Was yesterday’s Pitt game ugly? Yes. Was it disappointing? Yes. Does it raise some questions? Yes.
But most importantly, did Pitt win? Yes and in the end, that’s the bottom line.
I’ll borrow a postgame quote from Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney following yesterday’s 21-20 win over North Carolina, a game in which Clemson was 27.5 point favorites.
”Most of the time, when I make a birdie it hits off a tree, runs on the green, hits off the golf cart, bounces back up there close to the flag and then I putt it in, and then I write 3 on my scorecard. Ain’t no pictures on the scorecard.”
That logic applies to Pitt as well. Although Pitt’s 17-14 win over Delaware was frustrating, at the end of the day it counts as the Panthers third win of the season. Their are only three groups of people that are really angry about yesterday’s result: Someone that bet on Pitt -28.5, someone that spent a lot of money on tickets and someone that doesn’t like Pat Narduzzi as coach to begin with and will use this game as another argument.
The topic of disclosing injured players is a separate topic but the reason for Narduzzi not playing a handful of key players was he didn’t believe they were healthy enough to compete against Delaware.
From the reaction on Twitter and message boards, it looks as though we have a lot of armchair doctors in the Pitt fan base believing that most of these players should’ve been on the field and that’s ridiculous.
If Narduzzi and his medical staff feel these players weren’t physically ready then that’s the decision. It’s not as though these injuries came out of nowhere.
Let’s remember that both Kenny Pickett and Jason Pinnock left the game against Central Florida injured, Pinnock left multiple times. Following a special teams play in the second half, Chase Pine limped off the field and immediately got medical attention from the Pitt trainers. He didn’t return to play in the Central Florida game. Elias Reynolds didn’t play in the first two games due to an injury and Vincent Davis was seen wearing a cast on the sidelines yesterday.
Narduzzi has stated numerous times this season that his main objective is to have this ready to compete for and defend their Coastal Division Championship. His decision to be cautious with injuries falls in line with that objective. Let’s be honest, if Pickett re-injures that shoulder yesterday and had to miss a few weeks or the season, Pitt isn’t winning the Coastal Division Title.
The non-conference portion of Pitt’s schedule is over with and their real season starts this Saturday night at Duke. Despite wanting to win some of those non-conference for pride, these are the games that matter for the Panthers.
Let’s be honest, Pitt isn’t a team that’s competing to be one of the four teams in the College Football Playoffs. They enter the season with the goal of winning their division and playing in the ACC Championship Game. Nothing that’s happened to this point of the season has stopped that from happening.
Despite losing the season opener to Virginia, looking at their remaining schedule, Pitt has a team that’s capable of running the table if healthy. Will they? I’m not sure but it’s certainly not out of the question.
The only thing I’m certain of is that if any of the players that sat yesterday, specifically Pickett, would’ve played and re-injured themselves, Narduzzi would’ve been second guessed and heavily criticized and the Coastal Title is a dream. I guess that’s the life of a head coach, especially in a football city.
Pitt fans, put Delaware and the other four games behind you because the games that matter start six days from now at Duke.