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Friday, September 25, 2009

Q&A With PittBlather.com

It's Q&A time again, folks. This week State hosts the Pitt Panthers, so the Q&A participants are the fine folks at PittBlather.com

You can find my answers to his questions here. Following are my questions and their responses:
1. Both fanbases feel confident about their team's ability to get the job done in this game; obviously only one will be right. Tell me why Pitt will win this game.

Because Pitt's healthier, especially on the lines.

2. Name one player State fans should pay attention to on Saturday that they may not have heard about.

Not to be too flip, but exactly how many Pitt players do NC State fans know? Pitt isn't exactly getting major national pub to make players well known. Still, here's the guy to watch, because it will say a lot about how the game is going.

Elijah Fields, Free Safety. Fields has million dollar athleticism but the head can be about $999,999.90 short of that. If he is making plays and not freelancing too much, then Pitt's pass defense is going to be better than it was against Buffalo. If he is getting burned, freelancing and generally out of position, then Russell Wilson will be making plays with his legs and his arm.

3. Buffalo passed for 433 yards against the Panthers. We've heard a lot about Pitt's defensive line and how they plan to pressure Russell Wilson, but surrendering that many passing yards suggests that they weren't able to get to Buffalo's QB. Is that an accurate assessment or is there an explanation for surrendering that many passing yards?

At the risk of sounding a little too defensive and homerific regarding Pitt, there were two factors that contributed. First, a very smart gameplan by Buffalo had their QB getting the ball out quickly. Three step drops and simply not taking too much time. Do that, and few D-lines are going to get to the QB. Second, of those 433 yards, 194 came on 4 passes.

The latter issue accurately notes that the Pitt secondary is susceptible to giving up the big play. Whether poor pass coverage and/or tackling. In that game, 7 passes accounted for 278 of the 433 yards.

What Pitt's D-line has shown going back to last year is that they can contain the scrambling QB. Whether it was Pat White or Matt Grothe, QBs that leave the pocket, scramble and try to keep plays alive have trouble against Pitt's D-line.

4. Dave Wannstedt is in his fifth season as Pitt's head coach...what's the pulse on the Pitt fanbase on how they feel about Wannstedt? I get the sense, from the outside looking in, that Pitt fans expected more by this point but are still behind Dave as head coach. Is that accurate?

Yeah, there was an expectation of more. He's done himself no favors, even last year with the when and way the team lost games. That said, most fans are probably still in his corner. They know that recruiting under Wannstedt has been excellent, and the move to hire Frank Cignetti as OC has been encouraging. The defense is in great shape. Overall, there is no doubt that the program is in good shape.

Then there is the realism that the administration loves Wanny and so he isn't going anywhere. As the poster from the X-Files said, "I want to believe." Some do, some don't and odd as it may seem in year five, there is still a large contingent of "unsure."

5. With Cincinnati looking strong to start the season, are they the team to beat in the Big East or is Pitt, West Virginia or perhaps another team looking good to challenge for the title?

No, it is Cinci right now. Beyond being the defending BE champs, the results speak for themselves. Already 1-0 in the Big East, plus a road win at Oregon State. They have the best out of conference win in the Big East. WVU has already lost and hardly impressed at the start of the season. Pitt might challenge, but has proven nothing at this point. Rutgers will probably get better further into the season, but they already are behind Cinci with their humiliating loss.

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