Saturday, October 3, 2009

Well That Was Interesting

I can't be the only one who has a hard time getting a true pulse on this team. I expected Pitt to win a close game, but I purposefully left out predicting a score because I thought it was completely possible that Pitt would lose this game. Add up the facors - Friday night game, on the road, conference game, vs. an offense that has struggled, but still had two possible All-Conference WRs and an All-Conference RB.

Pitt really came out after a very shaky first half and impressed. Yes, the first half was no picnic - the defense was not all that great (even though Louisville only had ten points) and was downright terrible on that first drive. They really tightened it up in the second half and the offense was much better then as well. A few things:

- Holy penalties, Batman. And dumb ones, too. Peronsal fouls, holding, etc. Both teams were guilty, but Pitt has to get this fixed. There's no reason for this to happen.

- Bill Stull was very impressive again and had maybe his best game of the year. 16 for 23, 242 yards, 3 TDs, and again, no picks. For the naysayers, Stull now has 11 TDs and 1 INT on the season. His passer rating is over 159 and has to be one of the top in the country I'm sure. And he's now already thrown two more TDs than he did ALL OF LAST SEASON. That's unbelievable when you think of it. He's really come a long way and there should be absolutely no one criticizing him now.

- And speaking of Stull, he was able to do something I've criticized him for - throw the deep ball accurately. The two big strikes he hit on to Dickerson and Baldwin were right on the money. The defenders made two horrible plays on those passes, but Stull still made the throws. And if you don't think it's possible to miss wide open guys, look for a replay of the West Virginia game on Thursday night - their QB missed two wide open receivers on deep balls.

- Now onto Wanny, the coordinators, and the offense/defense - Again, I think he called a heck of a game. Not sure who was responsible for calling the offensive deep balls, but it was good to see Pitt take shots down the field. Yes, the defense is still a ways away, but they played pretty well tonight if you look at the entire game. 200 yards passing and 100 yards rushing is pretty solid. The offensive playcalling has been great. The only thing I might slightly disagree with was Wannstedt going for it on fourth down in the first half rather than kicking a fairly reasonable field goal (of about 40 yards I think). Not sure if that was lack of faith in Hutchins or what, but I would have went the other way on that one.

- I think the stop at the end of the half was big. To hold them to a field goal at that point in the game, was big for Pitt.

- Dion Lewis essentially split carries with Ray Graham tonight. Graham actually had a higher yard-per-carry, but also had the big fumble in the first half when Pitt was driving. I was glad to see Wannstedt talk to him immediately and not get too much on his case. I'm curious to see how the rotation will play out the rest of the year, but we could see another game of seeing the backs basically split the carries. Oh, and Dion Lewis is a freak. Not sure if anyone else caught it, but there was like a 3rd and 2 or something...I don't even remember when it was. But he put on a quick juke in what appeared like it was going to be a loss to get the first down. He made several similar plays making defenders look silly. Five games in and now seeing him against to BCS-Conference Teams, and I'm a believer.

- The more I see Dorin Dickerson succeed, the angrier I get. This guy could have been a big weapon over the past three seasons. You've got to think he could be one of the top tight ends taken in the NFL Draft. And on the other end, Nate Byham has been virtually non-existent, with only three catches this year.

- Cam Saddler is eventually going to break one of those punt returns (assuming his injury wasn't too serious). He seems like he always takes the right angles and it's just a matter of time. That could really end up being a great weapon for Pitt this year.

- Not sure what the atmosphere was like in person, but it seemed like the crowd was really out of it most of the game. I know Pitt eventually ran away with it in the 2nd half, but it didn't seem like it was really all that raucous.

- A great win for Pitt. As I said before, it was much more important that they win this game than the NC State game because it was in-conference. Pitt now gets a mediocre UCONN team at home and should have a good chance to get to 5-1.

- Kind of a side note, but I was kind of surprised to hear one of the commentators say that Pitt was the, and I'm paraphrasing here, 'main traditional power' or something to that effect in the Big East. That may be true I guess, but I don't think fans around the country necessarily see it that way. West Virginia has had more success recently and the year they could have gone to the National Championship with Pat White and Steve Slaton was the best Big Team in a while. I'd have to give that one more thought.


  1. Thanks for your good and detailed post game thoughts. Here's a few of mine...

    I don't think Wannstedt got on Graham's case at all after that fumble - it looked to me to be 100% supportive, with a bit of actual coaching thrown in. In any case I think it's one of the reasons the kids love playing for him... he gets on their case when required and supports them when the opposite approach is needed - like with a true freshman.

    I'd have liked to see Hutchins under some pressure to perform also, but think that play calling was to show confidence in the offense as a whole, and it's what they needed after that second half against NC State. Of course, would have been even more effective had they converted.

    Looks like we'll see the split-RB approach for the remainder of the season, at least according to DW's post-game comments, and that's good IMO. It shows that DW doesn't care about an individual player's stats as much as he does getting these young kids prepared for the hard part of the schedule and involved as an integral part of the offense.

    Hynoski continues to blow me away with his blocking. I've yet to see him whiff on a block this season (I'm sure he has, but I can't remember any). This position is a huge upgrade over 2008 IMO and given the nature of our offense it may be the second most important position we have.

    I get your point about DD, but I'm the type of fan that its feels water under the bridge when it comes to looking at "what could have been". I'm just glad we have an OC this season who doesn't default to one player on 75% of the offensive plays when yardage is needed - as Cav did with McCoy. As to Byham, yes, he's everyone's favorite Panther but you can't argue much with Cignetti's approach so far... it's just too bad in a way that DD's success comes at the other TE's expense. Cav's non-use of Nate was just head scratching though. Still, the thing that makes Byham so attractive to the HC & OC - and to the NFL is his superb blocking, which is again at a very high level this season.

    Bill Stull continues to impress, and regardless of critics who point to every little flaw in his abilities or in his actual play - and there are flaws - he is the singular most effective offensive weapon we have had so far this season. I'll reiterate that Stull isn't making any plays this season that we hadn't seen him make at certain times last year, it's just that he's doing it in a much more consistent manner. This OC is very good at using Stull as he should be used, and that's with support and confidence that he can get the job done.

    I haven't read any fans writing much about Sunseri after this game, but I think he should have played at least the last series after we were up 28-10. At that point we had the game in hand, and he could have used some work.

    Even though we have a lot of football to play in 2009 - I can't wait to see this PITT team next season. Combine Sunseri's physical abilities (and a year of actual experience as a back up) with Cignetti's coaching and we may see a very good passing game next season.

  2. I'm very impressed with what Cignetti has done thus far. Didn't hear the post-game comments yet from Wannstedt, but I agree that Graham also needs to continue playing(despite the fumble). By playing both, each will be desperate to do the most they can with every carry.