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Thread: Pitt to face ground attack from Syracuse

      
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    Default Pitt to face ground attack from Syracuse

    Pitt to face ground attack from Syracuse
    Wednesday, October 13, 2010
    By Paul Zeise, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    Bucking one of college football's most fashionable and recent trends, Syracuse has replaced the spread offense with a pro-style attack predicated on two seemingly antiquated ideas -- dominating the line of scrimmage by being tougher than your opponents and a powerful running game.

    Pitt (2-3) will play Syracuse (4-1) Saturday at the Carrier Dome, and, according to Pitt defensive coordinator Phil Bennett, the Orange's change in philosophy from a year ago is a big reason for its fast start.

    "They've really simplified their offense; it is obvious that they are not near the penalized team or mistake team that they were a year ago," Bennett said. "They are all on the same page, the quarterback has played well, they've simplified some of his reads and they've got the ball to their strengths -- their two running backs. They have done a really good job."

    While Syracuse is third in the Big East Conference in turnover margin and second in total turnovers, the Orange are the most-penalized team in the conference (46 total, 73.6 yards per game average).

    But Syracuse was at or near the bottom of the conference in nearly every significant offensive category last year. Now, they are close to the middle.

    Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt has been impressed by how well the Orange have adapted to the pro-style offense under second-year coach Doug Marrone and first-year quarterbacks coach/pass-game coordinator Nathanial Hackett.

    The last name of that coordinator might be familiar to Pitt fans as he is the son of former Pitt coach and current Oakland Raiders assistant Paul Hackett.

    Nathanial Hackett spent the past three years working as an assistant in the NFL, and Wannstedt said he can see that league's influence on the offense.

    He also said it is clear when you watch the Orange, "they are running the ball, they are very similar to us." "They will use two tight ends, they will use two backs, they will use three receivers. But what we know is they are going to be physical.

    "And, when you run the ball, it gives your defense a chance to play better because they are going to be more rested, you generally are going to have less turnovers and that will let you have better field position. And the play-action passing game opens up when you run the ball -- and that is what they've done and they've reaped the benefits of it."

    Syracuse's running game, like Pitt's, is powered by two running backs, and both are very good. Delone Carter, however, has been more of the featured back, rushing 99 times for 524 yards (5.3 yards per carry) as the fourth-leading rusher in the conference.

    The other tailback is Antwon Bailey (33 carries, 195 yards).

    Stopping those two is the No. 1 challenge this week for the Panthers' defense, but neither Bennett nor Wannstedt tipped their hand on how often they might use their base 4-3 defense or what that means for the linebackers.

    Senior Dom DeCicco has started the past two games at weak-side linebacker, but that was against spread teams and he played a combination role of linebacker, safety and nickle back.

    If the Panthers rely on their base defense to take on a more physical offense, DeCicco may return to strong safety.

    If that occurs, the outside linebackers will be some combination of Tristan Roberts, Greg Williams and perhaps redshirt freshman Shane Gordon.

    "It just depends; it is a game of matchups," Bennett said when asked about DeCicco's status. "We are going to have to see where we are at injury-wise. It has been a struggle every week because we have lost somebody. I've been proud of the way these guys have responded -- [but] we're not where we want to be.

    "Dom is a manster, and what I mean is he is a safety, he is a tweener and he can be anything we want him to be. He is 6 feet 3, 240 pounds, but it is about getting our best players on the field. Last week, I thought we needed to go in that direction [with DeCicco at linebacker]."

    And just because Syracuse's offense is similar to Pitt's, that does not mean it will be easier for the Panthers to deal with it than it was against the spread offenses they have faced the past few weeks.

    He said it still comes down to the Panthers knowing their assignments, making tackles and, most important, matching the Orange's physical play.

    "I think last year we only played one offense like this all year," Bennett said. "You still have to tackle, you still have to get the right fit. They do some hurry-up stuff, so it is a different scheme.

    "We feel like we can stop anything, and, once we got settled down at Notre Dame, I think you saw that."

    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10286/1094726-142.stm
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    Default Re: Pitt to face ground attack from Syracuse

    I really dislike Syracuse, please Pitt win this game...

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    Default Re: Pitt to face ground attack from Syracuse

    Quote Originally Posted by WYsteel View Post
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member. Show Quote
    I really dislike Syracuse, please Pitt win this game...
    I actually Picked Syracuse this week.... Even though Pitt has won the last 6 games or so, they habitually have issues in the Carrier Dome.... 'Cuse has a solid game attack that might befuddle Pitt.....
    "You only have one life, and you will not get out alive. Make the most of your time and have no regrets." - Me.

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