Pitt coach Graham defending offensive style

Jerry DiPaola
| Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011

Pitt coach Todd Graham refused to flinch Monday while defending his speed-based, high-risk approach to offense.

"Our whole philosophy of what we do is obviously not going to change," he said. "It is something I believe strongly in. As we progress and become more and more mentally and physically conditioned, we will get better."

Pitt held a 24-3 lead late in the third quarter Saturday before Iowa scored four touchdowns in 13:27 to win the game, 31-27, and record the largest comeback in school history.

Instead of slowing the game's tempo and exhausting time from the clock, Graham went with an increasingly aggressive offense, including throwing an incomplete pass on fourth-and-3 from the Iowa 36.

"We wouldn't have changed anything about our tempo in that game," he said. "That's not why we lost the game. We lost the game because we turned the football over and made too many mental errors."

Graham said changing methods of operation is difficult to do in the midst of a game.

"There are times we will strategically slow down and do things differently," he said, "but when you are running an offense, offense is about rhythm. You can't just change the rhythm and expect to be successful."

Former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz, asked about the general growth of no-huddle offenses in college football, said it can have mixed results.

"That fast pace works great when you are playing an inferior opponent," he said. "You can call plays very quickly when it is second-and-1, but when it's third-and-7, there isn't anything that comes to your mind real quick."

Immediately after the game, Graham second-guessed his decision not to punt on fourth down in the fourth quarter, but he wondered yesterday if punting would have made a difference.

"I don't know if that would have changed the game," he said.

Graham said with the defense struggling in the second half, Pitt needed to score more points.

"We weren't doing a very good job of stopping them, and I have a lot of confidence in our offense, and we are going to be aggressive," he said, almost defiantly.

But he did ask himself questions after the game.

"There are lots of things that we would have done differently, some calls that didn't work on both sides of the ball and the kicking game that you would like to change," he said. "There is not any time I ever lose a football game where I wouldn't have done something differently."

Graham also directed blame toward himself and his coaching staff, admitting there was some confusion on defense.

"There was. There absolutely was," he said. "A couple of times, they had the wrong call, which was a communication problem. That's our fault as coaches. We had blitzes called where guys didn't go, or guys went from 4 yards deep."

Asked about making adjustments to shore up the defense, Graham said: "It's really been frustrating. We felt like we have done that.

"We absolutely beat ourselves by making critical errors, not being assignment-oriented and operating outside the system."

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