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Opinion

Vukovcan: Credit Cignetti for Un-Stylish Pitt Win

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Pitt football’s 15-5 record over their last 20 games seems to have gotten a portion of the fan base a bit greedy. Winning is no longer good enough. Wins are now being judged by style points and margin of victory.

Vegas set Pitt as 10-point favorites heading into Saturday’s kickoff against Western Michigan and the Panthers ended up winning the game by 21 points. When you beat Vegas by 11 points that should be looked at as a good day’s work but that wasn’t the case if you were reading comments on Twitter or for the voters in the AP Top 25 rankings who dropped Pitt in the latest rankings.

The biggest complaint for all of the arm-chair offensive coordinators at home was the play-calling of offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti, Jr.

“Take the training wheels off”, “Throw the football”, “Here we go, back to boring offensive football”, etc. Those were just some of the complaints Pitt fans had with the offensive game plan.

Instead of getting criticized, Cignetti should’ve been receiving compliments for his play calling and handling of first-time starting quarterback Nate Yarnell.

While there’s no obvious way for me to prove this, I truly believe that if Mark Whipple was still Pitt’s offensive coordinator, Pitt would’ve lost Saturday night and the conversation today surrounding the football program would be a hell of a lot different.

I believe that Whipple would’ve continued with his pass heavy offense and wouldn’t have adjusted to the current quarterback situation, which Cignetti did brilliantly.

Cignetti went into the game with the mindset that Pitt was going to win the game by running the football, controlling the line of scrimmage and not to overwhelm Yarnell.

Take Yarnell out of the equation and there were logical reasons to back this up not the least of which how poor Western Michigan’s run defense had performed thru the first two games.

Michigan State: 32 attempts for 197 yards and a TD

Ball State: 31 attempts for 156 yards and TD

Considering the talent in Pitt’s backfield and the reputation of their offensive line, the best way to win this game called for a heavy dose of Izzy Abanikanda and Vincent Davis.

That ended up being a smart decision as Pitt’s running backs went on to rush 52 times for 238 yards and 2 TD’s.

Looking back, this play calling probably allowed Yarnell to be successful because nearly every time he attempted a pass, it seemed to catch Western Michigan off guard.

Cignetti and Pat Narduzzi’s jobs are to put in a game plan each week that they feel gives Pitt the best chance to win. Saturday night that plan was to be more physical and to control the time of possession by emphasizing his backs. Mission accomplished because Pitt is now 2-1.

A good friend of mine Charlie (one of the biggest Pitt fans I know) always reminds me that winning is fun. Keep in mind, he doesn’t say winning by 40+ points is fun or winning by throwing 4 touchdown passes is fun.

Charlie’s phrase is ‘Winning is Fun’. Some Pitt fans should live by the same motto.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Big Time
Big Time
17 days ago

I don’t credit Cignetti at all. His ultra conservative and very predictable play calling could have cost them the game. You need to thank the defense for getting all of those turnovers for that victory. I have not been impressed with Cignetti at all.

Justin Dietrich
Justin Dietrich
17 days ago
Reply to  Big Time

He called a near flawless game given the personnel. If you disagree, you may need to learn football from someone who knows the game. The only questionable decision for the WMU game was starting Nate over Kyler and, thankfully, it didn’t hurt us. It ended up giving us a nice glimpse of the future.

Jason
Jason
17 days ago

I agree Mike. You want to build confidence in your young QBs. Yarnell needed to play within himself and not make any costly mistakes…just manage the game. Cignetti and Yarnell did a great job and of course the defense stepped and was huge all game. Great win. Not pretty, but as you quote, “winning is fun.”
It was great to see Yarnell get his first PITT win!

cdouble92
cdouble92
17 days ago

winning is fun!! just win baby!!

On Campus Stadium Please
On Campus Stadium Please
17 days ago

Western Michigan then Rhode Island….let’s circle back when some ACC teams are on the field.

Justin Dietrich
Justin Dietrich
17 days ago

We have a PSU schedule the next 4 weeks. You can pull your Psaki for the Louisville game…

Ed Rose
Ed Rose
17 days ago

On Campus Stadium Please is a turd in a babies diaper. He lives on a Pitt fan forum because he has no life.

On Campus Stadium Please
On Campus Stadium Please
16 days ago
Reply to  Ed Rose

rent free h2p!

Ed Rose
Ed Rose
17 days ago

You were the same clown that was saying WMU would blow Pitt out without Slovis or Patti. Btw, the ACC is better than the Big 10. PSU would be 5th in the ACC Atlantic behind Clemson, FSU, NC St., Wake Forest and Syracuse. James Franklin would be floating in the Susquehanna face down if they were in that Division. The Big 10 would be like the Sun Belt without OSU and Michigan this year.

SRS
SRS
17 days ago
Reply to  Ed Rose

Sun Belt has some impressive Wins YTD.

On Campus Stadium Please
On Campus Stadium Please
16 days ago
Reply to  Ed Rose

Oh Ed just take your one year of relevance with Pickett carrying Duzz and be happy…this is too easy. Rent free, h2p!

Ed Rose
Ed Rose
16 days ago

Rent free…sounds like you are still moms basement.

Pittband
Pittband
17 days ago

I said it on another post, Cignetti called the right game for the personnel available.
BTW, looked at Nebraska, they are complaining Whipple throws too much.
And the previous Pitt OC is getting paid by the hometown pro team.
Run too much, throw too much, too much razzle dazzle, Pitt faithful are fickled.

Ken
Ken
16 days ago

Cignetti’s overall game plan worked; run the ball against a weak run defense, and don’t ask too much of your inexperienced QB. Fine. But the criticism that I think is fair is that his actual playcalling made things harder on his run game and QB than was necessary. So very predictably running on every first and second down in the first half made the run game more difficult to execute, and waiting until its 3rd and long to throw is difficult even for an experienced QB. His use of play action and misdirect on a few passing plays in the… Read more »

Dukes

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