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Pigskin GameCap: Pitt

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Cards fall 20-23

One of the first things I do on Sunday mornings in autumn is check out Chris Vannini’s compilation of college pigskin statistical anomalies from the day before’s games.

Among this first big Saturday of the season’s curiosities is that Mike Leach-coached QBs have rung up 600+ yards in a game on 11 different occasions, as Stanford transfer KJ Costello did against Bo Pelini’s D in Baton Rouge. While the rest of Chinstrap Nation has done it only 9 times.

While stats don’t always explain the whys and wherefores of a victory or setback, sometimes they do.

Which brings me to the University of Louisville’s 20-23 defeat to Pat Narduzzi’s Pitt Panthers.

I hope my abacus has been working correctly. If so, U of L’s rushing numbers are telling.

And, to be frank, woeful.

The Cardinals rushed 30 times, netting 116 yards.

One of those was Javian Hawkins’ resuscitating, first down, first play of the Cards’ 3d drive, 75 yard burst up the gut, to pull U of L within 7-13 late in the 1st Q.

That leaves 29 other rushes for 41 net yards.

One of which, and we’ll talk more about it in a sec, was Tabarius Peterson’s improbable 31 yard ramble on a 4th & 7, keeping a Louisville scoring drive alive late in the 3d.

So, if my computations are correct, that leaves 28 other rushes for a net 10 yards. Ten yards. On 28 attempts.

That’s .357 yards per rush.

The Cardinals surrendered 12 TFLs.

The Cardinals surrendered 7 sacks, and 5 hurries.

The Panthers lead the country in sacks, I believe, but still . . .

. . . where have you gone Mekhi Becton and Tyler Haycraft, the Red & Black Nation turns its lonely eyes to you?

* * * * *

There were other gaffes too.

Tutu Atwell, who has average not great hands, dropping a sure TD in the endzone.

Beleaguered, battered M Cunningham’s three picks.

Let’s pray he is okay. The game ended with U of L’s QB facedown and motionless on the turf. A fitting if scary visual.

OK, enough.

* * * * *

Now, about that “scamper” by DL Tabarius Peterson.

That Cardinal highlight of the game is what I believe to be one of the craftiest ploys in Cardinal football history. And, a reason I believe Scott Satterfield will one day be top shelf, if he can prove to recruit as well as he can game plan and game manage.

Down 17-23 in the 3d Q, and just having held Pitt to a 3 & Out, U of L garnered only four yards on a 3d & 6 at its own 30.

On 4th down, with U of L in punt formation, Pitt kept its regular D on the field, obviously thinking fake. It looked as if the Cards were trying to jigger the count to draw the Panthers offside. To no avail.

Delay of game. 4th & 7 at its own 29.

Narduzzi then inserted his punt return unit, calling for return mode. When the ball was snapped, the Panthers peeled away to block. The ball was deliverd short to Peterson, whose 31 yard gain saved the drive, putting Louisville into plus net rushing for the battle.

Louisville moved the ball to a 1st down at Pitt’s 16, but after Atwell couldn’t hang on to that toss into the endzone, the Cards settled for a James Turner FG.

* * * * *

Which brings me back to some final game securing stats.

In the 4th, neither team was able to tally, but Pitt dominated.

Time of possession. Cards: 3:56. Panthers: 11:04.

* * * * *

U of L fans have fingers crossed that M Cunningham’s injuries are not serious. That with a couple of weeks to practice, the OL will tighten up.

There’s a much needed off weekend ahead.

Next: @ Georgia Tech. Friday, October 9.

— c d kaplan