Saturday, December 26, 2009

Things to look for at the Car Care Bowl

Well folks, we are only a mere 5 hours from kickoff in Charlotte, North Carolina as our Panthers take on the Tarheels. In a game that should be (and I hope will be) a win for Pitt there are a few things you should keep your eyes on.

1. How much will the home field advantage benefit UNC? Playing UNC in North Carolina was one of the reasons we were able to take the Car Care Bowl from Rutgers. UNC agreed to purchased a large allotment of our tickets to make this game happen. Now, will the extra powder blue in the stands be a benefit?

2. Will Bill Stull erase his Sun Bowl performance and leave Pitt fans remembering his last game on a good note? This is the last chance that Stull has to redeem himself from the Sun Bowl performance. The only way to erase a poor performance in a meaningless bowl game is to go out the next year and have a great performance in a meaningless bowl game. A good game today for Bill will have fans remember this year as the point where Bill turned it around as a Qb and made big strides. A poor performance will leave fans with a sour taste in their mouth for years to come.

3. Will Wannstedt finnaly win the big game? His whole career people have said he could never win the big game. His biggest win thus far came in a game where Pitt had nothing on the line. We had a chance to end this thought against Cincy 2 years in a row now, but have failed. Today Dave Wannstedt has the chance to earn that elusive 10th win that Pitt has been searching for since Dan Marino was slinging passes around. Just like Stull, a win here will change perceptions and a loss will only confirm it further.

4. Will Dion Lewis put up another monster game? A huge game here will cement Dion's status as a heisman candidate for next year. This game is crucial as the momentum he takes in to this game can be increased heading into the 2010 season. Half of the battle for winning the Heisman is earning that early hype. Dion has a chance to do it today.

5. Will Dorin Dickerson be rediscovered for the 2nd time? Dorin had a fantastic season and showed Pitt fans why he was such a highly rated recruit. Today is Dorins chance to end the season showing that with patience and hard work you can be successful and go to the NFL even if things don't look that way early on. The last two games vs WVU and Cincy saw Dorin phased out of the offense when we could have used him. Hopefully FCj finds a way to get Dorin back in the game making big plays.

My last 5 questions for the game are just small personal ones that probably mean more to me than most fans.

6. Will Oderick Turner, Steve Dell, Shane Murray, and other guys who are seniors get some extra playing time in their last game today?

7. Will we see any creative offensive play calling or will we call the dinosaur-offense plays that we saw vs WVU.

8. If we struggle will we stick to what has got us to 9-3 or will we make changes to win this game?

9. Will the secondary step up in what is their last chance to do so?

10. How will Max Gruder play in his home state?

All of these questions wil be answered around 7 p.m. tonight as the game winds down and Pitt hopefully walks off the field with that 10th win.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

2 important notes

First off as many people know. Expect our next football verbal to come on Dec 21. One of our visitors had a great time and with Maryland looking like it's not going to be a good program for quite some time, Pitt is clearly the leader for this young man.

Secondly, the deadline for the Bowl Pick'em is Friday since bowl games start on the 19th. Email your picks to or

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bowl Pick'em

Last year we had some fun doing this and we will do it again. I will buy the winner Uncle Sam's, maybe Johnny's Place if you really want it.

Here's how it works:

You pick the winner of each game. Each Bowl game is worth 1 point a piece. The BCS Bowls are worth 2 each.

In case of a tie we will use this tie breaker method. You pick the score of the Pitt/UNC game. Who ever is closest in total points wins. If there is a tie after that, who ever is closer in points scored by Pitt wins, if there is a tie after that whoever is closer in points scored by UNC. If for some miraculous reason there is a tie after that, I'll buy everyone who submits picks some food.

Here are your games.

New Mexico Dec. 19
2:30 p.m.
Albuquerque, NM Wyoming vs. Fresno State ESPN
St. Petersburg Dec. 19
8 p.m.
St. Petersburg, FL Rutgers vs. UCF ESPN
R&L Carriers New Orleans Dec. 20
8 p.m.
New Orleans, LA MTSU vs. Southern Miss ESPN
MAACO Las Vegas Dec. 22
8 p.m.
Las Vegas, NV Oregon State vs. BYU ESPN
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Dec. 23
8 p.m.
San Diego, CA Utah vs. California ESPN
Sheraton Hawaii Dec. 24
8 p.m.
Honolulu, HI Nevada vs. SMU ESPN
Emerald Dec. 26
8:30 p.m.
San Francisco, CA Boston College vs. USC ESPN
Meineke Car Care Dec. 26
4 p.m.
Charlotte, NC North Carolina vs. Pittsburgh ESPN
Little Caesars Dec. 26
1 p.m.
Detroit, MI Ohio vs. Marshall ESPN
Gaylord Hotels Music City Dec. 27
8 p.m.
Nashville, TN Kentucky vs. Clemson ESPN
Independence Dec. 28
5 p.m.
Shreveport, LA Texas A&M vs. Georgia ESPN
Champs Sports Dec. 29
8 p.m.
Orlando, FL Miami (FL) vs. Wisconsin ESPN
EagleBank Dec. 29
4:30 p.m.
Washington, DC Army or UCLA** vs. Temple ESPN
Pacific Life Holiday Dec. 30
8 p.m.
San Diego, CA Nebraska vs. Arizona ESPN
Roady's Humanitarian Dec. 30
4:30 p.m.
Boise, ID Idaho vs. Bowling Green ESPN
Texas Dec. 31
3:30 p.m.
Houston, TX Missouri vs. Navy ESPN
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Dec. 31
Fort Worth, TX Air Force vs. Houston ESPN
Brut Sun Dec. 31
El Paso, TX Stanford vs. Oklahoma CBS
Insight Dec. 31
5:30 p.m.
Tempe, AZ Minnesota vs. Iowa State NFL
Chick-fil-A Dec. 31
7:30 p.m.
Atlanta, GA Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee ESPN
Outback Jan. 1
11 a.m.
Tampa, FL Northwestern vs. Auburn ESPN
Capital One Jan. 1
1 p.m.
Orlando, FL Penn State vs. LSU ABC
Konica Minolta Gator Jan. 1
1 p.m.
Jacksonville, FL West Virginia vs. Florida State CBS
Rose presented by Citi Jan. 1
5 p.m.
Pasadena, CA Oregon vs. Ohio State ABC
Allstate Sugar Jan. 1
8:30 p.m.
New Orleans, LA Florida vs. Cincinnati FOX
AT&T Cotton Jan. 2
2 p.m.
Arlington, TX Oklahoma State vs. Mississippi FOX
AutoZone Liberty Jan. 2
5:30 p.m.
Memphis, TN East Carolina vs. Arkansas ESPN
International Jan. 2
Toronto, Canada South Florida vs. Northern Illinois ESPN2 Jan. 2
2 p.m.
Birmingham, AL Connecticut vs. South Carolina ESPN
Valero Alamo Jan. 2
9 p.m.
San Antonio, TX Texas Tech vs. Michigan State ESPN
Tostitos Fiesta Jan. 4
Glendale, AZ TCU vs. Boise State FOX
FedEx Orange Jan. 5
8 p.m.
Miami, FL Georgia Tech vs. Iowa FOX
GMAC Jan. 6
7 p.m.
Mobile, AL Central Michigan vs. Troy ESPN
Citi National Championship Jan. 7
8 p.m.
Pasadena, CA Texas vs. Alabama ABC

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Final Jones Pick Record

Final Record: 45-31

I did a little worse than I would have expected after starting the season so hot. At least I finished over .500.

Taking your foot off the gas

There was plenty wrong with yesterdays game. We played a good team, we didn't change as we needed to, we suffered from some awful calls, and in the end, we confirmed everyone's thoughts of "Same Old Pitt".

This was the biggest game for Pitt this decade. A chance to establish ourselves, a chance to earn a BCS spot, a chance to take the "loser" tag away from Dave Wannstedt.

We were not able to achieve that.

We played to not lose the game, that is what killed us.

If you want to see the main reason why, click here and look at our drives in the 3rd quarter. Not packing it in and sitting on a lead could have yielded better results for us. We ran the ball on 25 out of our 28 1st down plays. On those 3 passing attempts, we had 2 interceptions. Run, Run, Pass in the 3rd quarter against an explosive offense is not the way to win the game and is not the way to win championships. The 2nd half offense was nothing like our 1st half offense. There is no way we would take any type of risk in the 2nd half with our coaching mentality Hell, I'm shocked we used the flea flicker when we were up 24 to 10 in the 2nd.

Here are some of my points for this game.

Our back 7 were put in a position to fail. Every time UC went to a 4 or 5 wide receiver set, we had Max Gruder lined up in single coverage on a wide receiver. Why we did not switch to a nickel package here is baffling. Playing the 4-3 on every play and refusing to blitz is asking to lose. We will be stuck with this type of defense as long as Wannstedt is here. He really has not changed defensively and is another reason why we lost this game and can not put teams away.

I have a feeling Wanny told Cig to pack it in the 2nd half as well. In the first half we were able to run at will and showed some good play calls when we used screens and high percentage passing plays to keep the Cincy defense on their heals. In the 2nd half, they stuck 8 guys in the box forcing us to run outside. We didn't change and we were shut down. Play action was needed in the 3rd quarter, but was missing. We also didn't effectively use our other weapons. Baldwin and Lewis had the most catches on the day combining for a total of 11 receptions. Outside of that, only Byham and Shanahan had catches. They had 1 reception each. So much for using Dorin these last two games.

The officials were just flat out bad. I didn't have the best view of the Holley late hit and some are saying he initiated contact in bounds, others said he was 3 yards out of bounds, I'm not sure so we'll let that one go. Even though it didn't matter, that picking up the flag on the facemask was attrocious. It was easily visible from our seats in 240, the refs saw it as well. I'm tired of the Big East having suck ass refs all of the time. We were boned in 13-9, we were boned yesterday. The PI calls were questionable at best. There were two illegal blocks on Gilyards kickoff TD, and Gus Mustakas was being held like crazy. I don't see how a team who throws the ball 44 times can't be called for holding just once..........wait, I do see how. There was an undefeated team playing in the Big East. Say what you want, I don't care, but the Big East is pulling for their teams to go undefeated to improve the conference's reputation. By doing that, they're actually making it look worse. LSU was screwed 2 weeks ago for Alabama. Pitt was screwed yesterday for Cincy. I hope UF comes out and destroys UC.

Our special teams have to be the worst of any BCS conference team. Wanny is happy with Aaron Smith just catching a punt and not returning it. Cam Saddler had made several mistakes throughout the season and him catching the ball, AS IT WAS GOING OUT OF BOUNDS was a killer too. Ray Graham slipping was unfortunate, but that will happen in snowy games. The worst though was continually kicking to Gilyard. Even when we tried a shorter kick with a big hang time, we couldn't do that. When we play teams like that, squib kicking to their bigger upfield guys is the way to go. Sure you give them startin position between the 30-40, but you take away the chance for guys like Gilyard to house a kick like we saw yesterday. All of these problems (except Graham slipping) fall directly on Wannstedt as the special teams coach. Last year we were happy because we were blocking kicks. This year we have seen our special teams fall apart. Outside of the blocked punt yesterday, I can't remember a play on special teams where I thought we were working well. Also, why is Graham returning kicks instead of Aundre Wright? Wright is better suited for the spot and is just wasting a scholarship because he is basically the same person as Cam. The same question goes for Kevin Harper. This kid a big leg on him and was recruited to Pitt. Not using him is wasting a scholarship. I don't see how we can continue to use Hutchins after he has missed so many extra points this season. There is just so much to complain and so much need to fix on specials teams right now.

I feel very bad for Andrew Janocko. He messed up, he knows it, yet the fans are being very hard on the kid. I hope he can put this past him because this is the type of thing that can stick with a guy like Scott Norwood.

Dion Lewis had a great freshman year. He surpassed all of my expectations and really proved me wrong. I thought that a short running back from New Jersey would never succeed and thought that Burns, Collier, and Harris would be the guys ready to step in. I was wrong. I just hope that those 47 carries aren't adding up too fast. Wannstedt has a history of over working backs and this could be the same thing with Dion. He is a small guy, but he's our small guy for atleast 1 to 3 more years (I don't see him leaving early).

At the end of the day, this is something we have come to expect as Pitt fans. We didn't improve this year, we have the same result as last year. We are a 9 win team that easily could be undefeated. We lost two games at the end of the year that could have led to us earning a better bowl. This is not the next level, this is Pitt's level. Nate Byham said that if we didn't win the Big East, then this would be a disappointing season. Dave Wannstedt said that by year 5 we would have a Big East championship, and we don't. All Pitt fans should start becoming restless. We now have more depth than we have ever had, but we're not any better than we were. We're a slightly above average team in a garbage conference. I will not defend the staff here. They are the ones that blew it. They are the ones that shut everything down when we had late leads vs NC State and UC. They are the ones that decided to go through the motions vs WVU instead of coming out with fire, intensity, and creative play calling.

If you look at the history of our coaches, this all points back to Dave Wannstedt. Anyone remember the Jet's amazing come back vs a Wannstedt led Dolphins team? That is what it feels like. Bennett has never run such a passive, non-adaptive defense. When he leaves to take another job next year, I can't wait to see what type of defenses he has coming out. Sticking in a 4-3 base defense is begging to lose.

Cignetti did a great job teaching Bill Stull how to be a good quarterback. He let the offense complete the plays they needed to without asking them do things they were unable to accomplish. Then at the WVU game, the naked bubble screen, and multiple consecutive runs up the middle mysteriously came back. Yesterday we opened up our offense in the first half and were able to put up 31 points. In the 2nd half, we played Martyball, Cowherball, Wannyball, whatever you want to call it-ball. When you play that style, you are begging to lose. There is a reason why Wanny failed in the NFL, a reason why Cowher needed 15 years to win a championship, and the reason why Schottenheimer has never won a playoff game. I don't care about how he won 9 or 10 games in the NFL. He never won his division, he never made the playoffs. Here at Pitt, he hasn't won 10 regular season games, he hasn't earned a trip to the BCS.

I'm ready for all of the Wanny apologists to come here and bash him. This is what has happened time after time and is the reason why we will never get over the hump here at Pitt. People are too excited to have a Pitt guy they know won't leave. They are excited that they have a guy who speaks just like them. They're excited to talk about how Wannstedt is recruiting the WPIAL. None of that should matter. We just played the easiest schedule we have had since I've been a Pitt fan. We played the easiest schedule since Wannstedt has taken over. We played a season where all of our real "tough" games were at home. Yet we found a way to make 9 wins a disappointing season.

We won't get rid of Wannstedt because he has gotten us to a point that the athletics department and Chancellor Nordenberg love. He's winning enough to get us to bowls, he's winning enough to keep the yinzer die-hart Wanny lovers happy, and he's winning enough to help make the program some money without having to spend the extra cash to take us from above-average to excellent.

It took Brian Kelly 3 years with 2 and 3 star talent (if you follow that stuff) to have an undefeated season. It took Wanny 5 years with 4 star talent to have a chance for the BCS but to finish 3rd in the conference.

Wanny is not the answer, but he is also not all of the problem. The problem is the fans who are willing to accept this. The problem is the Chancellor who is so in love with the coach that he won't force him to change. We almost saw Matt Cavanaugh be replaced with Matt Cavanaugh (Noel Mazzone) until the $$$ donors stepped up and helped us land Cig. Now after back to back 9 win seasons, get ready for Gattuso to be named DC once Bennett leaves so that we can run the exact same 4-3 defense with no pressure.

We don't have the talent to compete for national championships with our style of play. Nick Saban runs the same style of football as us, but he has a team full of future NFL players at every position. We have a handful of NFL players at a handful of positions.

This is what we have Pitt fans, every few years we will be competitive for the Big East, never for a national championship. Until we demand a change, this is what we will look forward to for the rest of our lives as Pitt fans.

If you don't like what I have to say, then don't read the site. Simple as that.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Pitt-Cincy Predictions

Big East Title Game!!! This is the biggest game for Pitt in the history of Heinz Field. The BCS is on the line and we get to say goodbye to a senior class that has built the foundation of this program under Wanny. What a great day for the conference and a great day for Pitt.
  • Dion Lewis is going to put an exclamation point on his season here. We have leaned heavily on his ability to gain big yards this season and tomorrow will be no exception. Cincy has a suspect defense and I'm expecting Dion to have a huge day. 22 carries, 188 yards, 3 TDs
  • This entire game is going to rest on Bill Stull's shoulders. Last week, he reverted to his form from last year and it cost us the game. If he doesn't step into passes and looks to his second or 3rd read he can be successful. I have absolutely no clue how he is going to play after watching the WVU game.
  • Defensively we need to be extremely aggressive. If we sit around in the base 4-3 all game Cincy will kill us in the passing game. Letting Tony Pike sit around and beat us can lead to a huge blowout. The secondary needs to tackle well to keep the big plays to a minimum.
  • Wanny needs to cut the mistakes out of his coaching. The WVU game was an example of his limitations as a decision maker. No weird personnel choices and 53 yard field goals. We have to play to win not to keep the game close. Win or lose we need to go down swinging.
I'm so excited for the game tomorrow. The BCS would be massive for the program and a loss means a bad bowl situation. Feast or famine here Panther fans.

Pitt 38 Cincy 35

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Week 14 Jones Picks

Current Record: 42-29

Last week was a big win for me picking some underdogs in South Carolina and Mississippi State. This week is my chance to get over 60% for the season. Conference title games is going to be very tough to pick.
  • (16) Oregon State vs (7) Oregon: The Civil War. I'm going to use my Pac 10 theory in that teams rarely win big games on the road. This is for the Rose Bowl and is a rivalry game so I would expect this to go down to the last possession. Jones Pick: Oregon
  • Ohio vs Central Michigan: MAC Title game. This is a tough one to pick since I haven't exactly kept up on my MAC watching. I know a little about Central Michigan from watching them lose me money not covering a spread. Take this as an absolute guess so I may not even take credit for the win if I get it. Jones Pick: Ohio
  • (23) West Virginia vs Rutgers: Absolutely huge games in terms of our bowl situation. It Rutgers wins they would almost certainly get the Meineke Car Care Bowl. West Virginia has been very up and down this season so this is a difficult game to call. Jones Pick: West Virginia
  • (1) Florida vs (2) Alabama: If this game would have been played 7 weeks ago I would have said Alabama in a walk. Since that time I have watched Bama struggle with every single team they have played and need cheating from the SEC to keep an undefeated record. Florida has gotten much better over the course of the season. Tim Tebow's play will decide this game. If Florida can move the ball they will win the game. Jones Pick: Florida
  • (3) Texas vs (22) Nebraska: If you hate the BCS as much as I do we need to pray for a Texas loss. I've said this the entire season but Texas is not as good as they were last year. To me they are the most vulnerable 0 loss team outside of the SEC title game to lose this week. Nebraska has the defense and running game to cause Texas problems. I wouldn't expect it to happen but Texas can very easily lose this game. Jones Pick: Texas
Should be an amazing week of college football. I will be back with the predictions for the Pitt-Cincy game tomorrow.

Cat Basket Podcat Number 28

Very brief podcast with a little about Foge Fazio passing away and some lead up to the Cincy-Pitt game on Saturday.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Same old Pitt

Well that loss hurts. This is a game we've come to expect to lose. Despite the set back in coaching and performance all is not lost.

We need to focus every ounce of energy into beating Cincinnati. We need to play perfect on both sides of the ball.

If we are unable to, it could be a rough December with a trip to either Charlotte, Toronto, or Birmingham. Personally I'd rather go to Miami, New Orleans, or Phoenix.

Let's buck up and win this game next week.

Pitt-WVU Predicitions

Here is it everybody. The 102nd playing of the Backyard Brawl. For the first time in many years Pitt is the team with everything to lose when we travel to Morgantown. 7 PM National TV on ESPN after the awesome Duke-UConn NIT final sets up for a classic in this series. Next week is the Big East Title game for Pitt but today is for more than a bowl, this is all about pride. WVU hates us and we hate them. Games like this are what we live for as college football and most importantly fans of our Panthers. On to the predictions:
  • Turnovers are going to decide this game. Playing on the road in a hostile involvement it will be important for us to control the ball. Creating turnovers against WVU would go a long way to slowing them down. Romeus and Sheard have had some great games against WVU in the past and this year will be no different. Brown has been coughing the ball up against lesser defenses so this game will be more of the same.
  • Dion Lewis needs to chew up yards like he has done every game this season. WVU will not be able to handle our power game. The more yards we can gain in the rushing game the more we can control the clock. As he has done all year expect a few big plays from Dion, he is going write himself into the history of this rivalry. 27 carries 184 yards 2 TD
  • Bill Stull has to continue playing the way that he has all season. There are going to be spots in this game where we need a play in the passing game and he needs to provide that play. I'm not sure if he will have a huge statistical game but where you can measure his success is how well we move the ball. I have faith in Stull to make the big play when necessary.
  • We have to continue to make the right coaching decisions. Stewart is in way over his head at WVU and has made it a habit of blowing games with his own incompetence. Don't become the Wanny of old here and everybody knows what I mean.
I'm very excited. Any chance we have to stick it in WVU's face is always a good one. Big game for the program in terms of perception too. Be careful if you are going to Morgantown today and if not enjoy the game. I will probably do some tweeting during the game depending on how drunk I get.

Pitt 28 WVU 10

LET'S GO PITT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Jones Picks Week 13

Current Record: 34-26

Very sorry for the lack of updates here at the website. The long absence was not planned it just happened. Last week missing my picks was all on me for forgetting. This week I will pick a bunch of games to make up for it. On to the picks:
  • (3) Texas vs Texas A&M: There has been some hype in the media about this game being a possible upset. I respect that A&M has a great home field advantage but this is a blowout. Texas has that National Title game spot completely wrapped up. Jones Pick: Texas
  • (5) Cincinnati vs Illinois: This is going to be a comical blowout and I will enjoy it. The bottom of the Big 10 is like the MAC. Way to schedule a cupcake the week before the Big East title game to preserve that undefeated record. Jones Pick: Cincinnati
  • (2) Alabama vs Auburn: If I was going to pick a big upset here is where it is. Bama has made every game this season closer than it should be. Rivalry games usually mean the game is even closer. This could come down to the final drive. Jones Pick: Alabama
  • (18) Clemson vs South Carolina: I have a deep hatred of how the ACC is ranked in the polls. This Clemson ranking is an absolute joke. They are not a good team and they did a great job of proving that earlier in the season. South Carolina still has a good enough defense to shut down Clemson. Jones Pick: South Carolina
  • (25) Ole Miss vs Mississippi State: I've been so disappointed by Ole Miss this year. Miss State is on their way to building a competitive program under Dan Mullen. This is very much a crapshoot game to me. Jones Pick: Miss State
  • (12) Oklahoma State vs Oklahoma: The popular wisdom here is that Oklahoma is way better at home and that Ok State has too much to lose. I really doubt this is going to be an upset for Oklahoma though. Jones Pick: Oklahoma State
  • (17) Miami vs South Florida: USF doesn't want to hear this but if they want to get to the next level they have to fire Jim Levitt. He just isn't a guy who can win you all the big games consistently. This is a big game for USF so guess what I am expecting. Jones Pick: Miami
  • (21) Utah vs (19) BYU: I think they home field advantage for BYU here will be the decider. Jones Pick: BYU
  • Arkansas vs (15) LSU: This is a very intriguing game to me. I think that Arkansas can pull the upset just because LSU has lost motivation. Jones Pick: Arkansas
  • Georgia vs (7) Georgia Tech: Georgia Tech has not impressed me all that much this season. This is a big time rivalry game but I think Tech wins. Jones Pick: Georgia Tech
  • Notre Dame vs Stanford: Welcome to the unemployment line Charlie Weis. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy. Jones Pick: Stanford
This should make up for not picking last week.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cat Basket Podcast Number 27

Here it is the post ND game edition.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Pitt vs Notre Dame preview from a ND Fan

Last year before we took on the Irish, my friend (and Irish fan even though he goes to Florida State) wrote a recap for the Basket. His prediction was wrong as Pitt won the game in South Bend. This year, Kent Brown is back again with his Pitt/ND preview. (spoiler - He picks ND to win again).

Pitt hopes to keep momentum as stumbling Irish come to Heinz Field

By Kent Brown

It was supposed to be the biggest home game in Dave Wannstedt’s career.

The 7-2 Fighting Irish coming to town against, looking for a BCS Bowl Game and sporting a top 20 ranking. College Gameday in the Steel City. The Panthers with an 8-1 record, a top 10 ranking and 5 straight wins.

Perhaps the biggest game Pitt has played since they upset WVU 13-9 and spoiled the Mountaineers goal of playing for the national championship.

There was just one little problem, Navy 23 Notre Dame 21 in South Bend, Indiana. College Gameday gone and off to Forth Worth for Utah @ TCU. Notre Dame goes from a clear top 20 team to out of the top 25.

Does the appeal go away? A bit. But this is still a huge game for both teams. And I would say it is safe to say that this game means a lot more for ND than it does for Pitt. This is a non-conference game for Pitt and all that truly matters is the remainder of the Big East season.

In fact, this game is not just big for the Irish, but it is monumental for Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis. If he loses this game, it may be the end of the road for him in South Bend.

So what will happen? Will the Irish come to Pittsburgh motivated and play to “Win one for Coach Weis.” Or will the Panthers do what they’ve been doing all season, and dominate the opposition. Make no mistake, Pitt has been the better team this season. But are they much better than Notre Dame? I don’t think so.

For Notre Dame to win this game, quite a few things must happen. First and foremost, the Notre Dame offensive line must to a great job of blocking Pitt’s front four. Mick Williams, Greg Romeus and Jabaal Sheard are all having very good seasons. In Notre Dame’s 2nd loss of the season, USC routinely got into the Notre Dame backfield with just 3 and 4 rushes. If this occurs again, expect the Panthers to win.

One more key is what will Notre Dame do when they get into the red zone. It’s clear that Notre Dame lost last week’s game because of their ineffectiveness in the red zone. The Irish have had 39 red zone trips this season and have scored only 20 touchdowns. When you have future 1st round picks in QB Jimmy Clausen, WR Michael Floyd, WR Golden Tate, TE Kyle Rudolph, you should be better than that.

It’s clear that the one game this season in which Clausen was held in check was Boston College. Note, Clausen was 26 for 39 with 2 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. However, the BC defense forced Clausen to dink ‘n dunk. The Irish needed long, sustained drives. This should be Pitt’s strategy. If they bring the blitz, it will almost definitely be a long day for the Panthers defense because their cornerbacks will not be able to keep up with Floyd and Tate one-on-one.

And finally, how will the Irish contain potential All-American RB Dion Lewis? If Lewis establishes himself early, I really do not see any way the Irish will keep Pitt under 30 points. What the Irish need to do is hold Lewis to about 100 yards rushing, but make him earn those yards. Any big yardage plays will mean the Irish will be hesitant and that will open things up for Dickerson and Baldwin. And believe me, Dickerson is going to have a big game. I would imagine somewhere near 8 -10 receptions, 120-140 yards and 1-2 TD’s. Baldwin had the big 4th down catch in the 4th quarter last season and I have no doubt that Pitt will look for Baldwin in those red zone situations this season.

What I expect to happen is both teams will move the ball, especially between the 20’s. The big difference will be who can punch it the end zone when both teams are in the red zone? I am still not sure, but I do expect Notre Dame to abandon the run, for the most part, with just 1 scholarship Tight End healthy. Notre Dame’s TE Kyle Rudolph is out for the game and the Irish will probably not be able to run the ball that well on Pitt anyway.

Not too mention, Notre Dame’s best bet to beat Pitt is through the air. If there is a glaring weakness on Pitt’s team, it’s the secondary. Notre Dame’s best strength is their passing attack. Coming off of a loss to Navy in what could be a “must-win” game for head coach Charlie Weis, I expect the Irish to come out fighting with everything they have. This is not to say Pitt won’t play hard, but they may not need it as much.

However, the Irish defense is not talented enough to shut down Pitt. But once again, if they can hold Pitt’s red hot offense to FG’s in the red zone rather than touchdowns, expect the Irish to pull out a close victory.

My final prediction is a high-scoring, close game that should go down to the final couple of minutes. Jimmy Clausen has been as good as any team in the country this season. And he has been remarkable in the final minutes of every game. With the Irish in must-win mode against a good Pitt team, there is no reason to expect anything other than a close game.

Pitt will score plenty, as will Notre Dame. With that, I think Notre Dame score touchdowns in the red zone, rather than field goals. Add in the fact that I believe Notre Dame will win the turnover margin. Since Charlie Weis has taken over as Irish head coach in 2005, only one team has had more games without a turnover, and that is Florida. Last week’s -3 turnover margin vs. Navy was not typical and I don’t expect more than 1 turnover this week.

I would not be surprised if either team wins, however I would be very surprised if it's a blowout. I'm going with Clausen and the Irish passing attack to outshine the Panthers Saturday night.

Final score: Notre Dame 34, Pitt 30.

Pitt-Notre Dame Predictions

So here it is. Tomorrow will be the highest attended game in Heinz Field history. In a base sense this game means absolutely nothing to our bowl aspirations (outside of making it harder for the Gator Bowl to choose ND). The grander scheme of the program this is a watershed moment. Our attendance problems have been well documented and the city hasn't embraced this team in the way we would all hope. Beating Notre Dame in front of a packed house gives us an opportunity to put the fairweather and bandwagon fans on notice, Pitt is back. Tomorrow means the world for the program in an abstract sense. On to some predictions:
  • Dion Lewis is going to have a monster game. ND was pushed around and outplayed by Navy's offensive line last week. I'm expecting us to give them a big dose of the running game in an effort to control the clock. A big game here could mean an All American season for Lewis. Stat Line: 30 carries 185 yards 2 TDs
  • We will find out what the defense is very quickly tomorrow night. I'm of the opinion that our defense hasn't been tested by a proficient passing attack since NC State. ND has a fantastic passing attack that will hit us where our defense hasn't been successful under Wannstedt. Golden Tate is the best player we have had to defend against this season and he is a threat to score every time he touches the ball. Bad tackling and missed assignments in the secondary is going to mean a touchdown. There is no margin for error against a team that can sling it the way ND does. Can the defensive line get enough pressure? Can we break up the big passes? Can we make the tackles necessary to slow this offense down? Those are the questions I think need to be answered.
  • I expect Stull to get some chances to make the big play tomorrow. ND is going to stack the line and allow our wide receivers to get into single coverage. Stull needs to continue his great play in order for us to win this game and I think he will. Whatever you can say about Stull this year you can say he has made the necessary plays. More than any other player on the field this is a game that can frame Stull's legacy at Pitt.
I'm very optimistic about our chances tomorrow. ND matches up very well against us. Wannstedt needs to find a way to win this game for the fans and for the program. Shutting down Notre Dame's passing attack would answer every question I have about our team this year. The NC State loss will no longer live in the back of all of our heads if we prove our improvement tomorrow. Everybody enjoy that atmosphere and getting to play in front of the eyes of college football.

ND 24 Pitt 31

Let's Go Pitt!!!!!!!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Week 11 Jones Picks

Current Record: 30-25

Last week I called the Oregon upset on the podcast after I had them winning on the website. That was not me hedging my bets that was just me being dumb and thinking I put Stanford to win that game. There are more good games this week so hopefully I can have a decent week.
  • (25) West Virginia vs (5) Cincinnati: I have been of the opinion since his first game in charge at WVU that Bill Stewart is the worst coach in the country. If everything was equal I would say WVU has a great chance to pull the upset here but Stewart is their coach so do that math. Don't expect a blowout but Cincy will keep rolling. Jones Pick: Cincinnati
  • (10) Iowa vs (11) Ohio State: Here is what I love about the way the Big Ten is covered by the media. I'm led to believe that it is impossible to win against Northwestern if you lose your starter like Iowa did. Those bottom tier Big 10 teams are so tough, in fact they are so tough they lose tons of games just because. This will be a horrible game and all we will hear about next week is how OSU is back and everybody was wrong about Pryor. Jones Pick: Ohio State
  • (2) Alabama vs Mississippi State: The SEC will not let Alabama lose no matter the circumstance. The blown interception call against LSU was as close to fixing a game as I have ever seen. This game is going to be very close and I'm guessing a phantom call keeps MSU from winning. Jones Pick: Alabama
  • (16) Utah vs (4) TCU: This is a tough one to call. All the pressure of the college football world is now on TCU's shoulders. Utah is a very good team and capable of pulling this upset. It kills me to pick this way because I always hope for the BCS to get ruined. Jones Pick: Utah
  • (17) Arizona vs California: Rule number 1 of college football. PAC 10 teams that have something to lose always find a way to lose during road games. It is a tradition as old as the conference itself. So scratch plans of Arizona winning out getting to the Rose Bowl. Jones Pick: California
Tomorrow I will do the predictions for the Pitt-ND game. If all goes well there will be a podcast up before midnight on Friday night previewing the game.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Friday, November 6, 2009

Cat Basket Podcast Number 25

Review of the time we missed on the podcast plus a little Syracuse preview. Enjoy!

Cat Basket Podcast Number 25

Pitt-Syracuse Predictions

I don't know about everyone else but it feels great to have everything to lose in a game like this. The 6 years I have been watching Pitt play I have always dreaded the games against Syracuse. Not because we lose them but because they are usually so tough to watch. This is 150% a trap game and finishing Syracuse off early is a priority. On to some predictions:
  • Syracuse quietly has a good run defense. I would expect their gameplan is going to make Stull beat them by stacking the box to stop Lewis. This is going to result in a huge day for Stull and the playmakers in the passing game. Baldwin will continue his streak of breaking off huge plays every game and Dickerson will add to his touchdown total. Stull 25 for 30 295 yards 4 TD
  • On the other side of the ball Syracuse is a mess. I can't see how they are going to move the ball on us without a dangerous passing game. In no way am I forgetting the leaky faucet that our passing defense resembles at times but Cuse will have trouble exploiting that weakness. I'm expecting a few turnovers created from the defense as well.
  • I have an odd feeling that we may come out a little flat just due to the bye week and looking forward to the big final stretch. Expect the score to be close in the first quarter and then we will blow it wide open.
I realize this is a noon start but I'm really hoping for a decent turnout. This is a top 15 team with everything to gain in the next 4 weeks and the city getting behind them in a game like this would be great. There may be a special surprise up on the website later tonight if everything goes to plan.

Pitt 34 Syracuse 7

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pitt making some changes

It is almost as if Wannstedt is reading the blogs and message boards with some of the changes we are seeing. This week it was announced that Jarred Holley will be starting at safety. This is a move that almost all Pitt fans have been asking for as he has proven he is probably the best safety we have at the moment. I don't think that we will see Fields moved to linebacker at any point as we probably need Holley to move to cornerback next year along side either Buddy Jackson or Antuan Reed.

After the USF game there were a bunch of fans saying that Fields was playing linebacker. I hate to break it to those fans, but even coach Wannstedt said that we were playing a nickel package. That's right folks, the defensive scheme that Jones, myself, and other fans have been legitimately screaming for since he took over was finally implemented. We game planned for USF perfectly by switching to that package because you could tell USF was completely unprepared for it. By having the extra defensive back in the game as well as using Adam Gunn to spy the quarterback the entire game, it shut down the USF offense. Don't be surprised if we do the exact same thing against Cincy later in the year. To be honest, I wouldn't mind if we used that package all season long. Fields seems to play best by moving around and being able to make plays on the ball instead of being set in specific positions for the package. I also believe it is more of an upgrade having him out there as the 5th DB versus having Max Gruder as the 3rd linebacker.

Speaking of linebackers, Dan Mason was finally moved to the outside. This has 2 positives and 1 negative associated with it. The first positive is that Adam Gunn has played extremely well showing that Jason and I were completely wrong when we felt that Mason should start over him. Gunn has been the most improved player in the conference this year and really has excelled as the middle linebacker. The second positive is that the staff trusts Mason to still be the back up in the middle if needed, but to also give him a chance to learn to play the outside spot (even though Dell is listed as the back up). Mason is one of the most talented players on the defensive roster and when it is all said and done, will be one of the better players in Pitt history.

The negative of all of this is that Max Gruder has been very disappointing this year. It has gotten to the point where now we have to consider other options to try and have someone ready should he continue to struggle. I always root for all of the Pitt players to succeed, but I'm pulling for Gruder extra hard because we really need him to step up for Pitt to have an even stronger defense.

With those changes plus us finally utilizing our play makers (especially Dorin) and not asking players to do things they are not capable is showing that, Wannstedt is adapting. There will always be things we disagree with, but this 2009 is showing that we finally have an upper level of talent that is being coached correctly and using appropriate play calling.

We have a long way to go this year, but as long as we don't revert back to our old ways, there's no reason to believe that we shouldn't be able to achieve our goal.

Week 10 Jones Picks

Current Record: 29-23

I was a bit off on my picks last week. The Tennessee and Auburn upsets really saved everything for me. This week is probably not going to be a comeback week for me since there are so few good games. Here are the picks:
  • (8) Oregon vs Stanford: Mark my words here people Oregon will not a be a factor in the final BCS Title picture. They are not as solid of a team as people want them to be after beating USC. Beating USC is quite the accomplishment but that team flat out quit on Pete Carroll and we know what happens when you score points on USC. This is a game that Oregon can very easily lose. I'm not calling the loss but don't expect a blowout here. Jones Pick: Oregon
  • (16) Ohio State vs (11) Penn State: The Big 10 has never been worse and I'm enjoying every second of it. Watching these two teams over the past few weeks puts the outcome in doubt. OSU has been an absolute joke and Penn State had trouble with Northwestern last week. I hope Ohio State wins just for the comedy that will ensue in Happy Valley but they won't. Pryor is being misused to an amazing degree. Jones Pick: Penn State
  • (9) LSU vs (3) Alabama: Really big game. Bama has been the team I have been hyping hard on here like I did with Florida last year. Watching Bama play you get the feeling that they can find a way to win in every situation. LSU is an extremely tough team to beat just due to the talent on both sides of the ball. I expect a great game. Jones Pick: Alabama
Sorry I only picked 3 games this week but the rest of the games are pretty uneven. I could pad my record with some easy picks but I will not. I will be back tomorrow with another column then the predictions for Cuse-Pitt on Friday.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Squeezing the Orange

Thanks to Mike Williams choice to leave the team, Pitt now sits in a great position to win this game a bit more easily than we should have expected to. I just hope that the coaches and team aren't over looking Syracuse the way I am. Last year at the Carrier Dome Syracuse took it to us in the 1st half before falling apart in the 2nd half.

This year Syracuse has much better coaching and more talent across the field than we have seen before. It is hard to get a good estimate of exactly how good of a coach that Doug Marrone is, but I can tell you one thing, he is certainly a whole hell of a lot better than Greg Robinson was.

The one thing that should help Pitt this week is that Greg Paulus has absolutely sucked since Big East season has started for the Cuse. He's been bad enough that they've switched to backup Ryan Nassib for a few series to get the offense started. Now with Mike Williams off the roster, their next leading receiver is Donte Davis who has managed to get a solid 180 some yards over the first 8 games of the season. Now Syracuse is going to have to rely on mediocre running back Delone Carter to carry the offense until someone else can step up and help the passing game. I think Marcus Sales is talented enough to help, but I don't think that anyone will make that big of a dent for them the rest of the season.

Everyone had to expect that it would take a while to rebuild Syracuse after Greg Robinson did such a fantastic job of tearing them down. Now the job is just getting a bit harder. Marrone can come out with a game plan to sling the ball around all game long, but the fact is Paulus isn't talent enough to do it and the receivers are unproven to the point where they shouldn't scare anyone, even our below average (but improving) secondary.

Syracuse will need to try and run the ball until they can get things figured out which is not the best idea against our defense. The line should be able to snuff all of it out and if we let Adam Gunn spy the quarterback this game as we did against USF that should contain any runs by Paulus. That is simply all we will have to do to shut them down because their inability to pass will force them to play into our hands.

Looking at their defense it is hard to accurately judge them. They didn't let Cincy run all over them like I thought they would, but they also had a tough time stopping Northwestern from scoring, so who knows what team will show up. I do believe that we have the 2nd best offense they will see (Only Cincy is better, not PSU go take that Nitters). With that said, we have by far the best running game they will see all season. I think they will get a healthy dose of Dion followed up with some extra pounding with Ray Graham. That is a combo that they have no chance of stopping.

I'll let Jones stick to the predictions, but there is no way we should lose this game, especially at home heading into the biggest game of the season vs Notre Dame on national television.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Best Receiver in the Big East is Gone

That's right folks, the statistical leader in the Big East, Mike Williams, has left the Orange. If I were a coach, I'd avoid wide receivers named Mike Williams like the plague. Williams has had a crazy run at Syracuse.

2 years ago, Mike Williams showed that he was probably the best player on the worst team in the Big East under then Greg Robinson's Syracuse squad. He followed up that hot start by getting in some academic trouble and then missing the entire 2008 season.

This season he was playing well. Despite being suspended for the Akron game, he was still leading the Big East in receiving. That is quite impressive considering that he does have some stiff competition in the league for that spot.

What we have now is a team without a great player. It is a shame for Syracuse too because they seemed to be finally making some strides after firing the worst coach in the Big East. Williams had even stated that he planned on returning for his Senior year which would have been nothing but positive for the Orange.

This move may actually be a positive for former Pitt recruit Marcus Sales. Once considered a Pitt lean, Sales headed for the Cuse once Pitt pulled in a trio of talented wide receivers. It was around the same time when Averin Collier, Pitt's Kevan Collier's brother, decided going to Syracuse would be better as well.

Sales has gotten some meaningful playing time as of late and will now be needed even more to pick up the slack from where Williams left off. It will all depend on if Greg Paulus can get him the ball.

Speaking of the former Duke hoopster, Syracuse is having their own Boogate as well. In his press conference today Doug Marrone was whining to the media about how the fans were booing after Paulus threw one of his 9 million interceptions when Syracuse was in the red zone last week. I'm so sick of this. If you're a college athlete you better get used to some booing from time to time. College sports is becoming such a big time money product, that the fans are starting to react to it like professional sports. They demand perfection from the players like they are being paid to play. Now I'm not going to get into the argument over whether or not booing is ok, I'm getting into the issue of the coach bringing it up.

Here is my idea, if you don't want it to become a bigger deal, then don't mention it. Paulus will now have to play under more scrutiny now because of Marrone deciding to talk about the booing. It is a great way to alienate your fans. Just take a look at Pitt. After the Sun Bowl we all had a bad taste in our mouths. We come out in the 2009 season starting off looking much like we had finished 2008 and the fans let the team (specifically Bill Stull) hear about it. This was fueled by an off season of reporting that Stull was being out performed in camp (which he was). It was fueled even further by the coaches and media bringing it up.

If you want it to go away, then don't talk about it, don't even hint at it. If you ignore it and your player performs, it will go away. Just ask Ricky Stanzi after last week's 1st half performance against Indiana.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Week 9 Jones Picks

Current Record: 26-18

I really need to get back to 10 games over .500. Last week was one of those that really makes me angry because I was so close on the Iowa upset.
  • North Carolina vs (13) Virginia Tech: Matchups like this are the beauty of the ACC. An overrated VA Tech team versus an absolutely horrible team North Carolina. This is a really bad Thursday night game. All that being said I wouldn't expect a big blowout but Tech will dominate. Jones Pick: Virginia Tech
  • (21) West Virginia vs South Florida: USF is on their usual amazing slide. WVU could very well blow them out. I don't trust WVU at all because of how they are coached. Jones Pick: WVU
  • (25) Ole Miss vs Auburn: I think this could be a good game. Auburn has been a bit up and down this season. Ole Miss has swerved back after the big loss to be a decent team. My guess is that this is super close. Jones Pick: Auburn
  • Georgia vs (1) Florida: This is going to be a blowout. Georgia has fallen apart this season and Florida is due for a big win. Jones Pick: Florida
  • (22) South Carolina vs Tennessee: It is hard not to be impressed with how Tennessee has played this season. They have a really good defense so this will be decided in the final quarter. Jones Pick: Tennessee
  • (3) Texas vs (14) Oklahoma State: Interesting game. I think Texas has been underwhelming but then again so has Oklahoma State. I'm going out on a limb here. Jones Pick: Oklahoma State
  • (5) USC vs (10) Oregon: Blowout. Jones Pick: USC
I have a feeling this is going to be a big week for me.

Heisman Discussion

So the last few days I've been getting quite angry watching ESPN whenever they talk about the Heisman. I will admit that this is a down season for the award and nobody has stepped up as the front runner. I'm going to go through and give some thoughts on the ESPN Experts Poll Top 5.
  • Mark Ingram: He is the closest thing to a front runner as there is in the nation right now. Playing in the SEC and putting up the numbers he has is impressive. 3rd in the nation in rushing with 1004 yards.
  • Jimmy Clausen: Wow this is a fantastic display of the meaningless hype that Notre Dame gets. Only at Notre Dame do you become a better Heisman candidate by losing two games. Player A: 2050 yards, 16 TDs 2 INTs, 65.2 completion percentage, 230 Attempts Player B: 1654 yards, 16 TDs 4 INTs, 67.3 completion percentage, 196 Attempts. One is Jimmy Clausen and one is Bill Stull. If having decent numbers on a ranked team is the new decider of being in the Heisman race then put Stull in.
  • Tim Tebow: I understand that playing on the number 1 team in the nation in the best conference in the nation is a feat but Tebow has had two better seasons. His sophomore Heisman season was insane compared to his numbers of 8 passing and 6 rushing TDs. He scored 55 touchdowns his Heisman season. By his own standards he has no business in this race.
  • Colt McCoy: Another guy who has completely fallen off his pace of last year. His impact on the Texas running game has not been there like it was last year. His passing numbers aren't even top 10 in the nation. Winning games is one thing but just like Tebow you have to put up the numbers on field.
  • Kellen Moore: Now here is a legit QB candidate. He is on a top 10 undefeated team. The numbers are there 21 TD 2 INT with a 68 completion percentage. I don't think he should be over Ingram but at least he has Heisman numbers to go along with the record.
Now for a guy who ESPN as been hyping up hard on TV vs a guy with no hype Dion Lewis
  • CJ Spiller: Rushing-547 Yards 5.1 ypc 3 TD Receiving-267 yards 14.8 ypc 2 TD
  • Dion Lewis: Rushing-1029 Yards 5.6 ypc 11 TD Receiving- 92 yards 1 TD
The big hype about Spiller is his returning yards which are pretty impressive but he is having a very light year as a running back. It isn't like he is playing against monster defenses week in and week out in the ACC.

Mark Ingram is the legit choice for Heisman as of right now but guys like Tebow need to have other worldly Novembers to even be in the conversation. You need to have actual numbers to win the Heisman not just the record of your team.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Quick Pitt-USF Thoughts

I think it is time for me to eat some crow and give Stull his due respect. The way he has played over the last two months has been nothing short of amazing. There was no indication to this level performance being within the reach of Stull. Yesterday, we saw a guy who was poised and played through a rough spot and led the team to a huge victory.

Despite, being the favorite here I see this as a breakthrough game for the program. The team handled the pressure of being in the top 25 extremely well. We dominated a top half Big East team and really put everyone in the conference on notice. 4 games left and the sky is still the limit. I can see us winning out just because of how well we played this game.

For the first time since we started this blog there is something meaningful on a national level. The Big East is within our grasp. Getting into the BCS would be an amazing thing for this team 5 years into Wanny's coaching era.

Let's Go Pitt!!!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Pitt-USF Predictions

Well we are currently in the meat of the schedule. Over these next 5 weeks the season will unfold. Can we keep our top 25 ranking? On to the predictions:
  • The game is going to be decided by our defense. We have to contain Daniels when he attempts to break the pocket and run. He is a much better runner than Wilson of NC State and he could gash us for huge plays. Another big factor on the defense is stopping the big plays in the passing game. Daniels has struggled with consistency but he has made some big plays. I have a feeling the defensive line will make up for the bad performance at NC State by shutting down the QB scrambles.
  • Dan Hutchins is going to have a big day kicking. With a potentially sloppy field the score could be low and the kicking game could come into play. I'm thinking we get to see some redemption out of the special teams. 3 for 3 FG
  • USF is going to stack the line big time against Lewis. They are going to force Stull to beat them and I think he will. I'm expecting this to be another game manager performance out of Stull. No turnovers either. 19 for 24 188 yards 1 TD
Tomorrow is homecoming and the Turn it Blue promotion so everybody wear a blue shirt. Hopefully, we can get over 50k despite the noon start time.

Pitt 16 USF 7

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Week 8 Jones Picks

Current Record: 22-15

Last week I went against my instinct on the USF and Virginia Tech games and lost. I've really smashed down to earth the last 6 weeks of these picks. I'm going to attempt a big comeback this week with some easier to call games.
  • Florida State vs North Carolina: This is a really bad Thursday night game. UNC and Florida State have been huge disappointments. My guess is that FSU will have enough to overcome but expect a close and sloppy game. Jones Pick: FSU
  • Arkansas vs Ole Miss: Arkansas had the game against Florida last week stolen from them. Ryan Mallet looks like the most NFL ready QB in the country. Ole Miss is a program that falls over itself to lose games. Jones Pick: Arkansas
  • Tennessee vs (2) Alabama: I've been extremely impressed with how well Tennessee has acquitted themselves in the SEC. Looking forward you would expect them to return as a power in the SEC. All that being said, enjoy watching Alabama play this year. This is their season just like it was Florida's last year. Jones Pick: Alabama
  • (13)Penn State vs Michigan: If you look at the Big 10 team for team this year has been comical. You can't look at the current rankings because of the way the conference gets overrated. I expect this game to be very close but I think PSU pulls it out. Jones Pick: PSU
  • (6) Iowa vs Michigan State: Iowa is going to lose this game. They aren't even close to the number 6 team in the nation. The pressure of carrying the torch for the decaying conference will be too much for them to handle. Jones Pick: Michigan State
  • (8) TCU vs (16) BYU: This is such a tough game to call. I'm fully behind TCU to run the table along with Boise State just so we can see how bad the BCS system works. BYU is always tough to beat at home. Jones Pick: TCU
  • (1) Florida vs Mississippi State: Nothing to say here other than I'm going out on a huge limb. I think Dan Mullen knows enough about Urban Meyer to stifle the Florida offense which hasn't been what it was in the past. Jones Pick: Mississippi
This should be a pretty good week of football. Back tomorrow for the Pitt predictions.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

USF thoughts from a Floridian

Well those of you who read the site and comments section regularly should be know of one of our faithful followers, Johnny. He is a Pitt grad who currently is attending school in Florida. I was able to meet him by chance one day getting dinner and have to say it is fun making friends just by writing about something I love so much (Pitt sports).

A while back Johnny wrote me an email after USF had just defeated FSU. While FSU now looks like they might be falling apart, the FSU win was very impressive at the time. That win showed us that B.J. Daniels is a player we should look out for and that USF won't have to worry too much about replacing Matt "Goatse" Grothe. Anyway, here is the post USF/FSU analysis from Johnny which I thought I would share with the readers.

"Even before they beat the Noles, none of the USF fans were at all concerned that Goatse is out for the year. It was all "B.J. Daniels" this and "B.J. Daniels" that. While I personally feel that Daniels overachieved in a vengeance game (he grew up basically a mile from the FSU campus and didn't receive so much as a sniff of an offer), he is still dangerous for the following reasons. His completion percentage will not even be 50%, but he has already shown that he can air it out to their tall, speedy receivers, and for as much as Hafley does in recruiting, he does the inverse as a positions coach.

I have no doubt that we will contain their RBs all game, but they will break 2 or 3 big plays in the air, and if they result in touchdowns, that means trouble. Consider that his stat line was only 8 for 21, but he still ended up with 215 passing yards. That's 27 yards per completion. Furthermore, he is very elusive and fast on his feet. While nowhere near as polished as NCSU's Quarterback, he still managed 126 yards on 26 rushes. As you (DPJ) suggested, if we don't change our scheme to a nickel or dime package, or at least have somebody spy him, we are in trouble.

Also, on defense, they are tough and fast. In particular, #11 is a linebacker by the name of Sabbath Joseph and he was everywhere. It was like watching McKillop on acid flying around the field lighting people up, stripping the ball, causing turnovers, etc. Selvie was non-existent for most of the game, but the pressure that their DT's had coming from the left side (between where Houser and Lumpy/Thomas will be) was present for the entire game. Simply put, they will blow up Dion in the backfield if we can't figure out how to stop the pressure from that side of the line.

Let me suggest to you that USF is still not very good, but they will make big plays and hang in the game if we can't put them away. While they were probably more amped playing against FSU, a school that blew every single one of those kids off, than they will be to come to Pittsburgh later in the Fall, they are now a more dangerous team than I assumed even a week ago."

Monday, October 19, 2009

Turn It Blue

A student and athletic department led initiative, we're asking all Panther fans to wear blue to the game and all USF fans to stay home haha.

Anyway, wear your blue. It doesn't matter if it is royal or navy or whatever, just wear blue.

Students will be receiving free blue shirts to wear.

If you're on facebook, donate your status to the turn it blue initiative.

TURN IT BLUE - This Saturday against USF. Students get free Blue shirts at the stadium. Donate your status and tell everyone you know.

Late Rutgers/National Ranking Thoughts

6-1 feels pretty good. The performance at Rutgers was workman like. Mistakes on special teams and second half turnovers made this game much closer than it should have been. Like I have been saying every week with the way this team is coached every game is going to be closer than it should be. What we should be looking at is if games like this, which in past years have been losses, are wins.

Dion Lewis is quickly stepping into another level as a player. Without his big touchdown run in the second half this would have been a loss. He is doing a wonderful job in his first 7 college games. What impresses me the most is how hard and disciplined a runner he is. It appears that he doesn't have the gamebreaking moves that Shady had but he makes up for it in effort and ability to hit the hole. It will be interesting to see if he can continue this success with the amount of carries he has had to handle.

Getting to #20 in the nation is very impressive. We have spun out of that loss against NC State and rebounded to start Big East season. Being in the top 25 puts us in a position to make a legitimate run. From now on the games get significantly more difficult. Putting in a complete performance against USF is a must. Getting a win this weekend is a big next step for the program. Keeping momentum going is something we haven't done in the recent past.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Pitt-Rutgers Predictions

After Cincy putting the Big East on notice last night our task gets a bit tougher. The way I see it we have to run the table in the Big East to stay with the Bearcats. Tonight is game 3 of that journey. On to the predictions:
  • Dion Lewis is going to have another huge game. The way he has emerged on the scene in the Big East is pretty incredible. Every single game he has produced so this will not be any different. I would expect to see more Ray Graham if the weather is bad. Lewis 24 carries, 144 yards, 2 TD Graham 10 carries, 85 yards, 1 TD
  • I expect Tom Savage to come out of the this game looking like Joe Montana. There is no chance we get out of the base 4-3 so Rutgers will pass all the way down the field. Rutgers offensive line is a little underrated so the amount of pressure we put on UConn might not be there.
  • I think tonight is going to be a bounce back game for Stull. If he can put together an entire game like the 4th quarter against UConn he could be an All Big East player. The playcalling of Frank Cignetti will cause the Rutgers blitzing defense fits. Stull 18 for 24 235 yards 3TD
This game is going to have a bunch of scoring and a bunch of bad defense. We will never learn how to get a stop against a team that throws the ball. I'm reasonably confident in our offenses ability to put the ball into the endzone and control the clock enough to win.

Pitt 38 Rutgers 35

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Week 7 Jones Picks

Current Record: 19-13

A close loss for Michigan against Iowa and the blowout of Georgia ruined my record last week. I'm thinking this week will be a boom or bust. On to the picks:
  • (8) Cincinnati vs (21) South Florida: The obvious choice here is that South Florida will lose because this is a big Thursday night game. I'm not so sure about that because of all the pressure that is on Cincy this season. No matter the result this is the showcase game of the Big East and should be a great one. Jones Pick: USF
  • (20) Oklahoma vs (3) Texas: This is a tough game to pick. Neither team is as good as they were last year. I highly doubt Texas is the 3rd best team in the nation but Oklahoma has not put together a good game against a decent team this season. Bradford vs McCoy may turn into which team can get the ball into the endzone. Jones Pick: Texas
  • (6) USC vs (25) Notre Dame: The hype around this game is that Notre Dame has a chance to win this. They have scored 3 points in the past two games against USC. I can't see a way that ND will even be competitive here. USC is about to hit their usual groove after the bad road loss. Jones Pick: USC
  • (4) Virginia Tech vs (19) Georgia Tech: It is not possible to be more overrated than Virginia Tech. I'm a big fan of the pollsters consistently putting ACC teams 10 to 15 spots too high in the polls due to wins against other crap ACC teams. Georgia Tech is a tough team to pick here because of how much their offense is predicated off rhythm. VA Tech ranking is a joke and an indictment of the preseason ranking system. Jones Pick: Virginia Tech
  • (22) South Carolina vs (2) Alabama: Game of the week right here. South Carolina has an extremely impressive defense but so does Alabama. I'm the biggest Alabama honk in the world right now. They look as impressive as Florida did last year. I can't see a team beating Alabama home. Jones Pick: Alabama
I will be back later today or early tomorrow for my prediction for the Pitt game. There are quite a few awesome games this weekend plus we will find out who the best team in the Big East is.