After a move back to Oakland, a week away at band camp, and halfway through week one of classes, here I am. Currently in a slight lull during syllabus week, I finally have a free minute to throw down some thoughts about the highly anticipated season opener vs. Buffalo on Saturday. After months and months of hype, we are three -- I repeat three -- days away from "High-Octane" Football. The excitement on campus is palpable. Merchandise is everywhere. Todd Graham & Co. sayings are running rampant at parties (at least my buddies and I have done our part of that). The football players are all wearing Graham-sanctioned, motivational T-shirts. It's building, building, building. Now come Saturday, what will actually happen?A look at the odds shows Pitt is a 30-point favorite heading into Saturday's contest. I don't care if it's just Buffalo. 30 points is a huge margin to be favored by and I think, at least in part, reflects how hyped the idea of explosive, high-scoring football has been all off-season. I have no doubt the Panthers could easily manhandle the Bulls and put up several touchdowns. However, we also need to be realistic and take Saturday for what it's worth, as Greg Trietley of the Pitt News reasonably points out:
A far more likely scenario: Pitt defeats Buffalo by three touchdowns, Sunseri throws an interception, the defense has a pick or two of its own, but it also gives up a few big plays on miscalculated risks. Every fan leaves with some degree of mixed emotions, and a select few probably clamor for Anderson to start against Maine.
"High-octane" is almost mythical. It’s presented as if it’s football like we’ve never seen it before, as if the Wildcat formation and Madden glitches reared a child. Cornerbacks take snaps under center. In punt formation, the opposition suspects everything except for a punt. Something called a spur linebacker exists.
All these things sound incredible. There hasn’t been this kind of buzz — and sheer curiosity — in years. But these things also take time. They call it midseason form for a reason. That’s also why they have warm-up games.
Definitely a reasonable way to approach this. Through all the smoke and mirrors, through all the marketing, through all the buzz, who knows what will really happen come game time. Who knows what the schemes and play calls will actually look like on the field. Who knows if the offense will actually be able to snap off plays every 15-18 seconds in a live game. Who knows if the aggressive defense will actually be effective without giving up big plays. Who knows if the conditioning will actually pay off. The hype has been there for months. The talk has been talked, now it's time to see how well Graham's team can walk the walk.
I literally can't wait to see. It's almost time.