Last week I asked Dozer if he could chop up the Pitt–Cincinnati tape since they're two of Tech's upcoming opponents. Of course, he obliged. The film is below (because of technical difficulties, it's missing the tail end of the 4th quarter). After watching it, my thoughts follow, please leave your's in the comments.
Pitt struggled to pound the ball between the tackles. They didn't generate a huge surge upfront, and Cincinnati's d-line did an excellent job beating blocks and penetrating. However, Pitt had success running wide. Their o-line is athletic, both starting tackles have experience playing guard, so they can move. Left tackle Cory King (#78) started five games at guard last season, right tackle Matt Rotheram (#74) started one and was 3-star recruit. Needless to say, they pull their linemen a lot and the running backs run well behind them. The Tech linebackers, especially the Whip, and other free hitters will have to wrap up in space if the Hokies are to stop Pitt's rush attack.
Pitt allowed an NCAA worst 64 sacks last season. They've already given up 6 this season. It's not all the o-line's fault either. Against the Bearcats the tackles, King and Rotheram, especially King, struggled one-on-one in pass protection. However, the running backs and tight ends missed plenty of blocks too. Watch Tino Sunseri's flip pass to Ray Graham.
Cincy's defensive end stunts inside, and Graham's left to block him because the right guard picks the blitzing backer. Graham tries the best he can to chop him down, then he gets off his butt to make a spectacular play. Here's a combination of freshman tailback Rushel Shell (#4), and fullback Mark Giubilato (#43) missing a blitz pickup.
Both Ray Graham and Rushel Shell are dynamic ball carriers that made Cincinnati defenders look foolish.
Again, Tech must be able to wrap up and tackle in the open field.
Pitt had trouble stopping the zone read.
Munchie Legaux is fast.
The unblocked defensive end is the option man, but the H-back has no one to block and picks him up.
Pitt couldn't generate much of a pass rush with just their front-four. So, they blitzed often and the majority of the time it was middle LB Shane Gordon (#44) or will LB Nicholas Grigsby (#3) coming. Although, even when they sent 5 or 6 guys, they always didn't hit home. Sam linebacker Eric Williams (#49) lined up wide against the slot receiver in three and four receiver sets. If they do that against Tech, that might be a mismatch the Hokies can take advantage of.
Tino Sunseri completed 24 of 37 passes for 278 yards 1 TD and 1 INT again Cincy, so statistically he played well. However, Pitt was out of the game early, so there was some accumulation during garbage time. He didn't have a chance to make many plays when it mattered because he was pressured or sacked almost every time he dropped back. He did show some escapability in the pocket. Pitt tried to roll him out some too. He led an efficient drive to the goal line at the end of the first half, but it resulted in no points because he took too long to throw the ball away and the clock ran out. This is his third year starting, and I never count a veteran out. He showed a lot of promise in 2010 in offensive system similar to what Paul Chryst does before regressing in 2011 under coach Todd Graham.