Saturday, September 3, 2016

Pitt 28 Villanova 7

It wasn't pretty, but if truth be told, in past years the result has often been much worse in the opening game of the year. Some thoughts:

1.  James Conner is back and he looked pretty good. They threw him the ball more, and he even caught a TD pass to go with his rushing TD.

2.  The offensive line, which is expected to be a strong point, played poorly. Center Alex Officer even had two poor snaps out of the shotgun. They better get much better for the rest of the season or the Panthers could be in trouble.

3.  Partly because the offensive line played so poorly, quarterback Nathan Peterman played just okay. He completed 19-32 passes for 175 yards, 2 TDs, and no interceptions.

4.  Tight end Scott Orndoff may finally be living up to his potential and he led the Panthers with 5 catches for 68 yards. Jester Weah had 4 catches for 38 yards, and he also had a TD reception. Almost as importantly, he didn't drop any.

5.  Quadree Henderson had 4 catches for 35 yards, but he was dynamic in the return game, and it's safe to say that he may be one of the best return men in the country this year. He had a 96 yard kickoff return for a TD and returned 4 punts for an average of 14.5 yards a return.

6.  The defense was consistently excellent, and they gave up no points (a fumble recovery was the only Villanova TD). Unofficially, safeties Jordan Whitehead and Terrish Webb led Pitt with 6 tackles, and he also had the lone interception. Avonte Maddox had 5 tackles and 2 late sacks. Ryan Lewis had 5 tackles. Mike Caprara had 4 tackles and 2 sacks.

7.  The second team defense came in on Villanova's last series and Amir Watts looked fantastic. He was destroying his man on every snap. He's going to be a star.

8. Pitt had 261 total yards. Villanova had 172 total yards.


  1. What could have happened to the OL? Basically same guys as last year.

    1. It's just one game. Just a fluke. We hope.

  2. Connor ran hard, but we thought that he looked a bit slower. Hopefully, with reps, the speed will return. The OL play was frankly embarrassing. The D-line looked great and will get better.

  3. Thought the center had many C-/D grade gun snaps - Peterman did well to handle many and turn into positive plays. No ints/fumbles was a big stat in this type game. Team reminded me a bit of the Bronco's playoff run last year - the D is going to win the game as long as the O doesn't make many mistakes.

    D looked awesome on 3rd down - can't remember when I last saw a Pitt team put such a licking on an opponent when the money was on the table. Whitehead was awesome. The line and backers need some seasoning - really showed on on 2cd down where they had to think and react - as good as the 3rd down D was, the 2cd down D was somewhat questionable. But solid grade of A to the D today - 4 QTR defensive shutout was outstanding.

    Good crowd fro opening day, loved the atmosphere - the cheers for JC were awesome - students were great and loved cutting short the imo too laid back Neil anthem for a fiery video to start the 4th.


  4. Maybe it's my memory playing tricks, but weren't there some issues with shotgun snaps when Officer had his previous spell at c?

    1. WLAT 910 radio and the big beat!September 4, 2016 at 5:35 PM

      Yes, Officer has had issues in the past snapping the ball.

  5. Watched Narduzzi's post-game interview on the Pitt Official Athletic site. Coach seemed remarkably calm and un-upset about the overall mediocre at best offensive performance. He merely and calmly stated that there would be a big improvement by next week. He was very confidant that the improvement will actually happen in the normal progression of events between a game #1 and a game #2 as a matter of course. Overall, unlike many fans, he seemed very unconcerned.

    He did no hand-wringing or lamenting or making statements like there is "a lot of work to be done" etc. His presser demeanor convinced me that the offensive performance was almost entirely the result of deliberately using as vanilla and limited an offense as possible which made the Villanova defense's job very easy.

    The only thing Narduzzi expressed annoyance about was some technical problem with communications via the coaches headsets (earphones).

  6. I hope communications issues were what limited offense, but as first impressions go, Canada's play calling left me underwhelmed. And didn't see any potential All-Americans along the OL.

  7. @Ike--Canada was plain vanilla deliberately on Narduzzi's instructions. Communications issues with headphones made things a little more dicey than was intended.

    Objective was to get a rusty Connor some touches and show nothing to PSU. It was not to totally dominate and roll up lots of points. Despite Canada's "handcuffs" and complications from headphone issues it was in the end-- "Mission accomplished!"

    P.S. OL has too much size, talent and experience to play as poorly going forward.

    1. I get all of that. I wasn't looking for passes off a triple reverse, just occasionally sending Weah/Henderson/Orndorff on routes longer than 5 yards.

  8. I'd say there were three -- and only three -- goals from Saturday's game:

    1. Just win, baby! Anything more than a 1-point win is gravy. Check.
    2. Avoid major injuries to key players. Check, mostly.
    3. Don't show PSU anything. Check.

    Thus the table is set for one of our biggest games in two decades.

  9. Come on Imma....

    1) - just win by one against an FCS team???? No Check.

    2) - two starters Hendrix and Zeise went down and despite what Narduzzi said in his weekly presser, they *aren't* day to day and won't play against Penn St. No Check.

    3 - We *did* show Penn St. something - our vaunted OL and running game stunk. No Check.

  10. First game under a new offensive coordinator. It showed. May have to shuffle some of the offensive linemen to get their attention. Conner not back to his 2014 self but even him being out on the field is all gravy given what he has been through.

    Pitt fans acting like Pitt fans again! Definition for angst in dictionary - See Pitt fan.

    Predict we will see different offense on this Saturday than last Saturday. Hopefully defense also makes some improvements as well.

  11. Relax, folks. We beat a ranked FCS team by 3 TDs, and didn't show the Nits anything that they'll see against us in the process.

    At the end of the year, nobody will remember that maybe we could've won by 4 TDs. They'll remember that we won, comfortably. Something that several other Power-5 teams wish they could say about the FCS teams they played: UVA and Wazzu, to name two.

    If we play poorly and lay an egg on Saturday? Then it'll be open season on whining