A week ago Spencer Hall of Every Day Should Be Saturday tweeted out this nugget.
We have officially reached the point in the offseason where everyone believes they will be “better than expected” this year.
— edsbs (@edsbs) August 15, 2012
It took a few more days for Pitt fans to reach that point but after the second scrimmage, it happened.
There’s a feeling that 8 wins is no longer the ceiling, but the floor. That this team, with this coach, with this schedule, in this conference could very well win 8-10 games as opposed to the 5-8 that seemed to be the range dating back to the spring.
The D-line has its own questions. Can Aaron Donald still thrive with more attention (and double-teams)? Will others step up to make teams pay for doubling on Donald? Ezell? Clemmings? Murphy? Smith? Lippert? Can they really be War Daddies?
The linebacker spots all seem to have questions. Whether it is health or simply having stability.
And the QB spot remain a place of angst.
Even if it takes Ray Graham some more time to come back from his ACL injury, Isaac Bennett has been continuing a strong spring in the summer. He’s not shying away from competition or learning from others at the spot. Malcolm Crockett has also had a solid summer camp. Heck, Rushel Shell has started getting carries in practice as Bennett has been day-to-day, and he seems to be coming around — but regardless he seems to be accepting of possibly redshirting like a good team player.
Then, of course, there is the new coach and staff. Paul Chryst has everyone feeling optimistic — as you would hope when there is a new coach. That he can coach the kids up.
Hell, Chryst coached up Tyler Donovan in 2007 to help Wisconsin to a 9-3 regular season. Scott Tolzien was 20-4 from 2009-10 in the regular season. Why is 8 wins with Sunseri as QB in the Big East so outrageous an idea? Besides with Chad Voytik coming on strong in the final week of camp, who is to say he doesn’t take the reins from Sunseri at some point during the season?
It’s amazing how easy it is. How seductive it is to talk yourself into this.
The optimism and hope are good, though. I’d rather see some irrational exuberance towards the season than, “meh” or “maybe in time.”
My feeling is still in the 6-9 win range. There is just too many question marks on the line. Too little depth and too much reliance on players staying healthy. I like where the program is heading. I want to see Pitt doing nearly everything it can to win every game. I just don’t see anyway to avoid this ultimately being (yet another) transition year.