I Award Us No Points, And May God Have Mercy On Our Souls: Pittsburgh 17, USF 10

GAAAAAAAAAAAAAH. A brutal game, made more brutal by two things:

1. The nagging suspicion that Wannstache might have actually outcoached us, or at least coached to a standoff. Either one, based on what we know about his and Skip Holtz's coaching abilities, is just unspeakably depressing.

2. UConn pasting Syracuse tonight. Which means if Pittsburgh loses to West Virginia next Friday, that USF-UConn game could have been for all the marbles. 

Let's just get right to the last two minutes of the game, which everyone messed up to some degree. First, I don't know why Holtz didn't call all three timeouts on defense. If you're trying to save the maximum amount of time on the clock, you have to take them on defense. For obvious reasons -- when you're in the hurry-up offense, you don't take 40 seconds to snap the ball. The other team, when trying to run out the clock, will take as close to 40 seconds as humanly possible to snap the ball. It probably cost USF about 20-25 seconds off the end of the game.

Not that the offense really used the time that was left on the clock very wisely. I know it's pretty fashionable to pile on B.J. Daniels right now, but he really did have some help messing that two-minute drill up.

 

  • From where we all were sitting, we were shocked Dontavia Bogan was called down in bounds after Daniels threw him the ball on the second play of the drive. Obviously everyone on the team was shocked too because the Bulls were in no hurry to get back to the line of scrimmage and run another play. A good 15-20 seconds came off the clock before anyone figured out they needed to snap the ball quickly.
  • Second, I really didn't like the play calling on that drive. Everything was either deep down the field (where Pittsburgh was waiting in basically a prevent) or really short checkdowns. I thought they were trying to get too much at a time, and when that wasn't there, all they could do was throw passes with no hope of a first down and really no hope of getting out of bounds, either.
  • On the other hand, when B.J. Daniels threw that horrible checkdown to Faron Hornes that was stopped at the line of scrimmage and forced USF to take its timeout, Daniels can't do that. That's when it's OK to force a ball down the field because there are only 20 seconds left in the game. USF fans are pretty good about not booing anything other than officials, or maybe an opponent getting away with trash talk or a late hit. But there was a LOT of booing after that play was over.
  • Finally, I don't know what Daniels was doing on the last play of the game. That has to go to the end zone no matter what. You can't throw a 25-yard pass up the sideline.

 

I'm uncomfortable making a lot of other big statements without being able to watch it again, but to me that game is why I say over and over again that winning close games is not necessarily a skill, and it's definitely not something you want to depend on doing. USF planned to keep it close until the end, and the game basically came down to about a half-dozen plays. Pittsburgh made them, the Bulls didn't, ballgame.

P.S. I'm really hoping for Birmingham, not because it's a beautiful and exciting place to play a bowl game, but because the Bulls would get three extra weeks of practice that they wouldn't get playing in St. Petersburg.

P.P.S. I thought we had 40,000-some students at USF. If TCU and their 9,000 students end up joining the league, they'll feel right at home when they see how many students showed up to today's game. Nearly every empty seat in that picture is in the student section, and there were a lot more that didn't fit in the frame. Horrible.

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