Saturday, September 22, 2012

Pittsburgh 55 Gardner-Webb 10

There's really not much to take away from this game because the opponent was so inferior.  The Panthers were in a no-win situation and the only thing they could do was kill the Running Bulldogs, and that's what they did.

On offense, Tino Sunseri was sharp, throwing for 345 yards and 3 touchdowns on 18 of 24 passing.  He also had no interceptions.  His main target for the second week in a row was senior wide receiver Michael Shanahan who came off his first ever 100-yard receiving game last week to have 5 catches for 143 yards and 2 touchdowns.  One of those touchdowns was for 77 yards. Devin Street added 5 catches for 94 yards and a 34-yard TD pass.  Cameron Saddler also added 5 catches for 81 yards.  Combined, the three averaged 21.3 yards a catch.

The ground game was not as impressive, mostly because the offensive line did not play particularly well.  Ray Graham ran for 95 yards on 8 carries, but that included a 78-yard TD run in which he wasn't touched.  He had 17 yards on 7 carries without that run.  Rushel Shell added 40 yards on 13 carries, including his first TD.  Isaac Bennett and Malcolm Crockett came in late for mop up duty and had 52 and 32 yards respectively.  For the day, the Panthers had 229 yards rushing, but like I said, most was on one run and in mop up duty.  The offensive line must get better, especially since they also were called for a significant amount of penalties.

On defense, as expected, Gardner-Webb had no chance, passing for 96 yards and running for 35 yards on 28 carries.  Some significant players included Jason Hendricks, who had his third interception in two games (with one more reversed earlier after replay) and middle linebacker Shane Gordon, who continues to play well.  It's also important to note that true freshman Darryl Render saw a lot of snaps on the line and looks like he's going to be a good player.

On special teams, Lafayette Pitts had a nice kickoff return before cutting it back early and getting tripped up by his own player, but Kevin Harper missed another field goal.

Bottom line, it won't be until two Fridays from now when the Panthers play at Syracuse, will we get a better idea of where the team is.  The Orange are not good and it's a game that Pitt needs to win if they want to be successful this season.  Following that is a big home game against Louisville, the supposed best team in the conference.  I feel these two games will pretty much determine how Pitt's season will go.  Lose both and things aren't going to be good this season.  Split and it's probably another mediocre season.  Win both and Pitt becomes a serious Big East title contender.


  1. Not to knock Tino but he wss not quite as sharp as the offense or his receivers. However, the fact that he played at all with the major wrap on his calf is testimony to Tino's toughness which has never been a question.

    Most impressive were the play calls that had receivers wide open most of the day. Receivers were also on their game for example Cam Saddler clutch grabs in traffic and tight coverage.

    Sunseri again showed lack of ability to avoid blitz when focused on receivers downfield.

    Good news... Chryst and Co. has this team firing on all cylinders.

    Bad news... Two blown field goals. But again this was Gardner Webb. If memory serves me correct, Harper does much better against good teams in close games.


    1. As I said on the other site - crap.

    2. Maybe Pitt could get the IUP kicker on loaner for a few games. Not to harp on Harper but he hasn't impressed me!

  2. A huge win is a huge win... kudos to Sunseri and the WR combo. Amazing what the absence of Fraud Graham and his spread offense did for those two big targets.

  3. a friend of mine(u know how that goes) says shell is wearing number 4 this yr and will give it foster next yr and shell will take graham's number 1. hope thats the case

  4. 2-2 is where I expected Pitt to be at this point.

    Glad to see Anderson and other subs get some work in...

  5. Encouraging progress. Defensively Pitt is playing a lot of players and they are showing vast improvement from the first two games. But neither GW or VTech could stress Pitt's D because of lack of speed those teams showed on the offensive side of the ball. Watching fsu-Clemson and I'd not be confident that Pitt could defend either of them well. It will be interesting to see how Pitt's defense responds to L'ville and Nd which are probably the two best teams on their schedule. I think we have a good thing going with Chryst. Pitt has put up a ton of yards with an average qb,anathletically limited offensive, and receivers who don't stretch the field. Pitt is constantly attacking and succeeding in spite of their offensive liabilities and this would not be happening with Wanny or Fraud.

  6. Hey it was gardner-webb, spud webbs little sister. Don't get so excited.

  7. I'm not getting excited. Read what I wrote about their limitations against not so good teams I stead of making the point you want.

  8. They are getting better and that is what counts this year. I think anything else would be icing on the cake. And to give Tino his due he made a couple of nice "long" balls (20-35 yards). Maybe the Coach can get him to be better every week and if that happens the season will be much better than I ever thought!

  9. A win is a win is a win . . . . Hate to be too critical but, I thought that the running game just wasn't there. Take away the long run by Ray, then both he and Rushel averaged about 3 yds per carry! That's the number that I would have expected vs VaTech, not G-W. Must compliment Cam on some of those acrobatic catches that he made. Hopefully, we can carry this "feel-good" win into the game vs the Orange as we keep getting better.
    It was great to see Dan Mason getting some playing time.

  10. Chris when you say Louisville is the supposed best team, does that mean you don't think they are? I'd love to see your power rankings or predicted order of finish. Why don't you do one ?

    1. That was done at the Preseason Big East meetings.
      Louisville was predicted as #1...
      Pitt was #5.

  11. Chris,
    I read on ESPN that the RB you like, McKenzie is very high on Pitt. Joe D will like the track reference. Here is what they said.

    "At close to 210 pounds at the end of his sophomore season, college teams looked at Shai McKenzie (Washington, Pa./Washington) as a linebacker, maybe a fullback.

    The problem is McKenzie sees himself as a running back, but he knew if he wanted to continue his career at the position he needed to get faster. So this past spring, McKenzie joined the track team, and now he said teams are looking at him as a running back once again.

    The 5-foot-11, 210-pound McKenzie said he cut his 40 time into the 4.4s, and this summer he added offers from Pittsburgh, Toledo and Youngstown State.

    “I was a linebacker or a power fullback and then got pretty fast and turned into a nice, elusiveness running back,” McKenzie said.

    Through four games, McKenzie has 535 rushing yards on 32 carries to go with nine touchdowns. As a sophomore, he topped 1,200 yards and scored 17 times in nine games.

    This past summer, McKenzie camped at Penn State, Pittsburgh and Toledo, and the latter two offered following the camp.

    McKenzie keeps in contact with Pitt the most.

    “Grades, a lot of grades they mention,” McKenzie said. “They talked to me about how Pitt’s a great place, academics are great and are in need of some great running backs for the future.”

    The Western Pennsylvania product grew up liking Pitt among other teams, but he wasn’t exactly enthralled with the program earlier this season.

    “They struggled a little bit during the beginning of the season. I went to the (Youngstown State) game and I didn’t really like it,” McKenzie said. “But they had a big win against Virginia Tech and the running game looked very good.”

    The win against the Hokies made a big impact on McKenzie, especially since the running game powered the Panthers’ attack.

    McKenzie does not have any plans to make it back to Pittsburgh, which is about a 30-minute drive north on Interstate 79 from Washington. He said he will keep watching on TV, though. He does not have visits to any other programs set up at the moment either."

    1. Attached is his track profile..
      he has good speed... clearly RB speed.
      next would be quickness.. ie. shuttle.
      I don't know if all electronic.. PA milesplit does not specify.. but the wpial and piaa are fully electronic.

    2. Shai McKenzie is a player.

      He looks pretty good at runningback. But who are we fooling?

      This kid has a much bigger upside at linebacker.


    3. When Puzlusny was in HS at Hopewell, he was a RB...
      went to PSU and became linebacker...

      In the NFL... RB's are a dime a dozen and have limited duration careers (run them till the wheels fall off)... whereas LB's have longer careers.

    4. Joe he played LB at Hopewell too. He was a little more known for his running back play though. He turned into a beast at PSU.

    5. I always had McKenzie as a LB but he seems determined to be a RB. While he's a big Pitt fan he was there for the Youngstown State game and he was so put off by the game that Pitt lost a lot of their luster to him. Looks like it's coming back, though.

    6. Quip,
      sorry... brainfart.. i knew he went both ways...
      i guess my point was regarding Puz... if he went RB in college... he probably would not be in the NFL...
      I think it was his RB speed and quickness that made Puz a better LB at PSU. Now he is in the NFL.. 2nd round pick... would have been a 1st rounder but for the knee injury.

    7. What made Poszlusny great at Penn State was his hard work. He came in at a lean 215 pounds and left a manchild.

  12. If you look back at the film, it is noted that Pitt was often up against 8 or 9 in the box, mainly 8. That defense should shut down most all running games and leave the defense susceptible to the pass, specifically, big pass plays. Gardner Webb chose death by Tino versus death by a running game. It is a great strategy on how to beat Pitt.

    Ask Cincinnati, ask YSU. For some reason VT thought they could go straight up with their defense, and failed. This defensive methodology has worked consistantly against Pitt for a couple of years. That is why they couldn't protect leads over the past three years. When opponents get behind, they want to stop the run, through run blitzes and make Tino hurt you. Up until Saturday, he was not able to do so. That said, Tino has had two nice games in a row.

    This is one reason I like Paul Chryst alot. His play calling has been stellar to date. A potential issue is the penalties, which need to get cleaned up quickly.

    Nice piece KRF, thanks!

    It would be good to get a recruiting update on some of the athletes that attended the VT game. Another selling point so far is FSU being talked about as a contender for the national championship. I hope they make a run for it as it will help the ACC as far as prestige, heading in to next year.

    1. Pitt played maybe the worst college football team in the country. Having 8 men in the box should not have stopped them. The OL definitely needs to step it up.

  13. Gardner-Webb is ranked at 227 ( out of 246) by Jeff Sagarin.
    Pitt is 68.
    Interesting that Youngstown St is 75.
    VT is 35 and UCinn is 36.
    Syracuse is 77.

  14. You may say Syracuse "is not good." But I saw them push a very good USC team up and to the third quarter, until they ran out of gas and the Matt Barkley Express took over. Problem is the Pitt fan never knows what Pitt team will show up? Will it be the lazy, sloppy, slothly o-line that performs when it feels like it? or will it be one that wakes up with pride and discipline on game day? Like a box of chocolate's............... ya never know what you're gonna git." (Okay I stole that line :)
    Can Sunseri play within himself and coach C spread the ball around like he did against VT? Or will it be a strait up the gut three and out type of game?
    And finally will Chryst get his speediest players out on the field or follow the old school pecking order of hasbeen Pitt players that have no business suiting up on game day. My money is on the Orange! Pitt hasn't done a darn thing to warrant being a favorite or even a toss up in this game!