Well it was a tough loss because Pitt didn't play well at all and they still had a chance to force overtime. I will say that it is kind of getting to be a broken record and getting really old in hearing after big games, well, they threw this at us or did this new or we weren't prepared or we took a long time to adjust or we didn't expect that. Well, that is coaching and while wanny can recruit, he gets outcoached in almost all big games and this one was no different. They were not prepared at all. And he got outcoached by stewart who has to be one of the worst coaches at clock management and game time management. I mean in the last two games how many times has stewart either cost their team or almost cost their team by going for it on forth down and long, not kicking field goals and letting time slip off the clock. I think wanny needs to let his coordinators make more decisions for him to be successful, because after 5 years in college, he hasn't learned that outscoring your opponents wins games and playing close to the chest and conservative only lets teams hang around and win.
So much for hearing how this team is professional and treats every game as the only game and they are great at preparation and are poised. Well, they looked like this was the first game of the season. If they were true professionals in the workplace, they would have been fired. All except probably lewis and baldwin.
So onto the grades. Well, lets start with special teams since both the offense and defense were mediocre at best:
Kicking grade B- While hutchins missed 2 long field goals, I blame more that on wanny for having his kicker try a 46 yarder and an even longer 53 yarder with swirling winds. While that might be in hutchins range with no pass rush, in a dome and at 5000 feet, he won't consistently make those kicks. So why go for them and give up field position, either go for it on forth down or punt. On the first one, it was a 4th and 5 at the 29, I would have gone for it. On the second one, a 4th and 19 at the 36, punt. Because it isn't about the 3 points as much as the momentum shifter in this game and since pitt came out flat, any more momentum to wvu hurts. Hutchins did kick well on punts and Briggs did ok except the first kick out of bounds. I would like to see pitt get a punter that can boom them. Hutchins is good at location, but his leg is weak.
Punt return grade D While aaron smith may catch the punts and not fumble he looks awfully slow back there and does nothing to gain yardage. He fair catches the ball way too often with nobody within 5-10 yards of him. Pitt is last in the Big East with a measly 4.9 punt return average. And Pitt is 107th out of 120 in division I. Heck you get about two yards if you just fall forward, so that is pathetic. For a coach that plays field position, having a punt returner that does nothing, hurts you everytime you are kicking for field position.
Kickoff return grade B+ I would have given an A here but I saw ray graham carry the ball with not only one hand but basically palming it on one return. He didn't even cover it when he saw contact was coming, what was he thinking? Saddler is great on returns, he had two and averaged 40 yards. Did you notice how wvu kicked away from him when they had a chance, sure would like him to return punts also since are punt returns are non-existent. Hopefully, he can practice this before the bowl game and have a chance and if not, definitely in the spring.
Return Coverage grade A The kickoff and punt return teams have been good all year and this was no different. They held wvu in check and 23 yards on kickoffs and 3 yards on punts. They need to keep cincy in check next week.
Offensive Line grade C- While they opened up holes for Lewis at times, they were too inconsistent and let alot of backside plays happen. How many times did a wvu player come from the backside gap and tackle lewis for a loss or no gain. Pass protection was mediocre, at times it was there but again inconsistent. That chop block was bs and lewis would have had another 20 yards and pitt a first down instead of 3rd and long and a long field goal attempt. There were some opportunities for plays, but pressure caused incomplete passes or bad throws. Now some of it was on the qb because at times, he could have stepped up or avoided the rush but simply stayed still or ran into the pressure.
Baldwin grade A Why separate him out? Were there any other pitt wr playing? Why not an A+? Well, he made absolutely amazing catches but he seems to jump at times when he does not need to. Especially in the middle throws and what that does is allow the defender to catch up and tackle so baldwin does not get a chance to run after the catch. He is amazing even when double teamed and was open a lot more, but Stull underthrew him about 5 times and overthrew him once that I can remember. He is a heck of an athlete, while he doesn't look fast, he is.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends grade C- Did Turner even play? I really mean that, I did not see him or one ball thrown to him. I am not sure he was on the field. Other than Baldwin was there any others that made a play? Dickerson dropped at least two easy catches. Mcgee made a nice catch but that's about it. Now, I don't know if Stull did any checkdowns or reads and seemed to key on baldwin. That is why it was a C- instead of a D
Running/Full Back grade A Lewis got off to a slow start and then was awesome. He set the big east rushing record breaking mccoys record two years ago. He needs about 250 yards in the next two games to break dorsetts, but he does have one more game than td tony had. And I am not sure the level of competition that pitt played this year was at the same level Tony had in 73. Hynoski was there but did not have a carry and only one pass thrown to him. I think he missed a few blocks because he looked out of position but that's wvu gameplan with playing a 3-5-3.
Quarterback grade D+ Stull did not have a good game. I have not been a big proponent of the guy, but this year he has played the game manager position great and I said as long as he doesn't lose games, I am glad he is our qb and will root for him. But, this game was just awful. He lost the game for pitt single handedly. He seemed to key on baldwin, underthrew him 5 times or so, and overthrew him on a open td. He seemed to have happy feet and ran into the rush a few times. The sacks he had, he didn't even bother to look downfield or run, he just fell down. He didn't seem to read what the defense was giving him and didn't do any checkdowns. Yes, he was pressured at times, but a qb has to learn a 5 yard gain is better than a sack or an incomplete pass of 20 yards. I hope he got his bad game out of the way because his play reminded me of the sun bowl last year, in training camp and why I did not want him to be the starting qb at the beginning of the year.
Defensive line grade B+ It seems at times this line either takes plays off or doesn't read well. If the two ends don't get with the speed rush or the spin move, they have a hard time putting pressure on the qb. Overall the line played good, Williams and Mustakas were sound all game. They were able to stop wvu rbs and qb for losses a lot. Too bad they couldn't get their hand on devine on that 88 yard run, that was a game changer. They are dominant at times but at times they are average. I would like to see some more consistency.
Linebackers grade C- Other than Adam Gunn did we have any other linebackers play in the game? They seemed to disappear like our wide receivers. I did see Williams on a few but nothing else. Another awful game by Gruder, not sure why he is even playing, he is slow, out of position all the time, always behind the play and when in front of the play, he tackles by running backwards or standing still. I can't seem to find defensive stats in box scores I guess it is because the ncaa does not want to track them. Wanny needs to start recruiting better lb's. We used to have a good core set in the 2000's but it seems now it is a liability.
Secondary grade C- While they did not give up any long pass plays they played way off the receivers and let wvu complete tons of 5-10 yard passes because they were playing so far off. Dom missed the tackle on devine, and I would say most safeties would on a one on one in open field. It would have been nice to make that tackle but he has played well since starting out shaky at the beginning of the year. Fields seemed consistent and Holley was ok. I know Berry did not play but they seemed timid and not trying to make plays.
Defensive Coordinator grade B- Not much here, would have liked to get more in the face of the receivers and played more agressive but having your starting cb out might have something to do with it. Wish they were able to stop wvu on that final drive, but they played not to lose and the semi-prevent instead of the base. I would also like to see more blitzes at times especially when the ends do not get the speed or spin move to the qb, but I assume that is not Bennett philosophy since he works for a coach that does not believe in the blitz or why else would Bennett be coaching at pitt for wanny.
Offensive Coordinator grade C - I have been impressed with Frank Cignetti for much of the year but not this game. At times throughout the year, the play calling seemed to be suspect at times. When they should pass, they run and vice-versa. I am not sure it is wanny influence or what, don't know if wanny tells cignetti what to game plan for or has influence on the calls at the time. But the play call for this game was too conservative to win and score points. It seemed to be baldwin or nothing and the qb certainly had something to do with that. But not many screens, no fb runs, no tight ends over the middle? We seemed to throw to the edge way too much. And could we call a pass on first down please? And not be so predictable at times. The third down efficiency was pitiful just 2 for 13. Better open it up against cincy, because your gonna need at least 30 to be in the game.
Coaching D Well what can you say. Wanny gets outcoached again! And this time by a less of a coach in my eyes. In fact, Stewart reminded me of wanny at times, not taking the points, not taking chances, bad clock management etc. It is getting old that wanny in big games just does not seem to plan well or have any idea what the other team is going to do and when they come out with something new or different, he takes forever to adjust. I am sick of hearing we didn't expect that. And his team was obviously not prepared and ate too much turkey on thanksgiving. What was up with the going for two long field goals? What about the conservative play calling. Even at the end of the halftime and start of third quarter he told the reporter we are tied at 3 and he told his players we are still in it? What kind of motivation is that, how about we had an awful half and now lets go out there and score 30 points and play some defense. You could see he was mad on the sidelines at times because he wanted his line to dominate. Well, if things aren't working you change, not continue to beat your head against the wall. His line was not dominating and give credit to the wvu defensive game plan, scheme and play. But, wanny, learn to change and adjust. You lost the game because of your stubbornness to adjust to the game.