By RJ Sepich
2012-13 Old Dominion Season Review
Notable Team Stats:
The Wilder File
Taking a look at the Monarchs
2. Running game also packs a punch - Leading rusher Tyree Lee (864 yards) returns for his junior season as the Monarchs' starting tailback. While Old Dominion's offense revolves around the passing game, it certainly isn't a one-dimensional attack. Monarch ball carriers posted 2,007 yards and 34 touchdowns on the ground last season, with the shifty Heinicke also a threat to scramble for yardage when passing plays break down.
Keys to Victory
2. Get to Heinicke - There's no denying that Old Dominion's quarterback had a sensational season in 2012. But Heinicke did throw 14 interceptions last season, which shows that he can be mistake-prone. If Aaron Donald and the rest of the Pitt defensive line can put pressure on Heinicke and get the passing lanes of the 6-foot-1 signal caller, the Monarch passing attack could be in for a rough day. However, if the Panthers can't get in the ODU backfield, the reigning FCS Player of the Year has the ability to likewise make it a long day for the Pitt secondary.
2. Control the ball on offense - Perhaps the best way to ensure that Old Dominion's star quarterback doesn't have a big day would be to keep him off the field as much as possible. The Monarch defense struggled to hold opponents off the scoreboard for much of last season, and Pitt must take advantage of that fact when it has the football. Establishing the running game, dominating the line of scrimmage, sustaining long drives on offense and winning the time-of-possession battle will all be crucial for Coach Paul Chryst's team.
Check back for a preview of Pitt's Week Seven Opponent, Navy.
June 2013 Archives
I guess this week's photo was more difficult than we thought! The most common answer was Todd Thomas.
The player in the picture is however...
Defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
Donald (Pittsburgh, Pa./Penn Hills) helped Pitt hold then-undefeated Notre Dame to just six points through three quarters in last season's matchup with the Fighting Irish, although the Panthers eventually fell short in a triple overtime classic, 26-23.
The stout defensive tackle was one of the main reasons the Panthers' defensive unit continuously improved throughout the 2012 campaign. Leading last season's squad in tackles for loss (18.5), sacks (5.5) and quarterback hits (11), Donald could finish his career as one of the most productive pass rushers in Pitt history. And with numerous college football experts predicting him to be one of the best defensive linemen in the country, Donald hopes to live up to those expectations this year and become the latest Panther to earn All-America honors.
By R.J. Sepich
Any play can change the outcome of the game. But
truly great plays and moments transcend the games they alter, lasting in the
memories of fans, players and coaches for as long as those who witnessed the
play are alive.
Here are some of the plays that you picked as
your "Most Electrifying Play in Pitt Sports History":
Jerome Lane "Sends It In" at the Fitzgerald Field House - Jan. 25, 1988
It's pretty rare for an athletic achievement to delay a game for more than 30 minutes. That's what happened when Pitt forward Jerome Lane received a pass from point guard Sean Miller on a fast break in the first half of a Big East battle against the Providence Friars, jumped to dunk and put the ball through the hoop with so much force that it ripped the rim off and shattered the backboard glass.
"Jerome Lane breaking the backboard probably is the most electrifying Pitt sports moment ever," Jacob Timlin responded to our Facebook question.
But not only is the play one of the most memorable moments in Pitt history, it also holds a place in college basketball history. With the game broadcasting live to a national audience, ESPN's Bill Raftery produced a call to match Lane's awe-inspiring dunk: "Send it in, Jerome!" Raftery famously yelled over the roar of the frenzied Fitzgerald Field House crowd.
Although the game was overshadowed by the dunk, the final score ended up being almost as impressive as Lane's dunk, with Pitt trouncing Providence 90-56 for what was, at the time, the Panthers' largest ever Big East victory.
Darrelle Revis' Backyard Brawl Punt Return - Nov. 16, 2006
Like Lane's dunk, the 2006 Backyard Brawl football game is remembered by Pitt fans more for one sensational play than the final outcome.
With both teams trading points and the score tied at 17 in an already entertaining first half, West Virginia lined up to punt just before halftime. Pat McAfee's kick traveled over the head of Pitt punt returner Darrelle Revis, but the ball took a high bounce, allowing Revis to grab it at his own 27-yard line with his back facing the Mountaineers in pursuit of him.
Revis further retreated to the 20-yard line before turning around and doing what every punt returner is told not to do. He stopped. A quick first step to his right gave Revis a little more space and allowed Derek Kinder to help him out with a (legal) bone-crunching block that wiped two Mountaineers completely out of the play.
"The Darrelle Revis punt return right before halftime of the WVU game," fan Kotas Jackson said. "Derek Kinder threw one of the most devastating blocks I have ever seen!"
Kinder's block helped Revis get to the sideline, but he still had a lot of work to do. He juked a defender at the 26-yard line, tiptoed the sideline to reach midfield, broke another tackle at the West Virginia 25-yard line and spun around one more defender before trotting into the end zone.
The exhausting play, which was nominated for ESPN's "Play of the Year" at the 2007 ESPYs and won "College Play of the Year," lasted 24 crazy seconds, sending Heinz Field into pandemonium and giving Pitt a 24-17 advantage.
The No. 8 Mountaineers recovered to outscore Pitt 28-3 the rest of the game, holding off the Panthers' upset bid by a final score of 45-27.
Marino-to-Brown Connection Wins Pitt the Sugar Bowl - Jan. 1, 1982
Down by three points with 42 seconds remaining in the 1982 Sugar Bowl, Pitt faced a 4th-and-5 at the Georgia 33-yard line. Coach Jackie Sherrill had a choice: attempt a 50-yard field goal for the tie, or go for the victory. He thought the former option made more sense, but star quarterback Dan Marino convinced him to pick the latter choice.
"I asked Danny what he thought," Sherrill said after the game, "and he wanted to go for the win. Since he thought he could do it, I went along with him."
The gutsy decision paid off. Marino dropped back and rifled a pass down the middle of the field, splitting two Georgia defenders and finding receiver John Brown in the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.
Lae Pitt was one of many fans to select this play: "Dan Marino to John Brown to win the Sugar Bowl! I was there, it was awesome!"
The 24-20 triumph gave Pitt its second Sugar Bowl trophy, with the other victory also coming against Georgia in the 1977 Sugar Bowl.
Levance Fields' 3-pointer in OT Beats Duke - Dec. 20, 2007
In a battle of top-10 teams at Madison Square Garden, Pitt got the better of Duke thanks to a memorable step-back 3-pointer in the final seconds of overtime by point guard Levance Fields.
After trailing by as many as 16 in the first half, the Panthers battled back in the second half and forced overtime with a last-second defensive stand in regulation.
Pitt had to fight against more adversity when redshirt senior and team leader Mike Cook suffered a devastating knee injury early in the extra period. Cook's best friend on the team, Fields, ensured that Cook's final game didn't end in defeat.
Down by two points in the final moments and with possession of the ball, Pitt inbounded the ball to Fields. Duke defended well, and Fields took the only remaining option available to him: hoist an off-balance, fade-away jumper behind the arc. The clutch shot swished through the net with six seconds left to give the Panthers a 65-64 lead, the Blue Devils missed two desperation shots at the other end and the Pitt bench broke out in jubilant celebration, with Fields almost accidentally kicking Coach Dixon in the face as a teammate raised the hero of the game in the air.
Allen Stern said that this was his favorite Pitt play: "Fields' winning shot against Duke! I was there!"
Fields and the Panthers ended up enjoying another incredible moment at MSG later that season when they won four games in four days in earn the Big East Tournament Championship.
Other fan submissions included:
Chet Harhut: "The Billy Owens pick six against Penn State in 1987."
Vince Rodemer: "Ronald Ramon's 3 to beat WVU."
Elizabeth Churay Matherne: "1999 Pitt vs Notre Dame, Kevan Barlow scores the last TD in old Pitt Stadium right in front of the band section."
Christopher Bowling: "Any play that beats any Penn State team."
Brian Patrick Heffron: "Keith Gavin winning NCAA's [in wrestling]."
And once again, Pitt gymnastics head coach Debbie Yohman contributed: "Alyse Zeffiro's 10.0 Vault against WVU. Even WVU coaching staff thought it was perfect!"
ESPN.com is highlighting each week's ultimate ACC road trip throughout the football season. It's no surprise that Pitt's Sept. 2 matchup with Florida State at Heinz Field is mentioned as a "can't miss" contest.
"You can't miss the Labor Day opener at Heinz Field, when Pittsburgh will take on one of the best programs in the ACC in what will be the Panthers' first game as a member of the conference. It will be a nationally-televised game that will mean something to the conference race, and it will be the first chance of the season to see both programs under the direction of their new quarterbacks."
Do you have your tickets for this can't miss matchup? Fans can call the Panthers Ticket Office at 800-643-PITT (7488) or can reach us on the web for tickets.
October 12, 2013 - TBA
Lane Stadium/Worsham Field - Blacksburg, VA
Buy Season Tickets - 2013 Pitt Football
By Pat Bostick
The Last Time
Check out Pitt Live Wire's video recap of the Panthers' huge victory.
2012-13 Virginia Tech Season Review
Entering his 27th season at the helm of the Virginia Tech Football Program, Frank Beamer has come to define the measure of success in college football - winning. Under his leadership, the Hokies have appeared in 20 consecutive bowl games, won four ACC titles, five ACC Coastal Division crowns, three Big East championships, made six BCS appearances and earned a trip to the national title game. A Virginia Tech grad, Beamer is the winningest active coach in the FBS with 258 career victories. The only thing missing from his resume, you ask? A win at Heinz Field - his teams are 0-3 on the Panthers' home turf since its opening in 2001.
Loeffler charged with revamping VT Offense, QB Thomas in 2013
After being named Second-Team All-ACC in 2011, Virginia Tech senior quarterback Logan Thomas saw his performance drop off in 2012. His completion percentage plummeted, dropping from 60% in 2011 to 51% last season. He also threw six more interceptions. As Thomas' productivity decreased, so did the effectiveness of the Hokie Offense. Virginia Tech finished 9th in the ACC in Total Offense in 2012 as compared to 3rd in 2011.
Enter Scot Loeffler; Frank Beamer's newly appointed offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Loeffler, a Michigan graduate, has worked with the likes of Tom Brady, Tim Tebow, Brian Griese, Chad Henne, Drew Henson and John Navarre during his 15 year coaching career. His career stops include a six-year stint at his alma mater and two years at Florida. Most recently, he served as offensive coordinator at Temple (2011) and Auburn (2012). Loeffler's ability to adapt his scheme to different quarterbacking styles (i.e. John Navarre vs. Tim Tebow) bodes well for Thomas and the Hokie offense in 2013.
Looking at the Hokies
2. Returner at running back - Though he didn't enter the 2012 season as Tech's starter, sophomore J.C. Coleman returns as the Hokies' feature back for 2013. He showed tremendous improvement over the course of his first active season. Playing in all 13 games and starting six, Coleman rushed for 492 yards on 109 carries in 2012, scoring 2 touchdowns. He also added 21 receptions for 132 yards and a score. Alongside Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech's leading rusher in 2012 (174 att., 524 yards, 9 TD), I would expect Coleman to be a big part of the Hokies' offense in 2013.
Defense: 2 starters lost, 9 returning
Keys to Victory
2. Watch last year's tape - If there is a blueprint to flustering QB Logan Thomas, it can be found on last year's game tape. Get after him, contain him and force him to make tight throws. I do think he will be better this season, but I believe Pitt's defense will be also.
Check back next for a preview of Pitt's week 6 Opponent, Old Dominion.
So, our first "Caption That Photo" was a fun one. We couldn't manufacture this photo again if we wanted to - although I'm sure Todd Thomas would like to try!
Yunuen M. Valenzuela: "Look ma! No hands!"
Anthony Moretti: "Superman told me this was easy."
Wayne Hulse: "I believe I can fly!"
Scottie Klinger: "Uhhh...How do I get down?"
Elizabeth Cromwell Austin: "Does someone need a hug?"
Matt Bithell: "It's a bird, it's a plane, no, it's a Panther!"
Jeremy Helinski: "That escalated quickly."
Dave Roman Jr.: "Pitt Football...Soaring into the ACC!"
Michael Stahl: "Pitt Airlines Flight 8, you're cleared for landing on Runway 12..."
Daniel Marlowe: "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, Pitt is the greatest, we're going to the ACC."
Nate Wrigley: "Where you going, bro? I just want a hug."
Ross Kowalsky: "The weather for today will be partly cloudy with a chance of Todd Thomas by mid-afternoon..."
Timothy Arbes: "How to squeeze an Orange, Panther style..."
@tanman_82: it's a bird, it's a plane, its Todd Thomas
@PittScot: "ACC, this is Pitt Football flight control: we're cleared for landing."
Video credit: Paths of Glory: 100 Years of PItt Football
By R.J. Sepich
As the Pitt football team prepares for its first season in the ACC, many Panther fans would select a legendary quarterback wearing No. 13 to receive an extra year of eligibility and be under center next fall if they had their wish.
We asked fans this week if they could select any former Pitt student-athlete to earn another year of eligibility to suit up for the Panthers, who would it be? Dan Marino was a popular pick for Pitt fans.
By R.J. Sepich
Although the Panthers and Hokies have only ever met each other 12 times in football, the two schools developed a fierce athletic rivalry as Big East foes in the 1990s and early 2000s. That rivalry will be renewed when Pitt joins Virginia Tech in the Atlantic Coast Conference this year.
Virginia Tech holds a 7-5 edge in the all-time football series against the Panthers, but Pitt has won four consecutive games against the Hokies from Blacksburg, Va.
Pitt will travel to Virginia Tech's Lane Stadium on Oct. 12 for an ACC Coastal Division football battle.
Most Recent Football Matchup: Pitt 35, Virginia Tech 17 - Sept. 15, 2012
Another former Big East rival that the Panthers will resume annual clashes against is the University of Miami. Like Virginia Tech, Miami left the Big East for the ACC in 2004, temporarily discontinuing yearly matchups with Pitt.
The history books show that the Hurricanes have enjoyed success on the football field against their new Coastal Division foes, boasting a 22-9-1 all-time record against Pitt and winning their last seven encounters with the Panthers.
Pitt football will hope to end its losing streak against Miami when the Hurricanes come to Heinz Field for a much-anticipated regular-season finale on Nov. 29.
Most Recent Football Matchup: Miami 31, Pitt 3 - Sept. 23, 2010
Whether on the football field or the basketball court, there's no lack of familiarity between Pitt and Syracuse. And fortunately for fans and student-athletes alike, the good-spirited athletic rivalry between the two schools will continue as the Panthers and Orange both join the ACC this year.
Although Syracuse enters the Atlantic Division while Pitt joins the Coastal Division, the two schools will continue a football rivalry that has been played every season since 1955 as annual crossover opponents. Coach Paul Chryst's Panthers will hope to improve on their 34-31-3 all-time record against the Orange when they travel to the Carrier Dome on Nov. 23.
Most Recent Football Matchup: Syracuse 14, Pitt 13 - Oct. 5, 2012