This here turkey is muy afortunada in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. First and foremost, we are still here. As a bonus, not only did the house hold up during hurricane force winds, but I never lost power. The estimate being bandied about by the media is that 60% of Floridians are without power. Ice is selling out at reopened stores as soon as it is delivered to the store. A neighborhood a half-mile away from me is flooded, as are many other Florida neighborhoods, from Key West to Jacksonville. The cleanup is going well — neighbors helping neighbors — and people are getting back to watching football again.
Football Back to Front Seat
Speaking of football, there was that Pitt game. I’m sure that by this time you’re all well aware of the 33-14 win and the pluses and minuses of the Nittany Lions’ performance. Nevertheless, I’ll give you a few dumbass observations from the turkey.
Although the offensive line has improved since the days of the Five Traffic Cones, they’re still a deficient bunch. They weren’t making running room for Saquon Barkley in the first half, and Trace McSorley was rushing throws that wound up off-target.
Barkley Saves Our Ass
Barkley took over in the second half, which was needed. Although he wound up with less than 100 yards rushing (88, to be exact), he did damage as a receiver (45 yards, 1 TD) and as a kick returner (50 more yards on two returns). I think this was a game that he had to save our butts in, and he did.
However, Barkley’s backup, Miles Sanders, looked awful, fumbling the ball and rushing for a whopping -2 yards. Someone is going to have to step in for Barkley once in a while, and young Miles better step up his game damn soon.
No Defense for Pitt Shovel Pass?
What’s up with that?
Special Teams and Special Characters
I was quite impressed with the punt coverage. Our special teams have improved exponentially. Qadree Henderson was bottled up on all three of his punt returns, for a total of zero yards. This is a guy who hurt the Nittany Lions last year, who was rendered ineffectual in this year’s game. Kudos to the punt coverage unit!
Another shout-out goes to DeAndre Thompkins, who had only one reception for 12 yards, but who demonstrated some bad-ass run blocking on the outside, springing a few runs for long gains.
And finally, Mike Gesicki, who a couple of years ago couldn’t catch a guppy in a one gallon bowl with a net, caught four passes for 39 yards and two touchdowns. Zick — you da man!
One more negative to dwell on — a kick out of bounds gave Pitt great starting field position. I know that they were trying to kick away from Henderson, but jeez! I don’t expect to see that penalty two weeks in a row, and it better stop!
Ball control is a concept that will have to be addressed as we get past the cupcakes and into the meat of the season. A so-called quick strike offense is a great thing when inferior opponents can be put away fast. Against quality opponents, not so much. The defense stays out on the field, gets tired, and gets run over in the second half. Pitt managed the ball and the clock 38:20 – 21:40. Some impressive red zone defense by the Nits thwarted what could have been an embarrassing day for the good guys. Being out-first-downed 24-14 and succeeding on only four of twelve third-down conversions is not going to work in the Big Ten. Work on playing possession football, guys!
So, that sloppy effort was reflected in trading places in the polls with Southern Cal, who beat Stanford. The #5 Nittany Lions are 2-0, as most of us expected, going into another cupcake week, this one in prime time, at St. Joe Memorial Stadium at Beaver.
I’ll be back with a preview and prediction for them other Panthers.