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Bulls, Bears & Panthers: Analyzing Week 1

Pitt football had its 2013 IPO on Monday night against Florida State. The market is open and we're back in action with Bulls, Bears and Panthers.


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, unit etc. which is upward trending) and a Bear (one 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.

The bubble of excitement surrounding the Panthers - built up by months of compounded ACC fanfare - began to leak some air on Monday after the 41-13 route by the Seminoles. But, the game allowed us to finally observe the 2013 Pitt team, so here are this week's bull and bear.

Bull (upward trending): Tyler Boyd

In his first college start (and first college game) receiver Tyler Boyd flashed the brilliance we were all hoping for. Every time he touched the ball, it seemed that the offense got a spark.

Boyd was marvelous (when he was permitted to be), as he carried the ball three times for 54 yards, caught two passes for 26 more and returned three kicks for 71 yards.

Eight touches for 151 yards — that worked out to almost 19 yards each time the football found Boyd’s hands.

The logical deduction is that it needs to do so a lot more.

Boyd was unequivocally the bright spot of the game for me. He stood out, made impact plays, and racked up some great numbers on a limited number of touches. Although it's just one game, he looks to be the star he was billed as and I'd expect him to play an increasingly vital role to the team's offense going forward. After Week 1, people are buying Tyler Boyd.

Bear (downward trending): Matt House

Matt House's dubious hiring as defensive coordinator back in February didn't sit well with a lot of people and his debut as coordinator did nothing to allay those concerns. In a word, Monday night's defense was pathetic.

Pitt's defense spent most of the night basically sitting back and watching. Chryst and defensive coordinator Matt House seldom mixed up schemes to confuse Winston, seldom set up their secondary within 10 yards of Florida State's receivers at the line, and almost never blitzed. The reasoning was that they couldn't manage all the speed and all the straight-arrow routes, but the fact is the Panthers' secondary couldn't cover anything, anyway, so why not go for it?

This was a defense only Gandhi could have loved: Passive resistance, and hope for the best.

Given the huge talent difference between Florida State's wide receivers and Pitt's defensive backs, I theoretically understand what I think was House's plan: drop back, play soft coverage, and try to contain the offense. I get that - but that doesn't explain why the tackling was so putrid or why Pitt ran basically the same defensive formation the entire game with almost no adjustments. I'm sure it'll be improved next week against manageable New Mexico, but the fundamentals better be markedly improved and adjustments better be made, or else House's stock will continue to plummet.

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