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July 23, 2014

What Is the Defensive Identity?

Filed under: Football,Tactics — Chas @ 6:49 am

This is something I’ve been turning over in my mind for the past week.

I know the identity of the offense. It is being built from the line out. A big, bruising line that will pave the way to run and give plenty of choices for the QB. There’s speed among the receivers. It is obvious that Head Coach Paul Chryst and OC Joe Rudolph has a vision for the offense that they are implementing.

I don’t know that I can say the same about the defense. I don’t know what the long-range goal of Chryst and DC Matt House are with the defense. Is it simply that they relied so heavily on Aaron Donald or centered so much around his talent that they haven’t implemented their longer term plan? The role in the secondary is changing completely from last year’s soft coverage to more pressing (not, a bad thing, but it is a complete shift).

The defensive line is an entire question mark, and I don’t have an idea about the plan for them. Are the ends going to be more aggressive? Is it still going to be led by the interior? Do the linebackers take a much bigger role this year? I mean, on paper, I would think so because Todd Thomas and Anthony Gonzalez are possibly the most athletic players in the front seven. But that hasn’t been made clear other than “replacing Aaron Donald by committee” comments.

I’m not talking about a team needing an identifier like Virginia Tech and their “lunch pail” defense. I am talking about understanding what is trying to be built on defense. The overall philosophy with building it and recruiting. Whether it was the dreaded “bend but don’t break” of Paul Rhoads. The “get faster” defense from Dave Wannstedt. Or even the “try and slow ‘em down and maybe get a turnover so the offense can do more” plan that Fraud Graham wanted to employ. There was at least an outline of a plan that was clear. I haven’t seen that to this point.

And part of it is recruiting. Unlike on the offense where we can see the beef being recruited on the lines. The role of the younger players right away at the skill positions. The defense has been primarily the older players. The younger players have been redshirted and brought along slowly. The only exception has been in the secondary. Since, to this point, the recruits on the defense have been the underrated, underrecruited and “diamond-in-the-rough” types; it makes it that much harder to project what they will really do and how they fit in the defense.

Maybe that is why I really like the idea of James Conner playing more at DE. After seeing him all of last year on offense, having that talent on the defense seems comforting. He’s not a known at DE — a few plays in the Pizza Bowl is not really enough — but the idea of Conner on the defense seems like it would be a big lift.





Good thoughts Chas, an identity or “brand” for the defense might also help with recruiting. I don’t understand why the defensive recruiting seems to be so far inferior to what is being accomplished on the other side of the ball. So far Chryst’s recruits have had little impact on the D. Hopefully Galambos and the Clairton Trio will change that a little this year, but as I said before Galambos has a lot to prove.

Pitt has a history of great defensive players now bolstered by AD, time to recruit some more.

Although I like the idea of Conner going both ways, he certainly isn’t enough alone. The loss of Price is a major hit. Soto needs to step up as well as the other guys, Durham and Cook. We also need a positive surprise from the redshirt freshmen.

I think the middle of the line will be solid with Mosely-Smith, Render and Jarrett.

Comment by gc 07.23.14 @ 8:00 am

I wouldn’t say that there is a ‘complete shift’ for the D-backfield, it really was last year that was the enigma, the year before that we pressed MUCH harder.

Comment by Benzene 07.23.14 @ 8:26 am

IMO, Price was the ONLY quality DE that played with any regularity for us last year. We will need a few guys to step up this year to take pressure off the LBs & DEs. I have no idea what to expect, but it will be interesting to see how camp develops…

Comment by 1618mt 07.23.14 @ 9:01 am

Recently, the defense identity had also much to do with a ‘plodding’, ground control offense. Read this
link to syracuse.com

It contains this tidbit: “With the help of the fabulous Phil Steele preview magazine, it’s possible to determine only three FBS schools have failed to average 400 yards of offense and limited opponents to less than 400 yards per game in every season since 2007: Connecticut, Iowa and, yes, Pittsburgh.

The Panthers’ streak is actually the longest, stretching back to 2004. That’s a decade of plodding along, almost always decent on both sides of the ball, never dreadful on defense but usually quite unremarkable all around.”

I have a feeling that this streak may end this .. one way or another.

Also note that this is a preseason ranking of teams by a Syracuse writer who ranks Pitt #51, one ahead of GA Tech and 8 ahead of Syracuse (59th).

Comment by wbb 07.23.14 @ 9:16 am

I think that Jarrett has the potential to be the next star on the DL. IF he goes all out for 4-6 seconds on every play this year, he will be set up to receive national attention next year and as a result, he leaves after his rs-junior year.

With the db’s, I am comfortable with the clairton folks as well, but if Challingsworth is beating them regularly, that could be problematic. I like the speed we have been recruiting in the backfield and the notion our guys will play in press cover. The key in press is DL pressure. This could be a really nice year, barring more key injuries.

Comment by dhuffdaddy 07.23.14 @ 9:23 am

I think the defense will surprise and be very much improved.

Durham and Soto will be most improved. Soto added 25-30 lbs. and they flipped sides. Durham had to play on the TE/OT last year simply because we had no one else. In spring he was allowed to stand some which is what he was recruited to Ohio St. for. If we can slot them in the right scheme, both can get to the QB. The key will be keeping them healthy.

The biggest impact IMO is adding the DB coaches who teach a more aggressive style.

I like our D line rotation.

I even think given another season to prep House may establish the identity you question. The Pizza Bowl was encouraging not because Conner ran around a few plays but because House had a month to prepare and lined us up into some stacks that freed Grigsby and others to blitz and create the havoc we had been lacking. Although that was a pathetic O-Line Bowling G put out there, maybe that gave the staff some confidence? The off season may have been what was needed to scheme. Our LB’s, if given the blitz, have to take some of the responsibility of getting to the QB too.

Also, it doesn’t feed the stats, but if the offense improves and retains the ball, sure helps the D.

We have solid kickers and open with Delaware instead of Florida State. Add all those things up and I believe our defense will get the job done. I like these kids and their attitude.

All of that rests on the variable of injuries, and hopefully PC, now in his third year, can schedule practices in such a way as to put our best guys on the field vs. the hospital. That hasn’t happened yet.

Comment by PittMan 07.23.14 @ 9:46 am

With the exception of the Alabamas of the world, most teams don’t have the all around defensive speed to play a straight up scheme because of all the pass happy college teams these days.

Most college teams try to play with faster LBs (usually lighter than traditional LBs) or go with one less LB and a hybrid Safety/LB. It also necessitates the need to pressure the QB from other areas besides DL. Blitzes, etc.

I think Pitt tried just that last year with little success. House needs to improve his schemes and for God’s sake be more aggressive.

Vinopal is obviously the hybrid player. I believe he played in a LB like position in the bowl game. There better be some players step up in the front seven. Not like switching to a 3-4 would help because the LBs aren’t there either. Hopefully some of the freshman are good.

Comment by notrocketscience 07.23.14 @ 9:54 am

I have he feeling that as the season progresses, the more we see Conner on the defensive side of the ball. Not just because of necessity but also because of the effectivenss of James, Bennett and Ibrahm. The DE position just doesn’t have the depth that the RB does.

Despite their similarities … PC is much more likely to move his offensive recruits to defense whereas it was the opposite for Wanny.

Comment by wbb 07.23.14 @ 9:56 am

FYI – nobody from Pitt made pre-season 1st team All-ACC .. not even T Boyd who made 2nd team.

Again, it’s more important that he makes 1st POST-season … just like Donald last year

Comment by wbb 07.23.14 @ 10:30 am

We didn’t have many interceptions last year, but you can certainly tell how important it is to create them. As those were the critical plays of the huge Notre Dame win.

We gave up around 7.5 ypa on passing plays.

You’re not going to shut down some of these offenses, only the ones with bad QB’s.

So I am much looking forward to see a more aggressive style play from the DB’s. Which will hopefully also produce more of those critical interceptions.

Only problem I see, is where a tad thin in the DB positions and the only one who has extensive experience is Pitts. So we can’t afford any injuries. So they could limit the aggression on run support plays. We’ll see how that plays out.

Still have more doubts than confidence in House at this point.

Comment by Emel 07.23.14 @ 11:24 am

We can add another name to the MIA list.

Spiritofsection22, you out there bro ?

And of course FRANKCAN, where are you, hopefully ok !

Comment by Emel 07.23.14 @ 11:27 am

Agree with Chas that I’d like see if Connor can make a go of it at DE. As others have pointed out, he really does not project to the NFL as an RB and if he can make any noise at DE, then it seems like the smart move for the team and his future.

Comment by Carmen 07.23.14 @ 11:44 am

I think maybe if no newcomer or no returning DE doesn’t impress at camp, you could play Connor there on a situational basis. Like obvious passing downs.

And that’s only if Chris James or the other kid from Buffalo show they’re ready to play in camp.

If they don’t, I don’t think you can risk playing Connor at DE.

As you would be left with Bennett and Ibrahim as your 2 feature backs.
While I like Bennett since he showed loyalty staying at PITT during the whole Cornhole fiasco, of his 797 yards rushing last year, 240 were against D2 Old Dominion and another 101 were against almost a D2 school, one of the worst D1 schools, the Lobos of New Mexico. So 43% of his yardage was in those two games. He did have a nice game against Miami, however Miami’s defense was dreadful last year, as in their last 6 games their D gave up almost 40 ppg.

Not your daddy’s Miami team.

Comment by Emel 07.23.14 @ 12:01 pm

I’m with Emel. Conner is an outstanding RB, and even if James is just as good from day one, they could both get plenty of work. In my opinion, someone is going to have to be awfully good to play at Conner’s level as a freshman. And I absolutely agree Conner has NFL potential at RB.

Comment by 1618mt 07.23.14 @ 12:43 pm

I also agree with Emel, Conner is clearly the best running back, the best defence might be an offence that has lots of long drives and puts points on the board. Get the lead keep the ball and make the other teams O become one dimensional.

Comment by Steve h 07.23.14 @ 1:37 pm

Unless something drastically changes, Conner is our BEST runner. First kid to break a Tony Dorsett record in 30 years and he did it as a true freshman! What position he would be drafted at for the NFL is irrelevant to Pitt football. Pitt will play him as Pitt needs him, not to help him have a potentially better NFL career. I’ll give you this much: Conner was able to rush for 200+ yards in breaking TD’s bowl record last game and still play a few critical downs on D. I have no problem with that. Anything more than that on D would be plain stupid IMHO.

Comment by pittman4ever 07.23.14 @ 1:37 pm

Just based on the 2013 offensive rankings of our 2014 FBS opponents, it would seem that most are better at the run than the pass:

Total Pass Rush
Duke 29 33 46
UNC 47 30 78
Syracuse79 103 37
BC 84 111 24
Iowa 78 91 49
VT 91 56 106
UVA 97 93 84
Miami 46 34 67
GT 44 120 5
Akron 109 84 110
FIU 125 119 123

Avg Rnk 75 79 66
Median 79 91 67

None of these team, with the exception of GT, is highly ranked in either, but the rushing the ball appears to be the stronger suit.

Perhaps that’s part of the reason to play more press coverage?

We start with Delaware, BC, FIU and Akron…if we do anything less than 3-1 in those games and the D is the culprit, then I think one has to look at getting Conner some serious DL playing time.

Otherwise, I leave him at RB.

Comment by Joe Lawrence 07.23.14 @ 1:44 pm

Donald-less

Comment by PittofDreams 07.23.14 @ 2:03 pm

Conner will be most effective when the big uglies lean on and block downhill until the whistle blows every 4-6 seconds. Each lineman giving 100% (not some bogus fictional 110%) on every play (even when the run is away from them) is critical to beating your opponent at the end. Strong big ugly play at the beginning of the game when everyone is fresh is one thing. Having bus jr. pounding on you will test the will of every defense in quarter 4, is another. Defenders will back off. Impose your will on each play. Win every snap against smaller linemen.

Man, I can’t wait for the privilege to watch these kids. Joe Moore would have these linemen beat the snot out of their opponent on every play. It’s all about the “will”. Let’s teach nasty!

Comment by dhuffdaddy 07.23.14 @ 2:06 pm

Malman… thanks for the note on Wirginis.

Obviously Athletically-Gifted.

Comment by PittofDreams 07.23.14 @ 2:09 pm

@ Joe L.

If we need Connor in any of those first 4 games, that could be an indicator we’re in trouble.

As we should physically overmatch all those teams, with BC being the closest.

However as I noted the other day, BC, lost their 2000 yard rusher, Williams, their top WR by far with 77 catches and 1000 yards and their top 2 TE’s. And they’re breaking in a new QB, somebody said a transfer from UF or somewhere like that.

So they’re going to be tooling an entire new offense as far as skill players.

Comment by Emel 07.23.14 @ 2:14 pm

Connor at DE that is !

Comment by Emel 07.23.14 @ 2:16 pm

Concur with Chas, the defense has no identity at all.

More than likely cause the DC has no identity at all.

Perhaps with the additions of the more experienced coaches like Troy Douglas, he and it can develop one.

Comment by Emel 07.23.14 @ 2:38 pm

These southern schools apparently don’t like the Blue & Gold (maybe cause they were the colors of the Union).

But how on Earth does Tyler Boyd get left off the ACC pre-season 1rst team ?

Werner’s take:

“I’m not going to quibble with Boyd not making it — all three guys who made it are totally deserving, but it’s probably worth noting that Boyd had more catches and yards than both Greene and Parker last season, and Parker’s stats came against an American Athletic Conference schedule.”

WR Jamison Crowder, Duke (68)
WR Rashad Greene, Florida State (56)
WR DeVante Parker, Louisville (32)

Comment by Emel 07.23.14 @ 3:00 pm

That means Boyd didn’t even get 32 votes.

Incredulous.

DeVante Parker had only 55 catches for 885 yards for 12 TD’s.

Tyler Boyd had 85 catches for 1,174 yards and 7 TD’s receiving and 1 TD rushing and 108 yards rushing.

Even more incredulous, being slighted for a first year team like Loserville.

Comment by Emel 07.23.14 @ 3:07 pm

Now you know why I can’t stand most of these Tarhole, Wolfpack, Dukie, Wake Forest D-bags.

Comment by Emel 07.23.14 @ 3:10 pm

On the hoops front:

New offer to a big.

7/22/2014 – 2015 C Noah Dickerson (6-8, 255, 4*) | Overall Rank: 43 | Position Rank: 12 has received an offer from Pittsburgh.

Comment by Emel 07.23.14 @ 3:14 pm

according to SportsOnEarth, T Boyd is the 44th best player in NCAA

44. Tyler Boyd, WR, Pittsburgh. Pitt has been mired in a run of thorough mediocrity, with coaching musical chairs and a 19-20 record over the last three years. Since 2010, the Panthers have been to the BBVA Compass Bowl three times and the Little Caesars Bowl once. Needless to say, there hasn’t been a lot of attention directed toward Heinz Field on Saturday, except in the case of all-world defensive tackle Aaron Donald. With Donald gone, the focus shifts to an offensive player. Tom Savage’s rise at quarterback was boosted in a big way by Boyd’s phenomenal freshman season, in which he caught 85 passes for 1,174 yards and seven touchdowns. He’ll make the transition for sophomore QB Chad Voytik much, much easier.

Comment by wbb 07.23.14 @ 3:19 pm

Boyd should have been first team, but then again if they missed on Donald…

Playing the devil’s advocate on Conner, I am not ready to anoint him the second coming of Ironhead.

He had a huge bowl game, but it was Bowling Green. His other big games came against Duke, NC and New Mexico. I know he was injured but in the rest of the games he ran between 16 and 35 yards.

He looked good bull rushing Bowling Green, but no other evidence how he will do at D-End.

He has been injured twice now during the season and at spring ball.

How much he will contribute this year remains to be seen, but I doubt he will carry the team on either side of the ball. Hopefully Bennett, Ibrahim and the freshmen come ready to play as do the D-Ends.

Let’s hope Conner has some more big days and fewer of the bad ones, but we need big days from the other guys as well.

Comment by gc 07.23.14 @ 3:20 pm

this won’t be the first time where I go against the popular opinion here (guess I’m just a devil’s advocate type) …

A lot of you are basing Conner’s ability on the most recent memory of the past season … his dominant performance over an over-matched MAC team. He certainly had his moments during the season but he also disappeared a few games and was no factor.

While he is no doubt the best RB we have and will be the featured RB early in the year … we have much more quality depth at RB than at DE. Circumstances may well dictate his move to DE as the season progresses, and I beg to differ that he is better suited as an NFL RB than a DE. In fact, there was an article about a month ago where he, himself, thought his future was on defense.

Just a little food for thought

Comment by wbb 07.23.14 @ 3:27 pm

just wanted all to know I wrote my column before seeing gc’s above

Comment by wbb 07.23.14 @ 3:28 pm

@ gc

I’m thinking it was more an omission of Boyd than of missing on him.

How can you miss 85 catches, 1174 yards of which many of those catches were of the incredible kind, Top 10 catch kind of thing.

And Tyler broke a legend’s (Larry Fitz) freshman receiving record.

More like a slap in the face if you ask me.

Comment by Emel 07.23.14 @ 3:36 pm

Anyway the PG has this headlined not once but twice on their rag.

“No Pitt players on All-ACC preseason squad”

Including the Front page.

While the Trib isn’t even mentioning it.

Comment by Emel 07.23.14 @ 3:44 pm

Emel – they are a bit provincial down Tobacco Road, aren’t they? D-bags…indeed!

Comment by Joe Lawrence 07.23.14 @ 4:08 pm

Dejan Kovacevic left the Trib on Monday.

“As a beat writer and later a columnist, Dejan Kovacevic has been a part of the Pittsburgh sports scene for more than 25 years. That will still be true tomorrow morning but don’t look for his work on the pages of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review as you have since 2011.

On Wednesday, Kovacevic will launch his own subscription-based website — DK on Pittsburgh Sports — offering subscribers his insights and coverage of the city’s local sports teams. Kovacevic tells City Paper that the new platform has only been in the works for the past couple of weeks while he was on vacation from his job as a Trib sports columnist.

He returned to work Monday, let his bosses know of his plans and immediately parted company with the paper. He says the split was amicable — “I have nothing but good things to say about the Trib or [editor] Frank Craig. “

Comment by Emel 07.23.14 @ 4:21 pm

You got that right Joe L !

Hope Tyler gets 100 receptions this year and a ton of punt return yardage ! And 20 TD’s.

Comment by Emel 07.23.14 @ 4:27 pm

Emel, just like Rodney Dangerfield, “Can’t get no respect” Hopefully Tyler, just like AD will make them take notice.

wbb, Great minds….

Comment by gc 07.23.14 @ 5:25 pm

AmZing that a guy in Baltimore has to hear from a guy in Charlotte that Dejan K has left. I looked for his weekly give and take in the Trib yesterday. He was the best sportswriter in The Burgh and will be missed.

Comment by Dan 72 07.23.14 @ 5:44 pm

I know he was with the Trib only a couple of years but he owes them a little bit of notice doesn’t he? … of course, the Trib might have send him packing immediately

Comment by wbb 07.23.14 @ 6:26 pm

Hoopies are 6-14 the past 2 seasons in Big 12 play and this year are only favored in one league game, lowly Kansas, who stomped them at home last season.

Can’t wait till camp opens and the season gets started. Hoping we have more team speed. That is what we lacked with Wanny teams. H2P!

Comment by Panther Fan in Hoopieland 07.23.14 @ 7:54 pm

House may be a decent strategist, but he and his entire defense staff – except Douglas who just got here – are terrible, unequivocally bad, awful defensive recruiters. There is not a single player on defense who’s even on the cusp of being a stand out defensive recruit. Chryst is recruiting good offensive players who can take us to the top of the coastal, but the defensive recruiting is literally as bad as any team in the ACC.

Comment by PittHW 07.23.14 @ 8:03 pm

Duke just picked up a linebacker from St Joe’s High School, Montvale, New Jersey This was our territory a few years ago. This kid had offers from BC, Rutgers and other majors.

Comment by Old Pitt Grad 07.23.14 @ 8:18 pm

PittHW, I think Kraig Howe is a pretty good prospect and think Givens has a chance of being good …. but I’m with you for the most part. I’m disappointed with some of the defensive recruits we didn’t get.

This is why I mentioned above that it would not be surprising to see some offensive players to be moved to defense.

One thing I must add though … aside from Boyd, I had my doubts this time last ear about the 2 other Clairton frosh DBs but thought both showed promise. Jury still out … but you never know how a 16/17 year old will turn out when he becomes 19.

Comment by wbb 07.23.14 @ 8:38 pm

Mike Young had 26 and JR had 22 with 11 assists to win Pro_Am championship. Duquesne’s Rene Castro had 56 in losing cause.

Team is going to Bahamas for 4 games next week. They held an open practice yesterday at Pete, and it was observed that JD was directing them to speed up some. Artis and Young both lost weight are playing quicker. Shelden Jeter is getting raves from a couple of different sources

Comment by wbb 07.23.14 @ 8:43 pm

wbb I hear you, but even Givens and Howe are not even close to being rated as Blue Chips. Givens is a 5.5 per Rivals which is 0.1 above 2 stars. Howe has a more impressive offer sheet, but of the 7 freshmen and sophomores who were ranked 4 and 5(Dorian)star recruits, not a single one was a defensive recruit. And not to get technical, but only 3 defensive recruits in the last 3 classes have been on the cusp of a 4 star ranking by any of the 4 major recruiting services and they were Conner, Terrish Webb, and Luke Maclean, and only 2 are actually on defense.

I’m not saying there aren’t some decent players, but the last 3 classes have had very low defensive talent levels and this year is just as bad – none of the current players is a even notch below being a 4 star recruit like the above 3 were by any of the 4 recruiting sites.

Comment by PittHW 07.23.14 @ 9:01 pm

very interesting article – must read

link to espn.go.com

Comment by Frank MD 07.23.14 @ 9:14 pm

Now that we are in the ACC we don’t need to play either WVU or PSU. Except that they would be sell-outs at Heinz which would be positive. Job 1 is to win more ACC games and recruit better, especially on D. The old rivalries are dead and gone. New ones will happen only when we get competitive with the elite in the ACC.

Comment by gc 07.23.14 @ 9:35 pm

Watch the tape. Watch the tape. Watch the tape. Again and again. Way too much hype on these kids based on what they did at a camp running around cones in shorts and a tee. Look at SENIOR tape of Jamal Davis, Dintino, Amara, Motley, Roy. Add Givens, Howe, Hamilton, maybe Brightwell, McKee or Sheppard. Not the end of the world.

Comment by pd 07.23.14 @ 9:58 pm

pitthw, if you read my post above, you seemed to have missed .. “but I’m with you for the most part”

pd, the onlly thing about the ‘tape’ is that these are only the highlights … and does not include the lowlights. Yes, they are capable of good things, and are better than the average high school players, but they are not the whole picture.

Comment by wbb 07.24.14 @ 6:23 am

Frank MD, good article … and accurate!

Comment by wbb 07.24.14 @ 6:26 am

Mike Young, MVP of summer basketball, very positive if he takes his game to the next level this year. Also rave reviews on Jeter and Newkirk. Team obviously going to have a whole new look this year.

A little more positive news at center with Young, Randall off suspension, Uchebo a little better and Haughton still coming, although probably will miss Bahamas.

Oh yeah, DJ supposedly will be ready to play at the end of August. Jones looking better, Artis lost weight.

Robinson and Wright providing experience and a steady hand.

Luther and probably Slim to redshirt.

All good news right now, just need Diallo to commit and look out ACC.

Comment by gc 07.24.14 @ 6:43 am

Regarding the recruiting of defensive football players, we need to do better to compete with FSU, Clemson, Miami etc. Right now we are hoping that Chryst has found some diamonds in the rough. But there is no doubt that we need some four and 5 star players. There is a reason that FSU has 7 pre-season all ACC players. They have 47 4 and 5 star guys.

We have to hope that House builds his reputation fast and that Douglas can really do the job.

We need to stockpile defensive guys like Chryst is doing on offense.

Wanny is out of coaching, too bad we can’t hire him as defensive recruiting coordinator. LOL

Comment by gc 07.24.14 @ 7:00 am

Wanny’s a bit too conservative for my taste as a DC … rarely blitzed or showed confusing set-ups. Too much of an NFL mindset.

Don’t get me wrong .. still think he should have been given another year to clear up off field issues, and I kneww at the time that the program would be negatively affected … just didn’t realize how much!

Having said all of this … we are moving on with a new regime in a stable envrionment. And I agree with Stevie in trying to get the Pitt-PSU game as an annual event (per the story linked by Frank MD above.)

Comment by wbb 07.24.14 @ 7:23 am

But having said all that … in line with PittHW’s postings above, I still think House was not a good hire as DC .. at best, the jury is still out.

Comment by wbb 07.24.14 @ 7:26 am

Agree on House, time will tell. Do think he came up with some good stuff in the bowl game.

By the way, joking about Wanny, but he did know how to recruit defensive linemen, Donald, Sheard, Romeus etc.

Comment by gc 07.24.14 @ 7:36 am

he also would have probably done a good job in FL with ACC ties and increased recruiting budget (which was constrained in his last 2 1/2 years)

Comment by wbb 07.24.14 @ 7:41 am

probably time to change the subject …

link to pitt.247sports.com

Comment by wbb 07.24.14 @ 7:44 am

Re Conner, looked at last year’s numbers, and they proved what we thought. He had a great year for a freshman, not just a great bowl game: Avg yards per carry was 5.5. A little naïve to say he disappeared at times, especially since our OL was getting killed at times and Savage was immobile. My biggest concerns in terms of improvement for this year are: a much better OL, and a better job by the DC.

Comment by 1618mt 07.24.14 @ 8:21 am

Does anyone know how PC’s recruiting classes stack up to those Wisconsin had during their Rose Bowl run? I am encouraged on offense but see little to be excited about on defense.

As far as the WVU/Pitt rivalry goes, I rank the Backyard Brawl as the third most exciting/important/historic game Pitt could play each year, with PSU and ND being No. 1 and No. 2. Part of me wants to say forget about the Hoopies – because I truly have a sports hatred for the school and WVU seems to need Pitt now – but I enjoy watching the games. That being said, I do not enjoy going to the Brawl and would prefer to watch from the couch. The behavior of WVU fans has been a terrible in-person experience.

Comment by Brian 07.24.14 @ 8:23 am

I think a WVU-Pitt annual BB game makes too much sense —- BCS team 90 minutes away?

However, if it comes at the expense of having to play them in FB, then I would have to think about it.

Comment by wbb 07.24.14 @ 8:38 am

1618mt, while I agree Conner is our best RB and appears to be something special … the distortion in your stats is that 229 of the total 799 yards that Conner rushed for was in the bowl game … nearly 30%.

That YPC stat really goes down for the regular season.

Comment by wbb 07.24.14 @ 8:47 am

Conner is a good ball player but his off season press has turned him into a legend. Somehow he has now morphed into an All American at DE in addition to running back.

Bar has been raised so high I feel for him when he doesn’t turn out to be Hugh Green and Tony Dorsett in one body…as we have seen the Pitt fan base has a very short fuse before unloading on players.

Playing an entire season vs. bona fide offensive tackles and TE’s may reveal he is great, may reveal he is average, not sure. One thing for sure is a half dozen plays free lancing vs. Bowling Green is a poor basis for deciding to move him away from the position he was productive at.

agree with wbb, time to change the subject.

Comment by PittMan 07.24.14 @ 9:03 am

wbb – that’s what whole year stats are for, to even out distortions. You could just as easily ding him for poor ypg averages in games where our OL got killed.

Like I said, with James coming in, we have plenty of talent at the position, the bigger question now is going to be the OL play (and of course qb).

And my other concern is the ability of our DC…

Comment by 1618mt 07.24.14 @ 9:12 am

I have to admit to being intrigued by the possibility of a good two way player. If he can maintain around 5 YPC and get a decent sack number the publicity he will receive will be incredible. In turn, it will be good publicity for Pitt.

Check out the new media guide. Wow, I knew this team was young, but the backups are mostly SO and FR. PC has the numbers on O now but the D is still a work in progress. It really makes you realize the cluster he inherited and what they are trying to dig out of. Any injury can have a huge impact.

We all like the Wisconsin comparison. I have not looked, but I would bet Wisconsin has mostly JR backups at each position. Players that have learned the system and have physically developed for years. Pitt is not close to that.

I’ll take a one win improvement this year. I really think any more is a stretch because of the youth. Any more is a huge bonus.

Comment by notrocketscience 07.24.14 @ 9:29 am

Conner will be like Iron Mike this year! I love it! Throwback football! Chryst will do this wisely, using him in only a handful of third down situations like last years Bowl game. Loving the football talk and getting pumped!

Comment by Sweet Caroline 07.24.14 @ 9:31 am

2015 NFL Draft Watchlist…

TJ Clemmings

Projecting 3rd Round.

Comment by PittofDreams 07.24.14 @ 10:03 am

And, oh, by the way…

Wannstedt turning from Coaching to Broadcasting.

Seems he’s finally run out of friends in position to offer him a job. Should put to rest all the “How GREAT of a Coach Wanny was/is” talk.

Nice Guy. Great Pitt Guy. BAD Head Coach… especially on Game Day when the pressure was on.

Comment by PittofDreams 07.24.14 @ 10:15 am

Bowling Green’s defense was Top 10 nationally ranked.

Connor didn’t play one game (old dominion), had 2 carries against VT before getting hurt and carried the ball less than 10 times against FSU, Navy, GT, Syracuse, UNC and Miami (5).

So in total he carried the ball less than 10 times against half the schedule(6) and missed another game.

With that in mind and the fact the O-line at time was overmatched, I think for a freshmen he did very well. Had he played a little more uninjured and carried the ball more, he goes over a 1000 yards. That in my book is very good for a freshman.

Comment by Emel 07.24.14 @ 10:31 am

Quite coincidentally we lost 5 of the 6 games Connor got less than 10 carries.

And nearly lost to Cusey.

Comment by Emel 07.24.14 @ 10:35 am

The Bad Head Coach still took Pitt to it’s best 3 year run in 30 years, the Marino Days.

Can’t believe ppl are still hating on DW.

Comment by Emel 07.24.14 @ 10:37 am

Thank Goodness for LeSean McCoy.

Take away McCoy, and what would have Wannstedt’s legacy have been?

Simply stated… NO UPSET in Morgantown… NO Contract Extension.

McCoy was Wanny’s BIG BREAK… literally.

Comment by PittofDreams 07.24.14 @ 10:47 am

Off topic, I know, but WOW…just WOW!!!

link to fansided.com

WVU strikes again…….

Comment by Tourman 07.24.14 @ 11:06 am

Our D is certainly a “big ?” So far our D.C. has built a “House of Cards” on the defensive side of the ball. Will he be capable of turning it into a “Brick House?” We all hope so. But the fact is we need more talent on that side of the ball at every position. I say if our D is as bad as last year (outside of AD), we need to “Sell the House” and bring in some new real estate!!!

Comment by pittman4ever 07.24.14 @ 11:12 am

One of the things I most enjoy about college sports is watching the development of young players, kids really, maturing into the full fledged athletes that are their potential during their college experience. Sometimes it happens without missing a beat, Tyler Boyd types, other times that potential goes wasted or is delayed for multiple reasons, questionable academics, poor coaching, unhappy player, injuries, poor attitudes or a combination of all of the above. Rushel Shell comes to mind here.

We have quite a few of these “diamond in the rough” HS players that now are ready to show their potential, out of pure necessity!

My point is, a team like Pitt currently is, one with no reliable upperclassmen depth at many positions, is by it’s very nature going to be a squad that has a ton of questions going into the season. This is a team that is going to be throwing a lot of untested troops into the fray, most of them very young Freshmen and our RS Freshmen.

Although this is not to be desired and sure isn’t the way the elite programs around the country reload every year, for Pitt it is the only way to do it for the immediate future simply out of necessity.

But there can be a lot of fun in that fact. Being pleasantly surprised by guys like Boyd and Conner bring a new dimension to following the team. This year will be no different. We are going to be needing guys, whose names are currently unfamiliar to Pitt fans up to this point, to step up and contribute for this team to be successful. I think that we have some of those unknowns on defense to do it this season.

Guys whose names you will know by season’s end are Luke Maclean, Justin Moody and Tyrique Jarrett. All of these guys must be ready to contribute now or Pitt is going to be in a heap of trouble this season on defense.

Another guy that has to produce this year and not only with on field results, is Matt House himself. His training days as DC are quickly coming to a close and now he must be ready to refine his defensive schemes and prove that his hire was not a naive one by Chryst. The other aspect of House’s job that needs to step it up is in the recruiting department. Better players and more of them need to be put into the defensive pipeline for the Panthers NOW. This is actually overdue already, we have to do a better job of recruiting good talent on the D or we’re in tousle down the road.

Comment by Dr. Tom 07.24.14 @ 11:13 am

Tourman – Sorry, but who cares?

BAHAMAS – Since we play in the Bahamas in just over 1 week (first game is Aug 2, at 3:00), does anyone know if the game will be televised (ESPN3 or anything)??

Comment by 1618mt 07.24.14 @ 11:21 am

tousle=trouble

Comment by Dr. Tom 07.24.14 @ 11:22 am

@ POD,

that’s a silly conclusion to reach. Pitt got better actually when McCoy left. DW’s best year was 2009 and Dion Lewis a not heavily recruited high school player nearly rushed for 2000 yards and PITT went 10-3, #15 in the country.

Comment by Emel 07.24.14 @ 11:22 am

1618mt….sorry for ruining your day with my post!!! Chill out a little bit.

Comment by Tourman 07.24.14 @ 11:24 am

PITT’s defense won the WVU game 13-9 baby.

WVU was averaging like 45 ppg that year.

Comment by Emel 07.24.14 @ 11:25 am

The boys in Blue & Gold only allowed the #2 Hoopies a measly 12 first downs and 183 total yards.

H2P !

Comment by Emel 07.24.14 @ 11:29 am

Tourman – All I said was, who cares. wow.

Comment by 1618mt 07.24.14 @ 11:30 am

@pittman4ever

The redeeming factor of the soft early part of the schedule should give House and the defense time to get their sh*t together. (mostly the D-line)

And be better prepared for the much tougher 2nd half of the schedule.

At least that’s what I’m hoping ! :-)

Comment by Emel 07.24.14 @ 11:36 am

@ Doc Tom

I will keep hoping that House becomes a better recruiter. But every time I go to the coaches page at PITT’s website and take a look. I go……

oy vey !

link to pittsburghpanthers.com

Comment by Emel 07.24.14 @ 11:41 am

I could be wrong but I remember that Wanny’s extension was announced before the 13-9 game.

Comment by dinosaur 71 07.24.14 @ 11:58 am

You are correct dino.

“On December 1, 2007, just days before an upset win at West Virginia, Wannstedt was given a contract extension through 2012;[2] he had previously been signed through 2009. “

Comment by Emel 07.24.14 @ 12:17 pm

Emel – I clicked that link… The suites these guys have are atrocious. You would think a few hundred k a year would allow them to buy a new suit that wasn’t from 1985. I saw 5 total nice modern suits.

Haha – I wonder if the oversized sweatshirt makes a appearance this year?

Comment by Upittbaseball 07.24.14 @ 12:17 pm

Never realized pod was a troll.

Comment by Emel 07.24.14 @ 12:17 pm

Emel,
I’m with you buddy! Hope springs eternal and hopefully our DC and D will get the kinks out before the big boys show up on our schedule. H2P
pittman4ever

Comment by pittman4ever 07.24.14 @ 12:19 pm

@ upitt.

somebody should tell Matt if you can’t grow a proper mustache/goatee, just go clean shaven.

Would you buy insurance from this guy if he came into your house ? The suit helps a little.

Comment by Emel 07.24.14 @ 12:20 pm

Emel – LMAO

Insurance or a Vaccum cleaner door to door.

House seems like a cocky punk who never earned it but was handed shit. Just my take.

Comment by Upittbaseball 07.24.14 @ 1:05 pm

Hank Poteat’s suit had to be purchased in East Liberty at one of those “Stylish” places…. LOL. Look at the extra stuff on shoulders… LOL

Comment by Upittbaseball 07.24.14 @ 1:07 pm

@Emel, you’ve been a Pitt fan plenty long enough to realize that some years, hope is all we have. This year, we still must rely on hope with a chaser of Pitt Kool-aid, however this year we have the Kool-aid spiked with some real substance! The return of many young experienced personal, some untested “sleepers” who I feel will surprise and a DC that is ready to slip on his big boy pants after a season of learning on the job.

Add this to the team mentality that Chryst is creating, one where our kids are taking ownership of their team and feel responsible for the subsequent resultsmont and I feel “hope” is on the rise.

We’ll all know for sure in about four months time whether this is just another “Same Old Pitt” year or a future that is worth hoping for going forward.

In any case, as always, H2P!

Comment by Dr. Tom 07.24.14 @ 1:08 pm

‘Hope springs eternal’ translated by hardcore baseball fans before the season is “Spring’s Eternal Hope”

Pitt’s FB fans version is “Fall’s Eternal Fall” … but of course, this year will be different! (absolutely no doubt in my mind!)

Comment by wbb 07.24.14 @ 1:24 pm

Upittbaseball is back! Always providing tidbits of encouragement for the Pitt faithful and nothing but praises and support offered to the Pitt coaching staff! LOL

BTW, Upitt, it appears from the look on Coach Douglas’s face in his photo that he’s heard that you don’t appreciate his taste in attire. Looks to me as if he intends to rip your head off for your opinion and spit into the remaining stump. Just my opinion.

The $hit you come up with to complain about keeps me laughing, where the hell have you been for the last few weeks?

Keep posting!

Comment by Dr. Tom 07.24.14 @ 1:30 pm

Blanc had that same suit when I played…. I will have to confirm and dig up a media guide. LOL..

Been Busy Doc…. Championing the efforts for 190 reviews so been working to hard. Haha.

Hope all is well. I’m getting you one of those Poteats suits Doc…. You and Emel can where them when we hit up South Beach the night before FIU game. hahah

Comment by Upittbaseball 07.24.14 @ 1:36 pm

Now you’re talking Upitt! Lets me dust off my blue suede shoes for the occasion and I’d be seein me strutting my stuff all around downtown South Beach way!

FIU game can’t get here soon enough!

Comment by Dr. Tom 07.24.14 @ 2:15 pm

Wasn’t there some chic flick called ‘Hope Floats’.

So does something else. :-)

Comment by Emel 07.24.14 @ 2:19 pm

guess I missed the ‘k’.

Comment by Emel 07.24.14 @ 2:20 pm

@ Doc Tom,

Yes it appears Mr. Troy Douglas is a very serious dude.

Or he doesn’t like being subservient to the person 2 pics over to the left.

Mr. Douglas looks to be thinking: “Are you kidding me”.

Comment by Emel 07.24.14 @ 2:23 pm

Getting back on message, this little snip it from the Detroit papers back in 2012 predicted a big year for the Grand Blanc HS football team and the main reason for the high hopes was a guy on defensive named Luke Maclean. As predicted, he came through with a big year during his senior season.

Luke’s time is now for his college debut, that’s my prediction.

Qoute was: Main man: Luke MacLean is the heart and soul of the defense. At 6-feet-4, 240 pounds he is as instinctive a player as you will find. He honed those instincts with hours of film work. He led Grand Blanc with 115 tackles as a junior.

Comment by Dr. Tom 07.24.14 @ 2:28 pm

It’s also nice to see PITT employing most of the Hueber family.

HOPEfully (for Doc) this will translate to an offensive line that can actually block and one that can’t be held liable in the decapitation of the QB.

Comment by Emel 07.24.14 @ 2:28 pm

look at the bright side of House’s hiring …. PC could have hired JayPa instead

Comment by wbb 07.24.14 @ 2:29 pm

South Beach sounds good, I’ll get out my white shoes ! haha

Comment by Emel 07.24.14 @ 2:31 pm

as soon as I close on LeBron’s mansion, I’ll let you guys know!

Comment by wbb 07.24.14 @ 2:32 pm

And dust off my unconstructed suit and T-shirt.

Comment by Emel 07.24.14 @ 2:33 pm

Comment by Emel 07.24.14 @ 2:35 pm

You’re buying if you do wbb, you are aware of that, right ?

Comment by Emel 07.24.14 @ 2:39 pm

Louisville is out with their new logo: Always Cardinals – – Never Graduate. I’m sure it’s tough to come up with new marketing every year but this one seems really dumb.

link to washingtonpost.com

Comment by CalvinHobbes 07.24.14 @ 2:40 pm

Calvin, LOL, no further comment required

Comment by wbb 07.24.14 @ 2:45 pm

lol True most of them…never graduate.

At least they’re upfront about it.

Comment by Emel 07.24.14 @ 2:56 pm

And they actually paid some marketing firm to come up with that one????

Simply precious, you can’t make $hit like that up! And we thought Pitt was the only university with an incompetant AD?!

Comment by Dr. Tom 07.24.14 @ 2:56 pm

What 6 figure genius came up with that brilliant slogan.

Comment by Emel 07.24.14 @ 2:59 pm

Emel, to please all of the Blatherites, the bar will be stocked with Kettle One for Moscow Mules, Woodford Reserve, and aged, single malts … backed by an aquariam with topless models swimming, of course

Comment by wbb 07.24.14 @ 2:59 pm

Between bringing back this :

link to media.npr.org

And that slogan, Loserville has outdone itself.

Comment by Emel 07.24.14 @ 3:01 pm

Of course…… do they ever come up for air.

Change out the Woodford Reserve for 4 Roses and Bookers and I will endorse it.

Comment by Emel 07.24.14 @ 3:04 pm

James Conner and Artie Rowell on 93.7 The Fan right now for the entire hour.

1st question to Conner about playing 2 ways. Conner says there is a package for him to play DE, but he will start off as RB (no news really)

Comment by wbb 07.24.14 @ 3:08 pm

Story behind the pic (just because it’s incredible this guy got hired as HC for the next season, never being penalized and it’s a humorous story)

In April 2012, Petrino was involved in a motorcycle crash in Arkansas while sliding off Highway 16 near Crosses. He was riding with former Arkansas All-SEC volleyball player Jessica Dorrell, whom he had hired on March 28 as the student-athlete development coordinator for the football program after serving as a fundraiser in the Razorback Foundation. Petrino initially said he was alone. However, on April 6, just minutes before a police report was to be released showing Dorrell was also aboard, Petrino revealed that Dorrell was not only a passenger, but that he had been conducting an adulterous relationship with her. Athletic director Jeff Long placed Petrino on an indefinite paid leave of absence while he reviewed the situation.
On April 10, Long announced that Petrino had been fired. During Long’s investigation, it was discovered that Petrino made a previously undisclosed $20,000 cash gift to Dorrell as a Christmas present. It was also revealed that Dorrell may have received preferential treatment in her hiring to the football staff, as Petrino’s relationship with Dorrell was not disclosed and Petrino was on the hiring committee. Long determined that Petrino’s attempts to mislead both him and the public about the accident and his relationship with Dorrell were grounds to fire Petrino for cause.[2][15][16] Long also determined that the $20,000 payment could expose Arkansas to a sexual harassment suit if Petrino were retained.[17] Petrino was succeeded by his former boss, Smith, who had been the Arkansas special teams coach before briefly taking the head coaching job at Weber State.

Comment by Emel 07.24.14 @ 3:14 pm

Here’s what you get for $20K and a job.

link to origin.todaysthv.com

Comment by Emel 07.24.14 @ 3:19 pm

Maybe instead of “Never Graduate” the Louisville logo is supposed to be “Never learn your lesson” because they hired Petrino back?!?!?!

What other ones could there be?
Always Tarheels – – Never study
Always WVU – – Never lern to spell
Always FSU – – Never pay for stuff (going back to Free Shoes University)

Comment by CalvinHobbes 07.24.14 @ 3:20 pm

Wow this radio station is mostly all commercials.

Comment by Emel 07.24.14 @ 3:21 pm

Emel… “troll?”

Get a clue.

Comment by PittofDreams 07.24.14 @ 3:21 pm

Always Buckeyes — Never tattoo
Always The U — Never go unarmed
Always Ped State — (no, just can’t do it .. too easy)

Comment by wbb 07.24.14 @ 3:29 pm

Fact is… Pitt did not have a chance of pulling “the UPSET” without McCoy’s 148 yards… and his famous Pre-Game Pep Talk on-board the Team Bus.

I’m sure many remember that it was the Win in Morgantown that SAVED Wannstedt’s job.

Bottom Line… there would have been no 2009 Season without Wannstedt having a FUTURE NFL HOF Running Back to lean on.

Comment by PittofDreams 07.24.14 @ 3:32 pm

I thought that was the Kentucky BBall team slogan, “Never Graduate” Priceless

Gone all day and we have moved on, but I want to know how I am naive, when Conner ran for 34 against FSU, 22 vs Miami, 27 vs VA, 28 vs Navy, 16 vs GT, and 35 vs ND. He had a great day vs Bowling Green, Duke, NC and freakin New Mexico. I am not saying he won’t be good, but c’mon man. He still has a lot to prove.

I also don’t want to hear that Bowling Green had a top ten defense against who? They don’t play in the SEC or Big Ten. Again, it’s freakin Bowling Green.

When Conner gets 100+ game in game out, then he will be a star.

You can’t say that his bad games were on the O-line and his good games were on him. If he was running that strong, he would have got more than the ten carries.

Comment by gc 07.24.14 @ 3:33 pm

You must have missed this again POD.

“On December 1, 2007, just days before an upset win at West Virginia, Wannstedt was given a contract extension through 2012;[2] he had previously been signed through 2009. “

Pitt was 4-7 before that game.

Wanny could have gone 4-7 without Shady I believe.

Comment by Emel 07.24.14 @ 3:39 pm

And the fact is:

DW got the contract extension BEFORE 13-9.

Comment by Emel 07.24.14 @ 3:41 pm

@ gc…

I believe Kentucky’s BBall team slogan….”Never Have to Go to a Class”.

The Tarholes also considered using this phrase.

Comment by Emel 07.24.14 @ 3:43 pm

By the way, I am a huge James Conner fan and wish him only the best. Just think expectations have been blown way out of proportion. 5.5 average sounds great, but it includes 9.9 vs New Mexico, 8.8 vs Bowling Green and 6.7 vs Duke in a high scoring game.

Comment by gc 07.24.14 @ 3:44 pm

Guess you got me. Memory did not serve me well on this one.

But still the argument stands that without McCoy… the Wannstedt Legacy would have taken on a much different look in terms of Wins and Losses.

Comment by PittofDreams 07.24.14 @ 3:48 pm

Another one that bugs me is saying he broke TD’s bowl record, technically true, but apples to oranges.

When he runs for 303 vs Notre Dame or any top ten team then he will have a real record. I hope he does.

Comment by gc 07.24.14 @ 3:50 pm

Connor had a 4.4 against Miami. Only got 5 carries.

What his lower numbers suggest is the O-line couldn’t block very well against the better teams.

Nor could they pass block very well against the better teams sans Duke.

But Duke was known for it’s offense not it’s defense.

Comment by Emel 07.24.14 @ 3:55 pm

It took these broadcaster 50 minutes before asking the Pitt players one question about this year’s team.

These broadcasters get paid for this ?

Comment by Emel 07.24.14 @ 3:58 pm

POD…

in Wannstedt’s last 3 years, 18 of the 27 wins (or 67%) were with Dion Lewis at TB not Shady.

10-3 in 2009
8-5 in 2010

Comment by Emel 07.24.14 @ 4:02 pm

Emel gets it. Even vs VA our OL got destroyed, so badly that we didn’t have enough time to drop back to run pass plays (with an immobile qb). Unfortunately we probably won’t have any idea how much the OL has improved for another 2 mos.

Comment by 1618mt 07.24.14 @ 4:03 pm

@Dr Tom

The other player who is ready to makes us very happy is Ryan Winslow. Remember how many times last year our punting game made us hit our heads on the coffee table.

And, my buddy Upitt is back. Now we just need Frankcan and we are set for camp.

H2P

Comment by pmdH2P 07.24.14 @ 4:06 pm

Good point 1618,

I mentioned this last year, after we could barely move the ball against a terrible UVA team, a MAC team, Ball State, went down to Charlottesville the very next week and layed 48 points on that same UVA defense that held us to 14 points and 199 total yards. Fortunately we got 2 turnovers in UVA territory that led to the 2 TD.s

That’s how bad at times our O-line was. we rushed for 63 yds and totaled 199 yds. against UVA, while the very next week Ball State rushed for 160 yds and totaled over 500 yds while blowing out UVA with 48 points.

Comment by Emel 07.24.14 @ 4:19 pm

A lot of that was due to not being able to adjust to what UVA was doing. Coaching wise.

Something that was very disconcerting at the least.

Since you know who is supposed to be an offensive genius.

Comment by Emel 07.24.14 @ 4:22 pm

So your’e saying Conner runs good when the O-line blocks good. Duh

Comment by gc 07.24.14 @ 4:33 pm

Anyone remember the spread on the 13-9 game. I think it was 29.5. Great to have you back UPitt

Comment by Dan 72 07.24.14 @ 4:33 pm

Well you might expect Connor to have a high average against the likes of New Mexico & Duke as well.

And Bennett against the likes of D2 Old Dominion.

If you’re playing the Duh game ! ha

Comment by Emel 07.24.14 @ 4:46 pm

It was 28.5 points according to online sources.
Dan72

Yep we got upitt back, just need sos22 and FRANKCAN now !

Comment by Emel 07.24.14 @ 4:49 pm

Well Bennett ran for 145 vs Miami, in a game Conner got 5 carries why isn’t he getting the hype of Conner? Too much is being made of what he did in the bowl game.

Let’s see what he does when our O-line plays well against a big time opponent.

Comment by gc 07.24.14 @ 4:57 pm

IF, IF our OL plays well against a big time opponent. They are bigger, the depth is deeper, but it remains to be seen if they end up being better. Show me!

Comment by Dr. Tom 07.24.14 @ 5:46 pm

Speaking of Winslow – I don’t give a fuck!!! I’m a Fucking Solidier. Remember that dickhole said that.

Comment by Upittbaseball 07.24.14 @ 5:51 pm

Connor was a true freshman, plus Mr. Football himself Brent Muscrat gave Connor his own brent muscrat nickname during the ND game.

Chill out, I hope Bennett runs for a 1000 yards this year AND Connor runs for a 1000 yards this year.

Comment by Emel 07.24.14 @ 7:43 pm

I like Conner, but don’t be surprised if Chris James puts up more than 799 yards this year. It’s not a knock on Conner, but he isn’t the RB that Chris James is. He’s not the RB that Dion Lewis was. He did well for us, and will again this year, but he’s not an elite RB and Chris James has significantly more talent as a RB. Again, not to discount his season, but he’s not the future of the backfield.

Comment by PittHW 07.24.14 @ 9:28 pm

I suspect James will be the best freshman on the team.

Comment by Mailman 07.25.14 @ 12:05 am

@Upitt

You lost me, which is not hard to do. Who said that? Winslow? When and in what context?

H2P

Comment by pmdH2P 07.25.14 @ 6:33 am

Comment by Upittbaseball 07.25.14 @ 6:42 am

don’t worry pmdH2P, I was afraid to ask … and now, I’m sorry you did!

Comment by wbb 07.25.14 @ 7:30 am

@wbb & @Dr.Tom

Read you posts with great respect as you think things through before “spewing” what’s on you mind. I have something very Pitt related that I and several others on this blog would like your opinion on. Not a sales pitch, just want your private thoughts. If your are interested, please send a short email to complit0507@gmail.com and we will reply with what we would like you opinion on. Not quite ready for “the real world” yet.

Or – Just say “No Thanks”

Comment by Complit 07.25.14 @ 7:49 am

ah, that Winslow. Substitute “Idiot” for Soldier.

My point, Upitt buddy, is that I believe that Ryan Winslow is going to do a great job for us this year. A big step in in the kicking game.

H2P

Comment by pmdH2P 07.25.14 @ 8:04 am

PittHW – I wouldn’t say Connor isn’t the RB James is, because you/we don’t know that. Sometimes we place too much emphasis on star ratings that prove to be irrelevant. This article started out as a question of defensive identity, and obviously we don’t have one yet, but in my opinion, on the offensive side of the ball we do have an identity/reputation for always having excellent RBs & it looks like that is continuing. That said, I agree, I would not be surprised if James is as good based as Connor based on his reviews & work ethic- what I’m hoping for is 2 excellent backs to compliment each other. Both of them will need a better OL though.

Comment by 1618mt 07.25.14 @ 8:11 am

Not to be outdone by the horrible marketers at Louisville, the University Texas went and misspelled “Texas” on their media guide: link to washingtonpost.com

I give the Oklahoma fans credit for taking advantage of the situation.

Comment by CalvinHobbes 07.25.14 @ 8:38 am

Yeah, I don’t think that our Winslow (Ryan) is quite the convict, oops, I mean soldier that Miami’s Winslow thought he was.

Ryan does come from a good pedigree however. I see in his Pitt profile that his Dad, George, had a career in the NFL as a punter. Pretty good heritage and I’m certain that his father coached him up during his formative years in order to get the most kicking technique possible rubbed off on sonny boy at an early age.

Our Winslow definitely puts some hang time under the football. From my understanding, he’s the first kicker in the history of Pitt’s indoor facility to hit the roof in practice. I’d also like to see his accuracy being solid enough, so that he can revive the lost art of hitting the “coffin corner”. Whatever happened to that tactic? You almost never see it anymore in either the college or Pro game these days.

Considering our awful Special Teams coverage of the past, that kind of tactic should be used whenever appropriate to prevent the possibility of a game changing return. I can recall a couple games last season that we lost because of points resulting from opponents big returns.

Comment by Dr. Tom 07.25.14 @ 8:53 am

Come on Hobbes, cut the Longhorns a little slack, that’s a TWO syllable word and five whole letters to keep track of. Can you possibly imagine the mental anguish produced when a Texas student decides to transfer to Oklahoma? Three syllables and I’m not sure that they can count that high to keep track of all of those letters in that state’s name. LOL!

BTW Chas, time for a new thread?

Comment by Dr. Tom 07.25.14 @ 9:07 am

@Dr Tom

I know that they tend to mumble and slur words in Big12 land, but I think that Oklahoma is actually four syllables. Thankfully we are one syllable Pitt.

H2P

Comment by pmdH2P 07.25.14 @ 9:11 am

Everyone SOLD on James?

Keep in mind that he can be stopped. Happened in Notre Dame H.S. playoff 24-0 loss.

ELITE players don’t get stopped at the High School Level. 100 yards is a BAD DAY.

James had 74 Yards, BUT 35 of them came on ND’s final possession which was meaningless with the game already decided.

James also fumbled twice in the second half.

Now, by all accounts… James has POTENTIAL to be GOOD.

I’m already on the record saying that given his size and running style James will likely do well getting the tough yards.

However, it’s Ollison who has the best chance at being a STAR… IF he can take the beating BIG Backs tend to take.

Comment by PittofDreams 07.25.14 @ 10:27 am

complit … if I remember, I’ll establish contact with you this evening.

Comment by wbb 07.25.14 @ 10:52 am

Conner had 35 yards against power Celevland St Edwards in his sr year .. and his team was a big loser …. these things happen

Comment by wbb 07.25.14 @ 10:59 am

POD – As for me, no, not sold, but hopeful based not only on stars, but also his work ethic & build. IF he’s as good as Connor, then we have to really nice backs that can share carries.

Comment by 1618mt 07.25.14 @ 11:23 am

Chris James workout …
link to link to youtube.com

Comment by hoopzebra 11.15.13 @ 6:04 pm

This was the original post that sold me, at least on his potential. Kid’s explosive.

Comment by BostonsCommon 07.25.14 @ 11:52 am

pmdh2p, that will teach me to make fun of those Horns. One syllable, only four letters and the last two repeat themselves, the ease of bing a PITT fan. H2P!

@ PoD, If Chris James can’t, having Ollison as a viable alternative in this Freshman class is a great luxury, isn’t it. And I could still make the argument that Sir Isaac Bennett has a big Senior season ahead of him yet to come. And don’t forget, this guy came from OK LA HOM A!

Comment by Dr. Tom 07.25.14 @ 12:06 pm

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