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August 11, 2014

To start, and because you are already bored at work, here is a good piece from the NCAA website onFR Chris James’ introduction to college football and how he’s approaching it.  Watch the video on that page also, its a fun look at the freshman.  Pay attention to LB Brian Popp and DL Connor Dintino and tell me they don’t look like football players.

A little ‘look behind the scenes’ at some rules that are pertinent this time of the season…

Even though readers of The PITT Blather are already the most intelligent college football fans there is always something else to learn.  I was wondering the other day about exactly how a university’s athletic department and football staff strike a balance between what is required by the NCAA and how to best make use of the limited allowed time they can use to impose football preparations onto the players.

It is almost like rocket science when you look at everything that has to take place to maintain the athletic and academic career of the student-athlete.  But, to me, it is something that has to be formalized to ensure college football doesn’t lose its basic traditions.  Here is an basic overview of the rules.

If you are interested in the minutia of the NCAA regulations regarding what is required and allowed for college football programs this website explains it well.  You’ll have a headache after reading it.

Here is a nice companion piece for those of us who wonder what really goes on with the players between the football seasons, this is a great article written by a guy who was an All-SEC tight end.  It’s informative and entertaining.

The basic offseason calendar

December/January: Season ends
January, February: Winter conditioning, spring classes
March, April: Spring camp, finals
May-July: Summer workouts, summer classes
Early August: Fall camp, fall classes start
August-December/January: Season and fall semester

I’ve attached the remaining PITT practice schedule for your info.  Looking back over the whole fall schedule I noticed something interesting.  Out of the NCAA allowed 24 practice sessions Paul Chryst has closed a total of eight from the guests and the media.  I believe that is more closed practices than we’ve had in the past.


Monday, August 11

Practice 1: 10:15 a.m.-12:45 p.m.    Practice 2: Closed

Tuesday, August 12 (scrimmage)
Practice: 10:15 a.m.-12:45 p.m.

Wednesday, August 13
Practice 1: 10:15 a.m.-12:45 p.m.    Practice 2: Closed

Thursday, August 14
Practice: 10:15 a.m.-12:45 p.m.

Friday, August 15
Practice 1: 10:15 a.m.-12:45 p.m.    Practice 2: Closed

Saturday, August 16 (scrimmage)

Practice: 11:15 a.m.-1:45 p.m.

Sunday, August 17 
Practice closed.

Monday, August 18
Practice 1: 10:15 a.m.-12:45 p.m.    Practice 2: Closed

Tuesday, August 19 (scrimmage)

Practice: 10:15 a.m.-12:45 p.m.

Wednesday, August 20
Practice 1:
 10:15 a.m.-12:45 p.m.    Practice 2: Closed

Thursday, August 21 
Practice: 10:15 a.m.-12:45 p.m.

Friday, August 22
Pitt Football Kickoff Luncheon (Heinz Field): 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.

Pitt Football Fan Fest (Heinz Field): 6-8 p.m.

So, can you say “Tyler Boyd is getting a ton of special plays this season”?  Here is a hint, think back to 2007 when we used LeSean McCoy in multiple ways and project that onto Boyd in 2014.  Yeah, we just might see the “Untamed Puma Concolor” again this season.  Not every closed practice is held just for special plays.  That is also the time when the staff institutes their offensive playbook which may run up to 100 basic plays, sometime with hundreds of variations on those basic plays (the link shows but one play and its variations).

What we’ve seen out of Chryst and OC Joe Rudolph in the last two has been a pretty pared down playbook that relies more on execution than in trickery as some other HCs do.  That was before they had a full season of watching Boyd do his thing though.  Anyway, I wouldn’t go to the men’s room anytime PITT has the ball this season even for a quick pee as you might miss a great play if you do.

For all you dedicated D1 football freaks here is a ‘download’ you need to carry with you next time you meet up with your buddies for beers and debates about your favorite subject…

Just for fun, here is the 2014-15 NCAA DIVISION I COACHES (RECRUITING) CERTIFICATION TEST to allow D1 football staff members to bamboozle high school players to go to their university.

Quick question for you readers:

Would you rather links open in a separate page of just automatically go in place of the article like they do here?

I can do it either way. Thanks

Also, It bugs me that people call the training camp “fall training camp” when the entirety of camp is done within the summer months. But as a matter of tradition I’ll start calling it ‘fall camp’ also.

Comment by Reed 08.11.14 @ 8:48 am

Links should always open a new tab. Otherwise you lose where you are in the article from where you clicked the link. I always end up right-clicking and selecting “open link in new tab” to avoid this.

Thanks for all the info these last few days.

Comment by kanyon40 08.11.14 @ 10:22 am

Will do – thanks

Comment by Reed 08.11.14 @ 10:32 am

Keep as is

Comment by Frank MD 08.11.14 @ 10:41 am

Reed… Thanks for bringing a REALITY CHECK to a few areas of ongoing debate.

Comment by PittofDreams 08.11.14 @ 10:51 am

Interesting to see what comes out of tomorrow’s FIRST scrimmage.

Understand there has been some hitting going on. But scrimmages USUALLY prove to be the BIG SEPARATOR in judging how Players are actually stacking up.

Comment by PittofDreams 08.11.14 @ 11:05 am

I say “usually” because, as we all remember… there was a certain Quarterback not too long ago who always seem to draw rave reviews from practice where the schemes and the Players were both familiar… unlike REAL GAMES.

Comment by PittofDreams 08.11.14 @ 11:05 am

By the way, in case you missed it… Tom Savage picking up in Houston right where he left off.

Three series in the Fourth Quarter… TWO SACKS. One for a SAFETY.

Granted it was a BLOWN BLOCKING ASSIGNMENT on at least one of them… but again… WHY TOM?

It’s his tendency to be a big OBLIVIOUS to the Pass Rush while staring down field waiting for a Receiver to come open.

A little BETTER ANTICIPATION of where a rush might be coming from prior to snap might also help.

Hoping for Savage to succeed, but it’s going to be real difficult for Tom to ever be anything but a Strong-Armed Backup.

Comment by PittofDreams 08.11.14 @ 11:13 am

Brian Popp was a walk on gift, best player of ten or so guys that I saw on film that walked-on.

Comment by pd 08.11.14 @ 11:22 am

As I said prior to draft… Houston will regret not having the courage to stand up to Public Scrutiny and DOUBLE DOWN by picking another Carr.

A VERY GOOD BET that one of the Carrs will live up to expectations. And it looks like Oakland is going to be the beneficiary.

Comment by PittofDreams 08.11.14 @ 11:26 am

Anderson will be the starting QB and lead Pitt. Voytik has 1 half of football against a MAC Team. Dont be surprised when Trey outplays him. He takes us to 7 wins. I just feel it is going to happen.

Comment by Upittbaseball 08.11.14 @ 12:20 pm

93.7 reporting Todd Thomas injured his knee.

No severity mentioned.

Comment by Dan 08.11.14 @ 12:42 pm

Savage got sacked on the way to the game, it was the traffic lights fault it just wouldn’t turn green.

UPitt I’m hopeful Voytik turns into a gameday QB been a long time since we’ve had one of those

Comment by Steve h 08.11.14 @ 12:45 pm

Upitt – sorry, but dumb comments.

Steve H – It’s a bit early to judge him at the next level yet, but I suspect you’re right. The rub on Savage has always been ‘decision making’, and that would be my concern if I’m Houston.

Comment by 1618mt 08.11.14 @ 12:53 pm

Upitt have you been reading any of the reviews from camp? There is zero chance Anderson sees the field for the next two years unless Voytik gets hurt or it’s garbage time. Voytik is out performing Trey already and he has a year’s less experience.

Comment by PittHW 08.11.14 @ 1:00 pm

1618mt, being benched at Rutgers, can’t play in Arizona’s system and watching all the mistakes and sacks he took last year, I would say the jury has been out on Savage for a long time. There are a lot o 6’5” guys with a big arm that can’t play QB, he fits in that category.

Comment by Steve h 08.11.14 @ 1:09 pm

The game is too fast for Savage.

Comment by Nick 08.11.14 @ 1:11 pm

HCPC quoted on TT knee “it got dinged a little bit”.

I suppose that’s good?

Comment by Dan 08.11.14 @ 1:25 pm

@ Dan, did this Todd Thomas injury occur today? Please have it be nothing but an ice pack needed and a couple days rest. We need “the old man” of the team on the field for every defensive play this season.

And not only for his play making ability, this guy has grown up to become one of the senior leaders of this team. Pitt can ill afford to lose such a key defensive player this season.

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.11.14 @ 1:27 pm

Do you folks bashing Savage really think you know more about quarterbacks than Bill O’Brien? That is comical.

Comment by notrocketscience 08.11.14 @ 1:44 pm

I see Upitt picked up right where he left off

Warner tweeted that the Thomas injury is not supposed to be serious. He stood arund and watch the rest of the practice on the sideline.

Comment by wbb 08.11.14 @ 1:47 pm

My buddy Upitt is allowed to have an opinion and he should feel welcome to express it. I wish that he did not always present the case for the “dark side.” The best way for us to get him to change is for our team to prove him wrong—which I think they will.


Comment by pmdH2P 08.11.14 @ 1:53 pm

Come on guys, do you NOT think that half of Upittbaseball’s motivation for posting in the first place is to simply stir the pot and create controversy, even when none truly exists?

His posts do serve a function though, total posts go up when he spouts his opinions. He does have some truth to his thoughts though. I agree that Anderson might have the ability to impress, if and/or when he is called upon this season, now that he’s all grown up and healed from his tendonitis in his throwing hand.

Just realize that Upittbaseball’s posts should be viewed analogous to living with a hemorrhoid, you really only pay attention to it when it’s irritating you. Don’t let it irritate you, therefore.

Glad to have you back Upitt, now where did I put that Preparation H tube?

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.11.14 @ 2:09 pm

FRANKCAN should have been chipping in by now, even if he took the summer off.

Don’t have a good feeling. Would love to hear from ya FRANKCAN!

Comment by Dan 08.11.14 @ 2:16 pm

I do agree that Savage is weak regarding pocket presence and slow in decision making. Still no reason to bash him. Hope he gets better.

Not sure why UPitt is hating on Voytik. Time will tell if he’s got it like that. Glad that Trey is still here and that if needed he does the job.

Comment by gc 08.11.14 @ 2:38 pm

here is what appears to be an up-to-date view of the practice facility

link to

Comment by wbb 08.11.14 @ 2:47 pm

Here’s a link to today’s post-practice interview with Rori Blair.

link to

He said that the coaches told him that he would definitely be in the rotation this year. From what I have been reading he has been impressive in this first week of camp… and if youll watch the interview he certainly doesn’t lack self-confidence.

Comment by shady1 08.11.14 @ 3:02 pm

UPitts comments are welcome, but I’m not sure it is the question that is posed or the answers, but it is a real downer to see arguments that eventually turn into attacks on one player or another. Can’t we pull for both QB’s?? Over the course of the season we need em all.

None of us are at practices. You have to trust the coaches. Over the course of time if they play the wrong people, then that is the coaches fault, not the players. But we are not at practice. Hopefully I get to see both QB’s and they will both do great!!

Not understanding how at the college level kids who choose PITT are criticized and run down. Don’t think they don’t read this stuff either.

We aren’t at practice and even watching the games have no idea what is being coached. Coaches might be saying “throw it away”, “take he sack” “tuck at and run”. And we’ve all had some morons along the way, least I did.

At this juncture, it’s like spring training for baseball, spring should be hope eternal, we’re all one team, haven’t lost yet, so let’s get behind them all.

Comment by PittMan 08.11.14 @ 3:21 pm

PittMan – Agree with your sentiment, but seldom are comments too critical, and when they are they should be called out. It should be about discussing relevant strengths & weaknesses without making it personal. I think MOST do that.

And speaking of qb’s, would love to hear about how Bertke looks.

Comment by 1618mt 08.11.14 @ 3:48 pm

to add to random information:
Reed, thanks for all your detail, great job!
Agree with notrocketscience, Bill O’Brien must have seen potential and coachability with Tom Savage.
On Savage, IMHO, feel he needs two improvements:
1. He did a lot of film work, but still needs more on-field coaching on reading defenses.
2. He seemed to get overly cautious after those early interceptions last season and held onto the ball longer. From then on, it seemed like he would usually release the ball only after the receiver was definitely open, not while the receiver was in his break. He needs more work on getting the ball off quicker.
If he can improve those two facets of his game, his strong arm and accuracy should stand him in good stead with the Texans.
On Chris James: Chris James and 2016 commit Sekai Lindsay could be the next Trung Canidate-type breakaway backs for the Panthers.

Comment by mizzoupitt 08.11.14 @ 3:56 pm

Corection on Lindsay: 2015 commit

Comment by mizzoupitt 08.11.14 @ 3:58 pm

He looks tall

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.11.14 @ 4:23 pm

Re: Rori Blair – one thing to remember and I should have mentioned it is that he enrolled early and attended spring practices. That is a big deal for a true FR to do and it gives him an edge to work with the more senior DL during the summer.

That alone allows him the playbook and help in understanding it, get a semester under his belt so that he isn’t bowled over by the difference between HS and college academics.

About Upitt’s prediction about Anderson… that is a bit much. Voytik will be the starter but don’t think that the staff won’t use Anderson if Voytik needs the hook at any time because of poor play. There truly isn’t that much of a talent gap between the two, regardless of recruiting stars and what fans want to believe. Anderson is just as good running the ball and is faster than Voytik.

They have both had about equal success with their reps in camp with Voytik having a slight edge maybe. One thing to understand though is that Anderson is way more comfortable and decisive out there at QB now than Voytik is. This is what the staff is hoping will change with 14 more practices and the Delaware game.

As I said in this post – both QBs have had good days and bad days and at times both have looked pretty crappy. I truly believe that one big factor in going with Voytik is that Chryst can have a three year starter if Voytik can play at this level.

Comment by Reed 08.11.14 @ 4:42 pm

You guys knew I wasn’t that high on Savage as most fans going into the 2013 season but he played pretty well. However I also think he didn’t make that much of a difference in W/Ls at QB as most hoped he would.

Honestly, I was pretty shocked that he got drafted at all but it is obvious it was for him arm and nothing else.

Comment by Reed 08.11.14 @ 4:47 pm

wbb – that is a great advertising video about the re-vamped facility. It really is a nice place to visit and from walking through the player’s area it seem to be a real treat for them.

I do think the PITT staff and Admin blow a little smoke when it comes to mentioning sharing it with the Steelers so much. There is almost no contact by the PITT players at all and they are not allow to initiate contact with a Steelers at all. The PITT players are allowed to sit on the benches outside PITT’s weight room and watch the Steelers practice from there which is pretty far away.

Sometimes they cross each other going to and from the chow hall and PITT players are allowed to talk with the Steelers if a Steeler opens the conversation. But unless something has changed in the last year or so those are the restrictions in place.

Comment by Reed 08.11.14 @ 5:01 pm

I think it is great that Steeler players occasionally bump into Pitt players and vis versa.

Comment by Frank MD 08.11.14 @ 5:28 pm

Sounds like a caste system or some kind of royal family situation. Pederson is a liar so I’m not surprised. Blowing smoke is an understatement.

Comment by TonyinHouston 08.11.14 @ 5:50 pm

BJ – do you think Voytik is some sort of star QB or do you think Anderson is that bad. Just wondering…

Comment by Reed 08.11.14 @ 6:44 pm

Just watch Anderson’s HS video and you tell me he’s not any good. That kid does nothing but make plays the whole video. Throwing, running, in the pocket, out of the pocket,winning games with only seconds left to play. Leads his team to a 16-0 record. And that was in the highest HS division in Texas. He’s here because he can play.

Comment by BTA 08.11.14 @ 8:17 pm

Hate to mention the community college south of the border, but Dana openly stated he lies to recruits and tells them just about anything to get them on campus. He then turns it over to his players. I bet that is going over well in Aliquippa.

link to

Can honestly say that our guy doesn’t lie. This story should be sent by Pitt to every kid that is on our board and every kid that committed to the WVCC.

Sad day for Robin Williams. I always operate as if the person I am talking to has more problems than I do. Rest in peace Mork. Hey UPitt, do you have an “opposite day” during any week?

Comment by dhuffdaddy 08.11.14 @ 9:36 pm

Well BJ, Would you also say then that Voytik is not the type of QB Chryst recruits? After he he didn’t recruit him, did he? Voytik and Anderson fit the exact same physical mold right down to skill sets so I guess Chryst wouldn’t have recruited Voytik even if he had the chance.

But then again Chryst recruited Tra’von Chapman who was as short as the other two, had a weak arm and couldn’t run as well as either Voytik or Anderson. So damn confusing! And Chapman is starting at the well known football powerhouse Ashland University…

Basing your opinion of a player on what he was like coming out of HS three years ago, and who you most probably haven’t watched in action over the last two years, is silly anyway.

Get in touch with Pat Bostick – he of the 5* recruit rating – and ask him just how much that rating meant once he came to PITT. He’s an honest guy and he’ll tell you “it meant nothing”, which BTW he has acknowledged publicly.

Or on the flip side ask Chas Alecxih what not having a scholarship out of HS did for his career at PITT. He walked on and got his scholarship two years into his career… two years later then when Anderson earned his at PITT BTW.

Obviously I think you’re off base with your comment. I’ve watched both kids in side by side practices and scrimmages for a couple of years and can tell you there isn’t the talent gap you seem to think there is. Again, Voytik has an edge but it isn’t that big.

Comment by Reed 08.11.14 @ 9:50 pm

Heard that Chapman may have transferred to Akron…..

Comment by dhuffdaddy 08.11.14 @ 11:50 pm

dhuff – all I can tell is that he was granted permission by Ashland to have contact with Akron and that the Akron fans were 50/50 about him possibly transferring in.

Maybe he did and is sitting out 2014 and it just didn’t make the news much.

Comment by Reed 08.12.14 @ 6:22 am


Seriously absolutely awesome work and info last few days,

Sounds like Voytik has been underwhelming so far in camp. Very disappointed to see that, he has a lot of weapons at WR and TE. solid depth and talent at RB, and a legit 2 and possibly 3 deep at OL. He doesn’t have to win games for us, just don’t lose games. Take advantage of talent around him, especially Tyler Boyd and limit turnovers.

Reed mentioned Connor Dittino, I think he is exactly the kind of kid right now coach Chryst is recruiting. 3 star, very coachable, intelligent and solid character. With more wins, more 4 and 5 star recruits will follow.

Less than 3 weeks til we face the fighting Flacco’s of Delaware.

Hail to Pitt!!!!

Comment by Pap76 08.12.14 @ 6:23 am

Underwhelming is a big word. Let’s say that I’m just ratcheting down some very high fan expectations based on Voytik’s recruit ranking of four stars.

He’s made some very nice plays out there also, especially rolling to his right which is nice to see, so if it sounds like I’m inferring he’s not a decent player than I misspoke.

He certainly come in and lead this team to a very nice season if other issues click the right way.

Comment by Reed 08.13.14 @ 11:09 am

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