Following their 59-21 loss to Oklahoma State, social media was not kind to the Pitt football team in particular head coach Pat Narduzzi.
Frankly, that’s the kind of reaction that I would expect and I don’t have a problem with it. At least it shows that a good portion of the fan base cares about the results on the field.
The fan outcry is a result of what they’ve witnessed by the Panther defense over the last year and three games.
Yesterday was the 13th time in the last season plus (three games) that the Pitt defense has given up 30+ points in a game.
Look at some at the points given up in the last 8 regular season games: 59 to Oklahoma State, 33 to Penn State, 61 to Syracuse, 42 to Clemson, 51 to Miami and 39 to Virginia Tech.
That’s a lot of points allowed by a head coach that’s considered a defensive whiz.
Last year, the issue was considered lack of personnel. This year, unfortunately it’s inexperience. Here’s another huge factor: Penn State and Oklahoma State are really, really good.
I haven’t researched it but I’d guess that a team in the country hasn’t played a tougher opening schedule than Pitt. No one would be surprised if those two teams end up playing in the FBS Playoffs.
That’s not to make excuses for what we saw today and to a lesser extent last week at State College. However, like it or not, that’s the reality. Things would look a lot different if Pitt had played Georgia State or Delaware State instead of Penn State and Oklahoma State.
A young and inexperienced Pitt defense had to open the season going up against two guys on Saquon Barkley and Mason Rudolph that could end up being finalists for the 2017 Heisman Trophy.
I know Pitt fans can’t think about this right now but the reality is the ultimate goal of the 2017 season isn’t lost because ACC conference play hasn’t started yet.
I can tell you this. Pitt’s defense won’t see another offense like they have the last two weeks for the rest of the season. Does that mean they’ll automatically allow fewer points per game? No, but we could–and frankly should–see improvement.
Starting Monday, Jordan Whitehead, Pitt’s best player will return to the lineup. Also, young talents like Damar Hamlin and Therran Coleman saw their first action of the season in the second half today. They’re both real close to being full-time contributors to the Panthers defense. Also, freshman Paris Ford has now had three plus weeks of practice.
Do you think the secondary would improve if those players joined it?
The point is, this could end up being a defense that improves as the season progresses because of on-field experience and an infusion of talent.
While the secondary gets a majority of the criticism, the defensive line needs to help them out by getting a better push, more pressure and making tackles to end drives when they’re in position to do so.
Over the next six weeks, Pitt plays Georgia Tech, Rice, Syracuse, NC State, Duke and Virginia. I wouldn’t be surprised if they end that stretch 5-1, which would put their record at 6-3.
If that happens, isn’t that where you expected them to be heading into the final three against North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Miami?
So, while things look bleak today, the big picture says all of Pitt’s goals are still ahead of them and the real season starts next Saturday at Georgia Tech.