FanPost

Previewing the PITT Game and The Spread

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Going into our 6th game of the season, we still don’t quite know how good our team really is. It has been said over the past two weeks, but this is the first team we will face this year that runs a traditional style offense, and that should help. Louisville opens up the Big East season against nemesis PITT this Saturday around sunrise on a TV stations you may or may not have (Thanks ESPN). PITT is coming off of a close loss to Syracuse in a battle to see which team will be worse in the ACC next year. Louisville has had two weeks to prepare for the Panthers. This game will be used as a measuring stick to see if these CARDS are for real or if we are just too young and will be talking about next year in October or January.

At the end of each section, I rate the advantage or disadvantage on a 5 point scale. -2, -1, Even, +1, or +2. 2 point advantages are reserved for very big advantages or disadvantages. Let’s begin.

  1. Offensive Line Play – This is one of the most obvious weak spots for the Panthers. Yeah, they have started the same five guys on the line all season, but that is just because according to Head Coach Chryst, they just don’t have anyone better. The run game has been pretty impressive in its wins, but in their losses, have averaged only 82 rushing yards per game. Also, this O-Line gives up some sacks, 13 to date, so look out. With a week off to prepare for this PITT team, this could be go good one for the CARDS D-Line. Also, the CARDS O-Line has shown that as long as they can just protect TD, he can operate, and he is itching to open it up. CARDS +1
  2. The Run Game – With a running back in Ray Graham, and their other rusher, Rushel Shell (yeah, they have a runner named Rush) expect this to be a good test for the CARDS D-Line. Which PITT rushing game will we see show up? They have looked disappoitning in their losses. If the CARDS have anything to do with this, we could hold our opponent under 100 yards again. And the CARDS have a run game of their own. If the tandem of Perry and Wright can out rush Rushel and Graham, the CARDS have a very good shot to take this one in Pittsburgh. This one is a push, and could go either way. EVEN
  3. Special Teams – PITT’s punter, Matt Yoklic, has put 9 punts inside the 20 through just 5 games this season. He is also averaging 43 yards per punt. Pretty good. The field position game could be big in this one. And their Freshman returner, Lafayette Pitts (yeah, why do you think he picked them???) , is averaging 29 yards per kickoff return. This is one area that we all hope to goodness we worked on over the past two weeks, but if not much better, we could see some scary production on the other side. Louisville has looked a bit shaky at times on special teams. We all hope it turns around this week, but for now, advantage PITT. CARDS -1
  4. Impact of "New" Players – The most important PITT players who could really make a difference are the Running Back, Shell, and Tight End, J.P. Holtz, could very well be the difference makers for this offense. Tino Sunseri can hit Holtz in the flat or over the middle as a release valve, and he is a pretty good blocker in the run game. As far as new players on the Red side of the ball, Sunshine will be making its' second start of the season. After feeling “a bit under the weather,” expect this new-comer to play a very big role against PITT. Without a 126,000 gallon bathtub to play football in, I’m not sure the CARDS will know what to do this Saturday. But seriously, expect the Gorgi-eous weather to allow Bridgewater the ability to operate comfortably and to be cleansed and refreshed after the recent showers. He should be focused and composed. This new Bridgewater (without all the water) will be one of the biggest factors in the game. CARDS +1
  5. Coaching – Under first year Head Coach Paul Chryst, PITT is finally starting to come together as a unit. They looked ugly in their first few games this year, but they have really started coming together over the past three games. This has a lot to do with Coaching. He is a coach who knows how to win, coming from Wisconsin after much success. They do run a Pro-Style Offense (Thank Minerva) and pretty standard Defense. It does take a little time to really learn a new system under a new coach, so that could be the main reason they started out as slowly as they did. Still, the CARDS do have coaches that the players, including Keith “BAM” Brown (I am assuming BAM stands for Bad @ss Mother…), love. This week will be a big sign of how good a job the coaches can do during “Halftime.” How well do they make adjustments? What can they implement to really make a difference? This bye week should have given them a good opportunity to work on the fundamentals of the pass rush and the defensive and offensive return games. With the coaches in place and the systems of each team as they are, I show an advantage going to the CARDS. CARDS +1
  6. Depth – These two teams are fairly close when it comes to depth. The Panthers are a bit more Junior and Senior heavy, but the CARDS starters for the most part have just as many meaningful starts. I’ll make this one short and just say it’s a push. EVEN
  7. Defensive Pressure – We have got to get to the QB. And when we get there, we have got to get him on the ground, with or without the ball. This just has to happen. Their O-Line has given up 13 sacks to date. If we can sack the QB at least 3 times, this will be a good day. Solid pressure hurries the QB and affects the run game. It can take a team completely out of their element. I am hoping to goodness that all week, Bedford was preaching the fundamentals of the pass rush and to NEVER arm tackle. If we insert a couple of new blitzes, I would be okay with that, but this could be a very good for our front four. I expect to see our LB’s hitting, but the corners and safety’s trying to just keep everything in front of them. This one could be close, but again, depending on which PITT team shows up, the CARDS could really dominate the PITT O-Line. CARDS +1
  8. Expectations – The fans are starting to get restless. Not showing up to games, threatening to never attend another football game until things change, calling for the firing of the head coach, yeah, Lexington is a bad place to be during football season. Although, I hear there are only three seasons down there, Spring, Summer, Basketball. Meanwhile, in Louisville fans are restless for a different reason. It is like the kid who finally found out where his parents are hiding the Christmas presents and has seen all of the awesome toys he is getting has had Christmas pushed back three times already. Will Christmas be this Saturday, or will we have to wait until USF, or beyond? We know what we have, we just haven’t actually seen or been able to enjoy it to its full extension. The expectations in PITT are on the rise as well, with Sunseri completing 73% of his passes over the past 3 games and PITT having played some good football. This is another game of the Revenge season, and what better way to give them a don’t-let-the-door-hit-you-on-the-way-out-present than by kicking the PITT out of them. With Louisville, you know what to expect, but with PITT, it is completely up in the air. Like Forest Gump said, “Jenny.” Or something about chocolates. CARDS +1
  9. Position Edges – Believe it or not, Bridgewater and Sunseri are pretty close at the QB spot, with Sunseri having an edge in experience but TD with an edge in natural talent and decision making. Our running backs are also pretty evenly matched. Their receivers have a small advantage with former head coach of the Denver Broncos Mike Shanahan leading the way for a highly ranked nationally ranked passing attack, but the CARDS have 83 players who have at least one catch this year. Their O-Line is the area we could really exploit, which we have to if we are going to win this game. We can’t be happy with just stopping the run, we have got to get to the QB. We should have an edge on the Defensive Line, too. I am really hoping to see a big game from the CARDS this week. They always say the game is won in the trenches. Our secondary is also an edge over theirs. But their special team’s is a little bit better than ours. All this being said, CARDS have a very slight advantage. CARDS +.5
  10. Offensive Improvement – It will be hard for the CARDS not to improve this week, after the Bathtub Bowl a couple weeks ago. I expect Bridgewater has done nothing over the past two weeks but sing Temptations songs, taken pictures with Chane, chewed Bazooka, and studied every single play the PITT defense has run this season and every season since face-masks were introduced. If he doesn’t have one of his best games of the season, I will be truly surprised. PITT played a pretty good game offensively last week against Syracuse, although you wouldn’t expect it from the scoreboard. If they play better than they did last week, they have a chance, but if Louisville finally plays to their potential on offense and defense, forget about it. I give the CARDS an edge on this one too. CARDS +1

As of Friday night, I have seen the CARDS as a 3 point favorite. I have them as an 5.5 point favorite. I think if the spread was at 6, I would have a real hard time betting that, but I would take three if I were a betting man. Here is how I see the game going down. CARDS are the first to score with a field goal. We fall behind on a blown coverage play 7-3. End up going up 17-7 at half time. Come back out and put up 10 more with PITT scoring another 7. Late in the game when it is 27-14, PITT makes an impressive drive to help you remember this one isn’t over and you start thinking about UNC and Southern Miss and so on as they put up another touchdown. But the onside kick fails and the CARDS hold on for a 6 point victory. I like the CARDS to a 6-0 start since with another win. OSM Pick: 27-21

By the way, here is a note that caught my eye, former PITT QB, John Congemi will be the color commentator for ESPNU for the game this week. Really ESPN? Really? So for those of you watching at home, if the commentators sound like freakin’ homers, it’s because they are!!! Really??? Really looking forward to next week with a real crew on ABC (on the replay, I’ll be at the game). I hope people are actually reading these things. At some points there is some kind of funny stuff (at least to me) in these posts. Thanks for reading if you did. Enjoy the game.

Beat Kentucky!!! Then Beat the Bears!!! Then Beat the Tar Heels!!! Then Beat FIU!!! Then Beat Southern Miss!!!

Then Beat PITT!!! Go CARDS!!!



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