is a great QB but stat wise so is Slovis. Once again, it is the level of competition. Either Joe Milton suddenly got better, or competition got worse. My money is on the competition. Or maybe Mitton did not take any deep shots and overthrow his receiver by at least five yards.

RB’s and WR comparison.

Tennessee got more players into the action compared to Pitt. That was expected due to the score.

Tennessee got all four RB’s on scholarship some work. The WR group was the same except for TP entry Bru McCoy (from Southern Cal). What was missing was the TE group, mainly starter Princeton Fant.

At the bottom of the chart is a small stat that signifies nothing but is relevant to the show the difference between Tennessee’s upbeat tempo offense and Pitt’s offense. It is nothing but converting Time of Possession (TOP) into seconds and dividing by offensive plays. Tennessee got off a play every 19.1 seconds. Pitt, every 31.5. Obvious wrong (excludes punts in total plays) but shows the significant difference.

Last note on the Tennessee RB’s and WR’s. Last week, I briefly mention true freshman converted TE to RB De‘Carlo Donaldson. He received high praise from the coaches that was amplified by WVU writers and fans. I wrote it all off as hype, I was wrong as he was WVU’s leading rusher.

This week the true freshman ”hypester” of the week is Tennessee WR Squirrel White. He had three catches for 25 yards against Ball State. Remember the name.

On to the offensive lines.

Did Pitt start the game with “six” offensive lineman? Did Houy play? I thought he was injured an unavailable for WVU.

Besides those questions, I listed the TFL’s, sacks, and “true Tackles for Loss,” offensive plays by Run/Pass attempts and adjusted for sacks.

I was surprised to see Pitt’s Oline only give up only one tackle for loss on a running play.

That ends the Offensive review. On to the defense.

The pleasant thing about reviewing the first game of the season are the NCAA team stats are clean. (Except for questions about why a team has six Oline starters.) You can identify starters and backups who got on field play in the game.

I am only going to list the Tennessee individual stats. Names that are high-lighted in yellow are starters. For Pitt, I am going to do summary

This chart is to long. I am going to find a way to shorten it in the future.

According to the NCAA, Tennessee had 39 defensive players make it on to the field. Only 26 had a defensive stat. Pitt had 34 players with 26 making a stat. Of the 34, four were walk-ons. One of those walk-ons made a stat – Jehvonn Lewis with one solo tackle. I imagine Tennessee also have walk-ons.

Tennessee had two starters not making a stat – DE’s Tyler Baron and Bryon Young. ESPN reported Bryon Young did have a “hurry” but hurries are not an official NCAA stat. Deslin Alexandre was the only Pitt starter without a stat.

I did add a Pitt summary comparable to Tennessee’s.

I also added a Havoc Defense rate calculation. Tennessee was as amazingly low as Pitt’s was high. If you only saw the scores of each game, you would think the results would be reversed.

I am adding punting and field goals comparison. I believed it would be easy, but it was harder than I expected.

That wraps it up. Tennessee can score but their defense seems to be in a rebuilding mode. I think it is the opposite of Narduzzi’s time at Pitt. HCPN defense took time to develop but became Pitt’s strength three years before the offense came around. Josh Heupel is known for his offensive prowess. It will take another two or three years before the defense truly compliments the offense. Pitt will score but will not put up as many as the Vols.

2022 The Season Starts: West Virginia Versus Pitt in the Backyard Brawl

I struggled with this year’s first “Up Next” article. Mainly because I have never done a first week review. Last year, I did not do an article because the opening game was UMASS. (I also did not do an article on FCS New Hampshire).

Starting with Tennessee, I plan to use the same format/data I used in the Production Lost series. I will compare opponent Year to Date stats to Pitt’s YTD stats. I probably will not go into the detail I did over the summer.

As you are well aware I like using stats and charts. Obviously, there are none to compare and contrast. So, l will start off with a link to the WVU “Production Loss article and go from there. If you wany to follow my updates, I suggest you open a new Tab and open the link there.

             2021 Production Loss- West Virginia (pittpov.com)

The schedule is the same as previously. In future articles, I will show if it is a W/L and the score.

Moving on to recruiting, TP entries. and exits. WVU did add a new recruit –  Athlete William Dixon. He is unranked by Rivals. He did visit Pitt on 4/19/2022. Probably a TE. He signed with WVU 6/23/22.

There was no additional TP entries. There was one additional TP exit – RB Lyn-J Dixon (previously at Clemson) who spent the spring semester at WVU and reentered the TP on 6/28/2022.

I did not spend any time on identifying new “stars.” But in the Production Loss article, I did not color code the punter, Tyler Sumpter as using all of his eligibility in 2021. WVU will have a new  punter in 2022.

We are down to the QB section. We already know that Slovis was named the starter for Pitt. WVU has named J.T. Daniels. There is some concern with Slovis’s speed. I got a chart comparing the two both passing and rushing.

Neither compares to Pickett as a running threat. But Slovis is better than J.T. Daniels. Slovis is also better as a passer. But both are from Southern Cal, so who knows what will happen in a northern climate setting.

West Virginia has released a new depth chart.

West Virginia Football Releases Week 1 Depth Chart (wvsportsnow.com)

A green color code are TP entries. Blue/gray highlights are 2022 JUCO recruits. Pink is for true high school 2022 recruits.

Back in the 2019 recruiting class, Pitt got a commitment from an OT from Morgantown, WV. I think he got a non-committable offer. If you ever wondered what happened to him, he is now the backup left tackle for WVU. I believed he got his start as a walk-on.

The loss of TP entry Lyn-J Dixon set off a chain reaction. Dixon was seen as being the potential starter. Instead WVU is left with these scholarship running backs. The second and third leading rushers from the 2021 season. A redshirt freshman and a true freshman that was recruited as a TE.

The returning and or TE (Mike O’Loughlin) has been limited during camp. He is still recovering from a 2021 knee injury.

The Oline is intact.

That brings us to the defense and the preseason two deep.

The color coding is the same as offense. There are no true freshmen in these two deeps. Outside of this chart, I have nothing else to add.

I do have an addition – Special Teams:

Our opponent has a true freshman Aussie punter – Oliver Straw. I wonder if he took the same plane from Australia as our Aussie punter

I am thinking of adding a special team (ST) review to future articles. That is if I can find ST cumulative data in a usable and timely manner.

That wraps it up. Pitt wins and beats the spread. I got $20 riding on the outcome.

2021 Production Lost – Miami

Next up and last review of Pitt’s 2022 ACC schedule are the Miami Hurricanes.

Miami, like previously reviewed Virginia Tech, Virginia, and Duke, has a new head coach – Mario Cristobal. Cristobal replaces Manny Diaz who was not fired (paid off) until Miami inked Cristobal. I can just hear the Miami AD talking to Diaz. “Manny were looking into hiring a Miami legend to be the new head coach. But we want to have you stay on in case we cannot work out a deal. I will be in touch once we know how the negotiation goes. Bye.”

This is Cristobal third head coaching job. The first was with Florida International for five years (2007 – 2012). He was fired. He spent some time in the rehabilitation program Sabin runs at Alabama. Like a large number of coaches that rehabilitated at the clinic, his stint led to the head coaching job at Oregon before the 2017 season.

In his five seasons, Cristobal was 42 – 18 (27-14 conference, 11-1 OOC, 2-1 C/C, and 2-2 in bowls). His best season was 2019 where he went 12-2, won the C/C and the Rose Bowl. Outside of that season, his teams lost at least two conference games per season and at least three games per season. I believe he underachieved as a HC at Oregon. In my opinion, the PAC-12 is not a strong conference and is below the ACC in strength. Cristobal is known as a recruiter.

Miami’s 2021 results and the 2022 schedule.

Two games of interest to gauge Miami’s progress: 9/17/22 at Texas A&M and 11/19/22 and (the week before the Pitt game) at Clemson.

Here are the Rivals 5.7 and above 2022 commits. Also included are the current Transfer Portal (TP) additions

For an ordinary transitional class, this was a great class. Most transitional classes rankings are below prior team classes. In Miami’s case, the transitional 2022 class recruiting is remarkably similar to the prior two classes.

Miami lost 15 players to the TP. Eight were on the offense and seven on the defense. Since Miami recruits well, they lost (by Rivals) one 5-star, six 4-stars and five 5.7, 3-stars.

To replace those who  were lost to eligibility or the TP, the Canes picked up 11 players from the TP. You may recognize Henry Parrish from Ole’ Miss. The recruiting site 24/7 re-ranks players based on their actual college play. By that standard, Akheem Mesidor from WVU is the best (4-star-0.92 rating). How can WVU fans say their DL is improved compared to last season?

Offensive players accounted for four of the TP haul. The remaining seven are defensive players. Two players from the 2017 recruiting class are for immediate help. The rest are for immediate help or depth but have eligibly running until 2024 (2019 class) and 2025 for the balance. (That is assuming that all 10 redshirted their first season.)

It pays to have NIL money and be in a recruiting hot bed. Of those eleven players, four attended Miami area schools, four more were from Florida high schools, two were from California, and the last one from Utah.

On to the stars identified as NCAA team leaders in selected stats or members of the 2021 All ACC teams. I have added a new stat –  Athlon’s 2022 preseason All ACC Conference’s (four teams). I could only find the four Miami players making Phil Steele first team. There are definitely others on the other three teams.

I have also added those players who made the 2021 Preseason All ACC team. The players who made the All ACC were announced after the ACC Media Days meeting.

The  offense revolves around QB play. I have added sacked and yards lost to the QB chart.

Tyler Van Dyke, the grandson of Dick Van Dyke and Mary TYLER Moore (and you wondered why I brought up the South Carolina tradition of naming grandsons after the mother/grandmother maiden name.) seems to be the real deal.

The backups are Jake Garcia (2021 6.0, 4-star) and Jacurri Brown (2022 5.7, 3-star).

Miami running backs and receivers 2021 activity. Also returning production summary for Pitt and all the ACC opponents.

Miami lost three of their top five rushers and only return a pinch under 58% of production. Parrish who averaged 6.1 yards per attempt will help the Miami rush game. Van Dyke is not a scrambler but can run some. Taking out sacks, he averaged 4.9 yards per rush attempt.

Passing wise, they lost their top two receivers and only return a bit under 52% of their production. TP entry Frank Ladson is not the answer as he was barely used in his three years at Clemson. Miami must be counting on the receivers on the team or the lone 2020 WR recruit to step up to the plate.

What does the Oline stats tell us? I added Pitt allowed sacks and tackles for loss.

They lost two starters to eligibility. Corey Gaynor was a starter (center) before going down with an injury,

Zion Nelson (the bright green high-lite) had knee surgery shortly prior to the start of this year’s summer camp. How long he is out is undetermined or being played close to the vest. I thought HCPN & Pitt were the only ones who did that.

To help fill the gaps created by eligibility and the TP, Cristobal enticed two players from Oregon to follow him to Miami. It helped that one of those transfers played high school ball in Florida.

The Miami Oline had problems with run blocking. TFL’s (adjusted for sacks) amounted to 5.8% of total plays. They were better at pass blocking allowing only 3.4% of total plays.

The Canes offense was 52.8% pass 47.2% run. Adjusted for sacks percentages is in the above chart.

Cristobal, being a lineman during the Miami golden years, is a firm believer in having a strong line and running the ball. The 2021 Oregon Ducks attempted 410 passes and ran the ball 535 times. That is a 43.4% pass, 56.6% run ratio. The 24 sacks Oregon allowed was only 2.5%. How does Van Dyke fit into Cristobal’s preferred offense?

On to the defensive review.

Miami had 49 players make a defensive stat. But twelve of them were offensive players. Two were special teams player. That leaves 35 defensive players making a stat.

The chart below strips out the non-defensive players and ten players who did not make at least ten tackles.

The below chart includes 25 players- thirteen DB’s, nine DL’s and three LB’s making up (and I mean made up) a “10 tackles two deep.” I did not have to lower my goal of ten tackles to make a “two deep.”

I also added a “HAVOC Rate” at the end of the chart. Havoc rate is just the sum of defensive disruptive plays (TFL’s, Interceptions, Pass Break Ups (PBU or PD), and Forced Fumbles (FF) divided by opponent(s) total plays. It is a gauge of how well a team’s defense performs.

Pitt’s havoc rate was particularly good at 18.3%. I looked at all teams in the ACC, the NCAA top five defensive teams (based on total defense) and the three CFP teams not in the top five. Pitt was fifth best of those 22 teams. Pitt was first in the ACC. Miami was tied for sixth with Louisville

Overall, Miami returns a smidgen over 70%. The defensive hole is in the DLine with  a tad over 50% returning. Hence the five DLinemen retrieved from the TP.

To help put all of the defensive data into perspective, here are Duke’s 2021 NCAA defensive stats.

I give Miami’s 2021 defense a C Minus grade. Probably does not matter with a new HC and defensive coordinator.

I got some of my talking points from this article in SBNations “State of the U” blog. Link below:

6 major storylines for the ‘Canes 2022 season – State of The U

This game could be for the Coastal crown. Miami plays Clemson and a in-state rivalry game with Florida State. I have Pitt at 7-0 entering this game. I have Miami winning the game. I got the hype fever.

I enjoyed this series of articles. My hope is that you also enjoyed them and learned something about our opponents.