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November 19, 2013

You can have the best facilities. A world-class training staff. Everything you need or could possibly want. And injuries will still happen. Just ask Florida this year. Or just go back to the 2011 season.

Pitt had a couple early bye weeks in the first half of the season and has now played six straight games. It can’t be terribly surprising that injuries are starting to happen with what seems increasing frequency.

Cornerbacks Trenton Coles and Titus Howard were the latest to join that group this week, as Pitt has suffered through a rash of injuries over the past few weeks, costing them a number of starters and key contributors.

In addition to the two cornerbacks, starting left guard Cory King (hamstring) and left tackle Adam Bisnowaty (back) also missed a 34-27 loss Saturday against North Carolina. Backup tight end Scott Orndoff has missed the past two games and appeared on the field for warm-ups Saturday with a sizable brace on his left leg. Defensive end Ejuan Price has missed the past four games with a back injury.

Add in (hopefully) a minor ankle to Devin Street and knee injury to Tom Savage and everyone begins to wonder.

Chryst said Monday he wasn’t sure if there was a common theme among the injured players.

“You’re concerned about them and you don’t know what drove those,” he said. “They could’ve just happened. You want to know if it’s something we’re doing here and you go through it and try to answer it. “

I have some serious questions and doubts about Strength and Conditioning Coach Todd Rice. Hell, up until the past couple of games, where Pitt finally was playing better in the second half rather than the first, I was really questioning if the S&C program was lacking in building any stamina with the team. In no way, though, would I consider blaming his program for the various injuries.

Coles and Howard are out because of head injuries. Bisnowaty and Price had back injuries that you can never predict where, when or for how long they will last. Street and Savage were hurt on the field. Not really seeing much of a pattern.

Plus, while there are injuries, it isn’t a voluminous pile. It is merely amplified by happening in a small space and the overall lack of depth on the team. Especially on the O-line.

The O-line where the reduced depth means players having to be doing more. Less chance to help a younger player that is just starting at this level. That seems to be a major factor in why Dorian Johnson has struggled so badly the last couple of games. He’s not just filling in for an injured player — left tackle Bisnowaty. The left guard — King — is also out.

To me, that has as much to do with why Coach Chryst had to pull him to play senior Juantez Hollins. Hollins obviously doesn’t have the potential. He’s clearly remained in the doghouse. But he is experienced and can be trusted out there a little more at this point.

“At the time, I thought (Hollins) would give us a little better chance than what we were doing at the time,” Chryst said. “Dorian did some very good things, in many ways played better than Georgia Tech. I thought he made some progress from start one to start two.”

Lingering more after the loss was not the injuries, but two punt returns for touchdowns by UNC. The fact that Pitt does not designate a special teams coach on the staff has raised questions. That goes to the decisionmaking by Coach Chryst on how he organizes his staff and priorities.

That has Coach Chryst a tad defensive. In both his choices and protecting whatever coach was responsible for overseeing punt coverage.

Pitt doesn’t have a coach whose sole responsibility is special teams, but coach Paul Chryst said he will accept the blame for North Carolina’s two touchdowns on punt returns. “We have an individual coach in charge of each phase and, ultimately, I’m responsible for them all,” he said. “If (people) want to blame someone, they can blame me.” Pitt allowed North Carolina’s Ryan Switzer to average 42 yards on three returns, including the two decisive scores.

That’s neat of Coach Chryst to accept the blame. But, um, that really doesn’t answer the question of who the hell is the coach that has been handling punt coverage? Dammit, we need someone to blame.





Regarding injuries, I think a top notch trainer can only prevent things like pulled muscles. Chip Kelly swears by his sports science stuff that it limits pulled muscles and minor injuries and if you look at the Eagles’ injury reports it seems legit.

Comment by Justin 11.19.13 @ 8:44 am

Unlike last week, I do like Pitt’s chances Saturday against Syracuse.

Now, NOT exactly a GUARANTEE… but a PROBABLE Win.. and an UNLIKELY one looking at the numbers.

Syracuse is a BAD passing team and BAD stopping the pass. But, UH, OHH!. Don’t look now!!

The Orange are REALLY GOOD at BLITZING the Quarterback… tied 12th nationally with “30″ SACKS… almost as many as the “37″ Pitt has given up!

Admittedly, on paper… this would seem to present Savage and his Offensive Line with their WORST NIGHTMARE. A LOSS would also would seem to fit with my prediction early in the season that Pitt’s wins and losses would coincide with what teams rush the passer well… and which ones don’t.

But all is not lost!

Looking for James Conner to have his BIGGEST game of the year. He knows WHO HE IS now and so do his Coaches.

Conner’s BIG DAY should take enough pressure off of Savage and the O-Line (whoever they turn out to be) to allow time to throw the football. Not a lot of time, especially for Tom Savage. But enough to connect on critical passes at critical times and put the Orange back on their heels.

And that will mean MORE #40 for the Orange.

Play calls will be very important. Just the right balance of run and throw at the right times… SHOULD get the job done. OK, Joe Rudolph, this is your time to shine!

Like Notre Dame, Paul Chryst NEEDS this Win… the Team needs it… and so do we, the Pitt Faithful.

Not a “Chryst Revival” as much as a “Chryst Survival.”

It really comes down to a KEY QUESTION.

Will Chryst have his Players “MO-TEE-VATED” to play, not just in the second half… but right out of the gate?

Comment by PittofDreams 11.19.13 @ 9:53 am

With Bin Laden gone, the blame list based on Pitt Blather empirical data:

1. Previous QB
2. Wanny
3. Stevie
4. Fraud
5. Current QB
6. HCPC
7. Nordy
8. Aaron Berry
9. M Cavanaugh
10. P Rhoads

Comment by wbb 11.19.13 @ 10:17 am

Well, it is becoming obvious the staff is in disarray. (1) We are fading because of the length and physicality of the practices (2) the strength and conditioning coach needs to go – I hear is an a..and the players hate going in there – not a good situation. Former players say he doesn’t know what he is doing. (3) Our lack of spirit and confidence in the second halves points to a lot of chaos.

Keep Rudolph and the Def. Tackles Coach and clear out the rest in the off season. Cutcliff and Duke obviously takes a positive approach with his players and look at what they are doing with less talent. At least they compete and act excited. All I see at the Pitt games is a bunch of old blow hards running around cussing kids out – DE Coach and O Line coach especially, instead of generating some excitement and confidence.

I’ve seen this picture before:

Fair to strong run game in the first quarter.
Good passing game to Boyd and Street and TE’s.
Red Zone – penalties and pressure.
Sacks and hurries as the game progresses.
Poor special teams.
Hand the ball deep, way deep, and holes close quickly in the run game.
Loss to team we should beat.

Staff and positive attitudes are needed. Football should be fun. This year looks bleak, probably a losing season with no bowl. If he doesn’t make major changes we stay right where we are at next year.

Comment by PittMan 11.19.13 @ 10:23 am

Injuries are a big part of the game. It really hurts when you are thin to begin with.

Sounds like Savage is questionable. Tough time to give Voytik his first start. Savage is a very tough kid, my guess is he starts.

Trenton Coles has made a lot of tackles on special teams, could have changed the game.

We need two more years of good recruiting to have reasonable depth and upperclassmen on the lines.

The two missed years of recruiting are the most damaging to current results. Considering that, maybe we are more competitive than we should be.

Chryst steps up and says blame me for the special teams. A stand up guy.

Comment by gc 11.19.13 @ 10:25 am

wbb, you forgot House on your blame list.

Comment by Justin 11.19.13 @ 10:28 am

My opinion about the dedicated special teams coach from the game thread:

Unless he or she can actually go out and make a tackle, I think the whole, “we need a special teams coach” thing is a bit overstated/overvalued.
In my opinion, special teams is about the “the things you can’t coach”. It’s all about having the guys with the “god given athleticism” and the “will/heart/desire”, or whatever you want to call it, make a play.

The only thing a “dedicated” coach would be good for is a punching bag for the fans when our players don’t make tackles.

Comment by Pitt2Cali 11.17.13 @ 10:03 am

You’re right Justin, everyone’s just looking for someone to blame. I say blame yourselves for being Pitt fans! Lol!

Comment by Pitt2Cali 11.19.13 @ 10:41 am

Rumor has it that Pitt is in the forefront in recruiting a REALLY BIG Power Back from out West.

Watch out James Conner. This guy could be coming for your job.

link to blog.seattlepi.com

Comment by PittofDreams 11.19.13 @ 10:41 am

PittMan, you don’t want to keep Engram?

and who knows if the replacements for the others will be an improvement? .. whether it be the budget or PC’s comfort zone

Comment by wbb 11.19.13 @ 11:08 am

Justin, you’re probably right, but I would tend to blame HCPC for promoting House more than House himself

Having said that, House is a work-in-progress and could eventually turn out to be a good one …. it’s just should he be doing his internship at a BCS program?

Comment by wbb 11.19.13 @ 11:10 am

@Comment by Pitt2Cali 11.17.13 @ 10:03 am I’m not sure this is really right. There is a lot of coaching that happens on special teams schematically. On defense it’s crucial that guys fill the correct lanes, stick to their assignments etc. Making directional kicking decisions. On the return, again, filling lanes, picking up blocks, etc. It always comes down to players executing, but there is a lot more to good special teams than just fire in the belly.

Comment by PittHW 11.19.13 @ 11:13 am

PittofDreams, the question is .. can this guy get an airplane ticket should we want to fly him in for a visit?

Comment by wbb 11.19.13 @ 11:13 am

Sounds like a doozy on Sat. Two 5-5 teams looking for bowl eligability. Rivalry ???

Comment by alcofan 11.19.13 @ 11:24 am

First of all Chryst isn’t going anywhere unless he decides to go.

Saying that we are losing to teams that we should beat is ludicrous. Perhaps Navy, but even they are not chopped liver. Our talent level is no better than any of the teams that beat us. Our depth is much worse and we are younger.

While it is fair to criticize and debate individual coaching decisions, we do not know the overall direction of the program and will not until the current freshmen are juniors.

Comment by gc 11.19.13 @ 11:35 am

@ Chas, “while there are injuries, it isn’t a voluminous pile”. I really like that word, “voluminous”.

I think that I’ll wait to use it until Pitt pulls another bonehead misscue like letting to punt returns go for TDs, then I can sincerely state, “that sure was a voluminous pile” (of you know what)! Thanks Chas for adding to my vocabulary.

Comment by Dr. Tom 11.19.13 @ 11:45 am

Some stats for y’all (in keeping with our southern league).

PITT is #119 of 123 teams – Sacks Allowed
PITT is #64 of 123 – Rushing Defense
PITT is #69 of 123 – Scoring Defense
PITT is #119 of 123 – Punt Return Defens(surprise)
PITT is #65 of 123 – 3rd Down Conversion(defense)

PITT is #114 of 123 – RedZone Defense

Pretty good huh !
Looks like a bowl worthy team to me. (sarc)

Comment by EMel 11.19.13 @ 12:24 pm

To echo gc’s comment, a specials coach is needed, no doubt, but another factor is lack of depth on the roster.

Pitt just doesn’t have enough athletes to run out there on the coverage teams, unless they want to use more starters. Frankly this is not a new problem for Pitt. Who knows if Coles makes a difference in one of those 2 TD returns, but whoever took his place is probably not the athlete that Coles is.

As dismal as the punt coverage was, let’s credit Malcolm Crockett for creating a hugh turnover on KO coverage. He was unblockable, and dished out two monster hits on Saturday. At least we have one kid who seems to get it. Good for him for still playing with enthusiasm and contributing even though he is buried on the RB depth chart.

Comment by Iron Duke 11.19.13 @ 12:29 pm

Syracuse sacked Jameis Winston 3 times while succumbing to their 59-3 a$$kickin at the hands of FSU. So I think that there is a lesson to be learned here. Even though Winston got pressure they had the proper game plan to dink and dunk the ball off on short pass routes while the Syracuse secondary busied themselves protecting against the deep ball. Obviously that defensive plan didn’t work out so well for the Orange.

So if the Panthers prep well, the offensive game plan should revolve around the various quick hitters that Savage and Co. have been getting better at by the game. It will be essential that Savage be decisive in his decision making and not hold the ball too long. If FSU gets burned by Syracuse for three sacks, I can only imagine the pressure that Pitt will see from Syracuse, considering our less that solid OL pass protection. Savage’s drop back mantra has to be, “One, Two, Gone” in order to keep the “Orange Rush” at bay. Get it? Orange Rush!

Comment by Dr. Tom 11.19.13 @ 12:32 pm

As far as I know, Yoklic wasn’t injured.

Therefore he should have been told by someone (presumably Chryst since HC is listed next to his name) to punt the frickin ball ‘out of bounds’.

Even moreso when your two “gunner’s” (Clairton kids) aren’t playing on punt returns.

Ok, even giving PC the benefit of the doubt, and he forgot about everything, you’d expect him AFTER the first punt return for a TD, that you wouldn’t want to punt to this kid again. And say…”NO”, we aren’t going to punt it to him again….punt it ‘out of bounds’. Yes/No ?

Comment by EMel 11.19.13 @ 12:34 pm

BTW, in case you missed it, my special teams strategy for covering on punt retuens, KICK THE PUNT OUT OF BOUNDS!!!!!!!!!

Comment by Dr. Tom 11.19.13 @ 12:37 pm

Nonwithstanding the FSU thumping Cuse has a pretty good defense.

Previous 2 games BEFORE FSU. they allowed a grand total of……..3 points in 2 games.

Cuse 13 Wake Forest 0
Cuse 20 Maryland 3

Also factor in, the week after a team gets mauled, they generally play a lot better.

Just our luck. I still think we can win, but then again….I think that every week. Oy Vey !

Comment by EMel 11.19.13 @ 12:39 pm

Winston only played 1 half against Cuse.

The mercy rule came into effect.

Also Winston is in the middle of some sort of sexual assault case. Not a whole lot of info about it.
link to cnn.com

Comment by EMel 11.19.13 @ 12:44 pm

Cuse did give up 45 to Ga Tech

They clearly aren’t as good as they were last year which was definitely their best year since 04

Comment by wbb 11.19.13 @ 12:52 pm

What the hell ever happened to punting the ball out of bounds?
Even in the pros they don’t do it any more. I know you lose the chance that the guy catching the punt will fumble it but it use to be a strategy in all of football. I can’t remember the last time I saw a punter do it on purpose.
Ray Guy use to kill teams doing it.

Comment by notrocketscience 11.19.13 @ 1:07 pm

Funny thing I’ve noticed about PITT/Cuse.

When one is good the other one stinks.

Thru the 70′s, thru the mid 80′s Cuse stunk, PITT was very good. As soon as PITT started going downhill, Cuse got good again. That lasted from 1987 – 2001

PITT stunk in the 90′s, Cuse was good(think McNabb years). See above

When PITT got better in the 2000′s, Cuse went into the toilet starting in 2002.

You can even go back to the 50′s & 60′s. After 1956 PITT was terrible until 1972 save for the 9-1, 1963 team. Meanwhile Cuse won their only National Championship in 1959 and had good teams all thru the 60′s while we were pathetic sans 1963. Cuse’s first losing season since 1949 wasn’t until 1972. 1972 was when Johnny resurrected PITT.

So it seems like both can’t be good at the same time. Which is why I’m a little concerned. Cuse was 8-5 in 2010, same as us and was 8-5 last year, better than us at 6-7.

Which makes this game on Saturday a huge one. As they are trending up……while we are trending….down.

Comment by EMel 11.19.13 @ 1:17 pm

And based on our past, when we trend downward it can lead to some long ass, decade long & longer downward cycles.

Comment by EMel 11.19.13 @ 1:28 pm

Emel, those stats are pretty revealing. No surprise, we are not a very good football team.

But we beat ND, maybe our only claim to fame.

Nice to win one more to get a bowl game, but either way we probably don’t deserve one.

Maybe best to be out recruiting. Still lots of opportunities to start/play next year for worthy recruits.

We need to find today’s version of Hugh Green and Ricky Jackson.

Comment by gc 11.19.13 @ 1:37 pm

Another interesting factoid.

All-time winning percentage %

PITT .584
Syracuse .585

We really do need to win this game on Saturday!

Comment by EMel 11.19.13 @ 1:41 pm

@ notrocketscience, isn’t that how the term “coffin corner” got coined? Precision punts within five yards of the endzone getting aimed out of bounds. Pitt should revive that, don’t you think?

Comment by Dr. Tom 11.19.13 @ 1:57 pm

Do we have a dedicated coach that can do that for us?

Comment by Pitt2Cali 11.19.13 @ 2:04 pm

@ gc, if we win 6 games then we “deserve” one, a bowl game that is. It won’t be a very good bowl but then we’re not a very good football team yet, so that kind of fits. But look it, we’ve beaten two out of the three best teams on our schedule so far in ND and Duke (yeah, I know DUKE!) and I think that we actually have a chance at knocking off Miami if the continue to go down in flames by season’s end. The Hurricaines might have lost their focus by then.

So, we still should be striving hard to make a post season appearence somewhere, for this Panther team, that really would be a nice accomplishment.

Comment by Dr. Tom 11.19.13 @ 2:06 pm

agree gc

We need to hire some coaches with southern ‘connections’ to find the new Hugh’s and Ricky’s out there.

Is Chryst comfortable with ppl with southern accents ? Or do they all have to speak Wisconsin-Upper Mid-West speak ? lol

Comment by EMel 11.19.13 @ 2:08 pm

All the ACC bowl slots are filled…so it will have to be a bowl that is not aligned with the ACC. That another conference doesn’t have enough bowl eligble teams and can’t fill their allocated quota.

Like say the……Idaho Famous Potato Bowl.

I know I’ll be at that one for sure ! (sarc)

Comment by EMel 11.19.13 @ 2:16 pm

Around 1969 or 1970, I was laying around my girlfriend’s house on Chesterfield when a rowdy bunch of my friends brought in a twelve foot piece of goalpost. Pitt had just beat Syracuse after a long drought of bad football, several 1-9 seasons.

I was wondering if this was the last time Pitt goalposts were torn down. Any recollections?

Comment by gc 11.19.13 @ 2:36 pm

On a postive note, let’s switch gears to bball.

PITT is receiving votes in both polls this week.

#31 in the Coaches Poll.

link to espn.go.com

Hard to believe Boise State is receiving more votes than us. Boise State bball ???

Comment by EMel 11.19.13 @ 2:38 pm

@gc, I’m pretty sure the last game in the old Pitt stadium, when Pitt beat Notre Dame, resulted in the goal posts coming down.

The artifical turf also had some pieces missing by closing time and rumor has it that one of my old fraternity brothers still has a good length of bleacher seating sitting in his garage from that game too.

Comment by Dr. Tom 11.19.13 @ 2:42 pm

Last game at PITT Stadium in 1999.

PITT 37
Notre Dame 27

Comment by EMel 11.19.13 @ 2:44 pm

Do they still have the Giant Panther painted on the old house that overlooked Pitt Stadium ?

Always liked him spying down on the field.

Comment by EMel 11.19.13 @ 2:47 pm

@Comment by EMel 11.19.13 @ 2:16 pm that’s true right now, but if we win the next 2 games our standing in the ACC will have improved and we’ll get an ACC bowl. That being said, some of the low end bowls for other BCS conferences might actually pay more than the low end ACC bowls.

Comment by PittHW 11.19.13 @ 2:51 pm

Emel, that building is long gone. New dormitories in it’s place.

Comment by gc 11.19.13 @ 2:55 pm

Well that makes sense, but I thought they would have the cops on horses protecting the posts then.

Pretty dangerous when those things come down.

Tradition started with old rickety wooden posts.

Comment by gc 11.19.13 @ 2:58 pm

@notrocketscience – there was a primo example of punting the ball out of bounds inside the 5 on Saturday. By North Carolina.

Comment by KeyboardKev 11.19.13 @ 3:02 pm

EMel, are you serious? Do we really have a chance to get into the Idaho Famous Potato Bowl? Where else would you rather be the week before Christmas than in Boise Idaho, by golly? Our all white Pitt uniforms would look great contrasting with that Bronco Blue turf too, you betcha!

Comment by Dr. Tom 11.19.13 @ 3:05 pm

No campus stadium means many things:

One is….we’ll never see the goal posts torn down again at Heinz.

Comment by EMel 11.19.13 @ 3:06 pm

@ Doc

Yea, ikr….always wanted to see PITT play on the SmurfTurf. lol

Comment by EMel 11.19.13 @ 3:07 pm

I’m breaking out the thermal underwear just in case, hope springs eternal.

Comment by Dr. Tom 11.19.13 @ 3:08 pm

Pitt loses to Syracuse on last second play and beats Miami therefore sending our Panthers to Shreveport and Upitt and Emel to hospital with Liver damage from 4 days of cigars and scotch/bourbon.

Comment by Upittbaseball 11.19.13 @ 3:23 pm

gc:
I was at the 1969 Pitt-Syracuse game. It was 21-20 Pitt in DePasqua’s first year. After three 1-9 seasons Pitt was going to finish 4-6. The goal posts game down. Euphoria erupted.

Comment by TonyinHouston 11.19.13 @ 3:48 pm

As far as Bowl possibilities:

For sure we know the Big 12 isn’t going to fulfill their 7 bowl allotment. Only 6 teams will be bowl eligible.

So that would mean either:
1) Pinstripe Bowl (seems to me Cuse will be penciled into this one, as even if they lose to us, they prolly beat BC in last game)
2) Texas or Wild Wings Bowl (both have B1G oppoenents, which means we won’t be that fortunate)

SEC has 9 qualified teams of 11 bowls alloted.
Tenn & MSU could still qualify but not likely both will.
So that means:
1) Eliminates both Music City & Advocare 100 since they both have ACC opponents.
2) Compass Bowl (bingo) (too funny)

Big 10 has 7 qualified teams of 9 alloted.
Northwestern & Indiana could still qualify, but more likely both will not, as NW plays Mich. State and IU plays Ohio Fake.
So that means:
1) Little Caesars Bowl (lovely Detroit)
2) Texas Bowl or
2) Wild Wings Bowl (blue cheese or ranch ?)

Based on our AD’s abilities & the Pitt-ness factor, the 2 leading contenders are:

1) Compass Bowl (yes folks this is an annual joke on Pitt. should be renamed the Groundhog Day Bowl)
2) Little Caesars Bowl (they’ll figure PITT should be able to sell some tickets since it’s so close. They’ll be wrong of course, but when you invite us, you gotta have hope)

Comment by EMel 11.19.13 @ 3:48 pm

Emel:
1972 was DePasqua’s final year. The team finished 1-10 and only beat BC. link to sports-reference.com

Majors came in 1973 and Pitt owned the Cuse from then on, at least until Foge took over.

Comment by TonyinHouston 11.19.13 @ 3:53 pm

Emel:
Better to go back to Birmingham to face an SEC team than take our chances getting whipped by a MAC team in Detroit, don’t you think?

Comment by TonyinHouston 11.19.13 @ 3:58 pm

Technically Johnny showed up on PITT’s campus in December, 1972. My dad met him then on campus.

So I always think of 1972 of his arrival. You are correct sir his first football season was 1973. A Major Change in Pitt Football !

Comment by EMel 11.19.13 @ 4:05 pm

@ Tony

Well we’d be replacing the SEC team in Birmingham(since they won’t have enough bowl eligible teams)….so get this ….
…we’d be facing an American Conference team.

haha :-)

Comment by EMel 11.19.13 @ 4:07 pm

For all you experts crying about why the punter didn’t punt the ball out of bounds. Do any of you know where on the field he was punting from?

Comment by outoftown 11.19.13 @ 4:16 pm

Will always remember sitting outside in old Archibold Stadium on those freezing concrete seats. Ah the good old days!

Then of course the many missed extra points and field goals under Wanny because the Carrier Dome Field is utterly flat with no crest and drop off like regular football fiels and that threw our kickers off.

Wonder what the excuse will be Saturday??

Would love to see Savage be able to run the “no huddle” offense. It is a terrific tool to use (as is the spread option) when your offensive line is out matched (see Steelers/Detroit) …but it appears to me that Savage NEVER has any check off choies..so enough of that.

Comment by Dan 72 11.19.13 @ 4:18 pm

@@@@@@@

Lack of depth is going to be an issue Saturday. Not going
to criticize the coaching staff; including the conditioning guy.
Turning my attention to recruiting. This season is essentially
over. Have seen the Cuse play. Mobile QB, lots of speed
guys on D. Could be a long day for our guys. Looks like
a 5-7 finish. Now to recruiting.

We speed, depth at many positions, running backs, linebackers, O-lineman, and bigger guys on the D-line who can Roles sure the QB like AD.

Comment by JR 11.19.13 @ 4:37 pm

Found this great article on PITT of all places, the University of Washington Huskies SB Nation Dog Pound site. (note to the youngins, Johnny didn’t look like the pic in this article in 1972. that must be from the 2000′s.)

link to uwdawgpound.com

Comment by EMel 11.19.13 @ 4:44 pm

@JR I seems to me that QB and RB are set with Freebeck and Bertke, and Ollison and James, Oline is looking ok, with Grimm and Hayes, and the strong possibilit of Bookser. LB and Dline look a lot less promising unfortunately. Henry and Nicholson (maybe WR?) will probably both play defense but are DBs. Week dline and lb recruits sadly.

Comment by PittHW 11.19.13 @ 5:17 pm

Holgersen down in Morganhole says he’s focusing on recruiting and facility upgrades per the PG now that WVcc has been eliminated from the bowl race. Hope Chryst is focuing on that AND gets us to a bowl.

Comment by PittHW 11.19.13 @ 5:28 pm

The Steelers signed Ray Graham to the practice squad.

Comment by Nick 11.19.13 @ 5:59 pm

Looked at about 10 bowl game prognasticators.

Two of them have PITT going ‘bowling’. One albeit is in that former city known as Detroit.
Apolgies to Cobo Hall.

ESPN’s Mark Schlambach (sp) Us vs. Ball State
link to espn.go.com

The better one has us playing our old friends from Utah in the Shreveport AdvoDaiquiri 100 Bowl.

link to sbnation.com

So there are a couple ppl out there, that still believe in our team. Cudo’s are in order.

Comment by EMel 11.19.13 @ 7:02 pm

A very frustrating season. Sad facts. Two punt returns in one game (maybe should always kick it out of bounds). Losing ACC record in first year (must win last 2 games to be 5 and 5 in ACC and 6 and 6). Lower tier Bowl (must win one more game).
I guess I expected too much. At least we beat ND.

Comment by Frank MD 11.19.13 @ 8:06 pm

Frank–if they win two the finish 7-5, I believe.

Comment by pitt1972 11.19.13 @ 8:28 pm

Hire a Special Teams Coach

Comment by 63 Team 11.19.13 @ 8:54 pm

I hope they finish 7 – 5.

Comment by Frank MD 11.19.13 @ 9:03 pm

7-5 sounds real nice. I prefer 6-5 first. Let’s concentrate the orange.

carpe’ diem and carpe’ Orangemen too!

Seriously, expecting the punter who has been really inconsistent to punt the ball out of bounds is unrealistic, even if he had a coach. That said, it would not have been a stretch to advise the punter to kick the ball very high and short (30+ yards) with no opportunity for return. It would have put the game on the defense, but that is the better option after the first return where we weren’t even close to touching that guy.

Pitt will probably try to run the same offense that fsu did against the orange. Unfortunately our dudes are not as talented and the effort may be met with frustration. Pitt just needs to relax. Would be good to look at some new bodies stepping up and contributing, specifically our AD. @Upitt, we both believe that Pederson needs to go as he enjoys a terrible reputation in his own profession. Jeff Long is not necessarily a step up. He didn’t do much for Arkansauce. Would it be that difficult to get Hugh Green a high school coaching gig in Miami area? I think he enjoys working with young kids and the name correlation with Hugh and MArino in the MIami area would probably be a great thing for Pitt.

Comment by dhuffdaddy 11.19.13 @ 11:04 pm

Some guys just have that special ability to make tackles on special teams. Andrew Taglianetti comes to mind. Also set the record for blocked kicks.

When he missed a game, there was a noticeable difference on special teams.

Trenton Coles may be that player as well. At least with making tackles.

Comment by gc 11.20.13 @ 6:34 am

Interesting that Juantez Hollins finally got to play. A redshirt senior, wonder what the story is there. Why did it take so long? Was he injured, in the doghouse, or not that good? You have to wonder since he has some experience and more maturity.

Comment by gc 11.20.13 @ 6:40 am

gc – it has been pretty obvious that PC has been playing all these redshirt and true FR to get experience for the 2014 season – Hollins adds nothing to that equation. The hope was that Johnson would be able to contribute right away, even as a starter coming out of camp, but that hasn’t come to fruition and Johnson was getting beat pretty regularly, hence Hollins.

Johnson needs some big time work in the weight room. I don’t believe for a second he’s 6’5″ and 290, at least during the end of camp. I stood right next to him for a good while and was surprised at how thin he was for an OL and he ain’t 6’5″. I’m 6’6″ and could look over his head… Maybe he’s 6’4″ at best which is fine if he’s full of muscle.

I’m not overly worried about LB next season. We have some returning starters like Thomas and Gonzalez and some real talent behind them with Galambos, Grigsby, Bradley and Porchia. The DL will lose Donald of course but Render and Soto have played well and I think that Mosley-Smith, Jarrett and (my guy to watch) Taleni can anchor the interior pretty well.

Bring back Ejuan Price at DE and that may help but that DE position will be the weak spot of the defense IMO.

There are a lot of unknowns for the talent level of next season but I’m glad that Chryst has gotten these young kids game experience early and often. I honestly can’t see too many positions where I’d have played an upperclassman in place of the FR who have played. That 2013 experience will pay dividends in the future.

Comment by Reed 11.20.13 @ 7:06 am

You think Pitt has injury issues, Syracuse had five guys hurt in the FSU game, one went to the hospital for an overnight stay to monitor a bruised lung!

This game sets up well for the Panthers (unlike last week), just wish it was at home rather than away.

Being the young, unpredictable inconsistant team we are, if we get the momentum early, I see us coming out of nowhere for a runaway victory by at least two TDs. Sunday we will all be talking about the expected win against Miami after the strong showing up in Syracuse by the Panthers.

Comment by Dr. Tom 11.20.13 @ 7:31 am

Reed, I am sure you are right. It just seems to me if DJ wasn’t ready that Hollins should have been the first guy in. Maybe we win another game. The fact that he sat out a year and was willing to come back says a lot about him. I am not sure how much DJ gains by having guys blow him up. Starting his first game against a beast wasn’t the kind of experience he needed. Maybe Hollins does a little better and we beat GT.

I know it is second guessing, and you want to get guys experience, but not if it costs you games now. If that were the case then Voytik should have played this year.

Hopefully Chryst is learning from this process as well.

You obviously have more confidence in our front seven for next year than I do. I really hope you are right. I love Thomas, Render is stepping up and the other guys have potential. Soto needs to put on muscle as does Price. I would look for a Juco at D End. My concern on Galambos is speed, Grigsby, Bradley, is size. Gonzalez has made some nice plays this year but again a little slower than ideal. Hopefully Mosely-Smith comes back in shape and ready to go.

Thomas is the only one that really is a punishing tackler. We need more guys that hit hard and can knock a guy backwards as opposed to getting dragged for 5 or 6.

I really hope we can stockpile a few three and four star defenders this year.

If we get Bookser along with Grimm, Chyrst is building a serious line for the future.

I’d like to see him do that with D-line as well.

Comment by gc 11.20.13 @ 8:00 am

Glad to see the positive Dr. Tom is back, even though you were right on last week.

A Fast start would be something different, it could happen.

We certainly haven’t played our best game yet. Better do it soon we are running out of time.

Comment by gc 11.20.13 @ 8:05 am

Pitt really needs to consider going to the 3-4 next year.

Big, fast DEs are hard to come by. Two or Three Star Linebackers with UPSIDE are a plenty in High School.

Don’t see Chryst doing it. But he should.

Comment by PittofDreams 11.20.13 @ 8:14 am

Reed, Personally I’m looking forward to Tyrique Jarrett, redshirt freshman and widebody DT. Saw him play in Big 33 game a couple of years ago and thought he looked pretty good.

While he certainly no Donald .. in fact, just the opposite in that he relies on bulk and strength as opposed to quickness .. he should be a good middle anchor and plug up the middle.

Also, Devin Cook should return from injury along with Murphy to provide DL depth

Comment by wbb 11.20.13 @ 8:15 am

Glad to see Ray Graham getting picked up. Surprised he’s hung out there this long.

Believe he’ll eventually see some playing time with the Steelers.

It might happen late this year if a back goes down. Likely next year when one or two of the current backs are no longer with the team.

Comment by PittofDreams 11.20.13 @ 8:18 am

wbb, forgot about Cook and I can’t believe Murphy has eligibility left, seems like he’s been here forever. He made some plays this year, but I remember when he was considered a future superstar to follow Romeus and Sheard.

Comment by gc 11.20.13 @ 8:28 am

Murphy, along with the other Red Shirt Juniors are the last bunch recruited by DW, although they never got to play for him.

Wow, have they been through a lot.

Comment by gc 11.20.13 @ 8:43 am

Guys – The weather in Boise is nice. You won’t need long johns….Hell of a lot better than Burg in Winter… I was there a few weeks back. On the turf and all.

Comment by Upittbaseball 11.20.13 @ 9:03 am

Have you noticed how much time the eternal optimists want? It’s always two more years, next season, in four years…that’s the kind of talk a program stuck in the muck generates.

Gee in four years Pitt will win….9 games?

Comment by TonyinHouston 11.20.13 @ 9:04 am

@gc, even though I’ve developed the profile as a Pitt Koolaid abuser over the years here on the Pitt Blather, I honestly just try to analyse and comment on the situations as realistically as possible from my perspective. I’ve been following the Panthers forever and therefore was quite aware that last week was just ripe for a Pitt letdown game, especially since UNC didn’t match up well against the Panthers and they have a lot of F A S T guys on their squad (like their punt returner).

This week, Syracuse is just the type team that we should be able to rebound on to capture our bowl eligibility game. Syracuse’s injury report will be a long list, come Thursday ACC’s disclosure, with a bunch of guys out or questionable for the game. The Orange secondary looks the most negatively impacted by the recent spat of injuries from the FSU game.

Like I said above, I think that the team that captures the momentum early and holds on to it will be the victor. Syracuse has to have a pretty beat up mindset regarding playing from behind, since they have had so many blowouts against them already. Unlike some others who think that the Orange could rebound from the FSU game, I feel that the FSU 59-3 beatdown did nothing but further damage their team psyche, since that wasn’t the first game where they just got taken out back to the woodshed for a good old fashion a$$ whoopin.

Pitt on the other hand, let another close one get away and should be feeling like they really have something to prove this week regarding their ability to close out a game in their favor if they decide to play 60 of good football, for a change. So if Pitt comes out strong from the start, I see this one being a win going away for the Panthers.

Comment by Dr. Tom 11.20.13 @ 9:09 am

Soto has shown very little, so I do not see what the interest is in him. I cringe when he goes in – as soon as he hit the field against Duke they gashed us, and the NC QB walked past him to the end zone last week. He should have been redshirted.

Not sure why PC chooses to keep things a mystery when injuries occur – it is what is – I have heard Price may be back in a week or he may have a career ending injury.

The problem with the defense is coaching. We played faster and more aggressively last year under Huxtabell. House is too young, and a journeyman, our of retirement guy like Palermo does not impress me. Together they are confused and run around yelling, I can’t imagine how unimpressive they are on the recruiting trail or when recruits ask themselves if they want to be a part of this.

In perspective, the defense does not rise to the top of the problem list, that goes to HCPC who in his goal of establishing an old-school, drive them off the ball offense has sacrificed his first several years of potential success asking the O-Line to do things they can’t. In spite of the scheme, it is obvious we need a new Oline coach, also for recruiting as well.

Yes, Engram needs to stay. He not only has produced a consistent performing group but is a good recruiter.

The S&C coach Rice is a joke. The program will not progress until we upgrade.

Comment by PittMan 11.20.13 @ 9:11 am

upbb, but you have to play on a blue field! It actually hurts my eyes when I watch games from Boise

Comment by wbb 11.20.13 @ 9:23 am

Dr. Tom, I always appreciate your posts and hope you know I am just kidding, sometimes the written word doesn’t convey your intentions the way you hope.

As a long suffering Pitt Fan, I have conditioned myself to hope for the best but expect the worst.

I am not smart enough to make game predictions and when I do they are a joke, both literally and figuratively.

I hope you are right but lately other than ND we seem to be able to play just well enough to lose.

It would have been nice to reverse the halfs last week. Chances are NC would not have come back the way we did.

Comment by gc 11.20.13 @ 9:26 am

Tony, what’s the alternative, just accept that we are going to stink forever? If that is the case, I would find a new hobby.

Comment by gc 11.20.13 @ 9:29 am

@ TonyinHouston, I guarentee in four years Pitt will win nine games. They will win at least two in 2014, three in 2015, three in 2016, and at least one in 2017 with their new Coach. Now how’s that for being an optimist! LOL!

Comment by Dr. Tom 11.20.13 @ 9:30 am

wbb, I agree, I have never watched more than 5 minutes on that blue field.

Comment by gc 11.20.13 @ 9:31 am

PittMan, note that last year, when we did face some speed (Cincy, Louisville and Ole Miss), our defense didn’t do very well at all

Comment by wbb 11.20.13 @ 9:35 am

@gc, Each season we usually get one game that is a win out of nowhere and another win by just finally getting our $hit together and playing a complete game on both sides of the ball. That second type performance is usually just a “flash in the pan” appearance to entice us loyal Pitt fans into thinking that there is hope for the future though.

We already got our win “out of nowhere” IMO, ND should have beat us, luckly we won the turnover battle, but I’m still waiting for the complete game. I think Saturday may be that second type performance that we’ve been waiting for.

The Panthers have their backs up against the wall regarding their goal of becoming bowl eligible. Miami will be a much steeper hill to climb than Syracuse will be, even with the Miami game being at home and as badly as they’ve played recently. The Hurricaines are that fast, talented type team that likes to eat Pitt’s lunch so I think most everybody in the Panther organization realizes that if we don’t beat Syracuse that everybody will be spending the holidays at home.

Pitt does better when they’re put in such a “do or die” situation. I’m not sure why, I guess it helps them focus and motivates them when it is a must win situation.

I’m not a big one in making predictions myself either but I feel that a solid overall performance is still waiting to be had by this squad and I’m picking Syracuse as the game that Pitt finally opens a can of whoopa$$ on.

Comment by Dr. Tom 11.20.13 @ 11:58 am

I am still skeptical of how motivated this team is. I think they play hard at times, but also show times of just being flat out tired.

Not sure the thought of three more weeks of practice is a great reward.

If PC doesn’t excite you during an interview, I don’t think it gets better for the players on the field.

Can’t compare past trends or games to get a read on this year. I thought last year was a perfect opportunity to wipe the field with Cuse and we ended up stinking.

Comment by PittMan 11.20.13 @ 12:10 pm

@TonyinHouston 11.20.13 @ 9:04 am Since you’re in Houston you’re probably pretty familiar with Baylors success, it took Briles 6 years to get them up to snuff. It took Cutclifee 6 years at Duke too. Pitt was in bad, bad, shape when Chryst took over. A lot of people like to lie to themselves about the shape of our program but it bad. It’ll take him 4 years to get Pitt where it needs to be in the 8-10 wins range.

@PittofDreams 11.20.13 @ 8:14 am On the contrary, genuine LBs are very rare and are certainly not a strength on our roster. I would be surprised if we don’t use the Nickel as our base defense going forward. This makes the most sense for Pitt based on the talent and speed of our young DB core – especially the freshmen and RS freshmen and the fact that so many teams are going to the spread. If we want to shutdown the spread teams and utilize the speed we’ve got, Nickel isthe way to go.

Comment by PittHW 11.20.13 @ 12:24 pm

I’ll be intrested in seeing how Old Dominion University (ODU) plays against their last opponent, UNC, this weekend. The Monarchs have quitely marched to a 8-3 season thus far while transitioning into FBS football. These guys play solid football, even though they are both undermanned and undersized. I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t give UNC a run for their money on Saturday.

Comment by Dr. Tom 11.20.13 @ 3:06 pm

I hope UNC loses to Dook and ODU.

Comment by PittHW 11.20.13 @ 3:09 pm

I could see UNC losing to Duke, who’s 8-2, but they’ll walk over ODU.

Come on Doc, 7 of ODU’s wins are against FCS schools. Idaho, who might be the worst FBS team along with New Mexico State, is their only FBS win.

Comment by EMel 11.20.13 @ 4:15 pm

That honor will be at stake next week, when
Idaho(1-10) visits New Mexico State (1-10). Plenty of tickets are available.

They’re both 1-9 but I already gave them their 10th defeats by default.

Idaho plays rent-a-win victim for Fla. State this week(that game could be 100-0) while the Aggies also visit Florida for a loss at FAU. As FAU still has bowl hopes.

Comment by EMel 11.20.13 @ 4:25 pm

Reed, if Price returns he should be moved to Outside Linebacker, his natural position. He would probably enjoy that as well. The reason there is not more production from the front seven is the coach. This read and react crap is for teams that keep things simple and aren’t afraid to let their players play.

Comment by PittMan 11.20.13 @ 4:26 pm

EMel I said I was just “interested” in ODU’s match up with UNC, it’s a big deal down Norfolk, Hampton Roads, Newport News area having ODU stepping up into the USA Conference. They don’t have any “real” college football down there in SE Virginia so ODU will have their supporters just because they’re the only game in town.

I love their coach’s enthusiasm and I think the program will take off soon when they can up their recruiting to 85 scholarships. Of course they may never be able to ascend to the level of a powerhouse like the University of Pittsburgh’s program, but just sayin.

Comment by Dr. Tom 11.20.13 @ 5:03 pm

Doc, I thought they were all VA Tech fans down there. I know the Gobblers(hokies) recruit that area heavily.

Gobble Gobble

Comment by EMel 11.20.13 @ 5:41 pm

In my mind, PITT will always be circa 1975-1983.

An annual powerhouse indeed !

When I get that Time Machine finished, I’ll give you a lift ! lol

Comment by EMel 11.20.13 @ 5:43 pm

EMel, Virginia is one big a$$ state, it’s like a 5 hour drive from Norfolk to Blacksburg, so even though there may be plenty of VT fans out there in Norfolk, most of them ain’t going to go see VT play every home game, that’s why ODU is the only game in town when it comes to college football. There’s not even any pro team to go see that isn’t a four hour drive!

Comment by Dr. Tom 11.20.13 @ 5:58 pm

Yea I use to live close to Northern Virginia.

So are you ‘yah or nay’ on the Redskins changing their name. Seems to be the PC thing to do ! lol

Comment by EMel 11.20.13 @ 6:19 pm

Shai McKenzie has narrowed his list of schools to Pitt, VT, & GT. He will announce his decision on Dec. 21

Comment by Nick 11.20.13 @ 6:58 pm

so Shai will either be playing for or against Pitt

Comment by wbb 11.20.13 @ 7:05 pm

Uppitt:
You wrote a comment recently that Pederson would be around for at least five years (the at least part is chilling, actually)and intimated Stevie was in the mix of something he shouldn’t know and would therefore be kept around as silence security)..
so what realistically can be done to get rid of
Pederson?

Chryst may not be the best but would you be willing to trust Pederson to hire yet another football coach? What’s the point if recruiting budgets are stingy and assistants are underpaid, at least in comparison to the most current successful programs?

Pederson’s longevity actually enhances Dixon’s worth because, once again, do you trust Pederson to find a better coach than Dixon?

Comment by TonyinHouston 11.20.13 @ 9:01 pm

Virginia takes so long to drive thru because you get thousand dollar speeding tickets for going 5 miles over the speed limit on their highways. LOL @ Virginians.

McKenzie is a red shirt next year regardless of where he goes. Depth chart is better at VTech, but he would have more support at Pitt. GTECH doesn’t make sense at all. I don’t think the nfl is too receptive for rb’s out of a quirky offense. Same with the spread offense in college and OL.

The programs at the top of the heap (Alabama, FSU kind of, and OSU), run pro style offenses. Gimmick offenses are not helpful to some kids because it is the gimmick responsible for big yards, versus the talent. Just my opinion.

I think Pitt beats up Syracuse with a bunch of quick hitters and some screenie ology…..

Comment by dhuffdaddy 11.21.13 @ 12:26 am

right dhuff about driving thru VA.

Actually North Carolina is substantially larger than VA. And PA is larger too.

VA is only the 35th or 36th largest (sq.miles) state of 50 in the Union.

And I believe I’ve just about driven every inch of ALL 3 of them. Oy Vey !

Comment by EMel 11.21.13 @ 1:00 am

I try, at all costs, to avoid watching any game involving Ohio Fake & Pedo State.

I was under the impression, Suburban Urban was hired to bring his Utah/Florida spread to the Big Joke.

Or will not the bucknut faithful go for that.

You know…still stuck in…3 yards and a cloud of dust.

Comment by EMel 11.21.13 @ 1:04 am

PittHW

Sorry to bust your bubble… but Pitt does have more ABLE Linebackers than D-Ends.

And that’s not saying much.

Comment by PittofDreams 11.21.13 @ 6:32 am

@ EMel, I’m “nay” for the Redskins changing their name. No offense was intended when the team was created so many years ago and although I can appreciate the inference that it can be viewed as derogatory to a segment of our population, I’m of the mindset if there is no intent then there is no offense.

If it is determined that the PC thing to do is to change the name, then my pick is the Washington Warriors, and change NOTHING but the name. Keep all of the logos, colors etc.

Comment by Dr. Tom 11.21.13 @ 8:42 am

Tony – The source stated that he has a written deal with Nordy and Board that Nordy has in effect that gives him protection from a firing for 5 years. This is in addition to an extension they signed.

Comment by Upittbaseball 11.21.13 @ 8:46 am

Emel I agree. Urban Liar is the biggest fraud in college football. He’s like a cat with nine lives because of the media and what they let him get away with. He plays that cream puff schedule and will probably get into the NC because of it.

He gets away with that offense because the Little10 is so bad he can literally line up and plow them over.

Dhuffdaddy what makes you think we have “quick hitters” and “screens” in our playbook? I’ve seen some wideout screens but our O line is not athletic enough to get out on a screen, and I’ve not seen one called. Quick hitters? You are right that’s what we need but our RB’s get the ball and have to run 7 yards to get to the LOS, which is why we are pitiful on 3rd down conversions.

Comment by PittMan 11.21.13 @ 8:59 am

@gc, agreed. WBB and I talked about that blue field several years ago.

Combined over the years, I haven’t watched a total of more than a minute of the blue field.

Goes right off when I see it. Nothing against Boise St. either, I rather like them.

I’m very much a traditionalist when it comes to college football, however, that’s not the reason.

I physically can’t watch it. My eyes. I’ve tried several times, lasted about a play or two.

Comment by Dan 11.21.13 @ 10:22 am

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