March 30, 2014

What The Offense Offers

Filed under: Football,Practice — Chas @ 12:52 pm

I guess the only question I have is, why did they decide to work on this now?

While quarterback Chad Voytik goes through his first spring as the presumed starter, sharing snaps equally with Trey Anderson, he is working on cleaning up mechanics in his throwing motion.

“My stride length is a little long,” he said.

He said Chryst noticed it, but Voytik said he has been aware of it since high school.

If Voytik’s accuracy suffers in practice while making the changes, he isn’t worried.

“There are a lot of days before the first game,” he said.

Chryst said perfecting the details can make a difference.

“You have to teach what to do,” he said. “But how-to is important. That’s where you gain an edge.”

And by now, I mean why didn’t they work on it any time in the previous two years? Yeah, it beats deciding to fix this sort of thing in the fall, but Voytik is a redshirt sophomore. There was no coaching change during that time to throw any work on it off.

You would think that the time to work on it would be earlier when there is a lot less pressure and plenty more time to get it straightened out. This isn’t exactly the giant hitch in the throwing motion Pat Bostick had, but it just seems odd that the coaches waited until now to have him work on it. I guess Chryst being a lot closer to what the QBs are doing this year must have decided it wasn’t something that should be left uncorrected any longer. Well, as long as it is all taken care of before the end of August.

Staying with the QBs, and Coach Chryst is handling their coaching. He has hired a new graduate assistant specifically to help with the QBs. Is the new GA a Wisconsin guy? Of course he is.

After Brooks Bollinger resigned, Chryst added quarterbacks coach to his job description and hired [Joe] Budmayr, 23, as a graduate assistant to be his eyes and ears while he is tending to other players.

Chryst, who recruited Budmayr to Wisconsin five years ago, spends much of his time during Pitt’s spring drills working with quarterbacks Chad Voytik and Trey Anderson. He can’t be everywhere, however, and he trusts Budmayr to fill in the gaps.

“You are always looking for good, young coaches, and I was excited when he said that’s what he wanted to do,” Chryst said.

“He’s only a few years older than me,” said Voytik, 20. “But he’s very intelligent when it comes to football.”

Only 13 months ago, Budmayr was preparing to compete for the starting job at Wisconsin as a fifth-year senior. Midway through winter conditioning, nerve issues that caused two fingers on his throwing hand to go numb three years earlier resurfaced. At that point, he became a student coach under Wisconsin’s Gary Andersen.

Chryst hired him after the season.

At some point Chryst is going to run out of ex-Wisconsin players he knew, to hire. Right?

Voytik speaks well of Budmayr and his ability to help him learn Chryst’s offense. So there is that aspect. The complete familiarity with what Chryst wants and the terminology to help things go smoothly.

Of course the success that Voytik may have this year hinges on the O-line. The good news, returning starters who hopefully are better and healthier than last year. The bad news. Lord, they were not good.

The Panthers ranked 118th out of 123 Division I-A teams with 3.31 sacks allowed per game. They fared slightly better running the ball, but finished 102nd with 125.7 yards per game.

Only one starter, left guard Cory King, graduated from that unit.

[Offensive Line Coach Jim] Hueber said his main goal this spring was to have the left side of his line — [Jaryd] Jones-Smith and [Dorian] Johnson — catch up to the returning starters at center and on the right side.

Rotheram, the most experienced offensive lineman with 27 starts, said the continuity is paying dividends.

Last year, Pitt had no starters return to the same position along the line.

“Me and T.J., we’re on the same page,” Rotheram said. “And Artie’s back.

“It helps that the center’s back this year. [He’s a] veteran in the middle there directing us around.”

Rotheram said he, too, hopes to provide a veteran presence in the meeting room. Right now, that just means watching film with Johnson and the other young linemen and offering some pointers.

“We’ve got two younger guys, but they’re going to catch up and be right on pace with the rest of us,” Rotheram said.

I do love reading Jim Hueber talk about teaching the new kids. The down side with this spring is Adam Bisnowaty is still slowly coming back from the injury that ended his season early last year. Whether it is an overabundance of caution or simply that it is a back injury — which are never simple to return from — not having Bisnowaty is a concern.

Gabe Roberts is still out. Further cementing Artie Rowell at Center — and making me even more grateful that Rowell didn’t bail when Chryst came and was looking for bigger players on the O-line.

Well, at least the tradition of being worried about the state of the O-line continues. I really don’t know how I could head into a season without that nagging worry. (Though, I’d be willing to try it sometime.)

Meanwhile Manasseh Garner is sort of listed as a WR this season.

He was listed as a tight end, but also played more than his share of wide receiver and H-back.

Not that it affected his production. Garner finished 2013 as Pitt’s third-leading receiver with 33 catches for 391 yards and three touchdowns.

Heading into spring practice this year, Garner switched to wide receiver and appears to be the favorite to land a starting job opposite star Tyler Boyd.

Pitt coach Paul Chryst, though, still will get creative with how he uses Garner, a redshirt senior.

“I think he’ll end up being kind of his own [position],” Chryst said. “He’s got a different skill set, so we’ve got to play to that. I think right now, in kind of assessing the drills and the drill work, he could benefit more from some of the receiver stuff than the in-line blocking. I think that’ll come back to him pretty fast.”

Garner has slimmed down for his new role, at 215 pounds now compared to 235 last season, and said he can feel the change when he does individual drills with his new position group.

“I’m still able to do some of the stuff on the inside, but I’m getting the rewards and able to catch some more passes now,” Garner said.

It really seems that he is playing that hybrid role that Dorin Dickerson had several years ago. It couldn’t hurt Chryst to look at some old game tape on how Dickerson was used. I think Garner would be fantastic as that sort of player.

Obviously putting Garner at WR also makes it easier to put J.P. Holtz and Scott Orndoff out at TE more frequently.

I will note one other thing from the above article. Garner and other players raved about new Strength and Conditioning Coach Ross Kolodziej. This has been the theme with them so far in the offseason. Lots of love for Kolodziej.

Considering my feelings on the hire how the players look and hold up for the season will be watched closely.

A 23 year old GA who didn’t even use all four years of his eligibility? This nepotism streak of Chryst’s is absolutely bush league. It is prole. It’s the kind of crap I’d expect from a yokel like Bill Stewart.

Comment by Jeff 03.30.14 @ 1:50 pm

Actually, Rowell was the only Wannstedt recruit that didn’t leave when Fraud was hired, and withstood the challenge of the Chryst-prototype OL.

I expect TJ Clemmings to be in the NFL. He really came around towards the 2nd half of the year, and has been getting rave reviews so far this spring.

this will be the best OL since 2009 .. which sadly doesn’t mean a whole lot, but I have a little doubt they will be improved

Comment by wbb 03.30.14 @ 1:51 pm

well, while one NCAA theory was disproved about offense being more important than defense this year …. another one is perpetuated, good guard play really does matter

Comment by wbb 03.30.14 @ 3:32 pm

Sweep of Georgia Tech in the books! H2P.

Comment by Pantherman 03.30.14 @ 3:46 pm

This is where the interior o-line will miss Aaron Donald the most. The internal lineman could have used another year getting schooled and learning by a Pitt bull with mad skills. The O-line would have developed the right attitude at some point under the tutelage of AD.

So we move forward. The Oline improvement in spring ball will be directly attributable to our less than stellar Dline. Just my opinion and it is early, but the dline will not impose fear into their opponent at this time. The dline must develop. Top oline need to help recruit top dline prospects so that the pair of them can improve their craft. Nice article.

Any news on recruiting? I am sensing we might be close, but does anyone have anything better than a sense?

Comment by dhuffdaddy 03.30.14 @ 3:47 pm

One thing is painfully clear watching the standing teams in the NCAA Tourney: TALENT trumps everything!!!

Comment by Pittman4ever 03.30.14 @ 4:52 pm

Pittman4ever, When you have “Kentucky type talent” yes. But getting THAT kind of talent is easier said than done. The Kentucky program is one of bluebloods of college basketball, and Calipari can recruit. To get the very top kids you probably need to have both.

Comment by Justinian 03.30.14 @ 5:20 pm

agree with the last 2 posts wholeheartedly

Comment by wbb 03.30.14 @ 5:51 pm

Watching UK play is so much fun. What a great brand of basketball on display!

Comment by Upittbaseball 03.30.14 @ 5:57 pm

Should have seen Ky play against So. Carolina. They were a bunch of play ground hot shots with no sense of team work. Ky lost that game to probably one of the worst major college teams.

I guess the tournament has taught them teamwork. I had them losing to Wichita State. No wonder I’m one of many not to win the Billion $.

Comment by PITT-cocks fan 03.30.14 @ 6:07 pm

I love Columbia on saturdays in Fall

Comment by Upittbaseball 03.30.14 @ 6:20 pm

An improved O-line will lead to the success of this season. How many 3rd or 4th and 1’s did Pitt not convert last season. I remember a few that were costly.

Comment by gdodson 03.30.14 @ 6:56 pm

Upitt – If you are young (I’m in my 60’s) the Vista & 5 points areas of Columbia are great.

Columbia is just too hot for me from Mid May until October. I gave my Gamecock ticket to one of the grandchildren for the August & September games & just stayed & tailgated. Love tailgating.

Comment by PITT-cocks fan 03.30.14 @ 7:06 pm

Dixon is to go to Marquette hope it is not true but if it is i want Ben Howland or miller from AZ.

Comment by Frankcan 03.30.14 @ 8:27 pm

Dixon is only going as a consultant to the new President as he was from Pitt. Jamie Dixon is not leaving. Step away from the ledges.

Comment by dhuffdaddy 03.30.14 @ 9:04 pm

Upitt and Keith were offering JD the plane fare to Marquette. They thought their prayers were answered.

Comment by TVax 03.30.14 @ 9:07 pm

The latest on Marquette is that Coach K may lose his top assistant and half time interview specialist. Howland is also reportedly a possibility.

Comment by wbb 03.30.14 @ 9:15 pm

they said mark madden said he was leaveing on the radio glad he is not did not want him to. but lets keep Ben Howland on speed dial just in case.

Comment by Frankcan 03.30.14 @ 9:22 pm

I would pay Marquette to take him. LOL

Comment by Upittbaseball 03.30.14 @ 9:36 pm

Went on a MU site and most of the fans don’t even want him.

Comment by Upittbaseball 03.30.14 @ 9:45 pm

Well i dont want him to go but if he does i hope it is before Ben Howland is hired some were becuse i dont want just any coach only miller from AZ or Howland.

Comment by Frankcan 03.30.14 @ 9:59 pm

It is quite odd, that nobody noticed Voytik’s ‘long stride’ before this date.

Hope this doesn’t screw up the kid’s confidence. As he doesn’t have a real long time in a real practice, scrimmage environment before Fall camp opens.

Chad seemed to be able to get the ball to Boyd rather effectively in the Bowl game.

Comment by Emel 03.30.14 @ 11:27 pm

Anything on special teams?

Comment by 2$Chuck 03.31.14 @ 12:34 am

Does anyone else notice the distinct difference between Kevin Ollie and JD in their communication methods and overall approach to “coaching” his guys? Seems more old school vs analytical.

I wasn’t impressed (by Ollie) when I first heard him, but look where he will be this weekend. JD seems to get buried in the stats and technical stuff rather than the play that got them there.

Let’s see if KO gets it done against Florida. Of course might be Napier, Boatwright and others that are the bigger factor here as opposed to JR and CW.

Comment by TVax 03.31.14 @ 7:12 am

No worries Emel, Chad strikes me as a young man that has enough inherent confidence to manage the variables of working on improving his natural throwing technique.

My only concern about Voytik going forward is his durability. Hopefully, our OL will continue to mature into a much better pass protection unit next season over what Savage had to endure. That would be helpful, but I’m worried about those third down scrambles resulting from a broken play or option when Chad has it in his head that he has to reach for that key first down instead of stepping out of bounds. It only takes one slobber knocker on him by a full steam ahead LB to have Anderson be our only prepared QB on the roster.

Voytik has the fight in him to make that kind of error in judgement in the heat of the moment, that scares me!

Comment by Dr. Tom 03.31.14 @ 7:23 am

Too bad about Bisno, really needs the work,in over his head last year. Did Dorian Johnson get bigger with the workouts? Was pushed around last year.

Last year for excuses with all the big recruits.

The oline must perform this year.

Comment by gc 03.31.14 @ 7:25 am

the only special teams data I read was that Boyd and Ron Jones were working on punt returns. Would think that Boyd would only be used on special occasions.

Howland, B Knight, Pat Skerry, O Antigua, A Miller and T Herrion would all be candidates I suppose, but I’m sure there is nothing to it. I didn’t list Sean because I don’t think he would come. If Dixon stays another 5 years, B Knight might be made the HC pro temp (Or whatever the term is.)

Comment by wbb 03.31.14 @ 7:26 am

+1 Dr. Tom

Comment by alcofan 03.31.14 @ 7:32 am


Come on, man. Give us your thoughts on our baseball team. Better than you feared a month ago?


Comment by pmdH2P 03.31.14 @ 8:01 am

Can’t wait for the Dayton vs. Arizona game!!!!

Comment by Dan 03.31.14 @ 9:41 am

Fire both Miller’s NOW!! All that talent and can’t even get to the Final Four!!!

Poor coaching!! Should have had several Final Four’s by now, and a few N.C.’s!!!!!!!

Comment by Dan 03.31.14 @ 9:42 am


Yeah. Poor Dayton and Arizona. Coaches suck. It has to somehow be Steve Pederson’s fault.


Comment by pmdH2P 03.31.14 @ 9:57 am

Watch it Dan, you just might push your tongue through your cheek there, if you keep those kind of posts going.

Comment by Dr. Tom 03.31.14 @ 9:57 am


Comment by Dan 03.31.14 @ 10:01 am

I’m with you Dan, let’s take it to the Dayton and Arizona boards, though I’m sure we won’t be the first to bring it up. They can’t be satisfied with the ceiling they obviously have in place. Really, how much do Izzo, K and Coach Roy have left in the tank also. And friggin’ Bo Ryan had better win on Saturday.

So I’ve got Donovan, Ollie and Coach Cal as safe. Anyone else?

Comment by TVax 03.31.14 @ 10:01 am


Shaka Smart. They love him (currently) at VCU. Tony Bennett at UVA is also safe for now.


Comment by pmdH2P 03.31.14 @ 10:05 am

pmd – ummmmmm, I’ve got 2 names and a letter for you…………………………….Stephen F. Austin.

Shaka’s should be shakin’ in his boots.

Comment by TVax 03.31.14 @ 10:14 am

Baseball took all 3 against GT which I think makes them 500 or a game over in ACC. The next few will be tougher but as I said in the beginning if Pitt goes 500 in ACC play they better pay Jordano at least 175k or Pederson will f that up as well. Miami, Clemson and UVA are going to be tough series. After being swept by VT Pitt has had 2 really good series. WV has Mazey who was very respected down here in Fort Worth. He was with TCU so they will be tough. I think we play them again after losing a week or so ago. I hope to see them play a game or two in Coral Gables.

Comment by Upittbaseball 03.31.14 @ 10:33 am


Well, maybe if they lose like that a few more times in the tourney. But, for now, I truly think that he is safe at VCU. The fans were frantic about the rumors that he might go to Marquette.

But, I got your point. The “worm” can turn really fast.


Comment by pmdH2P 03.31.14 @ 10:35 am

I should add some LOL’s as I am exaggerating and being sarcastic somewhat in the last 2 posts above.

Comment by TVax 03.31.14 @ 10:44 am

BTW, a UConn and Wiscy win on Saturday, and I’m winning in my bracket pool.

GO BO and Ollie!!!!!!

Comment by TVax 03.31.14 @ 10:47 am

Was it Savage enduring a young offensive line or a young offensive line enduring feet stuck in cement and a complete lack of quick decision making! This offence will be much better not only from having more experienced players but also having a more complete QB not just a guy with a big arm!

Comment by Steve h 03.31.14 @ 12:09 pm

All of your favorite so-called TV hoop experts, had their brackets busted yesterday, as just about all of them had Michigan State winning the NC.

Didn’t even make it to the Final 4.

I have Florida (yea ikr), since it’s the logical bet to always take the team Pitt has to face. :-)

Comment by Emel 03.31.14 @ 1:50 pm

@ Steve h

I thought it was more, the coaching staff taking several games to figure out how NOT to get Savage sacked 7-8 times per game. Especially when it shouldn’t have taken more than a half against a scrub like UVA.

And that is more than a little dis-concerning.

Comment by Emel 03.31.14 @ 1:52 pm


I just didn’t think Savage had the intangebles to be a good QB, he really didn’t throw the long ball much after the Duke game, that might have been the coaching staff trying not to get him killed or it might have been Savage’s lack of finding open receivers. Voytik in one half kept his cool in the endzone and found the TE something Savage failed to do all year and threw the bomb to Boyd on the run, he also used his feet for first downs and a TD. Voytik may be the best QB since Alex Van Pelt. One half doesn’t make a great player but I think the offence with Chad can carry this team next year helping out a young D

Comment by Steve h 03.31.14 @ 3:07 pm

Savage locked on to one guy and really had no pocket presence, threw 100 mile fast balls on 10 yard routes, and just doesn’t have the feet to move. How do you game plan with that to work with? Voytik seemed to improvise on his own.

Comment by Steve h 03.31.14 @ 3:26 pm

Neil Walker the hometown hero!!!!!! Go Bucs!!!!

Comment by Steve h 03.31.14 @ 3:31 pm

lol, they gave up on the long ball, since the O-line and their schemes couldn’t protect Savage. We asked why Hollins didn’t get inserted sooner, as the O-line played better when he finally got in there. And that was in the more difficult part of our schedule. They stuck way too long with Biz, who was clearly overmatched in many games and they failed to get Savage out of the pocket until later in the season as well. He showed he could throw out the pocket on several occasions.

Having a QB that can connect on the long ball with the accuracy of Savage is a treasure to behold and why the NFL is going to draft Savage.

So how you can not successfully game plan around that is the question that should be asked.

Comment by Emel 03.31.14 @ 4:38 pm

Worth hearing again: Chad V in one half did something Tino couldn’t do in 3 years – win a game in the 4th quarter!!! That right there gives me hope for this season! Let’s Go Pitt

Comment by Pittman4ever 03.31.14 @ 9:53 pm

The “V” stands for Victory!

Comment by Dr. Tom 04.01.14 @ 5:28 am

Steve H- heaven forbid we criticize Savage for being immobile or not finding other than his 1st receivers. He played well for us but is replaceable. Let’s hope Voytik is that competent replacement because if not we are completely screwed.

It was fun watching Voytik play that second half of the bowl game but as Missourians say, “Show me” that he can be consistent with that type of play. A Spring game and 30 minutes against Bowling Green isn’t a firm hook to hang our hats on.

It is funny that all of a sudden it is made public that Voytik’s mechanics need work on as that is what sportswriters have said since he got on campus two years ago. Not that it was bad or anything but he was inconsistent in camps and practices. Again, looked good in the bowl game but he’ll face much better defenses and faster this year.

Personally, I think he might be best served to have him completely learn where everyone else will be on the field and then go out and play football without overly great emphasis or concern on the mechanics. What PITT is going to have on offense this season is a group of quick decision playmakers and home run hitters with Boyd, Gardner, Conner, Orndoff (who can make big plays downfield) and Bennett. We saw what A&M’s Manziel could do with pure athletic ability so maybe we throw those players out there and tell them to have fun and score TDs.

The biggest mistake of Chryst’s PITT career would be to move Conner to DE or to purposefully take carries away from him. Are you kidding me… a true FR who racks up 5.5 ypc and beats the crap out of defenders. Conner behind a better OL (and it just has to be in 2014) will be a thing of beauty to watch. The RB recruits may be highly regarded and fun to watch in the spring but we’ve two good RBs now to start the games.

Comment by Reed 04.01.14 @ 7:09 am

Has Orndoff come back from his injury yet, and is he participating in full contact Spring drills now, Reed?

Comment by Dr. Tom 04.01.14 @ 9:49 am

Dr T – I’ve no idea and haven’t either been in touch with any staff or visited spring practices.

My contributions will be all opinions now vice what I had learned in previous years… not that involved any longer.

Comment by Reed 04.01.14 @ 10:04 am


I respect your opinion, but I’m in the camp that sees Connor as a good but not great back. I wouldn’t be surprised if Chris James is a better running threat. Give me the home-run hitter versus the battering ram approach. The DE position is looking pretty weak with Durham running 1st team. I still think the TEAM may be better overall with Connor at DE…

Go Pitt.

Comment by MajorMajors 04.07.14 @ 8:01 pm

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