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August 30, 2011

The countdown to the opening kick-off of a new season, with a new coach and a new style has will hit T-minus 100 hours at 2 pm today (significantly less from when the tailgating begins). The depth chart was released yesterday. Also taking place yesterday, the Big East coaches teleconference and Coach Graham’s first gameweek presser.

The most interesting thing — at least to me — that came out of Graham’s time in the Big East coaches teleconference  (mp3 file) was where his offensive philosophy came from.

Paraphrasing, but it went back to 1993 when he was coaching defense in D-II and had to go against DickRod’s team. The no-huddle spread “fascinated” him, and as a defensive coach this style was what he hated to defend and plan to stop.

That struck me as a very open-minded and creative approach. Definitely getting out of his comfort zone. Frequently head coaches from the defensive side tend to favor more traditional offenses. Basically, the offense they generally expect their defense to play most of the time.

I’m trying to think of head coaches at the BCS level that come from the defensive side of the ball, but embrace a more dynamic offensive approach. Gene Chizik at Auburn comes to mind as does Brian Kelly of Notre Dame. But these seem like the exceptions. Am I falling prey to an overgeneralization? I suppose it would be something to research at a later time.

Then there is his local press conference. Lots of items to examine.

Let’s start with pace on offense.

“We would eventually like to get around 12 seconds. I think we tend to forget that this is all new to these guys. Our quarterback has the biggest strain on him because he has to do everything he did last year and probably more. He has to communicate the call, protections, and checks while reading coverage at a lot faster pace. I would say if we’re at 18 seconds then we will be excited about that time, but I won’t be satisfied with it. We like to have the ball snapped every 15 seconds in our first year. We were doing that early and we’ve slowed a little bit. Our time is going to be the focus for us and we can’t start trying to scheme too much before we get the tempo established. That will be what sets us apart. I would like to be at 15 seconds but I think for the first game we will be around 18.”

The man obviously cares nothing for bloggers. How the hell are we going to handle commenting in liveblogs between plays at that kind of speed?

As much focus has been on the offense, the presser transcript is dominated by talk of the defensive personnel and how they are going to be used. Mixing savvy players with talented freshmen. To wit, Andrew Taglianetti:

“We are not trying to be deceptive on what guys are playing. Andrew Taglianetti is a winner in every way and is a kid who does everything right in all areas of his life. He is more of nickel spur so you’re going to see him in the game if it’s ten personnel, eleven personnel or sets similar to that. He’s not a base down spur. Our base down spur would be Todd Thomas or Greg Williams. We wanted to list him and he is a starter in my mind. Taglianetti is also the backup free safety and the backup bandit. He’s probably the next safety to go on the field. We will use him in a nickel a lot like they used Dom DeCicco last year. He is more of our nickel strong safety and Todd Thomas is more of our true outside linebacker.”

So Thomas is really the starter, but Tags will be all over the field in spots.So will true freshman Lafayette Pitts.

“Lafayette Pitts is going to play boundary corner and bandit safety so we’re trying to bring him along. How we develop those guys is playing with boundary and field people. If you play him at boundary corner then you better learn boundary safety. Right now he’s taking most of his snaps at bandit safety or boundary safety. He’s been progressing well and he’s a guy who is going to help us this year. It’s a little tougher in the back end because there’s a lot more to comprehend. We’re running over 20 different coverage looks so there is a lot to learn. Pitts has done very well at corner so we’re pretty solid at that position. We want to provide a little depth at safety. We think the bandit safety is a position that is going to be his primary position and he will also be in depth at the boundary corner position.”

The use of Pitts, might also be to help allow Jason Hendricks get a little more rest to start the season. The official word is that he is healthy after battling turf toe in camp, but that is a nagging injury.

‘Then there are the freshmen players not listed as a starter, who sort of are. Or at least in heavy rotation.

“Ejuan Price is a starter in my mind. Brandon Lindsey is the starting Panther and then on third down you will see Lindsey and Price as the outside linebackers. Those guys will be on the field in third down situations. Ejuan has tremendous talent. The only thing he has to do is keep learning what he is doing. Every snap just keeps getting better and better for him. K.K Mosley-Smith is basically in the starting rotation up front on the defensive line. He plays behind Myles Caragein. Naturally Myles can’t play every snap so K.K will be in the rotation up front. We will play a lot of defensive line when we rotate those guys. The Woodland Hills guys are representing well. I am pretty proud of those guys and how they came in. All three of those guys (Price, Mosley-Smith and Lafayette Pitts) are leaders in that class in how they work and how they go about things.”

Coach, you have to learn. It is now Juan Price, not Ejuan.

As much as we hear about the dizzying array of offensive sets, the defense seems just as confusing from afar. Yet, somehow, Coach Graham spoke of trying not to make mistakes.

Graham said that regardless of who the opponent is, if the Panthers make sure they take care of their own business first, the games will take care of themselves.

“Really, this whole game is about us and about us going out and performing,” Graham said. “Early in the season I am a firm believer that the team [that] makes the least amount of mistakes is going to win. Just don’t beat yourselves.”

I have to expect more than a few just because the players are going to get mixed up at times.

I don’t even want to think what all these different sets and substituting players on both sides of the ball while increasing the pace is going to do to Bill Hillgrove on the radio call. I’m not sure he’ll make it through the season.

It is confirmed that Trey Anderson is effectively the No. 2 QB ahead of Mark Myers. Hopefully we will see one of them sometime by the 3d quarter on Saturday because it’s a blowout.

While there are plenty of upperclassmen on the 2-deep, it isn’t hard to see a lot of the new faces listed. A definite change.

Those situations typically arise in all college programs when a new coach arrives. Players recruited by the current staff move quickly up the depth chart for reasons of familiarity as much as talent. Not surprisingly, freshmen Anderson and Jones, running backs Malcolm Crockett and Corey Davis, nose tackle K.K. Mosely-Smith, outside linebacker Ejuan Price and cornerbacks Lafayette Pitts and Lloyd Carrington are competing for significant playing time.

Talent remains the deciding factor, and that’s why [Shane] Gordon and [Todd] Thomas have caught the coaches’ attention.

Now if the new changes can only include junking “Sirius” from the Alan Parsons Project as the intro music. Cripes, that song is almost 30 years old.





I used to go to the King’s Court all the time when I was a kid in the 60s.

Comment by Reed 08.31.11 @ 2:31 pm

Was any blogger on here, incarcerated in the King’s Court when it was a Police Station??

(Sorry I’m a little to young for that distinguished honor)

Comment by melvinbennett 08.31.11 @ 2:35 pm

@FrankCan

Yea, saw that story on Yahoo. A&M has notified the Big 12 that they are history come June, 30th 2012. (orangebloods.com was right again)

“provided they find another conference”

Hey if the SEC turns them down, the BIgEast should like be on the plane with the invite, yesterday.

Comment by melvinbennett 08.31.11 @ 2:42 pm

Ok, I read his post. I don’t agree with the term bonanza!!! Maybe better than previous cupboards were left with, but, a bonanza of talent???

Compared to who, we have a bonanza of talent compared to top 20 teams??? Really????

I do have to ask Frank, were you answering my question, with your 9-3 response???

You’d rather have a 9-3 record with beating practically no one, instead of 8-4 with big wins against Iowa, Notre Dame and WVU????

Interesting, to each their own, I myself, would rather have 8-4 with big wins on meaningful national games.

Comment by Dan 08.31.11 @ 2:47 pm

My point being, could they go 9-3 or 10-2, sure, lets hope for the best. Maybe 11-1, I’m all for it!!!

But, to put a demarcation line down, as 9-3 is a success, 8-4 or 7-5 is a failure, without looking at the whole body of work, without looking at individual games, without looking over the season, cut and dry, that’s it.

Wow, personally, I believe there could be a ton of variables over the course of a 12 game season, to just pick a number out of the air, and say, “pass/fail”.

What if Shanahan and Graham get hurt and are out for the season?? Lindsey misses 5 games.
Too bad, 9-3 or bust, huh??

You’re a tough cookie Frank!!

Comment by Dan 08.31.11 @ 2:57 pm

“What if Shanahan and Graham get hurt and are out for the season?? Lindsey misses 5 games.
Too bad, 9-3 or bust, huh??”

Hey, Dan. I’m with you. What if Ray Graham fumbles deep in UConn territory?
Hell, Pitt could lose the game, lose sole possession of first place in the BE, and lose a trip to a BCS game. The coach could even lose his job.

Comment by BigGuy 08.31.11 @ 4:16 pm

Nah, he lost his job for an accumulation of ineptness!!

Comment by Dan 08.31.11 @ 4:32 pm

From Bouquet: in Order, The Original Hot Dog (beer was available for consumption in lots of flavors), CJ Barney’s The Wooden Keg, Frankie Gustine’s (this became Hemingways in the 80?s)

Who from the ‘60’s remembers the bar a door or two (or three) down from Frankie Gustine’s? None of the above names sound familiar. I can’t remember the name, but I remember the Rollin’ Rock ponies which I used to order several at a time.

Comment by BigGuy 08.31.11 @ 4:45 pm

I don’t want anybody posting here to have to have their feelings hurt or feel unloved. Lets all come together, no matter what our opinions about Pitt football are at this point, just put our arms over each other’s shoulders and sing “Sweet Caroline”……………………. Now I know that made me feel much better yelling Lets Go Pitt at the top of my lungs, how about you guys?

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.31.11 @ 5:15 pm

BTW Melvin, I did get the Kings Court questions correct, it was buried in my post to DRW about 35 posts before this one. I also mentioned the tradition this theater had with Rocky Horror, LOL

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.31.11 @ 5:27 pm

Doc, I think that the thin-skinned chaps generally leave this board after they get a response to their first post.

Comment by BigGuy 08.31.11 @ 5:28 pm

I’m looking for the name of another place (from someone who attended Pitt during the ‘60s). It was an after hours place located on the 2nd floor of a place near the movie theater. One needed to know someone to gain entry. After a home football game, it was the place to go.

Comment by BigGuy 08.31.11 @ 5:35 pm

Melvin, I got most of them correct. I actually started typing them earlier today, then saw you were after DRW. Has to be a troll, what Pitt person doesn’t know, or isn’t familiar with “hoopie”??

Oh, I missed Frankie Gustines, didn’t know that place, and missed The White Tower.

Kings Court, I graduated in 1988, was there 83-88, yes, I helped start the trend of the “5 year plan”. LOL Allthough, I did work while schooling!!

Anyhow, I can remember that from childhood, when my Dad would drive through Oakland on his way to his office, the facade of the building, I thought I was in England or something.

Yes, must have thick skin. Enjoy all of your comments, even ones stating that I am wrong, and I don’t even mind Frank yelling at me!!!

Really, great place to chat with fellow Pitt people.

Thank you Chas!!

Comment by Dan 08.31.11 @ 8:33 pm

@ pitt1972 and Dr. Tom
Well, if you guys consider having 16 returning starters – including Tyler Palko, Greg Lee, Ray Kirkley, Tim Murphy and Mike McGlynn on offense and H.B Blades, Clint Session, Tez Morris and Darrelle Revis on Defense – from a team that went 8-4 and to the Fiesta Bowl “pure fantasy” then I guess I should change my name from TampaT to Tattoo.

You guys just help my argument with statements like Walt did it with smoke and mirrors and we didn’t have sufficient beef on the lines. Walt’s system was a little bit of smoke and mirrors while Dave’s was grind it out, make no mistakes, especially with Cavanaugh as OC.

Walt’s guys just didn’t fit Dave’s system, so a team with a #23 preseason ranking that many expected to win an outright BCS bid goes 5-6 instead.

A quote from our friend and host Chas after that season, “Maybe I’m just feeling argumentative, but Pitt didn’t need “rebuilding.” The program may need reworking and some definite talent upgrades, but rebuilding is not what it is undergoing. That is a disservice to what Walt Harris did accomplish at Pitt from 1997 through 2004, and the players.”

Thanks for helping to prove the point that Dan and I have been trying to make about the expectations some of you are putting on Graham.

Comment by TampaT 08.31.11 @ 10:49 pm

Anyhow, I can remember that from childhood, when my Dad would drive through Oakland on his way to his office, the facade of the building, I thought I was in England or something. \
Comment by Dan 08.31.11 @ 8:33 pm

Too funny Dano…..yes if you look at that link I posted of the Kings Court Movie Theatre, it’s all England.

I’m still looking for a blogger here….who might have been incarcerated there overnite for like Drunk in Public or something when the King’s Court was a Police Station. Basically we’re looking for an alum who is in his/her? 60’s.

Come on….fess up…. This is really an honor and we want to recognize this grand accomplishment. You will be forever a legend on Pittblather.

Comment by melvinbennett 09.01.11 @ 12:51 am

@ DocTom…..didn’t see your answer. no problemo
Senior Doctor. I’m sure there are more then a few here who had to have seen the classic movie….
“Animal House” at the Kings Court in the late 70’s.

I remember me & one of frat brothers being in Wendy’s on Fifth Ave. and someone gave us Free Tickets to see Gary Newman (Numan) who at the time was really good at the Stanley Theatre.
link to en.wikipedia.org

Comment by melvinbennett 09.01.11 @ 1:03 am

Hey I love all you guys…..yes we have our differences,….BUT WE ALL ALL PITT PANTHERS !

NEVER FORGET THAT !!!!!

HAIL TO PITT ! WE ARE THE BEST !

Comment by melvinbennett 09.01.11 @ 1:08 am

Dr. Tom: My choice of bars depended on which end of campus I lived on. Frosh & Soph years I lived closer to Wohlfarth’s, Peter’s and Frankie’s. Junior year, I could fall out my front door to Luna and Chief’s – or fall in my front door after going to the Luna. Senior year was back west nearer the others.

BigGuy: Sorry, a little too young to help you with the ’60s. The only after-hours place I remember was New Era up near Luna and Chief’s. Hot jazz club where a lot of jazz legends hung out when in town. If the guy at the door didn’t recognize you, you didn’t get in. He was really a nice guy, but also someone you didn’t want to mess with.

Comment by TampaT 09.01.11 @ 1:09 am

BTW,,,,I’d like to thank Chas for creating this forum for all of us to keep in touch, discuss Pitt sports and reminisce about the past.

Thanks Chas, you are the best !

Comment by melvinbennett 09.01.11 @ 1:19 am

@Tampa T

I know if you were on Centre Ave., and went to the Luna you have to had known Wes.

And I bet you went to Mitchell’s and Haddon Hall !

The Good Times !

Comment by melvinbennett 09.01.11 @ 1:23 am

@BigGuy,

I remember the after hours club, it was across the street from the Howard Johnson’s or maybe Holiday Inn on Forbes, it was on the 2nd floor. The name escapes me at the moment, but I was there, I remember it and you are on the money.

Comment by melvinbennett 09.01.11 @ 1:48 am

MelvinBennett – regarding Animal House. Few people know that a Pittsburgher had a big role in that movie – Jamie Widdoes who played the president of the Deltas.

Comment by Reed 09.01.11 @ 7:28 am

@ melvinbennett

I vaguely remember a character that hung around that area. I was only on that end of campus for 1 of my 4 years and we only went back that way after hours after graduating to go to New Era.

I’m awful with remembering people from that time. Honestly. I ran into my hometown girlfriend of 5 years when up there a while ago, and I didn’t even recognize her. She’s going, “you don’t remember me?” My wife was with me and loved it.

Good times for sure. Too good sometimes. I think I was at Pitt a few years before you, so did Haddon Hall still have $1 pitchers and 10 cent hot dogs on Tuesdays? That was like a feast day for us, but we sure paid for it the next day.

Comment by TampaT 09.01.11 @ 8:21 am

IMO some of your expectations are ridiculous…football is a game and many things can happen…turnovers, injuries, referees…let the season play out…lets improve our recruiting classes, learn the systems, and then bring out the measuring sticks. should coach graham just come out and say, “our goal is to finish .500″…..it seems good enough for pirate fans….because the steelers went to the superbowl, is tomlin a failure if we dont win it this year, with the same and improved talent and health. this is why you play the games.

Comment by drgags 09.02.11 @ 9:55 am

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