Big Lead Sports Bar

9/03/2010

Pitt-Utah the Cherry on Top of a Disappointing Night

On Thursday night, the Steelers lost their opening-month quarterback to a knee injury and the Pitt Panthers lost in excruciating, overtime fashion after a ferocious comeback at Utah. I don't think Debbie Downer herself could've written a more upsetting script for the Pittsburgh sports fan.

Friday-morning quarterbacks are all giving their two cents on why the Panthers lost, trying to put a face to the defeat. The leading candidates seem to be (drum roll...) the coaching staff, a familiar target in the aftermath of a Pitt loss. That being said, the Panthers were much too conservative in digging a 24-13 fourth quarter hole that could have (and should have) been much worse if not for the Utes shooting themselves in the foot.

Dion Lewis was running right into a waiting defense for most of the evening, and was held to a measly three yards per carry on 25 totes of the rock. Jon Baldwin touched the ball only five times, one of them a critical 44-yard touchdown reception. Cam Saddler was limited to three touches. As you can see, I'm not exactly thrilled with the distribution of the ball on offense. But Tino Sunseri can only run what Frank Cignetti tells him to run, which is why he was in the hated Game Manager mode until quarter four. He didn't grow up in that quarter, which is what most people are saying; he was merely allowed to finally do his job. 

While it would've been nice for the Panthers to pull this one out, they were equally deserving of the loss. They were sloppy, with 12 penalties, a lost fumble, and Sunseri's back-breaking INT in overtime. Their pass defense was tortured by DeVonte Christopher, who had a line of 8-155-1, and Jereme Brooks (5-87-2). The Pitt O-line could not open up anything for their running backs, who were held to 82 yards on 36 carries (2.3 per). And the offense clearly did not take advantage of Utah's three turnovers like they should have.

All the miscues aside, which were sort of expected with this being their first game, the Panthers still showed me enough to think they will be a very good team in 2010. Don't forget the atmosphere in which this game was played: long road trip to a different time zone/altitude, very good opponent, tough place to play, hostile crowd, new QB, no Ray Graham...this is not going to be the standard situation for your average Big East contest. I think the Panthers will be just fine with a few tweaks and a little more experience, so don't everyone jump off the bandwagon just yet.

A few notes:
-Next week, Pitt hosts New Hampshire at Heinz Field, with gametime set for 1 PM. The Wildcats were 10-3 last season.

-Pitt had a throng of fans at an outdoor game-watching party at the Pete, but my goodness, did Versus go overboard in their cuts back to Pittsburgh! Did we get a final count for the evening? I think it approached 5,000. 

-Does anyone enjoy the icing-the-kicker timeout? Can we please get rid of that rule at the pro and college level already?

-Anyone else enjoy the irony of a guy named Shaky Smithson fumbling twice?

-Image of the night: Versus analyst Eric Crouch's hair



Mondesi's House: The Director's Cut (more links, commentary, etc): twitter.com/mondesishouse
Email: mondesishouse@gmail.com

31 comments:

Chip said...

A DRAW PLAY!?!?

Really, Cignetti? Did you forget Bill Stull graduated last year or something?

I don't think the first half was "too conservative" because you could tell the young line and the young QB were a bit overwhelmed. Once they got their feet under them, the offense looked pretty damn good.

But, holy crap, A DRAW FIFTEEN YARDS OUT?!?!

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

Would anyone like my take on the game?

Well, too bad, I'm giving it to you anyways!

-Inexperienced QB on the road at that loud ass stadium with a revamped line led to a TON of false starts that killed a few drives (including the possible game winning drive). That was a HUGE difference that nobody's mentioning.

-The defense looked bad, especially in the first half.
I'm not putting that all on the secondary. The d-line couldn't get any pressure with the 4 man rush, and Wynn had all day to throw.

You could have Troy Polamalu, Ed Reed, Darrelle Revis, and Rod Woodson in his prime in the secondary, if you aren't getting any pressure at all up front, they're gonna look bad.

Notice that once Pitt finally started to blitz, their QB didn't look so hot. Too bad we were already behind at that point.

-Tino showed some heart, but more importantly, he showed some brains. I noticed him making adjustments on the fly at the line of scrimmage in the 4th quarter when they finally let him take over.

That audible he almost pulled off with Baldwin in the 4th quarter (the one where it looked like JB scored, but we were penalized) was downright Manning-esque. He's a coach's son, and it showed. He just needs to grow up a little and work out some kinks and he'll be fine (provided Wanny takes the reigns off the poor kid).

Plus, he showed he has a pretty strong arm. Much improved from the Stull/Bostick days.

-In closing, I did not like having this team, on the road, for the first game of the year given our current interior o-line and QB situation (the inexperience). Plus, Pitt's defense usually gives up some yards to teams that run the spread, especially early in seasons when they're not in form yet.

The whole thing just seemed like a recipe for a loss and I didn't expect Pitt to win.

But I saw enough to make me think that once they get everything ironed out (hopefully they just tee off against New Hampshire next week so they have a proper tune up for Miami) they'll be a pretty good team.

AJ said...

I spent a good portion of the game yelling "For the love of God, will you please call a play action pass!?!" at my television.

Adam said...

When your stud running back averages three yards a carry, it falls on the offensive line, plain and simple.

I've been saying it for months: Dion Lewis is going to regress because of the people in front of him.

If Pitt had blocked better, it would have won the game, it's that simple. Forget the play calling. Forget Tino's pick. Forget Baldwin disappearing for three quarters. Pitt isn't built to win the game it played last night, so it shouldn't be any surprise they lost.

BurressWithButterflyWings said...

Agreed with everyone.

I was very reactionary last night and spewed my typical hate at Wannstedt not playing to win but instead for a tie.

In the long run, playing a tough opponent on the road over a cupcake may help out more than some people think. Sunseri definitely has a lot of poise and ability and hopefully the handcuffs will come off so that some balance can be added. 8 men in the box is tough to run against, but Lewis can certainly make something out of nothing.

It seemed like the defensive line had no explosion last night. Maybe Romeus isn't 100% and maybe the altitude had something to do with it. But whatever the issue was, that effort last night is not going to cut it.

This one obviously hurts, especially in the W-L column. But Pitt might be better for it at season's end.

Lackawanna Wonderful said...

Was i the only one who thought that Versus' coverage was absolutely atrocious?

I understand that Versus has an interest in seing the Mountain West do well in non-conference play, but shouldnt the announcers at least try to mask their pro-MW bias? I was close to just muting it in the first quarter when the announcers were so sure that Utah's first fumble was an incompletion.

And I get it.... the MUSS/student section is really loud. its a great student section, but do i really need to hear about it every time PITT gains less than three yards?

Added to a few technical things (their inability to master the 10-15 year old technology of the first down line, replacing the down and distance graphic with the sideline reporter's name during her inanae reports), their coverage just really got under my skin.

Maybe i was the only one, but i really had to get it off my chest...

okel dokel said...

Agree with all comments. @Lacakwanna - I completely agree about Versus. It was beyond bush league. They had no idea where the shanked punt by Utah went. It was hilarious.

Despite the youth this is a typical Dave Wannstedt loss. His coaching career is littered with these close losses because of his conservative play calling.

Tom said...

The one-dimensional offense (all Dion all the time) at the start was amateurish. The coaching staff had to know that the Utah D would load up on the run.
It's a shame they didn't allow Tino to throw it a little early on. He showed late that he had it in him and the crowd wasn't nearly as loud until after the Utes started to put up some points.

The lack of play action until late was unbelievable. Baldwin could have actually been a factor earlier in the game if the team had utilized it more.

The draw play with the game on the line was inexcusable. In that situation (on the road with a rookie QB), you have to at least try to win it. Also, Lewis was hobbled after that play. If he's seriously hurt, someone should be fired for that play-call.

Also, calling two consecutive time-outs should be banned. Serves the Utes coach right for such as b!tch move.

Finally, I hope I never have to watch another college football game on Versus. Between the Caps play-by-play guy's weaselly tone and the Mr. Obvious color guy dropping such fantastic knowledge, such as the Pitt (or Utah) defense really likes when the opposing offense is in a 3rd-and-long situation. Really!?!

These guys just have to shut up sometimes. The repeated mentions of the student section was inane. Its college football...every team has a loud student section!

BurressWithButterflyWings said...

YES, I am glad I am not the only person who thought the VS. announcers were awful and one sided.

Joe Beninatti is a hack and he sounds like he is on 90's arcade game. I remember having to watch a Pens/Caps game where he was actually the announcer. It was a joke.

Their knowledge of the rules was limited as they pointed out the pick Utah ran on their 2nd TD pass, but totally ignored the fact that it is illegal.

There were so many times I wanted to tell them to STFU.

Eric said...

But Burress, it was a rub play, not a pick play! It's perfectly legal to run two defenders out of the play like that.

/sarcasm off

Chip said...

"And I get it.... the MUSS/student section is really loud. its a great student section, but do i really need to hear about it every time PITT gains less than three yards?"

Yes, but the repeated shots of the Pete were equally stupid. Pitt would do something totally mediocre like force a punt and they'd cut to the students where the raucous crowd was...

Standing around doing nothing. I realize college kids enjoy being loud drunk morons, especially the kids who go to Pitt, but did they really think they'd be jumping around celebrating every mediocre play? It was ridiculous.

"Look, Pitt got a first down in a game they're trailing by 11, let's show the crowd acting like they won the Super Bowl!" *cut to crowd staring quietly*

A couple of the dance team members did have nice asses, though.

JW said...

I agree with pretty much everyone's thoughts about everything, including the horrific Versus coverage...

I do think that if this was Game 2 (if they played New Hampshire week 1) this is a game they win. Tino's more comfortable earlier, maybe (maybe) the O-line is more settled and commits a few less false starts.

Then again, their linebackers wouldn't be any faster, their O-line wouldn't run block any better, and their coaches wouldn't be any less conservative. So perhaps not.

Matt said...

I know they are just kids, and I hate to sound like I am nitpicking, but that blocked punt should have been scooped n' scored.

There was nobody in red within 2-3 yards yards of the ball except for their punter who should have remained on his a$$ until the whistle blew.

In the immortal words of South Park's Tom Loughran--Pick it up and run for a touchdown!

The Mad Bubbler said...

Kind of unrelated but I remember Adam pointing out that Pitt playing on Thursday nights is a joke. Did anybody catch who Marshall's opponent was last night? Only Ohio St, who's won or had a share of the almighty Big Ten Title for like 5 years in a row.

BurressWithButterflyWings said...

I honestly stopped paying attention to what He Who Shall Not Be Named says.

I just ignore him in hopes he will go away and hope everyone else follows suit.

So, let's run a draw on 3rd and 10 from the 14 down 3.

BURGH08 said...

No running back is going to have success when you are putting nine or more in the box. I don't think the line was that bad under the circumstances. Lewis will still be a 1500 yard back.

The issue remains that they can't seem to recruit the Quarterback position equal to the other positions on the field. I think Sunseri will improve, but will he be marginally better than Stull? I don't know.

Although they lost, I would rather watch games against the Utah's, Miami's, and be barely over .500 than than the Youngstown State/UNH/Coastal Carolina matchups that everyone schedules (including Pitt).

The coverage on VS was terrible. Eric Crouch's advice on how to deal with the "Heisman Hype" was downright laughable.

VS. coverage was awful.

Adam said...

...fairly certain 1,500 would be a step back.

BURGH08 said...

So by your theory the only way he couldn't take a 'step back' is to rush for more than 1800 yards.

You continue to earn your reputation here Adam.

Adam said...

That's right.

You're all ready to hand him the Heisman, but 1,500 ain't getting that done. It's still a damn good year, but he's not the God in cleats you folks like to pretend he is. Paul Zeise gave him a 25% chance of winning the thing. I think last night proved how insane that is. The Heisman is a team award, and he doesn't have the team around him to do it. Period.

BURGH08 said...

Find one post where I 'handed him the Heisman'.

I'm just glad Penn State fans don't care about Pitt anymore.

Adam said...

Turn on Don and his pals at 93.7. I believe someone at that channel used the words "national championship"

BURGH08 said...

You won't counter my statement on your thoughts on Lewis (as usual) so I guess you will concede that point.

As for 'national championship', you have a quote Don or anyone on the station said about a National Championship? Or you want to cause more smoke and mirrors there too?

Keep digging Junior.

Adam said...

Counter what statement on Lewis? I've got nothing bad to say about him. He deserves everything he's got coming. He just ain't winning the Heisman. His team isn't good enough.

And quotes? No. It's a radio station. I don't have the luxury of being able to look up half the garbage they say.

BURGH08 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BURGH08 said...

Who said what then? Why be so vague when you want to carry on an 'I told you so ' tone?

Like it hasn't been proven wrong on here before....

The Mad Bubbler said...

Still waiting for Adam to explain how playing on Thursday nights is a joke, yet the Emperors of the Big 10, Ohio St, played last night...

Dominic Errico said...

Vinnie Richichi thought Matt Leinart would be a good fit for the Steelers. That shows you just how credible of a sports expert he is.

Pretty sure his dumb stupid brain spit out the words national championship at some point on a theoretical "What if Pitt goes undefeated?"

Adam, not sure how you deal with all the Pitt lovers here. They refuse to give PSU any credit. If PSU stuns Alabama next week they won't want to admit it then either.

BURGH08 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BURGH08 said...

Looks like one of Adam's 'blogger friends' chimed in.

First of all, what is it with the 'not giving Penn State any credit' stuff? The topic here has nothing to do with them. Period. Once again, nobody at Penn State cares about Pitt, but seems like they get involved in a Pitt discussion by people like you and Junior.

Second, Vinnie is a dope. If he said that, or said 'the sky is blue' in that lisp of his, who would care or believe him?

That said, your claim is that you are 'pretty sure', which doesn't support any of the stuff Adam said. I appreciate you attempting to send the verbal lifesaver to him though.

Hope you enjoyed the smell of manure today.

Koz said...

"Adam said...
When your stud running back averages three yards a carry, it falls on the offensive line, plain and simple."


Funny, I don't remember Steeler fans taking that position when Willie Parker had a bad game.

Saved said...

My God I hope Pornstache never leaves Pitt. Eat Shit Pitt AND The Chokies lose on opening weekend! Woohoo!