The straight scoop
from Colonel Mustard
Sept. 20, 2004
That was an ugly game. Nineteen penalties, five turnovers and barely 500 yards offense. It was a bad Pitt team playing a team that was playing badly (hopefully). Joe had a very good game. If our two best receivers could have hung on to the ball, this game would have and in fact should have been a rout. They just gave us the game in the first quarter and we couldn't execute. For the second week, we couldn't seal the deal in the second when in each case one more score would have put the game away. We don't have the killer instinct yet. Hopefully this will develop as our team matures. This game was not a step forward — we just survived.
On offense I thought Joe had his best game of the year. He made one mistake, but particularly in the first half he was sharp. Herian and Pilkington won't keep dropping the ball. Kaiser has good hands but his was unfortunate because he would have scored. It was good to have Fluellen and LeFlore back involved — we need all our weapons. Ross just couldn't stand up, it was surprising that we couldn't change his shoes to help him. I would have liked to have seen more of Green and less of Horne. Horne is tentative and doesn't run with authority. I felt that Jackson's straight-ahead style would have been effective on a muddy track. The line had a lot of trouble moving the Pitt line. We miss Richie because Mann had problems including two holding calls. Hopefully the muddy field and Ross slipping were the reasons we had so much trouble running the ball.
The defense gave a lot of ground in the fourth quarter and had trouble at the end of the first half. But losing Washington really hurt and with both him and McPherson out we had to play our inexperienced corners. They gained valuable playing time at crucial times late in the game. This experience will come in handy later in the season. As the game progressed we struggled to generate a pass rush. We miss Carricker, but we still have to get pressure. On the third and long from their 15 in the fourth quarter, Palko had forever to find a receiver. This is a potential trouble spot. Ruud ran down a guy on the sideline who had a angle — that is the quickest that I have seen him move. Overall, including Cooper, I think our linebackers are doing a good job. We need to tighten up the zone in the secondary and find a way to generate more pass rush.
On special teams, our kickoffs are too short, and that puts our cover team at a disadvantage. We must have someone who can return punts with all the athletes that we have. The choice of punt returner is puzzling to me. Koch did a good job and got off a great punt into the wind at the end of the game. It seems we can always find a punter. We need deeper kickoffs and a punt returner who is a threat.
The defense saved our bacon and set up an opportunity for the game to be a rout. Joe did a good job and the drops will stop. Those to me were the positives from this game. But this is still Nebraska and not the NFL — we go for it inside the 1 yard line and we run our fullback. Particularly when he is a 250-pound pile-pusher. Glad we have a week off. Heal fast, Fabian.
Keep the faith. GBR.