Know the Enemy + Miami Predictions Thread

Know the Enemy + Miami Predictions Thread

Happy Thanksgiving weekend everyone.  If you didn’t get a chance to check out Reed’s farewell article yesterday, please take a look.  He’s the reason why we are here and he’ll always have a place in Pitt POV legend and lore.  Definitely worth a read.

Now that you’ve done that, onto Miami.

Imagine this:  An underperforming team with a true freshman quarterback takes on a the Coastal Division champ in the final game of the season and pulls off the upset.

Pitt MiamiYep.  That was us last year.  Hail to freakin’ Pitt.

This year it’s Miami.

There are differences, of course.  Miami True Frosh QB N’Kosi Perry is a four star recruit.  Picket was a three.  Also, Miami committed to Perry early, and they’ve played him in 8  games so far.  Pitt held back on Pickett, and he had played in only two coming into the Miami.  Lastly, Pitt was the underdog last year.  And…somewhat surprisingly (or maybe not given the national media’s bias against Pitt) Pitt is the underdog again.

So lets talk about Perry.

First off, right now Perry is not a great passer, at least statistically.  He’s completing 56% of his passes on the season at 6.4 yards per attempt on the season.  To his credit he’s thrown 13 TD’s to only 5 picks.  All this is  good for a rating of 129.6.  Not exactly stellar.  With the exception of the TD / Int ratio, Perry has roughly the same stat line as the 2017 version of Ben Dinucci (56% / 6.9 YPA).  Sure, Perry probably has more upside then DiNucci, but you have to like the fact that Perry has not yet developed into an NFL caliber passer.  Yes he can still hurt you with his legs, but we seem to have figured that out as of late (no whammy, no whammy…)

Also I want to point out that Perry has not been a great against ACC competition.  His last two games vs. GA Tech and Virginia Tech were not his worst, but they were also below his season averages.  We arguably are playing as good or better defense than these two teams recently.

Perry in last two games (avg)

61% completion

5.9 YPA

2 TD

0 Int

122 passer rating

Just for Kicks and Giggles:  Pickett in Last 2 games (avg)

73% completion

11.6 YPA (I’m not making this up folks)

4 TD

0 Int

200+ passer rating

All this to say that Perry’s level of play, assuming he does not break out on Saturday, pretty much plays into our defense’s strength.   As Alan Saunders pointed out in his recent film study article, the Pitt Defense benefits from inaccurate and inexperienced passers.  Lets hope Perry remains true to form on Saturday, and lets also hope that we can dial up some pressure on the quarterback.

The Miami Running game is another story.  Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas are a dual threat to be reckoned with.  They are both smaller backs (Dallas is the bigger of the two at 5’11” / 200), and lightning quick.  And they’ve racked up 1371 yards between them for an average of ~5.7 yards per rush.  We will need to continue to plug the gaps and tackle well or it will be a long day.  I’d recommend the coaching staff watch the BC and GA Tech game films, because those teams held these guys to about 3 yards per attempt.

Now lets talk about the defense.

Miami has the #3 defense in the country.  Yes. #3.  We should be worried.

In many ways this will be a good warm up for the ACC Championship vs Clemson (they have the #2 defense) because I expect our band of gritty two-and-three star offensive players to be severely overmatched for much of the day.

Yes, Shawn Watson will have his work cut out for him.   Nonetheless, Miami has lost five games this season, three of them against teams that we’ve beaten.  So they are not invulnerable.

Virginia beat them with defense and special teams.

Georgia Tech did it with turnovers.  (they are #14 in the nation in turnover margin.  For the record, we are #37)

Duke did it with a jump pass in the rain.

All of these games were low scoring affairs.

Which leads me to believe this game will be too.

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Interview with a local University of Georgia Fan

The bottom line is that Pitt has too much heart to lose to a faltering Mark Richt Miami team, even though the talent gap is still pretty wide.  Miami will make mistakes and the Panthers will capitalize.  And there is the very real possibility that after we beat on them for three quarters, Miami will quit.  Pitt wins 21 – 17.

Scouting Wake Forest

Scouting Wake Forest

I’m not convinced Wake Forest is our true opponent this Saturday.

Yes they have the #32 ranked offense in the country, and yes, they have an all-ACC caliber receiver who is 79 yards shy of 1000, and yes they have a quarterback that threw for 372 yards against NC State, and yes they beat then-14th-ranked NC State last week on the Road.  And yes it’s Senior day.

And so you’d think Wake Forest is set up to exploit our less-than-stellar pass defense which is ranked #82.

But the reality is that Wake’s quarterback, Jamie Newman, is their backup, and the defense that surrendered those 372 passing yards is ranked 128th in the FBS.  Yes folks, 128th.  Kind of makes you proud to be a Pitt fan doesn’t it?  128th is the second worst in the entire FBS.  Right behind Texas Tech and right in Front of Houston.

Thats not to say that Wake Forest isn’t dangerous.  Sophomore WR Greg Dortch, is a 5’9″ speedster, and he’s just the kind of player that could give our defense fits.  He’s fast, he’s shifty, and I’m sure they will move him all over the field.  I fully expect him to have a big day.  He also returns punts and kicks, so keep an eye on special teams, especially if the game is close.

Screen Shot 2018-11-15 at 10.06.24 PM.pngWake’s Running game is no slouch either.  They have two backs that can gash you, and a seasoned offensive line that specializes in run blocking.  (Sound familiar?)   Senior Matt Cobern at 5’10”, 200 lbs ran for 243 yards vs Louisville (yes I know… Louisville is bad, but 243 is 243).  Cobern has run for 698 yards on the year with a 4.8 yd average.  He is physical and has good speed.  Cobern is a “little banged up” according to Blogger So Dear, but he’s listed as the starter this week, perhaps because it is Senior Day.

Junior Cade Carney (Cade…you don’t hear that game up north) is a little bigger at 5’11” 215 and has run for 629 yards on the season, with a 5.2 average. Oddly enough he seems to show up in big games.  With the exception of Syracuse game, his rushing average is higher against the better teams he’s faced this year.

Wake’s offensive line features three RS seniors in in the middle and two redshirt Junior tackles.  They are experienced, and they are pretty darn good at run blocking.  They rank 27th in “line yards” which is a measure of run blocking effectiveness.  (For the record Pitt is 10th).  However they rank 85th in sack rate, which tells me we should have a chance to get to the quarterback.  (Pitt is  92nd).  I believe I heard Narduzzi mentioned the Deacs runs some of the same zone schemes as us, so I suppose the silver lining here is that our front seven should at least have an idea of what to expect.

Wake Forest Achilles heel is their defense.  They are 102nd in rushing defense, 123rd in passing yards allowed, and 120th in overall yards allowed.  You have to think Watson and Borbley are licking their chops over this matchup.

Which brings me to my original point.  Wake forest is not the real opponent on Saturday.  The real opponent is ourselves.  If we go down there and execute, we should win this game handily.  We are statistically equal or better in nearly every category (except passing, except passing…), and we’ve played a tougher schedule by half.  (Ours is ranked 27th, Wake’s 59th).

But…Pitt.

You would like to believe that after a statement win last Saturday, the 19 seniors on this team are focused 100% on the task at hand, and they’ve got everybody else focused on it too.  With nothing other than my gut to guide me, I’d say there is about an 80% chance of that being true.  And while I do not want to sit here and be the naysayer while we we have so much positive momentum, I have been a Pitt fan too long to put blind faith in any Pitt football team.  So for me, last week is over (and yes it was a great week).   For me, this is a “Prove It” game, just like every game left on the schedule.  I’ve had my heart ripped out too many times to go all-in.

Hail to Pitt

Michaelangelo

 

 

 

 

 

POV: Pre-NC Game Bits & Pieces

Here are some pieces of info and links to prep you all for the game on Thursday night… one thing to remember, I think, is that NC’s record of 1-8 is valid, but that doesn’t matter when the whistle blows.  At this point Pitt is giving away 9.5 points to the Tarheels.

PITT (4-5, 2-3 ACC) vs. NORTH CAROLINA (1-8, 0-6 ACC)

November 9, 2017 • 7:30 p.m., ET

LINK (PDF): Pitt Game Notes (vs. North Carolina)

GAME STORYLINES
• Pitt looks to continue its recent momentum when it hosts Coastal Division foe North Carolina for a Thursday night ESPN national telecast. This will be the Panthers’ 23rd all-time appearance on ESPN’s Thursday package.

• The Panthers are coming off a pair of impressive wins, 24-17 at Duke and 31-14 against Virginia. A victory over North Carolina would extend Pitt’s winning streak to three games and even its record at 5-5 on the season.  

• Narrow margins have been the rule during recent Pitt-UNC series history. The past six meetings have been decided by a combined 25 points, an average of 4.2 points per game. The Tar Heels slipped past the Panthers in Chapel Hill last year, 37-36.

• Since 2013, North Carolina is the only team in the Coastal that Pitt has not beaten. The Panthers are 0-4 against the Tar Heels in ACC play. North Carolina also leads the overall series, 8-3.|

• Pitt’s last victory in the series occurred in the 2009 Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte. Coach Dave Wannstedt’s Panthers edged the Tar Heels (coached by Butch Davis), 19-17, on a field goal with 52 seconds left. 

• Junior tailback Darrin Hall has reignited the Panthers’ rushing attack by averaging 182.5 yards over his past two contests. Hall had 254 yards at Duke, followed by a 111-yard effort against Virginia. 

• Junior all-purpose player Quadree Henderson had a 75-yard punt return touchdown in Pitt’s last game against Virginia. Henderson has seven career kick return TDs, two shy of the national record. 

• Quadree Henderson leads the ACC and ranks seventh nationally in punt returns with a robust 16.1-yard average. North Carolina, in contrast, is 112th in punt return defense, surrendering 12.4 yards per return.

(MORE INFO AND VIDEOS AFTER THE PAGE BREAK)

 

Continue reading “POV: Pre-NC Game Bits & Pieces”

POV: Sunday Podcast; July 2nd, 2017

POV: Sunday Podcast; July 2nd, 2017

(Sorry about the audio – I forgot to use my professional microphone so the audio is recorded through my laptop’s mic…)

Hello all, enjoy the above Podcast and here is some supporting text to mull over while you listen:

Recruiting vs Attracting

USC coach Clay Helton said Wednesday he had not been contacted by any coaches interested in Browne, but would do whatever he could to help him during the process.

Browne graduated from USC prior to this season and is two semesters short of an MBA. He said he plans to finish that program eventually.

Recruit Flipping – Here is an interesting article by Brian Batko of the P-G regarding recruits changing their minds after verbally committing to one school – note that in the class of 2017 we had six players who committed elsewhere sign LOIs with us:

The marquee college program in this town won its share of other schools’ losses. Of Pitt’s 22 committed or already-enrolled players in the 2017 recruiting class entering signing day, eight were originally pledged to another school, including three of its most highly regarded.

Two of those eight picked the Panthers in mid-December, then arrived on campus less than a month later. Defensive end Deslin Alexandre was a true “flip,” announcing that he was decommitting from North Carolina State and committing to Pitt at the same time. It wasn’t something he took lightly but felt it was better late than never to get it right.

Pitt placed 10 players on Athlon Magazine’s All-ACC four (!) deep listing. 

Here is the article:

PITTSBURGH—The Pitt football team received 10 selections to the recently released Athlon Sports’ 2017 All-ACC Team as the widely recognized college sports magazine published its predictions for the first team through fourth team performers in the ACC this upcoming season.
 
Returning consensus All-American Quadree Henderson led the way with three total selections. After Henderson joined Tony Dorsett in 2016 as the only players in Pitt football history to top 2,000 all-purpose yards in a season, Athlon touted the junior wide receiver as a preseason first team kick returner, second team offensive all-purpose player and second team punt returner for 2017.
 
After Pitt had its most potent offense in school history in 2016, Athlon expects the Panthers to be talented and explosive again on the offensive side of the ball, naming six Panthers to its preseason All-ACC Team for 2017.
Continue reading “POV: Sunday Podcast; July 2nd, 2017”

Time of Possession Effect; Myth or Truth?

The two teams battling in a football match always try to control the play clock.

They do that for a variety of reasons but the main ones are that if you have the ball the other team can’t score and the longer you hold onto possession of the ball the better chance you get to score. Pretty basic stuff.

Another is the more tired the opponent’s defense gets by being on the field for so long makes the odds for catching them in a mental or physical mistake thus taking advantage of that for quick scores and points on the board.

That is the theory anyway. I suppose it works that way but I’m just not sure that helps get a “W” in the win column any more than striking into the end zone quickly and often to garner more points than the other guy does.

Time of Possession, or TOP,  is easily the most misunderstood statistic in football I think.  Since our 2016 season ended I have read many Pitt fans say that our defense was on the field too much and got too tired to be effective. Thus the imbalance in TOP was responsible for the large amount of points per game our defense gave up.  Hmmm…

I wondered if that is true so I did some digging.  My findings are this – I really can’t tell if TOP is all that much of an indicator in the outcome of a game.  I know that sounds very wishy-washy but hold on. Here are some facts to think about first.

Continue reading “Time of Possession Effect; Myth or Truth?”

POV Sunday Podcast; Saturday Edition

As promised we rolled out the POV Round Table series last evening with a two-man show – myself and our long time commenter PittFan28 (Brian Ashcom).  The result was great and we had a good time talking about ourselves, our opinions of and our relationships with Pitt football.

Take a listen above – we came in just a bit over 35 minutes but truth be told we could have gone on for an hour at least.  I think the technical work is OK, I used Skype for the communications bit (I’ll reprint Skype instructions below) and then used a program called Audacity for the actual recording. 

You’ll hear that it came through pretty clearly but with some scratchy bits from Brian’s end, but nothing that really detracts from the content.

As we do this more often, and it was fun, we’ll smooth out any rough spots and with more callers I’ll do a lot less talking. 

Here is how I envision the POV regular season to shake out:

Continue reading “POV Sunday Podcast; Saturday Edition”

POV: We’re Empire City Bound !

First off I’m definitely going to the Pinstripe bowl game at the new Yankee stadium. lafayette_lehigh_yankee_stadium1280_1yff3v9i_oke37x0t

New York City around the Christmas and New Year holidays is a truly great place to visit and kick out any holiday stress… just to replace it with Pitt football stress I suppose but you can’t have everything.

Big City lights, strange people, booze, cheap peep shows… what else does a dedicated Pitt fan need?

Combine all that with the fact that we are facing a Big Ten Northwestern team that is 6-6 on the regular season and is only a middling passing team and that’s icing on the cake.  We may actually be able to win this bowl game – something we haven’t been all that good at of late.

We are 1-4 in our last five bowl games, the singular 30-27 win being against Bowling Green in the world-renown Little Caesar’s Bowl.  To counter that depressing fact a bit we also have been in bowl games the last eight years running which for Pitt, and other teams also, is an accomplishment.  In those games we combined three wins vs five losses and that leaves one wondering just what will happen in three weeks.

Continue reading “POV: We’re Empire City Bound !”