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August 7, 2012

It would be so tempting to be sidetracked. PSU fighting itself and maybe the NCAA. Fraud Graham still spinning. So easy. So much fun. No! There are practices. There is actual sport. Must. Stay. Focused.

Let’s start at the defensive end.  The questions are about the player behind him and the other side. From a star-recruiting ranking perspective it seems loaded with Shayne Hale, T.J. Clemmings and Bryan Murphy. Reality is something else. Hale has never progressed from potential no matter the position. Clemmings seems to have endless questions about his desire. Murphy just has problems getting on the field. So, Tyrone Ezell is moving to the DE spot, while LaQuentin Smith is competing at linebacker. Zeise tips the hand of why Ezell has moved when he puts it in terms of “ moving into the mix has thrown a little bit of fire into this competition.”

Ezell might win the other starting spot simply because he wants and will work harder for it. That’s a little frustrating, but it is taking place early. Chryst and DC Huxtable are wasting no time trying to make sure that even when there are issues of depth there is is a sense of urgency and competition.

As Reed hit on earlier today, K.K. Smith has been adding more mass to his frame and now competing at the defensive tackle spot to play alongside Aaron Donald. Again, the lack of depth behind them, is more than a little worrying. There’s Jack Lippert, Terrell Jackson, and…? An injury here would be very, very difficult to handle.

Linebacking could be a strength once they figure out the order. Right now it is a question mark. The optimism around Dan Mason has given way to much more concern. I have no doubt that Mason would play if they let him. He might even still have an impact. The coaches, however, actually seem to care about the rest of his life and mobility. So, inspiring as it is, he is not in the picture at the moment.

It’s not like it is two-deep strong at all three spots, but it is a solid, athletic looking group of Ejuan Price, Todd Thomas, Nicholas Grigsby, Shane Gordon and Eric Williams. Price and Thomas are coming off injury/surgery from the spring so there is some concern about how healthy they really are.

The only areas where there is depth and healthy (in every sense of the word) competition is with the defensive backs. Safeties and cornerbacks look solid. Two spots are set with a definitel incumbent starter — Jarred Holley at strong safety and K’Wuan Williams at cornerback. Here there is depth, quality and competition for backing up the two starters and grabbing the starting spot in the free safety and other corner spot. That’s good, because the linebackers almost have to play close to the line this year to help the D-line

The scary thing about Pitt on defense (really, both sides of the ball, but I’m trying to stick with one side) is that there is a lack of quality depth. Yes, the hits taken to the recruiting classes with the coaching chaos play a role, but the reality is Pitt only lost only one recruit that would really help on the D-line: DT Marquise Wright (Rutgers). Guys like Terrell Chestnut (S), Quinton Alston (LB) wouldn’t provide the help needed on the line.  But the fact that there are so many players with big questions after 2 to 3 years, says that this problem would be here regardless of the chaos.

believe LaQuntein Smith is competing at DT – that’s what Reeds says below

Comment by wbb 08.07.12 @ 1:57 pm

The one question I’d love Coach to answer honestly but will never, ever get the chance:

How does this team compare to WI?

Comment by steve1 08.07.12 @ 2:18 pm

Would be interesting to see the official heights and weights compared to last year (i.e. LaQuentin and KK, Clemmings, Ezell, etc.) Would be good to follow their physical developments, but only if the measurements are close to accurate. Tino at 6’2″ makes my head spin and question the mathematical accuity of the pr folks.

Comment by dhuffdaddy 08.07.12 @ 2:22 pm

answer to steve1….smaller, slower, qb play to name a few.

Comment by dhuffdaddy 08.07.12 @ 2:50 pm

I think Dan mason should start te first game. I don’t care if he ever sees the field after that

Comment by DCPinPGH 08.07.12 @ 4:16 pm

dhuffdaddy. this team is not slower than wisconsin. they are smaller and have worse qb play however. id argue pitt is faster

Comment by pk 08.07.12 @ 4:25 pm

IMO, This team has far and away more overall talent top to bottom than that first (inherited) team Wanny fielded. If not for the QB question mark we would be looking at a 10 win team. Even as is they should be capable of 7-8 wins.

Comment by pitt1972 08.07.12 @ 5:24 pm

lol Saying this team is small or slow. Than a Big 10 team? Get real, for 3 quarters last year AT Iowa, Pitt walked all over a consistently good Big 10 team. In fact the ESPN announcers suggested Iowa didn’t have the athletes to compete with PITT thru 3 quarters!! Had it not been for a 4rth quarter meltdown prompted by a coach who thought this team had been running his spread offense for 3-4 years ala Tulsa and forgot to milk the clock, PITT would have won handily on the road at a consistently good Big 10 team who has dominated Pedo State and half of the Big 10 !!

We’ll be fine on the DL & LB. In fact the LB’ing has to better without Tristan Roberts and Max Gruder in the mix. Yes Gruder made tackles but he was slow as molasses and just happened to be the backer the defense was designed to make tackles.
And Roberts was plain terrible. Neither could make a big play. Whereas we have several LB’s now who can make a game changing play, Todd Thomas & Ejuan Price among them.

Comment by Emel 08.07.12 @ 7:36 pm

if you read zeise’s red shirt diary today, he raves about the linebackers. he says there are a lot of good players that will compete for the starting spots.
link to

Comment by pk 08.07.12 @ 7:45 pm

I like what Emel has to say. PK – I normally like what you have to say but I’ve learned over the years that Ziese is the eternal optimist when it comes to Pitt football. I’m taking what he says with a grain of salt. But I do hope he’s right. HTP

Comment by Atlanta Panther 08.07.12 @ 7:58 pm

Zeise has to be right this year or else I become an alcoholic. But seriously, I think he isn’t bull shitting us this year. I just hope the defense is aggressive and focuses on turnovers. I like what I saw last year under Graham. Pitt’s D has to carry this team if its goin anywhere because I have little faith in Tino. Sorry 24 soon to be 25 year old 5′ 10” quarterback. You were born a strong safety but Wanny gave you the QB. I don’t blame you. I know you try. I blame Wanny for a lot of things but I know he loved Pitt and there is nothing greater than that. I’ll have a beer with him any day. When Graham dies, I’ll piss on his grave. Sorry for contributing nothing with this post.

Comment by TX Panther 08.07.12 @ 8:53 pm

Nah, Tx, a very good read. Thanks,

Comment by steve1 08.07.12 @ 9:10 pm

Sorry if this has been previously discussed but Dokish reporting hat Dorian Johnson decommitted from PSU.

Comment by Bowling Green Panther 08.07.12 @ 9:21 pm

Found out why Zeise is so pro-Pitt: Pitt has offered North Allegheny WR/CB Elijah Zeise, son of Pitt beat writer Paul Zeise, according to @KGorman_Trib 14 minutes ago

Dear Dorian Johnson, Come to Pitt. You’ll be glad you did.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 08.07.12 @ 9:35 pm

I do share much of Zeise’s optimism for the lb corps. It is the fastest and most athletic Pitt has had in recent years. However, they are still very young and inexperienced. They might take some early lumps but could become something special.

Comment by Bowling Green Panther 08.07.12 @ 9:43 pm

if dorian johnson was so opposed to pitts urban campus, would he still have pitt as a favorite through thick and thin? i dont know. what i do know is chryst was given a second chance with him and he needs to capitolize.

as for the linebackers, i think the speed and athleticism is easy to see. if shane gordon can be solid at mlb this year, which i dont see why he wont, the group will be very good. on one side, you have eric williams and todd thomas, both 6’3″ 215, very athletic, and fast. on the other side, you have 6’1″ 225 nick grigsby (who huxtable says is one of the best athletes hes ever been around, juan price is small but very quick and showed promise as a pass rusher. deaysean rippy worked with the olbs so far too. if they know the playbook i think this could be a great group, considering all but gordon will be returning next year

Comment by pk 08.07.12 @ 9:59 pm

Dorian Johnson i dont think we get him i dont think chryst can close the deal.
my bet it is VT.

Comment by FRANKCAN 08.07.12 @ 10:45 pm

His mom does not want her baby boy in the big
and i would say 9 times out of 10 what a mom wants a mom gets
who ever recruits him needs to spend more time with his mom and less with the kid.

Comment by FRANKCAN 08.07.12 @ 10:55 pm

FRANKCAN, from what I’ve read (well, mostly rumors on other boards) VT or some other isolated place is much more likely than Pitt. Just hope it isn’t WVU.

The most interesting part of the story is the de-commit itself. The floodgates may now open.

Comment by BATR 08.08.12 @ 5:56 am

Chryst should take Dorians mom on a tour of campus. She will change her mind. She probably thinks it looks like the Hill. Heck, since Bates looks all nice n nat, enter campus on that street. Show her where her son will sleep, eat, take classes, practice. Show her that Oakland is the cultural center of the city. Speaking of Va Tech, it aint that safe with the horrendous shooting from a year ago. In Oakland, there are cops all over the place and would have reacted far faster saving lives. Then Chryst needs to tell Dorian about playing time, smash mouth football, etc. Whatever it takes within the bounds of being reasonably truthful. We have one more chance with Dorian. Let’s not blow it.

Comment by TX Panther 08.08.12 @ 6:56 am

Would you like to start your day off with a guffaw? Then check out these videos:

link to

This guy’s a classic megalomaniac. Good riddance.

Comment by steve1 08.08.12 @ 7:39 am

Here here Tx Panther. We can nab this kid. Hope Chyrst is smart enough to go after mommy.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 08.08.12 @ 7:53 am

Dorian sure dropped the “We are” tweets quickly. Oh to be young and dumb again…

Comment by Coach Ditka 08.08.12 @ 8:25 am

Yes, LaQuentin Smith is at DT right now – he’s 6’2″ and 265 so he has some bulk. Bam Bradley has been moved to Smith’s old LB spot.

I wonder just how much truth there is to the “Mom didn’t want Dorian on PITT’s campus” slant. I’ve looked everywhere and the only place I see that references that is on message boards.

The same thing with the slanderous rumor that 1) Johnson accepted money to commit to PSU and 2) PSU gave his mother a job in Happy Valley to try to keep her son committed.

It really gets to be too much sometimes.

It would be nice to get Mason a start right off the bat then pull him the next play but I’m of the opinion that might be all the football he sees this season, or any other.

Comment by Reed 08.08.12 @ 8:47 am

In regard to Dorian Johnson: If Pitt is really too urban of a campus, and Johnson does not want that type of setting — why is he still listing Pitt as one of his considerations? Seems to me if that were such a decisive criteria that Pitt would not even be on the list. Especially this second time around. If he is saying he is interested in Pitt, then he is interested in Pitt.

Comment by JCE 08.08.12 @ 9:51 am

Dave Wannstedt is not the only coach that moves slow linebackers to DL and safties to LB, lol.

Comment by notrocketscience 08.08.12 @ 9:53 am

Totally agree JC, especially since OSU is one of his other finalists. The biggest difference between PGH & Columbus are the lack of hills and a winning pro franchise!

Comment by ec2it 08.08.12 @ 2:53 pm

Speaking of Columbus, when in town check out the Flatiron Bar & Grill. Great bar, 4-7 happy hour,
$2 well drinks & $2 domestics. They also sell cigars and have some of the finer bourbons.
It’s over by Nationwide Arena & the Convention Ctr.
Wish it was in Charlotte or Da Burg !

Great bars are getting harder & harder to come by, PC & franchises you know !

Comment by Emel 08.08.12 @ 3:20 pm

LMAO about Zeise’s kid getting an offer from PITT.

Is this an Olive Branch or a combo Olive Branch/Bribe to have continued apologies for Sir Tino and continue Zeise’s policy of trying to convince us that we truly, certainly, most assuredly have a D1 QB who impresses all in practice, with his accuracy, receiver selection & leadership abilities. (wash, rinse, spin, repeat)


Comment by Emel 08.08.12 @ 3:26 pm

The other big difference between Pgh and Columbus is that in Columbus, everyone is aware that there is a local college FB team

Comment by wbb 08.08.12 @ 4:15 pm

Emel, Indeed, the Flatiron is about the best place in town. The grill is good also. Can’t go wrong with the specials. Has a small but loyal following, as most folks in Columbus are chain restaurant patrons.

Comment by Clay Kie 08.08.12 @ 11:49 pm

Yes,Columbus KNOWS it has a college team which is as idolozed as the Steelers are in Pittsburgh. In fact, the population here can be nauseating about their gridders. They have the largest sports budget in the nation and their sports media has been indoctrinated the say few nasty words about their Buckeyes. They get more fans into their campus stadium for a spring game than Pitt attracks for a “natural rival” (If there are any left!!) So why would a Pa. kid Not succumb to the lure of “Suburban Urban”? Well. maybe because the kid wants to play NOW and not sit on the bench for three years while the highschool all-Americans get their turn. Or perhaps the aspiring recruit does not like the appeal of going to a college which is ON PROBATION!! Whatever! If I were that young man I would give Pitt a very good look, for many reasons. Two of which would be Paul Chryst and the city of Pittsburgh itself. Rev. George in Columbus

Comment by Rev. George Mehaffey 08.09.12 @ 2:39 pm

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