*Rumblings, Opinions & Musings on five of today’s hottest topics*
1. PITT’S DEBACLE VS YOUNGSTOWN STATE: The Paul Chryst era started bad when Chryst suspended six players including starting DT Tyrone Ezell and freshman running back Rushel Shell prior to the game and then things got worse after kickoff as Pitt’s 31-17 loss to Youngstown State was pathetic and their first ever loss to an FCS team.
Pitt’s defense was atrocious as the Penguins converted six of its first seven third down attempts in the game and finished 11 of 16 on third downs. A division 1-AA team shouldn’t be able to come on road and move the ball at will for much of the game. What is mind boggling is that in a new head coaches debut, Youngstown State just wanted it more. “They wanted it more than us, “ safety Andrew Taglianetti said. However, what I took out of this game again is how poor of a quarterback Tino Sunseri is. He was a bad quarterback in Todd Graham’s system and he’s going to be one in Paul Chryst’s new offense that suits Sunseri more. He’s just not any good and his struggles with accuracy to hit open receivers are just constant drive killers and Sunseri struggles with his reads after the first option isn’t there. The one bright spot for Pitt was Ray Graham who rushed for 71 yards on 14 carries and showed the ability to reverse field. For the Panthers though, there’s little time to improve off of Saturday’s debacle as it’s a quick turnaround with Thursday’s Big East opener at Cincinnati.
2. INFERIOR SCHOOLS WITH BETTER QB’S THAN PENN STATE, PITT: The Bill O’Brien era also got off to a rough start being upset by Ohio 24-14 at Happy Valley, squandering a 14-3 lead. This wasn’t a stunning upset like for Pitt as many pundits felt Ohio had a good chance to win but what I also took out of this game is that just like Pitt – Youngstown State, the inferior school (Ohio) had the better quarterback. Teams like Youngstown State and Ohio shouldn’t have the better quarterback play than the likes of Pitt and Penn State but they do.
3. LACK OF PLAYMAKERS NOT A WORRY IN MORGANTOWN: 3. Meanwhile, down in Morgantown, West Virginia will rarely have problems of not having the best playmakers on the field this season. Heisman trophy candidate Geno Smith completed 32 of 36 passes for 323 yards and four touchdowns as No. 11 WVU trounced Marshall 69-34.
4. PIRATES WOES VS NON .500 TEAMS: Following last night’s 3-2 Brewers walkoff win, the Pirates (70-62) have now lost 8 of 11 games and are 11-18 in their last 29 games. This is the time of the year where the playoff pretenders and playoff contenders begin to separate themselves, yet the Pirates are just 1.5 games out of the second wildcard spot as the Cardinals or Dodgers don’t want to run away it, while the Altanta Braves are stumbling of late, losing three straight and 4-6 in their last 10 games.
With 30 games left, finishing with a winning record is not a lock for the Pirates who need to go 12-18 to reach that mark and despite 21 of the 30 games remaining against below .500 teams, the Pirates have struggled against below .500 teams in the second half of the season and are 2-9 in their last 11 games against teams with below .500 records. My prediction with 30 games left is that the Pirates go 13-17 and finish with 83 wins.
5. PENS NOT OFFERING FOUR YEARS TO DOAN: The rumors of the Penguins offering a four year – $24 million contract to free agent Shane Doan have resurfaced again from the same source, Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun. Garrioch this morning reports that that the Penguins, Rangers, Canucks and Flyers have all offered Doan a four year, $24 million deal. The talk of the Penguins being one of those teams to offer four years have been consistently refuted by multiple sources close to the situation and I’m told it’s not accurate and that the Penguins are certain that Pittsburgh isn’t one of Doan’s top choices if things fall through with the Coyotes and that the agent is just keeping them around. Doan will be signing with the Rangers or Canucks if things break off with Phoenix.