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August 17, 2014

There were some nice efforts and results by all the defensive units, and I’ll address those but overall today the defense built “The Great Wall of Water Street” and didn’t let much offense trickle through.

Specifically, the defensive two deep up front against the running game made everyone breathe a little sigh of relief, especially in light of this being “Year 1 Perfectus AD”.  The starting four defensive linemen from left to right were DE Durham, NT Mosley-Smith, DT Render and DE Soto. Those guys overall looked good in the ‘live’ actions, stuffed the run and got good penetration on some passing plays.  Backing them up were MacLean and Blair at DE with Moody and Jarrett in the interior.   All eight kids played solid ball as I saw it and as each day passes the staff should be feeling better about this unit.

One brighter spot was that Darryl Render had some real “wow” moments with his quick off the snap play.  Jerry DiPaola of the Trib hits it on the head in this article about Render and while I wouldn’t say anyone going to forget our award winning Nose Tackle from last season, Render is starting to develop a reputation of his own.  He intercepted a pass on an athletic play and was constantly beating his guy for run stoppage. He’ll be a very good DT for us this season and later on as he’s a JR who had some nice game experience over the last two seasons.  We’ll have a solid two years of him on the line and that is a good, maybe great, thing to have.

Backing him up is Justin Moody, who as a rsFR is 6’3” and 280 (bigger I’d guess) lbs and can move for that size.  He was a solid 3* DE in HS and was the 20th ranked player in the state of PA. He’s fun to watch when he gets in and has a great wing span to get RBs coming through the line.  Hate to say it but he’s the type of talent, to my eye, who could also be a good OL if needed down the road but Chryst does like them taller.   He had a nice sack on Anderson where he got into the backfield in a blink.

Ahhh, the position of Nose Tackle; let’s get to it so the fans can stop the self flagellation (it’s OK to look) over the loss of The Great One. What we saw yesterday was not what we’ll see in the opening game as there are injuries, not serious, to the two-deep guys.  Mosley-Smith and Jarrett both got just a small bit of action during the drills stage then sat down then on some plays Moody stepped to help that position depth out.  Because of those injuries, unknowns such as rsFR Jeremiah Taleni and true FR Connor Dintino got a lot of the work during the drills and scrimmage.

Taleni made his presence know by bottling up the interior, along with making some tackles.  He’s already 6’2” and 295 as a young guy but he’s a Hawai’i boy and will get bigger and wider… he’s waiting for you Haole offensive lineman to try to get past him, but be careful when you do.  Seriously, I see him being really good at NT in the future, think Haloti Ngata good, even though Ngata’s a Tongan but why split hairs.

I talked about Dintino last week in my pre-scrimmage defense article and he also looked the part out there yesterday, even as a 1st year kid.  There are two kids on defense who positive chatter is building about.  First is Avonte Maddox (more on him later) and then Dintino who may well be in that DL rotation by the end of the season.

The linebackers played well in both run and pass defense.  Starters Thomas and Gonzalez are going to be fine as the returning weak side linebacker and strong side linebacker. Galambos has found his spot in the middle and has played well. I’m less and less concerned about middle linebacker than I was before the camp.  Here is a feel good story about his young life from the P-G.  He didn’t necessarily stand out yesterday but was rotated out to give Caprara some scrimmage time.

The WLB and the SLB 2stringers acquitted themselves very well yesterday.  Bradley can move up to a starter’s role if needed and play any position.  Remember the other day when Chryst singled out Quentin Wirginis for selected praise?  There was a real reason for that and we saw it again yesterday when Wirginis rotated in at WLB behind Thomas.

I counted at least two tackles for Wirginis but it is his speed to get all over the field that is impressive.  He’s one of those players who always seem to be near the football at the end of the plays because he takes the first step in the correct direction.  He’s another under the radar type HS kid Chryst finds as Wirginis too was injured during the whole of his senior year with a broken ankle.  Get that?  He misses his whole SR year; PITT watches his JR year film,  invites him to their recruits camp and offers a scholarship right away.  This kid could be the steal of the 2014 recruiting year if he keeps progressing as he has.

One last thing about younger LBs in these camps, sometimes lessons are learned the hard way. Jacob Craig made a nice break on a Jameel Poteat run down the right side and was in great position to make the tackle when Poteat gave him a right hip feint that sent Craig hugging air on the way to the ground.  Honestly, I expected to see Craig get up holding his crotch to see if his package was still there.  I’m sure Craig caught a hard time for that and it was very exciting to watch, but I’ll also remember that Craig was in exactly the right spot to make that tackle… and that ain’t too bad either.  The offensive team was right there on the sidelines and freaked out when that fake happened.

Our DBs are going to be fine this season and the big reason is Avonte Maddox’s outstanding play in camp so far.  He apparently is the type of athlete that, regardless of his size, a coach can insert at any skill position and Maddox would find a way to be good at it.  Yesterday he was a DB, KO returner and the gunner on the punt coverage team. He fast as anything and sticks with WRs to disrupt plays.  He played both behind L. Pitts at CB then rotated into the #1 spot ahead of Mitchell on the other side.

This is an area where the staff is still tinkering with personnel to find the right four guys and things will change, but one noticeable thing was that Trenton Coles got on the field very sparingly and that didn’t seem to have to do with any injury.

The team and staff seemed to be really upbeat through the day’s activities. I mentioned earlier this week that this is a teaching staff, especially given the youth (We’re #1! in that at least) we have both in the two-deep and on the roster.  Standing two yards behind the offensive players it was easy to see and hear what was going on and I’ll say these kids are friendly and joke around with each other constantly.  When a kid made a good play he got nods of recognition coming back to the sidelines, but when a player screwed up there were always 3-4 kids waiting to encourage him.  That’s a good thing.

These coaches aren’t ones to hang back and let mistakes pass by though – there was continual constructive criticism even if it was peppered with some choice and descriptive phrases.  The players pay rapt attention when addressed, that’s for sure.  But this isn’t a rah-rah bullshit staff as we saw right before the Chryst hire so I feel real good about them and their approach here.

How all that translates onto the field this season is a mystery but as with anything else having a staff in its second year is a big difference than their first year with the players.

The people watching had a good time and the parents were really into supporting their sons.

SIDENOTES: Visitors yesterday were Lance Markle who played FB under Walt Harris, Reuben Brown who was his teammate and is a future NFL Hall of Fame player.  Brown is thin as a normal guy and to look at him you wouldn’t believe he once looked like this.  Dorin Dickerson, he of the PITT RB to LB to TE fame and who could run out there and play today, was standing on the sideline also.  The new PITT Chancellor was there also and without SP which is the second time I’ve noticed that.  Let the rumors begin.

Finally, Wirginis’ family has owned the famous Gateway Clipper Fleet of passenger boats in the Pittsburgh rivers for three generations which I found interesting both as a retired Coast Guard officer who inspected those type vessels in New Orleans and other cities and as a PITT fan.  The Clipper Fleet are nice vessels.

 

 

 

 





I’ll proofread this later, have to run out the door, so stop complaining…

Comment by Reed 08.17.14 @ 5:00 pm

Wirginis is a lot like Blair, much potential but still a question mark. Blair was a promising prospect at USC before his stroke who, to the surprise of his doctors, came back to play. His senior year was above average but nothing great, but it is believed he will keep getting better.

Wirginia was hurt much in his junior year, but wowed the staff so much in last June’s Pitt camp, they offered him the schollie based just on that. He was hurt before the season began last year (different injury) so he is still an unknown. But my guess is that if he is able to stay healthy, he will be seeing a lot of playing time in the future.

Comment by wbb 08.17.14 @ 5:21 pm

Defense wins games, here’s hoping this “D” is good for 8.

I like what I’m hearing from the sideline reporters and I like the attitude that is being conveyed by the team even more.

Soon the talk will be cheap. Then as Coach Chryst likes to say, it will be time to “show me”!

Can’t wait to see our troops against The Fighting Blue Hens!

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.17.14 @ 5:23 pm

I guess it is to be expected that the defense is ahead of the offense at this point in camp. I can’t get too excited about any of this until August 30.

Comment by HbgFrank 08.17.14 @ 7:17 pm

Reed’s earlier report on our defense made me feel better because that was a huge area of concern for me! Now comes the piece above and I am prepared for our Panthers to beat Miami, win the Coastal and predict a 9-3 final record! Hail to PITT! Thanks Reed! UPone

Comment by UPone 08.17.14 @ 7:23 pm

just remember the double-edged sword. Our defense played well, which is good .. but they did it against our offense, which is bad

Comment by wbb 08.17.14 @ 7:27 pm

Upone, I suggest you read the offense piece. You’ll feel decidedly less optimistic. I can’t come close to believing that we lose AD and 3 other key starters and are better on defense. If our offense can’t perform against our D, it’s not a sign that were heading for a 9 win season.

Comment by PittHW 08.17.14 @ 7:50 pm

Reed,

Thanks for both reports on the scrimmage. I imagine that Chad V.’s head is spinning with all the stuff going on. I’m guessing that he’ll be able to settle down and be more comfortable when he has a specific game plan to work with – and TB/Orndoff to throw to – but maybe that’s just wishful thinking.

Encouraging to hear some of the comments on the defense. Just wish guys like Blair, Galambos, Wirginis and Maddox weren’t so young and inexperienced.

Did DD really hold his own at DE?

Go Pitt.

Comment by MajorMajors 08.17.14 @ 10:04 pm

Majors – The defense held its own – I saw one play where Durham got blocked out on a sweep but on the whole nothing happened with him to make me sit up and take notice either good or bad. There was pressure on the QB from different angles so I’ll assume he was part of that.

Yes, those kids are inexperienced but they are also surrounded by other players who have been starting , some with multiple years – Durham at DE, Thomas and Gonzalez at LB with L. Pitts and Vinopal at DB. Those players are helping the others.

I’m drafting an article about the state of the program today – kind of an overview as it were before we get into being caught up in the season’s games. But one major point is that the PITT admin knew Chryst was going to clean house and play his own recruits as soon as possible. This is what we are seeing this season – almost every position is manned with someone he wants to be in there.

Funny thing is that our ‘growing pains’ with him at the helm have been pretty minimal considering he’s at .500 for his two years – whereas many new HCs, especially rookie ones like Chryst is, fare far worse.

Comment by Reed 08.18.14 @ 6:31 am

PITTHW – I wrote all the above stuff about the defense understanding full well that it is only halfway through camp and the defense hasn’t been tested at full speed in any sort of real competition. Along with that goes the knowledge that we lost starters, one great one in particular.

But. this happens every year in college ball so this season isn’t unique in any way. We’ve seen it all before with guys like McCoy leaving. Remember the tearing of hair and rendering of skin that caused PITT fans to do? Boom!!, a FR comes in and betters what was there before.

I think we’ll see some of that this season also. I feel pretty good about the “four for two” deal we have with the interior DL two deep this year.

Ezell isn’t a big loss for me – he should have been in the backfield on every pass play the way Donald was getting double and triple teamed yet he wasn’t. He’s not only replaceable but we’ll upgrade there IMO.

Shane Gordon, big deal, he was good on some spectacular plays but no big loss. Upgrade with Galambos.

Murphy and Lippert – are you kidding me? Upgrade with anyone but a sure upgrade with Soto as a starter.

Hendricks and Williams – hard to replace although both slipped in play a little as their careers went on – probably due to three changeovers in staffs. Loss there but I think the young DBs will grow into the role as the season progresses. Having Pitts and Vinopal take them under their wings will help immensely. Actually, with FR Maddox playing like he is that may well be an upgrade at one DB spot.

One interesting note is that three of our top four tacklers are returning this season in Vinopal, Gonzalez and Thomas. Not too bad.

One thing I really believe in is that a football team relies 50% on pure talent and 50% on coaching and gameday preparations. Having a full D coaching staff in place for a second straight year is going to pay dividends for our defense. So overall I think after the season starts rolling we’ll be pretty satisfied with how the defense shakes out.

Comment by Reed 08.18.14 @ 6:57 am

The best thing about the scrimmage is that no one got hurt. The running game always takes the longest to come together. It is good that the middle of the D-line is not getting pushed around and our linebackers including Galambos are playing well.

Without Boyd (who makes everyone better) and few throws to the Tight Ends should make the D have an easier time.

Although you would like to see our QB’s look a little sharper, I don’t think the scrimmage should make anyone feel better or worse about our prospects.

Boston College will be the first real test.

Comment by gc 08.18.14 @ 7:07 am

@Reed

Someone in an earlier post asked whether Blewitt is working with a new holder or maybe a new long snapper—or both. Do you know if this is the case?

H2P

Comment by pmdH2P 08.18.14 @ 7:09 am

Good points, Reed … but I’m expecting (hoping for) an upgrade .. at all areas.

I heartily agree though it is too early to come to any conclusions …. but I must confess I will be very disappointed if the OL doesn’t show much improvement.

Comment by wbb 08.18.14 @ 7:10 am

Reed, everyone we play lost good players too, that is why college football is so dynamic and interesting.

I’m still most concerned about our pass rush, and pass protection for Voytik, don’t think we learn much going against our own guys. Delaware will tell us a little, BC will tell us a lot.

Comment by gc 08.18.14 @ 7:12 am

The long snapper, JR David Murphy returns and was platooning with SO Pat Quirin. Both these kids are on the light side at 6’1″ and 220. It was hard to see the FG team as it was at the far end and to watch you’d have to run up and down the sidelines which would bug all the other visitors. Anyway, I don’t think there were any issues with snaps and placement – Blewitt was just off that day.

Here is something to think about in losing our superstar DL. This is my opinion, but I think Render is really going to bust out this season and make us all forget about Aaron Donald. JUST KIDDING!

But there is this to consider. Render was in no way going to get a starting job in his first two years at PITT playing behind Donald – no one would. But in the times he played he was very productive. Last season he had 25 tackles, 2.5 TFLs, a sack assist, three pass breakups and a fumble recovery playing 2ND STRING! That was with minimum playing time as there were no real times we could take Donald out for any length.

In his FR year he played in 11 games. This is no virgin first time starter out there, he’s a guy who has learned alongside the best and more than held his own when he got chances to contribute.

I really think that productivity we saw is going to multiply given his full time status this year. He’s also very quick off the snap, is built like a brick house and has strong hands to get guys on the ground. Honestly, I think he might be our next defensive “star”. I’m not worried about the NT and DT positions much at all.

P/S: I also thought Jack Lippert was going to be a great Center for us so take what I say FWIW.

Comment by Reed 08.18.14 @ 7:41 am

While Donald was obviously a great player, I have felt all along that Render, Mosley-Smith, Jarrett and Moody would od an adequate job in the interior .. and all the better if Render becomes a star.

However, I would hope that our DE play would improve. Note that Durham, Soto and Cook each have one sack to their credit. These 3 along with Maclean can really make an impact if they can start exerting pressure to the opposing QB, and it would really take some of the pressure away from the thin DB position.

Comment by wbb 08.18.14 @ 8:22 am

Was Maclean invisible during the scrimmage?

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.18.14 @ 8:46 am

The defense will be better overall. I talked to a grad assist. who said the linebackers were improved over last year.

Render will indeed be solid on the line. Durham will have a great year, he had a great spring and has elevated his play even more – remember Palermo took advantage of the changed body sizes to let Soto, who has really developed physically, into the interior guy. Staff has DD who has a motor run to make plays which is why Ohio State recruited him in Texas- vs. holding a gap last year. McLean and Rory according to my source will rotate in and can contribute. Staff is still looking at putting Conner in on a spot basis and Grigs as well. Grigs will get most of the 3rd down and long yardage snaps on the outside. Overall, I think we have a better plan to get the passer than last year. The bend don’t break thing where kids are afraid of a mistake is bs and I am hoping, especially with our linebackers, they are encouraged to go make plays.

Don’t forget Thomas, this kid is a freaky athlete and can make plays.

Most programs at any level typically jell the third year. This is it. I think the staff has learned, and we’ve upgraded by hiring some aggressive secondary coaches and PC learned his mistake and has a focused effort on special teams.

We are not at an elite level – FSU/Clemson yet, and at times it won’t be consistent, but attitude and effort wise our defense will improve and play well enough for us to win 7 or 8.

Comment by PittMan 08.18.14 @ 8:54 am

Dr Tom – no MacLean was in there but in all honestly it is really hard for me to concentrate when the scrum at the LOS looks like maddened water buffaloes during mating season. Same reason I couldn’t really see what Conner was doing as he was on the right side DE and the plays went left to right down the field all day.

Guys – one thing I didn’t mention is that about halfway through the scrimmage Conner switched over to defense for the rest of the practice. I guess this experiment is gaining traction and as much as I don’t like the idea – at least until our running game progresses enough to take the loss of Conner – the staff is working it into reality.

I don’t see any player in football go even half time both ways any more – it would burn his out being both an RB and a DE for any length of time. Most other two way players and the RB/LB or DB types.

Here is a nice article about two way platooning:

link to sportsonearth.com

Comment by Reed 08.18.14 @ 9:28 am

Reed,

You’re doing an outstanding job, but please don’t refer to our players as “scum.” :-)

Go Pitt.

Thanks – fixed

Comment by MajorMajors 08.18.14 @ 10:05 am

@Reed

Is Blewitt also using the same holder? Wasn’t it Yoklic last year?

H2P

Comment by pmdH2P 08.18.14 @ 11:29 am

Did Jamal Davis join the team this weekend? Not sure why I care so much. He seemed like he could turn out to be a pretty good player.

Comment by JJ 08.18.14 @ 12:47 pm

as I have been saying, I really believe the long term plan is for Conner to play DE .. it will happen later than sooner (and it may not happen this year if there are a couple RB injuries,) but next year with James, Ollison, Ibrahim, Lindsay, Poteat and Briggs, it would make sense.

Comment by wbb 08.18.14 @ 1:17 pm

jj, coincidentally, here is a tweet from Sam Werner about an hour ago

Still no Jamal Davis at #Pitt practice. Chryst said no update but sounded optimistic for resolution soon.

Comment by wbb 08.18.14 @ 1:27 pm

I’m with you Reed, don’t like the idea of Conner at DE.

Also, 2 questions:

1. When is the next scrimmage,
2. Why wasn’t there much talk about Bertke’s performance given that he completed something like 9 for 11 passing in the scrimmage? Was he just given a simpler package than the others?

Comment by 1618mt 08.18.14 @ 1:44 pm

PittMan,
Durham has no upside, hopefully, someone will emerge on the edge.

Comment by Punxy Panther 08.18.14 @ 1:53 pm

Guys, Conner is going to play DE, why continue to fight it. There is Soto and no one else which is why Conner keeps getting reps. We have a true freshman coming off a stroke pushing for playing time. What does that say about our depth at the position, think about it.

Comment by pd 08.18.14 @ 2:19 pm

Have you ever belonged to an organization that you became psychologically invested in? If so, then you understand the importance of HCPC’s intentions to get every one of his players to take responsibility for their own actions while also being accountable to this football team that they are part of. When you begin feeling that way about your team, you start taking things very personal, and when that occurs you give 100% effort to get things done right.

Coach Chryst has demonstrated by his own actions that there will be accountability, whether it is self imposed by the player’s own self-discipline or by parameters instituted by the coaching staff themselves.

This structure has created a secure environment for these young men stepping into completely new circumstances as athletes at a major university in an urban center like Pittsburgh. They want to be here and they know what is expected of them and they understand the repercussions of not staying that course. That’s a good thing. However if such rules and regulations are imposed with an iron fist by a dictator who has no regard for those individuals, then you’ve got problems on your hands because you lose those very players that you’re attempting to influence.

Paul Chryst is successfully walking that fine line, while demonstrating that he has the individual players best interests at heart, he’s not reluctant to penalize them when required, at the same time, he has not played favoritism or turned a blind eye to a situation that would negatively impact the team’s performance in the short term in the W-L category.

The half dozen suspensions before the YSU game, the Shell debacle, saying good-bye to Chapman and the suspension of Todd Thomas all come to mind. This link below demonstrates to me however that Chryst does not hold a grudge, just the opposite, he has a short memory when transgressions occur. Like a caring parent, he understands that mistakes get made by 18 year old kids but most of the time they can recover and learn from them.

Ronald Jones summed it up in one sentence during a recent interview when he mentioned how anxious he was to get back on the field and contribute to this team after he had “wasted his opportunity” last season due to his year long suspension. That’s a young man that shows me that he is growing up and accepting responsibility for his own self. He wants back in cause he’s psychologically vested in his team now. Sometimes you have to lose something before you realize how important it is to you.

This may be one of the reasons that Chryst’s recruiting results don’t look so good up to this point. It’s hard to snag the elite recruits when you’re the head coach of a mediocre football program and your honest with the kid and promise him nothing but a chance to make a difference for that mediocre team while being treated the same as all the other recruits coming in, no special treatment for you should be expectd. Those with many other high profile offers go elsewhere most of the time in such cases, when so many others shovel the BS and promise whatever is necessary to get these types on campus. That is unless they decide for themselves that they actually WANT to be part of that process and express that they want be here at Pitt.

Thank you so much Mr. Boyd for wanting to be here and thanks to your home boys who decided that they wanted to follow you to Pitt out of Clairton as well.

With a sprinkling of four stars like Boyd and a few others, a majority of three stars, topped off with some lesser known talents like Blair and Wirginis that Coach has given a chance to blossum after their unfortunate HS injuries cut deep into their recruiting fortunes, this team is currently forging their own destiny. I’m feeling that the correct team chemistry has been created by Chryst simply by him getting the right type of kids into the program that he feels will respond to those things that I’ve detailed above.

Once that happens, these kids will end up playing hard for Coach Chryst because they are becoming invested in the process, they know that Coach sincerely has their best interest at heart, and they want to win to prove out that Coach Chryst’s efforts with this team will not be in vain.

In essence that is what DePaola is suggesting, in many less words than me, when he mentions the interaction between Howard and Coach at the scrimmage. This team’s chemistry, is forming the vested bond between it’s members. IMO, THIS FACTOR is going to prove to be our ace in the hole going forward.

This team is all getting on the same page, they want to be winners and they want to do it for their coach. It could prove to be a magical ingredient for success.

link to blog.triblive.com

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.18.14 @ 2:23 pm

while we’re complimenting HCPC, read this

link to espn.go.com

Comment by wbb 08.18.14 @ 2:29 pm

Thanks, Dr Tom and wbb. Both good reads.

H2P

Comment by pmdH2P 08.18.14 @ 2:38 pm

You guys are blowing it for me – I’ve been working on a draft of ‘the state of the program’ and I am addressing these exact points… oh well – I’ll keep at it.

Comment by Reed 08.18.14 @ 3:07 pm

@Reed:

Again just wanna say thanks for the time you’ve put in and your in depth observations. Really getting fired up now as we are less than 2 weeks away.

I hope this scrimmage was a case of the D being better and further along than we thought. If it’s just the D taking advantage of the offense being sub par we may be in a little trouble.

I know there are still going to be growing pains on both sides of the ball.and this team is very young, possibly the youngest in D1.

That said the schedule is manageable and there is some legit all conference caliber talent on the roster. nine wins is probably overly optimistic, but if things break right and this team can win 8 or 9, this program can really be on its way.

Recruiting especially on D has to improve and winning is the easiest way to do it. Especially with a coach like Chryst, who doesn’t have a dynamic personality that is going to Wow kids.

I don’t think there is any doubt the kids are buying in and it seems that this team is very close and all on the same page, more so than I can remember in recent past. The hard work and commitment needs to show on the field in terms of wins. I am cautiously optimistic, but still very nervous about this upcoming season.

Mine and everyone else’s concerns and excitement are about to be addressed starting August 30th. I personally cannot wait!

Hail to Pitt!!!!

Comment by Pap76 08.18.14 @ 3:15 pm

1618mt–Bertke’s 9 for 11 was vs the 3rd string defense. He got no reps vs the 1st of 2nd team.

Next scrimmage is supposed to be tomorrow (Tuesday).

Comment by pitt1972 08.18.14 @ 3:30 pm

Pitt1972- thank you.

Comment by 1618mt 08.18.14 @ 3:33 pm

Guess I’ll post this here since it’s the latest blog.

Think the hysteria over Voytik’s first scrimmage are way overblown. Come on get serious, Tyler Boyd didn’t play and neither did Adonis Jennings. And the TE’s weren’t really in the passing scheme much. So in effect you had Voytik throwing to mainly the 2nd string WR’s. Might not have the timing with them as he does with the 1rst string.

I believe PC probably had in mind with this first scrimmage to see which WR’s other than Boyd, Garner and Witherspoon, could do what and to what degree. Henceforth all the passes to Wuestner, Challingsworth, etc. And also to see how much Ibrahim, out of the backfield, could be effective.

Of a bigger concern should be the O-line’s play as this is supposed to be an experienced group returning, which means they should be up to speed quicker than a non-experienced group.

Also of note, is that both Voytik and Anderson were spread offense QB’s in HS and were recruited to run the spread. So trying to make them ‘pocket passers’ might well prove to be folly. Perhaps PC is still determining whether they can be pocket passers, which would account for the QB’s staying in the pocket.

Something we’ve discussed before, which might or might not be apropos.

Pounding square pegs into round holes. Time will tell.

Comment by Emel 08.18.14 @ 3:41 pm

Did Jamal Davis join the team this weekend? Not sure why I care so much. He seemed like he could turn out to be a pretty good player.
Comment by JJ 08.18.14 @ 12:47 pm

Not yet.

Comment by Mailman 08.18.14 @ 3:43 pm

I am a long time reader of this blog, but have never posted. I wanted to echo the thank you’s to Reed. This is a great place to get up to date on our beloved Panthers, and that is a credit to Reed and Chas’ fantastic work (not to mention very insightful comments and mostly respectful dialogue from the commenters). I am grateful you are back from your hiatus, Reed.

Comment by Jeff Lucas 08.18.14 @ 3:47 pm

I’m pumped to see Voytik take over the controls!!

Comment by Dan 08.18.14 @ 4:05 pm

Emel – those are good points and I wonder about the “pocket passer” issue myself. It will be hell if it does indeed turn out to be “Chryst’s Folly”. I’ll differ a little regarding the fact that Boyd and Jennings weren’t in there. It really wouldn’t have mattered because they wouldn’t have made the QBs look any better.

The issues I’ve raised about Chad Voytik talents and play, and they are my opinions with some other’s verifications, really have nothing to do with the fact that it was a 1st camp scrimmage. The young man has been taking part in these practices and scrimmages for a solid two years now, including one year as a scout team QB and the second year as the solid 2nd string QB who got a lot of reps during the camps and between games last season. If you remember Savage was getting dinged up a lot last year and Voytik was getting a lot of practice time in case he had to go in.

So my point, and others echo it, is that what we are seeing now isn’t some rookie freshman out there directly from HS. He’s a rsSO who has had a good long period of time to settle in and to learn and more importantly adjust to the speed in this level of play. With that, at this point in time, you’d expect better and more consistent practices and play in the scrimmages and we haven’t been seeing it.

Here’s something to think about. I’ve noticed that some people’s outlook on this subject over the offseason has been “Now that Sunseri’s gone, wait until Chad Voytik gets the starting spot (big grin on face)!!” and that has now evolved to “Well, if Voytik can get it together we’ll be OK…”

Even with my somewhat ‘less than enthused’ attitude toward Voytik’s production in camp I’ll reiterate again that I think Chad Voytik is a talented, athletic QB who could get his feet under him in competition and do good things for us. I truly believe that he has the skills and the tough attitude to be the QB leader of the offense. We know that there are kids who perform better when it actually matters and he has a track record of doing that so far, so he may well do it again.

But I’ll keep my fingers crossed that our running game explodes to give him the help he may need out there.

Comment by Reed 08.18.14 @ 4:06 pm

Jeff Lucas, there is a $10,00 entrance fee to this exclusive club but we’ll waiver it since you said nice things about us.

Comment by Reed 08.18.14 @ 4:08 pm

Thanks John. Spaced on that even though we had a conversation on saturday about the time period he played. Nice guy for a FB.

Comment by Reed 08.18.14 @ 4:22 pm

@Reed – Are you cheating on us and posting & commenting on other blogs?

I usually go back and read original comment when you post a reply but don’t see a comment from Jeff Lucas or John.

BTW, Love your posts and while I hate sharing your opinions with others (never when to kindergarten) you have good insights & your love for PITT shows through.

Comment by PITT-cocks fan 08.18.14 @ 4:42 pm

Hey Reed correct me if I’m wrong but It think there was once a quarterback who looked great in practice and couldn’t lead us to a come from behind victory in 39 games (including 3 stright trips to Birmingham).

Voytik may not look great in practice, but I do agree we need to see how he does after a couple of games to really pass judgement.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 08.18.14 @ 4:56 pm

Reed,

Big thanks for being there and giving us a great view of things.

One note to consider for all of us..at both U of Oregon and OSU Beavers scrimmages last week, the Defenses ruled big time. Neither offense ran the ball effectively and the passing was not yet in sync. It could be the same for PITT, still too early for the offense to gel and several key players seeing limited play.

I think you hit it spot on…once Voytik feels comfortable, and believes in himself (and the offense) he’ll be fine.

Again, big thanks for those of us not in the ‘burgh.

Hail to PITT!
-al-

Comment by Oregon_Panther 08.18.14 @ 5:22 pm

Thanks for that info Reed.

Sounds like maybe Voytik isn’t perhaps a great practice player but let’s hope he shows he’s a gamer, as he did in the Pizza Bowl.

Again he might not feel as comfortable setting up in the pocket as he would rolling out. Not a Tom Brady, Manning type, but more a Tarkenton, Montana type.

Gotta hope that PC will use him or put him in the best position to use his strong attributes. Same thing with Trey.

Being that they both might have accuracy issues from the pocket, that might make moving Boyd around from the backfield, in motion and so forth more imperative as to make shorter throws for them to complete to Boyd.

We’re not going to win many games if Boyd is only getting 5 or 6 touches per game imo.

I still believe the schedule is set up in a manner where 8 wins in the regular is very possible as all of these teams we play have their issues as well.

Comment by Emel 08.18.14 @ 5:49 pm

My hope is our O-line is big and strong enough with our runners lead by Conner and Parrish will wear out defenses over 4 quarters. If Voytik is able to pick up the needed third downs to maintain drives, we should be very competitive. If they have to put seven in the box to stop us, Boyd and Co. will have a field day. If we get into shoot outs, I think we are in trouble.

Win the time of possession and keep our D on the bench as much as possible.

Our D looks to be built to stop the run. Tough up the middle with good linebackers.

Let’s hope our special teams are improved, Making the opposition start at the twenty instead of the forty would make a big difference. A punter that can put it out inside the twenty would help win a few games. Especially on the road, and keep it away from the kid from NC.

Comment by gc 08.18.14 @ 7:54 pm

You want to read up on a scrimmage where the offense soiled the sheets, then here you go.

link to bostonglobe.com

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.18.14 @ 7:56 pm

Apparently, Darrin Hall (2015), a 4-star RB out of Youngstown, will be committing to his school of choice tomorrow.

I understand he was at Pitt practice last week. I believe his top choices are Pitt, WVU, Michigan State, and Kentucky.

For the record.. Pitt already has a RB recruit in the fold for next year, Sekai Lindsey, a 3-star out of Florida.

Comment by Mailman 08.18.14 @ 8:24 pm

Looks like another RB coming on board. Anybody else see a trend here. Wish they could stock pile defensive players with the same ease as RB.

Comment by pd 08.18.14 @ 8:24 pm

On 247′s predictions…

48% of the “experts” have Hall going to Michigan State. 26% have him going to Kentucky. 22% to Pitt.

Comment by Mailman 08.18.14 @ 8:26 pm

Here is Darrin’s highlight tape (which I should’ve put in my last post)…

link to hudl.com

Comment by Mailman 08.18.14 @ 8:27 pm

Five of those 247 guys picked PITT today.

Comment by pd 08.18.14 @ 8:34 pm

Five of those 247 guys picked PITT today.

Comment by pd 08.18.14 @ 8:34 pm

Well… that’s a good sign, then.

Comment by Mailman 08.18.14 @ 8:41 pm

If you analyze the predictors on 247, you see that all of the recent picks were for Pitt and a few off those were national guys and not just Pitt guys … these are usually good signs although it may be because he visited here just last week.

While I would never scoff a 4-star, it seems once again that we have an overload in certain positions (OL, TE and RB) but very little in others.

Comment by wbb 08.18.14 @ 8:54 pm

Yeah… as Pitt fans, we’ve learned that what we believe to be sure things aren’t always sure things.

Comment by Mailman 08.18.14 @ 9:05 pm

How many spots left 2 or 3.

Comment by pd 08.18.14 @ 9:05 pm

I thought there were like 4-5 left. But I have no idea. I don’t really follow things that closely to know for sure.

Comment by Mailman 08.18.14 @ 9:25 pm

Word getting around that Pitt is going to run the ball. Hope he comes.

Comment by gc 08.18.14 @ 9:41 pm

3 or 4 four stars a year with a solid three star class makes for a real nice team. If he was at practice and saw the offensive line, he had to leave impressed. Not sure michigan state or kentucky offer that kind of talent.

Perhaps I am wrong.

Sincerely, not Jeff Lucas or John

Comment by dhuffdaddy 08.18.14 @ 9:43 pm

Guys, if you remember after the Pizza Bowl Voytik was asked why he was so successful. He stated that Christ only ran pass plays that were designed for his strengths, which is
}throwing on the move. Thus, we already know the game day pass plays will be mainly roll outs and boot legs.

Comment by Pittman4ever 08.18.14 @ 10:51 pm

Also, for the few of you that are saying Conner will switch to full time D this season, I will kiss your @ss under the Kaufman’s clock during the Thanksgiving Day parade if that happens :>)

Comment by Pittman4ever 08.18.14 @ 10:58 pm

Conner will play more DE than people think, didn’t say full time. Just in case it is full time should I shave my ass for the occasion.

Comment by pd 08.18.14 @ 11:08 pm

Definitely foresee Conner being a full time DE in 2015.

Comment by Mailman 08.19.14 @ 12:03 am

pd, I’d consider the typical late November weather in Pittsburgh before you decide to fleece yourself.

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.19.14 @ 6:42 am

Atlanta – your points are good. The ‘judgement I’m passing’ isn’t what Voytik will do in the regular season – if you read back you’ll see that I avoid that issue like the plague… with the exception that I think it will take a few games to get his feet under him which I think you’ll agree that we could say that about any rookie starting QB.

I’m passing judgement on what I saw him do in two practices and what I saw were his strengths and weaknesses with my own eyes during those two days. These observations are all my opinions and a bit of what I’ve heard in discussions with others on-lookers. They aren’t huge criticisms of the young man but are more like ‘here is what the reality is at this point in practice vice the fans expectations’. I’ll not be surprised one bit if he has a good year this season, in fact I’m really hoping for it – but at this point I think it will take a great gameplan and a very good running game to get us wins, especially early in the season.

That said, Voytik had a better practice day on Monday than he did on Saturday so he’s up and down like a mere mortal.

You guys can’t see those comments from “Jeff Lucas” and “John” above? Maybe they are only in my head.

BTW – that ‘good practice, mediocre play’ QB being mentioned wasn’t all that great a practice player either. IMO he never should have been anointed the starter back in 2010 without a real competition. DW publicly told the media a couple of weeks after the 2009 bowl game that “It’s Tino’s Time” way before the 2010 spring practices even started. That fix was in and DW had to stick with it.

Comment by Reed 08.19.14 @ 7:07 am

so was the fix in for both Graham and PC?

Comment by wbb 08.19.14 @ 7:56 am

actually Reed, I do agree with you. I remmeber being surprised that there was no QB competition in the spring of 2010

Comment by wbb 08.19.14 @ 8:02 am

Coaches are coaches and they are all part of the coaching fraternity.

Be it DW, TG, or PC.

Somebody maybe Zeise kept telling us how great you know who was at practice. But we kept hearing that from several other sources other than Zeise.

Comment by Emel 08.19.14 @ 9:50 am

Running back Nicholas Grigsby takes a handoff from quarterback Chad Voytik on the first day of Pitt’s preseason football practice Monday at their training facility on the South Side. Writer: Werner.

Does this kid do any proof reading of his articles before publishing them. Why does the Pitt football beat get a novice ?

Comment by Emel 08.19.14 @ 10:05 am

Former Panthers:

Manziel took advantage by leading a 16-play, 68-yard drive capped by an 8-yard pass to Dion Lewis for Cleveland’s first touchdown.

And noting the NY Giants starting backfield against the Steelers last week. Both starting RB’s were former Pitt Panthers. Henry Hynoski and Rashard Jennings. Jennings had the 73 TD run in the 1rst quarter blowing past all the 1rst team Steeler defense. Always thought that kid would have been a great Pitt back had he not transferred.

Comment by Emel 08.19.14 @ 10:14 am

Werner of the PG is terrible. Should be
working for a small time newspaper.
Thanks to the PG for putting this guy
on the Pitt beat.

Comment by JR 08.19.14 @ 1:31 pm

Wbb – once a starter is ensconced at the QB position its hard to sit him down.

Backing up Sunseri in 2010 was Bostick, Myers and Janocko. In 2011 it was Anderson and Myers and in 2012 it was Anderson, and true FR Voytik.

Really, no matter how Sunseri played the coaches were going to stick with him.

Comment by Reed 08.19.14 @ 4:48 pm

BTW – Zeise was watching his son in the scrimmage on Saturday.

Comment by Reed 08.19.14 @ 4:49 pm

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