VT's next two opponents, Pitt and Georgia Tech, played each other in Bobby Dodd Stadium this past Saturday. With a dreary Friday afternoon on hand, I decided to take a look and see what to expect of both teams in their upcoming match ups with VT. Here are some observations as I watch.
1) Georgia Tech is playing a ton of press man to man while running a 40 front up front. Pitt's wide receivers are having success on screens making singled up defensive backs miss. Pitt is also hitting the back shoulder. Georgia Tech should be tailor made for VT throwing fade routes to their bigger receivers.
2) Pitt's initial third down stop on GT utilized a very Bud Foster concept in coverage. The boundary corner is pressed, with the boundary safety playing a center field. They show press with a deep safety forming a triangle to the field, but play quarters coverage when receivers cross. Up front, Narduzzi brings three DL plus a blitzing defensive back. The DB crosses from the edge in behind the 5 technique rushing up the field and gets the sack. Very well designed, and exactly the kind of concept I wish Foster would utilize on third down and long now from his 30 front. Mix up the looks that the OL and the QB are seeing!
3) Second drive, GT shows press man, but holds a single safety deep just inside the field hash. Pickett throws the fade anyway. Safety comes across and picks the ball. Man, it is nice to see a centerfield safety show some range. Not good recognition by Pickett.
4) No. 34, DT Amir Watts for Pitt, has been moved pretty easily out of the middle a couple of plays. However, GT doesn't do a good job of slipping a blocker off a double team. Pitt's LBs are essentially unblocked most of the time. No. 28, linebacker Kylan Johnson, is big and recognizes plays quickly. Good player.
5) Looking at Pitt's roster- they get a TON of kids from Florida. Interested recruiting strategy.
6) Third down, another nice design by Pitt. Six man pressure with only two defenders down. Lots of pressure through the A gaps. Press man outside, with the two safeties creating a high-low bracketed zone in the middle hash (strong safety plays shallow middle and free safety plays deep middle. Forces a quick throw from GT QB, incomplete. Pitt survives the turnover.
7) No. 22, freshman tailback Vincent Davis (from Florida!) lines up as a wildcat QB. Pitt does some window dressing with four wide receivers to the boundary. Only one is eligible. Yet, their LT is off the line of scrimmage, giving him an easier angle to pull on the direct slap counter trey. Davis goes untouched for 60 yards after making No. 17, freshman outside linebacker Demetrius Knight, completely whiff in the hole. Davis has some scary wiggle.
8. Georgia Tech's passing game is non-existent against this quality of coverage. VT should press and prevent Graham from beating them with his legs.
9. GT follows a 3 and out with a brutal drop by No. 86, Pitt TE Nakia Griffin Stewart. He curls up and gets hit right in the hands for an easy first down. The ball bounces off his hands and gets picked off. Not Pickett's fault. Pitt's offense is doing everything they can to keep GT in the game.
10. How bad is GT's passing game? Graham keeps on a straight zone read option and runs for 13 on a 3rd and 7. VT's pass rush has to stay at home against him.
11. And GT botches the field goal. Wasn't close from around 34.
12. Pitt completes a nice pass against man coverage on the inside against GT linebacker. Pitt comes back on the next play and hits Ffrench against man to man. Ffrench fumbles the ball trying to get extra yards. Georgia Tech keeps getting turnovers, even though Pitt seems intent on self inflicting wounds.
13. Georgia Tech RPO's next play. Fake counter trey and shows a quick hitch from the slot. The safety bites, and Graham half rolls and hits the slot in stride for a 60 yard TD before the back side safety can get over to help. No. 10, freshman WR Ahmerean Brown with the catch.
14. Pitt's passing game isn't bad. WRs are working against press, and getting out of their breaks quicker than the corners. Two consecutive completions to Ffrench both for first downs. While GT can be pressed, Pitt is more problematic, especially if Pickett has time. Pitt's biggest issue is the lack of a vertical threat. Make that three consecutive nice throws, with the last being a back shoulder laser from Pickett to (checks notes) No. 18 Shocky Jacques-Louis- from Florida.
15. Pitt is a nightmare for offensive linemen. Just saw a second and five where GT had 3 WR to the field and 1 to the boundary. GT runs a little counter inside. Pitt has six in the box. The field DE, DT, and boundary DT rush straight up field. The boundary LB blitzes hard into the C gap. The boundary DE steps backwards and curls behind the rush into the boundary A gap, while the field LB blitzes into the field A gap. Three GT OL go chasing the stunting DE, and the LB makes an easy tackle right in the hole.
16. Former VT recruit, No. 91 Patrick Jones II, flashed some speed and very strong hands on an edge bull rush, pushing the R-OT back into Graham. Graham flushes and throws a high incomplete pass to the sidelines. Given VT's lack of DE depth, Jones looks like he would have been helpful. No. 6, John Morgan, also has some serious burst off the right edge and gets a sack to kill GT's next drive. The announcer just said Pitt leads the nation in sacks. That, hurts.
17. Pitt is in the shotgun a lot more than you would expect them to be. The offensive line is cut blocking on the backside of outside zones.
18. GT has a different QB in. No. 7 Lucas Johnson. He looks a little better throwing, but can't sustain a drive against Pitt's pressure until later in the third. Then GT fumbles at the goal line and Pitt returns it to the GT 20. GT's offense looks much better with Johnson. Pitt's Johnson forced the fumble with a big hit on GT's Johnson at the goal line.
19. GT is all over Pitt's screen game. GT's secondary is big and physical against WR blocking.
20. Pitt does enough to win, eating up the clock with Davis on more Pitt-looking powers and counters.
Takeaway- Pitt's DL is going to be a problem. VT should be ok with GT but it will be uglier than expected.