Tag:Dave Wannstedt
Posted on: November 26, 2010 1:40 pm
 

Backyard Brawl more of a staring contest

Posted by Tom Fornelli

If you were to just look at the numbers from the first half of the Backyard Brawl, you would have to assume that Pitt was leading West Virginia.  Just look at these things.

Pitt has outgained WVU 130 yards to 59.  The Panthers have 12 first downs to West Virginia's two.  On third down, the Panthers are 8-of-12 converting. The Mountaineers?  1-of-4.

So what's the score?  It's 14-7...West Virginia.

As is usually the case in games like this, it's turnovers that are deciding the outcome.  Pitt has turned it over three times and West Virginia hasn't. Two of those turnovers led to all 14 Mountaineers points.

On West Virginia's two scoring drives in the first half, they've run a total of 4 plays.

So, on one hand, if you're Dave Wannstedt you have to be somewhat pleased with your team today.  After all, a win keeps your team in line for a BCS berth, and they have outplayed West Virginia through the first thirty minutes.  On the other hand, you were probably hoping that the dumb mistakes and turnovers that had plagued your team through the first ten games of the season had been fixed, and it's clear that they just haven't been.

Still, Pitt is only down seven points.  If it can manage to hold on to the ball in the second half, and keep playing the way it has been, the Panthers should leave this game with a win.
Posted on: November 15, 2010 3:57 pm
 

Greg Romeus's season (and college career?) over

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Sometimes, college football just isn't fair. Just ask Pitt defensive end Greg Romeus .

Romeus collected eight sacks and 11.5 tackles-for-loss in 2009 on his way to being named Big East co-Defensive Player of the Year, and could have been a high draft pick had he decided to leave after his junior season. Instead he returned to help the Panthers try and win Dave Wannstedt 's first Big East title, and while Pitt might manage that anyway, it won't be for Romeus's expolits on the field; he suffered a back injury in the Panthers's season-opening loss to Utah , missed seven games, returned for last Thursday's matchup against UConn ... and promptly suffered a knee injury that Pitt announced today was a torn anterior cruciate ligament .

The injury will end Romeus's season after just those two appearances without either a sack or tackle-for-loss. If there's any silver lining* to what has to be a crushing disappointment for both Romeus and Pitt, it's that it's possible that after missing so much time in 2010, the NCAA could grant him a medical waiver and a sixth year of eligibilty. (Romeus redshirted as a freshman.) It's premature to say he's played his last game in a Pitt uniform.

Then again, Romeus may want to capitalize on whatever lingering good will he has with NFL scouts while he can. Either way, it's hard to pick out any top-level draft prospect who's suffered a more difficult season than Romeus.

*OK, there's one more silver lining at least for Pitt: in Jabaal Sheard and Brandon Lindsey , they have a pair of defensive ends with 27 combined sacks over the past two seasons. Few positions on few teams in the country were as loaded as the Panthers were at DE entering this season.
Posted on: October 30, 2010 9:32 pm
 

What I learned from the Big East (Oct. 30)

Posted by Chip Patterson

1. West Virginia has been giving away their season, one turnover at a time - Just three weeks ago, West Virginia was "leading" the Big East. They toted a 5-1 record and a national ranking, as well as a top ranked defensive unit that was holding opponents to less than two touchdowns per game. But while the season was at a midpoint, the conference schedule was just getting started. But in the last two games, turnovers have almost cost the Mountaineers their shot at a BCS bowl berth. The eye test said that the Mountaineers were cruising on easy street down to Miami, until they decided they were tired of taking care of the ball. Against Syracuse West Virginia turned the ball over three times, all of which were turned into points for the Orange. Saturday's matchup with Connecticut was more of the same from the Mountaineer offense. West Virginia racked up 414 yards of total offense, but four lost fumbles prevented them from scoring more than 13 points on the Huskies defense.  If the Mountaineers avoid coughing the ball up, they could be 3-0 in conference play and looking down the road to a potential BCS bowl game.  But instead of the Mountaineers, it is the Pittsburgh Panthers.  Speaking of...

2. Lewis has reclaimed the favor of the Pittsburgh coaching staff - Earlier in the season, Pittsburgh running back Dion Lewis was struggling to get his season going.  His yards per carry were down from his 2009 Rookie of the Year campaign, and he was sharing many of his carries with backup Ray Graham.  Now that conference play has begun, Lewis has emerged as the clear-cut but first stringer in the Panther backfield.  After a phenomenal performance last week against Rutgers that included 17 rushes for 130 yards and a touchdown, Lewis appeared to have regained the starting job despite Graham continuing to lead the team in rushing by a convincing margin.  In the win over Louisville, Lewis carried the ball 18 times compared to Graham's nine attempts.  Earlier in the season, that was much more of a 50-50 divide between the two backs.  Now Lewis must make the most of his increased opportunities in order to hold that spot. 

3. Syracuse's tenacious second half defense is a key to their success - In five of the Orange's six victories, the defense has shut out the opponent in the second half.  Syracuse's offense has relied on a dominant running game led by Delone Carter and Antwon Bailey.  The smash mouth brand of football under second year head coach Doug Marrone has turned last season's 1-6 conference record around to 3-1 at the midpoint of the conference schedule.  Syracuse has only been to a bowl game twice since since 2000 and not at all since 2004, but the 2010 Orange are already bowl eligible at 6-2.  A conference championship may be out of reach after the loss to Pittsburgh, but anything is an upgrade from the way things have been at Syracuse.
Posted on: September 23, 2010 9:19 pm
 

Miami leads Pitt 10-0 at halftime

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Here's a couple of things that both Dave Wannstedt and Randy Shannon wanted to see from their teams tonight. 

Shannon wanted Jacory Harris to limit turnovers and make better decisions with the ball following his four-interception performance against Ohio State.

Dave Wannstedt wanted to see his offensive line improve and open up running lanes for his running backs.

Well, at halftime, neither coach is going to be very happy but at least Randy Shannon can say he has a ten-point lead.

In a game that isn't going to win any beauty contests, Jacory Harris has thrown two interceptions -- including one in the end zone -- while Pitt has managed 76 total yards.  I'd say it's been ugly, but I wouldn't want to insult ugly.

Miami's touchdown came on their opening drive as the Canes went 80 yards in ten plays before Damien Berry punched it in from a yard out.  They added a field goal midway through the second quarter, and if it weren't for Harris' turnovers, odds are that Miami would have this game well in hand by now.

As for Pitt, well, what can I really say?  There are around 300 former Panthers in attendance at this game and every single one of them is probably embarrassed by what they've seen.  The Panthers didn't pick up a first down until the 7:30 mark of the second quarter, going three and out on their first five "drives."

The Panthers offensive line is just getting destroyed by the Miami defense and Tino Sunseri has spent most of his time just trying not to get killed.

That being said, Pitt still only trails by ten at the break, but unless Jacory Harris keeps turning the ball over it doesn't look like the Panthers have much of a chance.
Posted on: September 23, 2010 6:35 pm
 

Dion Lewis needs to show up tonight

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Last year Dion Lewis lit the Big East on fire, spending his freshman season running away from tacklers to the tune of 1,799 yards and 17 touchdowns en route to winning the Big East Offensive Player of the Year Award.  He entered 2010 as somebody to keep an eye on as far as the Heisman Trophy was concerned, but through Pitt's first two games the Lewis that was so electrifying last season is yet to show up.

Through Pitt's first two games Lewis has 102 yards.  Now, at first glance, that isn't horrible.  It's not good, but at least he's averaging 50 yards a game, right? 

Yes, but too bad it's taking him nearly 25 carries to get there as he's averaging only 2.9 yards a carry. 

Lewis' lack of production is a big reason why the Panthers enter tonight's game against Miami -- a pivotal game for both teams -- with a record of 1-1.  Lewis played well enough in the Panthers' opener against Utah, rushing for 75 yards, but how does a player so good wind up with only 27 yards on ten carries against New Hampshire ?

Lewis' play has been so lackluster that he's even in danger of losing his job, something which seemed impossible only three weeks ago.  Ray Graham didn't have nearly the same troubles as Lewis did against New Hampshire, rushing for 115 yards and two scores.  Now, going into tonight's game, Dave Wannstedt has called his two backs "interchangeable" and said there's no set plan on splitting carries between the two.

"We’ll go in this week knowing that they’re both going to play," said The Wannstache during this week's press conference .  "But with no specific plan that Dion (Lewis) will get so many carries, and Ray (Graham) will get so many carries. If we get a hot hand, we’ll play the hot hand."

In other words, if Lewis struggles against a Canes defense that has allowed 116.5 yards a game on the ground -- 181 against Ohio State -- he could find himself on the sidelines watching Graham tonight.  Which is definitely not something Dave Wannstedt wants to see.  If Pitt is going to live up to the preseason hype in 2010 and have a shot at winning the Big East and get to a BCS bowl, then Dion Lewis is going to have to return to his 2009 form.

Tonight is just as good a night as any to get started.
 
 
 
 
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