In the comments of the game thread, I said that something would have gone terribly wrong if we didn't win last night's game by more than 10 points. Well, we won by 28, but I wouldn't say that everything went terribly right. I'm pretty sure that's good news. Again, pretty sure.One of the frustrating things about college football, especially early season college football, is that it's pretty hard to tell which teams are actually any good. An easy example is to look back at last year's FSU game, which was a thrilling win over a team that ended up finishing .500 before the school ran its legendary coach out of town. Pitt looked down right terrible last night. Like, so terrible that they might not make a bowl game. So terrible that Dion Lewis might be able to successfully sue Dave Wannstead for professional malpractice. And yet, 31-3 is a pretty rightful beating of a team that might be that terrible, and as they say, it wasn't even that close. Pitt's offensive line might as well not have existed. In fact, I'm sure the team would be better served to not play with any offensive line at all, just on some 9 wide receivers shit. It's not like the offense can get much worse. And yet, even though the defense might not play a better game this year, they rightfully dominated an offense and offensive line that looks well below average. Even though the game might not have really felt like a true blowout— in the three minutes between Jacory going off with an injury and Pitt muffing a punt, it actually felt like they might have a chance to win the freaking game— I think if you step back, this was a rather encouraging win. The peak has not been reached. At least, that is the hope.
And yet, there's still the nagging feeling that something is off. The right tackle play was atrocious. The running game— excepting sacks and the ill-fated reverse to Kendall Thompkins— averaged exactly 4 yards a carry, which isn't bad necessarily, but is sort of a false measure of success, not that different than the idea that any baseball player that hits .300 is a good player. I'm not sure what's left to say about the interceptions. Jacory might be getting betrayed by his brain or his arm or both— or hell, he might be getting betrayed by Mark Whipple for even being put in the position to mindlessly heave the ball 30 yards down field in the first place— but regardless, they are happening, and it's hard to believe that they'll stop until they actually do. Tight end play is currently nonexistent, and while that may seem superficial in the face of the team's vast receiving talent, Dedrick Epps and Jimmy Graham combined for more catches than any WR in 2009 with the exception of Leonard Hankerson. Combined, they led all receivers in touchdowns. Whipple still seems to lean a bit heavy on the pass. The offensive line has weirdly been a disaster in the redzone. I could go on.
But again, 31-3 is a nice place to be. You have to wonder if the second half last night— lots of rolling out and intermediate passes— provided a new(ish) blueprint for the offense going forward. Excepting his six interceptions (at least two of which arguably were not his fault), Jacory is completing 66% of his passes for just over 11 yards a completion in the last two games, and he seems particularly deadly in the 10-20 yard range. He also threw two pretty perfect deep balls last night. The defense, I believe, is playing above almost everyone's expectations, and it seemed like they tackled better, which I'm told is the main objective of playing defense. I think most people— including myself!— have sort of forgotten that John Lovett exists, but he deserves some praise for how the defense has played so far this season.
So provided that Jacory didn't sprain his shoulder or something last night, let's all try and relax for the next ten days. This team is good, and "very good" and "great" are still very much in play. Let's try and not worry about Death Valley until about two minutes before game time. Also, let's try not to even look at the color orange before that time either, or else we might end up throwing our coffee tables through our TVs by halftime.
One last thing: I want to address Randy's decision to place an embargo on Jacory as it pertains to the press. Just like Jacory played through immense physical pain last year, I think he'd be more than willing to stay visible in the press as he deals with what is seemingly his first real bout of mental anguish as a Hurricane. He is the face of the program, and there is no changing that, unless we put Schnellenberger's pipe-smoking mug on our helmets, which is something that I obviously endorse. But coaches are coaches for a reason, and if Randy says that Jacory needs a break from being a press darling, then I'm willing to bet that that's been true for a longer time than just recently.
Here is a reaction post from Manny, with post-game interview video.
Will update with more reactions/media as they roll in.