Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Win of a Different Variety

This one was a little different. For starters it was the largest comeback Pitt has had since Dave Wannstedt became the coach.

I was a little surprsied to see that if only for the fact that 15 points isn't really all that much.

Two Post-Gazette guys have remarkably different viewpoints. Bob Smizik has a pessimistic viewpoint on Pitt's fast start. However, I think he summed it up correctly:

It was a win and the record looks good, but at home against an opponent that is average, at best, it was not impressive. The Panthers will have to get better if they expect to win more than their share the remainder of the way.

Yes, UCONN was 3-1. Yes, they have a pretty good defense. But at home, as a potential conference champion, it was really a game Pitt should win. And make no mistake, while a win is nice, Pitt WILL need to play better to beat the likes of West Virginia, South Florida, Cincinnati.

Ron Cook on the other hand uses Pitt's win to talk about the character of the team - and its fans:

It's hard to knock the many fans who left Heinz Field in disgust late in the third quarter yesterday when Connecticut was spanking Pitt by 15 points. The Panthers had broken their hearts too many times on the North Side lawn since the stadium opened in 2001. Home-field advantage? What home-field advantage? Pitt was a pedestrian 35-18 in the facility going into the game, a downright pathetic 19-15 against opponents from BCS conferences. Clearly, this had the feel of another of those rotten days, another of those crushing defeats.

Of course, you can't blame those fans for bailing.

As I noted earlier, in my section there were some fans that left. I didn't get a good look at the stadium to see how many others actually did - I was a bit baffled at the interception and subsequent return instead. But I will say by the time the game ended it was easy to see, a good number of people had left. Again, it was only 15 points and only in the third quarter. I didn't really understand why someone would leave the game at that point.

Joe Starkey in the Trib also plays the 'character' card:

Credit the players' character, more than anything, for the comeback. On both sides of the ball, Pitt players rebounded from potentially devastating plays to make critical ones.

You could tell that the players were tired after this one.

The defense played a bit part in the comeback, limiting UCONN to zero points after the 79-yard touchdown early in the 3rd quarter.

Two of Brian Bennett's five helmet stickers go to Dion Lewis and Jonathan Baldwin and he discusses the good and bad of a still somewhat unknown Pitt team.

And while he probably didn't deserve one of those helmet stickers, kicker Dan Hutchins played no small role in that he was 3-3 in field goals and kicked the game winner. He might have a shot at conference Special Teams Player of the Week, though.

Next up - get ready for another Friday night game in Rutgers. I'll be doing a Q&A with Jon over at Bleed Scarlet this week - look for it.


  1. You write, "Pitt WILL need to play better to beat the likes of West Virginia, South Florida, Cincinnati"
    By omission, are you saying that the Panthers WON'T need to play better to beat my Scarlet Knights on Friday night??

  2. Not at all - I think they would lose against a lot of teams if they have three possessions inside the ten and only come away with six points. But those three teams right now are probably the class of the conference - at least in terms of their records and who they've played.

    Pitt could not only easily lose to Rutgers if they played that way - they could also lose to Syracuse in the same manner. But I wouldn't put Rutgers and Syrause in the class as those three other teams.

  3. More than a bit part I'd say... while the offense gets the deserved press, the defense was superb in the fourth quarter when it counted holding UCONN to two three and outs and a total of seven yards in offense.

  4. Rutgers is going to be an extremely difficult game to win, Schiano is a very good coach.

    When Rutgers has the ball they will plan to attack Pitt's defensive weaknesses (secondary, possibly outside linebackers) and when Pitt has the ball Rutgers will try to stop the run and when Stull has to pass they will really pressure Stull and try to make him make mistakes.

    Rutgers might not have the overall talent Pitt has, but Schiano IMO is one the the best coaches in the Big East.

    This should be a difficult test for Pitt, if they play like they did versus UConn and NC State they will lose.

    Pitt must play a good game for all 4 quarters in all 3 phases of the game.

    Otherwise a repeat of last year.

  5. I agree that Rutgers will be a difficult game - certainly their most difficult game to date. But again, these are the types of game Pitt needs to win if they want to be considered a conference champion. I'm not trashing Rutgers, but I don't think anyone could say that they're in the same class as Cincinnati or South Florida based on how those teams have played so far this season. Obviously with the loss to Cincinnati, you'd be hard pressed to say they better than them. South Florida has a solid win over Florida State on the road and are undefeated as well.

    Yes, Rutgers will be difficult. Yes, they are a good team. Yes, it's a Friday night game on the road. But if Pitt really wants to be considered in that upper tier of Big East teams, then they need to win games like these. If they lose this game, it won't be the end of the world. But it would be a blow to their chance to win the conference.

    That said, by no means is Pitt a lock to win this game. Heck, I don't know what the line will be but I wouldn't be surprsied to see Rutgers installed as the favorite. And I certainly wouldn't be surprised if Pitt lost this game. All I'm saying is that this is another test Pitt needs to pass if it wants respect.

  6. Rkohberger -

    Typo - that should say 'big', not bit.

  7. Pitt opened up as a 3 point favorite.

  8. Thanks for that, John - didn't see it yet.

  9. See - I'm actually reading your Blog posts...thanks.

  10. Haha, well I appreciate the support. I started this blog probably about six months ago and slowly am gaining readers. I promise that as long as I have this blog, I'll keep it updated fairly frequently and try to post not only just a bunch of links, but commentary as well. And as always, I welcome the input of others (grammatical and otherwise).

    When I post something incorrect or even something you, as the readers, don't necessarily agree with, I expect to be called on it.