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Pitt Football

Ugly Offensive Performance Dooms Pitt in 24-10 Loss to Louisville

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LOUISVILLE — There were large stretches against Louisville where it didn’t look like Pitt was trying all that hard to win the game. And, oddly enough, Pitt didn’t win.

Despite an impressive defensive effort in limiting the ACC’s top rushing offense and holding Louisville to zero points on three first half turnovers, Pitt’s offense wasn’t able to do enough to overcome missed opportunities in the first half and one of the worst second halves offensively that one could imagine.

The 24-10 loss to Louisville is basically a kill shot to Pitt’s ACC Coastal hopes this season, needing a win against North Carolina and help along the way (along with no more losses) to make it back to Charlotte in December. Pitt now sits at 4-3 (1-2 ACC).

Slovis threw for 158 yards and two interceptions on 16-of-29 passing attempts, Abanikanda rushed for 129 yards and a touchdown on 29 attempts and Pitt’s offense turned the football over four times — managing very little in the second half.

Pitt’s defense held fast, limiting Louisville to just seven points through three quarters and holding Malik Cunningham to a pedestrian performance through three quarters, but the wear and tear eventually caught up to the defensive unit.

And yet, it’s not hyperbole to say that could’ve been up by as little a margin as 16-7 or as large a margin as 21-7 at the halftime break.

In four trips inside Louisville’s 30-yard line, Pitt came away with seven points and turned the ball over three times. In a half where Pitt racked up 218 yards of offense and didn’t allow a single point off of a disproportionate number of turnovers, Pitt entered the locker room tied at seven.

A bone-headed Kedon Slovis interception ended Pitt’s first drive at the Louisville 1.

A Rodney Hammond Jr. fumble in the wildcat ended Pitt’s fourth drive at the Louisville 18.

Another bone-headed Slovis interception ended Pitt’s sixth drive at the Louisville 2.

It wasn’t as if Slovis was running a particularly complex offense either.  Frank Cignetti Jr. called a simple game in which Slovis was required to make the right reads, pick up yardage on his open reads and open the run game for Israel Abanikanda. Pitt’s offensive possessions featured two drives of at least 50 yards and two more of at least 38 yards.

It wasn’t the play-calling and scheme that hurt Pitt’s offense, it was the play of Slovis throughout the first half.

Pitt’s first offensive possession felt like it was on its way to a touchdown before Slovis faked a hand-off to Abanikanda, rolled out and fired a poorly thrown football toward Mumpfield down the sideline. It was a poor decision, a poor throw and picked off by Louisville’s Yasir Abdullah.

However, it left Louisville on Pitt’s 1-yard line. A quick three-and-out gave Pitt the ball back, and as he has all season, Abanikanda took over.

Slovis was forced to dump a ball to Abanikanda in the flat in the face of pressure, and Abanikanda took it 37 yards to set up inside the red zone. And a new-look wildcat formation, with Abanikanda under center, resulted in a 12-yard touchdown.

And while Pitt’s run defense effectively limited the ACC’s top rushing offense, Cunningham challenged Pitt through the air early. He hit Chris Bell for a 29-yard gain, an underthrown ball which was caught over Brandon Hill, and Marshon Ford for a 25-yard touchdown over the middle.

Pitt’s wildcat play calling opened up even further in the second quarter, with five consecutive wildcat plays, but the impact was akin to a double-edged sword. It looked good, it led to some yards for Hammond, but the fifth snap resulted in a lost fumble inside Louisville territory.

A defensive stand inside Pitt territory, Cunningham’s 4th-and-3 pass attempt falling incomplete, gave Pitt new life. But Pitt’s ensuing drive, fueled by six Abanikanda carries and a roughing the passer to extend the drive, ended with Slovis’s second poor pick of the night — and the second near the goal line.

As Louisville’s Benjamin Perry hit Slovis, he decided to launch the ball from near the UL 29-yard line toward the end zone — and a couple of waiting Louisville defenders. It was intercepted by UL’s M.J. Griffin at the 2-yard line.

Pitt received the football after halftime and put together a 3-play, 4-yard drive and 5-play, 8-yard drive on back-to-back possessions. But as Louisville’s offense came back out onto the field following a punt from a Cam Guess punt from the end zone, A.J. Woods undercut a poorly thrown throw from Cunningham and picked him off.

A return across midfield set Pitt up at the Louisville 47, and while Pitt’s offense only picked up 28 yards on nine rather uninspired plays, a Ben Sauls’ 37-yard field goal sailed through the uprights to give Pitt a 10-7 lead near the end of the third quarter.

However, Pitt’s fourth offensive possession of the second half resulted in 0 yards and a punt, and the Louisville offense capitalized on a worn-down Pitt defense, churning out a 26-yard run and a 33-yard trick play before Cunningham lofted a ball over Shayne Simon into the waiting arms of Josh Lifson for the go-ahead touchdown.

Abanikanda set Pitt across midfield following possession up across midfield after he ripped off a 36-yard run, but Pitt turned the ball over on downs as Slovis’s 4th down pass missed a falling Mumpfield.

Louisville wasn’t able to put Pitt away with a responding touchdown drive, but a James Turner 48-yard field goal built UL’s lead to seven points with just 4:21 left in the game.

A roughing the passer set Pitt up again inside Louisville territory at the 35, but Gabe Houy allowed an untouched rusher to drill Slovis, knock the ball lose and Lou Clark returned it for a 59-yard touchdown.

At 24-10, Louisville effectively put Pitt away. Pitt’s road trip continues with another 8 p.m. kickoff against North Carolina next weekend.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago

Hardcore stinkage! 💩

Don
Don
1 month ago

Hiring Cignetti was a joke and Narduzzi knew what he was getting.. this guy has held 14 jobs in 23 years that should tell you something right there.. the only job that he held consistently is when he was a coach for his daddy over at IUP in the 90’s. This offense is a complete shit show. Jordan Addison saw this coming and was smart to get out of town. Sure do hope Kenny Minchey doesn’t decomit and head to ND but could you blame him?

SRS
SRS
1 month ago
Reply to  Don

86 laid Down when PITT had momentum with WildCat. Louisville got to Huddle, figure it ou, and came out with thunderous tackle forcing fumble. Slovis got thumped far too many times with Defenders running free, weirdly directly up the middle. The fumble was due to 57 blocking inside out on a Double team where an edge rush nailed Slovis. I was at the Game if Slovis does better on Screen plays “Isaiah” Abandakanda has long gains. PA Announcer repeatedly called him “Isaiah”. If I had to knock the Coaching it is what Sharon on this forum says about the Run… Read more »

On Campus Stadium Please
On Campus Stadium Please
1 month ago

Scary thing is it’s going to be worse next year. Lots of departures and graduations.

SRS
SRS
1 month ago

That I agree

Jamie
Jamie
1 month ago

pITt DoesNT gEt aNY NatiONaL ReSPEcT iN tHe Top 25 RANKinGS

On Campus Stadium Please
On Campus Stadium Please
1 month ago
Reply to  Jamie

good ole Vuk, that article looks like an even bigger joke now.

Dukes

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