A big and powerful offensive line is supposed to wear down opponents as the game moves into the latter stages. The Panthers' line is big and it is powerful, but looking at the first four games, one has to wonder where that last part is hiding. A disturbing trend is beginning to take form and you have to ask yourself if the line is getting tired in the 2nd half?
It is certainly possible when you break down a few things. I looked back at the first half versus the second half of the Panthers' first four games and the numbers were always better in the first half. In the opener, Pitt put up 193 yards compared to just 114 in the second half with about half of that coming on a bomb to Devin Street late in the game. Tom Savage was also sacked three times in that second half against the Seminoles. You really don't put a lot of stock into that as Pitt came out of the gate on fire in the first half and Florida State is, well, Florida State.
Unfortunately, things only got worse against New Mexico and Duke. While the Panthers put up 403 yards and a jaw-dropping 453 yards in the first halves of those games respectively, the second has been a complete letdown for the most part. 128 and 114 are the total yards Pitt has put up in those two games in the final 30 minutes. Duke also dropped Tom Savage twice in the second half.
In yesterday's game, this trend continued, but not as bad. You do also have to take into account that Virginia's defense is strong. Yesterday Pitt put up 104 yards in the first half. They ended up with 93 in the second half. Tom Savage was also dropped 4 times in the second half alone.
Either every team Pitt has played made some serious halftime adjustments or Pitt's offense has lagged.
So, if you are keeping track at home....Tom Savage has been sacked 13 times this season. That is not a bad number (considering Virginia put up more than half of those sacks yesterday), but when you consider nine of those have been in the second half of games, it sends up a signal. Combine that with the Panther running backs not finding many holes in the second half and it leads me to wonder about whether the offensive line is easing up since the first halves have been so easy.
It's not that Savage has held onto the ball or that the running backs are missing wide open holes....the line just doesn't seem to be giving their quarterback any time and don't seem to be paving the way for a nice run on halftime is over. You can go back and watch the games, but the biggest difference between the first half of games this year and the second is an effective offensive line.
Adam Bisnowaty, TJ Clemmings, and Artie Rowell are all first year starters and that could be a factor. Those three could simply be just adjusting and leaning on a defensive line for a full 60 minutes. The disturbing part is that returning starters Cory King and Matt Rotheram should be all too familiar with playing a full game. They did it last year and moving to guard should ease the burden on them from tackle. Is the line just coming together and learning as a whole or is this going to be a season of maddening and frustrating second halves? Only time will tell. Fortunately, Pitt has two weeks to improve on this aspect before visiting Virginia Tech.