I still haven’t quite come down from the Saturday’s win. A sloppy game — yes, and one that should never have been as close as the final score showed. But the way the game was won, pure catharsis. Most of me wants to toss all the faults aside and move on to Virginia Tech. For the sake of content, we move forward.
- Zay Flowers is unREAL. Every team has to account for what he brings to the table or risk looking like fools. Former Eagles Will Blackmon and Justin Simmons had a little back and forth about the mind-boggling defense Pitt played on Flowers.
There is no way they were playing 0 with both corners pressed right? Lol— Justin Simmons (@jsimms1119) October 10, 2020
Needless to say, these won’t always come, but Flowers is a critical piece of the offense. His ability opens up the field for everyone else and gives the offense the jolt it needs because it only takes one mental lapse to find yourselves getting burned.
2. Maybe this offensive line shift wasn’t a good idea. It just doesn’t look right. There’s only one new starter, Christian Mahogany, and while it felt as though he may have been targeted on a few of the six sacks allowed, there’s no way he is the only issue. The team averaged less than one yard per rush. Less than one. That’s insane. Pitt’s front looked excellent, but this is flat out unacceptable. The line gets virtually no push. As great as AJ Dillon was, I have a hard time believing this is what’s left behind. I think this experiment has run its course.
3. Josh DeBerry and Brandon Sebastian have raised the bar. WoW. DeBerry especially, he has risen to the occasion, and the coaching staff clearly loves him. Hafley said that “He’s [DeBerry’s] playing as well as any DB right now that I’ve seen. He just keeps getting better and better. It’s his attitude and it’s his mindset, and I love him.” He ran the route for the Pitt receiver on the fourth quarter interception, and while it didn’t result in anything, it surely fired the team up. He had key pass deflections while being excellent in coverage, and he came up with a a critical shoestring tackle coming off a blitz to stop Pitt on third down. Both of these defensive backs are playing at a high level and thriving under Hafley.
4. The lack of discipline has stood out. I love the emotion and energy, but we’ve let it get the best of us. It was the pre-snap penalties this week that were absolute killers. It was the unnecessary personal fouls before. The officiating in the game was trash, let’s be honest, but the team needs to lock it up on this end. Hafley made note of the self-inflicted wounds at half-time, so this should be a point of emphasis moving forward.
5. The team has to sustain play for more than one half. It doesn’t make much sense. The offense grew strikingly stagnant in the second half. Apart from the very first possession which resulted in a 77-yard touchdown to Zay Flowers (the GOAT), the next six possessions went for a total of 19 yards. The last possession before overtime garnered 40 yards in 40 seconds only to result in a missed field goal. The game should never have gone to overtime, as cathartic as it may have been. The play-calling in the second half became too conservative, perhaps not by choice. Pitt created pressure quite easily, and that seemed to force Hunter Long into blocking more. An injury to tight end Spencer Witter may have also played a part. Without Long as a safety blanket or just an option out there, the team forced some runs to nowhere. The second half management made overtime quite stressful. The offense looked out of sorts, but luckily Zay saved the day. After throwing 56 passes the week prior, maybe I expected too much. We held the lead for most of the game, yes, but I can’t help but feel Cignetti would take back a number of those second half plays.
We live, we learn, we move on. I didn’t know how much I needed this sort of game. A Gasson-sized weight has been lifted off our collective shoulders. This is a completely different team.