Virginia Tech football Pittsburgh Panther preview

#27 R.P.I. Virginia Tech @ #32 R.P.I. Pittsburgh:

Virginia Tech football takes to the road Thursday night on ESPN at 7pm to take on my home town of Pittsburgh Pa., Bimbo’s pizza, South Hills Village, Upper Saint Clair H.S., and Iron City Lite. (And maybe a 9,000 calorie Primanti sammwich to wash it all down) This of course segues us neatly into yet another word of the day…pitt-logo

Today’s word of the day is… dyspepsia


(dĭs-pĕp′shə, -sē-ə)


  1. Disturbed digestion;
  2. indigestion.
  3. Let’s hope the Hokie Bird don’t go: “burp” at ~11pm!

Head Coach: PatrickDuzNarduzzi: age=fiddy (5o), (5-2 this year; 13-7 overall); has a rep’ for defense. Was a collegiate Linebacker his ownself at Youngstown State and then transferred to Rhode Island. Holds a Master’s from Miami after his playing days were finished; good on that.

Tried to leverage Cincy into giving him the head job, and instead wound up at Michigan State as D-coordinator. From 2011-2014, Michigan State was the only team to rank in the D-1 Top-10 in total defense and rushing defense alike. I’d say that counts; 2013 Broyles Award winner as top assistant coach accordingly. Father (Bill) was the big whistle at Youngstown State, so coaching is in his blood. Duz’ just told the Post-Gazette: “Virginia Tech is a must win!

2015 record: 8 up 5 down and 6-2 in the A.c.c.

Defense: (starters back=8)

  • Total D=60th, rush D however is 5th best, pass D is a lowly 122nd.
  • 4th best in sacks! 36th best in Tackles for a Loss (TFL). Pitt will play in your backfield.
  • 123rd in Explosiveness as a D; which is very odd to me. As coach Duz’ has a very aggressive defensive reputation. As this is a physical Big-10 style black-n-blue crew. Very aggressive on the ball too; as Pitt has four defensive returns for TD’s in their last 11 games.
  • Almost something of a modified 4-3 gone fifty-two with two true InLb twins and the Sam cheating in-line up at times.

    6-packs, plural!
    6-packs, plural!
  • dLine is 37th in Havoc with epic reasons, plural. The showcase of which is: r-Sr., 6′, 220 lb. and impoverished man’s Corey Moore at De, as Ejuan Price is the truth! Check it out… Price leads the country in sacks per game (1.29 avg.), he is 3rd in TFL per game (1.9 avg.) and he is 10th in forced fumbles per game (0.43 avg.). 50% of Price’s 26 tackles this season have been negative stops for a loss; Ejuan he has compiled 13 TFLs, nine sacks, nine QB hurries and three forced fumbles on the year. And that’s not half bad De work from a guy who is a Mike-Lb by trade. WOW! Does have a history of pectorial problems, Godspeed on the bench {sic: press}. Though he’s a terror when healthy; and so is SIX. #6 is death. Seriously; this kid is an F’n, beast, a beast!!! Dear Mr. and Mrs. Gallo, if you are reading these words; don’t. As this kid is the worst I’ve seen on film since the E.c.u. Ng who nearly beat us by himself a few years back. Tyrique Jarrett is listed at 344 and if he is 344 I’m 1oo, even. BAD match-up here folks; as in very. Jarrett may just go through Gallo like a chill through a man with no coat. Overall De is vaguely close to being three-deep in starters; albeit average in size; whereas Dt is thinner on depth; albeit LARGE on size. Conner -yes, the Rb Conner- even played some De and sacked the uva dweeb Qb, too!
  • Linebacking is 71st in Havoc. Third-year starting MLb Matt Galambos is the most useful second-layer guy here. Though Linebacking is third in this layering race of three. Linebacking has a slightly deeper stagger here, though mostly in-line horizontally; this tells you how they feel about the success of their front-4. Tougher group to reach on scrapes and folds to the second-level consequentially. Pitt will deal (blitz) and use 5-7 man rushes or run-blitzes. Not a risk adverse defensive set; will overplay the Sam side as well.

    hourglass Sam overshift look
  • Secondary is 42nd in Havoc. The star is 5’11”, 19o lb., t-Soph. Ss Jordan Whitehead, who recorded the most tackles (1o9) by a t-Fresh., in program history last season. Whitehead sees some Lb and even some Wr looks as well. Fs Safety Avonte has a ball-hawking proverbial nose for the ball; though Cb appears more inviting upon breaking tape although both Cb starters did return here. Secondary depth is extremely thin. Safeties have some forward and narrower alignments at times. Clearly Pitt does not want you to beat them up the gut. Accordingly, there can be some run to run/pass off the edge of this if you can break contain. Pitt will play the man, not the ball; hence only 3 INT’s on the year. Only three Power-5 schools have allowed more yards passing than Pitt!

Defensive letter-grade:


Offense: (returning starters=8)

  • Total O is 60th, run game is a Spartan 20th best (24o ypg), passing is 1o7th.
  • Team Passing Efficiency is a smart looking 29th best.
  • Hence, scoring O is 22nd best at ~39 ppg. Ergo 9th best in Red Zone O.
  • 7th best in pass protect; though a very pedestrian 68th in TFL allowed.
  • 75th in Explosiveness as an O.
  • 56th in solo stopped percentage.
  • 6’2” 227  lb. graduate (Communications major now pursing an M.B.A.) r-senior UTenn transfer Qb Nathan Peterman is a pretty decent matriculated Qb; and methinks he might just be a little better than that. Although he surely is a pocket Qb trapped in a run first, second and throw -if need be- on third down offense. He is also: Married! As he wed the former Miss. Morgan Shull on April 30, 2016 A.D. CONGRATS and may St.Nathanial bless! As for football, Nat’ has a rep’ as a SoEastern Conference Academic Honor Roll student who never quite lived up to his 10th (Rivals) outta high school national ranking. At least not in Knoxville, Tn. That said, his Pitt numbers are that of being an efficacious game manager extraordinaire. His passing has come up to 63%, he sports a nifty 5:1 Panther passing ratio in 1.5 seasons up there and he can take off if need be as he has just enough speed to go chase the 1st-down marker on a scramble. Has a useful though not quite a rocketing arm. Works the field well sideline-to-sideline as a very serviceable short to intermediary passer. Perhaps a quiet man’s S.Glennon with more dapper; as he was not the opening day starter after transferring in for the 2015 campaign. Least sacked Qb in the A.c.c. (5).
  • One blown M.c.l. and a bout with the c-word or … Hodgkin lymphoma. God Bless Pitt Tb, one #24, 6’3” 230 lb. r-junior year James Conner. Never mind the 1,700+ rushing season two years ago; this kid is still on Earth and still playing the game of life gaining yardage the swiftest race of them all … the Human Race. That being devoutly and dutifully said, this is still a football preview and as much as it sucks to say it, this is not the same Rb who ran for 1,765 with 26 majors (TD’s) in 2014. As Conner’s numbers are off; and God Bless, they worsen the longer he plays. They drop from the fist-half to the second-half (-o.5 ypc); they drop from the 1Q to the 2Q (-1.8 ypc), they drop after the intermission from the 3Q to the 4Q (-1.7 ypc). So as great as he initially was; poor James Conner has been reduced to the realm of now being merely good. His pass catching however is up basically 300% in two years, so that helps; and yet, God Bless, he just does not have the same authority to his game. Not as much burst not as much endurance either. Though he is still here, and that gives us all … hope. As Conner looked heavy reporting to camp and early-on this season to me. May St. James who’s names-day was actually last Sunday; bless and intercede for anyone named: to the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, which honors 22 football student-athletes who have made a positive impact on others and their communities. And don’t forget he was originally the 26th ranked (Rivals) De outta high school. Back-up Rb Qadree Ollison (6’2” 230 lb. soph.), only ran for 1,121 last year. Though he has been limited of late. As Pitt’s second leading rusher is actually a Wr (#10, Quadree Henderson) on a lot of jet actions behind the play.

    close, to going heel-to-heel!
    close, to going heel-to-heel!
  • Four veteran oLine starters return up front and led by a pair of all-A.c.c. selections in Sr. 6’6” 300 lb. Tarzan looking left-Ot Adam Bisnowaty and Sr. 6’5” 315 lb. left-G Dorian Johnson. Adam is a three time A.c.c. all-Academic Football Team member though he has a history of harsh ankle rolls and back injuries. Dorian has only been starting since day no.1 as a t-Freshmen and was only the #2 Ot outta high school (Rivals). Ergo, I’m pretty sure Pitt is running odd (or left) when the chips get big-n-blue. As this is as solid of a run-blocking offensive set as I’ve seen on film in a while; with VERY narrow run-game splits! (love this look) Lotta individual turn and shield work here. Lotta tilt-downhill run blocks; manhood or y-chromosome testing 1o1 step right up! Pitt does favor the goaline Qb-sneak.
  • Wr/Te is done via a decent to solid 5-man pass catching committee. Surprising r-Jr., 6’3” 210 lb. Jester Weah is the best of the lot and he is the one true stretch element to an erstwhile ball-control medium to short passing set. As Pitt only have three completions north of 24 yards thus far. As you would expect, lottsa play-actions to Conner or whomever at Rb on passing Pitt does do. Scott Orndoff may be the best -most under used- Te you’ve never heard of in the A.c.c.; he is solid enough. Although Conner is Pitt’s third ranked pass-catcher, just to give you an idea. As this unit is south of being a strength; though BEWARE the Utah-pass to the Te/H-back guy here, too.
  • New O-coordinator Matt Canada joins the staff after spending three seasons in the same capacity at NC.State. Matt is a likeable high-energy excitable guy; that almost seems a bit misplaced in the Steel-gray retro bow-tie sets of the Panthers grinding offense.
  • 68% run:pass 32% mix. (heaviest run mix not named GT all year!)

Offensive  letter-grade:


Special Teams: (both return)
5’9” 169 lb. Chris Blewitt is Pitt’s Alexandria Va. escapee final year Kicker. Chirs has a very heavy foot connected to a big leg so do not let his roster metrics fool you. He’s netted eight collegiate makes of 49 or more, and three of them were game winners in the clutch. Chris is entering his forth season as the starting place-kicker for Pitt after being the 6th rated kicker coming out of high school. Chris does however have a backbreaking six, that’s (6) FGA’s that have already been blocked due to his shortie of a contact point on the follow through. That’s not a problem that’s a target and Chris has been in a bit of a senioritis slump so far at a career low of 66.7% thus far during this 2016 campaign.

6’5” longish 208 lb. r-junior P Ryan Winslow is 81st in Net Punting per his Panther’s being a suspect 97th best in punt coverage. Ryan is a punter who could prolly be a fashion model in the off-season as I’d bet the over on his coverage of girls here. Ryan is in his third year as starting punter for Pitt; so experience is not an issue. He is a member of the A.c.c. all-Academic Football Team with with a 3.92 cumulative GPA.; so smarts are not an issue. Was the 4th ranked Punter coming out of high school according to Scout; so talent (should not be) an issue. Winslow does have a history of fakes for Pitt; so mind the field-position store here gents. His father (George) was a Cleveland Browns (1987) and New Orleans Saints (1989) N.f.l. punter, so the Human Genome Punting Project is not an issue; either. Ryan has never had a Pitt punt sent back in his face with a very quick release, and he was a basketball star in scholastic terms. He may have underachieved just a smidge’ at Pitt; though he’s no bad punter; either.

The Pitt KO suicide squad is a modest 73rd best. The return game is very solid here, with a 27th best in punt fielding with none taken to the house; and a sizzling silver medal or 2nd best in KO returns with a game changing 12 points already tailed, here! Wr Quadree Henderson is the PR and KO return man at both.

Pitt has blocked one opposing FGA already and blocked one opposing punt to boot. Pitt has allowed one Panther FGA to be swatted with zero punt blocks allowed.

Special Teams letter-grade: (a pretty good B here, just need a little more kick game is all)


  • motive: about equal. both needs this Coastal victory to keep divisional pace. Edge=PUSH.
  • weather: hopefully, the rain pushes through <7pm, if not Edge=PITT.pitt-rain
  • health: Pitt does have Wr, Lb, and Secondary injuries. Still, our match-up hurts (dLine and throw game) shift this advantage more than a little bit in Pitt’s favor. Edge=PITT.
  • penalties: pretty dang close, Pitt ain’t no worse, though I’ll call it a PUSH.
  • intangibles: 7th best in TOP (time of possession); Pitt will grind you up and that would sit the out-of-sync Fu’fense down. EDGE=PITT.
  • fatigue: +5 rest and film-study in favor of Pitt. BIG edge here.


Calling this game is really all about what?

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Illation, conclusion(s) and OPT digits:

the takeaway:
The takeaway here is… eight wins last year for Pittsburgh was the most Panther gridiron victories in a season since the last decade. Pitt has also been engaged in a slew of close games since coach Duz’ took over –eleven different ones being decided by a single play or less and Pitt has come through 7-4 in those eleven. This tells me a couple of things… Pitt’s coaching has come up, Pitt’s talent level has a ways to go, and yet coach Duz’ has gone C.P.R. on the former Panther Tin-Man and resuscitated some much needed Pittsburgh heart.

"We, are, fam-aaa-lee!"
“We, are, fam-aaa-lee!”

This football game is very applied sports psych intriguing to me, because unlike the schematic landmine that was the Jiffy Pop Dome, these Pitt Panthers present our very first North-South smash-mouth test of wills of the season. This was the major (foible) wonderment for Bud Bock coming off of an underwhelming 2015 via glorious former Foster standards. How well would the 2016 Hokie halt-unit do during high voltage powerful run-fighting in the trenches? Could our previously so-so (at best) Mike-Lb shed his very first, block?


Accordingly, and if you are like me and sick of all this basketball on grass spread-offense mumbo-jumbo, this Thursday night you’ve come to the right smash-mouth place. Pitt is old-freakin’-school folks. They play a north-south game with (bleep) you up intentions. They have several pretty handsome individual match-up advantages in their favor and they make you go Smith Barney and win football games the old-fashioned way, as Pit makes you: “…earn it.” And make no mistake, this contest could be for the de facto Coastal Division championship with with Pitt vs. North Carolina vs. Virginia Tech already 2/3rds decided.  Though who will win?

Pitt has been out-gained in passing in three of their last six by 241 or more; in two of their last five by 3o3 or more and in six of their last ten by 124 or more. Do you and/or coach Corny see a trend here? And after seeing Pitt score on special-team returns, trick plays and so forth on film; I started to ensconce something of a smoke-n-mirrors point of view regarding these ’16 Pitt Panthers. Then I ran the most recent 3-game trends…

On the season, Tech is better than Pitt by 17 yards of total O and 93 ypg of total D. However, in the last three contests, that’s all changed. As it is Pitt that holds the offensive advantage of 10 ypg and defense narrowed to only a 9′ (nine foot) Hokie advantage. See what I mean? Pitt has improved more than we have in the last month or so of scrumming. That makes this one closer to a coin-flip than most would like to admit; and this is quite possibly our R.A.T.T. probability of getting beat left on the 2016 schedule. Further, try as I might, this still seems closer to a 9-3 Virginia Tech ’16 football team to me than it does say a ten dash two, one.


Accordingly, this football games comes down to WWI ‘esque trench warfare for Pitt and controlling and theretofore possibly winning this football game upfront | or it comes down to winging our way to victory and possibly winning this one through a more modern Desert Storm aerial assault if you are Virginia Tech.shock

That comes down to the weather or what some may deign to call winning via slight of hand or prestidigitation. As an arm punching wannabe alpha contest with a team that loves to slug it out in the rain is no better than a dumb idea. To wit, I for one will take this murky looking visiting win any way I can get it. Because being beaten by yet another downright solid, and yet ultimately inferior Pitt squad -same as dyspepsia- would be hard to digest… “burp”!

upset Index=41%

Virginia Tech=33, Pittsburgh=17




V.A.D.A. approved
p.s. we/VT will go on to win the Coastal


11 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Pacing of the game while we are on offense will be interesting, I’d like to think gassing #6 would be an effective way to neutralize him.

    However, Gallo may not want to pop right back to the LOS too quickly after a few snaps!

    Who gives first, the gasser or the gassee?

    1. True true.
      I make 6 run a long damn ways.
      Sideline-to-sideline. Rinse, recycle, repeat.

      no, doubt,

  2. The Bluefield Kid is on a roll, along with his big dictionary. Love it. But I have a bad feeling about tonight. We will see who is “tuff enuff.” so sayeth the Fabulous Thunderbirds of Austin fame.

    1. “Bad to the bone?”

      Yah; I mean, I feel yah’ll.
      Pitt ain’t nobodies softie. Coach Duz’ don’t roll like dat.

      We shall see…

  3. Not sure the three game comp is good, with the UNC game in there…. will inflate our D and hurt the O. But your point is still valid – it’s a coinflip match up.

    I think we need to go all NFL and run enough to keep them “honest” with plenty of men in the box, and we have to capitalize with the pass. Also need to make those eschewed by the fan base screen passes more of our “runs”.

    We are 8 games in, Pitt is a proven brick wall when it comes to running successfully – need to find a way to over come it, and not just beat ourselves to death.

    1. WAR U.S.C.!!!

      Our coach finally left
      Just does not seem the same.
      : (

      I’ll always remember driving to the Stiller/Pirate 3-river crib… and seeing your field over on the left. What a spectacle for the mid 1970’s for a H.S. to roll turf like that!?!


      1. The astroturf was cool – still have scars on my arm from turf burn. 🙂

        It was always a good rivalry and we all knew lots of players at USC. (Unlike Bethel – more fouls in just about every sport).
        My best friend from MtL lives in USC now.

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