clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Five Plays: Pitt Panthers

NCAA Football: Pittsburgh at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

The Cards got a big win last weekend against a Pitt team that brought it’s defense and running game looking for a road win. UofL was able to pressure Pitt’s passing game into a poor performance and after a strong start, Pitt’s running game was contained. The Louisville offense didn’t “look” great on this day but they were able to make a few big plays and avoid mistakes. The Cards finished the game averaging 5.5 yards per play which is right at the highest average Pitt has allowed this season. This was a tough win and I clipped some plays below that I felt were a big factor in the outcome.

I know the post is called “Five Plays”, but there were too many good plays to keep it to just that.

This play has been replayed plenty of times but something stuck out to me that I thought was important. Slovis throws this ill-advised pass even though he has an open man in the flat. My theory is that he doesn’t see anyone adjust to the motion and he thinks he’s going to have an open receiver down the sideline.

The reason I think this may be the case is that Yasir Abdullah waits until the last second to move with the receiver in motion and I’m not sure Slovis felt he had time to move on to the next read. This was an impressive play by Yasir in a number of ways.

Louisville schemed some plays open in this game and this was my favorite one. They had been pressured so much early on that the ball had to come out quickly. They put the running back in motion and Marshon Ford throws a quick fake like he’s blocking. The safety bites on it and he’s free in the middle of the field.

One little thing I liked about the execution of this play is Malik Cunningham opening up like he’s going to throw the screen. It timed up well with Ford’s fake and you can see the safety react to it.

The name of the game for this defensive line is penetration and disruption. Yaya Diaby does both here and he ends up actually making the play as well. At the very least, he is going to force the running back to change his path and give others the chance to get to him before he gets going. But making this tackle is really big and it’s part of the reason they were able to contain Pitt’s running game.

Scott Satterfield comes back later in the game with a similar look to the touchdown to Ford but gets Malik out the back door instead. The motion gives them a numbers advantage which is what running the football is all about and they get everyone executing perfectly.

Part of the reason this works is because Malik has the speed to hit this and run away from people still trying to diagnose what the play is. This is something that I think will be key against Wake Forest. Getting those big plays in the run game with UofL running more upfield as opposed to the angle plays in the stretch zone.

There are a few plays in this post that have been shown on highlights all week long where other players factored into the play being made. M.J. Griffin makes the highlight but I thought this was a great play design and really good execution by a few guys.

This is a blitz call with the corner coming wide which draws the running back to him. Josh Minkins replaces that corner in an underneath zone which takes away a quick throw or a throw to the void from the blitz. Griffin is playing over the top so that covers the deep ball. Then you have Ben Perry blitzing on the left side and he gets a free run at the quarterback and ends up making the big hit that forces this bad throw. Everyone does their job and it ends up in a turnover.

These two plays were among my favorites in the game. On the first play you get Ben Perry taking on Pitt’s 250 pound tight end and he just stands him up at the point of attack. He then pushes him back into the running back and makes the tackle with half of the defense with him. I’ve been high on Perry since he committed but this is the type of play that really gets me excited about his potential. It’s a great individual play and UofL needs more guys who can do this type of stuff.

The second play is just as good but in a different way. Pitt shifted to a quick passing game pretty early on and UofL stayed with an aggressive approach but they started doing a better job of containing things behind it. On this play, Mason Reiger and Perry both get a free run on Slovis and because they are on him so quickly, he has to hold the ball for a beat. Chandler Jones fires off as soon as he sees the screen and instead of playing the block or playing this timidly, he goes for the tackle and trusts that he can make the play or that his teammates will also be there. No hesitation.

Another highlight play here where the player that makes the play gets some real help from teammates. Yasir gets the tackle here but look at Jared Dawson at nose tackle. He pushes the center five yards into the backfield and right into the path of the running back. The back has to stop his feet and redirect and Yasir swoops in to bring him down.

You could make an argument that this would have been a 79-yard touchdown run without this tackle and it was made in part because Dawson did something that won’t show up on a stat sheet. This defense is playing at a high level right now and it’s mostly due to them playing well as a group and not because of these highlight moments.

I pointed out earlier that UofL needs to create big runs by running at the defense as opposed to running through it. The stretch runs are a staple of the scheme and they have their place but these inside zone runs have been very good for the offense the last two weeks.

A few things to key on in this clip. The motion pulls two defensive backs out of the play and they both are in chase mode immediately. The motion also pulls the backside linebacker’s eyes and he takes a step towards the outside. That makes for an easy block for Isaac Martin. Every offensive lineman owns their block and all you’re left with is a safety who is essentially flat-footed until Cooley is two yards down the field. He gets another 24 yards before the safety brings him down.

Give me this all day against Wake Forest. It worked well in 2020. I think it will work well again.

Another great play to scheme a guy open. Josh Lifson comes in motion here and I thought it was interesting that the Pitt defensive backs don’t even communicate. The motion confuses the coverage which is something we saw against UVA as well. Lifson is the outside receiver, so the corner should be taking him. However, when the inside receiver runs the corner, the safety stays with him and the corner goes with him as well. Lifson ends up wide open. He also deserves credit for running a very nice route where he doesn’t tip his hand.

Malik has gotten some flak for his throw on this play but he has to hit this perfectly and I’m not sure anyone is doing much better in this spot. There is a linebacker directly in the path of this ball which means Malik has to get it over him but also back down to Lifson. He can’t lead him because Pitt has an extra defender on the backside and Malik can’t risk throwing it into the path of that guy (He can’t see him but he knows he’s there). This leaves the only option which is to lob it over the linebacker and not airmail it. I’d like it to be a little higher and make it an easier catch but I’ll defend Malik on this one. This is a tough throw and his receiver made a play for him.

Here’s Tyler Hudson making a play for Brock Domann on a pass that he underthrew. Domann had guys bearing down on him and took a split second too long to throw it but he at least kept it in a spot where Hudson could utilize his special skill set to make a play.

It was also good to see Hudson and Chris Bell get behind the defense down the sideline. Jaelin Carter also got a step on his defender on the first drive of the game. They were 2-3 on those plays and even though two of those throws were effected by the pressure, the receivers made the plays. It’s not always pretty but getting those big plays are important for this offense.

This was also a sneaky big play in this game. They would have had to punt on this drive after the defense put together a string of stops and that has been an issue all season. The offense made the plays when they had to last weekend and they deserve credit.

Can’t leave this play out because it’s just so much fun to watch. No analysis. Just enjoyment.