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August 10, 2014

Earlier we discussed the overall feel and looks of the offensive players, staff and program at the first full pads practice.  Now I’ll try to give you my impressions of the defensive side of the ball.

I always think it’s a bit crazy to say “The Xs are ahead of the Ys so far” because in limited time, and watching from ground level, it is hard to make that call so I won’t do that.  What I will do is address the separate units and some specific players’ production and results, and make some opinionated predictions.

Defensive Ends – I paid more attention to the DEs than the interior DL during this practice, mostly because the idea of moving Conner over to fill in any talent gap we may have there is in rampant discussion.  My feeling now is that we might be fine at that position as is because I think we have some really good raw talent there.  Dave Durham is Dave Durham and he’ll be no better this season than last; he has a skill ceiling that has been reached.  But the other DEs we have are looking pretty good and that’s encouraging.

The DE two deep yesterday was as follows:  Soto with rsFR Luke MacLean as his back up on one side with Durham and Blair on the other.  At first glance that isn’t murder’s row.  Durham and Soto, who was 2nd string last year, are returning guys with game experience.  The two we lost from DE last year,  Murphy and Lippert are certainly replaceable by even average players and not to be rude but “see you later”.  Soto has moved over to the right side as a starter and it looks like both Luke MacLean and Rori Blair will get early playing time as the 2nd stringers.

They are both very young and not super rated recruits.  MacLean was a 3* and Blair was a 2*. However, if you look back at a couple of our past DEs who played as freshmen; 2* Greg Romeus and 3* Jabaal Sheard, and watched them play you can see how things could work out now.  Both those veterans excelled as soon as they got to PITT and each progressed to being a star DE here. Here’s a taste of how MacLean played in HS.  Also some Rori Blair highlights,  along with his position coach Palermo on Blair’s recruitment.

Let me say this about FR Rori Blair; make no mistake, the only reason he was listed as a 2* recruit was because of the stroke he had  prior to his senior year in high school.  He’s a 6’3” kid who is a solid 230+ pounds; is bull strong and quick as hell. He was impressive during his reps yesterday and I’ll go out on a limb and say he’ll surpass Devon Cook or anyone else to be Durham’s back-up at some point during the season.  I also wouldn’t be shocked if he even bettered that and started at one point.   He’s one of those players who the chatter about his play will keep getting stronger and stronger the more camp and the season progress.

Luke MacLean made some great plays out there also and he’s another DE youngster, a rsFR who checks in at 6’5” and 260 lbs; a readymade monster waiting to be unleashed! What I noticed about him yesterday was his good strength in forcing his way through blocks on one play, then using technique and speed in beating his Offensive Tackle to apply outside pressure on the QB on another.

3* FR Shane Roy is another kid who had us scrambling around to find his name on the roster after he made some fine plays.  He’s another big kid at 6’4” and 245 pounds and I was impressed with his speed off the ball.  He’ll probably redshirt this year but he’ll be a big part of the defense in the future.  So, I really think we’ll see a lot of PT from MacLean and Blair this season along with rsJR Devon Cook getting equal time in the field also.  I’m not down on Cook, I think he’s played well in spots in the past and he’s a pretty good ballplayer but I’m just very impressed with Blair and MacLean.

rsJR Nick Grigsby was getting reps at both LB and DE so he might be one who the staff feels his experience will help at the DE position.   At 6’1” and 220 he’s undersized for DE though and that might be a problem, especially if the coaches want more muscle at the position, but he’s got the speed and tackling ability to be successful also.  His will be an interesting issue to watch.

Defensive Tackles – in all honestly I couldn’t see the interior line play worth a damn from the sidelines, PITT should really put in a bigger set of bleachers for us to stand on. If anyone says they can tell what’s happening in that scrum out there they are freaking lying; I’m 6’6” and can’t see a thing.  I was going to take my soap box to stand on then realized…

Anyway, rsJR Mosley-Smith, JR Render and 3* rsFR Justin Moody (6’3″/280) all stood out at one time or another.  Mosley-smith had a great play when he shot the gap from his nose tackle position and stood up Conner right after he received the handoff.   As far as I can tell the projected starting DL is Mosley-Smith and Render as 1st string with SO Tyrique Jarrett and Moody as their respective backups looks like that is what the staff wants to field.  I really like Jarrett from these reasons; he went to my almost-alma mater Allderdice and more importantly came to us from the football factory (seriously, that’s its only purpose apparently)  Milford Academy.  Also, he’s 6’3″ and 335 and very strong, a good combo for the Nose Tackle position.

We ain’t going to have Aaron Donald back no matter how many times we click our ruby red slippers but those four have the talent to play well as a unit.  LaQuentin Smith rotated between the 1s and 2s yesterday and made some tackles so I think he’ll be a 2nd string in that unit group, but really all five of those interior guys have talent… again depending on how well they are coached will be the difference maker.

One name to watch is FR Connor Dintino who is 3* 6’4” 290 and came to PITT out of Choate School in Connecticut.  He is a strong young man who looks like a future DL starter and made some pretty impressive pressure plays on the QBs yesterday.  BTW,  Choate is the most prestigious of all private prep schools in the US  and its alumni include President John F. Kennedy, two-time Presidential nominee Adlai Stevenson, playwright Edward Albee, novelist John Dos Passos, philanthropist Paul Mellon, and actors Glenn Close, Michael Douglas, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Paul Giamatti.  Hey, Dintino’s no dumbass if he graduated from that school.  He reminds me of Chas Alecxih for some reason, maybe because he’s big and white.

Linebackers – rsSR Todd Thomas and rsSR Anthony Gonzalez have the outside LB slots wrapped up and both played well yesterday.  They are two players who have progressed with every year of experience they get and I expect them to have good solid senior years.  They are real leaders of the defense and the young kids were talking with them on the sidelines a lot.  I expect to see more Thomas blitzes this year, at least I hope so.

It looks like SO 6’2” 245 Matt Galambos has the inside track at starting MLB and from what I watched yesterday I’m OK with that.   In his true FR year he started two games when Gordon was injured and ended up playing in all 13.  Even then, in limited playing time he racked up 38 tackles, good for 8th on the team.  He’s a good size for the position; seems to have a great instinct on where the play will develop and has a initial quickness that gets him into the right place at the right time.  He has the ability and apparently the work ethic to be a very productive three year starter for us in the important defensive position.

Hometown favorite and slight undersized ( 6’0″/225) underdog rsSO Mike Caprara was backing him up in practice but didn’t really stand out to me, although the chatter is that he’ll see playing time this season.  As all time leading tackler for Woodland Hills he has good instincts and ability and that can sometimes make up for size.  Also we saw a lot of rsSO Bam Bradley yesterday and he’s become a playmaker.  I think he’ll be in the on-deck circle should Galambos go down

Defensive Backs – We had CB L. Pitts  (Lewis as backup) , FS Vinopal (J. Pitts) , SS Webb (Mitchell) and CB Coles (Maddox) as the two deep out there yesterday. All played well but it was hard tell to just how effective they were because the QBs weren’t doing that great.  Either way it looked like they had good pass coverage of the WRs and since they can’t do anything about Boyd catching TD passes anyway I’ll discount that part of their play.  I’m not so sure about their run coverage because in playing touch football it’s hard to tell who makes the better play – offense or defense.

The one thing I’d thought I’d see out of the DBs was The Glorious Leader Matt House’s stated goal of “More pass cover aggressiveness for INTs” but that didn’t happen or I didn’t notice it, probably the former.  There wasn’t any breaking for INTs like we would all like to see since we sucked at turnovers last season.   I’m all for more aggressiveness to create opportunity but with the good comes the bad and if they do that and miss we’ll see big YAC by our opponents.  A risk/reward analysis is necessary and Dr. Tom needs to get on that right away please…( there’ll be  a little extra in your paycheck if done in a timely manner).

One thing about turnovers last season, we didn’t create nearly enough with only nine INTs, hence the new aggressive approach by House.  However, it isn’t like we didn’t create opportunities for turnovers as we forced 22 fumbles by our opponents, a very good amount, unfortunately we only recovered eight of those… way too low.

One great defensive play by a DB was Voytik hitting Parrish on a swing pass and as soon as Parrish caught the ball rsSO Trenton Coles knocked him flat on his ass. Great timing and very aggressive play in run support.

That’s about it and if its lacking it is because I’m always more interested in the offense than the defense when I watch live practices.  I want to add one side note about how important coaching is because I mentioned it in regards to the DL above.  We all drool over how great Tyler’s Boyd’s athleticism is and how effortless he looks out there.  But we fans tend to forget that he never really played WR in HS.  I firmly believe that having Bobby Engram as his WR coach helped Boyd immensely.   Boyd had to learn the intricacies of playing a new position and he had to be taught to do it.  COACHING MATTERS no matter how talented and skilled a player is.

For a bit more info, here are some other verbal notes I took yesterday:

  • NOTE:  The verbal notes were removed by the author.

 





Sorry about the small font of my ‘notes’ section, I can’t make it bigger in WordPress for some reason. If you change your screen in the ‘zoom’ mode to 110% it makes them much easier to read.

Remember – those notes are ‘stream of consciousness’ voice recorded thoughts that either occurred to me or were what I saw and heard.

Enjoy!

Comment by Reed 08.10.14 @ 6:31 am

despite my advanced years, I was able to read the small font (although the first thing I do tomorrow is t make an appointment with the eye Dr.)

Anyway, thanks again for all of the info. As you stated, it is only the first week of camp, so many things can change especially with such a young team.

Nonetheless, there is much to be encouraged about (notice I ended the sentence with a preposition — obviously not a Choate alum)

Comment by wbb 08.10.14 @ 7:24 am

Reed i feel like we should take up a collection and send you up there every friday. Awesome report. Totally made my weekend!

Comment by Atlanta Panther 08.10.14 @ 7:32 am

Reed–thanks for your 2nd nice writeup on your camp observations. I know it is really hard to translate camp play (especially with only partial contact allowed) to how a team will play in the regular season. But, you are doing as good a job as possible at it.

It is fun to speculate on how good the team will be even if we don’t really know how whether our offense is good because our defense is bad or the opposite–or somewhere in between for both units. It is encouraging that the sports writers who have watched Pitt teams in camp over several seasons are optimistic about 8 wins being the likely floor. I hope the team stays healthy and proves them right and then some!

Comment by pitt1972 08.10.14 @ 7:40 am

Take up a collection to buy me more beer and Jack Daniels because I really just sit at my desk at home, drink like a lumberjack and make all this crap up.

Practicing for my first fiction novel.

Comment by Reed 08.10.14 @ 7:41 am

^like

Comment by Atlanta Panther 08.10.14 @ 7:48 am

If the new Chancellor met with the Athletics Dept yesterday it should have been to notify Steve Pederson his time is up. Anxious to see him fired.

Comment by Pittfan 08.10.14 @ 8:04 am

Reed, some title suggestions for your novel

The Catcher in the Bourbon
A Farewell to Script
Not So Great Expectations
The Great Grigsby
Catch – 23
Conner’s Choice

Comment by wbb 08.10.14 @ 8:10 am

Thanks again Reed, for today’s D report from the sidelines. Now that’s an “insiders” impression of where we are with this team after the 1st week of camp.

Nice to see Maclean’s name mentioned favorably finally. The quickness displayed by him will be key to his success. Now when you consider he’s carrying 260 lbs around on that 6’4″ frame of his, then you understand why I’m so high on this kid. He will be a force to be reckoned with once he refines his pass rush technique.

Twice you mentioned Coles being injured. That scares the hell out of me. The only position where the lack of depth is more critical than at QB is at DB now work the loss of Howard already.

Interesting fact that the Panthers have the #1 youngest roster in the nation. This really exposes the fact that playing the young UNTESTED talent on this team is going be a necessary evil to just get through the season. Let’s HOPE that these kids thrust into that fray are up to the task.

This is why our schedule plays so well into a potential successful campaign for Pitt this season. Early cupcakes to help indoctrinate the new help before the hill gets much steeper in the second half of the season. By then, they’ll be more battle tested.

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.10.14 @ 8:13 am

Dr. T – I’m not sure we have a lot of cupcakes early on.

BC had the same record we did last year and had a very good running game to back it up. It’s good they lost their superstar RB but I don’t see them as a pushover by any means.

Iowa was 8-5 and ended their season with two wins over Michigan and Nebraska, teams that did well in 2013. I wouldn’t be surprised if both those teams gave a real tough time.

Delaware FIU and Akron should be W’s but I’d love to open with those three teams and have BC & Iowa come in as our 4th and 5th games. To have such a young team playing BC in its second game, especially for our QB, is worrisome.

Comment by Reed 08.10.14 @ 8:38 am

@wbb—It will a followup to his non-fiction book about the Steelers—”Reed My Lipps”

Thanks, Reed. I am psyched. Heading to the grocery store for more Kool Aid.

H2P

Comment by pmdH2P 08.10.14 @ 8:39 am

Yes, the BC game is pivitol for the Panthers. A win there builds early confidence. A loss, on national TV no less, will get guys like Upittbaseball reappearing out of thin air all of a sudden to assert “the same old Pitt” dogma, once misfortune strikes the Panthers. But come on Reed, if we’re not at least 4-2 by mid season then “the same old Pitt” label will be valid since it would mean that we’ve lost at least one game to a team that we should have beat. Delaware, FIU & Akron are “cupcakes” PERIOD! Losing to Virginia would be a bad omen going up against VT next and would have to be viewed as a letdown loss if it occurred. So an early season warm up for the new guys that results in a 4-2 record would have to be viewed as valuable learning experience for this squad as a whole without having to pay the price for the education.

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.10.14 @ 9:09 am

Dr T – I just took a good look at the schedule for an upcoming “Predictions” article I just drafted (for tomorrow) and agree that we should be at least 4-2 and 5-1 could easily happen also. This team can be good enough to win at least one of the BC/Iowa games, but they won’t be easy wins.

It is the second half of the season that worries me.

Comment by Reed 08.10.14 @ 9:36 am

In the recruiting wars, it’s 1968 in the Pitt-Penn Shttp://triblive.com/sports/college/pennstate/6585769-74/state-reid-penn#axzz3A09MOJCotate rivalry.

The Nits are kicking our butts, and it isn’t even close. Quick, someone give Chryst Jet Alert. He’s asleep.

Comment by TonyinHouston 08.10.14 @ 10:00 am

Great read Reed!!!! Thank you for your time and effort!!! Greatly appreciated. H2P.

Comment by DC33 08.10.14 @ 10:01 am

a few more title suggestions:

How Green Is My Roster (about current team)
A Few Good Men (about the recent defensive recruiting)

and against my better judgment -

A Farewell to Arms (The Tino Years)

Comment by wbb 08.10.14 @ 10:23 am

Glad Upittbaseball has taken a pause in his posting, cause I’m sure one of his suggested book titles would include the movie title, Dumb & Dumber.

TonyinHouston, you speak the truth, we’re getting spanked in the recruiting department, and not just by ped state, although that stings the most. That is exactly why THIS season must be successful. It’s time for Chryst to show his results on the field. Otherwise he is almost always going to be overshadowed by the puffed up high energy car salesman types like Franklin.

The aw shucks persona that is Coach Chryst’s style, right now, has little substance to serve as validation that what he has to offer is legit. No doubt about it, most of the blue chippers that he has offered aren’t buying his product up to this point and if that doesn’t change real soon the Panthers will be playing catch up for years to come.

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.10.14 @ 11:09 am

Thanks Reed, great stuff. Blair must be something special to pass up Cook so soon, just based on experience.

Sounds like Chas and others concern about strength and conditioning need reconsidered, lot of comments about how big and fast they look (without fat).

We will see how they stack up vs. BC.

Glad to hear that D-End may not be as dire as I think. Again, we will see soon enough.

Comment by gc 08.10.14 @ 11:24 am

All the more reason for HCPC to do everything in his power to get the few remaining 4 stars out there that have Pitt on their list, like Jordan Whitehead from Monaca, to commit to the Panthers. This hometown boy could be playing during his Freshman year at a position of need in 2015 for Pitt, but who wants to waste a promising career at a school that is mired in mediocrity, especially when he has offers from the likes of Ohio State, Notre Dame, etc.?

Chryst needs to prove it on the field, just like he is asking of his troops, otherwise just like Foster before him, Whitehead makes the decision to be buried on the depth chart for a year or two at one of the elite schools that have offered him also.

The recruiting has to start getting better for Pitt, there is no argument that can be made that if we’re ever going to aspire to the next level that our current recruiting record is adequate to do so, none.

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.10.14 @ 11:26 am

I’m thrilled to hear positive things about Maclean and blair. I really liked both of them as recruits but was obviously concerned about blair because he had missed so much football due to his stroke. Both of them had a reputation for being pass rushers and since it sounds like they are moving up the ranks, that bodes well for pitt this season.

I am also terrified to keep reading about coles getting banged up. I really dont understand why hes still only 175 pounds.. how hard is it really to eat more? granted, im a bottomless pitt but it still baffles me.

Comment by shady1 08.10.14 @ 11:31 am

Need a recruiting hook.

Howsabout “Play for Pitt, play for pay.”

Comment by steve1 08.10.14 @ 11:37 am

Don’t need to open the paper today, thanks Reed.

Comment by alcofan 08.10.14 @ 11:50 am

Reed,

Appreciate your observations – especially your take on the DE situation. So glad to hear it may not be as gloomy as we had thought. Surprised that Rori Blair is coming on so fast – especially given what he went thru.

I have been talking up freshman DT Conner Dintino – this kid has a quick first step. Glad to hear you liked what you saw of him.

Keep up the good work.

Go Pitt.

Comment by MajorMajors 08.10.14 @ 11:58 am

Reed,

No pics of the blond?

Go Pitt.

Comment by MajorMajors 08.10.14 @ 12:00 pm

Guys – let me remind everyone that these are my observations and opinions. I wasn’t counting who got how many snaps with the 1s or 2s or who was playing in place of whom. Basically I’m relating what I have mostly seen and in some cases, heard about the players and the program.

Cook may still be very well ahead of Blair and MacLean at this point and that would make sense as he’s the guy with the game experience. However, my take on those two kids are that they looked pretty impressive to me and I could see them moving up the depth chart given a shot.

Same with Jennings and James. Right now neither of those two kids are taking regular two-deep snaps – at this point those are reserved for Conners, Bennett and Ibrahim at RB and Garner, Jones and Boyd at WR. That said, we have seen kids get a bit of playing time and then be hard to keep off the field. IMO James, Jennings, Amara, Blair, MacLean and Reggie Mitchell are the types of talents who will get playing time and maybe supplant some other established kids.

Remember – I’m one guy who has very limited access to practices and the inside scoops and I could be way off base with my thoughts… but based on how Chryst likes to play FR and SOs I think we’ll see some new faces out there.

Comment by Reed 08.10.14 @ 1:54 pm

Really enjoyed the post Reed including your notes! I feel better about the defense. I have been doing some opponent reading and while we can take no one lightly, I think Iowa will be the early season gut check!
UVA comments- Loosing their TE to Florida has really hurt the Cavs because even if they fix their QB problem (Greyson Lambert is new starter) they are thin at playmakers catching the ball. Their OL will have trouble replacing Moses and Bowanko who went to the NFL and the returnees are a mixed bag of no names. The countdown to London’s firing begins with UCLA’s visit as the Cav’s have the 2nd toughest schedule in the nation (reportedly Razorbacks have #1 schedule! Hail to Pitt! UPone

Comment by UPone 08.10.14 @ 2:03 pm

Regarding Chryst’s recruiting. I think he’s been following the Wisconsin model pretty closely and that is this:

He concentrates on the best individual position skill players he can get on offense and landing “big” recruits like Boyd, Voytik, Shell, Chapman, James, Weah, Jennings, etc… seem to fit this pattern. He’s signed very highly rated recruits on that side of the ball.

I then thinks he looks at defense as much more of a “team effort” and concentrates on defensive recruits who specifically fit into his defensive planning and systems.

I’ve actually thought this for some time.

Personally, I think he’s recruited some defensive players who we fans are going to be very happy he recruited during this year and in the near future. To me some have the makings of stardom and I discussed them above. If I had to choose one defensive player to do break out from this year’s starting D I’d say it would Matt Galambos. Some would think this is a reach but I wouldn’t be surprised a bit if he ended up much like McKillop did at PITT.

McKillop started in his rsJR year and blew up; Galambos got serious playing time as a true FR and is starting MLB in his SO year and as a SO is already bigger than McKillop was as a SR. I dare say he’s faster than McKillop was also.

Will he be another Scott McKillop? Perhaps but he’s the type of kid that could do it and I think he just might.

I also look at Shakir Soto and see that he could blow up also, as could Trenton Coles. Let’s remember that Ray Vinopal was everybody’s whipping boy two years ago and now he’s the star of the DBs.

Anyway, that’s how I see Chryst’s approach to recruiting shaping up so far, I’m sure he’d like more blue chip kids on defense as any HC would, but lets revisit this at the end of 2014 and see how most of the players who are HIS recruits do now that they in the 2014 two-deep.

Comment by Reed 08.10.14 @ 2:18 pm

Thanks Reed, well articulated. With respect to the early schedule, I do not fear the BC game because they lost alot of offense, which should help our defense. Iowa is winnable, but will be a more difficult task.

Whitehead going to Ohio State is not a good move for Whitehead. He will struggle to see the field until his junior year at least. It is not a good idea to get lost on a depth chart and if you are not from ohio, Urban thinks you are second class. Read his quotes. All he ever says is we want to make Ohio proud. He is from Ohio and prefers ohio players over all others.

Comment by dhuffdaddy 08.10.14 @ 2:34 pm

Reed, thats a very interesting take on chrysts recruiting and one that i havent heard before. It makes sense, really. I like what i see/hear about most of the defensive recruits, even the ones that havent played or arent even at pitt yet. The corners he gets have great speed, even if they are a bit smallish. The safeties and outside linebackers have good size and are very athletic, the middle backers are very smart kids and seem like potential leaders. The defensive ends are hard to judge, because with guys leaving/getting injured theres such a hodge podge of different shapes, sizes, and skills. The defensive tackles are all BIG and brutally strong. He clearly has a picture of what he wants every position to look like and hes not afraid to gamble on a guy or two that nobody else wants. The thing is that all of the recruits chryst has brought in so far, whether they have played or not all look the part. From what ive read they are bigger and faster than what were used to, which we will need even more of if we are to improve.

Comment by shady1 08.10.14 @ 2:41 pm

On a roll

“No living on a pittance if you commit to Pitt”

Comment by steve1 08.10.14 @ 3:47 pm

“PITT and the Pendulum”

link to pittandpendulum.blogspot.com

“How to Cure a Fanatic”

link to press.princeton.edu

“Santa Claus: The Spirit of Christmas” by Todd Graham

link to amazon.com

Comment by Reed 08.10.14 @ 5:25 pm

Reed thanks for these camp reports. Good news concerning Maclean, that’s the first thing I have read about him in 2 years. Your not off base with Blair, I am reading the same thing. I think Peak tweeted when he committed Pitt staff had him rated 3rd overall in the WPIAL,before his stroke.

Comment by pd 08.10.14 @ 5:53 pm

Excellent report, Reed. Your opinions may just be your opinions but they are usually very good. Indo think 8-4 is a strong possibility but if I was betting I would say 7-5 with at least 1-2 usual Pitt style losses that could, shoulda, woulda.

But I really like where we stand for next year. Not a lot of graduations and a lot of depth and experience coming back on both sides of the ball. I think the program is headed in the right direction and Chryst is building a solid foundation for the future. Now we just need to show it on the field.

Comment by Bowling Green Panther 08.10.14 @ 6:30 pm

“How the Grinch Stole Christmas” starring Fraud Graham

Comment by dinosaur 71 08.10.14 @ 6:59 pm

dhuffdaddy,

Just a caution that while BC lost good players to graduation, I read somewhere that BC has brought in some rent-a-senior type players. A couple of them transferred from Florida. One is a QB who is supposed to have some wheels.

Anyway, BC might not be the pushover some are expecting. Hopefully their new guys don’t have it together early in the season.

Go Pitt.

Comment by MajorMajors 08.10.14 @ 9:09 pm

Guys, please. I have to put up with seeing Fraud Graham’s face every day in the AZ Republic. Let’s keep the blog free of that dirt bag’s name. PBlat is my only solace!

Comment by CNorwoodAZ 08.10.14 @ 10:14 pm

Reed, Thanks for the reports.

The team this year and the team 40 years ago (Majors year 2) are/were very young. My guess is we will see the same kind of up and down season we saw then. They finished 7-4 with unexpectedly poor games against NC a loss and the blow out loss to Pedo State at home after a tough game on the road at ND. They also had some close games against lesser competition like Navy and excellent wins against FS and WVU. Young teams with developing talent are unpredictable but fun when they are on.

Comment by 9-2,8-4,11-1,11-1,11-1 08.10.14 @ 11:37 pm

Reading the papers this morning makes you really appreciate Reed’s efforts even more. The papers just summarize everything we already know. Reed’s report plus his opinion are much more interesting and nuanced than the fluff people are getting paid for. thanks again to Reed and Chas for making this available and thanks to fellow blatherers for participating in the discussion.

I hope they are only taking a long hiatus but I fear the worse for long time contributors Spirit of Section 22 and especially FrankCan who most definitely would be colorfully lamenting our recruiting woes on a daily basis.

Looks like we will miss the back and forth with these guys this season.

Know that he is coming back from injury but Reed makes it sound like Bennett is a forgotten man, I think if he recovers he will gain a lot more yards behind an improved offensive line.

Rereading Reed’s notes this morning gives a lot of concern for Cole’s durability, I hope the youngster’s are ready.

Comment by gc 08.11.14 @ 7:46 am

If you have 15 minutes and you want to get psyched about Pitt football, watch this video interview highlighting the football life of one of the stars of the Panthers, from years past. The most heralded play of his career sealed one of Pitt’s best wins in history. This interview epitomizes the fact that college football involves so much more than just the wins and loses that the team produces. The experience shapes young men’s lives and that opportunity to participate in such an experience ends up meaning more to those participants, as they age, than just playing football, alone.

Idealistic impressions about the true benefit playing college sports? Maybe, but after watching this video, you tell me whether Coach Chryst understands the larger responsibility he has to these student athletes that he has under his wings. I for one, thinks he totally gets it being the son of a coach, himself.

I’m glad that we have this guy, who self professes to bleed blue & gold, now on the coaching staff for the Panthers.

Hail to Pitt!

link to pittsburgh.scout.com

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.11.14 @ 8:09 am

gc – the timing of publishing articles like the last two I did is tricky. First off, I don’t get home from PGH until about 6:00 pm. That is when the local newspaper reporters and local message board writers have already finished their pieces and have probably already published them on the web.

I start writing as soon as I get home and stay at it until around 11:00 pm (for a long article) because I want to publish the Blather article ASAP so you have it first thing in the morning if possible. Also, I proofread and edit many times because I want you guys to get the best I can give.

One other point is that I’ve been averaging about 2500 words in each of my last four posts which is a huge amount more than the typical newspaper or message board, or even other blogs, and that takes time to put together.

Many times after I publish the piece I look at the other PITT media writer’s stuff and see that some of it mirrors mine. However, let me assure you that my writing is done totally independant of anyone else’s but just by the nature of my writing process it shows up on the web after theirs does.

Another consideration is that I don’t want to step on Chas’ posts and you guy’s comments in response to it. I think the best thing about The Blather is the comments discussion that arises from our writing. It is usually very much fun and interesting and is what differentiates a blog from a magazine article where there is no feedback. But human nature being what it is the reader’s attention is drawn away by the last post published.

So – thanks for the compliment and I’ve got another few posts drafted which I’ll publish soon. I really have enjoyed getting back in the writing mode on here.

Comment by Reed 08.11.14 @ 9:16 am

I echo all the praise and appreciation for Chas and Reed. You guys are awesome!

Comment by JAM05PITT 08.11.14 @ 9:38 am

Thanks again Reed. We have been bemoaning the efforts of the media in relation to Pitt coverage for a long time. It just seems that a professional writer should do more than regurgitate the interviews of players and staff two days later.

It seems awfully lazy and makes you wonder what else they do to earn their paychecks. In one visit to the sidelines you have given us much more incite, detail and opinion on what is happening and may happen. It seems the only opinion expressed by the media in this town is when something negative happens like the Shell affair etc. Even the talk shows who benefit from broadcasting Pitt Sports have little real reporting and go mostly for controversy. Chris Peak’s show is one of the few that share any details, but even his message seems very controlled. I think part of it is that Pitt desperately tries to control the message, which is understandable, but frustrating.

I suppose I should cough up for one of the pay sites and maybe after I cancel my PG subscription, I will be able to afford it.

Anyway thanks for your work, it is greatly appreciated. I also enjoy sparring with you when we don’t exactly share opinions, which isn’t often.

I am hoping for an exciting and entertaining season. I think because we are so young and thin in spots we may not achieve expectations but there should be a lot of good play. I expect mostly hard fought, very competitive games. I hope our fans show up because it could make a difference.

Comment by gc 08.11.14 @ 12:05 pm

I’ll tell you guys what is a big difference between being a blog writer and a more mainstream sports writer… we can afford to be more opinionated and even negative because our livelihood doesn’t revolve around access to the team. Sure, it makes it better to be able to attend practices, etc.. but Chas and I can write many posts without that.

Mainstream writers have to (somewhat) walk on eggshells and stay on PITT’s good side although from my conversations with them it isn’t as bad with PITT as it could be. Our SID department does a great job not only allowing access but actually reaching out to get people involved.

After I starting writing for The Blather EJ Borghetti, who I didn’t know at the time, called me at home specifically to give me press credentials so that I could really understand what I’m trying to write about – with no strings attached at all. If you all recall I can be pretty opinionated about certain subjects and not all shine a positive light on PITT’s football team or Athletic Dept. I think that is because I respect one on one personal & private conversations and keep those to myself when the info shouldn’t be shared to the public for whatever reason – usually along the lines of student privacy issues.

That was why I was a bit upset when I didn’t get my point across well enough with those “Suspension Requirements” posts and it sounded like I thought Howard had tested positive – especially because I had no idea if he did or didn’t. I also only posted that it was academics after I verified that and after his coach mentioned it in an interview.

I really like Chris Peake’s work and read it all the time. I also ask him a million questions because I trust his take on things. But I’ll disagree about PITT trying to ‘control’ the message, I’ve neither seen nor heard of that happening anymore than the regular super-positive propaganda any school puts out.

Comment by Reed 08.11.14 @ 12:55 pm

BTW Reed, after reading your post above detailing your process and in light of the product produced by you as a result of that process, I seriously question your previously posted self assessment which stated that your just too LAZY to put forth the effort to do this task fully. Either you have a very high self expectation level to reach 100% in your own mind or else you have a misinformed definition of lazy.

In either case, if the guys who are the paid sports beat reporters put half the time in to the process as you do it would improve their reporting of Pitt athletic news coverage emmensely.

Sir, my hat is off to you.

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.11.14 @ 1:13 pm

I have heard only good things about EJ and maybe it was a little harsh to say they are trying to control the message. But you are able to describe what you see individual players do at practice, good or bad. I see no such effort from the writers and I wonder why. It seems to me that a journalist should do more than summarize an interview. Again this is why I appreciate your efforts. Obviously, I am a Pitt fanatic and want to know if Luke Maclean is holding his own against the O-line and whether a third string guy is making progress not just the coach speak or what the well-coached phrases are that the players are saying.

Maybe they have to walk on eggshells with the Steelers but I don’t see where the Pitt Media conglomerate would be anything to fear. If anything Pitt should be trying to drum up any interest. What is the saying about there being no such thing as bad publicity?

I just think the writers are lazy and I’m tired of PSU getting equal or better billing in this town.

Comment by gc 08.11.14 @ 2:32 pm

cg – one thing to remember also is that the guys who get paid to do this have ‘word count’ (which is also actual space in a printed newspaper) limitations imposed on them by the company paying them.

It is easy for me to put up 3000+ words because Chas won’t even buy me a drink in compensation, but if you are paid by the word the bosses are going to want shorter articles and maybe two or three smaller articles on different issues rather than a big run-on article like I do.

Comment by Reed 08.11.14 @ 4:52 pm

• The Chancellor had a meeting yesterday with some of the Athletic Dept. leaders and apparently he is very interested in having sports be an integral part of the University’s life.

Let us hope Reed, let us hope…yet not in the face of maintaining a well-balanced academic learning institution but of course. I would hope ACC $ can be utilized efficiently enough to do better. There’s been some good things, yet plenty of room for growth. Strive for excellence!

People can criticize defensive recruiting all they want but Blair is going to be a beast. An ABSOLUTE BEAST! I’m predicting big things for him at Pitt. He has the unique perspective on life that can create a focus to rise to higher levels. When he reveals and proves drive and work ethic through time…watch out.

Similarly high on recent D recruits Soto, MacLean, Davis, Amara, and Howe. I have a feeling Folston Jr. and Henderson will be steals. Tyrique Jarrett is my sleeper pick for future elite run stuffer…and yes, Conner will be making some splashes on D.

As for Connor, kinda feel bad for the other teams that he will playing both ways. He has that thump to his collisions, and he has an instinct for doling out punishment. Think about that for a second. Lucky to have him.

Whitehead is not a done deal to OSu like many think. Pitt could be it with a fortuitous season. Let’s say 8-4 or better. It would do a lot for Pitt if he decided to stay home and play ball, and Pitt would do a lot for him.

Good musings and work on the post Reed. Sounding more like
A Fan’s Notes. Enjoyed the book references everyone.

Feeling real good about Pitt and the Chryst years ahead.
Still some bumps to be had
takes some turbulence to get anywhere worth going
Turning the corner optimism…H2P

Comment by Gordo 08.11.14 @ 6:00 pm

Can’t forget Maddox…big fan of Avonte. Blazing and Bright

Comment by Gordo 08.11.14 @ 6:07 pm

Gordo – that ACC money has already expanded the PITT player’s weight room by 1500 sq ft and that is one of the bigger recruiting tools universities have – how good their facilities are.

Locker rooms, lounges, etc. are all nice to have but a world-class weight room translates directly into the kid’s ability to get bigger and stronger while he’s at PITT – which makes his chances to be a starter and draftable all the better. If he’s enjoying working out he’ll do it on his own more often and with this size area the staff can get more kids lifting together.

That ACC money also went into increasing the recruiting budget and allowed the staff to get farther out on the road to do their work. Here’s an article on it: link to post-gazette.com

But let’s remember football doesn’t get all that extra money – it is spread around to all the men’s and women’s conference sports.

Comment by Reed 08.11.14 @ 10:02 pm

Sit back and enjoy the facilities

link to youtube.com

Comment by Gordo 08.12.14 @ 12:19 am

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