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Sunday column: Pitt’s same old script

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

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The Sunday column from Heinz Field covers one of those games that Pitt always loses … and did.

Here’s some of what Jason Hendricks had to say afterward …

And James Conner

Random randomness from the event: The catch Tyler Boyd made in the first quarter will be largely lost in the outcome, but it’s one of the best I’ve ever seen. He dived forward for a ball that was coming from directly behind him, looked to have no chance, hauled it in, twisted in mid-air to keep the impact of the ground from popping it loose and held on. The kid’s special. … Aaron Donald might not be in that class, given being a bit undersized for a nose tackle, but all he does is blow up blocking schemes and chase QBs around. It’ll be fascinating to see how NFL teams value that in the draft. The word is that he’s rocketing. … Nothing gets settled with this program until Paul Chryst gets the line he wants. And bear in mind, that’s no slam dunk no matter the number of stars attached to the recruit. Dorian Johnson was a great get for the Panthers, but he’s struggling. … Speaking of the draft, let’s cool it on the Savage hype. He’s got a nice touch when given time, but it takes very, very little to bring him down. … If you don’t like Conner’s running style, you don’t like football. On one play in the first quarter, he took out two teammates on a first-down carry. One was Boyd. … Chryst wants to do things right. I appreciate that. He’s the classic, old-school, straight-and-narrow coach. But every once in a while, you’ve got to break a few eggs.

The game story is by beat writer Jerry DiPaola.

Tom Savage and Devin Street gut it out, by DiPaola.

Here’s our full Pitt coverage.

Here’s North Carolina news from the Raleigh News & Observer.

Here are official game highlights from PittsburghPanthers.com.

>> I’ll be at Heinz Field again today for Steelers-Lions, then up to the WPXI-TV studios for the Subway Final Word, which will air at 11:35 p.m. or after football and the local news.

Author: Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic, a lifelong Pittsburgher, is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media covering the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt and more, including his fourth Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also appears on WPXI-TV's 'Subway Final Word’ and hosts a weekly show on TribLIVE Radio. For 2011, he was named one of the top four columnists in the country -- highest circulation category -- by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the top three columnists in the country by the National Headliners Awards. For 2013, he was named top columnist in the state by the Keystone Awards and second-place by the Pennsylvania AP Managing Editors.

14 Comments

  1. Man DK, you said many mouthfuls. Great column.

    What was Savage doing on that fumble? Run to his left, holding the ball like it was a grenade? A crushing 14 point flip there.

    Lets save the most exciting player on the field, Tyler Boyd for the upcoming bowl game. Wait a minute………… Boyd should be used at end, flanker, deep, even in the backfield, sweeps…….. in other words, he should be featured every down, even as a decoy, not 7 measly touches a game.

    I have a bad feeling Chryst wont get the type of lineman he wants. Pitt is not a destination school. Chryst has been middling in recruiting……. not the recipe for success for the lines.

    Coach Chryst is Mr. Not to Lose. Guess what, coaches like that always LOSE ! He needs to open up, but that hasnt been his MO at Wisconsin, or here. Bigger question is, will he open up when he gets better recruits in?

    Until Pitt learns to win this type of game, they will continue to be fair to middlin’. They have lost these types of games for 30 years, despite different coaches, different players, different AD’s…………. you get the picture. Love my Alma Mater, but it is tough to be a Pitt fan sometimes.

    But thank you for the column.

  2. The colassal egg that Milo Hamilton predicted would be laid was indeed laid during the first half and as hard as Pitt tried to take it back during the second half, well, the Panthers couldn’t, and now, let us all hope that they won’t make asses of themselves once again versus Syracuse next Saturday.

  3. Well, at least Coach Bill O’Brien won’t be inclined to shield his Penn State players from the press this time since they won easily enough against Purdue, which was as soft opposition as you could possibly make it.

  4. Boyd and Connor need to be on the field for just about every play. Bennett may be able to block, but he has too many runs for negative yardage.
    Christ needs to introduce a shovel pass or other quick hitter for Boyd, this young man is a special talent!
    As said above, it is tough being a Pitt fan. Where were they in the first half?

  5. Morning All.

    Rough day to be Pittsburgh sports fan with the Pens continued inability to score and Pitt’s let down…Didn’t get a chance to see either here in RVA, but that could be a good thing, eh?

    Starkey’s column on “Ricky” LeBeau was a good read and my fun fact of the day is that Joe Schimdt, who was quoted in the article, is a grad of my High School! Many years before me but right around the same time as my Uncle.

    We’ll see what the Steelers can do today against the Lions – could be ugly if Megatron gets rolling and Suh is rolling over Ben…

    Have a good day all!

    Randy in RVA.

  6. Is it my imagination or are we becoming more reliant on the stretch pass again? I’d have to go back and look to know for sure but seems like lately we’ve fallin back into bylsma’s bad habits of trying to chip to speed with his beloved stretch pass. It sounds great in theory and when it works you can get some o-zone time but as we’ve seen its also very easy to defend just by keeping a closed gap on our forwards. Earlier this season I seem to recall the forwards coming back deeper in our zone to generate speed up ice with our dmen and getting thru the neutral zone with close puck support for the puck carrier. Time to re-focus on controlled breakouts.

    Not making excuses for letangs choke job last night but maybe if the forwards weren’t in a different zip code letang would’ve had an easier pass. And in general maybe the shots and chances we get would be of higher quality if we’re moving the puck up ice as a unit and getting chances on the rush with players opening up passing and shooting lanes after making shorter passes and getting to the net.

    Bylsma’s stubbornness + predictability = disappointing results

    That all being said the bottom 6 is a joke…abysmal actually…average rosters are making a mockery of our depth. Part of the reason I’ve pushed for a trade of PM and his 5M cap hit last couple seasons is that I feared a lack of depth up front while our depth on d could withstand PM being traded. He’s played well lately however(actually really well) and with team up against cap and the Olympics coming up I fear only tradable assets we have now is Sutter and Nisky. Question is whether or not PM and his cap hit will be healthy and playing well when the games count.

    And I’ve heard people defend shero and bylsma by saying the cap went down and its impossible to have everything. Well all I want to know is how many seasons did shero and his scouts have to draft and develop replacements for TK, cooke and maybe staal?

    • Hey monster, I was thinking the same thing last night….stretch pass, chip it in from a flat footed start, watch NJ systematically go back and collect it and break out with (gasp!) short passes and puck support in the D zone.
      Crazy!!!

      I think the 3rd line could be OK but lines would have to be shuffled. Guys like Adams and Glass are getting as much TOI as Bennett. Bennett is no more a 3rd liner than Duper is a 1st liner.

      I think the slumps of Geno and Sid are related…..teams are more able to focus on Sid now that Geno is becoming less a factor and (don’t get me started) Disco’s inability to match lines is standing out more and more. I think we’re seeing a playoff preview: focus on Sid and his Ws cannot get it done. Kuni will get some goals but won’t do enough damage.

      And re Geno someone mentioned last night that he is “playing not to get injured for the Olympcs” ….I actually am thinking he’s playing like he is already injured (or maybe his past shoulder injury has been tweaked or is still not right). There was a play last night where he was coming down the slot in prime territory to rip a wrister at Brodeur, changed his mind, and turned around to use his backhand instead, which he shoveled wide. THAT sounds like a player that is hurting when he shoots on the forehand.

      And speaking of Brodeur, the guy’s a lock HOFer but man I hate when we make old Uncle Fatty look like he’s 25 again.

      ANd make the NJD look like world-beaters.

      UGH.

      • Yup and I pretty much knew geno’s shoulder wasn’t 100% last season but was hoping an off season would allow it to heal. Time for some old school Russian home rhemedies. Thanks for confirming what I thought I was seeing thru my liquor colored glasses :)

  7. And y’know what I would substitute “arrogance” for “stubbornness” in every post that mentions Disco.

  8. But let’s be grateful for small favors…..if the Pens were in the West they’d be like 11th…..

  9. The Steelers blew an early lead but it could’ve been worse since it’ll likely be over an hour before they can resume play in Chicago due to that rotten weather situation.

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