Monday, October 12, 2015

Pitt 26 - Virginia 19

A very busy Sunday yesterday kept me away from the keyboard, so I realize that I am at least 24 hours late with this post, but I did not want to let time pass without mentioning my impressions of Pitt's 26-19 victory over Virginia at Heinz field on Saturday afternoon.

Five games into Head Coach Pat Narduzzi's (or HCPN as the hip social media posters put it) reign, the Panthers sit at 4-1.  How good that record actually is will not be determined until the end of the season when we see (a) how Pitt finishes over its next seven games, and (b) it is determined just how good, or not so good, Iowa, Virginia Tech, and Virginia prove to be.  Still, the Panthers sit at 2-0 in ACC play and one fact is undeniable:  the defensive performance put on by Pitt over these first five games of the season is light years ahead of what we had seen over the last few seasons at Pitt, and it appears to be for real.  In this regard, the new staff under Narduzzi seems to have already made a real difference for Pitt.

One thing that is missing, and Narduzzi seemed to be saying this in his post-game presser, is that Pitt has not yet acquired the ability to definitively put teams away when they have them down.  Pitt controlled the games and was the better team against both VT and UVA in the last two weeks, but in both instances, they could not deliver a decisive knockout punch, and, as a result, both opponents had the chance to beat Pitt long past the time when each game should have been, for all intents and purposes, over.  The good news is that Pitt, in fact, did win those games.  In past years, they would have lost them.  (See Pitt vs. Houston in Whatever Crummy Bowl it was they played in last season.)

So, good times appear to be ahead in the long range future for Pitt under HCPN.  In the short range, tough games lie ahead in coming weeks, including home games with North Carolina, Notre Dame, Louisville, and Miami. It's not going to get any easier, but I, for one, am feeling much more optimistic today than I did at any point last season in the third year of the Chryst Era.

A road trip to Georgia Tech awaits next Saturday.  Tech does not have a good record, but a road trip to the heart of ACC country should be a big test, regardless of the opponent.

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