Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pitt and Cincinnati Thoughts

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.


  1. I can't wait until this offense has an athletic QB capable of running. It could really be exciting.

    The dearth of talent on this team in entire positions is stunning. Especially on the O-line. Nix and Jacobson were 5-star recruits, and are good players. But who was evaluating the rest of them? I'm not sure some of them could start in the MAC.

    Shane Johnson was highly sought-after. Where is he?

  2. So disappointed I was stuck at the Staples Center watching a team that never quits or makes excuses pull out a late win.

    If a 7-1 Cincy team can barely beat this weak, weak Pitt team, what does that portend for the BCS? Anyone want to take the Bearcats +30.5 ?

  3. While the Pitt players clearly lack the size/speed talent combination that was so evident on both sides of the Bama/LSU game, Coach Todd Graham is making mistakes that are costing the team dearly too ... a few of them : Shanahan at punt returners with his 5.3/40 speed, use of the Wildcat on somewhat key 2nd down plays making life even tougher for Sunseri, pressuring Sunseri so much to get rid of the ball at all costs as opposed to tell Sunseri to throw the ball after 3secs at all costs, going for it on 4th in 4Q with a low completion rate pass ... this list goes on and on and I will bet someone with real coaching experience could point out much larger and more elementary mistakes ... Coach Graham needs to improve his game before Pitt becomes anything less than low-octane ...

  4. Was at the game. Sunseri's careless fumble on an easy run for a first down was clearly the turning point. You can really see how a mobile QB with a decent arm can succeed in this offense. The lack of any mid to long passing threat is so evident. Return teams were terrible!

  5. Chris,

    Comments spot on. More sped and talent on defense neded. Offense needs better athletes on the offensive line, I'm noy even talking all -conference types, just guys who can get better each game and every year and rise to above average. What they have now is remarkably bad. No team with top25 aspirations can win enough with that OL even in the big east. Seriously I don't think I have seen anyone play offensive line for Pitt as bad as Greg Gaskins plays his position. I've mentioned before you are only as good as your weakest link. Pitt has too many weak links.

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  7. We should be looking to recruit one of Jamelle Holieway's illegitimate children. There should be one close to being of age by now.

  8. Chris - another excellent post.

    Do you think Sunseri keeps his starting role next season? As Voytik will be a true freshman, its hard to imagine him getting the nod as starter.

    In short, what does next year look like at QB for us?