Friday, October 28, 2016

Second Guessing Narduzzi

I am not one who makes a habit of second guessing professional coaches and managers, and yes, I realize that this is a statement that one makes right before they second guess a coach or a manager.  I figure that they make big bucks to make hard decisions, and they know more - a LOT more - about the X's and O's of their sports and the skills of their teams than I do.  That said, I am now going into the Second Guess business, at least as far as last night's Pitt game is concerned.

A prior commitment prevented me from attending last night's Pitt - Virginia Tech game, which Tech won by a score of 39-36, and, in fact, I didn't get home until late in the third quarter.  When I turned on the game, the score stood at 22-21, Virginia Tech.  I saw Tech score to go up 29-21, and then watched the ensuing offensive fireworks by both teams that culminated in Pitt scoring with little more than two minutes remaining in the game to draw within three points, 39-36, of VT.

Head Coach Pat Narduzzi, or HCPN, as he is called on the message boards, could have then done one of two things at that point.

  1. Attempted an onside kick to get his offense back on the field in a last ditch effort to win the game or tie the game and go into overtime.
  2. Kick off normally and use his three remaining times out to stop Tech and get the ball back on a punt and drive the length of the field to score and either tie or win the game. As you all know, this is the option that HCPN chose.
Based upon the seventeen minutes or so that I saw of that game up to that point, the onside kick seemed to be the only option for Pitt.  Yes, the odds of recovering an onside kick are small, but were they any smaller that the odds of Pitt stopping and preventing VT from making a first down that would seal the victory for them?  And even if Tech would have recovered the onside kick, Pitt would have been no worse off, save for field position, than they ended up: the defense on the field, with all three TO's remaining, and  trying to prevent VT from making a first down as they ran out the clock.  Again as you know, Pitt didn't prevent VT from making that first down and running out the clock, and really, was there any doubt in any of your minds that Virginia Tech wouldn't make that first down?

A much larger issue, of course, is Pitt's inability to prevent their opponents from scoring points.  Oh, Pitt scores a lot, too, and their games are enormously entertaining to watch, but their defense, particularly their pass defense, is practically nonexistent.  For a far better analysis than I can give, I would highly recommend that you read Joe Starkey's column in this morning's Post-Gazette.

Pitt now stands at 5-3, and as my buddy Dan Bonk has pointed out, a mere eleven points separate them from being 8-0, but as I have pointed out before, it is not inconceivable that with a twist or turn here or there, they could also easily be 1-7 or 2-6.  The rest of the schedule is @Miami, @Clemson, Duke, and Syracuse.  I am thinking that 2-2 is the best that Pitt fans can hope for at this point.

One final note and something that has been bugging me all season.  The uniform pants that defensive lineman Ejaun Price wears are ridiculous.  We all like to make fun of the NFL and its "uniform police", but seeing Price out there in those shorts is, as I say, ridiculous.  That Pitt coaches, or the NCAA itself, allows this is strictly bush league.

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