Pitt offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph met with the media today to chat about Pitt's offense and the challenge it'll face against against Notre Dame's renowned defense Saturday.
- Ray Graham had one of his best games of the season Saturday, with 109 yards on 19 carries and two touchdowns. I've said it before, but he has been much more decisive in his cuts and hitting the hole over the last couple of games. That's the style of running that works in Paul Chryst's offense, and Graham is finally starting to click in with it.
"Ray’s a special player. I thought you saw more confidence come out of him and put some of those plays on film, which is great for him," Rudolph said. "I think the group has talent, I think there’s kids that can make plays and, really, your job is to just put them in that spot to do it and that’s what we’re prepping for."
Pitt's running game is going to have to be at least reasonably productive Saturday if the Panthers want a chance to win, and I'm not totally convinced that can do it. The Irish have held all but three opponents under 100 rushing yards this season. That said, one of those three was Stanford a team that, despite its reputation, hasn't been that much better than Pitt at running the ball this season. I'll do a much more detailed breakdown post later this week, but I really think this is what it comes down to. If Pitt can run the ball efficiently and stay balanced against the Irish defense, they have a chance. If not, I don't think they do.
- One interesting note about Notre Dame's 30-13 win over Oklahoma is that, even though it's being hailed as a dominant defensive performance, the Irish defense actually gave up a season-high 364 yards in the air. If they adapt a similar defensive approach against Pitt, I don't think it's unreasonable to think that Tino Sunseri can put up some numbers, given his performance this season. If Sunseri doesn't throw any picks (he hasn't since the Virginia Tech game), that's another piece to the puzzle of what Pitt needs to pull off the upset.
"The results are on the film with those guys [Notre Dame's defense] and the results are in the scores," Rudolph said. "They’ve done an unbelievable job of holding teams from getting in the end zone. That’s what it’s all about.
"I think Oklahoma presents problems personnel-wise. I think they played smart. I think at times, teams kind of fall into their trap. When they get a turnover, when they create negative-yardage plays, they take advantage of it."
- In case you missed it, here's a link to my notebook from today about the recent injuries, names back on the jerseys and Paul Chryst's history of major upsets.