Saturday, October 8, 2011

Pitt's Offense Reaches New Low

I'm not going to talk about this too much because I may throw up if I have to relive what I just saw, but let's start with the other problems first before I get to the worst Pitt starting quarterback of all-time.

1.  The receivers are awful.  Let's just call it what it is.  Devin Street has no real receiving skills at all, and is Mike Shanahan even still on the team?  After being awful last week, I'm not even sure if I heard his name today.  Pathetic performances by both and the Panthers passing game will not be good until Shanahan, Street, and Sunseri are no longer starting.

2.  The offensive line was poor but looked worse than they really were because of the aforementioned quarterback.  When you have a quarterback with no skills, it's hard to block for him because the offense has no rhythm.

3.  The defense was poorer than they looked because Rutgers has a terrible offense and they still moved the ball relatively well with a true freshman quarterbacking.  After making it 20-10, the defense showed no effort at all to let Rutgers score again with ease.  It showed a total lack of heart and they should all hang their heads in shame.

4.  The special teams is an abomination.  If I can think of an even harsher word, I will edit this later, because truthfully I'm not even sure that's bad enough.  Offsides on the kickoff followed by Kevin Harper kicking it out of bounds, horrible punting, horrible kick and punt returning, and horrible return coverage after the score got to 20-10.  Then Harper misses a 42-yard field goal by roughly 43 yards.

Okay, let's get to Tino Sunseri.  He is not all the problem but I can honestly say he's 90% of it.  The team has problems beyond him, there's no doubt, but with just a mediocre quarterback this team could actually be undefeated. Not that they deserve to be undefeated.  They stink in many aspects of the game.

But back to Sunseri.  His first interception was a balloon ball that looked like it was thrown by an eighth grader.  With his second interception he slipped into seventh grade territory.  He has little skills and he simply does not have the brain to be a quarterback.  That's no insult to him off the field.  He may be a genius for all I know.  But as a quarterback, he simply has no idea what he's doing.  And don't blame this on Todd Graham.  Every other quarterback that started for Graham got it.  I'm not sure that Sunseri could make the right play if the opposing defense was on the sideline.

This may all sound very harsh, but I have never had much patience for stupidity, lack of discipline, apathy, and lack of pride.  The Pitt football team showed all of that today.  I'm sure the reason for that is because the team saw how horrible the quarterback play is, and they had no fight left, but that's no excuse.  It looks like a team of quitters with no leader on the field.  What a way to jump on the momentum of last week.


  1. Hit it right on the head.

    Watching this "team" doesn't so much make a person angry as much as stunned. How can these "players" who have presumably been playing football for 10 years be so bad?

    There was an ESPN special about John Wooden last year. In it Bill Walton talked about how Wooden's first order of business was to teach the players how to tie their shoes. The players thought it was ridiculous, but learned (as time went on) it wasn't just about tying their shoes, it was about getting all the fundamentals down. And down in a way so that you don't have to think about it and you can spend your mental energy on the game plan.

    Graham inherited a bunch of Wanny players who can't tie their shoes.

    These Wanny players are gutless, their heads aren't in the game, they aren't a team. I don't think that can be on Graham (yet).

  2. Thankfully hoops season is just around the corner.

    That was unbearable to watch. I don't know how much more of this I can take. The problem is that I care too much, and just need to accept we are not a good (or even average) football team.

    If you are Rushell Shell and you are watching that game, why on earth would you come to Pitt next year. No QB, below average (being generous) o-line, and defense that hasn't had a real game changing play all season. I honestly feel bad for ray graham. He gets ZERO help.

  3. There was no ability to pick up the Rutgers blitzes and no throws to hot routes it seemed to me. Pitt had success with their own blitz package but finally got burned when Rutgers ran a screen against it. Anderson doesn't look ready to take over. The long kick return seemed to break Pitt's will. Tino missed badly on a flat pass on 3rd and short that really showed his deficiencies I thought. So what now? Anderson looked really bad when he came in. Love this blog Chris.

  4. This is what we've come to expect...
    1. High expectations during the off season (Great PR)
    2. Barely squeak by or lose to inferior MAC or 1AA schools... then make excuses such as we are young and learning, or new system, or learning to work as a team
    3. Play higher caliber competition and blow late lead... more excuses "we have to play a complete game, but we are close"
    4. Play a pretty good game and look like things are on track... Team has big confidence and does some chest pounding " we finally put it together and we are now where we want to be...we can only get better"
    5. Next game play a team they are expected to beat and come out flat and get pounded.

    This is a mind set of the current players on the team. It's a pattern.

    I'll give Graham a pass until the roster is purged of players from the previous era... but he should know he's on a short leash if the decision making doesn't improve.

    And can somebody tell me why Cam Sadler is on the field?

  5. I'm not going to go as far as saying that because it's happened for many years before, that's going to be Graham's fate, too. I still say that, barring a complete disaster, like a coach being carted off in handcuffs, you have to give a guy three full years. I'm not saying Graham is blameless, but I honestly believe that most of Pitt's problems comes from the players.

    If you can recruit high character winners like Jamie Dixon does, then you can say that the polar opposite can be recruited, too. And Wannstedt's players had a way of folding when things got tough and these are the same players. Just calling it like I see it.

  6. From his earlier interviews Graham (correctly) believes that locker room culture -- a winning attitude and teamwork -- are the foundation for a team's success.

    Do you think he has the stones to start kicking some upperclassmen off the team?

  7. I don't think kicking anybody off the team is a good idea, but I would love for him to start benching players who are going through the motions. The problem with that is, after tonight's game, there won't be anybody left to field a team.

  8. I agree with the poster above who gave the list. This has been Pitt football for the past 30 years. And though I won't go so far to say that I consciously acknowledged it, I'm not surprised in how things unraveled today. This has been Pitt's M.O. since the days of Foge.

    I was VERY surprised, however, at how unathletic, clumsy and slow we looked all over the field save the defensive line and Ray Graham. I'm not sure Wannstache recruited Div I athletes at any other position.

    And I was equally surprised at how inept the coaching staff looked at times today. There was no question what the Rutgers defense was going to do today, yet the offense seemed to have zero answer to any of the blitzes thrown at them. Sunseri is terrible, but he also looked completely unprepared, and that's on the coaches. I seem to remember Matt Cavanaugh scheming to keep us in games with equally-poor quarterback play and just a running back on offense. And what was the disorganization on the sidelines near the end of the half? How can we call a timeout, and still not have the correct personnel on the field? You can't expect your players to be prepared, if the coaches aren't.

  9. Graham was going off on one of his coaches for the timeout fiasco. Of course, the buck stops with him, though. If he has any coaches that aren't doing their job then I hope he finds replacements for them next season. But, no doubt about it, some of the staff seems way too confused. They need to get it together, too. It's been six games and everybody needs to look in the mirror because this is ridiculous at this point.

    Wrong players for the system is an excuse to a certain degree, but getting killed by a mediocre team is inexcusable.

  10. I'm not sure I've ever seen a coach go off on an assistant like that during a college football game... granted I haven't watched a lot of football in recent years. Is that something that typically happens on national TV?

    I saw where Graham says he is miked up for every game... I'd like to hear that conversation

  11. I cannot understand why Pitt's football teams do this. It has happened under the prior two coaches and now under our latest coach. They play a lights out game then they lay an egg the next week. All I am asking for is consistency with some improvement. How can you be so up and down?

  12. Well, like I said before, I personally don't think people should lump Graham in with previous Pitt coaches yet. He may very well prove to be a bust but it took years for Wannstedt to be considered a bust. Graham has had a half of one year. It's unfair to Graham at this early stage to compare to past Pitt coaching failures. Graham actually has a track record of accomplishing something as a college head coach before so you have to think he could do it here, too. Wannstedt, Harris, Hackett, and Gottfried really didn't have big head coaching success in college before so they had no track record to fall back on. That's why I continue to hold out hope for Graham still.

  13. I heard someone say they hoped the team wouldn't get into the ACC for another two years. To explain the reasoning, it was because they wanted to have a year of getting the new Graham style recruits, AKA CHAD VOYTIK, a year under their belts before playing a season in the ACC. I can't help but agree. Our record would be miserable if we were in the ACC now or even next year. Lets see how it pans out until then.

    My thing is, I believe we were given a little bit of false hope when Pitt played USF. USF has a horrible defense that I consider to be C-USA type. They played right into our system. Graham's offenses shredded those defenses, hence all the High Octane bullshit. I can't help but be scared of the rest of these defenses. We seem screwed, especially with one of the top 10 worst D-1 QB in NCAA history at the helm of the offense.

  14. The reason it is still happening is because Graham is still coaching Wanny's players. His players have been coached to not lose instead of win and play tight with expectations. Remember, Wanny never took the challenge of taking on the hype the seasons his teams were ranked or predicted to win the Big East. He ALWAYS questioned why the accoladed instead of embracing them. Graham likes the expectations and has challenged his team to live up to them. Unfortunately, until Wanny's core player are thru the system or not leaders in the locker room Graham will be fighting this pre-established culture. Once Graham can instill some confidence and get his guys into leadership roles the tides will begin to change. There's a reason that some teams in pro sports cannot win. Losing is contagious as is mediocrity. Wanny established a culture of just good enough instead of going for the gut. There's a reason the team has faded in the 2nd halves - no killer instinct. It's not the players faults, it's the culture that Wanny cherished.

  15. I truly believe this is a learning year for Graham--to see what he has...easy to think you have great players in spring ball and fall camp....but when they play other teams, the real team comes out---Graham is finding out what he has, in terms of talent and passion.

    I do agree, we need to give him time to adjust the team to new schemes and new expectations of behavior...not fair to be overly critical at this time.

    I can't fault anyone...I am a PITT fan, and know/believe it will only get better.


  16. Wait until players like Todd Thomas, Juan Price & Dan Mason (if he somehow recovers) get on the field together. This defense will be SICK because thoese boys have attitude and bad intentions when they get to a ball cariier. Our current LBers are soft and don't have the ability or demeanor to make us a feared defense.

    The offense is only as good as your o-line and QB. We lost our top 2 o-lineman and the lack of experience and talent behind them showed last week. If the QB or o-line is good, you can cover up the definiency. But when they are both bad, your offense will stink. We know our QB play this year can only make 5 yard passes. So we ran into a team that stacked the box and blitzed like hell knowing he could not throw over top of the defense or escape the rush with his feet. Not sure how you gameplan for that when you don't have adequate answers to counter it.

    People complain about the coaching, but they never offer up a way to fix it. They say put in other guys. Well, we put in Trey and he faired poorly. Put in our backup o-lineman, well we know they were bad in the spring so they suddenly gonna get better?

  17. Graham is not half the coach we thought he was. Graham had excellent offensive coordinators and wracked up impressive states in Conference USA. For as bad as the Big East is, it isn't Conference USA. I think there's a whole lot of Kool Aid being drunk all around.

  18. Chris:
    I'm a devoted follower of yours but Wannstedt was a bust from day one. He hadn't done anything remarkable as a pro coach and was terminated (or departed before termination) from the Dolphins. We Pitt fans suffer from poverty-disease - we keep hoping and praying it will get better. Graham looks like he doesn't know what he's doing - and that opinion is based on watching his clueless look on the sidelines at games.

  19. I could tell early on that Wannstedt wasn't going to bring Pitt to elite status. But I really didn't get on him until his third season. Like I said, I just really believe that we can't judge Graham until he gets more of his players in there. In year three, with Voytik and Shell as sophomores, we will get a good idea of where Graham will take the program. Bottom line, he's not going anywhere for years anyway, so hope for the best.