Bulls, Bears & Panthers is a weekly column that brings the buzz of Wall Street to Forbes and Fifth. Well…minus the suspenders. In all seriousness, this is our weekly analysis of Pitt football’s stock. Each week during the season, I take a look back at the Panthers’ most recent game and select a Bull (a player, coach etc. which is upward trending) and a Bear (a player, coach etc. which is downward trending). Believe me, this is always lots of fun because just like in the stock market, in college football, you never quite know what a new day will bring.
Pitt's first ACC win against Duke on Saturday - a bizarre shootout with a final score that looked more like basketball - highlighted loads of positives, but also underscored some serious negatives. The Panthers' stock is up heading into homecoming weekend, but probably not as much as we'd like. This week's bull and bear are as follows:
Bull (upward trending): QB Tom Savage
Of all the exhilarating things we saw on offense, to me, the man under center was hands down the best. Savage had a monster game - completing 23 of 33 passes for 424 yards and six touchdowns - which led to being named Walter Camp National Offensive Player of the Week. Here's an awesome video of all six of Savage's touchdown passes, including a couple beautiful deep balls.
It's undoubtedly clear that Pitt has some special receivers in Tyler Boyd and Devin Street and they deserve mucho recognition. But for this week, Savage is king in my book since he's the one actually making the throws down field - something Pitt has been deprived of since Bill Stull in 2009. Now, it would be hard for Savage to repeat such an outstanding performance and honestly he probably won't. But after this game, Savage's stock is shooting upward.
Bear (downward trending): Defensive Coordinator Matt House
Our defense allowed 55 points to Duke. And no, this isn't basketball. Somehow, despite forcing four turnovers, Pitt's defense gave up 532 yards of offense to the Blue Devils (one less than they allowed vs. #8 Florida State). ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Seriously, I really can't wrap my head around this.
For the second time this season, defensive coordinator Matt House's unit looked completely ineffectual. No adjustments, no pressure, no tight coverage. Just soft, bad defense. I could handle a dismantling at the hands of Florida State, but Duke? C'mon. For the year, House's defense is now the worst in college football, allowing 41 points per game. Pitt had a strong defense last season and returned eight starters this year. The biggest difference is House, and for that reason, his stock continues to plummet.