I have a question for all of you “baby boomers” out there. Do any of you remember the old advertising pitch by ‘Esso’ now Exxon; “put a tiger in your tank.” What about the one thing that we heard over and over again in regards to quenching our thirst, well at least before we were forced to pay for H2O? Do things really go better with Coke? Was Ajax laundry detergent really “stronger than dirt?”
All of the aforementioned advertising slogans were meant to do two things; tap into our psyches and our pocketbooks.
I arrived at Heinz Field Saturday for the University of Pittsburgh’s opening game. My mental engine was revved up what with all of this hyped talk of Pitts’ new “high octane” offense being matched up with Buffalo who had a 2-10 record in 2010 and also with the possibility of seeing an offensive game plan that consisted of more than handing the ball off to LaSean McCoy or Dion Lewis. The Vegas line was Buffalo +30. There are now a few disappointed gamblers with a little bit more helium in their pockets.
The offensive philosophy of Panthers new Head Coach Todd Graham may eventually morph into a prolific scoring offensive machine but in their matchup against Buffalo, the Pitt offense had a “kitty kat” in their gas tank as opposed to a roaring tiger and a tank full of “hi-test.” Starting quarterback Tino Sunseri hails from Central Catholic, the alma mater of Dan Marino. Marino went on to have a hall-of-fame career with the Miami Dolphins. You may write this down if you like; Tino Sunseri is not a reincarnation of Dante Marino.
If Pitt is going to excel in the no huddle, befuddle, rain puddle or any other “uddle” based offense, the strong armed, inaccurate Sunseri must find a warm comfortable splinter free spot at the end of the bench. Sunseri was 16-28 for a semi-measly 179 yards. But that was not the issue that I have with the junior QB. It was two terrible misses on deep balls with receivers running “scott” free. He was plagued with hit and miss “performances” in 2010 and if the game against Buffalo is any indicator, well there may be a lot of “quick” kicks called by Coach Graham during the 2011 season.
One component of the no huddle offense can come back to take a bite out of you. If your offense plays at the pace of a cheetah but scores like the “Slowsky” turtle family, Bill, Karolyn and Bill Jr., then your defense is going to be more than the opposing defense. Pitt’s defense was on the field for 93 plays. Can you believe that? The defense had better well have a lot of gas in their tank.
Buffalo converted 8 of 20 third down opportunities to Pitt’s 8 of 11. If this were almost any other team than Buffalo, the Panthers would more than likely be 0-1 as opposed to 1-0. Pitt still tried to run the wheels off of junior tailback Ray Graham. Pitt ran 66 plays on offense. Graham ran 29 of those plays. Need I say more?
Pitt had better nip this quarterback situation in the butt while it is still fresh. However, I seriously doubt that they will because there is a certain local boy Pittsburgh, Pitt lineage thing that oftentimes takes over when it comes to placing players on the field. It seems as if the “yinzers” always get the longest and most positive evaluations. Talk about “affirmative action” well in the Steel City, the “ayes” don’t have it but you can bet your sweet bippy that the “yinzers” do. See there is not a good “ole” boys’ or good “young” boys’ network. There is just the “going dawntawn and get some eggs ‘n’ att” network.
The Pittsburgh media has all of a sudden developed the patience of “Job” (pronounced Jobe) when it comes to the head coaches at Pitt. According to my estimation of time, more than thirty minutes elapsed before Graham came out to address the media. If he called himself marking his territory then he urinated on the wrong pole. Heinz Field was constructed primarily for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the last time I checked the Steelers head coach is a guy named Mike Tomlin, whose players get paid for rendering their services. Graham does not have to worry about salary caps, unrestricted and restricted and free agents.You know, real fiscal matters. Graham had better not start off with any ego obstacles in regards to the media, well if he has any sense anyway. I take that back because the Pittsburgh media may be a bit more tolerant with him because he may be more identifiable to them in regards to what a head coach should look like, talk like and act like. I dare Mike Tomlin to take over 30 minutes to come and address the media and he has taken his team to two Super Bowls. I know, I know I’m rambling again but hey, this is what I do. Later………..
(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-583-6741.)