Sunday, December 6, 2009

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.


Kyle said...

Oh come on; we're all upset about the loss, but telling everyone who disagrees with you to leave is just childish.

Anonymous said...

I think saying we did not improve from last year is very short-sighted, but probably reactionary in the wake of yesterday's heartbreaker. If you judge purely by W-L, then yes, no improvement. But come on, this year's team lost to 3 teams by a combined 11 points, 2 of those losses on the road, the worst of which was to a 5-7 ACC team on the road. Last year's team got hammered twice in Big East play, and lost the other game at home to a MAC school.

Not going to argue with you about offensive strategy, but after 5 years of Wannstedt, I'll never complain about 44 points in a game, and 13 points in a second half in which we "packed it in".

We lost this game because of kick coverage, and it's both coaching and execution to blame. The most frustrating was the kickoff after taking a 38-24 lead. I would suggest a groundball kick instead of the squib; or, get a kicker who can actually kick it to the other returner deep; or, if you must squib, for Christ's sake, do not let their main weapon catch it still, and if so why can't you tackle him immediately?? I think that even if we tackle Gilyard at his own 35 on that kick, we go on to win the game.

Lee said...

I'm with you on the rooting for Florida thing. I know the 'right' thing to do is pull for the conference, but that loss just hurt too bad. I'll be in my blue and orange.

John said...

Did you take down my other post?

Hanlon7117 said...

Talk about taking your ball and going home. Reactionary over-the-top posts like this are why I only check this blog when PittBlather hasn't been updated in awhile.

Tony77019 said...

I am not drinking the Wannstedt Kool-Aid as, unfortunately, many fans are doing. What is interesting is the pique his supporters are responding with now - really stretching to voice their support. Your writing is precise, logical, and stat and strategy based. But you are right. The Pitt administration has no reason to change as long as Pitt can win eight or nine games against a fairly weak schedule. I am not one of the fans who view the program's successful because it isn't failing. Against next year's schedule Wanny ball will have a much tougher time.

rkohberger said...

Why is anyone surprised that the PITT administration would be satisfied with the types of seasoned we have had in the last two years?... if indeed they are - and I think that is true.

All a PITT fan has to do is look at the whole body of work Wannstedt has done to understand why - and that includes all of his off the field accomplishments also. Fans may thing the world revolves solely around W-L records but obviously the PITT administration doesn't. Because if it did they wouldn't have had a coaching vacancy back in 2004.

No - PITT weighs leadership and responsibility to the University and the players as much as winning games when it comes to our head coach.

I suggest we take a look at this situation by taking a step back - PITT just went 18+7 over the last two years. Say it again... 18 wins against 7 losses... and we are thinking about whether or not our head coach should be fired?