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.