Saturday, September 10, 2016

Pitt 42 Penn State 39

Well, it's never easy with Pitt, and it wasn't this time either, but the Panthers came up with a huge win, for many reasons. Some thoughts:

1.  James Conner is now all the way back, it would seem. He doesn't carry the ball as often as he used to, but he's not being babied either. He ran hard all day and ended up with 117 yards on 22 carries, plus a touchdown. He also caught 4 passes for 29 yards, and another touchdown. However, it should be noted that he also had a crucial late game fumble deep in Pitt territory that nearly cost the Panthers the game.

2.  The player of the game (again) was sophomore Quadree Henderson. The speedster had 3 catches for 43 yards, and a TD reception, plus 4 carries for 58 more yards. And while he didn't get the ball kicked to him often he had a gigantic 84 yarder in the fourth quarter. He is a special talent and don't be surprised if he is an All-American kick returner at the end of the year.

3.  Nathan Peterman was not asked to do much throwing, because to be honest he didn't need to, but he still completed 11 of 15 passes for 95 yards. He also had 3 touchdown passes and interception. He even ran for 52 yards on 8 carries, and some of those runs were very big. He was also not sacked at all.

4.  Qadree Ollison had back to back nice runs in the second half and ended up with 36 yards on 9 carries. Darrin Hall added 33 yards on 4 carries, and Jordan Whitehead added a 28 yard run down to the 2-yard line. Fullback George Aston played, after missing last week with an injury, and he had 2 rushing TDs.

5. Scott Orndoff played very well in the first half, but then the Panthers stopped throwing. He ended up with 4 catches for 15 yards, and a TD.

6. Outside of Henderson's big kickoff return, special teams played poorly. A big Penn State punt return in the first half gave the Nittany Lions much needed momentum, and Chris Blewitt missed yet another field goal, his sixth of the last seven that he's missed.

7.  Defensively, the Panthers started like gangbusters, but in the second half they played rather poorly.  They did have 4 sacks, and gave up only 74 yards rushing on 34 attempts, but Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley threw for 332 yards and Saquon Barkley had five touchdowns (four running and one receiving).

8. Pitt had 432 total yards and Penn State had 406.

Bottom line, it was an even game, just as it was expected to be, but because Pitt almost lost a big lead, people again mention "Pitting" (I can't tell you how much I hate that whiny term). But at the end of the day, they didn't blow it, Penn State did, thanks to a nice interception by Ryan Lewis.

The win was huge, not only because of bragging rights, or because so many top prospects saw a great game in front of a record crowd, but also because with road games to Oklahoma State and North Carolina looming, a 1-3 start to the season was very possible.

33 comments:

  1. Good win today played will but had stupid penalties. Penn state had unbelievable field position today and pitt was hurt with poor position and still won the game.h2p

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  2. A nice win, hopefully no major injuries coming out of this game. Franklin grumbling by the PSU fans that his days are numbered, who knows and who cares.

    OSU next week in Stillwater and it's going to be a difficult game but winnable.

    Hopefully this win helps with recruiting.

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    1. Well, they lost to Central Michigan, maybe Pitt has a shot.

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    2. Pitt definitely has a shot. Oklahoma St isn't that much better. But it's hard for an eastern team to go out west and win for some reason. And the fact that Oklahoma St lost makes me even more worried.

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    3. Commence utilizing heavy packages.

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  3. What do you think of Canada's play-calling, Doke? A lot of Pitt fans say we too-often play not to lose instead of to win — a common complaint under Chryst. Yes, we ran the ball A LOT with the lead, but why not? We were running all over them, and had terrible field position with the lead, but it seemed like the right calls.

    I know Nard is wants to allow his defense to win the game for him. And though Pitt's not quite there yet as a unit that can be counted on to do that, it did work out this time.

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    1. Those mis-directions with Henderson worked better than just about any runs we ran with Boyd. Of course, it helps that Henderson is quite a bit faster. Also good to see more throws to the TE instead of 4-yard screens with Boyd.

      To me, the stars of the game were the O-Line. Mashing all day long.

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  4. Special teams are troubling. Don't know what's wrong with Blewitt but he can't make an FG to save his ass. If this isn't corrected, it will cost us a game of two down the road. Do we have anyone else who can kick?

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    1. Alex Kessman is a true freshman walk on and may be the heir apparent so if Blewitt doesn't snap out of it they may have no choice but to try Kessman.

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    2. Gotta believe Narduzzi is holding a tryout this week.

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  5. I was so nervous about this game I DVRed it. I only wanted to suffer one time if we lost and not be overly excited if we won. After watching the recording, I hope we played a very good Penn State team otherwise we are in for a long season.

    With regard to OSU it will be interesting to see how they take their loss today. Pitt may be walking into a hive of angry hornets next week.

    Thought Pitt would come out tight and have turnover problems, make adjustments at half time and mount a comeback but ultimately lose the game. Wrong on all counts but for some reason I am still feeling pretty happy this evening!

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    1. John: You worry too much! OSU just lost to (in their minds) a much lesser opponent. It's the equivalent to losing to Pitt losing to Youngstown State, or Bowling Green. And they lost in the most heart-wrenching way possible. I mean, c'mon: A Hail Mary AND a lateral? And the more-athletic OSU defender ALMOST stops him?

      That. Is. CRUSHING. For the fans, for sure. They will be on pins and needles — the way Pitt fans have been for ... well, forever. The OSU players? We'll see, but they will not have the confidence they would have after the expected 42-24 blow out of Central Michigan they expected. More importantly, their coaches no longer have as much confidence in the ability of their players and the schemes they run for them.

      Pitt earned their win against PSU. The defense is not as bad as it was in the second half, especially the 4th quarter. They were gassed. If Pitt can run on OSU, they will take the gas out of OSU and their fans.

      We could not ask for a better situation to meet OSU: Pitt players and coaches are confident. They are winners. OSU players and coaches are losers and are not confident.

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    2. Bowling Green PantherSeptember 11, 2016 at 9:41 AM

      That's one possibility. There are losses that can destroy a team's psyche. Maybe they are not as good as was thought. However, I think most teams would respond to such a lock with anger and renewed intensity. If I had a choice, I would rather play a team coming off of a cakewalk versus lesser team than an upset. Overconfidence and a let down after an emotional victory over a rival is far more likely.

      Narduzzi has his psychology work cut out for him this week. They treated this game like their Super Bowl. There's still 10 regular season games to go.

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  6. This probably be taken as blasphemy, and if done impossible for the coaching staff but it is obvious that Hall is a better running back than Connors.
    Connors is obviously a converted defensive player
    without a RB's peripheral vision, ability to follow blockers, and most importantly quick feet a RB must have. Unless the o line creates a big hole he is going to be stuffed.
    He will not make it as RB in NFL. It would be in his interest and Pitt's to move him to LB were his size and relative quickness and toughness could possibly leaded to playing on Sundays after 2 years at the position.

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    1. While they're at it they should probably move Quadree Henderson to the D-Line and Whitehead to kicker....Blewitt looks shaky.

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    2. He was the freaking ACC player of the year

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    3. it will be taken as blasphemy because it is blasphemy. conner has one of the best stiff arms i've ever seen. he doesn't have the fastest feet but in 2014 he had a very good jump cut and other shifty moves. i have no idea how you think a RB whose highlight reel is 2/3 him breaking 3+ tackles per run is going to get stuffed unless the OL creates a big hole.

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  7. Great win. Connor was just an average running back in Erie at Mcdowell High School. He got to Pitt and really turned it up a few notches. Does Pitt have another kicker? Blewitt really looks shaky.

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  8. I'm amazed at the above comments. And not in a good way. Dude just finished 12 chemotherapy doses. Chemo! And continued to work out, best he could, in the process.

    I have a woman friend who was undergoing chemotherapy at the same time, and she STILL can't hardly walk across the room without fainting. I realize a 40-something woman isn't the same as a 20-something college athlete. But point being, give him a chance to regain his strength.

    He looked fine early, got winded late. As one would naturally expect.

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    1. Not to mention a major knee injury.

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  9. Pitt picks up a new recruit tonight, my guess is Reeves. If Pitt keeps the momentum going forward, a rounded out recruiting class like the following isn't impossible.

    Ford ****
    Garbutt****
    Wade *****
    Jeter ****
    Sibley****
    Warren ***
    Munford ***
    Tywan ***
    Proctor ****
    Heyward ***

    Ambry Thomas is still a long shot but not impossible.

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  10. Conner ran too upright

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  11. Pitt is it and the next prediction on 247 is Lamont wade. Just saying

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    1. The last two- both today- are from Ohio State recruiting writers. And one of those guys is 24 for 24 on his predictions so far.

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  12. Seems to me that Wades recruitment is going much the same as Whitehead and Hamlin. National experts picking them to go elsewhere. Spending lots of time at Pitt for games and practice. Near decision time, a few experts start picking them to go to Pitt. No one had Hamlin going to Pitt until October. Wade, Jeter and Ford have said they are going somewhere together. Ford is already to Pitt. Jeter is a heavy lean to Pitt. We are talking about high school kids, but Pitt has a lot of excitement right now and this would just keep the momentum going.

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  13. So if wade goes to Pitt and Webb goes to Georgia, that would mean the top 6 kids in PA... two to Georgia, two to Pitt, two to ND and 0 to PSU. Dominate the state.

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    1. My top 6 has Jeter instead of Webb so on my list Pitt would have 3, ND 2, and GA 1. That would be fantastic.

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  14. Chris, do you have any word on the following players

    Mckee... Is he putting on size for OLB or looking to switch to an already loaded Safety
    Stocker...I thought he would push for playing time this year.
    Pugh and Pine... Are they trying to not burn their redshirts just to give them depth at LB
    Flowers...with Ford out and the lack of talent at WR, I thought he would be at least a name on the list. Don't hear much about him

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    1. They're trying to redshirt Pugh, Pine, and Flowers. McKee and Stocker have no progressed as quickly as others at their positions.

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  15. Dontez Ford out for year after surgery to repair broken collarbone. Who steps up?

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    1. I can see Jester Weah as the one that steps up initially, but I'm thinking that Aaron Mathews will make some major contributions.

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  16. Chris,

    Jeter to ND. True? Thought he was strong on Pitt.

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