While Jason Jones is on his hiatus, I thought I would say a few things about the game and about our future.
We'll start with the most current item, our 3 point win over perennial powerhouse Syracuse. Looking at 'Cuse, they are a lot like us in terms of coaching. On the field however, we are light years ahead of them in terms of talent. If you were at the game or watched the game on TV, i'm sure you agree that the game was a very boring one. Two similiar pro-style offenses with defenses that play to lose rather than playing to impact the game. The result of that was a big pile of garbage with one bad team with bad play calling philosophies losing to a team with above average talent and terrible play calling philosophies.
Shady didn't have any overly impressive game for his standards, but how nice is it to know that in every game he should be able to give you at least 100 yards and 1 td despite the fact that our OLine is awful. Speaking of which, I am glad Wannstedt chose to run the ball on 4th down both times. What I do not like is having Shady line up 7 yards deep. In a goal line/short yardage set, you need to get the ball to your player as soon as possible. You can not wait too long because the line will most likely break down. The second problem I have is running the ball to the right side on those plays. Why would you run the ball behind Bachman and McGlynn when you have NFL caliber Jeff Otah, and Pitt's second best offensive lineman C.J. Davis on the left side who can blow people off of the ball. Thirdly, I thought for sure we would see Bostick sneak the ball on one of those plays. It was such a short yardage play Vangas just needed to fall forward and let Bostick fall on top of him. Either way, it didn't pan out for us and hopefully (but not likely) a lesson learned.
The defensive line played great. Our down linemen where creating pressure and getting to the quarterback quite easily. However, late in the game when it mattered the most, we went into prevent style defense. If you're unaware of what a prevent defense does.........well, all it does is prevent you from winning.
Following this win many people believe we can take out a faltering USF team as well as a weaker than expected Rutgers team. I am not yet on board with that. One common theme for our Panthers is that we really play to the level of our competition. If we would have played Cuse the way we played Cincy we would have won by 3 touchdowns. Instead we played to the much lower level of Cuse. If you look at other examples, our loss to Ohio we played down, at MSU we played at higher level and going back even farther last year against Louisville and WVU we played to their level (until the 2nd half started). This team needs to create a new mentality if they want to be come a top tier program. They should expect to execute their game plan without any flaws and to expect that they will win every game by a significant margin.
So, is there hope? Sure there is. Rutgers is looking very average and we are going to get USF at the perfect time. The Bulls are not the same team that looked so impressive a few weeks ago against WVU. They are more like the Bulls that started off hot in 2004 but thanks to a hurricane pushed our game back to december when they started their slide allowing us to seal the deal on the Fiesta Bowl. That game was in Tampa, this time it will be in Pittsburgh on a cold November night. Because it is a home game against a struggling team, I think we have our greatest shot at our next win against USF. Rutgers still has a strong running game and the game is in Jersey which will make it tougher. Against WVU...........well, it will take a miracle but hopefully the team gets up for this rivalry game and brings us home a win.
This team will most likely end up 4-8 which is much better than the 2-10 we all thought might happen after the UConn and UVa games. If the play calling does not change we will not win the remaining games. We have the talent, we just don't have the coaching. I still hope that Rhoads and Cavanaugh are gone after this season. We need two guys to come in and tell Wanny that we are going to base our game designs on exploiting weaknesses and playing to our strengths. We can't have a cookie cutter nfl offense and defense in the college level. Spread the field, you may have let Bostick throw 30 times but 20 of those passes seemed like they were bubble screens and quick outs. That will also push the defense back allowing Shady to run. Greg Romeus is a best but as more people find out about him he's going to get double teamed. Williams, Duhart, and Clermond make great additions to that line. If we show some pressure like we did earlier in the game, we can have a solid rushing defense that gets a ton of pressure on the quarterback. We need to be more gutsy, but do it in the right situations. Don't do it just for the sake of doing it. Be strong, be confident, but in the end, be smart.
~ The One and Only ~