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March 16, 2007

From Chris Dokish at Panther Rants, we get an update on how former CB Darelle Revis ran his 40 yard dash. I’m never been a huge fan of so much being made on fractions of a second but perhaps that’s why I’m blogging and not scouting for an NFL team.

Former Pitt cornerback Darrelle Revis may have solidified his spot in the 1st round today as he reportedly ran a sub-4.40 40 yard dash today in Pittsburgh. There is no exact official time since many different NFL personnel time him at the same time, but times ranged from 4.36 to 4.40, with most timing him at 4.38.

Obviously he did not lose any speed while waiting for weeks during the season for an opposing QB to throw the ball his way.

VCU It Is

Filed under: Basketball,NCAA Tourney,Non-BCS,Opponent(s) — Dennis @ 6:10 pm

VCU’s upset over Duke has been chronicled all over the internet and TV for the last 8 hours. From what I saw and what you probably already know, they can beat Pitt. Conversely, Pitt can beat them. From what I saw, here’s a bit of a scouting report for you all out there.

They play a great high tempo defense. Combining a nice full court press with a nice half court trap is one of their calling cards. At times I felt we were sloppy on the offensive side of the ball. Maybe it was because we got into that popular Pitt thought process that “we’re the higher seed so we don’t need to worry”. If we do the same thing against VCU they’re going to make us pay with those defensive strategies.

ESPN’s team page for the Rams tells us how to beat a team like this.

Will Lose When …
Teams are able to handle the VCU traps all over the court and slow the tempo of the game. If the Rams can’t create turnovers off their pressure, their offense can become stagnant.

Yup, that pretty much sounds like how it needs to go for Pitt. Now as for how it actually WILL go…

Eric Maynor feels no pressure. He is their main man when it comes down to the end of a tight game. If you need to see it in video form, click here to watch the Eric Maynor Show.

He’s not even their leading scorer this year though. B.A. Walker leads with 14.6 per game, Maynor with 13.9, and followed by Jesse Pellot-Rosa with 13.1.

They play pretty physically for a guard dominated team. None of the three guards mentioned above are afraid to get a little bruised up both on offense and defense. This Pitt team doesn’t have the toughness of past teams so this could be something to watch for. Chances are also that someone from either team will get a little bloody. There were 3-4 times when players from both teams had to leave the game to get some blood cleaned up.

–Wil Fameni might be prone to doing this. He is going to be starting at one of the forward positions and picking up 4, 4, 3, and 5 fouls in the last four games could leave us matching up someone like Mike Cook, Levon Kendall, or Sam Young on him in foul trouble or his lesser talented backup.

–All of America will be rooting against us. If you’re trying to find the way it affects the game, not only will VCU fans be vocal for their team but so will fans from Maryland and Butler who play in the game before and end up sticking around.

Anyways, tomorrow’s game is slated for a 5:50 tip so expect something 10-20 minutes later that originally planned.

Really, doesn’t the Athletic Department try to at least pretend to coordinate things between the Basketball and Football side of things. I realize the spring practice schedule was set in advance. But so were the dates for the NCAA Tournament. You are telling me they couldn’t at least have waited until Monday or not on the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament to start practices until Monday. It’s hell on us one-man global content providers.

Today is Pro-day. Most scouts are coming to see Darrelle Revis, but there are several other players hoping for a good showing to catch some eyes.

More than 40 NFL personnel are expected to attend, including Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith and secondary coaches Ray Horton of the Steelers, Teryl Austin of the Arizona Cardinals and Tim Lewis of the Carolina Panthers.

Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt, who coached 16 seasons in the NFL, hopes the interest in Revis has a trickle-down effect on linebacker H.B. Blades, quarterback Tyler Palko and punter Adam Graessle. All four attended the Combine.

“This is an important day for (Blades) and Revis,” Wannstedt said. “When you have a few good players, it draws more scouts for everybody else.”

Other former Pitt players expected to work out for NFL scouts include kicker David Abdul, safety Sam Bryant, tight end Steve Buches, tailback Kelvin Drewery, linebacker Clint Session and center Joe Villani.

I’m just wondering, does Gil Brandt do anything other than make himself available for interviews?

And I love how a former personnel guy complains that the player is hurting himself by not doing more workouts for scouts and the teams. Of course, it’s all about making sure the player gets chances. Nothing at all with the teams, scouts and GMs wanting as many comparisons and opportunities to evaluate. Every year I hear that (probably from Gil Brandt each time), and every year I laugh at the blatant self-serving, hypocritical lies. [But I digress.]

Of course, there is a little more on the decision to put Dickerson at linebacker. Coach Wannstedt defends talked a bit more about the move.

In fact, as spring football begins tomorrow, linebacker is probably the biggest question facing the Panthers. The quarterback spot is open and will get most of the public’s attention, but with all four of the primary starters at linebacker from last year’s team gone, either by graduation or, in the case of junior Tommie Campbell, via indefinite suspension, there is no other position where Wannstedt has to find so many answers.

Wannstedt said Dickerson, who is 6 feet 2, 215 pounds and played running back and receiver last year, is one of the best athletes on the team.

“Dorin is a guy who we want to get on the field and he is the type of kid who wants to play. He wants to play badly,” Wannstedt said. “We just felt with the way our receiver position grew last year and really became a strength and with the recruiting class of running backs coming in, it would be tough to get him in the mix as much as both he and we’d like.

“At linebacker, he has a chance to do some really special things for us so we’ll see how it works out in the spring.”

Dickerson wasn’t the only player moved to linebacker in the offseason. Safeties Jemeel Brady and Shane Murray will both move up and compete at the position.

I’m not sure the right approach is to put it all on Dickerson wanting this. I want to give Wannstedt and the Pitt coaching staff the benefit of the doubt on this, but Dickerson’s potential impact on offense seemed so big that it seems a waste. When the player draws comparisons to impact with Michael and Reggie Bush, I can’t help but wonder if it has more to do with the coaches uncomfortable with him being a hybrid RB/WR; being too rigid with defining the players roles RB or WR as an either/or thing rather than just wanting him to touch the ball any way possible.

I guess I keep coming back to an article that stuck with me last summer about offenses changing:

Petrino spoke of his senior tailback Michael Bush, a 6-foot-3, 247-pound tailback who delivers punishment and first downs in equal doses. Bush rushed for 1,143 yards and 23 touchdowns last season despite missing four starts because of injuries. He is the kind of tailback that every college coach wants.

And here is what Petrino said.

“We have got to get the ball in his hands 25, 30 times a game.”

It’s a sentiment that any coach with a back as talented as Bush would voice. But look again. Petrino didn’t say that he wanted Bush to run the ball 25, 30 times a game. He wanted the ball in Bush’s hands that many times. Bush may run, but Bush will also catch passes.

Besides, think about who is coaching the linebackers this year. I’m just not comfortable with that thought either.
It’s not even logical to compare moving Safeties up to linebacker with Dickerson coming over from the offense.

I’m going to try and let it go (for now), because I know I’m repeating myself on this one.

Back to the article, it’s hard not to read between the lines that Pat Bostick will be getting every chance to grab the starting job at QB come the fall. Regardless of what happens in the spring.

Junior Bill Stull and redshirt freshman Kevan Smith will compete for the starting quarterback job but Wannstedt said the competition really won’t begin in full until the fall when freshman Pat Bostick, who was rated among the top 10 quarterbacks in the country, arrives. Bostick was originally supposed to enroll at Pitt in January but he couldn’t because of the academic calender at his high school, Manheim Township.

Wannstedt admits that Bostick will be behind but knows he’s talented enough to catch up in a hurry. He said quarterback will be one of the least of his worries because the rest of the offense has so much experience.

“We have virtually the entire offensive line returning and some of the young guys that provide depth, like a Jason Pinkston, now will have a full year under their belt,” Wannstedt said. “Our receivers are all back, our running back position is very deep, we have three of our tight ends back. What we’re going to need from our quarterback is a guy to move the chains, make good decisions and manage the game.”

Okay.

I took it quick and superficial before crashing on an AOL post last night. Just noting some easy, thoughtless similarities between last year’s NCAA Tournament and this year for Pitt. Do not panic.

Ever see old Damon Wayans stand-up? Where he talks about playing snap as a kid? Basically it would be fine until someone decided to mention his club foot. Then he would just go off and ream them verbally. That seems to have been what happened to Wright State after trying to horse-collar tackle Aaron Gray.

The Panthers saw a 13-0 lead morph into a 22-22 tie before a turning point occurred with 6:41 left in the first half, when Wright State freshman Todd Brown threw Aaron Gray to the floor and drew an intentional foul.

Bad move.

“That kind of re-ignited us,” Gray said.

Pitt proceeded to score 21 of the next 30 points to take a 43-30 lead into the intermission. The bench provided a major boost, outscoring Wright State’s, 20-9, in the first half and 36-19 overall.

After that, it seemed that Pitt just said, “Oh, you want to make it real do you, Seymour?” It wasn’t like Pitt already had a size advantage or anything. No the Wright State players wanted to have Pitt fired up while playing the rest of the way. It impressed no one for Wright State to go punk.

Fifty seconds after Jordan Pleiman — WSU’s only true post player — was called for his second foul, Todd Brown threw together an audition for WWE that seemed to wake some sleeping giants. Brown was called for an intentional foul on 7-foot Aaron Gray with 6:41 left in the first half and the Panthers responded with a 19-7 run.

A balanced offensive scoring effort with 5 players in double figures and shooting more than 50%.

“If we knock down shots like that, we’re going to be a tough out in this tournament,” said junior guard Keith Benjamin, who added six points off the bench. “That was the best we executed on offense all year. We did a great job of executing. We’ll be hard to beat if we play like that.”

Pitt’s defense also played a big part in the victory. Antonio Graves did a fine job of guarding Horizon League player of the year DaShaun Wood. Wood, who averages almost 20 points per game, was held to 13 and shot 4 for 12 from the field.

Except for that frustrating stretch in after getting out to a 13-0 lead where the team just went playground to give Wright State hope and make every Pitt fan go insane, it was the kind of performance that you want to see.

Coach Dixon talked about being and praised the team for being 9 deep, and Pitt got to do that last night. Only Levance Fields played 31 minutes. After that it was Ramon, Gray and Graves with only 26 minutes. That’s important when you know that VCU will be pushing and pressing Pitt on Saturday.

Even the Wright State partisans couldn’t help but notice that the depth of Pitt took a toll and the size difference was very visible.

Forward Jordan Pleiman stands 6-foot-8 and weighs 240 pounds, but next to Pittsburgh’s 7-foot, 270-pound Aaron Gray, he looked like a calf standing next to a steer.

Even the guys of similar size looked big in Pittsburgh uniforms, which eventually caused the mismatch that was Pitt’s 79-58 victory over the Raiders, whose most successful Division I season came to a sudden close.

“We were gun shy early,” WSU coach Brad Brownell said. “I think the bright lights got us. I was really proud that we came back to tie the score, but that took a lot out of us to do that, and then they delivered another blow.”

Still, Wright State had a fine season and did play hard. Pushing Pitt at points. Plus, their fans showed some great loyalty to the team at the end.

That’s why the some 400 Raiders fans who made the trip to Buffalo stood and filled the arena with a proud chant near game’s end:

“We Are …Wright State!”

“We Are …Wright State!”

I said loyal. Not original.

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