Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Midseason Grades for Pitt Football- Offense

Quarterback:  The long Tino Sunseri nightmare is over but unfortunately it sometimes looks like he's still around.  Despite NFL talent physically, Tom Savage has not performed as well as he should be performing this season, and worse yet he seems to have regressed as the season has progressed.

On the season Savage is No. 38 nationally and No. 6 in the ACC in passing efficiency.  He's completed  56.8% of his passes, which is not a great number these days.  In fact it's No. 85 nationally. Most quarterbacks throw for a higher percentage because of new offenses that feature high percentage throws. However, Savage throws almost entirely to receivers, and it's usually long throws. That leads to bigger completions, but also to more interceptions and incompletions.

Savage has thrown for 11 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, while amassing 1,343 yards. He is also 7th nationally in yards per completion, which again is because of his feast or famine throws.  On the downside, he has been unable to get rid of the ball fast enough, not a good trait to have when in front of a poor offensive line.  On the season the Panthers are No. 119 in sacks allowed.

Last Season's Final Grade: C
Preseason Grade: C
Midseason Grade: C


Running Back:  Going into this season there were questions, but after true freshman James Conner started quickly it looked like this major weakness may become a slight strength. But that hasn't been the case. Thanks to 240 yards against Old Dominion, Isaac Bennett now leads the team with 450 yards on 5.8 yards a carry. He's also run for 5 touchdowns, 3 against the horrible Old Dominion defense. Against ODU and New Mexico, the two worst teams on the schedule, Bennett ran for 341 yards. In the  other four games he ran for a total of 109 yards.

Likewise, Conner ran for 119 yards against New Mexico and 173 yards against Duke. Against Florida State, he ran for 34 yards and against Virginia he ran for 27 yards. Because of a lingering injury he ran for 1 yard total in the last two games. For the season he has 354 yards on an impressive 5.3 yards a carry. He also ran for 4 touchdowns.

Rachid Ibrahaim has chipped in with 80 yards, but only has a 3.8 yard average.

Nationally, the Panthers are No. 91 nationally in rushing offense and No.11 in the 14 team ACC.

Last Season's Final Grade: B+
Preseason Grade: C-
Midseason Grade: C-


Wide Receivers:  Finally a rare bright spot. The starters, senior Devin Street, and true freshman Tyler Boyd, have lived up to their lofty expectations. Street was among the national leaders in many categories until sitting out the ODU gain with an injury. In the five games he played, he has 26 catches for 549 yards, a 21.1 yard average.  He also grabbed 3 touchdowns.

On the other side, Boyd has 31 catches through 6 games, for 491 yards, a 15.8 yard average. He also had 4 touchdown receptions.  He also ran 9 times for 106 yards, an 11.8 yard average. He also had one rushing touchdown, and it was impressive.

After the two stars, there's not much production. Kevin Weatherspoon added 8 catches for 113 yards, a 14.1 average. Ed Tinker has 1 catch for 9 yards.

Last Season's Final Grade: B
Preseason Grade: B-
Midseason Grade: A-


Tight End:  This has been a very disappointing unit but it appears that's more of the fault of Savage and the Pitt offensive coaches. Manasseh Garner leads all tight ends with 9 catches for 96 yards, a 10.7 average. Included in those numbers are 2 touchdowns. Starter J.P. Holtz has just 4 catches for 38 yards,  a 9.5 average. Scott Orndoff has just 2 catches for 21 yards, and both went for touchdowns.  Bottom line, it's really unfathomable that the staff can't figure out how to get this excellent trio the ball more.

Last Season's Final Grade: C-
Preseason Grade: A
Midseason Grade: B



Offensive Line:  The more things change, the more things stay the same. Eventually one would have to assume that this unit will eventually be good, but it's not looking like it will be this year.  Redshirt freshman Adam Bisnowaty, who many had high hopes for this year, has been brutalized at times. And the rest of the unit has not been much better.  The center position, which looked like a big weakness entering the season, is as bad as expected, as has have the guards. The saddest part is that none of the promising prospects, including Dorian Johnson, appear to be ready to overtake the linemen who are playing.

I had high hopes for this unit, if only because some of these guys have been around the program for years.  You would think there would be progress, but you would think wrong.

Last Season's Final Grade: D
Preseason Grade: C+
Midseason Grade: D


Overall Offense:  This is a major problem, and quite frankly I didn't think it would be. I get accused of not being a Paul Chryst fan, but the truth is, I think he is a great offensive mastermind. You couldn't tell that this season, though.  The offensive line has not progressed, Savage has actually regressed, and the play calling doesn't always make sense. Savage keeps getting sacked, so why keep throwing more bombs? You have excellent tight ends so why not throw to them? And Chryst and the staff still can't develop the offensive line into mere competence?

Sometimes statistics lie, but not in this case.  The numbers show just how brutal the offense has been this season.  Despite playing three horrible defenses in Duke, New Mexico, and Old Dominion, the Panthers are No. 92 in total offense, No. 91 in rushing offense, and No. 69 in passing offense. It gets worse. They are also No. 93 in 3rd down efficiency, No. 74 in red zone offense, and No. 64 in scoring offense (and that's with scoring 58 against Duke and 49 against New Mexico).

Against the three quality defenses Pitt played (Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Florida State), the Panthers averaged 12.0 ppg, 42.3 yards rushing, 193.0 yards passing, and 235.3 yards total. Against the average Duke defense, and the atrocious defenses of New Mexico and Old Dominion, the Panthers averaged 47.3 ppg, 241.0 yards rushing, 257.3 yards passing, and 498.3 yards total.

32 comments:

  1. Wait for it.... wait for it...
    Stats don't matter, only W's matter.

    Can't wait for review of the defense. Especially benching Thomas at ODU game. Nickel.. Dime defense... BS. I good DC finds a way to put the best players and playmakers on the field.

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    1. Sept 21, 2013 - Pitt Stats as posted by Chris...Offense-40, Defense-102.

      Quote from one Joe D, aka Mr. Insider/Know-it-all, regarding the importance of stats: "Past performance is a predictor of future performance."

      Oct 24, 2013 stats per NCAA: Offense-92, Defense-45.

      Yep, maybe those stats don't mean as much as the scoreboard does...Pitt 4-2.

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  2. Would it be that shocking, if Pitt wins this week at Navy to go to 5-2, and then loses every other game this season?

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    1. Shocking is a pretty strong word. But I would be pretty surprised if Pitt couldn't manage to beat UNC at home or Syracuse.

      UNC's only win is Middle Tennessee State. Yes they played No.10 Miami tough, but they also gave up 55 in a losing effort to East Carolina, and have the No. 94 scoring defense in the country, giving up 30.7 ppg.

      Syracuse has 3 wins, but two of them came from Tulane and Wagner. They have the No. 81 scoring defense at 29 ppg. That includes coming off a 56-0 drubbing at the hands of Ga. Tech.

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    2. If they can win Saturday, I expect no less than 7-5 this year. As you said, UNC and the Cuse are horrible, and depending on which GT shows up, they are beatable as well.

      Pitt isn't as bad as portrayed here. They lost to the #2 team in the country in the opener, but weren't beat down like Clemson was, and lost against one of the best defenses in the country at VT. The rest of the schedule, with the exception of Miami and possibly ND, is manageable.

      We're not witnessing a return to the glory days, but if that what you are waiting for, I would suggest you're wasting your time. That won't happen here again.

      Mike W.

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    3. Ga. Tech is going to be tough. Night game, at home.. I bet they're at least a 7 point favorite.

      5th in the country in rushing with 304 YPG. Defense is ranked 17th with 19.1 PPG and 12th, giving up 327 YPG. Part of that is because the other team is running less plays. They're giving up 5.6 YPP, so their defense definitely isn't elite. You just can't not score when you have the ball, because you're only going to have so many chances.

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    4. I'd be shocked if Pitt lost five straight to end the season, but anything is possible especially with how scary thin the defensive end spot is now. If Pitt is 5-2 it should split the Cuse/NC games. Carolina has a good offense to beat Pitt. Home field that day needs to be blustery cold so the Tar Heel players don't want to be there. The Irish and Canes are beating Pitt.

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    5. UNC is ranked 94th in the country in scoring offense with 23.5 PPG and 70th in total offense with 410.7 YPP. Hardly a juggernaut...

      A lot can change in 3 weeks, but UNC has BC, NCST, and Virginia before coming to Pitt. They could roll off 3 straight wins and come in feeling strong. But if they stumble a couple more times, and come in as a 2-7 team with nothing to play for except a couple toilet bowl games with Old Dominion and Duke, then maybe your right. They might not want to show up on a cold, grey afternoon in Pittsburgh.

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    6. Most of their conference home games left are against teams that really haven't had to play in cold weather yet, but that shouldn't make that much of a difference.

      If Pitt can go into their last four games at 5-3, I like their chances at going 7-5. They should be able to beat the Cuse, home or away, and UNC at home be enough of an adavntage to win that game. I don't see them beating ND, who knows what you'll get with the U on the last game of the year in what could be bad weather.

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    7. "who knows what you'll get with the U on the last game of the year".

      You're likely going to get a 10-1 'canes team that needs a win to get a shot a rematch with FSU in the CCG. Or a 9-2 team, that needs a win and some help from VTech to squeak through to the CCG on tie breakers.

      Either way, a very motivated, athletic, and talented team with something to play for... You'd better hope for bad weather lol.

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  3. The most surprising thing to me is the lack of production from the TE position. This unit should be one of the team's strengths, yet they are being woefully underutilized.

    Savage is definitely struggling right now, and his play has declined as the season has progressed.

    Statisitcs can be useful in identifying problem areas, and in this case they accurately reflect the offensive struggles, but the most important number is wins and losses.

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    1. Have to have a QB that is willing to throw to the TE in order for them to be successful. Savage only has this year to build his draft stock, so he's not looking to be a game manager and move the chains, he wants big numbers to get himself drafted.

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  4. Grades seem fair. Savage is still recovering from the concussion. Hopefully it is mostly psychological and does not continue to be something physical. Conner also looks physically not anywhere near 100%. Most interesting game coming up is Georgia Tech. They will be the first opponent that will give us an idea of how far this team has come this year. I see it as a winnable game assuming both Street and Conner play.

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  5. @anonymous --re your reply to D. Winter: Your statement is non-sensical. Savage is doing what Chryst wants him to do. The TE's aren't being featured because that is what Chryst has ordered up. That may not be for the best; but, if so, it is on Chryst and not Savage.

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    1. No. It's on Savage. Pass plays are not like run plays, where one man is designed to get the ball. There are a number of possible receivers on any given pass play. True, one guy is the primary & there are second & third options. Savage locks on to his primary receiver & doesn't go through his progressions. That's why the TE's & RB's have so few receptions this season.

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    2. Anony 5:22...
      Yes, but the TE's are NOT the primary targets.
      Savage is only hitting 56% of passes not to mention the 23 sacks so far. That is because he tends to want to go deep.

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    3. I can only write what I say in the Virginia game. On a least a half dozen occasions, especially in 2nd half, I notice our QB locked in on how 2 WRs running deep, while there were TEs open underneath. (One thing about sitting the 5th level, you see a panoramic view.)

      I would doubt that PC would order the QB to only throw deep .... heck, why even send out the TEs then?

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    4. How is this not on Savage? It's not like Street and Boyd are the only available routes on any given pass play if the TE's aren't in for pass protection. A lot of the sacks Savage takes are because he only looks downfield and not at intermediate routes, that's been his problem his entire college career and why he ended up on the bench at Rutgers.


      Mike W.

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  6. The defense has been waaayyyy better than the offense...look at the stats! Top 3rd of college football. Only bad game was against Duke. Held all other teams except FSU under their points and yards. Even against FSU, gave up least amount FSU scored. Offense stinks cause the line stinks!

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  7. The 'nightmare' received a Final grade of C. The year before, he passed for 420 yards in a game, and his coach termed it is 'average'. Yes, he has limited skills but 21 TD, 3 Int an >3000 yds is anything but a nightmare.

    Why is it so fashionable to cut the guy down? After all, he was brutalized in many games , especially 2 years ago, similar to the current QB was vs Va Tech

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  8. Chris,

    Prior to the season, back in early August... I posted that Pitt had a "quarterback problem."

    You were disbelieving. However, reality is what it is.

    Savage should boost his numbers this week against Navy. But the remainder of the season will not be so kind as Pitt will return to playing quality Defenses with the ability to pressure the quarterback and force turnovers.

    Further compounding Pitt's "quarterback problem" is the fact that we have not seen Voytik take any meaningful snaps. This seems to support reports that the coaching staff does not view Voytik as a viable alternative and, worse... that Voytik may not have been worthy of the national attention he received as a recruit coming out of high school.

    Even if that is the case, I remain convinced we'll see Voytik in relief of Savage before the end of the season. It's getting to the point where the coaching staff will have little choice as Savage aooears to have hit the ceiling in his ques to become a more complete quarterback capable of running the Chryst offense on all cylinders.

    Who knows, with his athleticism and ability to run the ball, Voytik may show himself to be that quarterback? He certainly deserves the chance to prove his skeptics wrong, me being one of them.

    PittofDreams

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    1. Voytik doesn't seem like the prototype PC quarterback. It almost seems as if he would be better in a spread offense with his speed and athleticism. I would love to see Voytik get his shot but it appears PC might have his eggs in the Freebeck basket.

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    2. Freebeck will not be ready for a few years yet. And he's actually pretty similar in size and style to Russell Wilson so I don't think Chryst will have a problem with him.

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    3. After moving up in class to powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas, Wade Freebeck is showing pretty pedestrian numbers for a high school quarterback.

      After seven games, less than a thousand yards with a YPA of just over five yards.

      Got to think that Chryst quarterback hunt for next year's class may still be ongoing. No doubt, this includes looking to the JC ranks in an effort to find a quarterback for Pitt's IMMEDIATE future to compete with Voytik and Anderson for the starting job.

      Yes, I said Anderson.

      PittofDreams

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  9. I have been giving PC some slack. However after keeping a guy on the bench for the ENTIRE GAME who is arguably one of your two or three best players, Thomas, because of the defensive scheme how can one not question his ability to be a head coach? I have never heard of such a thing in my life!

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    1. Especially after getting 12 tackles against VTech (Top 25 team).

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  10. Perfect analysis !

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  11. Chris: Agree with you comments about Russell Wilson comparison with regard to Chad Voytik. If Chryst has just 75% of the success with Voytik that he had with Wilson the Pitt faithful will be at least partially satisfied. (Never going to ever satisfy all of this crowd.) Chryst will probably have more pocket movement with a Voytik game plan which should help the offensive line. Also we need to keep in mind that Wilson is a pretty special quarterback as all Pitt faithful who were in Raleigh in 2009 can attest to. On that day in the rain Wilson brought NC State back in the 4th quarter as Wannstedt could not preserve 14 point second half lead.

    Looking forward to your grading of the defense.

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  12. Thanks so much John for bringing back that NC State nightmare :) - I was at that game - 4th and 17 for Wilson????

    Game on the line.

    He made it and we lost...nightmare.

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  13. I was there too...I see that 4th and 17 in recurring nightmares.

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  14. Savage is having lingering effects from being concussed. He may not return to 100% this season. He has tunnel vision because of PCS.

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    1. then what was his excuse for the first 3 1/2 quarters vs Virginia?

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