Pitt expects hostile environment in Blacksburg
Pitt sophomore tight end J.P. Holtz knows what to expect from Virginia Tech on Saturday in noisy, hostile Lane Stadium.
“They are going to be out to get us,” he said.
Virginia Tech has a score to settle with the Panthers, who surprised and defeated the Hokies, then ranked No. 13, 35-17, last year at Heinz Field.
“I think we had a good offensive game plan and coaches had us prepared for them,” Holtz said. “I thought they came out and took us lightly and thought they were going to beat us. But we came out and played really well together.”
Senior wide receiver Devin Street said the Virginia Tech defense is improved — first in the nation in interceptions (13) and fifth overall — with the addition of two dynamic freshmen cornerbacks Brandon Facyson and Kendall Fuller. Facyson leads the ACC with four interceptions and Fuller is one of four Hokies with two each.
“We are definitely going to have to respect them,” Street said.
But familiarity could lead to confidence among Pitt's players.
“Because we played them last year (and) they brought back a lot of those guys, I think we can exploit their weaknesses a little bit,” Street said.The rematch in Blacksburg, Va., finds the Hokies still among the top 25 (No. 24), with five victories in their first six games. Their only loss was in the opener to No. 1 Alabama.
“They create confusion and uncertainty,” Pitt offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph said of Virginia Tech's unique 4-2-5 alignment that often puts five defensive backs on the field.
“They have some great players back there and they are not afraid to let them play,” he said. “They challenge you to get the ball downfield.
“They put their guys in position to make plays. It's a challenging prep.”If that's true, the game is setting up as an interesting matchup. Pitt's strength is the deep passing game, which is third in the ACC in yards per attempt (9.6), behind only Florida State and Miami. The Panthers could be walking into a trap, especially if the running game (11th in the ACC) continues to falter and Pitt can't protect quarterback Tom Savage, who was sacked seven times by Virginia in its most recent game.
Savage, who will play in his first game since getting hit in the head 11 days ago, has thrown six interceptions in four games.
Perhaps, he will look a little longer at his tight ends, who usually run quicker-developing, intermediate routes.
So far, Street and Tyler Boyd have 44 of Pitt's 65 receptions. Meanwhile four tight ends have combined for only 10 while their blocking duties have increased.
“You would like to have more catches,” Holtz said, “but you have to do what you can do to help the team out.”
Rudolph said Pitt needs better blocking from everyone.
“Virginia did a nice job of pressuring us and there were times we just had breakdowns and weren't able to hold up,” Rudolph said. “It was across the board we didn't get it done.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pitt AD Barnes has enjoyed varied career in college sports
- Pitt lands shooting guard from Coppin State
- Pitt football notebook: ‘No. 1 safety’ Mitchell asked to step up
- Nice meal on line in Pitt spring game
- Pitt hires Utah State’s Barnes as its next athletic director
- Top 30 guard shooting Heron decommits from Pitt