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Three thoughts: North Carolina 34, Pitt 27

Written by Sam Werner on .

Any momentum Pitt gained from last week's upset win against Notre Dame is gone, vanished into the Pittsburgh evening. The Panthers deserve some measure of credit for their improbable second-half comeback, but it's hard to argue you deserve a win after falling down 27-3. Here are three thoughts to end the night with...

  1. It may not have been the Notre Dame hangover, but Pitt didn't show up to play in the first half. I think you could argue either way whether or not Pitt struggled in the first half tonight because their minds were still stuck on last week's game. Pitt looked very strong on the first couple of series, driving the ball down the field against the Tar Heels. The first drive ended in a field goal, though, and the second one ended with a Tom Savage fumble (which Paul Chryst pointed to as the turning point in the first half). After that, it came down to the Pitt defense struggling to contain mobile North Carolina quarterback Marquise Williams, who ran for a pair of touchdowns in the first half. Pitt did a pretty good job stopping designed option runs from Williams, but struggled whenever he decided to freelance and scramble.
  2. The defense does deserve credit for the second half. For as bad as the unit was over the first 30 minutes, they were that good in the second half. North Carolina had 107 yards of total offense in the second half, and Williams ran for just 19. The defense, along with a couple of turnovers, did its job in the second half to get the ball back in the hands of the offense, which wasn't necessarily firing on all cylinders, but was doing enough to find the end zone in the situations they were in. I know defensive coordinator Matt House has come under fire this year, but the unit as a whole has played well at times this year. They've also had more than there share of struggles, but the second half was pretty good from the Pitt defense tonight.
  3. No reason to panic, but a golden opportunity squandered. This past week has been unlike any in Pitt football for a long time. There was optimism, talk of momentum and even debates over whether or not the Panthers could somehow sneak their way into the ACC title game. Seems kind of silly now, right? Pitt had a golden opportunity to close out this season with a nice winning streak and build some real momentum heading into the third year of the Paul Chryst era. Instead, it's more of the same from last year, fighting in your final games to secure a bowl bid. I think the team has made strides, and I don't think one loss to North Carolina is an indictment on the team or program as a whole, but it's losses like this that illustrate why it's so hard for Pitt to gain traction both within the city of Pittsburgh and college football as a whole.

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About the Devils - 11-16-13

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

A preview of the Devils.

When and where: 7 p.m. EST. Prudential Center.

TV: Root Sports, MSG Plus.

Record: 6-8-5, 17 points. The Devils are in fifth place in the Neapolitan Ice Cream Metropolitan Division.

Leading Scorer: Jaromir Jagr (right), 14 points (5 goals, 9 assists).

Last Game: 2-0 home loss to the Kings, last night. Cory Schneider made 19 saves for the Devils.

Last Game against the Penguins: 3-0 road loss, Oct. 3. Schneider made 18 saves for the Devils.

Devils Player We Would Bet Money On Scoring: Jagr. Just because.

Ex-Penguins on the Devils: Jaromir Jagr, RW.

Ex-Devils on the Penguins: Matt D'Agostini, RW; Deryk Engelland, D (Engelland was a former Devils draft pick but never played for the NHL organization); Bill Guerin, director of player development; Paul Martin, D.

Useless Devils Trivia Vaguely Related to the Penguins: Engelland and Martin two of three members of the Devils' 2000 draft class who have played for the Penguins. The other is center Mike Rupp.

Best Devils Video We Could Find: Rupp scoring the eventual Stanley Cup-clinching goal for the Devils against the Mighty Ducks in Game 7 of the 2003 Stanley Cup Final:

Probable goaltenders: The Penguins have not indicated if Marc-Andre Fleury (11-5-0, 2.00 GAA, .922 SV%) or Jeff Zatkoff (1-2-0, 3.36 GAA, .865 SV%) will start. Martin Brodeur (5-3-2, 2.08 GAA, .913 SV%) for the Devils.

Update: Fleury will start.

Injuries: For the Penguins, right winger Chuck Kobasew ("lower body"), defenseman Rob Scuderi (broken ankle) and goaltender Tomas Vokoun (blood clots) are on injured reserve. Defenseman Anton Volchenkov (pulled leg muscle) is day to day. Defensemen Jon Merrill (facial lacerations, concussion), Bryce Savlador (foot stress fracture) and left winger Ryane Clowe (concussion) are on injured reserve.

Potential lines and defensive pairings: The Penguins did not hold a morning skate today. These were their primary lines and defensive pairings last night against the Predators:

14 Chris Kunitz - 87 Sidney Crosby - 9 Pascal Dupuis
36 Jussi Jokinen - 71 Evgeni Malkin - 18 James Neal
19 Beau Bennett - 16 Brandon Sutter - 22 Matt D'Agostini
15 Tanner Glass - 46 Joe Vitale - 27 Craig Adams

3 Olli Maata - 58 Kris Letang
44 Brooks Orpik - 7 Paul Martin
2 Matt Niskanen - 5 Deryk Engelland

-The Devils held and optional skate today. These were their primary lines and defensive pairings against the Kings last night:

8 Dainius Zubrus - 19 Travis Zajac - 68 Jaromir Jagr
12 Damien Brunner - 26 Patrik Elias - 17 Michael Ryder
14 Adam Henrique - 21 Andrei Loktionov - 18 Steve Bernier
20 Ryan Carter - 11 Stephen Gionta - 25 Cam Janssen

6 Andy Greene - 2 Marek Zidlicky
10 Peter Harrold - 7 Mark Fayne
22 Eric Gelinas - 5 Adam Larsson

Note:

-The last time the Penguins played the Devils, this happened:

-The Devils are 11-3-0 in their past 14 home games against the Penguins.

-Our live blog, direct from our couch, begins at approximately 6:45 p.m. Please tune in.

(Photo: Post-Gazette archives)

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WVU routed by hapless Kansas, will miss first bowl game since 2001

Written by Stephen J. Nesbitt on .

As if West Virginia hadn't had its share of both insult and injury before Saturday, Kansas pushed the Mountaineers over the edge.

The Jayhawks pummeled West Virginia for more than 300 rushing yards and a 31-19 victory in Lawrence, Kan.

After scoring on its opening drive, West Virginia allowed 31 consecutive Kansas points. Before today, Kansas hadn't scored more than 19 points in any Big 12 game this year, losing by deficits of 10, 15, 22, 36, 38 and 45.

It was Kansas' first win in 28 Big 12 games dating back to Nov. 6, 2010. The Jayhawks had lost 38 of their last 39 conference contests.

The loss also knocked the Mountaineers out of contention for a bowl game. At 4-7, West Virginia will miss out on a bowl game for the first time since 2001.

The Mountaineers will close their their season -- and the seniors their careers -- against Iowa State on Nov. 30 in Morgantown, W.Va.

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Empty Netter Assists - 11-16-13

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-Shelly Anderson's recap from last night's game. "I thought in the second [period] we really took over the game, shift after shift." - Dan Bylsma.

-The Nashville Tenessean's recap. The Predators' went 2-4-1 to finish their seven-game road trip.

-The Associated Press' recap. ''It was one of those games where we knew it was a matter of time. We were going to play the 60 minutes the way we wanted to play. That's what it looked like tonight.'' - Pascal Dupuis (above).

-Highlights:

-Tanner Glass versus Nashville's Eric Nystrom:

-Mike Lange's goal calls.

-Happy times for the Predators:

-Bylsma speaks:

-Pascal Dupuis speaks:

-“It’s a grind, but I enjoy playing more games. You don’t have to wait as long to play.” - Beau Bennett on the Penguins' schedule.

-The Penguins recalled forward Zach Sill from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

-"We all watched in awe throughout the progression of the ceremony on Monday night. There were wonderful honorees. But the best part of the ceremony was Ray Shero stepping on stage to accept this honor on behalf of his father. He was so proud of his dad. Ray communicated very clearly and eloquently the way we all saw and knew his father. He knew the way people felt about his dad, and he knew the way his dad felt about all of us, including the Flyers organization, the National Hockey League, the Hall of Fame Committee, and most importantly, the players. The whole family was there, even after his passing almost 23 years later, to celebrate his great achievements." - Hall of fame Flyers goaltender Bernie Parent on Ray Shero inducted his father, former Flyers/Rangers coach Fred Shero, into the Hockey Hall of Fame Monday.

-Simon Despres and Brian Gibbons each had a goal and two assists for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in a 5-3 road win against the Syracuse Crunch. Chris Conner added a goal and an assist for the Penguins while teammate Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers made 24 saves.

-Despres had a strong overall game.

A hat trick by Chaz Johnson led the Wheeling Nailers to a 5-1 road win against the Elmira Jackals.  Anton Zlobin had three assists for Wheeling while teammate Sahir Gill added a goal and an assist. Mike Condon made 39 saves in the win.

-Former Penguins goaltender Andy Chiodo has joined Tappara of Finland's Liiga.

-Happy 58th birthday to former Penguins all-star forward Pierre Larouche (right). A first-round pick in 1974, "Lucky Pierre" spent parts of four seasons with the Penguins. As a rookie in 1974-75, Larouche appeared in 79 games and scored 68 points, tops among NHL rookies. In that spring's postseason, he saw action in seven games and scored seven points. He followed that up in 1975-76 by becoming the first player in franchise history to hit the century mark in scoring with 111 points. Selected to the All-Star Game that season, he also became the second player in franchise history to hit the 50-goal plateau with 53. (Jean Pronovost had reached the 50-goal mark earlier that season). His goals and points were a team record at the time. The 1976 postseason game saw him appear in three games and record one assist. In 1976-77, Larouche was limited to 65 games and 63 points. In the postseason, he played in three games and recorded three assists. After 20 games and 11 points in 1977-78, Larouche was traded to the Canadiens along with future considerations in exchange for Pete Mahovlich and Peter Lee. In 240 regular season games for the Penguins, Larouche scored 253 points, 29th-most in franchise history. In 15 postseason games, he netted 11 points.

-After the Jump: The second Ted Nolan era begins in Buffalo and a scary hit in Ottawa.

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GAMEDAY: Pitt vs. North Carolina

Written by Sam Werner on .

IMG 0198

Greetings from Heinz Field. We're just about an hour and a half away from kickoff today between Pitt and North Carolina. A win today means the Panthers are going bowling for a sixth consecutive season, a fairly impressive feat given the turmoil the program has been through over the past few seasons. Here are a few pre game notes to get you going...

- The following players are OUT for Pitt today: LG Cory King, LT Adam Bisnowaty, CB Trenton Coles, CB Titus Howard and TE Scott OrndoffRyan Schlieper will start for King at left guard, and Dorian Johnson will get his second career start in Bisnowaty's place. The absence of the two corners means we'll probably see some Jahmahl Pardner, as well as more of Pitt's base defensive formation (with linebackers Anthony Gonzalez and Todd Thomas on the field). Orndoff's absence will probably just mean more JP Holtz (and maybe more targets for him in the red zone).

- Here's a link to my preview story from today's Post-Gazette, about how Paul Chryst and the Panthers hope to keep on dancing against the Tar Heels today.

- The storyline today really is pretty simple. Last year, Pitt let the close loss to Notre Dame hang over its head the following week against Connecticut. They can't do the same this week (even though it was a win against the Irish this year). North Carolina isn't great, but the Tar Heels are definitely good enough to beat Pitt if the Panthers don't show up. You could argue that a win today would be just as important as last week's, since it would mean that Pitt has finally figured out how to seize momentum and take care of business against lesser teams.

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