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The Turning Point: Toss Sweep

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Pitt had a chance for a big road win, but a conservative play call cost them

Pitt v Oklahoma State Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images

Pitt’s 45-38 loss to Oklahoma State had its fair share of twists and turns. Believe me, I was keeping track. I was all ready to hand it to Matt Galambos’ fumble recovery for a TD and then I thought long and hard about giving it to the weather delay. I never thought I would give “The Turning Point” to the weather, but I was set to do that, as it killed some nice momentum Pitt had, at the time. However, if I did that, I felt like it would let offensive coordinator, Matt Canada, off the hook. You could say the coaching staff, as I’m sure, at this stage, Pat Narduzzi has some say in the calls. I think this one is on him and the coaching staff.

The interesting thing is that Anson sort of wrote about this exact thing, earlier this week. At some point, Pitt has to trust Nate Peterman. He’s a fifth-year senior and he should be able to give the defense at least a little fear of a passing threat. I thought we had reached that point with about three-and-a-half minutes left in the game last night.

Pitt’s defense had turned it around in the second half. Oklahoma State went from trying to break all of their offensive records to just trying to eek out a win. After the weather delay, neither offense could get back on track, but finally, the Panthers got some momentum.

With about five minutes remaining, and the score tied, Pitt started to move the ball. They got close to midfield and were faced with a third-and-four. They need four yards here and they would be in prime position to continue a game winning drive. Oklahoma State was giving up some runs, but had stoned Conner as well, after the weather delay. It was time to put the ball in Peterman’s hands and let him find an open man for four yards. Instead, Pitt called for a toss sweep to Conner, which lost five yards. That led to a punt and then a slip by cornerback Avonte Maddox sealed the Panthers’ fate.

I’m all for the Pitt running game and manning up and letting your offensive line win the game, but this was not the time for it. They didn’t need a yard or two...they needed four. They were a road underdog, with a chance for a huge win in crunch time. It was time to trust Peterman and they didn’t.

It reminded me of last year’s fourth down decision against Iowa. It cost them then to be conservative and it cost them now. The good news is that Narduzzi learned from that last season. Let’s hope he does this year too. The wide receivers and Peterman need to make plays to give Pitt some hope of really competing, but they can’t do it if they are never given the opportunity.

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