September 18, 2013

More On The New Guys

Filed under: Football,Players — Chas @ 7:38 am

A couple focus stories in the dailies today.

Manasseh Garner is really happy in Pitt’s offense.

Thoughtful and soft-spoken, tight end Manasseh Garner was not trying to brag Tuesday when he was asked to describe his duties in the Pitt offense.

“Linebackers, cornerbacks, safeties, I feel like, personally, you line me up against anybody and I’m going to win,” he said.

Strong words from Garner, a Brashear graduate who scored a touchdown against Florida State, his first game at Pitt since transferring from Wisconsin.

Garner, a junior, has much to prove in his remaining time, but at 6-foot-2, 230-pounds he combines the requisite size and speed that attracts attention from opposing defenses and has the potential to confuse them.

Especially when you consider how Pitt offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph uses him — splitting him out like a wide receiver and lining him up tight against the linemen to block. Garner said he’s a receiver 40 percent of the time

“That’s something that is really in his wheelhouse,” Rudolph said of lining up wide, “and he adapts to it easily.”

Versatile. That’s probably the best way to describe Garner. What’s great is his versatility is being used. It isn’t just trying to fit him into one mold. It is taking advantage of what he can do when the situation calls for it.

It is amazing that when he was recruited out of high school he was expected to play on the defense. Either as an outside linebacker or a defensive end. Great hands. Knows what he is doing in the offense. Yeah, his athleticism would be welcome on either side of the ball, but he is a real weapon on offense.

Meanwhile, we learn that Pitt had decided to play James Conner at running back even before the depth at the spot dropped precipitously.

…a year ago pretty much every school recruiting Conner was doing so for his pass-rushing ability.

As his senior season at Erie McDowell progressed, though, it became pretty clear that he had the skills to play running back in college. As the Pitt coaches watched his tape, Conner became their standard for other running backs they thought about recruiting.

“We began to watch him, and he had a want-to to play that position,” offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph said. “We had a need as we were going down. He really became the benchmark for ‘Do we need to sign another guy? Are they better than what James is?’ ”

By the end of the season, Conner had rushed for 1,680 yards and 21 touchdowns. In December, Rudolph told him that he would join the Panthers as a running back.

“I was pretty excited,” Conner said. “I had been playing it ever since I was younger.”

Which makes the training camp comments from Coach Paul Chryst that James Conner, “earned the right to stay at running back” another day, a sign of how much he likes having his own private joke on the media.

saw it

Comment by FRANKCAN 09.18.13 @ 3:25 pm

Yes, I remember seeing that about him having to wait. That could have been just a conversation I saw on here though, and maybe just some guy’s bs’ing of possibilities.

What I remember is exactly what you said, had to wait to kind of de-enroll somewhere else, then enroll at Pitt.

Like wbb said though, why???

Comment by Dan 09.18.13 @ 3:33 pm

i dont know Dan but i dont think i saw anything
in the weeks that have pasted .
that said he was not comeing have you i thought
he was still in school you would think if he was not we would have found out.

Comment by FRANKCAN 09.18.13 @ 3:48 pm

Looked everywhere Frank. Only articles I see are from early July when he announced Pitt.

Also, Isiah Whitehead, a name that caught my eye, because he’s been on Pitt’s “targeting” list for several years it seems, is announcing tmrw.

Pitt still in his top 5, but it sounds like it’s between Indiana and St. Johns(he’s from NYC).

He’s a 5 star.

Comment by Dan 09.18.13 @ 3:54 pm

Dan the jc PG pitt is recruting is lakeem alston he is the cousin of jamel artis

Comment by FRANKCAN 09.18.13 @ 3:56 pm

Dan on aug 25th mostella tweet to matt steinbrink
i am on pitt campus in my place i am good to go.
that wasa the last thing i saw so every thing was good less then 30 days ago.

Comment by FRANKCAN 09.18.13 @ 4:05 pm

Comment by panther94 09.18.13 @ 4:15 pm

The NCAA clearinghouse did not clear Mostella is what i have heard

Comment by giveitarest 09.18.13 @ 4:22 pm

DAN the outher schools with offers to the jc pg
lakeem auston are 1 north texas
2 seton hall
3 southen miss
4 st bonaventure
5 towson
not the best offers but what can you say.
dont know why we need another point guard any way
you would think SG and a center would be on top of wish list.

Comment by FRANKCAN 09.18.13 @ 4:26 pm

Wbb DAN i just got a tweet from steinbrink
there is a good chance mostella will be enrolled
at pitt in december.
so i guess he is still comeing to pitt.
dont know what the hang up was.

Comment by FRANKCAN 09.18.13 @ 4:46 pm

Dr Tom
All ACC games count the same no matter what division teams are in. The only difference is that you have the head to head games in division that could be used to break a tie for the berth in the championship game.

Comment by Nick 09.18.13 @ 5:37 pm

Thanks Nick.

Comment by Dr. Tom 09.18.13 @ 6:38 pm

I hope we wear our gold pants Saturday. There will already be a lot of blue out there.

See, I’m thinkin’ about the important things!!!

Comment by Dan 09.18.13 @ 7:27 pm

Who brought those blue pants in anyway??

Was it shhhteve???

Comment by Dan 09.18.13 @ 7:29 pm

Being out the script! One game a year Steve! Come on man! Though the Notre Dame game would be perfect!!

Comment by Sweet Caroline 09.18.13 @ 9:17 pm

EMel/Upitt – think carefully before taking Pitt.
I just got back from Charlotte and was talking to some Dukies in the airport. Admittedly Pitt has better talent but Duke does not beat themselves.

Before I bet Pitt, I would want to see at least one game where the “Wannstedtian” mistakes were eliminated. I think the +4 is a trap bet and Pitt is in for a war.

Hope I am wrong.

So, I needed a couple of tickets for next week’s UVA game and called the Pitt ticket office. They had nothing but 500 seats on either side and proceeded to tell me that those seats were sold out for the season. OK, so I called 3 ticket brokers, all who had no less than 300+ seats in the 200 sectiona and a good many 100’s. Yes, those ‘sold out’ seats were bought up by ticket brokers on the cheap by our good friend Stevie P so he could tell everyone that we had a sold out crowd for each game. Typical Pederson, typical Pitt BS, Sold out my ass…what a bunch of horse crap. If any of you doubt me, make the broker call yourself.

Comment by Dan 72 09.18.13 @ 9:24 pm

Dan, that would explain why so many empties and opposing colors in the 100 and 200 sections all the times, especially on the visitor’s side of the field.

Re: Conner, I’ve been impressed, he is more agile than I expected. I give credit to some guys on here who were singing his praises before the season. He just needs to learn when to lower his pads and protect the ball.

Don’t know what to expect this weekend, wouldn’t bet on either team, but would take the over. I think it could be a semi-shoot out.

Comment by Iron Duke 09.18.13 @ 9:50 pm

Leave it to pederson to stick it to the fans. jackass.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 09.18.13 @ 9:55 pm

Also while we are on the subject of administration…somebody please pass this on to the next chancellor. It from the Texas A&M foundation president. TAMU raised record $740 MM this year, split between football and academics.

“People ask me all the time if you have a winning football team, do you raise more money,” Davis told the Bryan-College Station Eagle. “In normal times, the statistical data wouldn’t support that, but in an era where we are in, effectively, in the news everywhere and you have a young man like our quarterback who has been a media magnet and you have the success you have, I do think that euphoria does spill over into success in fundraising. I’m hoping we can keep it up.”‘

link to

Comment by Atlanta Panther 09.18.13 @ 10:04 pm


I usually never bet on the Panthers and this year is no different. Duke isn’t very good, but we all know Pitt the last 30 years. I try to find more sure bets, if there is such a thing, but Pitt is one of the least ‘sure. You have no idea from week to week, how they’re going to play.
As opposed to some other schools, that you do.

We’ve had better talent than Uconn & Cincy for a decade, and how many times have we lost to them.

Comment by EMel 09.18.13 @ 10:14 pm

Being out the script! One game a year Steve! Come on man! Though the Notre Dame game would be perfect!!

Comment by Sweet Caroline 09.18.13 @ 9:17 pm

Don’t see that EVER happening with Cornhole here.
Remember according to Nordy & the Media, he was mostly responsible for getting us into the ACC.
And therefore bring back the script, even for one game, would suggest he made a mistake in 1997, for dropping it.

Do you ever see SP admitting he made a mistake ?
(whether by inference or actually)

Comment by EMel 09.18.13 @ 10:18 pm

No Mostella for 1rst half of season does not sound very good.

As that was the time needed to mesh him into the team, during the non-con.

Which means this is going to be a wasted season for him, as the way JD coaches, he’s not going to be comfortable playing him in the conference schedule. That means not many minutes and they might as well just Redshirt him, rather than wasting a year of eligibility.

That sux, because that means more PT for Cam Wright. And that means our 3 pointing shooting is going to suck…….again.

Not good news at all. 🙁

Comment by EMel 09.18.13 @ 10:25 pm

That Morning Madness Pitt video is a hoot.

JD should wear that getup in a boring non-con game against Howard or someone like that.

Great idea to combine it with the football game, which should make a large crowd certain.

Now I hope some of the creativity shown, carries it’s way onto the basketball court in the form of a more uptempo offense.

Comment by EMel 09.18.13 @ 10:44 pm

Uh oh. ASU had better put the ol’ search committee on standby:

link to

Comment by 2$Chuck 09.18.13 @ 11:36 pm

Iron Duke – it was apparent to people who had a chance to see him in camp that Conner was going to be a good one right off the bat. His HS SR year numbers were awesome @ 1680 yards w/a 10.8 YPC average and 21 TDs, but I think most fans who follow the recruiting sites just looked at his height and weight and assumed he’d put on another 30 pounds and be at DE after a redshirt year.

Here is a good article, written on 11/8/12 about Conner on another site: (it may be a Rivals subscription article though)

link to

If you can read it you can pretty much see that the PITT staff was looking for another big, powerful RB soon after the 2012 summer camp. When they were first recruiting Conner they wanted him on defense then realized once the 2012 season started that they better have a back-up plan if things went south with their other big RB.

You can see in Shell’s game log stats that he started getting less and less carries as the season went on starting in the beginning of Nov, and that made the staff ask Conner to switch to RB. I think the staff knew they had to have that depth at RB ASAP.

What I looked for when Conner was being recruited was his YPC average and at 10.1, without being a scat back long home run type back, the YPC really jumped out at me. That meant he was getting huge chunks of hard fought yards for the most part with the occasional 20+ yard run. I think schools overlooked him as a RB because in his JR year he ran as a blocking back for star RB Greg Garmon so wasn’t really on the recruiting radar screen..

As you say he does run a bit upright but that hasn’t stopped him in either HS or so far in college – I wonder about the wisdom of trying to change his style too much. Lower the pads a bit fine but let’s not try to make him a different runner than he is now… know what I’m saying?

Honestly I think Conner is the better of the two RBs for college ball anyway. Shell had his good moments but he didn’t really have the speed Conner does. It would have been nice if Shell worked out I suppose but I know that there was no sense of urgency on PITT’s part to keep Shell on the roster, in part because of what they believed they had with Connor.

It is going to be fun to watch both Bennett and Connor carry the ball this year. Bennett is still not 100% back from that injury, it was actually pretty bad and I could see it definitely affected him in the first two games because he played so much slower than he did in the previous camps. Once he gets to 100% we’ll have a great duo for different situations and for rotations. I’m still very high on Bennett because what he did in practices was so damned impressive.

PITT fans think he’s not quick or fast for some reason, probably because he wasn’t highly recruited, his injury and the fact that he didn’t play much last season. However, Bennett was a HS sprint champion and is a true breakaway threat. His best move is one step past the LOI and then cut to the sidelines and out run the defense. We’ll see that from him as the season unfolds.

This is why I’ve been harping on Savage’s rather average completion percentage over his career – I really think that if Savage can complete a lot of passes, even shorter ones, it will drop the LBs back in coverage and let our RBs take advantage of that. Savage’s deep ball really isn’t going to do that with the LBs; the safeties yes which will help but not so much the LBs. Give Conner and Bennett a little space in front of the LOI and they’ll be very productive.

If we see a good offensive showing against Duke (which I will miss being on vacation along with the VA game dammit!) then I think we’ll get better each week and have a consistent and solid offense by mid-season. IMO our OL is getting better each week and with the Johnson eligibility it will be even stronger for these guys to run behind.

Comment by Reed 09.19.13 @ 5:32 am

If you look at the Wisc RBs over the past several years, they seem to like the bigger ones … i.e, Ironhead > Dorsett. (not that they would turn their head to a talent like TD)

But this staff seems to be very specific as to what they recruit. Very big OL, big RBs, tall athletic QBs (remember, Voytik was Fraud recuit).

Defense is more of a mystery but there is an article in today’s Trib that points out that Pitt’s LBs are a bit undersized and the DC is OK with that.

Comment by wbb 09.19.13 @ 6:14 am

I can think of one very good running back who ran upright.

Eric Dickerson !

For the kido’s:

He was selected in the first round of the 1983 NFL Draft, and played professionally for the Los Angeles Rams, Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Raiders, and Atlanta Falcons of the NFL. During his NFL career, he rushed for over 13,000 yards. He holds the NFL’s single-season rushing record with 2,105 yards, set in 1984.

Comment by EMel 09.19.13 @ 6:51 am

Agree Reed,

Bennett is only playing at 75-80% imo.

He’s not a Ray Graham for shiftiness however he is probably faster once in the clear. (when he’s 100%)

Yea they could have Savage throwing the ball to the RB’s, etc. To increase his completion %. However you when you have a cannon like him, it’s pretty tempting to throw the ball downfield.

And then add in the Tyler Boyd factor of being on the receiving end and it becomes even more tempting.

Other than throwing to Tyler, I’d like to see us get the TE’s more involved. Garner is a mismatch for just about every defender and Holtz will just run you over after the catch. And Orndorf is already a factor as well.

Like to see Pitt keep it rolling and put up at least 40 on Duke. Who’s defense hasn’t played anyone yet with a balanced offensive attack.

Comment by EMel 09.19.13 @ 7:02 am

Who is going to the game in Durham this week ?

First Drink is on me.

Also who knows anything about a close good bar to their stadium ?

Been on the websites, see there is a cluster on Perry Street, which must be the student scene.

Would prefer a more mature alumni type cocktail lounge/bar. Any info is appreciated 🙂

Comment by EMel 09.19.13 @ 7:07 am

Think I found a good place.

It’s a Cigar Bar, love it already. haha

And it seems to have a lot of my favorite Bourbons.

Couple Blocks from Stadium on Main Street

Sold !

link to

Comment by EMel 09.19.13 @ 7:21 am

The up side potential of this Pitt offense is large. Conner will only get better with playing time. Savage is maturing into the QB that he needs to be with game experience and do you think that he is enjoying putting the ball up for grabs when he throws it to Boyd???? The strength of this offense will prove to be the OL and the TEs as the season progresses. Once the WR corps starts getting the respect from opposing secondaries, watch how that opens up the underneath patterns involving the tight ends.

This team will only get better. With all of the young guys playing, it will be fun to watch them emerge and produce as the season progresses.

Hail to Pitt!

Comment by Dr. Tom 09.19.13 @ 7:24 am

I agree with Reed, need to find a way to make those linebackers respect the pass and it will really open up the running game. Call me optimistic but I have the feeling that this will be a sort of coming-of-age game for this team. IE, I think they have an idea of who they are after New Mexico, but they have a great opportunity to establish their identity as a physical team with a bruising running game and big play ability. Pittsburgh football to the core. Hail to Pitt!

Comment by Atlanta Panther 09.19.13 @ 7:41 am

EMel – What I’d like to see is more slants and crossing patterns – Savage’s arm is strong enough to hit those quickly – along with the TE’s routing just past the LBs.

Regarding Savage’s deep ball – I’d like to see Rudolph and Chryst take at least two shots downfield each quarter. Even if he only hits 50% of those that means the Safety has to be constantly thinking about it.

He’s already good on the out patterns with his arm and I know that throwing over the middle on intermediate and short routes leads to INTs but I’ll take those if 1) he hits those deep balls for large gains and 2) the run game opens up because of it.

I’ve a feeling that we’ll see Johnson in at RT sooner than anticipated. A lot of the pocket pressure Savage has been getting has been from the right side and he’s the type of QB who really does need time in the pocket to do well.

Comment by Reed 09.19.13 @ 9:01 am

I like the 2 tight end set with Holtz on one side and Johnson on the other. Set up the bulldozer.

Comment by gc 09.19.13 @ 9:43 am

Reed. I noticed that after the Va Tech game, that Shell didn’t seem to want to put his head down and get the extra yard or two. He didn’t seem to have the desire that power runners must have. Maybe that is why his carries went down. Or it could be the reverse and he was pouting. Knowing what we know now, it seems there was a lot of strange stuff going on in his head.

That is why you got to love Conner. He wants the ball and looks like he can run threw people and around them as well. As the O-line gets better and he gets his timing down we should see some good things. He has exceeded expectations already because you don’t expect that much from a freshman power back.

I also would like to see JP Holtz run over a linebacker after a catch. That would get them off the line.

Comment by gc 09.19.13 @ 10:01 am

I’ll believe Savage will include the TEs into the offense when I see 10-12 throws during a game, not just within 5 yards of the endzone. I think he’s more of a mad bomber type whose first inclination is to throw deep to wide receivers even if they aren’t as open as TEs underneath.
Connor is a Frosh so mistakes will happen, but there is no question, he’s got the potential to be a big time back over the next 3 years, couldn’t be more excited about him.
If Pitt’s going to beat Duke, their defense better play much better than it has so far. LBs and Vinapol are a big weakness, and teams will see this on film and gameplan to take advantage. No confidence in House to figure out how to overcome the obvious problem.
Duke runs a no huddle so House needs to figure out how to call his defenses and insert personnel quickly. Hope my worries are groundless but . . . .

Comment by Taxing Matters 09.19.13 @ 10:19 am

I hope House has figured out how to stop the no-huddle spread attack. He is 0-for-2 so far, but granted it was against vastly superior talent.

Personally I’d let our guys play man until they proved that they can’t and put pressure on the inexperienced QB. A linebacker in the face can make up for a lot of coverage deficiencies. But then again I’ve never actually coached a defense. (insert joke about House’s inexperience here…)

That being said, it seems to me like house favors a zone coverage scheme? Justin or Reed – any thoughts on that?

Comment by Atlanta Panther 09.19.13 @ 10:41 am

How much of a factor will our playing our first road game with such a green group be?

Comment by spiritofsection 22 09.19.13 @ 11:38 am

EMel – Im going to Durham as well.. driving from Richmond on Sat.

Whiskey doesn’t open until 6pm. I am also looking for a bar near Wallace-Wade, so any leads would be appreciated.

Comment by Joe Lawrence 09.19.13 @ 11:48 am

@ Taxing Matters, Todd Thomas has reinforced the LB corps and therefore the weakness will be decreased. Also, I’m not quite sure why but, Shane Gordon plays streaky. If he puts a good day out there against Duke, the linebackers won’t seem so vulnerable to be victimized by Duke’s inexperience QB.

Two other factors could help Pitt’s defense to dominate the Blue Devils as we did New Mexico. First, If Aaron Donald has his way with their OL, it could be a long day for Duke’s QB. Second, if Pitt’s OL continues to gel then Chryst will be able to milk our running game to the maximum. This will keep our defense fresh on the sideline for extended periods of time, which results in minimizing the need for Pitt defensive substitutions and the subsequent drop off in performance that most likely would result.

As I mentioned earlier in the week, Duke is the perfect team for us to be playing at this point in the season. Somebody else mentioned that they anticipate a “breakout” game for Pitt on Saturday. I’m not that optimistic but I feel confident that we will be all that Duke can handle on both sides of the ball come Saturday. Hopefully that will result in our second win of the season.

Comment by Dr. Tom 09.19.13 @ 1:01 pm

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