Pitt Vs. Maine Football: 35-29 ... Really? REALLY?

Before I get to the recap: John Sanders and Christian Fauria on ESPN3 - Randall Jones? Chris Harper? Aaron McDonald. Seriously, mix in a media guide and tighten it up a bit. Even Alderman Davis thinks you butchered too many names.

Okay - Step back from the ledge ...

Actually, no.

Sorry, but it's time for some concern. Two games? So what. Pitt looked mediocre last week against Buffalo and worse today against Maine. It may not be time to declare doom and gloom, but you're kidding yourself if you think everything is just fine in Oakland.

We can start with a lot of things - the big story, obviously, is Tino getting replaced (yes, I'd say replaced and not just given a break to get Trey Anderson some reps) by Trey, but there's a bigger issue - the offense as a whole.

If you think I'm going to call Todd Graham a fraud then you're way off base. He's two games into working with personnel that aren't adequate and that realistically only know about half of his system. But it's more than fair to say the offense hasn't lived up to expectations. At least not mine.

The most disappointing thing is that while Pitt again scored 35 points, they did so with incredible field position the entire game. Four times (four times) they started on Maine's side of the field. Another time they were nearly at midfield and yet another time, they were on their own 40 after an errant kickoff. Sorry, but 35 points from what is supposed to be a high-scoring offense under those conditions just doesn't cut it (as I wrote in the SB Nation Pittsburgh recap). Plus, they put up those 35 against a Maine team that is not as good as Buffalo, in my opinion. And, by the way, that first touchdown drive was aided by a terrible Running into the Kicker call against Maine, which kept the drive alive after Pitt was resigned to punt. Safe to say there's plenty of work to be done.

But equally disturbing was the defensive effort.

I get that the other offense is trying, but 29 points? Really? To give up that much and nearly 350 yards passing to an FCS team at home is a big concern. In all fairness, Maine's rushing game was shut down completely, but the pass defense left a lot to be desired. What bothered me was that the Black Bears were able to complete short pass after short pass and our corners were still considerably off the line a lot of times. I can understand that philosophy against incredibly athletic teams like West Virginia, but against an FCS foe? Plus, there were lots of missed tackles. Maine's quarterback, who admittedly was extremely evasive, got away at least a half dozen times and Pitt also missed other tackles on receivers. Not a good day for the defense.

And speaking of not having a good day - Holy offensive line. I'm the first to say that Tino didn't have a great game (more on that in a sec), but several times that he was sacked or hurried was because he literally had no time to throw the ball. The offensive line looked far worse to me than they did last week.

Okay, so moving on...

So is there a quarterback controversy? Who knows ... Graham probably doesn't even know yet. But here's what we do know. Tino didn't play well and Trey didn't look like a deer in headlights (though we didn't see that much of him). Pitt's next game is against Iowa on the road. I'm not entirely sure we'll see Trey start that game, but I think Tino will be on a much shorter leash. Don't forget - Anderson's only a true freshman walk-on and while the 'walk-on' part might not be that important, the true freshman part is. Having come into Pitt just in the Fall, I can't imagine he's got as much of Graham's offense down as Tino does. But if he limits mistakes (something I praised Tino for last year), then he might be worth a look.

More on this later, obviously, but again, moving on ...

Where would this team be without Ray Graham? He didn't have a particularly good second half and Maine really bottled him up - I think he had like 15 yards or something insane. But he had a huge first half and helped get Pitt out to a lead. Without Dion Lewis last year, Pitt still had Graham and also Jon Baldwin, but this year? If he goes down to injury, Pitt's going to be in a bind.

The other Graham, Hubie, also had a really good game - four catches for about 60 yards. I mentioned this in last week's recap, but the tight end really does have a place in Todd Graham's (seriously, do we have enough Grahams on this team?) offense.

Speaking of that third Graham, though, I really like coach's aggressiveness. The decision to try to get points with only 40 seconds on the clock before the first half was great (side note: I was never a huge Dave Wannstedt basher, but think we'd see that out of him?) But unfortunately, he made a huge mistake as Pitt was driving. There were about ten seconds left and the team was on Maine's 44. With a strong-legged (albeit shaky) kicker in Kevin Harper, Sunseri threw a deep pass instead. Why not throw a 10-yard route, use your final time out, and try to get a shot at a 50-yard field goal? I'd much rather have seen that than two shots at the end zone nearly fifty yards out.

Graham also did something mildly peculiar. Pitt was up by 19 late in the game and instead of going for two to go up by three scores, he opted to kick the extra point, putting Pitt up by only 20. Three scores still would have beaten Pitt and so late in the game, there was virtually no chance Maine could have had four possessions to score two TDs and kick two field goals (which would have tied the game). A bit earlier as well, 11. Instead of kicking the extra point to go up by 12 (which would have meant Maine needed to score two touchdowns to go ahead), they opted for two to get the lead to 13. I know there are charts for these things, but someone's really got to explain those to me.

More on this game later, but for now, just another disappointment. If Pitt rolls out this effort next week, then they're in trouble.

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