MMQB: Win Over Rhode Island

Pitt 45 – RI 24

This might be delayed a bit but here goes. As I stated in a comment on another thread I’m still not sure what to think about the talent and depth (and coaching) on this 2022 squad.

I like the 3-1 record and what RB Israel (Izzy) Abanikanda has been able to do running the football. You just cannot argue against a 5.8 yards per carry average on the season. Is that the OL playing better? I think that is part of it. The quality of competition might have a bit to do with it also. But the bottom line is that he’s a solid and productive performer who will contribute a lot to our chances of winning games.

As to the game many POVers are saying the same thing – that we beat the Rams with our second and third string kids in the second have of play. Did we? I keep looking back at that play that ended at 4:22 in the late 3rd quarter when we got stuffed at the RI four yard line to turn the ball over on downs. We had Slovis and other first string guys with some second stringers also – Daniel Carter, the Pitt FB who carried on that last play, is a first starting FB…

Look, we out played them as it should be and won the game as it should be. We looked better against the RI Rams than we have against our other ’22 opponents. But what we’ll see in ACC play are not teams that have to leave their first string guys in for the whole game, no matter how beat up and tired they may be.

We’ll see talented two-deeps who can substitute and still compete. Pitt also has a talented two-deep and we’ll compete in every game, I’m sure of that. My worry is that the talent we have seem so far might not get us through the ACC schedule as we won game after game last season (almost).

I like QB Kedon Slovis, but I don’t think he’s the type of QB who is going to take over an offense and bend defenses to his will as we saw in Pickett. I know – who is right? But I just do not like an offense where we have to rely on a run game that is as basic as Cignetti wants it to be.

Which raises the question of if by chance we can’t sustain a run game to get what we need to win can we turn to the passing game to make up for that? Not if he keeps throwing only two TDs in what? – 10 quarters of play? We can say it isn’t needed if we are scoring on the ground. Let’s hope that is the case.

We beat RI and got our third win and a single loss. 3-1 going into the meat of the season aint bad and gives us a pretty firm footing going forward. The questions i raise above will be answered as games are played and things unfold. I’m hoping the answer to those question will fall on the positive side of the equation.

Here are the team’s national rankings as of the close of the four ‘opening’ games. Decent ranks but I can’t help but think that after playing WMU and RI we’d be better than 97th in Red Zone offense. However, what is worse is our Red Zone defense coming in at 113th. These are critical areas of play and where the OL really has to assert dominance and get the RBs space through the line. We are not doing that in the Red Zone and our 44% conversion rate on 3rd downs shows that as a problem also.

Our defense has done well also – not perfect but it might be the key aspect of our rest of season. Don’t like giving up 223 passing yards per game but I think we’ll win close games on big defense sacking the opponent QBs and pulling down more INTs.

Here is a link to all the NCAA FBS rankings that has much more statistical info.

HTP!

Post-Rhode Island Game Press Releases

Here are some press releases for the 45-24 win over Rhode Island…and here is the ESPN factual stuff.

Kickoff Time for Oct. 1 Pitt-Georgia Tech Game Announced

PITTSBURGH—The Atlantic Coast Conference announced that Pitt’s October 1 game against Georgia Tech at Acrisure Stadium will kick off at 8 p.m. and be televised by ACC Network.

The Panthers’ remaining 2022 football schedule and announced kickoff times:

Oct. 1: Georgia Tech* (ACC Network), 8 p.m.

Oct. 8: Virginia Tech*

Oct. 22: at Louisville*

Oct. 29: at North Carolina*

Nov. 5: Syracuse*

Nov. 12: at Virginia*

Nov. 19: Duke*

Nov. 26 : at Miami*

*ACC game

PITT POSTGAME NOTES
Pitt 45, Rhode Island 24
Sept. 24, 2022

TEAM

  • With today’s 45-24 win over Rhode Island, Pitt is now 20-1 all-time against FCS opponents, including 15-0 against members of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA). This was the first meeting between Pitt and Rhode Island.

PAT NARDUZZI

  • Pat Narduzzi is now 56-38 in his Pitt head coaching career. His 56 victories are tied for third all-time with John Michelosen (56-49-7), who coached the Panthers from 1955-65. Narduzzi only trails Jock Sutherland (111-20-12 from 1924-38) and Pop Warner (60-12-4 from 1915-23) in Pitt annals.

OFFENSE

  • Israel Abanikanda rushed for a career-high 177 yards and four touchdowns on 19 carries (9.3 avg.). It marked Abanikanda’s third consecutive 100-yard rushing game.
  • The last Pitt player to record three consecutive 100-yard rushing efforts was Darrin Hall in 2017.
  • Abanikanda scored a career-high four rushing touchdowns. He is the first Pitt player to rush for four TDs since Darrin Hall (four vs. North Carolina, Nov. 9, 2017).
  • Pitt compiled a season-high 271 rushing yards (on 41 carries; 6.6 avg.) as a team. The Panthers are now 25-6 under Pat Narduzzi when they rush for more than 200 yards, including 2-0 this year (Rhode Island and Western Michigan).
  • Kedon Slovis returned as the Panthers’ starting quarterback, his first appearance since the first half of the Tennessee game (Sept. 10). Slovis completed 20-of-27 passes for 189 yards.

DEFENSE

  • The Panthers limited Rhode Island to 63 yards rushing on 22 carries (2.9 avg.).
  • It is the third consecutive game Pitt held its opponent to under 100 yards rushing (Tennessee, Western Michigan).
  • Pitt is 30-9 under Pat Narduzzi when it holds an opponent under 100 yards rushing.
  • The Panthers compiled four sacks, led by tackle Calijah Kancey’s 1.5.
  • Freshman tackle Sean FitzSimmons made his collegiate debut and finished with two tackles and a nine-yard sack.
  • Defensive end Bam Brima made his first career start.

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • M.J. Devonshire opened the scoring with an 82-yard punt return touchdown. It was Pitt’s first punt return TD (non-block) since Rafael Araujo-Lopes’ 86-yarder at UCF on Sept. 29, 2018.
  • Devonshire now has two return touchdowns this season (56-yard INT return vs. West Virginia). He is the first Pitt player to score TDs via both a punt and INT return in the same season since Darrelle Revis in 2006. Revis had two interception return touchdowns (Virginia and Cincinnati) and one punt return TD (West Virginia) in 2006.

Pitt Head Coach Pat Narduzzi Transcript
Rhode Island Postgame
September 24, 2022

PAT NARDUZZI: You know, good outing by our guys. Again, I say “good.” I don’t think it was great. I didn’t think we had the emotion I think you need to come with every Saturday afternoon for whatever reason. I thought the offense ran the ball really well and were efficient.

Defense, wasn’t happy. Gave up a big run. Never like to do that. Gave up some RPOs out of some different formations and stuff.

Continue reading “Post-Rhode Island Game Press Releases”

MMQB – Pitt Win Over WMU

Well, 2-1, with a 34-13 win over Western Michigan University, isn’t a bad start to the season, is it? Most probably it will be 3-1 after this Saturday’s game against Rhode Island (RI) and that game is the start of a three home field run that we have ahead of us. BTW – I’ll be up for the RI game so that will be fun.

As I stated on the last comment thread I watched the first half, with some trepidation because our offense pretty much sucked for those two quarters, then I fell asleep for the entire second half. That is what happens when you are relegated to the bedroom to for game viewing because the rest of the family is watching movies.

I said trepidation above because when our opening drive took 11 plays with, two penalties awarded, only to go 48 yards and settle for a FG… that was worrisome. The fact that our PK Sauls hit the 48 yarder was nice though and as he ended up 2/3 it looks like he might be getting back on track.

But as far as offense went the fact was that WMU had two FGs and we had two FGs after 30 minutes of play and that was a problem at the time. Rectified in the second half but that Pick 6 by DB Marquis Williams was needed more than we thought – again, in the first half of play.

I watched the second half this morning…or should say I quickly clipped through the plays on YouTube so I do have a sense of how well we played to win the game. Obviously our defense rose to the occasion, especially with DB Eric Hallett’s two interceptions, to keep the Broncos from getting a tied or a lead during the game.

Although the trickeration on a double pass by WMU that resulted in seven points was fun to watch even though it did tighten up the score a bit. Here are the highlights of the game – the trick pass is at the 2:25 mark.

Third string QB Nate Yarnell had a decent first FBS game ever. I got the sense that he settled in and while his numbers weren’t real big because our OC Frank Cignetti, Jr didn’t want him to pass much, fear of INTs maybe, his yards per attempt was just fine at 14.4 (with a 19.8 yards per completion rate that is exceptional.)

I think a lot had to do with the fact that when he did drop back the WMU defense wasn’t really expecting it. Yarnell threw only six passes in the second half, to go with the six in the first half and that bolsters my point above. The stats show that out of 64 offensive plays we threw on 12 of them which was a 81% to 19% ratio.

But he was accurate and handle the leadership job well.

I know Pitt fans will point to this game and think he’s ready to start against ACC opponents if needed but I do wonder about that. WMU gave up some big passing numbers in their first two games, 524 yards and six TDs, so I’m tempering my hopes that he could get the job done against much stronger competition we’ll face in the ACC.

That may well be a moot point as Slovis looked like he will be ready for RI this weekend.

It was a good win, especially given the loss to the same team at Heinz Field last season and we’ll be 3-1 after Saturday. Now, does that mean we’ll be 6-1 after the next four games are played, as was the case last season, I don’t know. But so far I feel like this team isn’t as good as 2021’s but then again I didn’t watch any of the Pitt games last season until this August.

Good win, good bounce back from a close loss, and good way to get ready to go into the meat of ACC schedule. Our next three ACC opponents after the RI game are: Georgia Tech, 1-2 and outscored 100-45 so far, Virginia Tech, 2-1 with a win over Boston College and Louisville 1-2 after opening with three FBS teams in a row.

Which in Louisville’s case bolsters the argument that playing FBS opponents in the first few games is foolishness that so many Pitt fans believe. Not me though – I’m old school and feel that the quality of your wins mean as much as the number of them.

Back in the stone age when we won our last National Championship we played a tough schedule start to finish:

But what do I know? Right?

HTP!