How will Pitt pressure Clausen?
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Q: Notre Dame probably has the best offensive line Pitt will see this year. Given that the defensive line has had an inconsistent pass rush, do you expect the Panther's defensive to find other ways to apply pressure on Jimmy Clausen?
Mark Schilajew, Huntingdon, Pa.
ZEISE: Not much. The other day Dave Wannstedt was talking about blitzing and said that he doesn't think that the Panthers have blitzed more than a dozen or so times all year. The number is probably a little higher than that but not much -- Pitt just does not blitz. Wannstedt is very much sold on his philosophy and rightfully so -- it has worked well for him his enitre career. That being said -- you are right, against this offensive line I can't see how they will get pressure without bringing extra guys down and blitzing at least a few times. I know the Panthers defensive line has been extremely good but this offensive line is very good at protecting Clausen. This will be a very interesting chess match to watch. I'm guessing the Panthers will hold true to form and blitz very little just because that's how the defense is designed. Of course the reverse of that is --- if they do blitz it could mean they have to leave, oh I don't know, Ricky Gary out on an island one-on-one with Golden Tate or Michael Floyd and, well, I'm not sure that is a matchup that favors Pitt.
Q: We have a big, tough line, good receivers, and excellend running backs- so why do we seem to have a tough time punching it in when we get inside the 2?
Chris Anitori, Powell, Ohio
ZEISE: I don't know that Pitt is quite patient enough with the run down there. I thought the waggle pass on third down was ridiculous -- they had run down the field on Syracuse to get to that point. I really think on second, third and fourth down they needed to just run, once or twice with Henry Hynoski and once or twice with Dion Lewis. I also think that if they are going to throw, they need to decide to throw on first down and go play action because by second down teams have been ready for it. But you are right, this should be an area of strength and I think it could be, but I haven't seen enough sequences where they are committed to pounding it in and run it down hill four times in a row.
Q: Paul, if Pitt was to win its next two games, then lose to Cincinnati, is there any rule in place as a result of the Big East's Gator Bowl affiliation that would give the Panthers and automatic bid if they were two better in the loss column than Notre Dame? Or is it invite-only, meaning that the Irish would definitely get the nod over a 10-2 Pitt program that doesn't travel well and doesn't have a national fan base?
Michael Cunningham, Wilkinsburg
ZEISE: This is an obviously hot topic but here is the best I can tell you -- there is no two-win rule in the contracts between the Big East and the Gator/Sun Bowls. However, both bowls (and the Sun is irrelevant because this year it is the Gator's turn to take a Big East team), according to the Big East, have said they would honor the two-win rule if there is indeed a 10-win Big East team. So this is the best answer I can give you. An 8-4 Notre Dame team is a lock to go to the Gator Bowl regardless if there is a 10-win team from the Big East. Now, if Pitt beats Cincy and Cincy is 11-1 and Notre Dame is 8-4, well, that, like if there was a 7-5 Notre Dame team and a 10-win Big East team - that is a lot more of a gray area. The Gator Bowl could theoretically take Notre Dame because it is within their rights in the contract and since it is the last year of the contract, who knows if they care about honoring their word or not with the Big East because that relationship has and is ending anyway. This will be very interesting -- the best I can say for Pitt is this -- just win the games necessary to get to the BCS and then you don't have to worry about it.
First Published November 10, 2009 2:54 pm