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September 10, 2012

Now What?

Filed under: Chryst,Coaches,Football — Chas @ 7:18 am

Pitt has a ton of problems. And, yes, I have posted for a couple straight days with attention to the coaching staff. There’s a reason for that.

The deficiencies and strengths on this team — regarding the players/talent/depth — were mostly known coming into the season. The unknown was how the coaching staff would use them. How they would coach and prepare them.

So far, it has not been pretty. There’s no way to pretend otherwise. Yes, the coaching chaos the last two years have taken a toll. Almost certainly it has had an effect on the team psyche. Yes it has impacted the overall talent on the squad. Yes, there are injuries — especially to the linebackers. Yes, there has been a bit of overestimating the overall talent on this squad.

None of that is sufficient to explain the performance of this team in the first two games. Losing by 14 — and never even leading — to YSU. Not being competitive in the Cinci game. Sorry. This team should not be this bad.

Coach Chryst will and should have the time to set up this program his way. He’s also a first-time head coach, learning and making mistakes. We wish otherwise, but the on-the-field performance and the way the team has started in the first two games demonstrate that right now he is finding 0ut how steep the learning curve can be in moving from coordinator to head coach.

Changes. Shake-ups to the coaching staff won’t happen until the off-season. (And there absolutely needs to be a shake-up just based on these first two games.) So, the position coaches had better find their own sense of urgency.

[Editor note/UPDATE: Holy crap, Wisconsin just fired their O-line coach, 2 games into the season!]

What I will be looking to see over the rest of the season and going forward:  will there be improvements? Will the players be better prepared to start games? Will they have more urgency? Will they be in a better position to use their strengths, and can their weaknesses be masked?

It sucks to be in week two and already writing off even a .500 record, but that is the reality right now. It sucks for guys like Holley, Tags, Jacobson and seniors who have worked their tails off. Done all they can. Left bits of cartilage and brain matter on the field for Pitt.

The reality is, this season is lost. They lost a gimmee, and failed miserably in a game that was believed to be a toss-up before the season started.

The defense is a mess. The D-line is being shredded, and that further exposes the very depleted linebackers. The secondary, which was supposed to be the strength on this team is struggling badly to play man coverage.

Sunseri is not the reason Pitt has lost their first two games — the defense takes a larger share of the blame so far. He’s been his maddeningly-inconsistent-tight-when-it-matters-unable-to-hit-a-man-more-than-20-yards-downfield-self. But the offensive line remains lousy. Giving him no time, and not giving the running backs anything inside. That said, Sunseri’s not helping, and I am ready to rip the redshirt off of Voytik.

The only thing that gives me pause — and it has gotten much smaller the more I think about it — is playing behind the Pitt O-line. The O-line is technically at full-strength (Notwithstanding Juantez Hollins) — or at least closer to full available players than last year — and it is just as bad at pass protection. No one should feel that comfortable throwing a freshman QB behind that O-line, least of all the coaches. Of course it can rationalize that away because Voytik is supposed to be a better runner.

It’s defensible to keep Voytik’s redshirt in a lost year, but it less defensible to keep trotting out Sunseri. At this point it just seems like wasting time.

After that, what other changes do you make to the line-up? Plug Bisnowaty and/or Demhasaj in at the O-line? Give Rippy a look at linebacker (actually, yes).

Blame the loss of the 2011 recruiting class all you want, on the lack of talent, but those would only be sophomores and redshirt freshmen. As tumultuous as last year was, the 2012 recruiting class held together and brought in some good talent. To say nothing of how all summer, plenty were supporting the idea that stars and recruiting rankings were not the end-all-be-all.

Ultimately the only losses I can really point to from the last two recruiting classes that hurt in terms of present depth and need are all from the 2011 class: Gary Nova (QB), Marquise Wright (DT) and Quintin Alston (LB) — and the loss of Alston was arguably negated by picking up Ejuan Price after the Tressel firing. After that, there really aren’t many other players that decommitted from Pitt who would really be an upgrade at the position on this particular squad.

What do you want or hope to see from this team at this point?


pittisit 37 DR.Tom post yesterday were even better
i told him he should e mail them to the AD and to
chryst he really should do that. or type them up and mail them.

Comment by FRANKCAN 09.10.12 @ 6:26 pm

Anybody see the media pressor today??
Ridiculous media questions.
and if you didn’t know it..
based upon Chryst demeanor and answers… you would think the team was 1-1 and the games were close!!

Comment by Joe D 09.10.12 @ 6:26 pm

Dr. Tom,

I really like your number 8 above. Well said.

Comment by Pitt it IS 09.10.12 @ 6:29 pm

Tex Panther i am most of the time with you 100 per cent
.but we cant fire chryst you know that.
but i am with you that ASST coachs may need to go
and he should hire them from were you say.

Comment by FRANKCAN 09.10.12 @ 6:31 pm

Joe D why dont you e mail all thoes tv and radio
and news paper people and tell them to give up there free lunchs at pitt and ask them when they are goin to ask some real QUESTIONS like when is he going to bench tino does he need new asst coachs things like that.

no more puff QUESTIONS.

Comment by FRANKCAN 09.10.12 @ 6:40 pm

SPINDLERS SPIRIT 90 percent of us belive as you do
if only chryst read these post.

Comment by FRANKCAN 09.10.12 @ 6:46 pm

Still out here FRANKCAN. enjoying the posts, especially your usual insights on recruiting and coaches. Second wbb’s nomination of you for the recruiting job. Great post and video by Dr. Tom. Brought tears to my eyes. the good kind, not the kind I get watching Tino and our defense this yr.

Comment by Bossdaws 09.10.12 @ 6:49 pm

Bossdaws good to hear from you i was worryed
abought you .
you have been away to long.

Comment by FRANKCAN 09.10.12 @ 6:54 pm

Good Man FRANKCAN. thanks for asking. The Blather still rocks as the best out there. Now, like you said, if only Chryst would read these posts from the lifeblood of the Panther Nation.

Comment by Bossdaws 09.10.12 @ 7:28 pm

All you have to do is look at the University of Wisconsin to see what Pitt has to do. Somebody’s head has to roll for this continuing debacle. U of W wants to win at football. They do what is necessary. They have the balls to make the changes that they believe are needed.

Pitt’s coaches are obviously over-matched. All you have to do is look at their resume’s and you just roll your eyes and wonder what the hell Chryst and Pitt’s AD were thinking. I get it, we all thought Pitt was getting Bob Bostad and when he didn’t come on board Pitt went to Plan B.

Plan B isn’t working. There is nothing that I have seen in the first two games to think its ever going to work. Have some balls, go to Plan C.

That’s you Peterson. You are making a lot of money making piss poor decisions. Time to get a sack and tell Chryst he needs to make some changes. I understand Chryst has some loyalties to the people he hired. Everybody loves loyalty. But this crap show isn’t working. The assistants that were hired are not cutting it. Time for you to wipe that stupid smile off your face and show this University that you have some balls. Force Chryst to make a change.

If you make changes and this shit show continues I will know at least you tried. I will be satisfied that you at least tried. But if you sit on your ass and do nothing..Apathy will take over in September. And that is bad for business.

Look at U of W’s AD. That guy has a sack. Do you?

Comment by OliviaPitt 09.10.12 @ 8:12 pm

I saw some big improvement from the first to second game.We came real close to making that Cincy game competitive.Stay the course, Paul. I see 4 or 5 good wins this season.

Comment by alcofan 09.10.12 @ 8:16 pm

Here is one of my emails to media.. PG & Trib.
Let me help you out young fella…
Question for Chryst…

Wisky just fired its Oline coach after 2 game…
Will you replace any current assistants before the end of season… if not, why not!!

What will it take for you to bench Sunseri?? It’s 3 years with Sunseri… there are freshman QB’s starting all over D1 that look better than Tino…

What goals do the Defensive coaches have for VT game? Total yards? Turnovers?

please no powderpuff question…
if you are going to be a cheerleader…
go put on a skirt and grab a pair of pompoms and go to the sideline

Comment by Joe D 09.10.12 @ 8:23 pm

Like many other old timers who post on this blog, I’ve lived thru Pitt’s lean times. I experienced first hand the 1-10 season prior to Major’s debut. The good, the bad, it’s all Pitt football history.

Yesterday, you can’t do a single thing about, that is what they call history. Tomorrow, is what you make of it. My question is, where do YOU want to see Pitt football next year?

That is the great unknown. It only takes the correct combination of human beings with the clear, common vision to conceptionalize the result desired to turn the world on it’s ear.

Russell Shell has stated that his vision is to bring home a National Championship during his tenure as a Pitt Panther. Many would laugh in his face regarding his naivete. I say why not?

I’ve witnessed transformations in college football programs from the depths of despair to the heights of jubulant victory more than once in my lifetime. Sometimes it takes a wake up call of hitting rock bottom to jar one’s self into the realization that you can only go up from here to initiate it. The ultimate question might only be how far up are we committed to go?

This Pitt football program is in deep shit. Where do we go from here is the ultimate question. I say only up from here. the real question is how far. That my friends will be determined by the coaches and the players that play the game for the University of Pittsburgh.

As always, HAIL TO PITT.

Comment by Dr. Tom 09.10.12 @ 8:51 pm

Joe D.
These guys are afraid of losing their jobs. With 12 separate cba’s the PG wont last another 5.

My question would have been “if your 5th year senior doesn’t know by now how to kill the clock by throwing the ball away, not into Kentucky, don’t you think he will never get it?”

Comment by SFPitt 09.10.12 @ 8:57 pm

Joe D way to go very good

Comment by FRANKCAN 09.10.12 @ 9:02 pm

@Joe D

While those are all good questions and I’d LOVE to hear honest answers, the sad truth is NO head coach would ever answer any of those in public – NEVER!

I stopped watching any press conferences years ago because they are a waste of time. The reporters can ASK any question they want, the coach is not required to ANSWER anything. Look at Cowher and Tomlin – those two are the masters at controlling the media.

Reporters know the coach is not going to answer any tough questions, so they don’t waste time even asking. Instead they lob softballs and the coaches do not even give good answers to them. That’s why we have the term “coach speak.”

I’ll be watching to see if anyone from either newspaper changes their strategy based on your emails.

Comment by ME 2001 09.10.12 @ 9:03 pm

I second any motion that results in Dr. Tom, wbb & frankcan to being hired to the Pitt Athletic/football program. We will turn Mt. Washington into a new Rushmore with their fine Pitt likenesses!

Comment by Bowling Green Panther 09.10.12 @ 9:06 pm

Joe D i for one am glad you found this site
i think for the most part you have intersting things to say send some of thoes e mail to the AD
and radio people.
keep there feet to the fire.

Comment by FRANKCAN 09.10.12 @ 9:10 pm

Thank you bowling Green Panther i might not do better but i couldent do any worse
i dont think any one could do worse.

Comment by FRANKCAN 09.10.12 @ 9:19 pm

I’m nothin but just an old country Dr. keeping the Pitt faith down here in sleepy old Virginia.

Comment by Dr. Tom 09.10.12 @ 9:26 pm

I get no response from Sam Werner…
Zeise told him about me.. Zeise banned me when I commented about his son on red shirt diaries a few months ago… but I hardly went there anyway.

Dipoalo for Trib will respond at times… we went back and forth on the suspensions… basically I wanted 2 of them kicked off the team and free up the scholarship.. (Gonzo and Chris Davis have had 2 suspensions).

Comment by Joe D 09.10.12 @ 9:33 pm

just got a response from DiPaolo..

Just because Wisconsin fired its OLline coach doesn’t mean that is the answer for all teams. And even if Chryst had plans to do that, do you really think he would answer a question like that. Of course, he wouldn’t.

My response..
You should still ask the question.

Comment by Joe D 09.10.12 @ 9:39 pm

JOE D send this dipaolo is it your job to ask powder puff QUSTIONS any smuck could do that.
who do you serve pitt or the readers of the news paper.
or do you have no balls piss him off changle his man hood may be we get a tough QUSTION.

Comment by FRANKCAN 09.10.12 @ 9:57 pm

FraudGraham is 2-0 at ASU because he inherited a team already packed with speed and talent, and already ran a wickedly effective spread offense. Dennis Erickson was only fired because ASU wants to beat the USC’s and Oregon’s every year, and that ain’t gonna happen no matter who the coach is. Frankly, changing coaches was a dumba$$ move for them IMO. In any case, this doesn’t mean Graham is good coach or that he can recruit, just that he can take over a successful program and win with the existing players – big deal. Let’s see where he is in 3 or 4 years.

Pitt’s problem is that DW not only left the cupboard empty, but also completely screwed up the attitudes of the players he had. We’re paying for that now. DW couldn’t recruit, and I have no idea why everyone thought he could. He could get some decent individual players, but he couldn’t recruit an entire team. There were always big holes at key positions – like QB and OL for instance. Worse than that, he couldn’t motivate anyone, and I never saw that much desire or passion on the field. Guess what, I’m still not seeing it from the upperclassmen now. You can villify Stevie P all you want, but firing DW was the right move all the way around. I know DW loves Pitt and is a good guy, but he was a mediocre college coach at best.

I agree that Chryst’s choices for assistants seem more about friendship than qualifications, and some staff changes are going to have to happen at the end of this season. However, I don’t think we are going to know how good Chryst is as a coach or as a recruiter until DW’s guys are gone and he has a chance to fill the team with his own recruits.

Comment by SteveS 09.10.12 @ 10:13 pm

I think more people need to email the media as far as what questions to ask… their emails are all listed.. trib, PG,

Comment by Joe D 09.10.12 @ 10:32 pm

Interesting thought… After 92-96 Majors 2 debacle. “Not my Fault” Walt Harris came in and got a team that had maybe 12 wins in four years to believe and play way above their talent level. Exhibit Miami win and near miss at PSU..

It starts with the Seniors… This senior class has no drive and definitley no heart.. That is very sad..

Chryst should start playing the underclassmen….Maybe they still care….The Seniors do not…

Comment by Conservative Panther 09.10.12 @ 10:43 pm

Stop being critical of Tino. He throws a great field goal.

PC is not the problem. The AD is the problem.

Why complain about the YSU loss? Look they have 65 scho;arship players that have bought into a system, play like they are taught, have limited aspirations of going pro and because of that play for each other. Pitt cannot play for each other when the player that touches the ball on every offensive snap, is just that, offensive. Tino is polarizing as is our AD.

Our AD messed up Wanny, Haywood and Graham. All of those lost in their power struggle with Pederson. All have indicated that it is not the talent at Pitt, but rather the “other things”. What they are saying is no “all in” support from the AD. The AD nearly killed Nebraska football and is trying to replicate that at Pitt. We all allow this continue, so we get what we get.

Personally, I do think that Chryst is the man to lead us into a bright future. I spent the last four days on tobacco road (possible relocation to Raleigh/Durham) and to the person, each thinks Paul Chryst will be successful. That said, each person ridiculed our AD for how he handled the coaching debacle and the Nebraska fiasco. Is it a wonder how Solich has become successful so soon after separating from Pederson? As much as I hate to see it and you all hate to read it, Graham looks to be successful too (early). They can coach if the Pitt AD gets out of their way.

No coaches need to be fired, now. Pitt cannot play copy cat of wisconsin for one reason. Pitt needs stability in all of its ranks. Recruits are already being affected negatively with all the coaching changes, with competing coaches telling them that PC will not be at Pitt when they get to be Juniors and Seniors. Same will be said about their position coaches. Tweaks at a later date if you can improve the coach…and pay them. Step back from the ledge people. The good days are coming. Patience required!

Comment by dhuffdaddy 09.10.12 @ 11:02 pm

How does a team like UCLA, that looked soft the last couple of years, match/exceed the physical play of a reasonably good (but not great) Nebraska team this past weekend? UCLA punched Nebraska in the mouth. The UCLA kids may have a few more stars than the Pitt kids, but Nebraska is arguably better than either YSU or Cincy. Is this simply a matter of UCLA getting a couple of months (1st year coach) of quality coaching plus a motivational kick in the pants? Why can’t Pitt do that? (admittedly, I never coached anything so don’t really know what it takes…) But, if UCLA can do it…

Comment by Pitt in Oregon 09.10.12 @ 11:25 pm

Two points:

1) Play Voytik in a series or two against VA Tech. He needs to understand what college game speed really is. Then get him QB snaps in between games to be ready to be used seriously.

He isn’t that great of a QB where we should worry for one minute that if we burn his redshirt he won’t be a four year starter – that won’t happen anyway.

2) Graham’s ASU team is twice as fast as PITT’s was last season. I’m not surprised he’s haveing success there and think that had he stayed at PITT for a few years he would have recruited players that fit his system and probably won here also. I’m glad he’s gone though.

Bonus point: Chryst will have winning seasons at PITT, it just won’t be this season.

Comment by Reed 09.11.12 @ 9:22 am

PIO – UCLA was used to be great – they failed to invest in their athletics (including facilities) while others (Oregon,USC) did…last few years they’ve invested and it now shows…Pitt needs to allow the HCs hire who they want. We’ve had 2-3 years of poor classes – give PC the time and the money to build a program.

Comment by markp 09.11.12 @ 12:09 pm

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