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Thursday, December 4, 2008
Pitt-UConn: A Half Assed Preview
This weekend, Pitt heads to Storrs were second place in the BE is on the line as well as their bowl destination. The last time Pitt was in Storrs, they were leading 31-17 and a possible bowl bid on the line. That's until they tried running Larod Stephens up the middle about 15 times and UConn came back to send it into overtime. Pitt ended up losing in overtime where the message boards had a meltdown. The famous phrase "WE NEED MORE TIME!" was created.
Pitt is 8-3 and 4-2 in Big East play. They are coming off a big win against West Virginia where they have guaranteed bowl bid. They're just not sure where they're going yet.
Pitt's offense is led by LeSean McCoy who has been the backbone of the offense for the whole season. Bill Stull is coming off a shaky start last week and hasn't really been the same since the Rutgers game. He's unsettled in the pocket and has made throws where you'll be shaking your head.
Pitt's defense is led by their front four and they have the depth as well. At Linebacker, it's Butkus Award snub Scott Mckillop whose a tackle machine.
Their secondary has been shaky at times this year. No worries as Eric Thatcher graduates this year.
For the Huskies, it's the same story. Donald Brown leads this offense. He averages 5.4 yards per carry and he's another awards snub.
Connecticut has been unhealthy at quarterback to the point that it became a QB carousel. Tyler Lorenzen has been injured most of the year after a productive Junior year. Pitt is no stranger to Lorenzen. He picked us apart last season. He won't back down this year either.
On defense they are led by DE Cody Brown. Cody leads the team with 10 sacks. At the other end, Julius Williams has 6 sacks. Both of these plays can disrupt an offensive line. Lindsey Witten is their backup and he has 5 sacks on the season.
The Huskies allow 166 yards passing per game and 119 yards rushing. In other words, they're pretty good.
Pitt's Offensive Line vs. Huskies' Defensive Line - This matchup could make or break Pitt's chances. If the Huskies get a good rush, look for Bill Stull to throw errant passes like a drunk guy trying to throw darts. If that happens, Pitt's line will need to create room for McCoy to run the ball.
Huskies' Offensive Line vs. Pitt Defensive Line - UConn is big up front, but Pitt's defensive line is no stranger to big lines. They have the ability to wear down offensive linemen. This will be key as they'll need to stop Donald Brown from running loose.
Tyler Lorenzen vs. Pitt Secondary - Chances are, Pitt will focus on stopping Brown. Chances are, UConn will take a page out of the Rutgers game and go after the secondary with playaction passes. If that's the case, let's hope Pitt's secondary tries to bat down a pass or two. They'll need to.
Pitt Receivers vs. Huskies Secondary - Pitt has a height advantage on UConn's secondary. A few jump balls to Jonathan Baldwin won't hurt. Porter and Kinder will have to step up as well.
Other Things of Note
Turnovers - Pitt can't afford them. They need to create them.
Austin Ransom and Greg Williams - Can they help contain Brown for 60 minutes?
UConn Passing Game - Can they take some heat off Donald Brown and copy what they did at Heinz last year?
Storrs - Can Pitt finally win there? Do they still blast "Welcome to the Jungle" during the huddle so no one can hear?
DJ Hernandez - Let's hope we don't see much of him on Saturday.
Prediction: I'm not good at these. Watch the game and find out.