First of all, sorry for not posting more. One, I've been busy. Two, I put a lot of info on twitter and I forget that many people don't use twitter. Three, it was the summer so things were relatively slow in the Pitt world. But I'm going to try to post more. For those that follow me on twitter it may be a lot of the info you already saw, but I will try to put different things on. Anyway, my thoughts on the loss.
1. The Panthers may finally have their quarterback. It's still too early to know for sure, but other than two early interceptions. Nathan Peterman showed signs that he can help Pitt in the passing game more than Chad Voytik can. At least it looks like that now. Truthfully, we can't expect either quarterback to be a star this year, but if one can at least be competent, that will be huge for the season.
2. I thought the running back trio of Quadree Ollison, Chris James, and Darrin Hall could, together, make up at least some of the production lost by James Conner. The just is still out, however. The Panthers run the ball 27 times for 55 yards. That's obviously not good. But, on the other hand, Iowa is currently No. 5 nationally in rush defense so we'll not talking about a bunch of bums the Panthers tried to run against.
3. Hall started and ran for 38 yards on 14 carries. He appears to me to have the highest upside so I liked seeing him start. Ollison ran for 17 yards on 14 carries, and James ran twice for no yards. Ollison runs hard, and he's tough, but he seems somewhat limited. To me, his talent level is reminiscent of Isaac Bennett in that he could be a solid contributor but may be limited as the main guy. And James has battled injuries, while also not having the full trust of the staff to do what's expected of him. James does have a lot of talent, tough, so hopefully it all comes together for him.
4. Tyler Boyd hasn't missed a beat, and in fact, he leads the ACC in receiving despite missing a game. Against Iowa he had 10 catches for 131 yards, and the game tying touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
5. Voytik locks on to Boyd way too often, both last year and this year, but Peterman spread it around more. J.P. Holtz, Dontez Ford, Scott Orndoff, George Aston, Ollison, and Hall combined for 13 catches.
6. The kickers still don't inspire confidence. Chris Blewitt made a 48-yarder and all three extra points, but he still seems shaky. Ryan Winslow has not had a good season.
7. The defense is looking very good. The motto for the defense is "Run and Hit", and that's exactly what they are doing. Cornerback Lafayette Pitts is still the weak link, and in fact he had three horrible plays in a row. But on the other side, sophomore Avonte Maddox has been exceptional. At the safeties, Terrish Webb had a huge interception, and was all over the field. And what can you say about a player that had 16 tackles in just his third college game? That's what Jordan Whitehead did. I always said he will be a first round draft pick some day, and that's looking like a good prediction right now. He's special.
8. The defensive line was solid against the run again, and the Hawkeyes ran for just 105 yards on 29 carries. But the pass rush was weak. Not only did starting defensive ends Rori Blair and Ejuan Price not have a sack, but they also didn't have a tackle. Shakir Soto had two tackles when he took over after Price got injured. Three ends with two tackles is not going to cut it.
9. The linebackers were a little better. After having 10 tackles in the opener, and looking like a future All-American, Nicolas Grigsby had just 3 tackles for the second straight game. Bam Bradley took over for Mike Caprara, and even though he had just 4 tackles, the difference in speed and athleticism was quite evident. Caprara chipped in 3 tackles. Middle linebacker Matt Galambos had the lone sack, and it was a vicious one, but a 4-3 MLB needs to make more than 6 tackles in a game. His backup, Quintin Wirginis, had 3 tackles, including an impressive shoestring tackle. Personally, I'd like to see Wirginis playing over Galambos, because he seems like a real playmaker, but the staff prefers the intelligence and experience of Galambos.
10. The offense, especially the passing of Peterman, gave the Panthers a chance in the second half, but it was the defense and special teams that was the best units of the game. The out block of Ryan Lewis was a welcome sight. It was the second huge play that the special teams came up with through the first three games.
11. Narduzzi got criticism for not going for it on a crucial fourth quarter drive, and it was well deserved. Even legendary coaches make bad decisions so it's not the end of the world, but Narduzzi relied too much on a good, but not great defense to bail him out, when all he had to do was make one foot.
12. At the end of the day, Pitt was a 5 point underdog, I picked them to lose by 3, and they lost by 3. So a close loss is hardly a surprise. But Iowa looks to be a pretty good team this year and they had to hit a 57 yard field goal to win the game at home. A loss is still a loss, but there are definite signs that the Narduzzi resurrection project is on course.