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September 30, 2012

We PITT fans were in the habit of biting our collective nails when Dave Wannstedt was coaching the team going into games coming off a bye week.  Because we are in that time period now and awaiting our game against Syracuse next Friday evening I thought I’d take a look back to see if that nervousness was justified and compare it to the results Paul Chryst had at his last job.

Since the 2005 season until his last year in 2010 Wannstedt had eight bye weeks over six seasons and compiled a 3-5 record in the games played after the bye.  Not very good all told and the image of his being poor at preparing the team over that long layoff is pretty accurate.

The breakdown of those games is as follows: one home loss; one home win; one away win and five away losses.  We kind of got screwed with the scheduling there as six of eight games were on the road.  One weird note is that in 2008 we had three bye week games that resulted in a win over Iowa at home; a win over Navy at home and a loss to Cincinnati at their place.

Fast forward up to today and let’s look at what kind of track record our current coach Paul Chryst, as the Offensive Coordinator at Wisconsin, had in getting his offense ready to play after an enforced layoff time.  Well, as it turns out Wisconsin was 4-3 overall.  They were good lately but very poor a few years ago.  Here is how it shook out (I used the offensive output as Chryst wasn’t the head coach):

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September 29, 2012

A fantastic piece by Luke Winn at SI.com that talks about the exploitable flaw in the RPI system. How it can be gamed, by numbers savvy coaches with their non-con to create a high RPI ranking without actually taking huge risks.

The NCAA tournament selection committee uses the RPI formula to assess teams’ non-conference strength of schedule (NCSOS). Two-thirds of RPI’s NCSOS is based on the raw winning percentages of a team’s opponents, and the other third is based on the raw winning percentages of opponents’ opponents. A team vying for an at-large NCAA tournament bid is best off having a respectable NCSOS rank and a number of wins over RPI top-25, top-50 or top-100 teams. While the selection committee has stated that RPI is just one of many tools it uses, the fact remains that schedule strength is viewed predominantly through the RPI’s lens.

The problem is that it’s a warped lens. Seventy-five percent of the RPI formula is about strength of schedule (SOS), and because the RPI uses the flawed metric of raw winning percentage to assess SOS, it fails to provide a true measure of the quality of opponents.

Here’s how that works. If you schedule decent to good mid- and low mid-majors. That is teams that can be expected to do well in their own conference, you puff up your own RPI because they end the year with 18 to 20+ wins. Even if most of those wins came in the MEAC or such.

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September 28, 2012

Bad Headlines

Filed under: Fishwrap,Football,Media,Recruiting — Chas @ 1:59 pm

Today is National Drink Beer Day. As such, it might explain the headline in the Post-Gazette in proclaiming: “Recruit Report: Buckeyes are poaching on Pitt’s turf.”

The first thought at seeing that headline, “Oh, crap, Meyer got Dorian Johnson!” Then when you read it, you realize that it is merely an article noting that Ohio State is trying to recruit top players out of Western Pennsylvania, including Johnson and Robert Foster.

Because that has never happened before Urban Meyer showed up in Columbus. Jim Tressel totally ignored top players in the area. The only competition in Western PA came from Penn State and West Virginia. This is something totally new.

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One of the greatest sources of tension for Big East football fans and ND has not been the fact that ND stayed independent. Not that they wouldn’t fully commit, and on top of it they wouldn’t really schedule Big East teams unless it was on their terms (Pitt and Syracuse being exceptions owing to history). No, it was the bowl relationship. That on top of being able to park basketball and their olympic sports in the Big East, they could swoop in and grab a bowl bid just by being within two wins of the team inline for the bowl. A source of immense frustration that only exacerbated the anger most Big East football fans had towards the line-up of bowl options.

The justification from the Big East — and repeated so many times by so many — was that the Big East would not even have the bowl line-up it presently has (had?), but for the affiliation of Notre Dame as a carrot to the bowls. Which of course, begs the question,  what happens to the Big East bowl line-up post-ND? A related and more relevant question for Pitt fans, what about the ACC bowl line-up?

There is a slight possibility of actually finding out what Notre Dame’s impact on a conference bowl line-up beyond the perpetual rhetoric.

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Good lawyer, probably a bit of overdoing it on the number of charges, and a clean past help.

Back in May, Carl Krauser had a bit of trouble with the police. You may recall the laundry list of charges: escape, carrying a loaded weapon, possession of a small amount of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, public drunkenness and driving with a suspended license.

The escape, public drunkenness and driving with a suspended license charges were all dropped. That left the drug and weapon charges. The outcome? Two years of ARD.

Krauser, 31, of New York City, was approved for the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program Tuesday by Judge Kim Tesla. If participants successfully complete ARD, they can petition court officials to have their record expunged.

Court records show that Krauser will be on ARD for two years on charges of having firearms not to be carried without a license, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

As a first time offender, he was eligible for the program. That strikes me as a pretty good lawyer to be able to get him ARD when it involves an unlicensed, loaded firearm.

Obviously a huge burden off of Krauser. He had to give up his passport while the case was pending. That meant no way for him to sign an overseas contract with his legal status up in the air. Now, he can return to playing professional basketball in Europe or Asia.

September 27, 2012

Mason’s Next Step

Filed under: Football,Players — Chas @ 2:44 pm

“It was an accomplishment. It was a step,” he said. “But it’s not my ultimate goal. My ultimate goal is to be out there doing what I used to do: starting and playing a full game. I’m not giving up this fight.”

Dan Mason, on getting live snaps in the win over Gardner-Webb.

Football is a violent, at times ugly sport. At no time was that more evident than two years ago when Dan Mason went to make a stop during the Miami-Pitt game. Routine game action that went horribly awry.

Mason’s right leg stuck in the turf, and he suffered a dislocated knee, tears to the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments and damage to the peroneal nerve. Pitt trainer Rob Blanc said it was one of the worst injuries he has seen in 25 years at the school.

“I was worried that he was never going to walk again,” Blanc said.

Mason has worked hard, non-stop since then to get back to football.

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September 26, 2012

Lists and TV Schedules

Filed under: Basketball,Media,Schedule,TV — Chas @ 8:44 am

Well, college basketball season is getting closer. As you have probably heard, Pitt is bringing back Midnight Madness in a unique way. The Panthers will have their first official practice outside, on a court set up on Bigelow in the shadow of the Cathedral. The event takes place on Friday, October 12. Which just happens to also be homecoming weekend.

The entire event will be livestreamed on ESPN3, and the ESPNU Midnight Madness show will be doing live look-ins.

Pitt has also finalized their TV schedule. There will be some games that are simply unavailable to those who don’t live in the Pittsburgh/Western Pennsylvania area. Those will be some of the games that air on Pittsburgh Panthers TV, which is a Comcast only channel. The scrimmage, two exhibition games and four patsy games — Oakland (Nov. 17), Howard (Nov. 27), Delaware State (Dec. 19) and Kennesaw State (Dec. 23).

Some games will be ESPN3 streaming only. With one surprise: Mount St. Mary’s (Nov. 9), Detroit (Dec. 1), the City Game vs. Duquesne at Consol Energy Center (Dec. 5), North Florida (Dec. 8) and Bethune Cookman (Dec. 15). The City Game being streamed only is a hell of an indictment on how far Duquesne has fallen at this point, and the expectations. Not even regional/ROOT Sports interest in broadcasting it.

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September 25, 2012

Final Gardner-Webb Thoughts

Filed under: Football — Chas @ 11:48 am

Been trying to come up with thoughts that strike the right balance in Pitt’s blowout of Gardner-Webb. All the good in the game has to be tempered by the opponent. At the same time, it seems negative to denigrate the performance too much merely because the opponent was so bad.

Let me get the one negative out of the way. With the exception of that huge hole they opened up for Ray Graham on his 78 yard TD run, the O-line was a big disappointment in run-blocking. The pass protection was solid, but the run-blocking looked more like it did against Youngstown State and Cinci. For most of the game, there was no place for the running backs to go in-between the tackles.

Yes, the running game piled up 229 yards, but take out the 78 yard run and the two “carries” for -4 yards by Sunseri and Pitt had 155 yards on 34 carries. That’s a respectable 4.7 yards per carry. Yet, looking closer shows that Pitt collected 73 yards (on 12 carries) in the 4th quarter with Isaac Bennett and Malcolm Crockett running to run out the clock. Did not having Fullback Mark Giubilato available for this game make that kind of difference?

When Graham and Rushel Shell were the primary ball carriers for the first 3 quarters, there was not a lot of yardage gained on the ground. The two had 135 yards on 21 carries, but 91 yards came on just two runs. Shell did not look as strong in the game. He wasn’t hitting the line with the same force he showed last Saturday.

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September 24, 2012

2-2 The Odd Way

Filed under: Football — Chas @ 10:44 am

Some thoughts on the actual game coming. Not a lot, mind you, but some. Pitt did what they should do against an overmatched 1-AA team. Blew them out of the water. Never gave them hope.

Pitt has a bye this week. The Panthers find themselves at 2-2. A realistic record at this point coming into the season. Some of the more optimistic would have said 3-1. But 2-2 was the absolute floor. That’s where they are.

This is where there’s a comment about the journey being much more interesting than the destination would be made. Afterall, while everyone had the Gardner-Webb game as a lock, no one. I mean no one truly believed Pitt would lose badly to Youngstown State, get blown out by Cinci and then bounce back with an overpowering performance against Virginia Tech.

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FUN WITH SUNSERI’S STATS

Filed under: Football,Players — Reed @ 9:17 am

It’s a long time until we next have actual football to talk about given the bye week.  That is good as we need the R&R and the staff can fine tune those stupid penalty mistakes.  In lieu of poignant discussions I thought it would be fun to do something else… look at everybody’s favorite QB and how he’s been doing statistically.

After another productive, and impressive, outing against Gardner-Webb Saturday let’s look at what sort of statistical season and career Tino Sunseri is having so far.

Last game Sunseri completed 18 of 24 attempts for 344 yards with three TDs and no interceptions.  Obviously that was a good outing against a lower quality program.  Cumulatively he’s playing very well (statistically remember) going 80 of 119 (67%) for 1144 yards with eight TDs and two INTs.  This equates to a 166.80 QB rating which puts him 15th in the nation in Passing Efficiency.

Breaking that down further that is 9.6 yards per attempt and 14.3 yards per completion which is also very good.

Here is a little twist when looking at how the NCAA rates QB play nationally.  For “Passing” they use completions per game where Sunseri is an average 45th with 20 per game.  However, they also list “Passing Yards Per Game” in which Sunseri’s good 9.6 yards per attempt jacks him up to 19th nationally with 286 ypg.

OK, pretty good season so far on paper for him.  What does this pace of play project out to as far as historical PITT QBs and their statistical achievements?

Sunseri’s 2012’s 1144 yards so far is on track, at 286 per game, to beat the all-time single season passing yardage record held by Rod Rutherford (2003 with 3679 yards).  That would be 3718 yards projected over 13 games assuming we get to a bowl game.

Passing yards in a season

Name                          Season            Yards

1. Rod Rutherford       2003               3,679

2. Alex Van Pelt         1992               3,163

3. Tyler Palko             2004               3,067

4. Alex Van Pelt         1989               2,881

5. Dan Marino            1981               2,876

6. Tyler Palko             2006               2,871

7. Pete Gonzalez         1997               2,829

8. Alex Van Pelt         1991               2,796

9. Rod Rutherford       2002               2,783

10. Bill Stull               2009               2,633

Looking at total career passing yards his yardage to date (6446) puts him at #6 behind #5 John Congemi (6467) and #4 Rutherford (6724).  He’ll pass both of those guys with the next two games to land at #4 behind #1 Alex Van Pelt (11,267!), #2 Dan Marino (8597)and #3 Tyler Palko (8343).

At his current 286 ypg pace Sunseri would end up with a total career yardage mark of 9020 surpassing both Palko and Marino and listing him at #2 historically.  Yikes!  This is a projection crudely based on simple stats and a 2012 bowl game but still, it is rather eye opening to see what could happen in the record books if he keeps up his current pace.  Factor in that he’s starting three years vice four as Van Pelt and Marino did and it’s more impressive.

Passing yards in a career (as of the start of 2012)

1. Alex Van Pelt         1989-92          11,267

2. Dan Marino            1979-82          8,597

3. Tyler Palko             2002-06          8,343

4. Rod Rutherford       2000-03          6,724

5. John Congemi         1983-86          6,467

6. Tino Sunseri           2009-              5,302 (currently 6446 as of today)

7. Bill Stull                 2005-09          5,252

8. David Priestley       1999-2001      4,533

9. John Ryan               1992-95          4,334

10. Rick Trocano        1977-80          4,219

To put things in a bit more perspective I looked at Sunseri’s numbers and compared then to John Congemi’s as those two are somewhat comparable talents in my eyes.  Here is what I found.

Congemi         550/994     55%      6467 yards        6.4 ypa         11.75 ypc

Sunseri           560/867     65%      6446 yards        7.4 ypa         11.50 ypc

You can see that Sunseri’s 2012 9.6 ypa is a pretty big jump over his historical 7.4.  That translates into a lot more yardage and keeping drives alive.

As far as rushing goes Sunseri has 170 yards so far in his career which, added to his passing yardage, give him 6616 in total yardage surpassing…(drum roll please)…. #5 Tony Dorsett at 6526 total yards.  Damn!  That is too weird but it is interesting that Dorsett is the only non-QB on the list and that Palko tops Marino.  That’s mainly because Marino was a statue back there.

Top Total Offense Careers

Name                     Seasons                      Rushing                   Passing              Total

1. Alex Van Pelt      1988-92                      -119                          11,267                11,148

2. Tyler Palko          2002-06                      86                            8,343                  8,429

3. Dan Marino         1979-82                      -277                         8,597                  8,320

4. Rod Rutherford    2000-03                      885                          6,724                  7,609

5. Tony Dorsett        1973-76                      6,526                       0                        6,526

6. John Congemi      1983-86                      -116                         6,467                  6,351

7. Tino Sunseri        2009-                           170                           5,302                  5.494 (6616)

8. Bill Stull              2005-09                      -188                         5,252                  5,064

9. Rick Trocano       1977-80                      673                          4,219                  4,892

10. David Priestley 1999-2001                   -88                           4,533                  4,445

I find those all those interesting statistics and comparisons.  Not just in regard to Sunseri’s production but to see all the other QBs in context to each other also.  Remember, this article isn’t debating the merits, talents or worth to the team but pure statistical projections alone.  Nobody in their right mind would equate Sunseri with Dan Marino or even Tyler Palko as far as being an effective QB over the life of his career.

Sunseri could easily fall back off of his 280 ypg pace but given Chryst’s offense so far, and the progress it has made over the first four games, Sunseri could also maintain that level.  We’ll see how that plays out.  Hopefully it will get even better as that would lead to more wins this season.  But you have to admit – the record books will change by the end of the 2102 season.

September 22, 2012

Open Thread: Gardner-Webb – Pitt

Filed under: Football,Open Thread — Chas @ 1:35 pm

3:30 game=good

No TV=good

1-AA team=bad

50-50 chance of rain=bad

Not looking forward to seeing wide stadium shots of the attendance for this game.

An oddly big game for Pitt with a small opponent. The Panthers have to show that they are a lot more like the team that came out swinging against VT and not the floundering mess of the first couple games.

If Pitt wants to show that it was just learning the new system in game situations and everybody adjusting then they need to overwhelm the Bulldogs. Tough break for Ron Dickerson and his Western PA (and Pitt) ties, but his 0-3 team needs to be beaten thoroughly.

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Know Your Bulldogs

Filed under: Football,Opponent(s) — Chas @ 10:34 am

Gardner-Webb. One of the many schools that used a bulldog for a mascot. Not sure why so many schools have a bulldog. Were they cheap and plentiful back when the schools started playing sports? Convenience? Of course if that were the case, you would think that many of the land-grant and former agricultural schools would have simply gone with chickens, turkeys or some other poultry. I probably need some more coffee.

Well, let’s simplify what you need to know about Gardner-Webb from an on-the-field perspective. They are 0-3. They have been blown out by Wofford, Richmond and Samford by a combined score of 139-38. Here’s a capsule look at the star players.

GWU personnel: Sophomore Linebacker Tanner Burch leads the Big South in tackles per game and is No. 3 nationally with an average of 13.6 stops … Wideout Carlton Heard caught a career-high seven passes for 107 yards against Samford with five of the seven receptions securing first-down yardage for the ’Dogs…Sophomore QB Lucas Beatty has already surpassed his season totals from all of last year in completions and yardage. He’s thrown for 666 yards by hitting 65 of 105 attempts with three interceptions and one touchdown…Senior punter Bo Lindsay and Burch were named Big South Conference Players of the Week for their performances versus Samford.

And that’s about it. Love that even their semi-local paper — actually from the neighboring city of Shelby — has to provide a little capsule infodump on the key Gardner-Webb players.

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September 21, 2012

Injuries Ahead of the Can’t Lose

Filed under: Football,Injury — Chas @ 8:42 am

I’m not saying it’s a must win. It’s much more that Pitt cannot lose. They can’t lose to two 1-AA teams in a season (or ever again). And they certainly can’t lose another home game.

Pitt lost Jahmal Pardner in the VT game. DE Jack Lippert and TE Hubie Graham missed the VT game with injuries. LB Todd Thomas has remained in recovery mode from off-season ACL surgery — but is apparently getting closer to seeing action.

The good news is that linebacker Todd Thomas, a 2011 starter who had knee surgery in January, might get his first snaps of the season Saturday.

“I don’t want to say it’s like sending a pitcher down to Triple-A to throw, but you have to get some live work,” Chryst said. “We have to see where Todd is at.”

Thomas has been practicing for the past week and has been encouraged by his progress.

“(He) felt better after each day,” Chryst said. “Todd was able to do a lot more (Wednesday) than he did a week ago, and Tuesday he did a fair amount.”

There had been rumors that Thomas might get on the field last week. Now, it is Coach Chryst saying its possible. So at least he’s getting closer.

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September 20, 2012

Overthinking Newkirk

Filed under: Basketball,Recruiting — Chas @ 8:41 am

The verbal of Josh Newkirk to Pitt is being taken — both locally and nationally — as pure evidence that Pitt and Coach Jamie Dixon will have no problem recruiting against ACC teams and in ACC country.

Pitt coach Jamie Dixon is adapting on the fly to the Panthers’ arrival into the ACC in 2013. The commitment from Word of God point guard Josh Newkirk in Raleigh, N.C., is the first example of the Panthers’ potential reach into the ACC region. Pitt should have no problems competing with the rest of the ACC in recruiting. The change of conference shouldn’t matter. Pitt now has even more to sell with the security of a new destination. There’s no reason why the Panthers should dip in the ACC. The Panthers aren’t even in the league yet and they already have made inroads in the ACC.

I must have missed the last few years where Pitt has been recruiting the Baltimore and Washington D.C. area. A region that may not be “pure” ACC country, is certainly disputed territory.

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September 19, 2012

Josh Newkirk Wastes No Time

Filed under: Basketball,Recruiting — Chas @ 5:45 pm

Okay, so the win over VT hasn’t yielded any immediate results in football recruiting. But that weekend left an impression on point guard Josh Newkirk. The North Carolina point guard gave a verbal to Pitt today ($) after Coach Jamie Dixon followed up with a trip down to North Carolina.

Josh Newkirk is a 3-/4-star point guard. He’s 6-2, 175. He’s got quickness and loves to attack the basket (Insider subs).

He easily transitions from scorer to playmaker and can do both. He owns a presence at his position and the kind of head strong game you want out of a playmaker. Newkirk uses his quickness to can get into the lane sometimes at will. Newkirk is a good athlete as well. His ball handling and passing are solid and he can hit the open jumper off the catch or dribble with range to the arc. Newkirk is also a good defender that plays with great energy. Pressuring the ball and anticipating in the passing lanes are also strengths of Newkirk.

On the weaknesses, his perimeter game is a work in progress. He also needs to get stronger. He is considered to have a high ceiling that could result in the kind of player who’s performance will outstrip his recruiting ranking.

He has a ceiling that could take him to higher levels which will be predicated on the resume he builds with his high school team. Adding a jumpshot will enhace his PG ranking. Overall Newkirk is a solid all around point guard that has great upside.

This puts two in the 2013 recruiting class. Technically that fills the class as the only seniors are Dante Taylor and Travon Woodall. But the expectations are that Pitt is looking to add one more big man.

 

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