Thursday, December 26, 2013

Pittsburgh 30 Bowling Green 27

Yeah, Pitt was a touchdown underdog over a MAC team, and yeah, Pitt is only 7-6, but somehow this seems like a big win.  Thoughts:

1. Devin Street, Matt Rotheram, Kevin Weatherspoon, and Bryan Murphy did not play, the latter two for undisclosed personal reasons but it didn't matter because...

2.  Pitt has some very good young players.  Leading the way is James Conner and Tyler Boyd.  Both broke Pitt bowl records today that lasted for 35 years.  Conner I've said all season that I loved and hopefully for once and all people will stop with those silly "move Conner to defense" statements.  He proved today that he was good enough to play defense but he proved he was a star running back today.  Boyd merely reminded us all that he's been a star all season.

3.  Conner ran for 229 yards on 26 carries, an 8.8 avg., and a touchdown.  To put it mildly, he was a beast.

4.  Boyd had 8 catches for 173 yards and a 54-yard punt return for a TD.

5.  Speaking of which, it's inexcusable that Boyd hasn't been the punt returner all season.

6.  Tom Savage made some beautiful throws and completed 8 of 13 passes for 124 yards in the first half.  But an injury forced him from the game at halftime.  Next year's starting quarterback, Chad Voytik, was clearly nervous at first, and wasn't sharp, but once he got confidence he showed he can play.  For the half he was 5 for 9 for 109 yards. He threw no interceptions.  He also ran twice for 24 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown.

7.  Aaron Donald again stood out on defense, as did Jason Hendricks, Ray Vinopal, and Tyrone Ezell.

8.  Pitt had 487 total yards while Bowling Green had 289 yards.

9.  The Panthers ended the season at 7-6 overall and will go into the offseason on a high.  An even bigger high is knowing that Voytik, Conner, and Boyd will be around for at least two more seasons.


  1. They said Weatherspoon broke his foot during the Miami game. Do you mean Rotheram was suspended? Nonetheless… neither of them were missed.

  2. If Pitt had such good young players, as #2 states, why does this staff get so much heat for being poor recruiters??? Seems like they've built a nice little core of good players...

    1. Because most of them (if not all) are on offense.
      Don't know one on defense.

  3. Actually, Pitt was a 7 point underdog not favorite. Hopefully, this helps them gain momentum on recruiting. Also, hope that Chryst is not afraid to go after PSU recruits when O'Brien leaves. We could use the help on defense. H2P!

  4. Great job by the entire team and coaching staff.

  5. I thought we were the underdog in this game and not a td favorite?? Overall a good showing by our young guns. The officiating was really horrible. They missed the obvious hold followed by a few punches while the play was still going on and missed about 30 holds by BG oline. I am happy about the win. I am also frustrated though at Chryst at pulling Conner at the beginning of the 2nd qtr after the fumble against Navy. I thought then and still think now that it was the bonehead decision of the year by the staff. Anyways.. lets get Jennings or Kamara or both to go alongside Boyd..

  6. good post Chris - you are always straight forward w no sugar coating + yes this is a start = positive for all players coaches and fans = Pitts D played well tonight and maybe a little premature for some to be singing Talking Head,s "Burning Down the HOUSE" = me I'm Mr Optimistic when it comes to PITT....looking forward to reading more #Panther'sPrey during hoops season #ACC #H2P

    1. Let's keep this win in perspective, it was against a MAC stream. House lost out on two recruits that Pitt desperately needed and has been horrible all year, he needs to go. Pitt is a "major" football program but doesn't have a special teams coach, interesting. Sorry to be a downer, Pitt football is what I root the hardest for and am just frustrated with the "nickel and Dime" administration. A nice when, with some great efforts, but a lot of important moves need to be made.. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone, Hail to PITT!!!

    2. Yep, matter time before the trolls show up.

      Most if us get that it was a MAC team that Pitt beat. What most of us are excited/encouraged by was Pitt overcoming quite a bit of adversity - both before and during - to win the game.

      1. While I would like to see a special teams coach, a lot of schools don't have a full time ST coach. Whether you are Alabama or Buffalo, you can only have 9 coaches.
      2. Jury is still out on House. Again, Pitt held 6 of it's 9 BCS opponents under under their scoring average. How many games did Pitt lose this year where can you truly pin the blame on the defense? Miami is the only one.

    3. More than once the defense had to come up big and gave up a long drive to lose the game. So while they aren't horrible, I wouldn't call them good either.

  7. 1) believe Pitt was a TD underdog ... not favorite
    2) believe both Rotheram and Murphy both had excused personal reasons .. could be family illness or something
    3) Bisnowaty and King (2 starters for much of the year) were also out with injuries

  8. I can definitely see your point regarding Boyd and I'm not trying to defend PC here but here goes nothing. Hahahaha I would assume PC would say that as a true freshman he wanted and badly needed him to make it all year as a wide out!! Had Street been dominant this year I would bet PC would have used him more in that role. Just my opinion.

  9. I meant underdog. I have to type quickly before people start posting under a previous article so sometimes I make mistakes.

    1. That's funny about why you are in a hurry!! Makes sense!!

  10. I knew what you ment chris and DR Voytik looked good if they can fix house and the D next year should be fun. good job chris

  11. I feel much better about voytik next year. I wasn't down on him, I just didn't know. as for the young players, yes conner and boyd are stars, but there are many others that show promise. howard, webb, galambos, coles come to mind.

    believe it or not, I think this shows improvement in the staff and team from last year. they were much more prepared for this bowl game and a winning record for the first time in 3 years is kind of a big deal

  12. Next year Pitt needs to avoid what happened in 2007- losing its starting QB in the first game. Voytik must stay healthy. The O-line needs to get it done in 2014 versus a not-so-formidable schedule.

    Connor and James at RB, Holtz and Ordoff at tight end, Boyd and Jennings at receiver? The skill talent is getting much better.

    Replacing Donald will be impossible, but Render, KK, Jarrett, Moody and Taleni at least offer size to stop the run. The ends need to get better and Soto could be the type of pass rusher Pitt needs. Sure wish Cook can come back from injury and be that type of rusher too.

  13. Well written Chris! Good win for a young team. Hope this is the power football Coach Chryst wants to develop here. Great way to send out the seniors who have been through so much. James Conner along with Aaron Donald proves that the "recruiting" sites cannot measure the heart of a player. These "hat" spectacles get more ridiculous each year. Hail To Pitt!

  14. Any word on how many Pitt fans were at the game? The camera was facing the BG sideline, and just about everyone on that side was wearing orange. The crowd noise was also pro-BG. The official attendance was 26k. Anyone have a breakdown of BG sales, Pitt sales, and local Detroit sales? My guess would be 15k BG, 1k (if that) Pitt, and 10k local.

    Not placing any blame here. It's a tough sell for a 6-6 BCS team playing a MAC team in Detroit. Nothing appetizing.

  15. Chris, I agree with your post wholeheartedly.

    I wrote a couple weeks ago that this was a no-win situation for Pitt. Win and people will say Pitt only beat a MAC team, lose and people would scream that Pitt lost to a MAC team. I retract that comment, because I think a lot of positives can be taken from this game.

    1) Pitt kept fighting and showed a lot of character despite Savage's injury and some horrible officiating. Chris is right; despite this being a MAC team, this has the feel of a very big win.

    2) Unless James Conner is the 2nd coming of Chuck Bednarik, he's got to stay on offense. He's not the fastest guy, but he's quick and nimble for a guy his size. And he plays like every play is his last.

    The kid has a ton of heart and desire. I don't follow this much, but wasn't he like a 2 star recruit out of HS? It just shows that the star system can't measure guts and toughness. I'll take a whole team of James Conner's any day.

    2) I'm not sure there's much more that can be said about Boyd, other than he's got to have his hands on the ball as much as possible, in any way possible.

    3) Voytik looks like the real deal. That 98 yard drive was really something. I feel a lot better about him after last night.

    4) I hate to harp on officiating, especially after a win, but that was one of the worst officiated games I've seen.

    The obvious PI against Boyd that wasn't called, Boyd's one-handed grab in the end zone that was disallowed when it looked like he had one foot in, the KO return where a BG player basically assaulted Garner.

    I realize it wasn't a major bowl, but the officiating was awful.

    All in all, a great win, and a great way to end the season. Now let's use this to our advantage to close out the recruiting class with a bang.

    1. James Conner was rated as a 3* on Rivals. He had an offer from BGSU. You think he had something to prove?

    2. Colleges knew about him but Erie has awful schools and it was very up in the air if he would be eligible. Pitt was smart enough to take as chance on him.

    3. What an insulting blanket statement. McDowell -- where Connor went -- is a good school on par with the biggest in Pittsburgh, and I would put Cathedral Prep up against any school. If you are talking about the inner city schools, that is no different from anywhere, but McDowell is not one of those. Not to mention, grades depend largely on the student's willingness to work for them. NOT on the school itself.

  16. Let's still not lose sight that they beat a MAC team. Last time I checked I thought teams in the ACC should have better players overall than MAC schools. I still feel as long as this AD is in charge Pitt athletics will stay mediocre.

  17. I don't have this year's numbers, but on their Wikipedia page, an 8-4 Bowling Green team averaged 15,000 for their own home games in 2012. Undefeated and ranked conference foe Kent State only drew 16,000.

    While Detroit is pretty close, I don't think their entire fanbase made the drive to them play a 6-6 Pitt team.

    I listened to the game more than I watched it, but it seemed like the crowd cheered quite a bit when Pitt did good things, and a Let's Go Pitt chant was quite audible in the end.

    BTW, I wonder how many of our "fans" who frequent this site went things go wrong will avoid it since Pitt won, or will try to find a way to discredit the win.

  18. Nice game.
    On one hand I'm glad to see Pitt, on the otherhand, a loss would have definitely forced coaching changes on the defensive side of the ball. Not sure if assistants are forced to move now.
    Voytik long pass to Boyd was a beautifully thrown ball. He will definitely be the starter and the question will be who the backup will be. I believe it will be the kid from Ohio as the kid from Florida it too skinny and fragile.
    Not crazy about how the defense played. Vinopal playing MLB at times?? What was that all about.
    When Conner played DE, he looked good there. He bullrushed. Very strong. Hope he stays at RB. Problem is, Pitt has converted LB's playing DE at about 240#.

    The problem next year will be the defense. Not enough playmakers recruited for defense.

  19. Congrats to hcPC and the entire Pitt team on their bowl victory last night over mac champions Bowling Green.
    Say what you will about Pitt and their recent turmoils this team did not give up on its head coach or each other as other teams have done in the recent past.
    the redshirt freshman and true freshman gave us a glimpse of the future last night and it appears to be a better one than most recent teams have been going into spring practice.
    there are parts to the puzzle in place and now the coaching staff must continue to add pieces to fill the roster out for their kind of players.
    ad monster year and best wishes to you in your future nfl career
    ds to bad injuries slowed you at the end but your leadership was invaluable this year
    tb though just a freshman what a season to watch
    jc is this the beginning of a new four horseman backfield for next year?
    lots of question marks but lots of heart on this team..
    questions on the staff have to be answered such as duplication of roles and who is staying..please figure this out asap and attract the best talent to coach and recruit. use the bowl victory as a stepping stone to spring forward not to stay in place with mediocrity...

    Gary from cleveland

  20. Good win but BG did lose to Indiana 42-10. Boyd is an awesome punt returner.

  21. I thought Pitt really responded well after squandering the two touchdown lead. When BG returned the kick off to tie the game there was potential for Pitt to fold. Voytik made a great play when he hit Garner on the crossing route and that seemed to get things headed in the right direction again. I was also impressed with the long pass Voytik threw to Boyd.

    Conner and Boyd were great. Really looking forward to watching them in the future. A good night for the defense. Nice to see the pressure on the QB.

    Aaron Donald had a great career. He will be missed next year. Hopefully someone can step up and be the defensive leader in his absence. Vinopal played well as the season progressed after really looking like a liability early on. I think Anthony Gonzalez is primed to have a great 2014.

    That officiating crew was terrible. They lost control early. Stunned to see the BG player who was wailing away at Garner wasn't ejected. Also, whatever fouls took place on that kickoff happened long before the play was dead.

    I hope to never watch a broadcast again with that ESPN crew, especially the laughing sideline reporter who was just atrocious.

    Happy New Year Chris!


  22. Chris,

    While some thought Conner was likely best suited for defense, from the first time I saw his high school tape it was obvious his place was in the backfield.

    Posted here last Spring that Conner would make Rushel Shell a mere afterthought.

    Believe now that is officially the case.



  23. Now, on the other hand... Chad Voytik looked better throwing the ball than what I expected.

    He still has a long way to go. Remains to be seen if he can make all the throws consistently. But he certainly deserves credit for the improvement he's made and the MOXIE he showed in answering the call.

    Now, his athleticism and ability to tuck it and run was never in doubt.


    1. Can't say I recall seeing a QB move as much in his first game as Voytik displayed last night. He must be more comfortable throwing on the run rather than sitting in the pocket. I liked his patience and compete level. His arm isn't a bullet, but it doesn't need to be. If he can pick defenses apart then we should be alright. He was a highly decorated QB coming out of HS so he should only get better moving forward.


  24. As for the REAL DIFFERENCE in the Game... Chryst taking the lead with calling the plays on Offense.

    Since taking over at Pitt, Chryst seemed determined to pretty much let Rudolph have free rein in calling the plays as Offensive Coordinator.

    But, obviously someone felt the time had come to let Chryst DO what he DOES BEST.

    Maybe it was Chryst himself. Maybe someone else.

    Whatever the case, it made a BIG difference. We finally got a taste of why Wisconsin's Offense was so good for the years Chryst was the OC.


  25. Didn't we have another RB last year who got a lot of snaps? Rushel something ...? I forget.

    It's probably still an open question whether Chryst will commit to Conner playing RB next year. Crazy to say, but watch in the spring. He'll say we have a committee and we need (recruited) Conner to play defense, and .... he better play RB. Haven't seen running like that in Pittsburgh since Bettis retired, and probably not in a Pitt uniform since Ironhead. Kid was making a mess of orange and gray jerseys out there.

    And Pitt would have won by 2 TDs if the officiating was competent. BGWU kick return should have been called back (for two reasons: holding and punching our guy while "Boo Boo" was 5 yards from paydirt.) And this is And this is also what we are supposed to believe: The MAC-level offensive linemen assigned to Aaron Donald -- the most decorated defensive player in the country and a truly dominant D-lineman -- played a perfect game. They kept him in check without holding. Not ONCE did these did these two-star OLine recruits hold Donald. I don't blame AD for losing his cool. It was ridiculous.

  26. Media having a field day today on the take down and beating on Gardner. Wow… if Pitt's AD doesn't raise hell over this, he should be fired. That BG player should be suspended for the first 3 games next year at a minimum.

    1. John & Jim....good article here on the Pitt win and a gif that shows the punches thrown while the guys was still not in the end zone.

      Someone from the NCAA has to school these fool officials on the rules of the game. And what constitutes holding...

  27. Chris,

    What are chances Pitt lands Adonis Jennings or Jamil Kamara? Is it possible to get both?

    1. Kamara was always a long shot so little chance with him. I think they may get Jennings. Kamara is a better prospect but Jennings is pretty good too.

  28. Just going through some old articles and videos from the coaching disaster following the Wannstedt firing. ESPN stated that two-thirds of the 18 recruits decommitted to Pitt after Haywood was fired. Does anyone remember who those guys that originally chose Pitt, but ended up elsewhere? I would love to hear some of those names.

    1. I thought one of those was a running back that went to Cinci. Diggs or Briggs. Another I think was Terrell Chestnut.

    2. Thats about right. Graham had to scramble.
      Rutgers QB and a couple others went to Rutgers, RB at PSU, forget all of them.

    3. Bill Belton. I wasn't sure if he ever committed tho. He was close to committing I thought but chose PSU. I could be wrong though.

  29. Thoughts:

    - Entertaining game and a good win. If PC keeps recruiting young men who play like we saw last night, Pitt will be in good shape and the future is indeed very promising.

    - That Boyd almost TD no catch was amazing. I think I pulled a hamstring just watching it!!

    - Conner had an incredible day and I was impressed with the pressure he was bringing as a DE. But agree, he's the starting RB next year.

    - For those worried about D recruits. It's alright, just as defensive players can be moved to the O, the reverse can happen as well.

    - Grigsby continues to impress and feel has to be a starting LB next year. My early guess at next years LB's: Gonzalez, Thomas, & Grigsby. Should be a quick unit.

    - Best game of the year for Jason Hendricks. Great call having Vinopal shadow their QB.

    - Thanks to all the players and coaches for putting in all the hard work. It was an exciting season to say the least.

    - And a special Thank You to all the seniors for their commitment and effort over the years. Good luck in your future careers.

  30. I feel like playing conner at de during this game was the worst thing imaginable. now everyone who thought of moving him is having a frenzy despite being a star at rb. unless the staff is 100% sure that conner will be a 10+ sack defensive end, it would be ridiculous to even consider moving him full time. since there is no guarantee.....

    if they want to give him some snaps at de on passing downs, im fine with that but he is too good at rb to move him

  31. Sounds like Dorsett was not that happy with Conner breaking his record.
    In the Trib, he backhanded complimented Conner.
    Well, it wasn't in the national championship game and it wasn't against Georgia, but..

  32. Anybody believe Dixon, etc regarding the non-conf schedule and teams don't want to do home and home. I sure don't believe the BS!
    Funny, Syracuse v Villinova is playing right now.
    Syracuse recruits Philly area, etc.

  33. Game is a big win for Pitt. Any time you win a bowl game it's a big win. Bowl games have their own special place in the sports history books. The team was well prepared and very focused.

    Part of the problem this year and last has been the team's lack of concentration at key parts of the game and the tendency to fall behind early. Hopefully, in year three Chryst will be better at that.

    All the criticism Chryst is getting about recruiting may be correct, but I remember Mike Gottfried having some good classes and the best record he could get was 8-3-1. Paul Hackett had his recruits and could do no better than 6-6. Wannstedt recruited well but not at QB. He still couldn't win the Cincy game or beat Bowling Green the year before.

    I like Paul Chryst. I like his always turning questions about a win back to congratulating his players.

    Bowl wins, however, haven't always been followed up by great seasons.

    1981 bowl win 1982 picked #1, lost last two games to PSU & SMU
    2002 bowl win 2003 disappointment (8-5)
    2009 bowl win 2010 Wannstedt fired
    2011 bowl win 6-7 season in 2012

  34. Of the Top 25 teams in Jeff Saragin's basketball ratings, where Pitt is 16, of the Top Twenty Five teams we have the third worst schedule with a SOS of 265.