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.

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

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

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


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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