Pitt scrapes by Old Dominion ... but it's a win

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

So, in case you missed it Saturday night, this happened.

The result, of course, was less than desired. Far from ideal, Pitt beat a team that is trying to break into big boy football by a mere 11 points. At home. Suffice to say, it wasn't a real impressive effort.

Pitt's defense, again, looked shoddy. The unit was particularly bad in the beginning of the game when they suddenly realized they were playing against actual players. ODU raced out to a 10-0 lead and all out panic hit the streets. Seriously, just check my Twitter account.

Jokes aside, Pitt didn't start real well. It wasn't just the defense, either. The offense, fresh off a disappointing performance against Virginia Tech, floundered their way through a miserable first quarter. Two punts later and Pitt was officially scoreless through the first 15 minutes.

Fortunately for Pitt, Old Dominion's defense against the run was akin to what it would be if I were on the field at middle linebacker. The Monarchs, playing reasonably well in every other facet of the game, didn't have any answer for Isaac Bennett. That, really, was the key. Bennett chewed up the D to the tune of 240 yards on a healthy eight yards per carry, adding three touchdowns.

Pitt was without Devin Street and while James Conner appeared to be ready to go, was also held out just because, well, Bennett. In addition, the defense also played without a healthy Todd Thomas. After the game, Chryst noted it was because he doesn't play in nickel and dime packages, and that's what Pitt ran. Frankly, I'm not sure how your best linebacker doesn't get on the field there - just a really puzzling move that I'd like to hear more about. All Thomas has done this year (well, okay - other than threatening to quit the team) is make plays. I want him on the field regardless of the scheme and Pitt needs to find a way to use him as much as possible IMO.

Certain players fit certain schemes - I get it. But you also find homes for stars ... and that's what Thomas is on this defense.

The passing game was thoroughly overshadowed by ODU's as well. Tom Savage threw for only 104 yards to Taylor Heinicke's 312. Against a weak defense, it would have been nice to get more out of Savage. But with Bennett toting the rock 30 times and doing it so well, I mean, you can't really complain too much about the passing attack taking a night off - especially since Devin Street had the night off. And for all the things I criticized the staff about during the game (throwing late when they should have been running the clock out, more soft defense, not having the team ready to start the game, etc.), they realized that Bennett was capable of having a big night and continually went to him.

Overall, not an inspiring game for Pitt fans. And unfortunately, we continue to see this team not dominate the weaker teams on the schedule. But while the 'a win is a win' theme is wearing thin, fact is that Pitt is still 4-2 and at this point in the season, that's what many of us would have predicted.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and manager/editor of Cardiac Hill @AnsonWhaley

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