I'm going to make this quick because I'm heading out on the road for the following week, but the Panthers had some of the same problems- defense was decent, but not great, special teams and the offensive line were sometimes awful, and Tino Sunseri has no instincts to play quarterback.
To be more specific, Sunseri has so little instincts that he combatted criticism of his not throwing the ball away by throwing the ball away anyway, anyhow, anywhere. His total inability of throwing the ball further than ten yards is also a major hindrance to the offense. Until there is another starting quarterback it's never going to get better. I don't care if he throws for 400 yards every game, it's not how many yards you throw for, its when you throw your yards.
Kevin Harper and Matt Yoklic had excellent games but Buddy Jackson can't field a kick to save his life and slow, 6'5" Michael Shanahan is your best option to return punts? Sad.
I've never been one to go off on officials, but these particular officials were just awful. Big East officials are definitely something I won't miss.
Isaac Bennett runs much harder than his 190 pounds would suggest.
The defense will never be excellent until they get better inside linebackers. In the 3-4, it's all about the linebackers making plays and Todd Thomas is the only starting linebacker that usually makes plays. Max Gruder continues to be slow and out of position. I don't care how many tackles he makes because most of them are 5, or 10, or 20 yards downfield. His hustle and toughness are fine, but I would prefer an inside linebacker who was actually in position to make the stop after two yards, not eight yards.
The secondary again was the best unit on the team with yet again K'Waun Williams playing great. Anwuan Reed also had a great beak up.
Why are their still countless blown coverages? The players, and the coaches, are not performing up to their level with that garbage.
Cincinnati had 366 yards, nearly 100 yards below their average. To be honest, I thought it would be much more. And the defense held them to four field goals and had three turnovers.
On the other side, Pitt had 397 yards including 179 yards rushing. The latter is over 100 yards more than Cincinnati usually gives up, and that was No. 2 in the nation.
Isaiah Pead rushed for 118 yards but that included a 53-yarder early on. On his other carries, he had 65 yards on 21 carries, or about 3 yards a carry.
Lastly, I know the fans are mad, but the sad truth is, there isn't a lot of talent on this team. Yes, there are some good players, but not nearly as many as you need. You can see the offense will be excellent with the right players. Suneri had 70 yards rushing. Imagine what an athletic, running quarterback will do.
I think, best case scenario now, Pitt goes 6-6, and to be honest, I'm guessing that it's more like 5-7. That won't necessarily be the end of the world. As I've shown before, the first season for a new coach is usually awful, the second year is a little better, and in the third year you see the light at the end of the tunnel. Will that light be a train coming to take you to the Promised Land or a train that is going to run over you, you won't know until that time, but it's still too early to say Todd Graham is a success or a failure. But at the end of the day, I still say that with all of their problems, they are probably at least 6-3 with a talented quarterback that fits their system.