The Drizzling Pitts

2,500-word, 11-play film review of the defensive tactics that disrupted Pitt early, how the Panthers offense adapted, while their Tech counterparts couldn't exploit Pitt's weaknesses because of both scheme and execution shortcomings.

[Mark Umansky]

When I wrote my Pitt preview, I considered including the caveat: "I do not believe Virginia Tech has the personnel to expose Pitt's liabilities." The Panthers were incredibly vulnerable in the back-end, playing press and quarters coverage all game long. Brad Cornelsen took plenty of shots, but Braxton Burmeister and the receiving corps were not good enough to consistently take advantage. To add sauce for the goose, Cornelsen seemed to mitigate whatever strengths his personnel had, over-relying on slow developing outside runs and slow out routes that allowed Pitt to run to the football with little opposition from a plodding Tech offensive line.

Meanwhile, Justin Hamilton mitigated most of Pitt's crossing route driven offense. Instead of standing pat, Panthers offensive coordinator Mark Whipple found ways to attack Tech's weaker pass coverage defenders. An injury to cornerback Jermaine Waller was the symbolic last gasp of hope for an exhausted defense that deserved better. With a half empty stadium hurling boos and disgust, Justin Fuente and Cornelsen found that the only grit the offense had was the sand between the gears.

Hamilton's Wrinkles Cross Up Pitt

Hamilton had his defense well prepared for quarterback Kenny Pickett and Pitt's offense. Whipple loves to utilize crossing routes against man-to-man coverage, layering routes to get matchups against opposing safeties and linebackers. Hamilton incorporated man looks, and then slid defenders into the middle of the field to mess up the timing of said crossers.

On the above 3rd-and-11, Pitt aligned in a twins look with receiver Melquise Stovall (No. 4) and tight end Lucas Krull (No. 7) to the boundary. Stovall motions inside, prompting cornerback Armani Chatman (No. 27) to move with him, indicating man. Stovall runs a very shallow crossing route designed to get Chatman to run with him in order to clear out space for Krull to run a deeper dig route against boundary safety Nasir Peoples (No. 31). Also, tailback Vincent Davis (No. 22) runs into the boundary flat to lure Peoples wide.

Things didn't go as planned because Hamilton threw some wrinkles into the mix.

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