The defense shined against the Hokies. Can they do the same on Saturday? (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Pitt, please don't lose to another FCS school. On to the depth chart.
I'm happy for Tino, really I am. No player in the history of Pittsburgh sports has ever taken as much criticism as this player and yet he goes out to the field each week. Some of the criticism is deserved, though - Tino has shown to be inconsistent in the past. He has to prove that he is more than just a one-trick pony. Can he build off of last week's outstanding performance?
A little surprised that Shell's performance last week didn't merit a move up the depth chart at least for one week, but honestly with this position it really doesn't matter what the order is. Each guy is going to get his fair share of carries. But if that's what Shell does against a quality opponent, I can only imagine what he's capable of on Saturday.
No changes from last week, but congrats to Lazenga on earning a scholarship this past week.
Both Shanahan and Street both had big games against the Hokies and even caught deep passes from Tino ... and the world didn't end afterwards! So, let's keep trying this deep pass thing. Gardner-Webb is certainly the opponent to do so against. Saddler and Brinson both failed to record a reception against the Hokies.
The line, the second most criticized position on this team, had the game of their lives against Virginia Tech. To put it in perspective, Pitt didn't have a single game last season where they allowed less than two sacks. Only allowing one sack and providing great blocking for both the passing and running game? Other than the false start penalties, just a great week for the line.
The star from this group from last week was actually Cook, who had a great game against Virginia Tech, recording five tackles, two of which were for losses. He also forced the fumble in the first half. The coaches no doubt were impressed with him and if he can continue this kind of play throughout the season, it'll help with Pitt's depth at the position.
As far as stats go, Donald actually had a quiet game, only recording a single tackle. But he did a good job drawing attention from the Hokies, which allowed other players to make plays. Look for him though to build up his stats this week, though.
NT: Tyrone Ezell, Khaynin Mosley-Smith
Ezell also made his presence felt on Saturday, helping the line power through Virginia Tech's offensive line. Even though they only got two sacks, we all saw how their play affected the way in which the Hokies ran their offense.
A slight change as Manny Williams is now listed as the starting WILL linebacker instead of Grigsby. The linebackers, after really struggling the first two weeks, put in a solid performance. There were a few plays where they made some bad tackles, but just night and day in the difference.
Gordon, along with Jason Hendricks, were the two defensive MVPs from last week. Gordon especially had a really great showing, as he was there on key plays making the stops, including the 4th down stop in the 3rd quarter that ended the momentum Virginia Tech was building early in the second half.
Obviously, this was made on Monday before it was announced that Pardner would miss the rest of the season after tearing his ACL. For the first time this season, the coaches played the cornerbacks right up against the receiver at the line of scrimmage and look what happened. Now if they had done that the first two weeks...
As I said before, Hendricks was the co-MVP on defense last week, grabbing two picks that really helped kill any sort of Virginia Tech offense in the first half. Holley grabbed the other one off of a tipped pass. The secondary did have their breakdowns, including a really bad tackle that led to Virginia Tech's lone offensive touchdown, but outside of that, they put in a performance that many expected out of them the first two weeks.
The only unit that really struggled on Saturday. There were the issues in the kicking game, although I will give the guys credit for catching Virginia Tech offsides late in the fourth quarter that led to Pitt's last touchdown. There were also the missed tackles that led to the touchdown on the punt return.