Connect with us

Opinion

Vukovcan: Frank Cignetti Jr. Needs To Get Better

Published

on

Many opinions have been aired since Pitt’s 27-21 loss on Saturday night.

A majority of the talk has centered on quarterback Phil Jurkovec, which isn’t a surprise. Many expected him to come in and solidify a position that was very much a question mark all of last season.

Only two games have been played and it’s still way too early to come to any conclusions, but if the quarterback play doesn’t improve, it could be a real long season for Pitt.

One way that Jurkovec can improve is by getting some help from his offensive coordinator, Frank Cignetti Jr.

If Jurkovec was the main problem against Cincinnati (and I don’t necessarily believe he was) then his offensive coordinator and offensive line were a close second. A VERY CLOSE SECOND.

At today’s press conference, Pat Narduzzi said that Cignetti regretted starting the game with three straight passes. Looking back at his play calling for the entire game and personnel usage, Cignetti should have a lot more to regret and question himself about.

Here are just a few of his head-scratching decisions that didn’t help Jurkovec and the offense.

Usage of Rodney Hammond:

Barring an undisclosed injury, I have no idea what’s going on with the Pitt running back room. Despite being the best back on their roster, Hammond has only 11 carries this season, getting only six against Cincinnati.

That’s a big mistake. Jurkovec didn’t need to throw 32 passes against Cincinnati and until he gets into more of a grove, the game plan should include more Hammond. In general, Daniel Carter or C’Bo Flemister can’t be receiving more touches than Hammonds.

Gavin Bartholomew:

The ignoring of tight end Gavin Bartholomew continues to be a mystery and the biggest downside of Cignetti’s tenure at Pitt. Why he hasn’t been the top target in Pitt’s pass offense the last two years, I’ll never know. Bartholomew is a complete mismatch for anyone who tries to cover him and he has NFL-type hands and speed. Yet, he’s rarely targeted and when he is, all he does is make catches. If you wanna make Jurkovec a better quarterback, how about targeting him 11 times in a game instead of Bub Means?

Wide Receiver Snaps:

Ultimately, I’m not sure who makes the call on the snaps that the wide receivers get, whether that’s Cignetti or Tiquan Underwood, but whoever it is, Means needs to be on the field a lot less.

Against Cincinnati, Means took 62 snaps and was thrown to, 11 times, which resulted in zero receptions. I was at the game. Passes were thrown his way that should’ve been caught. If he comes down with a few of them, maybe the game changes, or at the very least, Jurkovec starts to get in a rhythm and feels better about himself.

For two years, we’ve been hearing about the athleticism and playmaking ability of Means. That’s yet to show up on the field and until it does, some of the younger receivers should be given an opportunity to turn into a playmaker. Something Means has failed to do.

Play Calls:

I’ll start by saying that Cignetti has forgotten more about play-calling than I’ll ever know, BUT that doesn’t mean that I don’t know anything.

First of all, when Pitt trailed in the 4th Quarter, 27-21, and with 5:44 left, it was completely unnecessary to abandon the run and go into a full-blown air raid. Pitt would’ve actually caught Cincinnati off guard. This goes back to forgetting about Hammond.

The other mistake with the play-calling was, why did it seem like the only pass play called, especially in the second half was the go-route (vertical route). I’m not sure if it was because they had zero confidence in the line protecting Jurkovec for more than two or three seconds or they were just hoping to draw a pass interference call. Whatever the case, it didn’t work all game, and aside from a near catch by Daequan Reynolds, they didn’t come close to working.

How about a curl, slant, or an out? Why did nearly everything have to be thrown deep? Made zero sense with a quarterback that wasn’t accurate.

Hey, I get it, the quarterback gets the blame when a team loses, especially when the offense struggles, but Jurkovec was far from the only problem.

The offensive coordinator needs to get a lot better or this season could go south.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
16 Comments
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
16 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Tom D
Tom D
10 months ago

Mike has said a lot here and it’s all relevant and spot on. Lackluster play many times is because a player (or players) have an off day. The other side of the coin is whether or not Player prep and game planning is clean and crisp. Pitt wasn’t clean. Or crisp or confident. Coaches and coordinator in CFB make all the difference in this regard.

Hudie Evans
Hudie Evans
10 months ago
Reply to  Tom D

Narduzzi doesn’t want to win.He can always hide behind his BS rebuttals.Narduzzi must have a beef against Rodney Hammond .He is in the position to make Pitt look dumb and crappy.He’s not about winning.He doesn’t want Pitt to be successful.He being paid by others for a failing University of Pittsburgh football team

PT Panther Fan
PT Panther Fan
10 months ago

He’s been coaching for over 30 years. It’s unlikely he will make any improvements in the next few weeks.

Cignetti & Friends
Cignetti & Friends
10 months ago
Reply to  PT Panther Fan

Nard loves these coaches who have been recycled a gazillion times. The staff is loaded with them. Recycled Coach Farm. Somebody young should have been studying/getting ready under Whipple, to continue that offense that avg’d over 41 ppg (3rd highest in college football) How do you not do that ???

Jon Cowett
Jon Cowett
10 months ago

Everyone hates a 2nd Guesser! BTW I am a Cincinnati fan.I dont think Pitt lost because of the playcalling! Cincinnati controlled both lines of scrimmage!

Cignetti & Friends
Cignetti & Friends
10 months ago

Pro sets in college are long passe. Even the few teams that run them have some RPO sets among their plays. Furthermore when you’re not recruiting 4 or 5 star athletes, the great equalizer in college football has proven to be the Spread offense. TCU last year, perfect example. Beat a Michigan team loaded with 4 star players, by spreading the field, and only having to have a WR break one tackle of one player to make a big play.
Another example….how about PITT itself…Pitt’s 2021’s Spread Attack was Pitt’s highest scoring team EVER ! Case closed.

Jane
Jane
10 months ago

Good, I’write … they do not recruit well enough on offensive and defense lines to play Big Ten football .. and they need to go back to the Whipple era

On Campus Stadium Please
On Campus Stadium Please
10 months ago
Reply to  Jane

they don’t recruit well enough to play ACC football. Duzz get’s low 3* and then tries to bring in transfer retreads that never work

Sharon
Sharon
10 months ago

Frustrated by lack of proper footwork and mechanics by a senior D1 qb.
Cignetti has been Jurkovec’s position coach for three seasons.
I say they both are over their heads.

Eli
Eli
10 months ago

Yep, I said the same thing re: playcalling. They kept throwing fades down the sideline and the vast majority weren’t even close to being completed, which Jurkovic was getting visibly frustrated by, but they kept doing it anyway. Where were the passes over the middle? What happened to finding soft spots in the zone? How about trying short passes to get the running backs the ball in space, so they can make somebody miss?

Jane
Jane
10 months ago

Thing about play calling is .. There is a game plan on what they are going to do and they practice those plays that week so if it’s not working.. it’s either execution or they miss planned …

On Campus Stadium Please
On Campus Stadium Please
10 months ago
Reply to  Jane

as Tyson said, “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face”….Duzz is the definition of this. He has a plan and then when it doesn’t work he never adjusts at the half…frustrating and hard to understand

Joe
Joe
10 months ago

Last year we heard the offense was bad because it was complicated and took a while to learn. Bring in a QB who has experience with it. Offense still looks bad. Still concentrating on primarily one receiver. Defensively the defense brought back memories of a remark a friend made in the fall of 1972: running against Pitt is like running against tall grass. On both sides of the ball it is like they don’t watch game film, come out with a plan for the first half and make adjustments at halftime – and no earlier. The ultimate responsibility for those… Read more »

Russell Eugene Kissell
Russell Eugene Kissell
10 months ago

Yarnell led them in Sun Bowl. These transfers have no alliance to Pitt, or they would have committed way back at the start! Every one in transfer portal has disappointed he should be head quarterback! He earned IT! Where is the loyalty to a tried and true Pitt player? YARNELL! He proved himself TWICE! The others are not loyal to PITT!

CBD2ND
CBD2ND
10 months ago

Uh, Nick Patti led them in the Sun Bowl, chief.

Katsura cassells
Katsura cassells
10 months ago

I can’t believe that “experts” are blaming Means from any perspective. Bub beat his man several times and would have scored at least twice with a decent pass. One of the most difficult things to do as a receiver running a go route, is to suddenly stop and adjust to the ball. If #5 throws the ball earlier, with touch and leads his receiver, spectacular catches would not be necessary.

Get PSN in your inbox!

Enter your email and get all of our posts delivered straight to your inbox.

 
Like Pittsburgh Sports Now on Facebook!
Send this to a friend