This win was something that everyone needed. We were all ready to abandon ship, but the team was able to bring everyone back for at least a little bit. The stage couldn't have been more perfect for a win. It was homecoming weekend, the attendance was better than expected, and the weekend is ready to conclude with Pitt Basketball fanfest.
This is probably the hardest thing about writing on this site. I want to be overly optimistic, I want to say we've turned the ship around and that despite a 3-4 record we will finish strong. I also don't want to forget the fact that we are coming off of 3 bad losses. This middle ground that we need to walk is very important. The team provided many items that we can get excited about and gave us something we can expect to build on.
I'm not sure if it was Wannstedt sitting upstairs and seeing Mauk run for 56 yards on the very first play which inspired him to start calling blitzes, fake blitzes, and defensive schemes that we haven't seen before. I'm not sure if it was the impressive showing against Navy that allowed Wannstedt to allow Bostick to have a chance to throw the ball early. Something happened today that we have not seen in many years here at Pitt. We had an effective game plan which made us competitive in the first half, and then made the adjustments at halftime which allowed us to win the game.
I believe the moment I knew something had changed was during a play in the 3rd quarter on defense, Thatcher was lined up against a wr, but moved closer to the offensive line showing blitz. This was the first time in a long time we have seen something like this. It was these little changes that threw Cincy off of their game. With all of the footage Cincy had on us, I doubt they were expecting to see us create pressure through various blitz packages while staying in the same base defense. I think it is also important to note that the defensive line had their best game of the season. Tommie Duhart and Greg Romeus deserve special recognition as they played incredibly well and really had a huge impact on the game. Also, great job by Aaron Berry for snagging that INT at the end of the game to preserve the victory. All season long he has been running with his head down and not looking for the ball. Today, he looked for the ball and he found it.
Larod Stephens-Howling also deserves some credit. He was able to rush for 100 yards and provided a great change of pace. We used him in the most appropriate role he fits. We didn't try to force him as a between the tackles runner. He did great on draws, stretch and counter plays. It must have been difficult for Cincy to have Shady running up and down on them all day and when they see LSH come into the game he picks up right where Shady left off and ran all day long. TJ Porter had a decent day pulling in a few passes and coming up with some key plays late in the game, good job. Moe Williams also saw the field more than usual and I think he did pretty well in his limited time. I hope that we will see him utilized more often. Against Louisville we will need to stretch their defense out, Moe Williams is the man who can do that.
I think the players played a great game on the field, but I also think the coaches performed very well. The extra preparation time worked very well. We were ready to handle the Bearcats and knew how to take advantage of their weaknesses. Think about this, we were able to many things today that we have never done before under Wanny. We beat a ranked opponent, we came back in a game where we were down at halftime, and we beat a team we were not favored against.
Going into this game I did not feel we would be able to win based only upon the most recent performances of the team and decisions of the coaching staff. They proved me wrong, and I have never been happier to have been wrong. The big thing about this win is that we should all enjoy it. It was a beautiful day and we were able to be treated to one of the most exciting games at Heinz Field during the Wanny era. Enjoy the successes of the individual players, of the coaches, and of the team as a whole. On the surface, this was a talented underachieving Pitt team that beat a team we should continually beat. We haven't had to much to celebrate this season, so this win feels extra special. Lets not get ahead of ourselves though. We have Louisville next week which will be a tough game. We may win, we may lose, but the important thing to remember is that we can beat any team on any given week. I don't believe that things were as bad as some people made them out to be, and I'm not ready to say that all of our problems are solved.
From here on out, lets just take things week by week and accept this team for what it is. Enjoy the victories we have the rest of the way and try to find the positives as we finish up our last 5 games. Be happy about the win for now, and lets get ready for Louisville.
~ The One and Only ~