Sunday, September 27, 2009

I have no words to explain the debacle of blowing a 14 point lead against NC State, so I felt it best to leave the title blank.

Pitt looked sharp once again on offense. True, they did struggle some in the 2nd half and did nothing after they went up by 14. But 31 points should be enough to win against a mediocre team.

Yes, I'm not feeling terribly gracious about this one. It seemed like Pitt really had the game under control. They were the better team in the first half and went up by 14 in the second half. After that, it just seemed like they stopped playing.

I'm not going to say NC State is a bad team, but Pitt certainly should have wrapped that game up. Instead of going full throttle when they went up by 14, they allowed NC State back into the game with poor defensive play. And this one wasn't all on the secondary - NC State had a nice effort running the ball, rushing for over 200 yards. Yes, I'm sure they were tired after Pitt was unable to do virtually nothing offensively after taking a two-touchdown lead, but you can't allow three consecutive touchdowns to end a game. Pitt's calling card on defense has always been 'bend, but don't break.' Make some plays on defense and keep teams from scoring while allowing them to move down the field. Give up a field goal, not a touchdown. 21 unanswered points is unacceptable.

The good news for Pitt fans is that this wasn't a conference game and a conference championship/BCS Bowl is very much alive. The bad news is that it looks like the defense has serious issues and has a short week to solve them, playing another road game, at Louisville, on Friday.

One last thing - I don't want to hear anyone pinning this loss on Bill Stull or Dave Wannstedt. Stull played well - leading the offense to 31 points is about all you can ask of him. Yes, he did not play a perfect game, but he is what he is - a solid quarterback who is best at managing games. He did that extremely well. Similarly, I don't blame Wannstedt or the defensive coaches. There were so many missed tackles and guys in the secondary getting burnt that it made my head spin. This one is solely on the defense in my opinion.

Sure, you can argue that Pitt should have scored when they recovered the ball on the 8-yard line. And yes, the offense has to score in that situation. But, again, I think you've got to win that game when you score 31 points.


  1. Right, it's never Wanny's fault. Then can you pray tell me why the same crap that happened under Paul Rhoads is still happening under Phil Bennett?

  2. A different spin, the defense played horrible, we all agree, the offense had its moments, but, the defense did make one play and gave the offense an opportunity.

    When the pressure was on the offense, Stull did what he usually does, fold. You have to agree, on 4th down, that was a poor throw. Stull was quoted in the papers regarding he was feeling the pressure.

  3. I'm sorry, but I can't blame Wannstedt for missed tackles and the secondary getting toasted. If Pitt was blitzing every other play and not getting to the quarterback in time, then you could fault the schemes. But it was the players who ran into the running backs and could not make the stops. It was the players who allowed the big passing plays.

    I'm not the biggest Wannstedt fan in the world. I think that's been made clear. He is an excellent recruiter, especially for someone with the mediocre success he's had, but he's not a great head coach - as evidenced by his career record.

    The head coach, of course, has a role in a team's offense and defense. You could even make the case that with Wannstedt's background in defense, he has a larger role in the defense as other head coaches do. But, generally, the head coach isn't directly calling all of the defensive schemes - that is the defensive coordinator's responsibility.

    Now, if you want to say that the head coach is responsible for hiring the coordinator's, and did a poor job selecting Phil Bennett, then that's fine. But you really can't blame him for the playcalling, missed tackles, and blown coverages.

    Again, I'm not a big fan of Dave Wannstedt. He had three bad seasons at Pitt and one good one. That's obviously not good enough. I think to keep his job, he should have to win nine games this year. Five years is plenty of time to turn around a program and he hasn't really done that since taking over for Walt Harris. But fair is fair - I think you have to give him the rest of the year. Since that win over West Virginia at the end of 2007, Pitt is 13-5. I'm anxious to see if the program has turned the corner - we should find out this year.

  4. And yes, John - I would agree that when Pitt desperately needed to score, Stull was unable to get it done. But he's never been a star quarterback - he manages the games and his value comes when he doesn't make mistakes to take his team out of games. So even though he couldn't get it done at the end, I think any Pitt fan has to be pleased with the way he's played so far this year.

    I'm with you on the poor throw at the end. But he also made a pretty good one to Baldwin (I think) that was knocked away by the defender. He makes some good throws and some bad ones. The biggest shock to me is that some of his passes are so far off the mark it's not even funny. But that aside, he's done pretty well so far this year.