Saturday, November 23, 2013

Pittsburgh 17 Syracuse 16

It was an ugly game between two struggling teams but the Panthers got the victory and are now bowl eligible at 6-5.  They have one more home game, at home against Miami.  Some thoughts:

1.  Syracuse has a good run defense and Pitt didn't even try to run today.  The running backs ran just 19 times for 56 yards. James Conner led all Panthers but got just 11 carries for 28 yards.  Isaac bennett had 7 carries for 26 yards.

2.  Once again Tom Savage was under pressure all day, and this was even though Pitt's offense consisted mostly of short, quick passes. On the day he completed 28 of 41 passes but for only 218 yards. He also had a TD pass and an interception and was sacked three times.  Savage once again showed good leadership and great toughness, though.

3.  Devin Street caught the first two passes of the game but then sat out because of an injury he had prior to the game. Manasseh Garner with 7 catches for 64 yards and a touchdown, JP Holtz with 4 catches for 39 yards, and Jaymar Parrish with 3 catches for 19 yards picked up the slack.  Tyler Boyd led the Panthers with 10 catches for 82 yards.

4.  Defensively Aaron Donald was his normal freak self and had 9 tackles. His blocked extra point on Syracuse's first touchdown also proved to be the difference in the game. Anthony Gonzalez led all Panthers will 11 tackles while Ray Vinopal had 8 tackles and a sack.

5. Syracuse had 279 total yards to Pitt's 243 yards.


60 comments:

  1. Initial thoughts:

    Aaron Donald played an awesome game and is a HUGE reason the Panthers squeaked out the win. What a disruptive force.

    Is here anyone tougher than Tom Savage. He took a beating and just kept picking himself up and moving on. I thought he played a nice game.

    What a huge drop off when Devin Street had to come out. Holtz and Garner did pick up the slack though and I thought they both had nice games.

    Once again, the need for better play on the offensive line was evident.

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  2. I'm just happy to get to a bowl game. There were many chances to blow this one and the defense stepped up. They got lucky on the end of the half dropped td pass but also held Cuse to a FG on the short field at the same time.

    If Aaron Donald isn't on this team we might only have 1 win.

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  3. I thought they should ve ran more

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  4. Nail biter .... but ... Congrats to everyone assoc with the team on becoming bowl eligible ... it's nice to see hard work rewarded. Hail to Pitt !

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  5. Savage has a lot of guts. Its too bad we will only get 12 or 13 games of him as a starting QB.

    Donald was great as usual.

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  6. Did Chryst call timeout bc he saw the fake FG or did he call th TO bc he wanted to ice the kicker? We need to hire a special teams coach?

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    1. Either way, we dodged a bullet. The players obviously had no idea and one would like to think a special teams coach would drill it into someone's head to check the sidelines for wideouts before each play.

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  7. a win is a win but poor coaching from pitt which is par chris now that the pressure is off do we relax and win next week.

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  8. chris the ACC has 10 teams with at least 6 wins and only 8 bowl games this year how will that be worked out and will maryland be one of the teams that stays home if only 8 can go.

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    1. I doubt Maryland's move to the Big Ten will affect its bowl future. Bowls just care about making money, not about conference politics. Maryland's placement (or lack thereof) will be weakened by the fact that it doesn't travel well. Pitt's will as well. You would have to think Pitt is on the short list of teams that will be left out of the ACC tie-ins. But they'll probably be a fill-in for another conference that doesn't have enough teams. Let's just hope it's not BBVA!

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  9. Makes one worry about next year Graham's major recruits Bennett, not a starting RB at D1, and Trey Anderson, marginal high school quarterback. When Savage was a sitting duck at QB Chryst had to keep him in to have any chance of winning. This reinforces the coach speak about QB battle in practice. A battle that never existed. Consiering Grahams other recruits what can we expect from Volytik next year. I am afraid not much.
    Chryst should of never let his nephew play Pitt as a paste. Kincaid would be coming and perhaps some other QB's aside from the projects they setteled for.
    Did he even try to get the Central Catholic QB going to FSU. Another major loss from home.
    Without Savage and if the kid from buffalo is not a stud Pitt may not score, Conner is a tough striaght ahead runner but has no runner's vision or footwork. Never making tacklers miss him. He is not used moore because the coaches no he is not a natural RB.

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    1. I'm convinced that Graham claims of coming to Pitt was a mistake was due that he either didn't think local players could play his style or he couldn't get the players he wanted to come here.

      If you look at his current commits, many of them are from Texas and LA. He played ND in Dallas this year and just scheduled T A&M in Houston in 2015.

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    2. Losing Kincaid a problem? You really think that? Both QB's recruited are as highly or more highly rated than Kincade by both ESPN and Scout. Only Rivals sees Kincade as the best QB of the three. That being the case, it is likely the coaches either wanted them as much or more than Kincade. At best--the trade off appears to be a wash.

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    3. Voytik is one of the most highly recruited QB's pat has had in the past 10 years. He was a top 10 QB by most peoples view and chose Pitt over Clemson and Louisville, so it wasn't like they just got the kid close to home who ran out of other options. Potential doesn't always come to fruition, but there are many things to like about this kid going forward. If you want to look at problems.... in 2011 Graham brought in Artie Rowel as their top and pretty much only OL. In 2012(Chryst took over a recruiting class that was nearly complete) They had bisnowaty and he added a project in Gabe Roberts... that was it. It takes years to get lineman to the point where they can compete. He snatched up Johnson last year and has a handful of decent projectable guys this year. If they can add Bookser then they will really have something to work with. Offensive lineman really don't live up to their potential(because of their size and inexperience in the trenches) until Jr. year. This team will show improvement next year, but they wont really be able to start moving forward until the couple of years after that. Facts are facts, PC came in when the team had gone through a bunch of crap and took over a team that really very little to fit his style of play. People want to bash him for his coaching and they want to get down on him for not flipping the 2 and 3 star kids into solid guys, but those 2 and 3 star kids usually take a couple of years to coach up. Unless you go out and get a big name coach(which you aren't going to get, like Urban Myer), you aren't going to turn the team around in a year or two... it is a 3-5 year project with the way the team was left.

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    4. outstanding & so true slash realistic I'm on the PC Train + very optimistic like everything in life - time will tell 6X's on National TV aint shabby = Beat Miami

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    5. Rowell is a Wannstedt recruit that decided to stay

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    6. Kincaide is no loss, you're talking about a kid that decommited to Pitt and is now going to AKRON. His high school program had the crap kicked out of them the entire time he was a starter, you didn't lose much.

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  10. I actually believe Graham when he says he and the family didn't like living in Pittsburgh. It's not for everyone and you get out of dodge when you're not happy. No use in being miserable.

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    1. You may very well be right. Nevertheless, the way in which he bailed was classless at best, and unethical at the worst.

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  11. Doke,

    Any legit chance of staff changes in the offseason? I'm not asking who, just a question of if the Pitt administration will make Chryst take a look at his staff, or if Chryst will do it of his own free will.

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    1. There's usually changes at Pitt so I assume there will be some changes again.

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    2. I would be extremely disappointed if they keep Beckerfield just because of all the accolades Donald is getting.
      Donald was great b4 Beckerfield coached him. Donald puts in the work.
      Then Haering, who only coaches MLB. smh
      Pitt can't afford to have its RB coach as full-time recruiting coordinator and can't afford to have 3 coaches for DL and LB.
      That is why no ST coach and leaning on GA's to be position coaches for DB and TE.

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    3. The only way I see changes is if Smiley forces PC's hand. Pederson does have a history of meddling. If PC does decides to make changes on his own, I see very minor changes. He's a slow mover, stubborn and quite honestly, he doesn't believe the coaches are under performing....even though they are. Most of these guys are his buddies, he will give them plenty of rope, to much rope. Coaching/recruiting...this staff needs a TON of help.

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    4. Pederson couldn't really do much even if he wants to.
      Make changes or you're fired? After what's gone on for the past 3 years?Think Chryst is pretty safe.

      I don't have an issue with Robinson as a recruiting guy. Think about it: few of you would have an issue with there was a staff member or two who couldn't coach a lick, but was an ace recruiter. I don't know if either description applies to Robinson, but that is essentially his role.
      As long as Joe Rudolph has no issues coaching the RB's also, then it's OK.

      Now, the trio of coaches with the DL and LB's, that's another story.

      Matt House is listed as also coaching the safeties. I would suspect he is still involved with the cornerbacks, even it is not listed as such.

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    5. I think the Defense will likely see reorganization at the least. It's impossibel to say if someone leaves, but it would surprise me if there isn't a more clear, organized defensive coaching staff. Too much overlap. Let's hope they free up the recruiting coordinator entirely and add a dedicated Specail Teams coach with ties to the Southeast recruting scene.

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  12. Pitt is bowl eligible but does that mean they are guaranteed a bowl?

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    1. No. The ACC has more eligible teams than bowl tie-ins.

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    2. We'll go bowling for sure, even if it's not an ACC bowl. Personally, it'd be nice to pick up one the B1G's bowls because they're closer, like the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl at Ford Field.

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  13. To my extremely untrained eye, 70 on the OL had one of the worst games I've ever seen a lineman play

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    1. No. That can't be. We were told last week that he was better than the 2 young OT's that proceeded him. [/sarcasm]

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    2. If you think about it, Chryst did if for recruiting reasons.
      He has done lots of stuff for recruiting reasons such as starting true freshmen or RS Frosh.

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    3. Wait until Hollins goes up against those speedy Miami defensive ends. Sure hope this staff helps him with chip blocks.

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  14. Didn't get to watch the entire game but based off what I did see:

    Positives:
    - Pitt won the game. Let's hope PC uses the extra bowl game practices to advance the process of getting Voytik ready for next year.

    - The D again played good.

    - How about those special teams!!

    Negatives:
    - Street going out with an injury. Hope he's able to play against Miami.

    Overall:
    It's great that Pitt's going to a bowl. That should continue to allow their younger players grow.

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  15. Hi Chris,

    Just for fun speculation: have you heard any solid rumors as to which bowl game Pitt is most likely to get?

    I checked half-dozen or more forecasters today, and not one of them agreed on where and against whom: They had us going anywhere from Annapolis to Shreveport to Houston to Nashville to Detroit to....

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    1. No clue. And they may even beat Miami which could change things.

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  16. pitt might not go to a bowl there are 75 teams for 70 spots with maybe 10 more after this week some one will stay home.

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    1. Take into consideration that being in a power conference changes your appeal for bowl consideration as well. While there might be more than enough teams, these bowls are basically ESPN programming when considering the lower tier bowls, and they're much more likely to pick an ACC team over the MAC, MW or whatever the Big East is now.

      Mike W.

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  17. Just checked the complete BCS standings and Pitt is clocked in at # 52. Not great. Not terrible.

    Weather looks to be perfect for Pitt football this coming week. Mid 30's and no chance of a hurricane. Pitt needs to out physical the canes and take their will away, especially in the cold conditions. 7-5 sounds real good with this group. Any Orndoff updates? This is a game where a 2 tight end set can pay dividends. Let the mudders mud. Miami BCS is low 30's, right with Duke.

    Interesting note. BCS ranks penn state one spot behind the panthers. Would be great to finish ahead of that group. O'Brien has less than two years left before the nfl calls.

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    1. If you read the Ped State boards, many think he'll leave after this season.

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  18. Chris - excellent blog, thanks for all the great work and insight. Looks like a lot of problems are communication / missed assignments. Case in point, second half, the right OG misses a LB blitz b/c he didn't disengage from the DT. The OL is taught to keep your head on a swivel and look for the blitzer. This is basic and 11 games in linemen are still making these mistakes. What's the deal? Savage almost didn't get up, but the play was blocked and the scheme was there...just slide over and pick up the blitzer.. is it lack of competition to push the play?

    Thanks.

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    1. Think you hit the nail on the head there. There really can't be any real competition on the OL when you have the starters that they do. Their interior line flat out stinks and the tackles are marginal at best. There is no excuse for your QB being hit that much when your going with a quicker tempo, short to intermediate passing game, blitz or no blitz.

      I don't think it's a case of the OL not picking up assignments, they're either just not all that good or not athletic enough to handle their assignments. This won't get any easier against Miami, either.

      Mike W.

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  19. Here’s a link to some updated (Nov 19) info on Heisman hopefuls.

    http://espn.go.com/college-football/heisman13/

    After Manziel’s poor performance against LSU, it’s all going to come down to whether Winston gets CHARGED or not. Even if he’s not charged, I guess there is still the lingering possibility of a Civil Suit being filed by the accuser.

    Looking at it in purely FOOTBALL TERMS, Donald and Winston are two players who have NOT had a BAD (i.e. SUB HEISMAN) game… maybe the only two.

    To me, Donald deserves to be a TOP CONTENDER for the Trophy considering all the circumstances at play. Another BIG GAME against Miami on National TV could HELP PUSH him into the TOP THREE (whoever they are).

    Pitt Admin needs to get its MARKETING WHEELS in motion

    PittofDreams

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  20. I hope they use the extra practices to work with Conner on pass blocking, that's really what has kept him from being an even better option at RB. If he can pick that aspect of his game up a little, he'll be a very good RB next year.

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  21. Agree with Anonymous. Pitt marketing needs to be on Aaron Donald BIG TIME for Heisman.

    Another note, Tyler Boyd has put together an absolutely exceptional freshman year. One catch from tying Larry Fitzgerald for most catches as a freshman. This guy had the foresight to see that he had a chance to make an immediate opportunity to start. Something Robert Foster was unable to see. Boyd will open next season on every Biletnikoff list in the country and is likely to break some WR records while here. If I am Pitt that is exactly what I am selling these current recruits. They all will have an opportunity to start immediately and make an impact. Let's hope Pitt finishes off the season on a high note.

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  22. Chris, because we played in the ACC this year & not in BE in fball our record isn't as bad as we think bc of better competition that we faced? I am not trying to make excuses just trying to put things in perspective being thanksgiving week in all. H2P!

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  23. Before anyone thinks there's absolutely no chance for Donald to win the Heisman...

    Donald obviously has a golden opportunity Friday to impact the Heisman race with a BIG GAME against Miami on National TV. It could not come at a better time.

    Then consider this. If Heisman voters look down the list and find themselves being forced to cross out Manziel and Winson… then Donald, as the only Defensive Player in contention, has a REAL CHANCE to be one of the TWO or THREE given serious consideration.

    Now, admittedly, Alabama Quarterback McCarron is a threat. But really, McCarron?

    I think voters would have a tough time giving it to ANOTHER QUARTERBACK if Manziel and Winston are eliminated. It would be pretty obvious that the BEST QB did NOT get the Award.

    And finally consider this. Manti Teo actually came in SECOND last year to Manziel. Who doesn’t think Donald is a BETTER player? Answer… only those who aren’t FULLY AWARE of Donald’s BODY of WORK and the DOMINANCE he's consistently displayed throughout the season.

    In my opinion, that’s where Pitt Marketing needs to get to work.

    PittofDreams

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    1. You're clueless, even if Pitt wins this Friday, they'll be 7-5, Donald has no shot at winning the Heisman...

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    2. Donald isn't even in the top 14. He is only 9th in sacks in the nation. I understand that he is typically facing double and triple teams, but he really stands 0 chance of even being considered. If the Panthers were a top 10 team with a top 5 defense, maybe he would get some national press and be talked about in the top 10, but still not likely. He has had an amazing Sr. season, and he will get his share of awards this year I am sure, but the heisman is not one of them.

      If you want a sleeper who can make a move nationally this year, look at Braxton Miller

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  24. Even "Anonymous" Penn Staters and WVU fans...

    Before you write off Donald’s chances… keep in mind that Teo, the guy who completely disappeared against Pitt last year... came in SECOND in the Heisman.

    Heisman voters are itching to give the Trophy to a DESERVING Defensive Player.

    Who more deserving than Donald considering his DOMINANCE throughout the season and his story of Hard Work and Over-Achievement?

    And speaking of Teo... the BEST COMPARISON when stacking up Donald's chances is not Teo but Ndamukong Suh. And who would not argue that Suh was decidedly a BETTER COLLEGE Player than Teo.

    Looking at Donald's numbers versue Suh... a VERY STRONG argument can be made that Donald COULD become the first Defensive Player to WIN.

    Again, my apologies to all the Penn Staters and WVU fans... anonymous or not.

    PittofDreams

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    1. Donald is a very good player but not Heisman caliber.
      Frankly, he doesn't even compare to Hugh Green. Green just plain dominated moreso than Donald. Hugh dominated for 4 years and didn't win the Heisman.

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    2. POD,

      I agree with Chris and Anonymous @2:50 pm, that while Donald is a beast and has had an amazing and dominating season, there's no chance he wins the Heisman.

      For the record, I've been a Pitt fan since the 70s.

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    3. Have to agree with you D Winters, I go back to the 70's as well and remember when Pitt was pushing Hugh Green for the Heisman. George Rogers from USC won it and wasn't much as a pro, but Green was definitely the best defensive player in college game that year.

      If you play defense you have no real shot at winning the Heisman unless you have opportunites to get your hands on the ball every game amke make an impact in scoring.

      Mike W.

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  25. OK, Chris...

    If it's not Winston or Manziel... who do you think has the BEST chance to win?

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    1. If Bama runs the table, Mccarron(sp?)

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  26. Any Update on the recruiting front? With HS football closing down and the blackout period set to beging in about 3 weeks, can we expect any committs soon?

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  27. Let's not confuse Tech with a good hoops team.

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    1. Pitt bball is really, really Good!!!

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  28. A REALITY CHECK on how deserving Aaron Donald is when it comes to the Heisman.

    http://collegefootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2013/11/24/pitt-dt-aaron-donald-is-having-an-amazing-season/

    PittofDrreams

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    Replies
    1. POD,

      I agree that Aaron is deserving of Heisman consideration, but as Mike W correctly points out, defensive players have little or no shot at winning it.

      It'd be great if he could buck that trend, I just don't see it happening.

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