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August 7, 2014

   As a final Part Four of our preseason review let’s look at how the coaching staff has done so far and what we can expect from those paid by the PITT administration to both prepare the team for competition and then guide it to a winning season.   This is an area of the program that elicits the strongest opinions, both pro and con, from us PITT fans and rightly so.  With our four year track record from 2010 through to the 2014 season, we have been pulled through the wringer with the trials and tribulations of not only the football coaching personalities and their actions but also by some debatable decisions made by the PITT administration.

   I don’t really want to revisit the head coaching hires and departures over the past five years in this article; nor do I want to parse the Athletic Director and the Chancellor’s decision making over that time period.  We all know what a cluster it has been and I’m not sure it has much to do with the current football team and the upcoming season at this point.  That said, we need to focus on the Head Coach and discuss what strength of program Chryst inherited as a new hire and how he has progressed from that point until this training camp.

   My personal opinion is that Paul Chryst has done an admirable job under the circumstances he walked into, with his eyes wide open, at PITT.  If you look back at a lot of D1 new head coaching hire’s first two years won and loss record you’ll see a dip from the previous seasons in a lot of instances.  Chryst has avoided that after inheriting a 6-7 team and then having 6-7 and 7-6 seasons, while at the same time strengthening the program from the inside out.  Perhaps it is small blessings but at least we didn’t slide backward in that transition to Chryst as HC.  He has approached this PITT job with a clear intent to recruit players he wants in his systems while also making sure that he gets kids who can succeed academically and take direction well.

  His recruiting approach has either been embraced by PITT fans or subject to some derision by them because he isn’t landing multiple 4* and 5* recruits.  I’d like to be a fly on the wall at some of the staff meetings during recruiting season as I’m just not sure how successful they themselves consider these last two recruiting classes.  On one hand a positive proof could be in the fact that so many redshirt and true freshman played a large amount of time last year.  I can’t remember any other season where our two deep line up was so very young.  I’d hazard to guess that we’ll see the same thing happen this season with the redshirted freshman and the incoming true freshman class.  On the other hand all those kids might have been just forced to play because of a general lack of talent across the roster.

   Playing that much youth in 2012 was a risk that many rookie 1st year HCs wouldn’t take.  Chryst has a long view and has changed the existing roster coming out of the 2011 season pretty dramatically over the past two years.  We saw many 5th year seniors and other more junior players who were moved on, transferred, or quit football.  From the 2013 scholarship roster Crockett, Banks, Giubilato, Felder, Christian, Ifill, and Shane Johnson didn’t return this year.  After the 2012 season Doakes, Chapman, Mason,  Shell, the Davis twins, Rippy, Carswell, Eric Smith, Carrozzini, S. Williams, Frimpong, Ryles and Terrell Jackson left the program.

   That is at least 21 players (if my memory serves) and 21 scholarships Chryst had to use for more  of his own recruits.  That is also a 25% turnover generated by circumstances aside from the normal end of career attrition.  You can assume that many of those recruited in place of the departed will get decent PT this year, especially when it happened last season as Chryst fielded 19 FR and true SO kids who were his recruits on the two deep listing.  That folks is a young ass team and exactly how Chryst is building for the 2015 season and beyond.

   On the flip side we have gotten some pretty good transfers in wanting to finish their college careers with Chryst as their head coach.  Savage was a great addition, Reggie Mitchell, Jameel Poteat, who will be available in 2015, are going to play for us also. On a separate issue we now have a much stronger walk-on program then in the past with 21 roster spots being filled this season with kids who didn’t have scholarships but wanted to be at PITT anyway.  Most came onboard in 2012 and sat out a 2013 as a redshirt year.  In the past Chryst and the Wisconsin Staff made great use of walk-ons in their program and Chryst is doing the same now at PITT.  Again, I anticipate Chryst being here for a good length of time and he’s building his program and his team(s) with that in mind.

   All that aside, where the rubber meets the road for any HC is in two areas.  How he’s running the program and how he’s winning football games.  The former is well in hand and I think at this point the jury is still out on the latter.  Above we discussed his actual W-L record, but the question of ‘how’ he’s winning, or losing, games is still unanswered.  We have see some pretty glaring in-game decisions that backfired on him, what comes to mind first is his clock management in some losses.  But there are a whole slew of variables that go into what the outcome of a game is going to be.

   What very good HCs do is hire a staff they trust to execute the HC’s overarching gameplan. They do not get bogged down in the preparation of the actual playcalling or schematic details and they let their Coordinators handle the ‘trickle down’ directions to their respective position coaches.  I have no idea if this is actually how Chryst runs his ship or not, but I suspect it is with perhaps more hands-on work with House on the defensive side.  He does have the final say on the two deep personnel, chip in with play calls every so often and personally makes the in-game FG or conversion try decisions as most HCs do.

   I do know that Chryst is a stickler for keeping things simple in both preparation and execution and he is calm at almost all times and situations… although I and the PITT fans have seen him explode a few times. What I’m saying is that I’m not knowledgable enough about the working relations between Chryst and his staff to know whether is it working that well or not.  It is safe to say though that some of his hires, mostly acquaintances and friends from his Wisconsin days have been headscratchers for us fans with DC  House in particular.

   OK, now I’ll throw in my two cents about the current supporting staff and their works so far then open the floor for comments and discussion.

Here is our current football coaching staff makeup:

Paul Chryst - Head Coach & Quarterbacks
Joe Rudolph - Assistant Head Coach/Off. Coordinator/Tight Ends
Matt House - Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
Inoke Breckterfield - Defensive Tackles
Troy Douglas - Secondary
Chris Haering - Special Teams Coordinator/Outside Linebackers
Jim Hueber - Offensive Line
Greg Lewis - Wide Receivers
John Palermo - Defensive Ends
John Settle - Running Backs
Ross Kolodziej - Head Strength and Conditioning Coach

   In my opinion there are three crucial areas that need to be examined and improved on with the staff. First and certainly foremost is Matt House as our Defensive Coordinator. It’s safe to say that no PITT fan was overwhelmed by the defense’s performance last year or by the coaching job House did with his defensive personnel. We read about the defense in the last article and I don’t want to repeat it here. Suffice to say that if Coach House doesn’t markedly improve with a full year as DC under his belt we’ll be in trouble.  I’m not as upset as a lot of fans are that he was chosen by Chryst for the job, I’m actually pretty OK with that, but the time is now to reverse the decline trend in our scoring defense.

   In 2011 with Graham we gave up 22.8 ppg;  in 2012, Chryst’s first year and with the DC job being held by committee we gave up 21.1 ppg.  Then, in House’s first go-round, we dropped to allowing 27.2 ppg.  That is a big difference and even though we improved our record from 6-7 to 7-6, the defense didn’t help much with that.  Since our offense may not be scoring much more than last year’s 26.6 points it is critical that we lower our opponents scoring this season.

   I’m a believer that just as players understand the game and play better in their second year of college ball coaches and coordinators do also.  Am I expecting a Top Ten defense all of a sudden?  No.  We don’t have the talent on that side of the ball to do that.  Am I expecting a marked improvement, especially in House’s defensive play calling which in turn will allow what talent we do have to be effective?  Yes.  Because that one year of experience in that important coaching position helps immensely.

   Secondly, another of point of concern is Coach Breckterfield work with the defensive tackles and Coach Palermo’s work with the Defensive Ends.  We know that the defensive line’s effectiveness rests in trying to fill two big departures in Donald and Ezell but what we don’t know is how well these two coaches as the main source of guidance are going to handle that.  We have enough young raw talent along that line to at least fill out a decent 1st and 2nd string as long as they are coached well.

   My concern is if the staff is going to be able to take that talent along with the players’ youth and inexperience and develop solid and aggressive players who can fill the void.  Aggressive is a key word here as both FR and rsFR have it hard to effectively go at a 100% effort clip for 60 minutes and 13 games at the college level.  It is a big job those two coaches have and one I think the season rests on.

   Third would be how our offensive coordinator is going to be able to free up our most effective and explosive yard gainer in Quicksilver Z.  Boyd.  We know he’ll line up at WR and we are pretty sure at this point that Garner will be opposite him as the other WR (I haven’t seen 4* rookie Adonis Jennings yet).  The question is how good will Garner, and in turn the TEs, be to be able to pull some defenders off Boyd.  If they can’t not then the OC will have to find touches elsewhere for Boyd using swing routes, wheels, etc.  Last season Boyd ran the ball 11 times for 108 yards which is an astronomical 9.8 ypc.  Most of those were end arounds and sweeps to get Boyd free from having a defender in his face and to where he could get ‘in space’.  But there are a myriadof other routes he can run as a RB as shown below.

   

Now, I’m not sure our OC is going to use Boyd like this often but I love that diagram so much I had to include it.  Stare at it long enough and you might have a seizure.    I hope we don’t call many pass plays out of the backfield for Boyd to the right side of the defense as those are pretty violent;  “Stab”, “Cut”, “V(ivisect)”  “Stop” and “Flat(ten)” and “Shoot”.   Hey, I’m all for a mild rebuke if a kid screws up during a game but to allow opponents to do that crap to him is a step too far.

An option to get the ball in his hands, as crazy as it sounds, is to use him as a straight RB in a run offense every so often, including off-tackle and draw plays.  He’s got a great RB pedigree from HS and he’s the fastest and shiftiest guy we have.  He’s no small kid at 6’2″ and 190 and could physically take doing it if needed.  This would be especially good if a 3rd WR, perhaps Adonis Jennings, steps up and produces to allow Boyd to vacate the WR spot for 3-6 carries a game.  Controversial I know and I may be a bit hypocritical with it because I don’t want Boyd to have any additional chances to be hurt, but his talent is so versatile and so good that it could be very effective if used in moderation.  In addition, it would add another worry for the opposing DC to game plan stopping him.  I kind of doubt we’ll see him much in a traditional RB role but  it would be a great change of pace from Conner and/or James – two stockier and more power guys.

Trying to get up to practice both this Friday’s full contact practice and next week for the 1st scrimmage  - I’ll keep all informed.





^^^ For your lunchtime reading pleasure.

Comment by Reed 08.07.14 @ 7:44 am

“V” for vivisect? LOL can you imagine listening to the game and hearing Billy Hillgrove announce that?

Comment by 2$Chuck 08.07.14 @ 9:07 am

@Reed – great write-ups. Thanks for the hard work.

Is it possible that we played better offensive teams in 2013 than in 2011 and 2012 and that is part of the explanation for the increase in PPG allowed? I haven’t checked our opponents stats but it seems that ought to be considered along with whether or not House is a competent DC.

H2P!!!

Comment by Pitt Dad 08.07.14 @ 9:30 am

I could see trying to get Boyd out of the backfield for a LB miss match, but to run him at the big guys. Leave that to the RB’s.
No offense, but if our OC does run Boyd I would question his ability and mental state.
Just send Boyd down field no one can stop him.(think Larry Fitz triple coverage catch at Texas A&M)

Comment by Tackle made by Hugh 08.07.14 @ 9:31 am

One of the blogs I was reading yesterday had Ronald Jones running all those sweeps.

Comment by pd 08.07.14 @ 10:01 am

@Comment by Pitt Dad 08.07.14 @ 9:30 am

I was just thinking the same thing.. Replacing FSU with BC will help.

But that doesn’t explain giving up 27 to New Mexico, 24 to Old Dominion, 34 to UNC, and 41 to Miami…. All at HOME.

Not to mention 55 to Duke on the road..

That’s just bad D.. You take the 2 return scores off UNC and that looks a little more respectable.. But frankly.. its just bad D. Teams moving the ball up and down the field, and lighting up the scoreboard.

Needs to be better this year.

Comment by BostonsCommon 08.07.14 @ 10:26 am

Reed, great work over the past several days, and thank you for your efforts. You certainly did your homework, and made several good points and observations.

While I agree with most of what you presented, I cannot not comment on your opinion above about the House hire …. ” I’m not as upset as a lot of fans are that he was chosen by Chryst for the job, I’m actually pretty OK with that ….”

I thought this by far has been PC’s biggest failure. Consider:
- not only did it take him to months for him to decide to promote an assistant (and much of it during the recuiting season),
- the guy he chose was probably the most unqualified in the BCS (not to mention the MAC, and
- there were plenty other more qualified candidates around (even with Pitt or Wiscy ties), and
- I believe he finally recognized that he needed to change his hiring habits if he wanted to compete with the big boys and go outside his comfort zone … which I believe was reflected in his recent hires of Douglas and Settle.

With our current issues on defense, how valuable would a Dravon Henry, Chase Winovich or Monate Nicholsen look in a Pitt uni (3 local guys from previous Pitt pipeline schools?)

Comment by wbb 08.07.14 @ 10:28 am

I get the feeling that Palermo is more than the d-end coach, just going by all the live wire vids.

Comment by pd 08.07.14 @ 10:50 am

cbs sports ran an article about Aaron Donald Chris Long raved about his technique “somebody along the line coached him up pretty well.” Wonder if it was the often maligned Breckterfeld.

Comment by shaef 08.07.14 @ 10:58 am

In his after practice interview yesterday, PC let it slip out that he asked for this job. Maybe thats when Alvarez got on the phone to Pitt boosters. In any case, PC will want to stick around for the long haul to see the fruits of his labor.

Comment by Moe Greene 08.07.14 @ 11:17 am

One of the many things that I like about PC is that he is not always looking over his shoulder for the next bigger job, as his brother alluded to in his recent comments in the Trib article. PC is not the guy who wants to die with the most toys in his garage and the biggest bank account. He values building relationships with people and being a man of integrity. Old school for sure and a blue collar gu in a blue collar city that appreciates that in a coach. In time we will see the fruits of his work and us frustrated Pitt fans will once again be even more proud of our school and the integrity of the football program.

Comment by Panther Fan in Hoopieland 08.07.14 @ 11:21 am

Voytik on the Fan at 1:20

It’s becoming more and more apparent that the college FB landscape is changing towards a big division between the haves and the have-nots. Today’s headlines include a poll that Power 5 conference coaches prefer excluisve power 5 conference schedules, B12 commish is a big advocate for paying college players, and K-State coach Snyder saying that college FB has sold out.

Thus, the stability of the FB program is a necessity, and we appear to have it in both the conference affiliation and coaching staff.

I just hope there is no further division but I wouldn’t bet against it … if there is more money for super powers to grab, they will do it.

Comment by wbb 08.07.14 @ 11:47 am

Excellent piece, ice really appreciated this series of articles.

I want to clear something up though related to recruiting. Matt House and the defensive staff have been abysmal at recruiting.

In the last 3 classes – Graham’s that PC took over and PC’s first two classes- there have been zero defensive recruits who received a 4 star ranking from any of the four recruiting services. Let me say that again, not a single defensive player in the last 3 classes has been a 4 or 5 star player.

100 percent of our eight 4 and 5 star players have been on offense. Matt House and Co can be genius defensive minds (and there is evidence of that) and they still struggle because the lack of talent.

If we recruited our defensive players only half as well as our offense, we have as many blue chips as MSU, VT, and UNC, and we’d be well ahead of Louisville.

This defensive staff has done a terrible job recruiting, and I’d Chryst fails to turn things around that will be the biggest reason.

Comment by PittHW 08.07.14 @ 11:47 am

*no evidence of that*

Comment by PittHW 08.07.14 @ 11:50 am

Reed, thanks so much for your hard work – it is really appreciated!
Concerning P. Chryst,what really encouraged me last season was the bowl game. During the regular season there were clearly some coaching “brain farts” that hurt us. However, it was obvious to me that PC looked back at the season and the mistakes that were made and took much corrective action for the bowl game. Hence,I thought the Pizza Bowl was very well coached.
Also, when you see the type of down to earth guy he is, and the stage of life (and age) that he is currently at, he is in the perfect place for him and his family. Thus, I think as long as we want him to stay in Pittsburgh, he wants to stay in Pittsburgh. Unlike Graham, it is obvious he enjoys living in the Burg and being a part of the city. H2P

Comment by pittman4ever 08.07.14 @ 11:59 am

Recruiting defensive players almost seems like an afterthought. Still hoping for McKee, Miller, Brightwell and Stocker.

Comment by pd 08.07.14 @ 12:00 pm

Wheel routes are one the most exciting plays in college football if you catch it, and watch it develop, and they complete it.

When the ball is dropped perfectly in, just as the receiver breaks open, and you’ve watched the whole play, a satisfying feeling for the fan as well as the team.

Comment by Dan 08.07.14 @ 12:02 pm

Wow, I couldn’t disagree more on your assessment of Matt House. Yes, I was surprised by the hire. However, I was more surprised by the results. House essentially played a Tampa Two defense last season…which I personnally detest. I’ll take an attacking defense any day. However, outside of Aaron Donald this defense was average athletically and very limited on experience. I thought the defense played way over it’s head last year and improved as the season went on. The only player who appeared to suffer from this scheme change was Pitts. Had our offensive line improved through out the season as the defense had…Pitt might be considered a contender for the coastal. If any coach is on the hot seat…it should be Hueber. At this point I’d even give him a pass because of all the necessary line shuffling that occurred.

Comment by Pitt is #1 08.07.14 @ 12:03 pm

For Pitt and HCPC to be really successful in the future, we have to see some of those “fruits of his work” ripening THIS season. Why, three reasons, recruiting, Recruiting and RECRUITING!

What fruits am I talking about? The following,such as:
Greatly improved defensive play & resulting D stats,
Pitt special teams play that doesn’t resemble a Chinese fire drill all season long,
Development of Chryst recruited players stepping in to positions of need and being successful thus demonstrating that their recruitment by Pitt was not in vain. If these items are addressed and actually occur then the the results will be:

Winning ALL the games on the schedule that we’re supposed to, Delaware, Florida International, Akron & Virginia, with the icing on the top being another win over either BC or Iowa.
Then, come October, if we’re sitting at 5-1 preparing for our nationally televised game against VT, the interest surrounding Pitt football will begin increasing exponentially. That is essential for stepping it up in the recruiting dept. which as I’ve already mentioned is the one glaring deficiency of this program up to this point in HCPC’s tenure.

That VT game then becomes the springboard for the second half push for the season.

As most prognosticators have eluded to, Chryst NEEDS to produce an 8-4 regular season record this year to remain relevant as an effective head coach that is anticipated to produce a winning program in the near future. This season is the catalyst season to get that job done. He accomplishes that, the recruiting gets better THIS year.

House has exhausted his honeymoon time with the Panther Faithful. Last season was learning on the job. He’s got his own stuff to prove to get his own monkeys off his back. It’s now or never for him too this season.

This schedule really sets up nice for this program this year, now it’s the coaches jobs to make sure they don’t “F” it up!

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.07.14 @ 12:21 pm

Thanks, Reed. A good series. Look forward to your reports after seeing it all yourself.

H2P

Comment by pmdH2P 08.07.14 @ 1:00 pm

this is interesting. HCPC is in the minority of ACC coaches but with the majority of coaches overall in voting yes for Power 5 teams playing exclusive Power 5 schedules.

link to espn.go.com

Comment by wbb 08.07.14 @ 1:07 pm

Reed – just awoke from my seizure.. Thank you for the hard work, and am looking forward to your upcoming reports!

HTP!

Comment by Complit 08.07.14 @ 3:38 pm

Thanks Reed. My concern has and continues to be recruiting of defensive players. Some of this is on House, but Chryst is the Head Coach and needs to up his game. He has been able to attract quality O-Linemen, Tight Ends, Wide Receivers and Running Backs. He has had a problem with QB’s losing one to poor behavior and a last minute change of heart. We have depth on the offense other than QB. The same can not be said of the defense.

While we have picked up a few decent players on the opposite side, there have been no home runs. We need some 4 star linemen and linebackers if we want to compete with the big boys. There are still slots open in next year’s class but if they aren’t filled with higher profile defensive players this will be three years without any.

Comment by gc 08.07.14 @ 4:36 pm

See – this is why I stated that “This is an area of the program that elicits the strongest opinions, both pro and con, from us PITT fans and rightly so.” We all have wildly different thoughts and wants when it comes to a coaching staff.

I figured my comment on Matt House’s hire would ruffle feathers… but that’s my opinion. Funny things opinions are as the bulk of an opinion is made up of the person’s personality with some facts mixed in. As you guys can tell I’m a pretty optimistic PITT fan who doesn’t need perfect or championship results to please him.

That is why I think the jury should still be out on the House hire. I truly don’t believe you can base a firm opinion on someone who has only completed only one go-around in his new professional capacity, especially when so much of his success, or lack of it, comes from people’s talents and efforts other than himself.

Let’s be honest here. Aside from Aaron Donald House inherited some pretty average defensive talent to work with in his 1st year in the Big Seat. It’s funny but we fans ALWAYS take whether the ‘cupboard was bare’ into consideration when we discuss new Head Coaches but somehow we minimize it when it comes to Coordinators who – in the grand scheme of things – depend on the individual players’ production more that the HC does.

Here’s the thing that jumps out at me. Us PITT fans are bemoaning the lack of prime talent across the board on defense, on paper, going into 2014. Yes, Donald is a big loss and Hendricks and Williams played well in the past but other than those three everyone else were average college ball players. So, exactly why again was House supposed to have a great year season when he had average talent to work with IN HIS 1ST YEAR AS DC?

Now, optimistic me says we can replace Ezell, Murphy, Gordon, Hendricks and Williams with players who, as in every season, are getting their own chances to shine. The returning two deep players will have a full year as starters with House as their DC already (important!) and the new starters, Render, Soto, Galambos, Coles, Webb, have, IMO, as much or more talent between them than the guys they are replacing (AD excepted).

It was apparent that his defensive approach was different than his predecessor’s and sometimes that too takes a full year to correctly implement. So – because it’s my nature I’ll give House at least one more year as the DC before I roundly criticize him or state that his hiring was a misfire.

Comment by Reed 08.07.14 @ 5:08 pm

Regarding Matt House, my personality and the facts I choose to accept as valid are very similar to those of Reed and Pitt is #1. House didn’t have a lot to work with. The defense got better (for the most part) as the season went on. You need to give the guy at least one more season. With the schedule the way it is, if we don’t see statistical improvement this year, then it’s time to gripe.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 08.07.14 @ 5:24 pm

@wbb, interesting.

Pretty sure where I stand. I’d prefer that we have 12 games against the power 5.

Very debatable though. A lot of good points, both ways, in that article.

As a fan, would I rather have Pitt at 9-3 with wins against Delaware and Florida International and Akron??

Or the possibility of being 6-6 if those three teams were swapped out with say,
Illinois, Texas Tech and Florida????

Ideally, 9-3 with playing a twelve game schedule against other Big 5 power conferences.

I still feel I’d rather have a schedule of all big schools.

Besides, everyone in the Big 5 would be playing each other, so everyone would have a few more losses.

I don’t want to stomp the smaller schools out, I don’t like the idea of leaving them behind, I’m just saying me personally, I get more charged up for a Pitt game against a recognizable team.

I do agree with Bo Pellini. The 8 team playoff will be happening shortly.

I know it’a a five year contract , but I’d be surprised it will make it that long.

I have a feeling, these playoff games are gonna be like heroin for the fans. We’re gonna want more, plus if someone gets left out, which they will, there will be pressure to go to eight.

I think that is where it will end though. Eight sounds about right. 16 is to unwieldly for a sport that can only play once a week. Just too many teams, not enough time in Dec. and Jan..

Plus, as college football fans, we all know, you might miss out on having the best team winning it all, possibly, by not giving #5 or #6 a shot. But, #9 and #10 usually have several losses, and they certainly aren’t worthy of a shot at a NC nor do I think many would whine and cry.

College football very different than college basketball in regards to a playoff, IMHO.

Comment by Dan 08.07.14 @ 5:26 pm

wbb – dragging the “Conner’s 2014 Position” debate in from the other post:

Conner’s role this season really depend on the other players results compared to how he plays with both the RBs and the DEs.

Should Bennett, Ibrahim and James step up and fill the Conner-less rushing of the ball then fine. On the flip side should Durham, Soto, MacLean and Blair produce well at DE then there is no need to move Conner.

But here is the one scenario which no one is talking about – whether or not Conner is a legit D1 starting RB. As you stated half of his yards came in two games against relatively mediocre defenses. As much as I hate to type this, because I think he’s the real deal, it could be that he’s just not the guy to get 25 carries a game for 12 games and still be effective in gaining yardage.

In that case then move him anyway onto the DE two-deep because there wouldn’t be a place for him elsewhere.

Comment by Reed 08.07.14 @ 5:28 pm

“I thought I was a lot faster than I was,” James said…

“That was definitely when I realized, ‘OK we’re here now. You’re not the fastest on the field anymore.’?”

Chris James as quoted by the Post Gazette in reaction to getting run down by Linebackers Gonzalez and Thomas.

Comment by PittofDreams 08.07.14 @ 5:37 pm

Good stuff Reed.

While everyone knew he was GOOD, Boyd has surpassed all expectations at Wide Out.

But keep in mind that this is a kid who as a Running Back ran for over 5,000 yards in High School.

As last year, it certainly makes sense to use Boyd and his SPEED out of the backfield as a way to get mismatches. But there is one reason why the Coaches may not have to… RACHID IBRAHIM.

Ibrahim has shown he has more than enough SPEED himself to make a BIG PLAY.

If he can stay healthy, I look for Rachid to hear his number called a lot this year… probably for plays like you outlined above.

Comment by PittofDreams 08.07.14 @ 5:49 pm

Reed, my take on Conner is a little different. I see a young man who is TOTALLY possessed on running people over when he carries the ball. Hence, I believe we will not of seen anyone like him since the great Ironhead Hayward. IF he stays healthy, I pity the fool that gets in his way. Not to mention the fact that Conner is also faster than Ironhead was.

Comment by pittman4ever 08.07.14 @ 5:55 pm

pittman – you and I are in lockstep. I think Conner’s that kind of ballcarrier also.

PittofDreams – I love Ibrahim also and that’s why I wrote this in my “offense’ article:

Converted Safety to RB Rachid Ibrahim is my sleeper rusher this season and I think he’ll supplant Bennett as the second back on the offense, fullback excluded. He may be on the verge of stardom either this year or next. He was a true HS prep star here in Maryland and I think he’ll reproduce that at PITT before too long. Big prediction but I think it’ll happen.”

I’m starting to feel that our OL is going to progress to the point that any of the four RBs we have will be productive running the ball. The questions is going to be who is the most productive and which one benefits the team most.

My statement about running Boyd out of the backfield was 80% serious. We don’t have to run him straight into 290+ lb guys on the DL. But we can use him in so many other ways out of the backfield – which would mean that almost every player in every position on the defense would have to personally worry about him vice just the DBs as it stands now. We’ll have other good WRs who can line up in that traditional WR role for a few times a game to allow us to do the above with Bennett.

Again, use Boyd all over the field in every different formation would make game planning against our offense a real problem.

Comment by Reed 08.07.14 @ 6:11 pm

“INDIANAPOLIS — The power conferences in major college sports just got more powerful — maybe a lot more so.

The NCAA Division I board of directors on Thursday voted 16-2 to allow the schools in the top five conferences to write many of their own rules.”

This should be interesting, sounds similar to Congress policing themselves. Oy Vey !

Comment by Emel 08.07.14 @ 6:18 pm

Reed, I agree that what happens with Conner depends on the other guys production. I have mentioned that Conner still has to prove he can do it against the big boys. I like you, think he can and will. The other thing to consider is Chryst has a history of spreading the runs around and we have a number of guys that should be able to share the load. If Bennett is healthy, he, Conner and James will get a lot of carries. Ibrahim should also be in the mix. Whether they play by series or play to play, Conner should be well rested for the number of defensive plays he gets. A problem arises in games where/if he is the only effective back.

I like playing all big schools, it would level the playing field and help attendance. Surprised that some of the big schools aren’t crying that they need their home games to pay the bills. Remember when JoePa offered us 2 for 1.

I am patient regarding House and the strength coach and tend to trust Chryst’s judgement. Except for recruiting which I questioned above. Better players make better coaches.

Comment by gc 08.07.14 @ 6:21 pm

By the way, running backs that run through people don’t last as long as those that run around them.

Or out of bounds like Franco Harris who was criticized by a lot of macho boneheads in this town.

Comment by gc 08.07.14 @ 6:26 pm

Also agree Pittman on Conner…

Amazing that some people just can’t see it. 250 Pound Tailbacks with 4.5 (or 4.4 something)speed who set All-TIME PITT BOWL RECORDS… as FRESHMEN… don’t come along often.

Comment by PittofDreams 08.07.14 @ 6:30 pm

Glad to see you’re aboard Reed, with positioning Boyd, in some sets, out of the backfield.

The main purpose of which is to create mismatches on LB’s, limit or eliminate double coverage on Tyler, that he would surely get as a traditional WR and get him double the amount of touches that he would get as a traditional WR.

A side note, would be shorter throws to complete for our new rather inexperienced QB which would help with his accuracy rate.

And in my book, you have a lot better chance to win with Tyler getting 20 touches than 10.

Besides leading PITT to more wins, 20 touches per game would make Tyler a leading Heisman candidate and create some buzz around PITT football. Of which there isn’t much now and isn’t easy to create.

Comment by Emel 08.07.14 @ 6:31 pm

This is an interesting note(of manY) from Reed’s article concerning the defense.

” In 2011 with Graham we gave up 22.8 ppg”

Last year it was over 27 ppg.

When you take into consideration that in 2011 Graham used the hurry up offense, meaning the defense was even on the field more than with a traditional offense, that number of 27 ppg is even more shocking.

Add in the fact we also had the best defensive player in the nation on last years defense and you have to be shaking your head.

I just hope this kid is much much better in year 2 of the House experiment than year 1.

For if anything can wreck this seemingly lightly loaded schedule, it would be a sieve of a defense.

Comment by Emel 08.07.14 @ 7:03 pm

*no evidence of that*
Comment by PittHW 08.07.14 @ 11:50 am

I was gonna say that exactly, :-)

Comment by Emel 08.07.14 @ 7:17 pm

I’m all for 12 games vs the power 5. Go to a 9 game league schedule(Notre Dame join or go away), psu, wvu, & home/home vs another power 5. No more garbage games, see the atlantic division more often, more open games to renew rivalries, far more fan interest.

Comment by Nick 08.07.14 @ 7:37 pm

Reed, aside from Soto, the best players we have on defense (Render, Thomas, Gonzalez, Pitts, Vinopal and Mosley Smith) all came from previous staffs. In fairness, Galambos, Moody, and Maclean and the 2 Clarton kids (Howard &Webb) show promise but the jury is still out on all of them.

As someone pointed out above, we are in the 3rd recruiting class with PC and not one 4-star on defense …. the offensive slant to these classes have been palpable – and it continues.

With the talent of the RBs and the potential of the returning OL, the most glaring need by far IMO is the pass rush …. this why we need Connor at DE.

Comment by wbb 08.07.14 @ 7:47 pm

Nick, with the new playoff system, I would like to see a rule where 11 of the 12 games should be Power 5, but I think the 12th should be D1 like BYU, Army, Navy, AFU, Cincy or the MAC, etc. Those teams need to be cut a break.

Comment by wbb 08.07.14 @ 7:55 pm

Also in questioning the coaching, some mention needs to made of the Offensive Line coach, since well…the play of the line has been so offensive.

ikr

As were we 118th of 123 FBS (D1) teams in 2013.
We were 103 of 123 in Tackles for loss allowed.
We were 74th of 123 in Most penalties (many of which were O-line related).

2012 wasn’t much better !

110 of 124 in Sacks allowed.
94 of 124 in Tackles for Loss allowed.
85th of 124 in Most penalties. (worse than 2013)

And it was alarming they had no schemes (apparently) to limit the damage of poor pass blocking. As this went on, pretty much, game after game. As we all held our collective breath every time our QB went back to pass.

Lots of questions abound about the ability of these coaches that need answered this year.

Comment by Emel 08.07.14 @ 8:05 pm

**typo**

Line 3 pertains to Sacks Allowed.

Comment by Emel 08.07.14 @ 8:10 pm

With the talent of the RBs and the potential of the returning OL, the most glaring need by far IMO is the pass rush …. this why we need Connor at DE.

Comment by wbb 08.07.14 @ 7:47 pm

Yea but Connor has the most talent of the 3 returning RB’s, by far imo.

And the freshmen are just that… freshmen, no telling how much of a contribution they are going to make at all. At this point.

The best way to help the defense is by keeping them off the field as much as possible. Connor at RB is the best way to control the ball, at this point.

And everyone seems to think Connor, based on a few late game snaps, when the opposing O-line was at it’s tiredest, is going to be a superstar at DE.
And was some like to point out when making their argument, it was a MAC team.

That is not a given by any means.

Connor is a known quantity at RB, he is not at DE.

On a team with limited RB’s (2) it would be silly to move him at this point.

Comment by Emel 08.07.14 @ 8:21 pm

I only counted Connor & Bennett at RB.

Since Ibrahim hasn’t exactly been on the field much. And it remains to be seen how much PT he will actually get.

And Bennett has still not practiced and is coming off another severe injury so that is a factor as well.

Comment by Emel 08.07.14 @ 8:27 pm

I haven’t said once that he should be moved at this point … but I truly believe the move is inevitable. I guess I have more faith in Bennett, Ibrahim and James than Soto, Durham and Cook.

Comment by wbb 08.07.14 @ 8:31 pm

… and again you need 2 DEs on the field but only 1RB

Comment by wbb 08.07.14 @ 8:33 pm

Have to agree with Pitt Dad when it comes to the additional points we gave up last year. The ACC is different. They score the ball much better than connecticut, usf, syracuse, rutgers and cincy (post kelly) big east teams.

The opponent schedule was part of the problem. Doesn’t matter if they are home or away. Pitt does not have a distinct home field advantage that others have. Pitt is fixing part of the defense by bringing in Douglass as someone who prioritizes getting the ball back. Defense is a mindset. I continue to hope I am wrong, but if Vinopal remains our starter, we may be in big trouble. I really like him on special teams, but that is it.

With regard to coaching hires, it would have been interesting if PC could have gone after Ron Dayne. That would have opened up New Jersey even better in my opinion and lent credibility to what PC is building here at Wisconsin East. Settle may get the job done, but Dayne would have made a bigger splash with recruiting Joisey.

Comment by dhuffdaddy 08.07.14 @ 9:18 pm

You might be right somewhere down the road wbb, as it all depends on the development or lack thereof, of the incoming RB’s and the current or incoming DE’s.

I think in these early games against Delaware & FIU we should be able to get some reps for some of the younger kids or newcomers at DE.

Of course the 2nd game of the season against BC is pivotal imo, so there’s that too. You would want to see some cohesion along the line for that game.

Perhaps you’d see Connor more likely put in a close game in the 4rth quarter against a tiring opposing O-line, similar to the circumstances that existed in the Pizza Bowl.

The important difference in that game was, had he gotten hurt, it was the last game of the year and he had a whole off-season to recover.

And my bad if I missed your point on Connor’s position move timing. It appeared to me you were lobbying for it now. :-)

Comment by Emel 08.07.14 @ 10:36 pm

Devin Street looking good at the end of this Dallas preseason game! H2P

Comment by Gordo 08.07.14 @ 11:51 pm

Boyd will prove to be unstoppable at whatever position that he lines up at this year, even when double teamed. This is because he has the God given ability to sense his opponent’s position and the talent to defend the defender against the ball.

When you have a guy with those kind of ball skills, even when double teamed the receiver is going to come down with the catch more times than not. Fitzgerald has proven that innate ability over his decorated career and Boyd is going to follow in those footsteps because he possesses that skill set also.

Some of his best catches of the year we’re created by Boyd positioning himself where ONLY he had a legit chance of getting a hand on the ball with perfect body position against his defender, then at the last possible moment making a play on the ball. Unique skills that will continue to be refined by a player that is driven to be great.

This year Boyd is going to be causing many a double team tandem to come up shaking their heads, after another one of his circus catches, lamenting on the question “how do we stop this guy”?

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.08.14 @ 12:57 am

Unless the staff starts practicing Conner at DE during this training camp, and so far that has been almost non-existent, then I’ll still assume that the HC and OC want him as RB1.

This is what makes college football so much better than the NFL for me – every offseason there are so many questions going into the summer training camp and those questions change every year.

I’ll agree that this season is the ‘hot seat’ year for House as the DC and I think he’ll be able to get the kids to better their 2013 results.

An interesting point is that in 2012, when we didn’t have a designated DC, we gave up only 21.1 ppg. Our offense that season scored a semi-decent 26.6 ppg and we lost seven games.

2013 we get House as DC, give up 6 more ppg, scored the same amount of points on offense and end up with seven wins.

Off to PGH now – write more later today…

Comment by Reed 08.08.14 @ 3:41 am

Emel, I guess I am sort of lobbying for it now .. although I realize that the move (if taken) will be later rather than sooner.

I had suspected all along that Conner, based on the interviews I read with PC and especially Conner this summer, that he would eventually be moving to defense. But now when I realize just how thin the defense is, I realize that it may need to to happen sooner than expected.

FCS .. they are looking at Grigsby moving to DE and he is a valuable back up OLB who played a lot last year at that position. With Bam getting a lot of reps behind Galambos so far, who else do they have for back up.

Wanny’s teams were able to get by many times by moving defensive recruits to offense (and a couple of this moves resulted in future NFL player – Pinkston, Malecki and probably Clemmings) … when you think just how overstocked the WR, TE and OL positions are right now, and how understocked the entire defense is with no forseeable quality coming in, these coaches need to consider moving them to defense.

Comment by wbb 08.08.14 @ 6:27 am

By my count, just in the 3 positions I mentioned above (WR, TE, OL) .. there are 9 4-star recruits.

Yet, on the ENTIRE defense, there 2 4-star recruits (Thomas, Gonzalez) and both of them were offense when recruited.

Now I know there are plenty of 3-stars who can really play, but still the tilt towards the offense is astounding. When your star RB is also likely the best DL, you have issues … (and again I am basing this on the fact the star RB has been practicing on defense since last December.

Q. where else in the NCAA would your star RB be practicing on the DL, or there was even a thought that he would be playing the DL?
A. only at Pitt under the present circumstances

Comment by wbb 08.08.14 @ 6:41 am

Read this article from a month and a half ago — there was also a similar article published in PG or Trib a little before this

link to nfl.com

while this article implies Conner will probably end up as an RB because PC is an offensive coach, it doesn’t take into account the actual needs of the Pitt team

Comment by wbb 08.08.14 @ 6:57 am

Pitt has 82 players on scholarships and a number of walk ons. The walk on program has developed under HCPC and was non existent under the Graham and Wanny. Pitt for the first time in awhile has numbers at many positions that create competition and urgency. By next year it will be night and day between HCPC first year and then. It is experience, depth, recruiting, all are going well. Ibraham has the kind of upside along with the other two freshman to consider a permanent move by Connor. With one back recruited thus far, it appears they see Conner at RB next year as well

Comment by chethejet 08.08.14 @ 7:09 am

The Conner issue shows how dramatically thin we are on defense. Defensive End is the weakest, but the defensive backfield and linebacker crews are a couple injuries away from playing guys that the average fan has never heard of. While the debate about Conner is fun, it won’t be fun when a couple of our guys go down. This is more than a possibility, this is football and guys get hurt.

That is why even with the so-called easy schedule, I think those that are demanding 8+ wins are probably expecting too much. While three of the non-coms should not be a challenge, Iowa and any ACC game are up for grabs. We were not picked to finish next to last in our division for no reason.

We will need the turnovers that coach Douglas wants for us to win. We will not win many when we lose the turnover battle. Without a pass rush, I expect us to have a hard time on third downs as has been our Achilles heal for several years.

Hopefully our offense will put up enough points to overcome the potentially weak defense. And we stay relatively healthy.

Comment by gc 08.08.14 @ 7:30 am

Chas Alexcih was a walk-on as is Wuestner (WR) who is on current roster. There have been a few others in recent years whose names escape me.

Next year stable of RBs include Conner, James, Ibrahim, Ollison, Poteat (transfer) and Sekai Lindsay (promising commit.) It appears to have both quality and quantity.

BTW, in a report from Cardiac Hill, it stated that Pitt practiced on returns yeaterday, and as speculated by us here … Ronald Jones, Avonte Maddox and Lafayette Pitts were the returnees. Note that Pitts changed his number from 23 to 6 this year .. thus, he and Boyd can both be kick returners at the ame time this year should the situation arise.

Lastly, the following from Cardiac Hill:
” As far as the quarterback battle goes…..there isn’t one. Chryst is taking his time with the official decision, but Voytik’s passes are all where they need to be, Anderson’s can be all over the place. Not saying Voytik has been perfect, but he’s clearly been better”
Still, Trey Anderson did complete a 60 yarder yesterday .. and I continue to have confidence in him as a backup in a short term situation.

Comment by wbb 08.08.14 @ 7:34 am

Anybody else questions why we have the most experienced player on our thinnest unit returning kicks?

Comment by Atlanta Panther 08.08.14 @ 7:37 am

Are you reading this blog, Luke MacLean? Time for your coming out party son. A year spent studying the playbook, countless hours in the weight room, and earning your chance with the ones this year as a result of putting in the time while red shirting your Freshman year on the scout team, should be paying dividends for you this season.

According to popular opinion on this blog, one DE spot has all but been given to a guy who isn’t even listed as a DL position player. What are you going to do about that? Your time is now my friend, let them learn name by proving you got game!

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.08.14 @ 7:54 am

Dr Tom, you’re exaggerating. The opinion of Conner being a DE is mine and a few others.

Heck, I hope that MacLean meets your expectations; I also have hope that Cook does well as DE …he has shown promise when he has played a few times in the past.

Comment by wbb 08.08.14 @ 7:59 am

It would be a huge help if both of those guys contribute 4 or 5 sacks a piece this year.

Comment by gc 08.08.14 @ 8:12 am

Sub 5 40 and a 32 vertical jump isn’t too shabby for a 6’4″ 260lb white boy. Plus the guy was a wrestler and track letterman in HS too. I especially like the wrestling experience, means quick hands and feet usually when you have wrestling experience under your belt.

As I stated in an earlier post. HCPC has taken some flack on his lack of star power in his previous recruiting classes, guys like Maclean need to step into these positions of need and show the doubters that Coach Chryst knows how to recruit those players that fit his system and can produce, even if they weren’t heavily recruited or considered4-5* prospects. Luke fits that profile, will he show up this year??????

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.08.14 @ 9:18 am

link to youtube.com

Never gets old. 3 weeks tomorrow!! H2P!!!

Comment by Dan 08.08.14 @ 9:42 am

BLAIR… is the name to watch for on Defense.

Comment by PittofDreams 08.08.14 @ 11:31 am

As for the Defense…

CORNERBACK… not Defensive End… is the weakest link.

DOWNRIGHT SCARY to think what Opposing Teams might do in terms of the PASS GAME against House and his Secondary…

… and this is even with a STRONG COMEBACK YEAR for Pitts which I think we’ll see.

Comment by PittofDreams 08.08.14 @ 11:37 am

From Trib’s DiPaola

– Running back James Conner continues to have a busy and productive camp, playing on both sides of the ball. He had one of the biggest hits of a physical practice — players wore shoulder pads for the second consecutive day — when he got a running start and lowered his shoulder into freshman safety Patrick Amara.

Ya, this is exactly the Guy we want to move from Running Back to Defense.

Comment by PittofDreams 08.08.14 @ 11:42 am

Yeah, CB is in worse shape than the DE position, but they’re both in bad shape. At CB though we have a proven veteran starter in Pitts so we’re set at least in one starting spot. We really have nothing proven at either DE at all.

Comment by PittHW 08.08.14 @ 11:45 am

Just consider for a moment…

What would be the fallout for Chryst if Conner were to get hurt while playing some snaps on Defense during a Game in which he was in FULL PANTHER BEAST MODE at Tailback?

As I’ve said… Chryst would be CRAAAAA-ZEEEEEE to even risk it… unless… unless…. a WIN was at stake LATE LATE LATE in a GAME… and there was absolutely NO PASS RUSH to be found.

The Chryst Haters and Detractors here and elsewhere would be in FULL FIRE CHRYST MODE.

Comment by PittofDreams 08.08.14 @ 11:52 am

Pitt-W… I feel REALLY GOOD about SOTO… OK with Cook… and LOOKING for a BIG SPLASH from the Freshmen ranks with BLAIR.

Of course, an injury could change things in a hurry.

Comment by PittofDreams 08.08.14 @ 11:56 am

I have not been impressed with Pitt’s defense since the early 1980s, so any change to the defense is fine with me.
I hate bend don’t break. I hate giving up yardage down the field until the opponent is guaranteed a field goal try. I hope our defense gets more aggressive and also tries to keep the game in the opponent’s end zone, not stiffening up until our back is against our end zone, like last year. I’d rather give the occasional touchdown when somewhat gets burned, that give up field goals every time.

Comment by Caw Miller 08.08.14 @ 11:59 am

*I’d rather give up the occasional touchdown when someone gets burned, than give up field goals every time.*

Comment by Caw Miller 08.08.14 @ 12:01 pm

@Comment by PittofDreams 08.08.14 @ 11:52 am

What if Conner didn’t get hurt… What if he caused a strip sack on the first series of the game, or the second half? Or pressured the QB into a pick instead?

What if Boyd returns a kick to the house? Or what if he get’s knocked out trying to fair catch a punt?

It’s football man. You can only play the ‘what if game’ so much before just letting them go run around and make plays.

Those are the two best players on the team. Gotta give them the chance to impact the game as much as possible.

Comment by BostonsCommon 08.08.14 @ 12:11 pm

A little different having your STAR Wideout Returning Kicks. Happens all the time.

No make that a LOT DIFFERENT.

Factor in the “Fatigue Factor” and there’s really NO COMPARISON between the two scenarios.

Between series, RunningBacks, especially 250 Pound Backs… generally sit on the bench trying to get their wind before heading back in.

Comment by PittofDreams 08.08.14 @ 12:44 pm

Actually, it’s gonna work itself out fellas.

If Conner picks up where he left off last year, and starts bulldozing for 150 a game, and is not getting a lot of help from the other backs, he will see spot duty as a DE, in an emergency situation, needing a big stop situation.

If the other backs look promising, and are a vital part of the rb corp, then they may experiment with Conner even more. If he IS the running game, not so much.

Will also depend on will we have a player at DE step up, and make it not as pressing and make us forget the whole issue of DE? Maybe not, but if someone steps in and is adequate or a bit suprising, then……..

It will be a game to game, as the season rolls along situation, with lot’s of if’s and blanks to be filled in as the season goes along.

Comment by Dan 08.08.14 @ 1:07 pm

The first few games will determine what Connor does on D. Will James, Ibraham and Bennett do well enough at RB to let Connor jump over to the D side as well as let him rest.

Comment by notrocketscience 08.08.14 @ 1:27 pm

It will work both ways. If the other RBs do well and the DEs not so, then eventually Conner will play more defense. But, if Conner proves to be by far the best RB and the DL is doing an adequate job, then Conner may only see action on defense at the end of games.

My personal thought is that the DL needs more help than the RB position … while also reminded that there are 2 DEs on the field but just 1 RB at any one time.

Comment by wbb 08.08.14 @ 1:50 pm

@Comment by PittofDreams 08.08.14 @ 12:44 pm

We’re not talkin’ about him taking 50 snaps/game on D… HCPC already floated out 8 as a number I think? That’s basically 1 snap per series.. Hardly enough to create a ‘fatigue factor’.

I mean c’mon. Most of these guys played both ways in high school anyway… and I’m talking every snap, every series.

Now… After a (much publicized) conditioning program that has these kids in the best shape of their life… it’s too much for him to go chase the QB once every 20 minutes??

Give me a break…

The more I think about it, the more I start to see HCPC perspective… that everyone is blowing this waaay out of proportion.

Guys gonna chase the QB a couple times a game… No more, no less.

Comment by BostonsCommon 08.08.14 @ 2:33 pm

ACC/Maryland settle suit for $31 million.

I thought it’d end up being around 20M.

Comment by Dan 08.08.14 @ 3:11 pm

Thomas and Gonzalez interviews today. They have really grown up since being freshmen. They are in a position to have a major impact. We need them to have great senior years. As far as rushing the passer Thomas says “I’m coming”. They both look big and strong. Only 11 seniors on the team. Glad these guys hung in there.

Comment by gc 08.08.14 @ 4:09 pm

I agree. Eight plays per game or so is nothing.

Comment by notrocketscience 08.08.14 @ 4:37 pm

Caw – looking back at the PITT Archives it shows that under DW & Phil Bennett in ’09 &’10 our defenses gave up 19 ppg – both years ending up in the Top 20 in scoring defense.

We won’t see that this season.

Writing up my practice visit as we speak.

Comment by Reed 08.08.14 @ 6:13 pm

and it continues … Pitt loses out on 2 CBs today — one to PSU (a longshot for Pitt) and the other to WVU (Pitt was a finalist)

Comment by wbb 08.08.14 @ 7:11 pm

That’s why they play the games. The stats will speak for themselves in about four months, until that time all of this speculation is just so much BS prognostication.

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.08.14 @ 7:18 pm

gc – couldn’t agree more re: Gonzalez and Thomas. Both have had their ups and downs and hung in throughout. Both are gifted athletically and appear to have matured into leaders. Their play may well be the key to the entire defense this year.

Re: PPG against, I’m not sold on House, but given the offenses Pitt faced last year, I thought the D performed relatively well. Rather than comparing PPG to prior years, look at the points Pitt gave up compared to each opponent’s average PPG in 2013.

Of the 11 D-1 teams that Pitt faced, they held 8 of them to less than their season average for points scored. Almost a touchdown per game less. Only Duke, UNC, and Miami scored more than their average PPG vs. Pitt. And 2 of UNC’s TDs were punt returns. The Duke game was just a track meet. The Miami game, IMO, was Pitt’s worst defensive performance of the season. The D was just flat in that game.

You could argue that FSU could have scored 60. You could argue that teams pad their PPG vs. cupcakes. But the fact is that overall, Pitt did better than most teams did against the same competition last year.

I’m willing to give House a pass and see what transpires this year. My primary issue, as many have stated, is defensive recruiting. It’s almost non-existent. That cannot continue. But that is on Chryst as much as House.

Comment by Iron Duke 08.08.14 @ 9:04 pm

I think PC is just trying to generate some buzz around PITT football. (hey look we got a 2 way player)

As he hinted in the interview with Dejan that playing Connor at DE, was not really in the cards.

I doubt very seriously if he would risk a 1000 yard (he would have been without missing the ODU game and parts of others) true freshmen proven RB, with moving him to an unproven spot when we are very thin at RB.

Maybe like I said previously in the 4rth quarter of a 1 score game, the opposing team has it for one last chance and they put him in, ala Pizza Bowl.

Wasn’t the guy who left for NC State, the DC in 2012 ? Dave Huxtable. It was only ‘by committee’ for the bowl game.

Comment by Emel 08.08.14 @ 9:26 pm

Hard to believe we can’t recruit highly rated defensive players.

I mean we ONLY HAD the winner of EVERY frickin major college Defensive award there is, last year.

Not to mention, Pitt has produced NFL defensive stars like the best CB in the NFL, Darrelle Revis.

With ammunition like that, it shouldn’t be hard to get highly rated players with NFL ambitions signed on the dotted line.

Comment by Emel 08.08.14 @ 9:31 pm

The year to make hay in defensive recruiting with Aaron Donald as your poster boy, was this year.

I don’t give House a pass on that.

How many times are you going to have the Outland, Lombardi, Nagurski and Bednarik Award winner on your team.

If you can’t recruit to PITT alone, you should be able to recruit to Donald’s success.

Unfricken believable

Comment by Emel 08.08.14 @ 9:35 pm

Well Pitt just made Stockers top 5,fingers crossed.

Comment by pd 08.08.14 @ 9:44 pm

Here’s who NC State hired to be their Strength & Conditioning Coach:

Head strength and conditioning coach Jason Veltkamp oversees all of the strength and conditioning efforts for Wolfpack football. The 18-year veteran came to NC State after spending five seasons in the same capacity at Arkansas. Veltkamp has worked with 47 NFL draft picks in his career.

Prior to arriving at Arkansas in 2008, Veltkamp spent four years (2004-07) as the head strength and conditioning coach for football at Louisville. During his three years with that program, the Cardinals earned trips to the Liberty, Gator and Orange bowls. From 2001-03, the Bozeman, Mont., native was the director of strength and conditioning at the University of Utah after working as an assistant from 1999-2000.

Comment by Emel 08.08.14 @ 9:45 pm

Is Pedo State on that list ?

Comment by Emel 08.08.14 @ 9:54 pm

Emel, PITT, Maryland, Cuse, Duke, Wisky.

Comment by pd 08.08.14 @ 10:33 pm

Pitt recruiting may be more difficult in the coming years. Big 5 conferences will most likely be able to give “likeness” money to their respective recruits. Example, Braxton Miller sells signed college football cards to highest bidder. Will make a couple hundred thousand a year in “fees” alone whilst in college. Also, the big programs will give a $5k per year stipend to players, plus they will also be allowed to work which means back to the $40k a year job to turn off lights at the stadiums.

Say goodbye to the MAC conference. They cannot afford this and an improved meal plan and extravagant living corridors and paying for families to travel to away games. It is going to get ugly. The big question is whether Pitt will compete against this. Selling the university and academics has been flushed down the toilet. It is no longer about academics or even the pretense of athletics. This new power given to the big 5 conferences will either make Pitt relevant or a bottom feeder. My initial sense is that it will help recruiting in that Pitt will take three and sometimes four star recruits that want to get paid and all the other benefits, away from the macs and other teams that just can’t afford to pay. This will be an interesting debate.

Can’t wait for a practice update.

Comment by dhuffdaddy 08.08.14 @ 11:08 pm

Oh that’s good pd….cause Coatesville kids seem to matriculate to Creepy Valley a lot.

He’s got 2 Big Joke teams and 3 ACC one’s.

Wisconsin is the odd one in the bunch.

Comment by Emel 08.08.14 @ 11:13 pm

yea I’m leery dhuff,

since Pitt administrators have rarely stepped up in the past to make PITT relevant in major college football. And when they did, it was in short spurts, which has greatly effected our fan base and attendance.

Comment by Emel 08.08.14 @ 11:18 pm

So now college football is (officially) just minor league system for NFL.

Comment by pd 08.08.14 @ 11:53 pm

I have a sad feeling that college FB just widened the gap between the haves and the have-nots, and then the next step will be a further widening of the gap where the top 20% will prosper even further

I have long felt that Pitt and other schools of their ilk already have little probability of a national title as it is …. and the chances will decrease even more

Comment by wbb 08.09.14 @ 6:26 am

Looks like there was a draw on the goal line yesterday.

link to blogs.post-gazette.com

Thomas, Durham and Conner made plays for the D.

Comment by gc 08.09.14 @ 6:37 am

It sure seems like college football as we have known it will soon be gone. I think a lot depends on what sort of rules the Big 5 establish and how well they are enforced. If it becomes a free-for-all with no $ limits, it could get ugly for all but the top 15-20 schools, which incidentally are almost all state-funded institutions.

Comment by Iron Duke 08.09.14 @ 7:26 am

@dhuffdaddy, exactly. Have said this for a couple years. One or two people on occasion would tell me I was exaggerating.

Ha Ha!!! A can of worms has been opened that has not been seen before in college athletics.

Who’s policing?? The Big 5 themselves?? That’s a laugh.

Everyone gets 5K (or whatever number you want to put in there), lmao, sure, sure. Alabama and Texas and Florida State aren’t gonna be winking at the kids and telling them, don’t worry, we got a little extra for you??

The problem is, even though we all know there has been some cheating and pay for play crap in college athletics for years, it still was a big deal when someone got caught cheating.

This will make it so much easier for the media, fans, public to not even care if someone is cheating.

“hey, I heard Auburn gave that RB a car”, “so what, they all do it, besides they’re all getting paid anyhow”.

On an interesting note, I do wonder how the women’s teams, and for that matter the mens teams other than football and basketball are going to look at this and the football and basketball players??

I know, the football and basketball bring the money in.

Tell that to a pack of NOW women.

Comment by Dan 08.09.14 @ 8:19 am

College FB has always been the NFL minor league. Colleges do not own a players selling rights. We better get moving on recruiting front or we will be last in the standings.

Comment by Frank MD 08.09.14 @ 9:06 am

Currently in a working group to draft institutional standards and the discussions are troubling for a college football purist. From a Pitt perspective, the Administration better get its act together quickly or they will be left in the dust.

The mid-majors will see the biggest hit. In order to compete in the revenue producing sports, they will need to cut back on other sports. The dilemma being faced is whether to give the athletes as much as they can, or face unionization. Unionization does not work and would be a runaway train. As such, the institutions want to have some control and as such, will give away the store to prevent the larger harm in their eyes. If you look back about a year, I began referencing the kids as athlete students, not the other way around. When the academic standards are released, it will finally hit home as to what is really happening at our “alleged academic institutions” and it is repulsive to the purist.

Oversight and compliance doesn’t exist right now. The NCAA has no power and they are hoping to hang on in some capacity as a defacto overseer, when in facto, they will continue to be paid by the big 5 conferences and do as they are told (i.e. sit in the corner and watch).

Comment by dhuffdaddy 08.09.14 @ 9:32 am

In a strange way, I agree, it could help Pitt recruiting, and also not hurt the team that badly.

First, Alabama, USC, FSU, Texas and the other top 15 are not really going to see their recruiting classes go up.

THEY ARE UP!! As long as you only have a certain number of players you can have on a team, scholarship, that’s it.

They may fight over some recruits against each other, but they already have all 5′s and 4′s on their rosters.

I’m not particularly happy about this, but like you said Dhuff, the 3′s and an occasional 4 that would suprise people and go to a MAC school (which does certainly happen), and also those kids that would go to Cincinati, UCONN, South Florida, a Mountain West school, Conference USA,

will most likely pass on the reason they may have went to those schools (the coaches, near their hometown, how they were recruited, liked them as a kid, Dad or Mom went their), and certainly be more focused on definitely getting into one of the Big 5 conferences to get paid.

Enormous help, eh, probably not. But the days of seeing a recruit with those “other” schools on their list will probably be over.

The days of the “2″ will probably be coming to an end in the Big 5.

Comment by Dan 08.09.14 @ 11:13 am

Breckterfield is always the subject of question, at best, and derision, at worst. But no one ever remembers that he was Aaron Donald’s defensive line coach for his last two years, when he went from just another defensive tackle to the best in college football at that position. Everyone seems to assume that AD did that all on his own, but I can help but wonder whether Anoke doesn’t deserve at least a little bit of the credit for Donald’s development.

Comment by Nwe York Panther 08.11.14 @ 2:03 am

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