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Film Study

Pitt Football Film Study: XL Virginia Edition



In this week’s Film Study, I had a whole bunch of topics to cover from Pitt’s 31-14 win over Virginia on Saturday. I had a hard time deciding which one to pick, so I went with them all. Check out an XL-sized version of this week’s Film Study, starting with the defensive line.


Pitt got three sacks from its defensive line against Virginia, nearly doubling that unit’s totals for the season. I wanted to take a look at the plays and see if Pitt’s linemen did anything different structurally of it they just made some solid individual plays.

First up Shane Roy. Roy ends up in a solo situation with the right tackle and beats him to the inside, giving him a straight shot at Kurt Benkert.


Next up, Rashad Weaver went around the right tackle from the outside, again getting to Benkert.


It’s not as if Virginia’s line is untalented, either. They had given up just about two sacks per game coming in — one of the better units in the ACC. James Folston also added a sack later in the game, and while Pitt’s defensive line certainly looked good, it didn’t seem that there was any sort of X’s and O’s or structural advantage the Panthers possessed.

In many ways, that’s a good thing as the Pitt lineman were simply better than their opponents, even without Keyshon Camp and Dewayne Hendrix in the mix.


Quadree Henderson is fast, there’s no question about that. But here’s some appreciation for his other talents, based on his 75-yard punt return TD on Saturday.

Let’s start with the way Virginia had their coverage set up. The Cavaliers do not have a gunner on the left side of their formation and two gunners are on the right side of the formation.

They are trying to punt the ball to the right side of their formation and trap Henderson with the gunners and the three-man center of the coverage unit.

When the ball bounces to the right off the rugby-style kick, Henderson recognizes that the weakness in the Virginia coverage is to his right, and that’s where he heads.

Then, yes, he uses his quickness, but he also does a fantastic job of breaking tackles, something we haven’t seen as much from him. As Henderson gets to the corner, he breaks the first of eight tackles on his way to the end zone. Listed at 5-foot-8 and 170 pounds, that isn’t exactly his forte, but he never gives up on the play.



Don’t worry, Ben DiNucci keeps all his clothes on during this segment. But I highlighted this play in my post-game Five Takeaways and I wanted to revisit it here.

Pitt ran this play at least three times and got a good gain out of each time they ran it. It’s a play action out of a two-TE, two-WR formation. The jet sweep motion brings both receivers to the wide side of the field, while the play action goes to the short side.

Both tight ends Matt Flanagan and Qadree Ollison ran crossing routes, Jester Weah cleared out space with a go and Maurice Ffrench stayed in the flat. DiNucci hit Ollison for a good middle-distance gain.


Here’s why this play works. Watch how the LILB, RILB and ROLB react to the Hall play action. DiNucci evades the RDE when he turns back to the wide side of the field.

Right here, DiNucci is back at the middle of the field. To his left are all four Pitt receivers in routes, with each of them in man coverage. DiNucci can also run the ball, leaving Pitt with five options.

This time, he hit Ollison, who beat the free safety to the sideline. The next time, DiNucci kept it himself for three yards. The third time, it was more of the same for an easy nine yards to Flanagan.


Here’s DiNucci’s post-game comments again, when we talked about this play and how he can use his feet to better set up his arm.


Ollison gained praised for his blocking ability from head coach Pat Narduzzi after Darrin Hall’s big game against Duke two weeks ago. Well, here’s another one from last week. Ollison is left with a solo block against a linebacker in pass protection and he comes through with a beautiful cut block that gives DiNucci enough time to hit Ffrench deep down the sideline.


Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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