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.