Virginia Tech Pittsburgh football preview!

 #66 R.P.I. Virginia Tech #41  R.P.I. Pittsburgh:

Virginia Tech travels up to my hometown of Pittsburgh, Pa. to battle the 5 up and 4 down overall and (4-1 in the A.c.c.) Pitt Panthers at 3:30 pm on the always nebulous to find ESPNU (with no ESPN3) TV.

The Hokies are nearly reeling coming off of two harsh L’s whereas the Panthers are improving having won 3 of their last 4 contests and enter this one as a 3 point home fave (Pitt-3). There is a whole helluva a lot on the Coastal division line here men, as Pitt has payback and homecourt on its side. Whereas Virginia Tech needs this win vs. the third place (talent wise) of the remaining three teams it has yet to face like a dead man needs a… coffin. That segues us neatly into this weeks word of the day…

Today’s word of the day is… funambulist!



noun. mid-Latin
  1. One who performs on a tightrope or a slack
  2. Latin fūnambulus : fūnisrope + ambulāre, to walk.
  3. This V.Tech football program for every single second of the next 180 sporting, minutes.

Pitt Head CoachPatrick “Duz” Narduzziage=52, (26-21 at Pitt and overall); has a rep’ for defense, willingness to take risks, stubbornness.
$1,131,000.oo base with an additional $450,000 in incentives.

Baller Narduzzi was a nepotistic collegiate Linebacker his ownself at Youngstown State and then he later transferred to Rhode Island. He holds a Master’s from Miami Ohio after his playing days were finished; .edu  props on that.

Coach Narduzzi began his career at Miami University in 1990 where he was a graduate assistant in 199o and 1991 and where he tutored the Wr’s in 1992. From 1993 to 1999 Narduzzi coached back at the University of Rhode Island coaching the Rams Lb’s from 1993 to 1997 and as the defensive coordinator from 1998 to 1999. From 2ooo to 2oo2, he served as the Lb’s coach at Northern Illinois University. He was the defensive coordinator at Miami University in 2oo3 before joining the University of Cincinnati staff as defensive coordinator in 2oo4

At that point… and so the story goes, coach Duz’ tried to leverage Cincy into giving him the head job, and instead wound up at Michigan State as D-coordinator. From 2o11-2o14, 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; as does being the coveted 2o13 Broyles Award winner as top assistant coach accordingly. Father (Bill) was the big whistle at Youngstown State, so coaching is in his blood.

Poppa Narduzzi and his wife, Donna, have four children:
Arianna, Christina, Patrick, and Isabella.

Pitt 2017 record: 5 up 7 down and 3-5 in the A.c.c.

Pittsburgh Defense: (starters back=9)

  • 84th in Total D.
  • 74th vs. the run.
  • 88th vs. the throw.
  • 87th in S&P+ D.
  • 116th best in 3rd down conversion percentage allowed.
  • 49th in Qb’s sacked.
  • 58th in Tackles for a Loss (TFL) inflicted.
  • 68th in dLine Havoc. The Pitt D-line is decent enough. Not epic, though not bad by-the-bye as well. Pitt returns all 4 defensive down linemen starters. De James Folston Jr., Dd Dewayne Hendrix, Dt Keyshon Camp, and Dt Shane Roy. So experience is not wanting here. Though Camp went camping for the year with an upper-body issue (Coach God help). Camp is a big subtraction as Pitt’s best run-stuffer and a very physically strong guy at the point-of-attack. Like their John Graves+++. And team-leading weakside-De, Rashad Weaver (10 TFL and 5 sacks) has been a very pleasant surprise here. This is not quite a small’ish or shrimpy D-Line. It is however just (barely) D-1 sized. Like a leaner more Jenny Craig dLine. Not fat, really tight BMI’s, here. Will be interesting to see how well that wears come 4Q, late?
  • 63rd in Linebacking Havoc. Pitt sure looked pre-season set in the second-layer with all 3 Lb’s back. Lb Oluwaseun Idowu, Lb Saleem Brightwell, Lb Elijah Zeise are supposed to be legit. They look more okay to decent enough to me on breaking-tape. Though nothing bad with no one to single out and pick on either.

    Pitt in a regulation fortythree for a change…
  • 35th in Secondary Havoc. Cb then Ss Dennis Briggs leads the Pitt way with a decent 34% efficiency rating for all the Pitt stop-unit starters. And that tells you just how efficient this D is right there (as high 30’s to low 40’s is not uncommon for a given teams’ alpha defender). Damar Hamlin does lead Pitt in stops (56 tac’s) and that’s seldom a good sign at Fs. The hind-4 or hind-5 is similar to the Pitt down-linemen… no fatties live here. In fact, nobody here lives north of 195 lbs.! (POWER to the Peoples!!!) And the edges might just be a little better in coverage by-the-bye.
  • D overall: Pitt’s 1970’s covers the ball, they do not advance the ball; hence they are 31st best in fumble recoveries, and yes they will strip the ball. FILM STUDY… Pitt has Lb’s all over, I mean they are in the A-gaps pre-snap then they drop into hook-zones (or massive 7 man reddogs), then they have normalized again and read-n-react as best they can. They have strange offset staggers in their coverage(s) as the deepest man is not always the Fs here. They favor press-man on edges in normal down-n-distance or in favorable down-n-distance. With a real mixed-up looking variety of man, help, rolling or just zoning behind that. Pitt will cheat the Will-Lb back into a strange arrowhead middle-zone look, or over onto the Slot-Wr at times. Lb’s are a little deeper than the norm’ here as well. Still yet, a lotta island looks (as said above) on edge(s); Hazelton… (maybe even Keene) I’ma looking at you! Slightly smaller D-line is not the shizzle in power run defense. There may be internal yardage inside here, late.
  • ∑ (summary): Defensive tacking was moderate to average, and it did not strike me as being overly physical; either. Although their D is only getting a D+++ in Ecludian Geometry, with obtuse and acute angling alike; or maybe a fishy C— on a happy-dance day. D did not seem to account well for a rushing Qb or Qb keepers to me… although that may be a Bridge Too Far for the trinary wounded Ry’ on wheat. D does flash a lotta line-of-scrimmage aggressive looks, and yet then backs-up into nearly a shell forty-three or a less starchy look with not a whole lot schematically in between. This D is basically so-so vs. the Run and vs. the Pass alike. Although a little less so-so vs. the run. The Panther front-7 is loaded with experience. In support of that consider that the top-9 class rank Pitt defenders bring a staggering 42 years worth of combined experience between ’em! Talent? Ability? Acumen? TBD… Or to put it another way, there are 2 maybe 3 players here who are holding this D together with their individual prowess. So why not just scheme away from them… or did that just make too much, sense?

Defensive letter-grade:

(READERS note: Pitt is more complex than most, both on O & on D and both pre and post-snap; there are a lotta little to midsized moving parts here, so you’d damn well had better mind the assignment store— or burn a TO in lieu of a misQ if we have one to spare)

Pitt Offense: (returning starters=4)

  • 100th in Total O.
  • (tho’) 20th in ground O!
  • 123rd in aerial O.
  • 50th in S&P+ O.
  • 115th in redzone O.
  • 110th best in 1st-down O.
  • 105th in passing efficiency.
  • 56th hardest Rb’s to tackle.
  • 15th highest in passing downs run-rate (run when most would throw).
  • 63rd in sacks allowed | 50th in TFL allowed.
  • O overall: Very short to lowercase medium throw-game here. Most vertically truncated Eye’ve seen in a minute, or three. Pitt’s oLine is okay. It ain’t 5 sucks straight across and it ain’t 5 battleships in a row, either. It is a bit more precocious vs. the run than it is in the passing Vee, although it’s no worse than average in Qb-protect to be clear. Upper Saint Clair’s archrival Mt.Lebo’s right-Ot Alex Bookser is Pitt’s very own hirsute Hoyt. And Jimmy Morrissey is a very technically sound C with a left-shoulder they appear to have fixed (may St.Christopher bless). The Pitt oLine has four guys north of 310 lbs. As 2 starters returned and 98 starts, departed. That said, their starting oLine fields 23 aggregate seasons worth of collegiate experience! You do the maths… 6′2″, 225 lb. grad-Sr., Rb Qadree Ollison (he of glasses wearing Chuck Muncie fame, the no.1 recruit from New York state a few years back, and 2 NY-state title rings fame),  Wr/Rb Maurice Ffrench, and 5′11″, 225 lb. final year, Rb, Darrin Hall (with a history of bad knees, Godspeed) are all the trinary rage here as all three ante up between 85 and 95 yards of total O per game for Pitt. No real superstar lives here, although that is three pretty dang decent’s too pretty dang good’s. As the Panther run-fit fields a whopping four different ball carriers averaging 6.1 ypc or a first down with 2.2 yards to spare every other carry! Dang… Also in the backfield would be Qb1 6′2″, 220 lb. t-Soph., Kenny “red-state/carrot-top” Pickett. Pickett is so-so to ain’t much. As he very well could be the 11th best passing Qb we face this season. That said, the fact that four of his Top-6 pass catchers court a <58% catch-rate is doing poor Ken’ no favors whatsoever. So maybe he is a little bit better than his stats suggest, although that’s a relative term here. Still yet, he does attend with a rep’ being an Oddesy or classically heroic Qb. As he did some neat Qb2 things in relief last year. Maybe he’s a better no.2 or Omar Bradley to Gen. Patton? As Ken’ was the no.10 Pro Style Qb in America per 247Sports; even if his scholastic throw-game numbers were decent if not great. Daddy Ken’ some of you will recall was an all-American monsta Lb in his own right so the Pickett’s Family Genome Project is in (Charge) and projects well enough here. As FILM STUDY went… Pitt does a lotta spread things off of trips and/or even quads to be a single-halfback or splitback personnel (rather successful) to be a rushing team. Very straight ahead beyond a keep you honest jet-sweep; although a triple-point (Qb, Hb, Wr) run matrix coexists in this backfield. And yet then they come back later with everyone in-between the hashmarks, Qb under C, or not even that laterally. Kinda like the B.Cee bunch Te heavy looks, though with more “flex” or pre-snap offsets. It’s like the Fu’fense stretch, then the BeeCee tourniquet compress. And they do strange things here… they run hard from the stretch then play-action and roll blind-side off the compress. There are countering looks that their run game throws at you after that. An extremely blending rushing approach that makes for a tough one to key for it, too. Pitt will even run uncovered and simply footrace you to sideline/corner to the wide-side with everyone else pulling strongside. There are RPO looks that live here and frankly, Pickett surprised with his scoots. He can actually move vertically; faster than either JAX or Willis. And he’s moving with a fully blown-left-knee full mechanical hinge knee brace visible under his knitts. Dang, may St.Nikhon coach on that. Tho’ he does not move or evade well in the pocket. He rides or die(s) in there. With a lotta crossings, drags, down-n-out/in’s or short to medium angular works out in front of him.

    A horizontal Spread, then compressed east-west.
  • ∑ (summary): well, although Eye did not (quite) see this on tape, you do gotta recognize on any team that is listed at: 10th in Rushing S&P+, 7th in Rushing Efficiency, 10th best in Rushing Explosion and 15th best in Stuff Rate. w0w! That’s a lotta rushing, ground-gaining, trench-fighting WWI prowess. Truly. Is that too much for a seemingly tapped out 2017 Bud Stout now playing down a staggering 12 starters as Bud Lyte in 2018? The Panther throw-sets have at least one thorn in their paw(s), though still, they really do run the hell outta the ball and they run like true mother-lovers when they get this triple-point O clicking. The other major thingy Eye saw on film is that this Pitt O -although not sexxy, and not a high Q-score O- this Pitt O does some pretty smart work when it stays on schedule. You force it into Lo.FM’s and make it chase the sticks and this ground-gaining Panther O ends up grounded more often than not. Gotta win 1st-down here at all costs gents. Let this rudimentary although potentially successful Panther O start to gain ground and gain momentum and Pitt will shorten/(control) the game and that makes for a potentially long, day. As Pitt puts an extreme premium on winning individual (sometimes backside) blocking-battles to make this O go.
  • 64% run:pass 36% mix. (nearly 2:1, or very run heavy in 2018 basketball on grass terms)

Offensive letter-grade:

Panther Special Teams: (1 returns)

Pitt is 100th in Net Punting and so is their Scrabble Points P, Kirk “I’d like to buy a vowel, may I have an “ou”, please” Christodoulou. Kirk and Pitt are also a pretty lowly 126th in punt-efficiency and so last time I checked; that’s not terribly efficient indeed. Though maybe their Aussie P would like to fight our Aussie P for a pint of Cooper’s Ale? Or a Foster’s oil-can (the Mil.Beast of down-under)? Well, when he’s not too busy looking like Jean-Luc’s righthand man or no.1 Will Riker that is. Go ahead and bet the over on this boy per the girls and yet no matter how successful 6′2″, 220 lb. second-year Kirk was at Australia rules football; even his exalted Prokick Australia program ranking has not (yet) translated that “bloody” well into real football over here.

  • 72nd in Punt Returns | tho’ 13th best in KO returns.
  • 57th in punt coverage | 61st and in suicide-squad.
  • Pitt has blocked 0 kicks and allowed 0 kicks to be blocked.
  • Pitt has blocked 0 punts and allowed 0 punts to be blocked.
  • Offensive field-position 112th | Defensive field-position 103rd.

r-Soph., 6′3″, 185 lb. string-bean K Alex Kessman and his 73% FG-make average are basically mean, median and mode enough. Although that is a pretty decent come-up or improvement off of a pretty dang lowly 58% last year. Alex has missed 2 P.A.T.’s so far though he pulls double-duty and KO’s as well; so raw leg strength is a non-issue here. As he does own the second-longest make in Pitt football history (56 yards). Alex was also a standout 2-time state champion high school Qb and Fs, so some measure of trickeration has to be in play here, somewhere.

Pitt KO Returner/Wr/Rb, and Cb (he played all 3/4 in high school, so this is not new(s) to him); 6′2″, 190 lb., Jr., Maurice Ffrench has only tallied 12 points on two majors thus far and only fields a 13% chance to score when he does (try to) bring a KO back. Kick-off to #2 who is the no.1 KO Returner we will see all year at your very own, peril. Ffrench is a 4 time State champion combined in the 100m and 200m with a 100m P/B of 10.66, mind yah! And yes, he can surely and easily “Ff” off, …this ‘rice sucks, cut him right now!

Special Teams letter-grade: 61st in S&P+ special teams matrix is just a scosche above average technically speaking. And other than KO returns there really is nothing all that special to see here. So I’ll go good for a very dull flat C.

Unit Rankings:

  1. VT O.
  2. Pitt O.
  3. VT D. Pitt D. (tie)


  • motive: Tough one here, Pitt can make a very costly Coastal case with a Panther W for everyone else. V.Tech is nearly on the MUST win razor’s edge. Homefield=the Stillers, so that’s not it either. Though Pitt sure has momentum and that has to count for something(s). EDGE=Pitt.
  • weather: Love this forecast as a pigskin purist, grass, dirt, elemental guy myself. However, this really helps Pitt and hurts our 1-lifeline (passing vs. their Man on edge). Pitt is the better run team to boot. EDGE (possibly large)=Pitt.
  • health/off-field: Noticeable advantage here to the Panthers; even if they are 4-5 guys short of perfect health. EDGE=Pitt.
  • penalties: Pitt is only 98th best at doing yellow-laundry and even with V.Tech retreating a bit here… EDGE=VT.
  • intangibles: Pitt is a respectable 41st in the all-important Turnover Margin. And the Panthers are a nearly piggy 28th best at TOP (time of possession). EDGE=Pitt.
  • fatigue: Pitt is +1 on rest and playing at home whereas VT must sojourn 322 miles and that really makes Pitt closer to +1.5 {sic: on rest}. EDGE=Pitt.

The key to calling this game is to call for ... what???

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Illation, conclusion(s) and OPT digits:

Number of Panthers who could start @Tech=9.

the takeaway:

The takeaway here is… 71st S&P+ nationally ranked Pitt -who has been gaining in the national rankings for one month- hosts 61st S&P+ nationally ranked Virginia Tech in the ketchup bowl of Heinz Field.

Pitt checks in with a Résumé S&P+ Rk: of 64th and a Strength of Schedule Rk: of 22nd. Or in other words… 5-4 is not as far removed from playing 72 stroke or par golf as it may seem at first blush. Pitt ain’t great; they are okay. Although only one of these teams is (slowly) getting better of late.

Pitt is pretty close to uno-dimensional on O, even if that 1-trick pony is pretty thoroughly bred. These Panthers do have a cogent ground game and yes you could be forgiven for trumpeting that’s what they have. Some might even have me say “that’s all they have” team-wide.

Still yet, if you are a Panther fan on the prowl here… thank you! And yes, you really are two plays removed from being a much shinier 7-2.

And if my Aunt Kim had nutz and a bolt she’d be my… uncle, Tim.


  1. Δ1=55% that if this one was played at home, on a neutral track, or on a weather (passing) friendly field that V.Tech is the better, more talented team in this one and it shows.
  2. Δ2=45% there is, however, a 4.5 in 10 shot that that will not matter. As the oblong spheroid has its own mojo and its very own set of bouncing parameters. And since half past when has anything ever bounced right up in the whacky swirling wind and habitually clumpy turf troubled Pitt Stadium on three-rivers?
the skinny

Our handy-dandy friend the so-called Forum Guide of Graham Houston fame -that compares how teams did head-to-head vs. common opponents- is back. The Forum Guide is merely calling for a 13 point Pitt Panther pounce if you are keeping score at home. Although the total yardage margin was less unkind checking in at only about one full play or +85 yards to the semi-good in Pitt’s favor.

That being said, the last 3-game splits really painted a bloody O&M picture for this one. Sanguine, in a leaky slasher Jack the Ripper kinda word…

As the Panthers are nearly fiddy (50) yards stiffer of late on defense than Bud Lyte has been. Whereas the Pittsburgh O is just under +90 yards to the very improved vis-à-vis over the very same timeframe. That equates to roughly a two (full) play Pitt triumph, or try as your might, and in that case; you can not spell VomiT without the Vee and the Tee.

To put that another way… Pitt’s current 12 game odds on bowl eligibility are 80%.
Our 11 game odds you ask? 44%!

the call

In the last month of play, Ry’s yards per attempt have retreated by 1/100th short of 3.5 yards per attempt; …further, Ry’s completion percentage nearly drops -pardon the pun- by close to 9% on the road and his interception percentage, precisely, doubles! I’ma, jus’… sayin’…

As this teams culture may indeed be damaged… though I do not sense that is is outright, broken.
There is still fight here, we do have the minerals for this work; though we need a sharp like a tack throw-game performance.


On the seasonal balance, V.Tech is scoring 30.8 ppg and the Pitt D is allowing 30.4 ppg. Or 30 seems like a very round number to park your Hokie pick upon. The Gobblers D is allowing 28.4 ppg and the Pitt O is tallying 27.7 ppg. So it’s 30-27 VeeTee, easy-peasy, right?

Well not so fast my friends… in their three most recent contests,  V.Tech is scoring 23.7 ppg and the Pitt D is allowing 25.7 ppg. Or 24 seems like a very round number to park your Hokie pick upon. Whereas the Gobblers D is allowing 33.0 ppg and the Pitt O is tallying 30.3 ppg. So it’s Pitt 31 (or 32) to 24, easy-peasy right?

Then I read the aforementioned docile scoreboard truncating weather-report —and then I found this little pussycat or hostess with the mostest nugget…

And this…

We’re going to play angry, as well.
-Coach ‘duz-

Is Pitt due to throw a Duzz‘y of a Coastal fit?

Ergo, therefore, to wit… Pitt funambulates V.Tech 60 mo’ minutes closer to the 15% odds of being right on the Furman brink; on onto their very own homecourt Fu’sball table.

As Starbuck himself, I mean herself, used to say… “stay frosty kittens.”

Resistance isFutile.”

upset Index=52%


Virginia Tech=27, Pittsburgh=3o (OT)






2 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. The depth is Devine, o wait that right there is the difference as Winston Salem’s contribution to the Hokies, Senor Devine Diablo is the difference in this game suddenly Coach Foster’s defense has found its Mojo, like a fresh set of batteries in my favorite drum pounding bunny and that’s what I see the H O K I E S doing to the Pitt with a series of 3 & out for Foster with Coach Fu & Corn realizing they have to let those boy’s on offense play, cause we can’t go Mano a Mano vs anyone. Misdirection, jump balls to Kooooooooooooooooomeeee and Dalton go off as we lay the down the Benjamins on the Hokies to Roll.

    Let’s Go…Hokies!!!
    BEAT da Pitts!!!!

    1. I always enjoy your enthusiasm Chaz.

      Never rains on you.
      (we all envy you that, too)


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