Saturday, September 21, 2013

Pittsburgh 58 Duke 55

Yes, that score is correct.  The game started out beautifully as the Panthers offense looked to be one of the best in the country. But because of horrible defense and special teams Duke stayed in the game. Some thoughts:

1.  Tom Savage threw some beautiful strikes and pretty much had his way until the end when the offensive line started to fail.  For the game he was 23 for 33 for 424 yards, 6 touchdowns, and no interceptions.

2.  James Conner is officially a beast as he had his second 100 yard game in a row as he ripped off 173 yards on 26 carries.  He also added a touchdown.

3.  Devin Street and Tyler Boyd are quickly becoming perhaps the best wide receiver tandem in the country.  Street had 6 catches for 166 yards (27.7 avg.), and 2 touchdowns. Boyd added 7 catches for 147 yards (21.0 avg.), and 3 touchdowns.

4.  Kevin Weatherspoon added 4 catches for 58 yards including a game clincher late.

5.  The Panthers had 598 total yards but became conservative and inept in the 4th quarter in which they actually had minus yardage.

6.  Defensively the Panthers got four interceptions but also gave up 532 yards, including 213 yards rushing.  Duke entered the game No.69 in total offense with 404 yards a game.

Overall, outside of the offense in the first three quarters it was a pretty embarrassing performance for the Panthers. Both the special teams and defense are amongst the worst in the nation over the first third of the season.  Something drastic must happen for the program to improve such horrible weaknesses. Change personnel, change coaches, whatever it takes, because there's bad and then there's awful, and awful is what Pitt's special teams and defense are right now.

73 comments:

  1. Whoa... where to start Chris... you hit on all of the positives (and there were MANY). If there is a concept known as a prevent OFFENSE; Pitt executed it to perfection. By going uber conservative in the fourth quarter, and letting Duke to put 9 men in the box as they anticipated run, it looked like Chryst was trying to run the clock out with 15 minutes to go in the game. Tom Savage was on a record breaking pace until that point, and it looked like Pistol Pete Gonzales's 7 TD pass record was sure to fall. Nonetheless, a win is a win. HAIL TO PITT!!!

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  2. It's been a long time since I've seen Pitt's defense look thus bad. Dokes, you nailed it, DB are out of position, turning the wrong way or simply very slow to react. If the offense wasn't this good, we probably wouldn't win a game. I actually think the defense has regressed. I agree, fix it and fix it now.

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  3. Pitt will need to score 58 points to beat Navy and Georgia Tech.

    Pitts had a below par game. Hendricks and Williams played well. vinapol has to sit. Slow, slow line. Donald only good player and the rest just are no good. We don't really play with defensive ends. But any 6'5" 260lb ends in high school should look hard at Pitt. Average linebackers. Let's put to rest that Thomas is a top line player. He may be Pitt's best linebacker but that is faint praise Nice stop on punt though. This defense is lost schematically and given how slow and below the line talent (except for maybe 3 players) level is we really will need to score 7 touchdowns a game to get to 7 wins.

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  4. Simple. Fire House. Today.

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  5. I'm glad we got the win, but this leaves a bad taste. To score 58 points and have to hang on to win is ridiculous. I know you're supposed to feel good after a win, but this almost feels like a loss.

    Thank God for the offense, because the defense and special teams are atrocious. Chris is right; something drastic needs to happen to upgrade these areas. Whatever that is, Chryst needs to get it done.

    It's looking more and more like House was the bad hire that most thought he was.

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    Replies
    1. It took you 3 games to figure that one out regarding House?

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    2. How true Joe. All those like myself who called this a terrible hire last spring when it was made were scoffed at by those on the other boards by the cheerleaders with blinders on.

      Now even they are starting to recognize the reality that House is incompetent and in so far over his head, it is not funny

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    3. No Joe, I was skeptical and not pleased with the hire from the jump, but I like to have concrete evidence before making a final judgment.

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    4. The first thing that turned me off with House is when he was quoted as saying he's not a sleep in the office type of coach, that he got married for a reason. While I'm not expecting the guy to leave his family for the football season, he should also realize that given the challenges his defense has, this ins't a 9-5 job, either. I know plenty of people, myself included, that got married for a reason as well but still work very long hours because that's what is required to be successful.

      I'm not saying that if House lived out of his office that the defense would transform into the Steel Curtain, that's kind of difficult given the talent level that he has to work with. But putting a little more effort into it and adapting his talent schematically to give them the best chance to succeed isn't asking all that much either.

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  6. last week I stated that we needed to see if the defense adjustments at linebacker and defensive backfield would be an improvement for better acc competition....well we all can see that against a lower tier acc team the floodgates were wide open...
    positives..offense..agreed three quarters pitt dominated..unfortunately the game is four quarters long...
    positives..wide receivers,running backs,qb play strong performances..where did the o line go in q-4? is it a conditioning issue?
    2-1 through three...to win upcoming games pitt can not give up 55 points...back to the drawing board coaches cause we are who we thought we were...
    last point..this is a game last year pitt would have lost...we at least held on and as they say..you can put lipstick on a pig and it is still a pig..but a win is a win..coaching staff put your defense in a position to win..rework your schemes to fit your players..those that adjust can be successful..h2p

    gary from cleveland

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  7. Aside from Pitt defense and special teams from being awful and no need to pile on.
    I thought Pitt got tired in 4th qtr. Lack of conditioning. That is on another coach (S&C coach).

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  8. With the Pirate game last night & this game today I needed to go workout & clear my head. I will say this about Savage huge game today made the critical throw on 3rd down. He is 1st round talent. What happen to the offensive line in the 2nd half? Keep running Conner!! Don't know why you go to prevent offense in the 2nd half. Hammer down, high octane:)! Offense was unstoppable you gotta keep scoring bc of the defense. Go to see this team close out the game. This would've never happen last year. Weatherspoon clutch! HTP!

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  9. Can anyone honestly say they know what Cullen Christian did after the first two games last season to not be starting? For some reason, he's not in the nickel and dime packages either. A 6'1 200 lb corner that was a 4/5* coming out of high school, played in the US Army Game, somehow can't see the field. Coach House must be a helluva evaluator of talent too

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    1. I think he's been injured, supposedly ready to come back this week. He's a backup CB anyway.

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  10. Chris- please explain why Boyd/Street are best in nation? It was duke and new mexico. Please settle down.

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    1. I don't care who they played look at the numbers IDIOT!!!

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  11. 8 returning starters on D. Biggest change is Matt House - Ole Miss 38, FSU 41, New Mex 27, Duke 55 points given up, 1700 yds

    Meanwhile we passed over proven DC's like Todd Orlando or up and comers like Mike Elko because Chryst is lazy and afraid to hire outside his small circle of friends. Chryst would rather be comfortable than hire the best people

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    1. Elko is my cousin, really wished he was hired. He and his hc turned down Clorado and purdue offers after last season...they are sought after for sure.

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    2. Oh btw, elko is bg's FL recruiter..has lots of ties there.

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    3. It's simply embarrassing. I agree with whomever said it feels like a loss. To give up that many points to inferior opponents is a joke. Especially with so many players returning. Pitts looked like a future star last year. This year I hardly even notice him. Unbelievable that it's come to this.

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  12. hey I thought Alabama had the BEST "D" and even it got shredded by A+M last week = look at the NFL ( with the exception of the Stillers) it's all "high octane" with the exception of ASU losing to Stanford 13-0 = <3 it !!!!

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  13. For arguments sake, if you fire House now, then what? Texas had an in-house "consultant" ready to go. Coaches don't switch teams in the middle of the season. They'd have to promote an assistant, or get someone from TV or someone sitting at home on their couch. Is there anyone out there that could help? And please don't say "anyone" would be better. That's what everyone said about Tino, and (sadly) he really was the best qb on the team the past 3 years.
    I just want to know of potential DC names that could help right now, in week 4.

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    1. There's no chance at all that Pitt would fire him or demote him until after the season but since they're the same people who thought it was a good idea to hire him in the first place I wouldn't expect it.

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    2. Well, I agree with Chris that there's no chance Pitt would fire House or demote him until after the season. Chryst is stubborn and he was the one who thought it was a good idea to hire him in the first place

      And yes, there probably are not a lot of DCs just sitting out there waiting for the call, although I am sure there are a few. Shoot, there is one out of work very successful DC living in Pittsburgh right now who I imagine would love to get back into coaching. But I know many Pitt fans would scoff, and honestly I am not sure how I would feel either, but Tom Bradley could easily do a better job than House is doing

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    3. If you are a HS Defensive player that aspires to play in the NFL, would you select Pitt with these coaches?
      I doubt it.
      Pitt's offense has good coaches and they are able to attract good players. ie. Boyd, Orndoff, etc
      It wouldn't surprise me if Pederson gets involved regarding giving House the boot!!

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    4. Pederson should have stepped in when PC made the decision to promote House to DC. Everyone knew he lacked the experience especially going to the ACC. I expect House to be here as long as PC is here. I look for Palermo to get more involved in the defense.

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    5. If you're a parent, would you trust House with your child's future?

      The hiring of Tom Bradley or a more well respected DC would show that Pitt is definitely committed to winning. One thing for sure, the offense is moving in the right direction with Rudolph and Co. Securing the defense up starts at the top. The current crop of players are already questioning what House does.

      House was hired so it's best to complete the season with him, but once bowl season is over a move in a better direction is NECESSARY.

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    6. Are you kidding me? It's Pederson's fault that House is the DC! Holy crap some of you are stupid.

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    7. Anony, 7:50
      I think it is fair to put some blame on Pederson for the House hire.
      1. Pederson has to approve it.
      2. House was a low budget hire which Pederson controls the purse strings.

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  14. Regarding House, you get what you pay for. They were to cheap to hire a real coordinator.

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  15. House should stroll over to the Steelers side of the complex and ask Dick LeBeau for a couple pages of his blitz packages. Defense needs to put more pressure on the quarterback in obvious passing situations. The linebackers are not being very effective in pass coverage. At least by blitzing them they will be doing something productive.

    Overall though a win is better than a loss. We are now 2-1. Savage did not throw any picks. The defense managed four interceptions turning one into a pick six. Pick six was even by a linebacker! Virginia Tech seems to be having problems with a tough game against Marshall today. We could possibly be 4-1 after the next two games for those optimists among us.

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    1. "At least by blitzing them they will be doing something productive."

      How do you know that? What if they blitz & don't get to the QB, leaving man coverage with lots of time to throw?

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  16. I don't think embarrassing is the right word to describe the performance, but this win definitely felt bad. But there were positives, other than the ones CD mentioned.

    1. Duke is not the sorry team they once were. Yes, they're still one of the worst in the ACC, but they were a bowl team last year. And this was a conference win. And that's nothing to be ashamed of.
    2. Not sure about scheme or coaches, but at least Pitt's effort should improve next week. This win felt like a loss, and it's natural to expect a bounce back from that.
    3. There are stars on offense, and Savage is looking really good. And a really good QB can make an average team very good.
    4. Zero turnovers!
    5. Pitt is in the sweet spot of their schedule. UVa is a little better than Duke, and VT is a little better than UVa. Then it is a couple easier opponents, with Navy a great precursor for GT. I don't like looking too far ahead, but Pitt should be at worst 5-2 after the first 7 games. (But Pitt being Pitt, 4-3 would not surprise me.)

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  17. Don't forget...Duke scored 48 points and gained over 500 yards against the D with a 3rd string QB and did it 23+ minutes.

    If Chryst wanted to he could replace House going into the bye week after the VT game (my aunt Hilda is available). That's 2 more chances House...

    Is there such a thing as a walk-on DC? (sigh)

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  18. The concerning part was the number of big plays given up by the defense. Give Duke's coaching staff credit for exploiting the weakness in Pitt's defense - and look for every team here on out to do the same.

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  19. Boyd is a lock for Freshman All American and will definitely make an All ACC team. Anyone think he can challenge for All American?

    BostonsCommon

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  20. Matt House is lost. In over his head. Unqualified. Bad hire.

    He has no more business trying to game plan a defensive scheme than I do trying to teach manned space flight to NASA astronauts.

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  21. You get what you pay for is right. If Pitt won't open their purse and pay available DC $250k more than they are currently paying House we will have more of same.

    In House's defense you can't make lemonade without lemons. Until Pitt gets bigger and faster among their front seven they will never be good enough to compete for ACC titles. Pitt plays each game like they found 11 new players thrown into the game without knowing what they need to do or where they need to be.

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    1. Don't forget this defense ranked #17 last year and has eight returning starters. I can see most any defense have problems with FSU, but UNM and Duke? House has said he made the defense simple so that his players can just play. Well hate to inform him, but scheme is a big part of defense, especially given that current rules favor the offense, especially in college.

      I'm not expecting the Steel Curtain, but there should not have been this much of a drop off.

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  22. Chris - I wanted to get your thoughts on how to gauge the past two weeks in terms of team progression given the opponents were terrible. I still think the jury is out on the offense as they couldn't score v. FSU. The defense appears to be terrible as they got waxed in every game. 2-1 is fools gold to me.

    Go ahead, take it away Chris....

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    1. I always tend to throw the first game of a season out because you're still feeling your team out. I think offensively they would do much better against FSU now and I think they will prove that they are a very good offense. The rest of the team is a different story.

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  23. Chris - Would you fire Matt House this week?

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    1. That won't happen and I wouldn't either. It would be different if Chryst knew anything about defense because he can then take over, but he doesn't. Palermo would be the only option but I don't see it happening.

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  24. Matt House = the WORST D. Coordinator in NCAA football.
    .
    Pitt tries to go on the CHEAP again....and yes, you do get what you pay for. I agree, they ain't going to part ways DURING the season....but, HCPC has to "grow some" and hire a "qualified" D.C. for next season after the final game this year....as soon as the FINAL whistle blows. House is hurting the program is this role..."over his head."

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  25. Chris - is there ANY way Pitt would consider hiring Bradley?

    In my mind, with his relationships w/ local coaches and his experience as a DC - being from Pittsburgh - perfect fit.

    Can you tell me what he's doing right now and what kind of $ would it take to get him - in the $500K range?

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    1. There's a reason why nobody has hired Bradley. Right or wrong, there's a stigma attached to him now. Pitt will never hire him.

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  26. house must go chris is the only sports writer in pittsburgh with the guts to call chryst out for the bad hire of house.
    we need to shout it out loud house must go.
    texas did it and there D is better now pitt must do it also house is no DC. and what makes it so sad is with this offence we could win 9 games but wit house as DC we will be lucky to win 2 more. house must go

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    1. The guy was a defensive quality control coach or whatever it is before coming to Pitt. What the hell does he know about gameplanning and schematics?

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  27. Oh boy - Tom Bradley sighting. Things are bad but not THAT bad. The problem with the D is the failed recruiting because of the turmoil the last few years. You can gimmick yourself with less talent on offense to fit your "system" but you can't hide a lack of talent on D. Until more 4 and 5 star recruits are brought in, the D will continue to struggle. Yes - House is overwhelmed right now and was not ready for the spot but this D is void of much talent.

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    1. Disagree with you here. The D had enough talent to be ranked pretty high last year. It looks like House is lost and the experiment with Palmero serving as his mentor is so far a failure.

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    2. The D was ranked as we played in the Big Least. Duke scored 45 on Miami last year some give them some credit. Some of this is on the players ( talent or not enough? or mistakes). Not all of this falls on the coaches but they get their fair share.

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    3. 8 starters return and in the first three games the defense has been significantly worse. The only thing different is the defensive coordinator. My money is on him being a large part of the problem.

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  28. I see the defense as a talent issue as well especially at the linebacker position. They seem to be neither effective against the run or able to drop into pass coverage. I would like to think that even Matt House knows more about running a defense than the posters on this blog. Can't see how three games into the season you can suddenly make great improvement with the same players. It is stunning that a defense that produced four turnovers and a touchdown yielded 55 points.

    Special teams is a big concern. Giving up returns too easily. Hopefully the dropped punt snap was nothing more than the misfortune of having to kick in a driving rain.

    The offense is fun to watch. Connor has been a pleasant surprise. Street and Boyd are playmakers.

    Please no Tom Bradley. There has to be a reason no one has hired him.

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  29. Fire House, Hire Wanny?? Crazier things have happenned

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  30. Take away those four turn by a second team quarterback and Duke easily puts 60 or more points on this defense. This defense is really bad with essentially the same players as last year. Before the season started the defense was to be the strength of the team. I could see this defense declining beginning with last year bowl game. The D is always out of position, fails to stay in Kane's, and misses assignments. That is coaching period.

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  31. Why is everyone blaming Chryst for the House hire?

    I feel the blame lies with the AD. I don't think for a minute Chryst is as dumb as most on this board think.

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  32. Pitt looked exhausted in the 4th quarter.

    Let House stay the rest of the season, then bring in Bradley and either demote house (if another coach leaves) or fire him (if no one does) I hate to say fire a guy who is just doing the best he can, but that was awful.

    Also they need to bring back Buddy Morris. One of the best S&C coaches ever, and he's a Pitt man.

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    1. You're right - I was sitting 4 rows up right in front of our bench and they all did look exhausted.

      It wasn't that hot either - we seriously need a new S&D coach along with a new DC but, it's not going to happen....unfortunately.

      The highlight of my day??? I shook hands with our beloved AD!!! Yay!!!

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  33. From Special teams side, it seems to me that the punter needs to get a bit more arc on the punt to let the coverage team some time to cover. #3 was running for 10 yards before the first gunner showed up. There is no way the gunners are that slow.

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  34. Positives:

    - Week by week, PC is showing himself to be a true QB master. He impressively made Tino look somewhat good and if Savage keeps playing like that and he'll be a 1st round QB. Now that's recruiting material.

    - The lack of comments about the OL show just how good they are.

    - The D getting 4 TO's is great to see.

    - If I'm a D recruit, I'm loving the opportunity that's sitting there for me. House is insignificant at this point because if it keeps up like this all year he won't be DC anyway.

    - This is the type of game Pitt would have lost in the past.

    Negative:

    - As great as PC seems to be on Offense, he's just as bad when it comes to the D.

    - If House had any pride, he'd fall on his sword and quit (yes, I know that's not going to happen). His "simple" defense, while easy for the players to learn, is also "simple" for opposing coaches to game plan against.

    - They might need to start playing with 4 DT's out there to try and hold the line. Seemed like Duke was able to collapse the edges all day.

    Overall:
    - They're 2-1 and I'm interested to see how they perform against Virginia. I know some on here like to always compare Pitt against OSU or Alabama, but Pitt's closer to a Virginia level program.

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  35. Chris - you continually dodge the Bradley question. Please state whether you(not Pitt) would hire him. Please put yourself on record.

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    1. I'm not dodging it. I've always said that I wouldn't touch him. God forbid something comes up with him at PSU and Pitt looks bad again. Don't need it. There are plenty of good DCs out there.

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    2. Please state who these DCs are.

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    3. No idea what you are talking about. Chris has never dodged this issue and has stated many times that Pitt should not even consider Bradley for obvious reasons. Clearly, Pitt is not alone...

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  36. Teryl Austin mayhave been a miss. Strong recruiter. DC at Florida, albeit, briefly. He is too pricey for the Pederson budget.

    Pederson suggested (Is there anyone on your staff Paul, that you think could do the job?) and approved House for budgetary purposes. It is still too early to go headhunting on House. We need to look at the body of work for a period of time and three games is not the time limit. Let's see how the season ends.The defense isn't as bad as we think but it isn't as good as we hoped.

    Offensively too, we aren't as good as we have shown. All of this will even out over a course of a year and the body of work will be complete. Let's look forward to UVA and hope to pull out another "W". It should be low scoring....i.e. 24-20 ish...LOL @low scoring totals, but that is today's college game.

    Dang, they would have looked good in the script........

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    1. When this is the statistics of your defense then the defense is as bad as we think.

      Total Defense 102nd
      Rushing Defense 94th
      Passing Defense 83rd
      Scoring Defense 118th
      3rd Down Conversion Defense 108th
      Red Zone Defense 110th
      Pass Efficiency Defense 122nd

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  37. The key for me is this is a game they lose last year or two years or three years ago. So a win is a win

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    1. Yes sure but, please don't tell us we won because of Chryst or the staff, or the scheme, or the cheerleaders.

      We won because of Tom Savage period.

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  38. Chris - Pitt had a chance to pull past PSU and now that the sanctions are being drawn back, it looks like Chryst didn't capitalize. Your thoughts on Pitt failing to do so?

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