The first three weeks of the season absolutely broke me as a Pitt fan. I've never been a fan of Wannstedt and I couldn't believe that this season was going to be any different than the past 3. Losing to Bowling Green opening week just reinforced my pessimistic view of the staff. We came back week 2 and barely squeaked out a win against Buffalo, who over the course of the season has proven to be a decent team. Then we played Iowa when they were starting the wrong quarterback and having much of the same problems that we did, we some how squeaked out another win.
After an extremely shaky first half we found a way to get past Syracuse then game the South Florida game. Beating USF, while USF was still ranked nationally, felt like the turning point of the entire program on that night. Next week at Navy we had our first dominant performance of the Wannstedt era. Then came the big loss at home against Rutgers and we were back to square 1, another terrible home loss for a coach who has had his fair share. At Notre Dame we squeaked out another one and it there were back at weeks 2-4, barely beating teams who we should have arguably blown out.
Then came the big win against Louisville and we were staring down the Big East title. The Cincinatti game was another spirit breaker and another step back from the ultimate goal of a Big East title. An emotional win at the Backyard Brawl helped put the season back on track. Finishing out at UConn with a big win gave us the reward of the Sun Bowl. What a confusing narrative of a season and what is the final story?
Things I have taken from this season:
- Shady is an all-time great player and next year for him has the potential for ultimate greatness. He will be a Heisman contender.
- Our QB situation is much worse than it was at the start of the year. We now have statistical and video proof of the lack of talent we have at the position. Something needs to change here in the off-season.
- If we can find a replacement for Scott McKillop the defense could be great next year. I thought by the end of the season we had a legitimately good defense.
- This team is incredibly resilient and that trait makes them extremely dangerous. I'm in awe of the leadership to keep fighting through bad losses to salvage this season into something positive.
- The offensive line has become a real unit under Tony Wise and I'm interested to see what the line will look like next season.
- Speaking of needing change the offensive play calling needs to be revamped. Whatever we are doing isn't working and bad play calling in key situations has cost us games. If that means a new staff on that side of the ball so be it.
Finally, I would like to say that this season has been a wash for me. We are exactly were I thought we would be and I'm excited to see us in a postseason bowl. All the positives of the postseason bowl are slightly negated with the obvious problems that still exist on the offensive side of the ball. This season feels like the start of the ascension of the program to its place as the power in the Big East but let's not get ahead of ourselves and forget the problems of the season.
All in all a very enthusiastic thumbs in middle (but that is a fairly good thing considering how the season started)