Things looked like they might go differently out of the gate.
Pitt scored on its first two drives and three of its first four drives, including one of the best hurdles that you will ever see. The Panthers went to halftime down by seven but the game was within reach.
However, the offense completely died out in the second half. The Volunteers defense played extremely well, but the home team’s defense sputtered out entirely.
Nick Patti, Slovis’ replacement, went 9 of 20 for just 79 yards and a score. And after averaging 7.6 yards per play in the first 30 minutes, Pitt averaged just 2.9 yards in the second 30 and overtime.
While a large part of the problem was likely the change at quarterback, offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti Jr. is also responsible. The play-calling left a lot to be desired and lacked creativity.
The Panthers relied far too heavily on the run, which their opponents were expecting. There were multiple instances in which the play should’ve been checked to play action or an option and wasn’t.
Tennessee’s defense sent a heavy blitz throughout the entire second half and ate the offensive line alive for much of the game after it got settled early on. And yet, Cignetti chose to continue handing the ball off up the middle.
It didn’t work. Pittsburgh got worked and really it shouldn’t have been as close as it was.
In the end, a lack of offensive output proved costly and the Vols were the victors. Narrowly, somehow.
After the game, ESPN’s broadcast went off of the air on ABC but did not cut the tape on the streaming app.
As a result, broadcasters Todd Blackledge and Sean McDonough remained live on the air without knowing. They acted as if they would off of camera and broke down how poorly the Pittsburgh offense played on a completely hot mic.
Blackledge also kept randomly saying “Sacagawea” and McDonough can be heard saying “ESPN app, screw it.” In addition, they discussed the potential of a storybook ending that did not happen.
The father Pittsburgh’s offensive coordinator, Frank Cignetti Sr., passed away on Saturday. He had a chance to win the game with a backup quarterback but could not. Many Vols fans will take that as a slight to Tennessee.
Take a listen to the accidental on-air moment:
It could have been a lot worse. Neither Blackledge nor McDonough said anything out of line and were simply speaking the truth. They could have been derogatory, they could have said something they shouldn’t have. Even still, the Panthers fans were not happy with the duo for their negativity toward the losing team.
Maybe Pitt should have played better then! *shrug*