OFFENSE NEEDS A LIFT
In the last two games, Pitt's offense has allowed a total of 15 sacks (seven against Virginia, eight against Virginia Tech). Head coach Paul Chryst says the blame falls on everyone.
It's not all entirely on the offensive line, and it's not all entirely on the players.
"It's wrong to put this all on the offensive line," Chryst said. "We've got to do a better job of making plays. That changes games. Maybe it's running the football or making a catch to get a little bit of momentum. There are a lot of things to it. We've got to own it and get better."
One solution to that would be throwing in some quicker decisions for quarterback Tom Savage. If future opponents Old Dominion and Navy come in, trying to read off of game film of the Virginia and Virginia Tech games, the hope is to catch those teams off guard. Chryst cautions that notion.
"It gets tricky throwing short," Chryst said. "Throughout the course of the game, there's a risk-reward situation because you don't spread a defense out as much."
Even so, Pitt still has to execute.
"We've just got to play better on offense," Chryst said. "We can sit there and talk all we want, but we've just got to play better."
THE HIT HEARD AROUND THE WORLD
In the fourth quarter, Virginia Tech defensive back Kyshoen Jarrett laid a big bit on Pitt receiver Devin Street. Street held on to the ball, a big play leading to Savage's nine-yard touchdown run.
Chryst says he asked the officials at the time what they saw. The initial review showed that Jarrett did lead with his shoulders. ACC Director of Officials Doug Rhoads also added that the hit was legal, and that Jarrett led with his shoulders.
"At first glance, I questioned what we were seeing and brought it up with the league," Chryst said. "The league told us it was clearly not [helmet-to-helmet]."
The ACC Digital Network tweeted video of the hit, calling it a 'Monster' hit, even though Street was hurt on the play.
There was no conclusive video of the hit that showed Jarrett leading with his head. Chryst did send video of the play to the league, which stood by its decision. What does Chryst think of it?
"It doesn't matter," Chryst said.
After allowing 55 point to Duke three weeks ago, the defense has rebounded in its last two games.
In its last eight quarters of football, the defense has allowed just one touchdown. Even though the defense didn't produce any turnovers on Saturday, and the fact they allowed two key third down conversions that went for a combined total of 58 yards in the third quarter, there is noticed improvement.
"You certainly see some signs of it," Chryst said.
In an ironic twist, however, it's now the offense that has produced a combined three touchdowns in the last two weeks, following the 58-point output against Duke three weeks ago. As a result, Chryst is hesitant to praise the defense, or any other unit for that matter, until everyone is on the same page.
"We're going to need every phase to be good," Chryst said. "We're getting some good play out of a number of guys and playing a little bit faster on defense, so hopefully that keeps progressing."
Aaron Donald and Todd Thomas are two players making an impact. Donald added two more sacks on Saturday, giving him eight for the season, along with 12 tackles for losses and. He ranks first nationally in both categories, averaging 1.6 sacks a game and 2.4 tackles for loss per game.
Thomas has played in all five games this season, starting the last four. While he played minimal snaps in that first game, he's leading the team in the last four games, averaging eigh tackles a game. He finished with 12 on Saturday at Virginia Tech.