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July 29, 2014

Live and Die On the Line

Filed under: Football — Chas @ 6:49 am

This is no great secret. As important as it will be for Chad Voytik to develop quickly at QB. As much as there are big questions about who will be the second and third WRs to take some of the coverage away from Tyler Boyd. As curious as I am to see how James Conner looks. It all starts on the O-line.

Chad Voytik isn’t going to have much success (or avoid injury) if the O-line isn’t giving him a chance. Conner or any of the other running backs can only do so much if the O-lines isn’t at least producing some sort of opening for them to hit.

Health is the concern for the offensive line — as it is throughout the team — but there is a reason to have optimism.

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July 27, 2014

Reading over the last two posts Chas wrote about the 2014 PITT football team I’ve been having a great time with the over 200 comments you guys left on them.  They show just how very ready we all are for PITT training camp to open next week and for the season to start soon afterward.  I’m just as anxious to get the ‘real life’ stuff happening and to jump in with both feet as anyone.

I’ve waited on writing another piece until the 2014 PITT Football Media Guide came out so that I at least can provide some truthful info to go with my opinions that I’ll lay out in this post, and please  remember they are my opinions unless I preface an item with “This is a no bullshit…”.  I’ll try to mix and match both though.

As to the comments on those two last articles; there are pretty detailed reasons we fans have for why we’ll probably either suck or be great – but no one seems to explain why we’ll probably be 7-6 again, or maybe 8-5 with a good bounce or two.   That’s pretty much where I am at this point of the offseason without having had my ‘boots on the ground’ as I will soon at a couple of the camp practices coming up.  Now, that projection can change either way once I see how the kids are doing during practices so nothing here is etched in stone.

Here are some of my thoughts on the offensive side of the ball going into the season.

I’m not as high on the expectation for quarterback Chad Voytik as some of us are. Yes, he did well in the bowl game and that showed me that at least he isn’t a deer in the headlights.  But beyond that I’m not convinced that he’ll match the level of play our last two QBs gave us in 2012 & 2013.  That’s right, I’m including Sunseri’s productive season of 2012 – what are you going to do about it?  That said I’m also not as panicky as some are in case Voytik gets hurt out there.

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July 25, 2014

That Cautious Optimism

Filed under: Football,Prognostications — Chas @ 9:11 am

Tyler Boyd got left off the  pre-season 1st team All-ACC squad. For what it’s worth, Phil Steele did the same in his annual preview guide. I wonder how much of that is a “disrespecting” of Boyd or a belief that his numbers will drop with increased focus and Chad Voytik at QB. Either way, it isn’t a huge thing beyond additional motivation. As should be the fact that no Pitt players outside of Boyd were even in the second team.

You would think that a team that apparently has only one “sure” star player coming into the season wouldn’t have much in the way of expectations.

And yet, there seems to be a lot of positive views to Pitt. The two deepest previews of college teams have surprisingly upbeat takes. The ones that look at the make-up of the squad and the deeper numbers like where Pitt is heading.

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July 23, 2014

What Is the Defensive Identity?

Filed under: Football,Tactics — Chas @ 6:49 am

This is something I’ve been turning over in my mind for the past week.

I know the identity of the offense. It is being built from the line out. A big, bruising line that will pave the way to run and give plenty of choices for the QB. There’s speed among the receivers. It is obvious that Head Coach Paul Chryst and OC Joe Rudolph has a vision for the offense that they are implementing.

I don’t know that I can say the same about the defense. I don’t know what the long-range goal of Chryst and DC Matt House are with the defense. Is it simply that they relied so heavily on Aaron Donald or centered so much around his talent that they haven’t implemented their longer term plan? The role in the secondary is changing completely from last year’s soft coverage to more pressing (not, a bad thing, but it is a complete shift).

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July 22, 2014

2014 ACC Football Media Days

Filed under: ACC,Conference,Football — Chas @ 6:48 am

I’m not sure why the ACC starts media day on a Sunday. Other than to make it as clear as possible to BYU  that they will never receive an invite. I mean, it doesn’t seem like a bad deal for the media. Prepare the stock “Five things for ACC Media Days” column in advance. Show up on a Saturday to the nice resort hotel. Get one free night to party and have a good time. Nurse the hangover. Put the digital recorder on the podium and let those stock questions flow to the players.

I mean, it is media day. It isn’t really about the media any longer, as we saw from the 4-day long SEC event. It is about marketing the conference to everyone else. It is about getting the fans ready for football season. It is the starting point to coverage for the new season.

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July 17, 2014

Pitt got a verbal from another big offensive lineman. Tony Pilato — no, not this guythis guy.

In the last few months alone, the big offensive lineman from Hempfield took a pair of spring visits, attended the Panthers’ prospect camp in June and returned for another visit a week later. So when Pilato finally made his commitment Thursday, the decision was a natural one.

“I just think it was a really good process with them,” Pilato told Panther-Lair.com. “All the coaches were really genuine and they’re all great guys; I really enjoyed spending time with them and the players. When it came down to it, it was the right fit for me.

“I think it really felt natural with Pitt. I just wanted to take my time and consider all my options. But they offered me first and that was a big thing, and t was just good with them. Toward the end of the process, it just felt right with them.”

As has been the trend with Pitt’s O-line recruits in the Chryst regime, Pilato is a big ‘un at 6-7 and 310 pounds or so.

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Regardless of the ability to help Pitt, can we at least agree that the best thing in the long-term for Joseph Uchebo was coming to Pitt and getting better medical help for rehabbing his knee.

In moments like these, it’s easy to forget Uchebo is still recovering from a devastating knee injury that put his basketball career on hold for almost two years.

But then he runs up the court with a noticeable hitch in his step, a clear reminder that his battle to get back to full health is not over.

“It still hurts,” said Uchebo, a native of Nigeria. “Sometimes when I’m running I feel the pain, but not like it used to be.”

The pain was so bad in the weeks after Uchebo collided knees with an opponent while playing for Chipola Community College in Marianna, Fla., that he could barely sleep at night.

But Uchebo said he continued to play for about two more weeks on the recommendation of team doctors.

“They told me it wasn’t that bad and I was happy to hear it wasn’t that bad,” he said. “But it was that bad; they just wanted me to play.

“As time goes, the truth starts coming out. You know, I was so [angry]. Like, is my basketball career going to end just like that? I was thinking about that every day, every night.”

Uchebo had to go through two microfracture knee surgeries. As fast as players come back from ACL tears, microfracture surgery is a far different animal. It is a much slower process, and a lot more time is involved. And there is no doubt that misdagnosing it back at the community college made it that much harder now to heal.

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July 16, 2014

I’m sure you all know, but to repeat the news from this afternoon. Defensive End Ejuan Price has suffered a torn pectoral muscle and will require surgery. This will keep him out for the entire 2014 season. To say Price has had some issues with injuries is putting it kindly.

2012: Missed entire season with torn right pectoral muscle.

2013: Missed 7 out of 13 games with back problems.

2014 Will miss entire season with torn left pectoral muscle.

In a normal career, Price would be heading into his senior year. As it stands, he is looking at earning a rare 6th year for 2016. That’s about the only good news from a Pitt fan perspective. (more…)

July 15, 2014

Slow Build

Filed under: Chryst,Coaches,Football — Chas @ 6:49 am

In Year 3 of Chryst, I don’t think there is yet a settled answer on Coach Paul Chryst. Some may have made up their mind about him one way or another, but I am definitely not one of them. There’s plenty I do like about him: the way he runs the program, the actual coaching, the message, the way he is building the team from the lines out. And there’s plenty that — to be kind — that I question. His hiring practices and recruiting being the biggest.

I think that unless Chryst had stayed at Wisconsin and taken over directly from Brett Bielema, he was going to be doing a full rebuild no matter what program he took over. He would have been determined to make the program the way he wanted. Even if it meant tearing some aspects down. That just seems to be the kind of coach he is. Given the state of Pitt when he arrived, that was fine.

The piece in the P-G today was a very positive one on the way he has been building the team and relations back for Pitt football. We all know the story by now. The coaching chaos. The lost recruiting classes. The mass transfers.

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July 14, 2014

Not Letting Go

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chas @ 6:46 am

In my draft folder is a kind of longform piece I’ve been working on regarding the seemingly neverending UNC cheating scandal. The scandal has been fascinating to me because as Carolina has struggled to do everything in its power to minimize the mess. From claiming it was an academic scandal for the entire school, not just the athletic department. To saying it was a rogue professor who made it all happen. To smearing an of their own people who might say this is a problem. All to protect “the Carolina Way.”

But in the end, they have only made it worse. They keep trying to cover, obfuscate, deny, attack, etc. All because they are so heavily invested in “the Carolina Way” as mythos that defines them.

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July 11, 2014

Football Notes, 7/11

Filed under: Football — Chas @ 6:48 am

Hard to believe the work up to football season is coming quickly. Conference media days in less than two weeks. School media days. The flurry of before the beginning of training camp articles. The insane parsing of the meaning of every padless practice. Good times coming soon.

At the ACC media days, Pitt will send Tyler Boyd and Ray Vinopal as the player reps. It’s been quite a while since Pitt sent a non-senior to media days.

The majority of the tabs for football are player focus pieces. Time to blow through them.

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July 10, 2014

Basketball Notes, 7/10

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 6:29 am

Just going to run through a few things to clear tabs.

Arizona big man, Taleb Tarczewski hasn’t been in Arizona taking classes and working with the coaches and teammates there. Instead, he’s been back in Massachusetts working there. Including private sessions with Bobby Martin.

What made you choose to work out with Bobby Martin?

He was college teammates with my coach [Sean Miller] at Pitt, so I know that he is really good at what he does and a really good guy. What I love about him is that he is all about footwork – he’s really broken down my low-post game and built it back up, we go over everything and I find myself learning so much about the low-post that I never knew before.

It seems Martin has been carving out a career teaching big men.

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July 9, 2014

At Last, The Completed Non-Con

Filed under: Basketball,Non-con,Schedule — Chas @ 6:43 am

I’m back. A bit of traveling for the holiday week(end). Try to get back into things Monday night and the storm that ripped through our area knocked the power out for a good 12 hours or so. The power outage wasn’t the worst — except to my 12-year old daughter who found her tablet useless without wi-fi. Especially since it happened at night and we were able to sleep through half of it.

The worry was all the contents of the fridge and freezer. Well, it was the worry of my wife. Within the first hour of the outage, she’s ready to declare everything in the fridge is doomed. Followed by the ice cream in the freezer. By the morning, she’s planning to toss everything from the freezer. Lose power for more than 24 hours and she is considering a new refrigerator, because who knows what may linger in the old one.

Keep in mind that the minute we lose power, she all but padlocks the doors to the fridge so none of the precious remaining cold escapes.

My only concern was how soon the water from the storm would get into the ground and into our basement. Every time there’s an outage I think about how I really need a battery back-up for the sump pump. And every time the power comes back I put off the move.

Anyways…

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July 8, 2014

Last article’s comments are getting unwieldy and as per direct orders from “pmdHTP” (whoever that is – I think an upstart commenter) here is a new tab… Enjoy!

July 2, 2014

The cycle has finally concluded. Yesterday was the official changing of conference affiliations for this year. Louisville entered the ACC. Maryland and Rutgers went to the Big Ten. East Carolina, Tulane and Tulsa go to the American. Conference USA called up some other teams.

There will still be moves. Navy is joining the American in another year. Cinci and UConn will continue to beg the Big XII and any other conference that might have them for a chance. But for now, things have reached a settling point.

So, this may be a bit rambling, but just some of my final thoughts on the whole expansiopocolypse thing.

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