September 15, 2007
Pitt-Michigan State grades
The young Panthers lost a disppointing road game at Michigan State. Today we give grades to the various units.
Asking LeSean McCoy to run the ball is a no-brainer. Asking him to carry the offense is a no-brainer. Asking him to lineup at quarterback, and direct snap, no problem. McCoy ran for 175 yards against a defense that allowed an average of 29.5 yards in its two previous games this year. Though they've lost players like Kinder, Stull and Stephens-Howling to injuries, a loss of McCoy would be catastrophic. Offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh needs to get other people involved in the offense, as evidenced by Pitt's final drive. Give him credit for the second half adjustments, and for exploiting the matchup between Oderick Turner and Ashton Henderson. Dave Wannstedt said earlier this week that by having Cavanaugh in the booth, it enables him to give Pitt two or three better plays per game. Going after Henderson is what Wannstedt was talking about.
Darrell Strong made a big play on that final drive, and no one was bigger than Pestano on that final drive. You can't pin all the offensive woes on Smith. Though he struggled, he bounced back several times. If he was completely rattled, he would have cracked on the last drive. Completing that fourth down pass to Pestano is as clutch as it gets. Better protection from the offensive line will help, as will more playing time. Smith has two starts under his belt, including this one at Michigan State. It bodes well for the future of the position. The offensive line struggled, allowing six sacks, as well as committing penalties at inopportune times. You can make a case for them paving the way for over 200 yards on the ground, but McCoy made a lot of that ground on his own.
The offense turned the ball over three times, resulting in a Michigan State score, each time. McCoy does a lot, but because of penalties and turnovers, I can't give anything more than a C+
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