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Vukovcan: Loss to GT Highlights Disturbing Trends for Pitt Offense

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Sometimes winning covers up issues and that certainly appears to be the case with Pitt.

However, following Saturday night’s embarrassing display at Acrisure Stadium, plenty of things are being called into question. Not many people were willing to criticize because Pitt was 3-1 and assumed the defending ACC Champions would figure things out.

After what took place Saturday night, that’s no longer the case as many people are wondering if this is no longer just a bad game or two and this Pitt team has some serious issues that need to be addressed or if they’re fixable at this point.

Entering the season, the national question about this team is whether its 2021 ACC Championship was all because of Kenny Pickett and whether the team had enough talent to continue winning long-term without him.

I, for one, didn’t buy into that and thought this Panthers depth chart was still filled with a ton of talent and winning another ACC Championship this season was a distinct possibility.

Despite what I saw last night I still feel that way, but in order to do that, some things need changed and in a hurry.

While Pitt’s defense hasn’t been perfect, it has dealt with its share of injuries and certainly as a whole played well enough for Pitt to be undefeated, but the offense is a completely different story.

If you’d name a certain position or issue you had with the coaching, you’d certainly have a legitimate argument because it’s been a team issue when trying to dissect what in the hell is going wrong on offense.

Let’s start with who the fans are barking at this morning and that’s offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti.

At the time of the hire, I had no problem with bringing Cignetti in and still think he’s a good offensive mind. With that being said, some of things he’s doing or not doing have to be questioned.

Is it just me or does this offense remind you of what’s being done on the other side of the building with the Pittsburgh Steelers in terms of their passing offense. Although this can be pointed out for much of the season, how many times did you seen Pitt go deep? Georgia Tech had nine men in the box for much of the game and yet Pitt either tried to run the ball or had pass routes that were within 4-5 yards of the line of scrimmage. Until the last two drives, Pitt didn’t challenge Georgia Tech’s secondary at all.

This offense doesn’t seem to have any identity and just seems very boring and easy to defend. If this is by design and Pat Narduzzi is trying to go back to an old Big Ten style offense where you pound the ball and play defense, it’s a big, big mistake. In today’s era of football, that’s how meaningful football games are played and more importantly won.

While Mark Whipple’s pass heavy had certain issues, it’s one that won a championship and one that’s better suited to consistently win football games. Cignetti needs to be willing to change some things or what we witnessed against Georgia Tech could become the norm with the competition improving.

If I get a vote, the area of most concern to me and has been since the West Virginia game is the offensive line. To be blunt, they’ve been the biggest disappointment of the season and have totally underachieved to this point. I wish I had $20 dollar bill for every time a Pitt quarterback has been sacked or has been pressured while trying to complete a pass.

I’m not sure if that’s the reason Cignetti hasn’t attempted to get the ball more downfield but I’m confident if Kedon Slovis has more than 2-3 seconds to look over or down the field, good things would happen. Unfortunately for him, his line hasn’t allowed him much of an opportunity to do so.

I can promise you one thing, if this veteran offensive line doesn’t improve, neither will the production of the Pitt offense. In order to have an exciting passing game and one that is capable of making big plays, you need playmakers at wide receiver, and if the offensive line has been the biggest disappointment, then the wide receiving group is a close second.

After getting glowing reports from what was happening at training camp, it would be hard to name anything this season that gets you excited about anything you’ve seen from the Panthers wide receivers.

Thru 5 games, the offense is lacking a dynamic, playmaker from that position. No one has been explosive and able to help the offense out with yards after the catch. When most of the pass patterns are around the line of scrimmage and you don’t have a receiver who’s shown the ability to run away from a defender, that eventually becomes a problem.

To this point, I’ve seen nothing from Bub Means, drops from Jaden Bradley, a lack of big plays from Konata Mumpfield and for whatever reason, Jaylon Barden can’t make it onto the field.

Pitt won the ACC Championship last season because of their dynamic offense. While it’s too early to completely push the panic button, Cignetti and Pitt better figure things out or all the good will earned from last season will soon become a distant memory.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Robert E Landel
Robert E Landel
2 months ago

Vukovcan, You missed the fact Slovis is not mobile and takes too long to release the ball. Same O-line as last year. Different system, not mobile QB =’s losses.

Sharon
Sharon
2 months ago

Drop off at receivers. Slovis is not as good of runner or scrambler, but he is a better passer. If Whipple were still here, we would be 5-0.
It is Narduzzi’s job to fire Cig now. Or we will start losing recruits.

After a spring with Cignetti, Addison knew he would be better off leaving and taking the money.

Student section
Student section
2 months ago
Reply to  Sharon

Cignetti must go. NOW.

SRS
SRS
2 months ago

Frank ain’t dropping the Passes. Frank ain’t being hesitant to throw the ball 15+ Yards early in the game. Frank ain’t doing all the Check Downs to the flats. Frank ain’t getting Sacked 4 seconds after a Snap. Frank ain’t staring down his primary read. … You get spoiled with a QB who throws the ball before the guy gets open (Pickett 21′ and Ben Roethlisberger pre-arm injury). If you get a guy in there waiting for a guy to get open before throwing it you end up with the QB play Slovis has been doing. … When Slovis threw… Read more »

SRS
SRS
2 months ago

Throw the Ball down the field is not on OC. Perimeter pitter patter dink-dunk is what BigBen did his last two active Seasons and what Trubisky was doing.
The Defense is dominant, throw the Ball 15+ Yards.

25 Year Season Ticket Holder
25 Year Season Ticket Holder
2 months ago

Narduzzi was somewhat throwing Whipple under the bus right before the season started and stated a few times how he had difficulty running the ball. Now Cignetti is calling plays from a 1970’s style offense. Zero creativity in play calling or play design. Duzz needs to realize that he (likely accidentally) had this team in great shape with a high scoring offense and a good defense. That won games and made top recruits consider going to Pitt. With Whipple we were never out of a game. Now we were down 12-7 to GT and it seemed like too much to… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by Robert Hasenoehrl
Ken
Ken
2 months ago

I never bought the idea that Pitt had a great OL. It is older and highly experienced, and did improve last year, but it was never great. Narduzzi apparently thought it wasgoing to be better than it is; so good, that he was cocky enough to announce to his opponents that he was going to run and run and run, basically daring their D’s to stop it. Mostly, defenses have loaded the box and stopped it. For such an experienced OL, the number of false starts is inexcusable. I agree that Pitt’s offense looked eerily (and disappointedly) similar to the… Read more »

SRS
SRS
2 months ago
Reply to  Ken

Rodney Hammond Jr. shows quick bursts for our Zone blocking Scheme. I don’t know why Narduzzi Praises every Coaching Staff and States other kids on Scholarship too. PITT plays to their Opponents ability way too Often. If you watch Alabama versus Arkansas game DEs by announcers were told to not Rush too deep to Lose contain. PITT lost contain a couple too many times against a one dimensional Club. Cignetti is not the issue the better QB is now Starting at Oklahoma, Narduzzi bussed him in December at Peach Bowl for interception. Rent a QB has worked at PITT several… Read more »

Steve
Steve
2 months ago
Reply to  SRS

Beville is only playing at OU because Gabriel got hurt. Hes less mobile than Slovis and was sacked 3 times in a half by TCU. Slovis has been poor but Beville is not a P5 QB.

SRS
SRS
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve

Neither was Joe Flacco apparently he transferred from PITT to Delaware, eventual SB champion with the Ravens.

Tom D
Tom D
2 months ago

I think Mike you’re right on here. Other thing I would mention is that the Run defense this year is a disaster. So many missed tackles, big holes, and the opposing offenses (RI, WMU, GA Tech) weren’t exactly doing anything fancy. They were handing the ball off and guys are off to the races. Discipline. Lack of, and the dropped INTs are just a case of players not being as good as maybe they think they are…. So much frustration with this team. They’re never going to “run the table” as some suggest or are hoping. NC will destroy this… Read more »

Let’s Believe
Let’s Believe
2 months ago

They didn’t have more than a five game winning streak with Pickett, Addison, Whipple, and Marion. What makes anyone think they’re going to run the table and win seven in a row with this group? If I’m a high school WR, I’m crossing Pitt off my list after watching a quarter of Pitt’s offense. Narduzzi wanted this, he wanted a run, run, run, possess the ball type of offense. It sounds good and may look good on paper, but “line em up and knock ‘em down” isn’t going to win an ACC Championship nor Coastal title. They will win their… Read more »

SRS
SRS
2 months ago

* Raise your Hand if you think Mark Whipple first resigning and then moving on to Nebraska was about Play calling and QB throwing too much. … * Raise your Hand if you think Mark Whipple was wanting more $$$ annually given Narduzzi got a bump for Winning the ACC championship. … Follow the money and you’ll find the root of the complaint. Whipple reportedly earned $450 to $475k at PITT and NEWs media outlets shows he’ll earn $825 to $875 at Nebraska. … It was not about Xs and Os it’s about trailing zeroes. The I-formation, Play-Action tight bunch… Read more »

Johnny
Johnny
2 months ago

This on Narduzzi. Cig is a reflection of him. It’s an antiquated system. They won a championship with Whipple, then Duz throws him under the bus, bc that offense scored to quickly and didn’t give HIS defense enough time to rest. There is a drop off at most positions( except TE – which they don’t use ), I admit, but where are the over the middle patterns, quick slants, etc.? Losing to GT is unacceptable.

Joyce Delazio
Joyce Delazio
2 months ago

This past weekends game was painful to watch. I can’t imagine being a coach on the sidelines and not being demonstrably unhappy with the team’s performance. It takes great restraint l imagine! My son was an offensive lineman at Pitt 1988-1992. As a team, the linemen were embarrassed if they allowed a sack or rush. They took their jobs seriously and protected their quarterback .. Alex Van Pelt at the time. They helped each other and didn’t hesitate to tell each one who was slacking or neglecting his responsibility. They took great pride in their jobs. I don’t see that… Read more »

Dukes

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