July 9, 2013

A Mini-Media Day for Football

Filed under: Football,Players — Chas @ 1:29 pm

Pitt made a few players available to the media yesterday. Aaron Donald, Todd Thomas and Devin Street talked about the upcoming season.

Donald was the obvious headliner. As the various watchlists start getting tossed out, Donald’s name was on the Bednarik (best defensive player). In the various preseason mags, Donald’s name pops up as one of the top DT’s in the ACC.

So in this three-man media mix, Donald will take the role of the quiet leader.

This season, Pitt needs Donald’s ability to set a good example as much as his muscle.

“He’s definitely not a talker,” junior linebacker Todd Thomas said. “He leads by working hard and just doing what you have to do.”

Donald, 22, admits to his “laid-back” nature, but he said he won’t hesitate to evolve into a vocal leader if necessary. Teammates — and opponents — will be wise not to make him mad.

“They ask me questions; I try to give them feedback,” he said of younger Pitt players. “If they are slacking, I’m going to say something about it.

“If I see that somebody needs help or needs me to say something to them, I’m going to be that person to do that.”

The vocal leader who will call out guys that aren’t putting in the effort, will be played by Street.

He started into the role in spring practices, and seems to have embraced it.

Street, who started assuming a leadership role in the spring, notices when others aren’t accountable.

“Guys are on the right track right now,” he said. “We had some guys off the track and not really with it. I would say we are in a totally different state right now.

“No more excuses for just missing just even a light throw, even 15 minutes. If we want to be great, we have to do all the little things, too.

“Being on time for workouts, not even a minute late, because that stuff carries over. When you are not accountable for actions, you can’t be successful.”

As for Todd Thomas, well he is just happy not to be out with an injury and ready to play.

Beaver Falls graduate Todd Thomas said he’s in the best shape of his Pitt football career heading into his redshirt junior season. “My weight is good, I feel good,” he said. “I got faster.” He’s also healthy. After struggling with knee injuries his whole career, he’s now 100 percent. That’s good for Thomas and good for Pitt’s defense, which returns nine starters this season. “We just got to play together and not let anything slide,” Thomas said of the next step for a group that ranked in the top 25 in total defense last year. “Just focus on what we got to do. Just go all out and just play hard.” Thomas, if he could, would start training camp right now. But he’ll have to wait about a month; the Panthers open their camp on Aug. 6. “I’m ready,” he said. “I’d be the happiest person in the world. I’m ready to get this game and play and show everybody what we got this year.”

The one thing that makes Aaron Donald happy, having the same coach for consecutive seasons.

When Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald was asked what it was like to have the same coaching staff in place for two seasons in a row, a giant smile flashed across his face.

“It’s great,” he said. “I can’t explain it, it’s just great.”

Donald didn’t really have to explain it. His smile said it all. With the continuity of a stable staff comes a more accurate idea of what is expected from the coaching staff when players arrive for training camp in August.

Whether the smile is of relief or actually liking the staff. I don’t know, but at least the reality of it makes him happy.

I feel good about our D’s potential and more than happy Tino is out de doe finally, but have some major QB concerns still. Savage may have a pro-level arm, which is a real nice change, but hasn’t faced live fire in quite a while — and got replaced, deserved or not, at Rutgers (not exactly Alabama). Apparently he’s not overly mobile, so he could be under major duress vs teams like FSU, Miami, VTech.

Not sure what to expect from him at all, but eager to find out and also really hoping Voytik and Anderson get plenty of work in camp as well — FSU’s gonna bring the hammer and we’ll be needing a spatula for our QBs. Thoughts?

Comment by Matt N. 07.10.13 @ 10:39 am

Here’s a little something to chew on looking ahead to Labor Day…


Jameis “Jaboo” “Jameisman” “Future Heisman Trophy winner” Winston. Those are just a few of the nicknames that have been attached to the redshirt freshman since his dominating, near-statistically perfect two-touchdown effort in FSU’s spring game last month.

Those aren’t the only ones, either. Other monikers for the rising star have made the rounds on social media and on team message boards and blogs in recent weeks, too. One of the more popular ones even compares the young signal-caller to a type of FSU football messiah.

The Orlando Sentinel


Comment by PittofDreams 07.10.13 @ 10:54 am

How about Jameisy Football!!

Comment by Dr. Tom 07.10.13 @ 11:24 am

I like having House this year over a ‘seasoned veteran’ just because of what the players have been crowing about recently, stability in the staff and system.

I posted a few weeks ago, House is set up to succeed this season. He’ll basically run the same system as last year. The returning players are comfortable in this system.

If a ‘Big-Name’ DC came in with a new scheme/formations/terminology, I can’t say I’d be as confident in the D as I am going into this season.

2014 and beyond is where we will see how House stacks up as a DC.

Comment by pghFred 07.10.13 @ 11:38 am

I agree with that logic, I just hope that we see that House is “coordinated” in how he handles this new position.

Comment by Dr. Tom 07.10.13 @ 11:48 am

Isn’t it also a benefit that if he doesn’t get the plays in we have 8 or 9 guys on the field who know the book and can call the play? Talk about a “resume” for being a Grad Asst.

Comment by tedsptman 07.10.13 @ 12:47 pm

One bright spot with the defense is that we are returning seven starters so there will be at least some solid game experience out on the field. four of our Top Five tacklers are returning for 2103.

There are also some returning long time as starters upperclassmen on the defense in Donald, Thomas and Hendricks so if they can exert the leadership being discussed in the latest rash of feel-good articles put out by the local media we’ll be OK.

If House can get them to play with some consistency that will help also. We don’t have the cards lined up for a great defense IMO but if we have a consistently good one that will go a long way to winning ballgames.

Comment by Reed 07.10.13 @ 12:49 pm

tedsptman – Your comment reminded me of the Walt Harris days when he would wait until the opposing defense lined up before sending in the play to the offense. Rod Rutherford would be staring at the sideline with his arms in the air (pretty much saying ‘WTF WALT! Send in the G-D PLAY’)!!!

….and I’d be sceaming the same from section 512.

Comment by pghFred 07.10.13 @ 1:15 pm

Something nice is we only play 1 top 20 offense (using ypg) next season (Florida State). The other 3 offenses that finished in the top 40 are Syracuse (lost their QB+new coachese), Georgia Tech (new QB, plus we play them after Navy; both run triple option), and UNC (lost great RB).

Outside of FSU, we really don’t face any teams with really good offenses. That will really help. I also cannot stress how much of a gift the ACC gave us by scheduling GT right after Navy. We get the 2nd best triple option team before we get the best one. One of the reasons GT is able to beat “superior” talent is because of how different and difficult to prepare for the triple option is.

Comment by Justin 07.10.13 @ 1:27 pm

@pghFred, thanks for the memory!! NOT!!

Wow, I forgot about that. I can still see Rutherford standing there with his hands on his hips, looking to the bench, as the play clock wound down.

Comment by Dan 07.10.13 @ 1:37 pm

and for the younger folks who missed that era, the reason it’s image is burned in our minds…..

because it was every single offensive play!!!

Comment by Dan 07.10.13 @ 1:41 pm

@dan – The funniest thing about it is…..the play would just end up being a pass to Fitz in double or triple coverage.

You and I could have called that play immediately after the whistle because Fitz would go and get it.

Comment by pghFred 07.10.13 @ 2:29 pm

I love Aaron Donald’s demeanor. He definitely went to the HCPC School of Media Relations. Love the low key, matter-of-fact way he absorbs the questions. I’m feeling good about this defense.

Comment by Panther Fan in Hoopieland 07.10.13 @ 2:40 pm

I know I’ve mentioned Dion Lewis’ off field issues before, he gave a tweet that shows you a little of what I’ve heard:

link to


Comment by Justin 07.10.13 @ 3:46 pm

Emel: When the 1937 team turned down the Rose Bowl it was over being paid. And Frankcan: The only source claiming nine national champsionships for Pitt is Pitt. Our two national titles since the AP started naming number one teams at the conclusion of the regular season are ’37 & ’76. Having those two puts us in an elite group (tied with Penn State; WVU has 0 titles)

Comment by TonyinHouston 07.10.13 @ 6:25 pm

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