If you aren’t a little dazed and groggy this morning — whether by binge eating/drinking or shopping — then you may have done our present iteration of Thanksgiving wrong. Needless to say, I’m keeping it simple this morning. Setting the open thread with media run-through.
It’s going to be cold but sunny. I don’t think the temperatures will make anything but the smallest difference for Miami. Sam Werner made the correct observation in his chat earlier this week.
I don’t think it’s a hard-and-fast rule that all Miami teams play poorly in the cold, since the 2003 ‘Canes came into Heinz Field and beat Pitt in the final game of that season. But I was also in El Paso in 2010 when the Hurricanes came out bundled up like they were venturing out onto the planet Hoth. They got smoked that day. If this Miami team is focused and strong-willed (like that 2003 team), then I don’t think the weather will play a factor. But if they’re mentally checked-out and just waiting for the season to end (like the 2010 team was), the cold is just another reason for them to want Friday’s game to be over.
I don’t think Miami head coach Al Golden is a great coach, but he is a very good one. I think Golden will have Miami ready for this one. At least in the first half. This article goes through most key cold weather games for Miami. Not surprisingly, the cold only seems to be a factor when they lose.
It’s senior day. Headliners are obviously Aaron Donald and Devin Street. But there are 16 others.
“I get caught up in the moment,” said [Jason] Hendricks, one of 18 Pitt seniors who will play their final home game. “You might see a few tears. Hopefully, I won’t (cry). I don’t want to look like a baby.”
Hendricks, who has had a “Pitt” tattoo on his right arm since his redshirt freshman season, has called four men head coach since arriving in 2009.
Change has been difficult, but he said, “It just made me stronger as a person.
“I learned how to deal with change. Things don’t go as planned, so you just make the best of your situation.”
He said he and his teammates built a close bond during the turmoil.
“Coaches may change, but the players don’t,” he said.
Unless they transfer.
Which brings up perhaps the ultimate symbolic senior Panther of this group, Tom Savage. The team that blew through 4 non-interim head coaches in 4 years, helmed and saying good by to the quarterback who played for 4 different head coaches on three teams. (Schiano, Erickson, Rodriguez, Chryst).
“I’m blessed to be able to play here, especially after transferring so many times,” he said. “Not too many people get to finish their career at a school like Pittsburgh. I’m blessed and I’m happy to be a part of this team.”
Savage has taken a beating this year behind the Pitt O-line. He’s toughed it out and only missed a small handful of snaps the entire season. With his arm strength, I have to believe he will have a shot in the NFL. I just hope he gets an O-line that can keep him upright.
Another senior with a late move up the depth chart because of injuries and (struggling) youth, Juantez Hollins. When he got suspended for all of last year it was mildly surprising he didn’t transfer to somewhere like IUP or Cal (Pa.). Instead he stayed and served his suspension. And stuck it out for his last year. Even after being passed on the depth chart by a redshirt freshman and then a true freshman.
“I never showed weakness on the field,” he said. “They never knew I wanted to quit, but it was in my head, yeah.”
Hollins, 23, took his concerns home to his mother, Tamika Genes, who reminded him why he was in college.
“When you are not playing as a senior, you know it’s your last year, you have a lot of bad thoughts,” he said. “But having my mom and my parents behind you (helped). (She said), ‘Don’t let it get to you. Just try to finish school. That’s the main thing.’
“At the end of it, you are going to need that degree. I just thought, you got suspended the year before and you didn’t leave. You stayed. You might as well stick it out. It would be stupid to quit in your senior year.”
Honestly, he’s never been very good, especially in pass protection which frustrates in the game. But it is still good to have him at this point.
Wide receivers Devin Street and Tyler Boyd figure to be contenders for spots. Street has 51 catches for 854 yards, sixth-best in the conference.
Boyd ranks third with 903 receiving yards. His 68 catches are also one shy of Larry Fitzgerald’s school record for a freshman.
On the ACC coaches conference call Wednesday, Chryst also pointed to redshirt junior right guard Matt Rotheram as a Panther who deserves All-ACC consideration. Rotheram has started all 11 games for Pitt this year and all 13 last year. He moved from right tackle to right guard in the offseason.
“Matt has been probably our most consistent offensive lineman, certainly worth consideration,” Chryst said.
Boyd isn’t generating the media attention as much as he did when he burst on the scene at the beginning of the season — in no small part because of what Aaron Donald has done on the defensive side — but it doesn’t diminish how amazing a first season he had.
Finally, back to the game and injuries.
Pitt coach Paul Chryst shifted from his usual reluctance on talking about injuries Monday when he announced that offensive left tackle Adam Bisnowaty (back), defensive end Ejuan Price (back) and tight end Scott Orndoff (leg) won’t play Friday against Miami.
And none of these are surprises — other than Chryst making it official rather than listing them as questionable until gameday. Senior linebacker Shane Gordon is on the questionable list. As is Devin Street. Heck even senior left guard, Cory King, is “questionable” despite not playing for six weeks.
For Miami, their injuries are in the secondary. If the Pitt O-line can give Savage some time, this could help.
Gametime is 3:30 pm on ABC.