Pitt notebook: Coaches keeping players busy at halftime
Pitt’s inability to score points in the second half can’t be blamed on a lack of preparation at halftime, according to plans revealed Wednesday by offensive coordinator Shawn Watson.
He said coaches have changed halftime procedures in the past two games, with more pictures of the first half and more details on a new plan of attack.
“We go in there with a plan,” Watson said, “and we usually have a second-half plan besides that and we tweak that based off of what we saw in the first half. The big thing is being able to get it articulated at halftime to the kids.
“We always put things up in pictures. We articulate those to the guys: This is what they’re doing. These are the blitzes that we saw. From that point, here’s how we’re going to attack them.
“It’s more detailed. We feel like we’re gaining on it.”
Pitt has been outscored 73-10 after halftime over four games, with time of possession falling to 12 minutes, 11 seconds in the second half of the North Carolina game. That’s the same as playing defense for an entire quarter, plus 2:49.
Pitt has been its own worst enemy in the second half. Pitt’s average drive start was its 18 — a product of not getting enough stops on defense — and the Panthers converted only three of seven third downs. Also, Maurice Ffrench’s 23-yard run was wiped out by an illegal shift penalty.
Freshman wide receiver Shocky Jacques-Louis hasn’t made an impact yet, which is a bit of a surprise. He has more carries (six for 69 yards) than receptions (four for 33).
“Shocky is going through the process of learning college football,” Watson said. “He’s never seen the solid defenses that he’s getting here and what he’ll get for the rest of his career.”
But Watson believes Jacques-Louis eventually will beat the learning curve.
“He has football instincts,” he said. “As time goes on, we’ll feel him more and more.”
Perhaps this is the week for Jacques-Louis.
He’s going home — along with 13 of his teammates who also grew up in Florida — when Pitt meets Central Florida in Orlando on Saturday.
Pitt’s 14 Floridians comprise the second-largest group on the team from any state. Pennsylvania is tops with 34.
Waiting their turn
Pitt is not relying on a lot of first-year freshmen. Jacques-Louis is one of three to get in games. Running back Mychale Salahuddin has played in the past two, with three carries for 34 yards, and cornerback Marquis Williams played in the opener against Albany.
Pitt senior tackle Alex Bookser was named one of eight ACC semifinalists for the William V. Campbell Trophy that recognizes the best football scholar-athlete in the nation. Minimum requirement is a 3.2 GPA.
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry at [email protected] or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.