March 29, 2007

Paul Zeise has his first Q&A. He likes what he sees from some of the players.

That being said, several players have really stood out to me. Jason Pinkston, for one, can become a standout tackle. He has really jumped out among linemen and his athleticism and strength are easy to see.

Shane Brooks seems to be running harder and seems a little quicker as well — he could be a factor in the backfield, particularly since he is also getting reps at fullback.

T.J. Porter and Darrell Strong both seem to have decided it was time to try to maximize their potential and both have had an excellent run thus far in the spring.

Marcel Pestano looks like he might become a star and Derek Kinder just keeps getting better as well. Corner Aaron Berry is feisty and physical and more importantly an excellent shut down corner.

I think the thing that isn’t a shock, so I don’t know why I was hoping. Pinkston was the only one on the  line that he noted is standing out. We may be watching the QB battles and who will be the primary back. Let’s face it, though, the lines have been the biggest problem and it is just not clear how much that is changing for this year. If Pitt is going to have any success this year, the line play on both sides just has to be significantly better.

That said, it’s probably not fair to judge yet on the lines no matter how much anxiety they generate. Instead I’ll turn to my favorite negative slant on the football team — Paul Rhoads.

Q: Do you think keeping on staff and then moving Paul Rhoads from secondary to linebacker coach is a good move or not? Do you think Paul Rhoads likes the move?

ZEISE: The move gives Paul Rhoads a chance to be involved more in the run defense as well as the pass defense. This is the model that Dave Wannstedt has used ever since he has been a head coach or coordinator and everyone on the staff seems more comfortable with it. This has enabled Wannstedt to hire Chris Ball as secondary coach, and I think he has been tremendous for this team. And talking to the players and watching some of the things he’s been working with the players on, he is going to be a major asset. I have talked to a number of coaches and all of them tell me the same thing — Rhoads is an excellent football coach.

First, observe that Zeise actually never answered the question of whether it was a good move or not to keep Rhoads. He says that Wannstedt is happy with the new approach. That Chris Ball was a great hire and will really help the team in the secondary from a coaching standpoint (I don’t disagree). Then, that other, unnamed coaches think Rhoads is an “excellent” coach. Of course, generally opposing coaches love and think very highly of other coaches who they own. The last thing they want to see is a coach they can beat tossed over the side.

Conspiracy theory: Wannstadt kept Rhodes so he can have a scapegoat to throw to the wolves if this season really goes to hell. I personally don’t believe it.

I’m no big Rhodes fan, but I can see why players and other coaches like the guy- he has a great attitude, he’s intense, and the players seem to love him. Maybe that’s all it takes to keep him sticking around. His Xs and Os and general handling of the D are a different story. I don’t know what to say.

I just know that there’s more to the pathetic defensive performances than lack of personnel. My arbitrary prediction is that if we lose to UCONN (oh my GOD we lost to them 2 out of 3 times… UCONN… in football), Rhodes is gone. If we beat them, he stays.

Comment by Danster 03.29.07 @ 4:22 pm

Shane Brooks is shining over the likes of Collier, LSH, Collins (and obviously Dickerson, too) … can that be believed?

Marcel Pestano could be a “star?”

Zeise is living in a coo-coo clock!

Comment by geeman2001 03.30.07 @ 10:03 pm

[…] Original post by Chas […]

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