Saturday, September 27, 2008

Why Run A Wide Receiver Screen on 3rd and Long

I know this subject has been written about countless times on the blog but I have to do it again. Our offensive play calling continues to be extremely conservative and completely ineffective. Today we ran the exact same types of plays that we have ran since Day 1 of the Wanny and Cavanaugh regime. Our running game finally got on track because we were playing the worst team in the nation. The Syracuse defense can make anybody look good and luckily we played much better in the second half.

The two plays that absolutely infuriated me watching the game is the screen pass to the far receiver on 3rd and long. Finally Baldwin got a chance to touch the ball but he got his chance in a situation where he was bound to fail. Both times we ran this play we got over 8 yards but not the first down which is the most important thing on 3rd down. I like this play call and it would be perfect on a first down but on third down it is giving up. Why even throw the ball if your not going to give the quarterback downfield options. In almost all situations Wanny proves that he has no faith in Bill Stull not to throw an interception. Imagine what that does to a player when the head coach through the play calls tell you that you can't do it and your going to make a mistake.

I realize that we were in field goal range but take a touchdown off the board just because your scared of turning the ball over. How are we going to continue to win these close games where bad decision making and poor play by the other teams bail us out? USF isn't going to hand us the game like Syracuse did after they jumped up to a 14-0 lead. This style of coaching is killing the fanbase and turning even the most ardent fans against Wanny and Co. When you watch college football all day after Pitt plays we look like dinosaurs. Every successful program in the nation has coaching staffs that put the game in their players hands, we absolutely will not give our players the chance to win it on the field.

I'm getting really tired of the section of the fanbase that says "coaches don't play the game". This sentiment is true but it is also extremely misleading. Our players don't get the chance to succeed or to fail, they get a chance to play extremely conservative football and try to manage a small win. To win a game we need to put the ball out there for our guys to make the play or to not make the play. I'm watching the Alabama-Georgia game right now and to start the game off Alabama threw to Julio Jones. A national powerhouse gives a guy like Jones the chance to succeed not do what we do with Jonathan Baldwin. When is Baldwin going to get his chance to succeed or fail because it certainly hasn't come yet, he has exactly two touches in his college career 4 games in.

This game and how difficult the coaching staff made it is a microcasm of what is wrong with the world of Pitt football. The same tired plays, the same mistakes, the same mismanagement of talent, and the same attitude. I know we are told to just suck it up because this is the style of coach we hired but this style of football is not only unappealing to watch it is unsuccessful on the field.

I know we are 3-1 but we should be 4-0. Even the worst opponent on the schedule made it a close game. Wanny is going have another opportunity to embarrass himself on national tv and if we play anything like we played today it will be a giant blowout.


johnny said...

To be honest, I am starting to see the lack of aggressive play calling on the defensive side of the ball as the bigger issue. What happened to all of these turnovers Bennett and Co. were supposed to be generating this season? Why does it take us 3 full quarters to adjust and get some pressure up front? I understand that we are playing without a 100% healthy Murray or Gunn, but injuries are a reality. I don't blame Bennett, because I think that it's not really his call, but the more that I watch this team, the greater impression I have that he's just hanging out for a year or two until something better comes up.

johnny said...

And Julio Jones is all over this damn field tonight...Counting the eventual loser of this UGA-Bama game, 4 of the top ten teams will have lost this week. Crazy.

J Jones said...

Very good point about the defense. We are way too small to just lineup and play against teams. We need to create havoc and use our speed.

Brian Ising said...

I agree with Johnny on the defense. While the offense hasn't exactly been dominant, no one was expecting it to be either. But based on the end of last season, we were led to believe that this defense would be dominant and would be more aggressive and force more turnovers, and that hasn't happened. I expected Bennett to be a great DC like he was at KSU and other places. But we're playing the same read-and-react defense that we've always played. That leads me to the conclusion that we are playing this passive style of defense because that is what Wanny wants.

I didn't have much of a problem with the offensive play-calling. I am starting to get worried about Billy Stull, however. He just does not look very good. I was expecting much more out of him based on what we'd heard. Of course, I also expected a lot out of Baldwin, Nix, and Cross, so what do I know? Anyways, I'd say he's a slight upgrade over last year's QB play only because he's been able to avoid costly turnovers. But he hasn't been much better. His arm strength is pretty pathetic and he misses on too many basic, short throws. Of course, you have to remember that this was still only his 4th complete game.

Its hard to believe that Cross is such an awful passer that he couldn't be doing at least as well as Stull since he adds the threat of a run. But I'm sure we'll never see that because Cross will never be as experienced as Billy and is more likely to make a mistake.

Unfortunately, it appears that the invisible man is part of the traveling squad and will prevent Cross, Baldwin, etc. from seeing playing time at away games as well. I'm just glad that he finally let Shane Murray back on the field.

Finally, the special teams were pretty horrific today. I propose that we fire the special teams coach.