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.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Something to Think About

Prior to the NC State game I wrote an article about how that game would have decided what the trajectory of our season was going to be, and it did. Losing that game killed our momentum towards a top 25 spot going into Big East play. Also it took away any margin of error that we would have for the rest of the season. I think you can look at this Friday as a much bigger game in terms of the health of the program.

Wannstedt has lost 4 straight to Rutgers. Last season the game against Rutgers can be pinpointed as the moment our title hopes died. While Bowling Green was a worse loss (at home and a MAC team) it was very similar to the loss against NC State. Two games that good teams and teams that win conference titles never lose. Last season, we regained our momentum by beating USF on a Thursday and this season we have regained our momentum by beating two lower half Big East teams.

Friday is another moment that will define Wannstedt's career. There is no reason for a team with our talent level to lose to a rebuilding Rutgers...NO REASON. The only excuse will be that the coaching let us down again. Greg Schiano flat out has Wannstedt's number. He understands how to put an offense on the field that can dominate our defensive gameplan. Wanny has to prove that he can overcome the mental block that playing Rutgers poses to him.

A win here means we are 3-0 in the Big East. That means absolutely nothing nationally and won't give us any more "respect". What it will mean for the program is something a bit more significant, we can get to the USF game in a position for that win to mean something. Also Wanny will have finally beat Schiano and we can start to breathe when Rutgers comes up on the schedule.

We need to continue momentum so that when we pull a big upset in the Big East, like we always do, it means something significant for the program. This year is the year like we have heard so often.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

With our style of play, there will be games that end up closer than they should be, but as Jason Jones said, a win is a win. We just need to keep plugging along and hope that things turn out the best for Pitt.

So here is the list of people that deserve credit (good or bad) from what what we have seen.

First off Bill Stull deserves credit for his play. He deserves the criticism for the way he played in the first 40 minutes of the game. He also deserves the credit for having a perfect final 20 minutes of the game where he lead us to 2 touchdowns, a 2 point conversion, and most importantly the win.

The fans also get a thumbs up/thumbs down for the performance in the game. I understand being upset about throwing the awful pick 6 early in the game. I also understand the frustrations that Pitt fans have after suffering through disappointing season for the last 20 years. What I believe we are seeing is fans who think "same old Pitt". Especially after losing a game to NC State when we had total control of the game. I didn't have a problem booing after the pick 6. I did have a problem when the boo's came in when the offense took the field on their next offensive series. The fans do get some credit though for coming alive in the 4th quarter and joining the team with being fired up when it was needed the most.

Ray Graham and Dion Lewis deserve credit for having very good games. Minus the dropped pass for Lewis (in which Graham was supposed to be in the game), this might just be the best freshman duo in the country. Every week these two come to play and will be major players for Pitt over the next 4 years.

The offensive line deserves a great amount of credit. Let's not sugar coat anything here. In the first 4 years under Wannstedt, our offensive line flat out sucked. They were a joke and had players who had no business being on the field (with a handful of exceptions). Now we have a line full of players who could play for most teams throughout the country. This is a squad that deserves more credit than they are being given. So for Jason Pinkston, Joe Thomas, Robb Houser, John Malecki, and Lucas Nix, keep up the great work, you are the main reason why we are 5-1 and are the reason why we have been able to keep the running game going.

The last offensive person who deserves credit is Frank Cignetti. He has been absolutely fantastic. With Matt Cavanaugh we are probably 3-3 at this point. Frank Cignetti in just a few months has helped Stull develop more than Cavanaugh did in 4 years. He understands what plays Wannstedt wants and what plays work best for our offense. Having a person who understands his talent and limitations has helped us more than anything else this season. Who else would have thought that Dorin Dickerson and Nate Byham would be such integral parts of the offense this year. Frank Cignetti is doing a great job and I hope that he stays around for a very long time.

Dan Hutchins has done a very good job this season. He had the unenviable task of replacing one of the best kickers to ever wear a Pitt jersey. So far this season, he has been solid (minus a mishap vs Buffalo). The kicking game was more of a question mark than most other positions this season, but Dan has answered those questions better than we could have imagined.

Phil Bennett and Dave Wannstedt deserve credit for failing to see the need to switch to a nickel in certain situations. Constantly having linebackers cover wide receivers has hurt us more than anything else this season. When Cincy and Notre Dame come out and throw over the middle against us, it will be our downfall. It can not possibly hurt to play a 4-2-5 with Mason and Gunn as the linebackers on 3rd down and long. We put ourselves in a bad mismatch by refusing to break away from the 4-3 and that will cost us 2 games this season. Yes, 2 games this season.

Lastly, Jarred Holley played well for his first start. We really need to consider him as a starting CB or safety at some point. He has good size and speed. He is a guy that knows where he is supposed to be and can make plays. I'm not afraid to say that right now, he is our best defensive back. Berry, Gary, Chappel, DeCicco and Fields have all had below average seasons this game. In limited action, Holley has made plays when asked.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Quick Pitt-UConn Thoughts

The story of the game is the 4th quarter and how Stull responded to bad play earlier in the game. Throw out any expectations of how we should have won this game and just enjoy the fact that we won. I'm getting to the point now that all I care about is getting out of a game with a W. When Sweet Caroline hit at the end of the 3rd quarter you could feel the crowd become emotionally invested in the game and the team responded big time.

I think we can all respect what Bill Stull has done with his career here at Pitt in the last 6 games. He is being helped so much by the improved playcalling of Cignetti. Stull is a guy who is always going to make mistakes but he certainly has a backbone and the heart of a winner. I'm was as dissatisfied as anyone in the stadium with his play but he won the game. The way Jonathan Baldwin has emerged as a premier big play threat is a sign of great things to come for him.

Nothing has changed with the defense and we still have the same problem of being stubborn with the base 4-3. The linebackers are getting exposed in coverage and it appears that Wanny is more than willing to lose playing his style of defense. When we play USF and Cincy this is going to be a problem so just expect that.

5-1 that is really all there is to say.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Pitt-UConn Predictions

So here we are at 4-1 after a Louisville. I'm still not ready to forget about the NC State game and the problems that arose from that loss. Back at home is a always a good thing so here are the predictions:
  • UConn has a decent defense and maybe the best one we have faced this year as a result I think we will see the first struggles from Bill Stull. The hype around his numbers against the teams we have played is a bit excessive. I think he has played well above what he did last year and he should be commended for having the personality to persevere through bad play. All that being said, he still hasn't had to face a situation where the running game has been completely shut down. If he can continue to his current level of play I may join the group gushing over him. 17 for 28 195 yards 2 TD 2 INT
  • DPJ and pretty much anybody who has had to listen to me since camp has known how big of a fan I am of Ray Graham. To me he was the star of the camp at running back. Since the season started Dion Lewis has really taken over this job and has done great. What I hope that we will see is a two-pronged running attack with Graham gaining an extra 7-10 meaningful carries. Taking nothing away from Lewis, Graham needs to touch the ball more. Lewis: 24 carries 102 yards TD Graham 12 carries, 87 yards
  • Since Wanny came out and said that UConn is going to run the ball at us I'm convinced we will see a passing attack. If we can get the type of defensive line pressure we got against Louisville I feel we could have success. The key here is to not have our secondary cover, they are not good at it.
This is a game Wanny wins but nothing is for certain with this program. Despite what the feeling is leading up to the game about UConn having enough defense to stop us I doubt it. UConn is a bottom half Big East team and this is a game we absolutely must win.

Pitt 21 UConn 7

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Week 6 Jones Picks

Current Record: 16-11

Last week was a bit of a bounce back week for me. Washington and Georgia let me down in super close games. Here are some Week 6 Picks:
  • (21) Nebraska vs (24) Missouri: The best game that the Big 12 North can supply. I've stated before my trust in Nebraska this season so I guess I need to keep that going. This will be extremely close. Jones Pick: Nebraska
  • Georgia vs Tennessee: A real toss up of a game. I thought last week we saw a glimpse as to what the real Georgia defense is. Tennessee is an almost impossible team to pick in a game like this. Jones Pick: Georgia
  • (3) Alabama vs (20) Ole Miss: Here is the thought process I have going into this game; Ole Miss always blows their chances to have actual success but now that they have a loss they are dangerous. Alabama is by far the best team in the nation though. They have a NFL defense playing against college kids. Jones Pick: Alabama
  • (1) Florida vs (4) LSU: If LSU wasn't so overrated I would be more confident in picking the upset. Urban Meyer has difficulty winning in the Bayou. Tebow might not be 100 percent. All that being said Florida keeps the train rolling. Jones Pick: Florida
  • Michigan vs (12) Iowa: I'm going to use my famous formula of thinking the Big 10 is terrible here. Iowa isn't good enough to run the table in the Big 10, Iowa would lose 2 games in the Big East. Michigan lost last week to Michigan State in a close one and I think they get that win back here in another close one. Jones Pick: Michigan
Fun weekend of games this week. I think we will finally know if Florida is in the same league as last year's team by the end of the LSU game.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Cleaning up the Cards

Well it was a pretty eventful weekend for the Cat Basket. I missed the first half of the Louisville game because of a flight to Houston and Jason Jones spent some time in the hospital with food poisoning. So, while we might not have been fully conscious or aware of what all went on in the game, I'm here to bring some things to the forefront.

First off, congrats to Bill Stull for earning player of the week. One month ago I would have said he had no chance at ever earning the honor, but he done everything we have asked of him and it is paying off.

I don't think you can congratulate Billy without mentioning what a good job Frank Cignetti Jr. has done working with him. Stull is no longer asked to do things he simply can not do. Instead we're seeing what every good coach does with his players. FCj has been able to hide Stull's deficiencies and allowed him to run an offense where he has the full opportunity to succeed. I can only hope this means that we will see much more improvement from the other quarterbacks on our roster and the two young men we have committed for next year.

While keeping on the point of using a person's strengths, how great is it to see Dorin reclaim the "Scorin Dorin" tag we labeled on him as a freshman. It's almost like when you buy something at a flea market and come home to find it's worth much more than you expected it to be. That must have been how FCj felt when he came here and saw what we have in Dorin. Great play calling has gotten him the opportunity to line up against players he can either out run or out muscle. He has been an underutilized weapon until this point, but mark my words, he will be a nice weapon for someone to add at the next level.

Dorin is not the only "where did we find this guy" type player. All throughout camp Jason Jones told everyone how great Ray Graham was. Minus a few fumbles, a case could be made that he was the best back in the group. Now after a solid performance in Louisville, we're finding out this isn't just the Dion show, but rather we have co-headliners on this tour. Dion's "shake" and Graham's "bake" is a great duo to have and can really lead to problems for many teams we will play down the line.

Have you noticed throughout this season how we haven't been talking about the offensive line? What a great topic to finally not have to discuss. Malecki is looking like one of the best offensive linemen we have had in quite some time (not including Otah). He stays low in his blocks, can move when he has to, and rarely finds himself out of position or making a bad play. He is a guy that we are going to sorely miss when his time here is complete.

Cam Saddler most likely won't be playing on Saturday which is a shame for everyone in attendance. He is everything you want from a returner. He has speed, he has elusiveness, but the thing that stands out to me is that he has a forward drive. You don't see him trying to shake off too many people when he gets the ball. He goes forward as fast as he can which is exactly what a returner should be doing.

It was nice to see us reduce the number of penalties this game. We still had some costly ones, but it was no where as bad as we have seen this season. We still have some work to do, but we are improving and that is all you can ask for.

There were two big returns this week. The first being the return of the defensive line we expected to see. We piled up 6 sacks, 3.5 of which came from Greg Romeus. We need our line to bring the pressure to compensate for our poor secondary. Getting 6 sacks is certainly a great way to get back on track.

The other big return was seeing Adam Gunn back in action. Jones and I have said several times how surprised we are to see his level of play. He did not look all that great when he was playing outside linebacker, however his spot in the middle seems to be a true home for him. It just seems like everyone on defense plays a bit stronger and more confident when he is out there on the field.

Lastly, is there any chance we can put together a complete game? Navy was the closest thing we had to a complete game to this point. Against NC State, Buffalo, and now Louisville we've seen the team struggle for extended periods of time in the game. There is no reason to be losing to a team like Louisville at half-time. If we want to be contenders against Cincy in the Big East, we need to play well from start to finish. The defense must remain strong and the offense needs to sustain drives. If we have some of these early or late slip ups, it certainly could be the difference between playing somewhere warm this winter or playing up in Toronto.

With UConn ahead I'm not too worried about this one. As long as DJ Hernandez doesn't show up and look like Tim Tebow and Sam Bradford combined, I don't see how we will lose this game. A nice Saturday afternoon should be able to draw a fairly decent crowd to watch us improve to 5-1, but more importantly, 2-0 in the Big East.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Pitt vs Louisville Predictions

Well last week was a rough one but almost comforting. The real seasons under Wanny don't start until he has blown a winnable game. Big East season opens up with an extremely winnable game against Louisville. Before I do my prediction I will say this; if we lose against Louisville the wheels are going to fall off this season badly.
  • I have a feeling Louisville is going to put up some points in the passing game. Unlike the coachspeak coming out of the staff this defensive problem isn't fixable by minor tweaks. We have to drop the 4-3 base defense every down formula and not doing that will lead to more 450+ yard games.
  • Dion Lewis will have a monster first half. Before teams begin to key on our running game Lewis has been spectacular. Once we hit the 3rd quarter the usual offensive slowdown will occur. 24 carries 100 yards 2 TDs
I'm drawing a big blank about what other things to predict about this game. I think you will see the exact same performance we saw against NC State for the offense. The defense should be able to get more stops just due to the lack of talent and execution Louisville will bring to the table. Just a note there will probably be very little content about this game over the weekend due to the fact that it is conflicting with the Pens home opener.

Pitt 24 Louisville 21