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.