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August 19, 2014

Cleaning Up Some Football Debris

Filed under: Football,Practice — Chas @ 6:03 am

First off, I can’t thank Reed enough for the work he’s done in August. It’s been tremendous having him writing and making the trips for practices and scrimmage. Some fantastic stuff.

There’s not a lot I can add to that part. So I’m just going to clear some tabs, hit the links, and toss a few of my own thoughts in along the way.

The offensive line is either going to have much better depth or the starting five is not nearly as improved as hoped. There is no disputing that there is more experience and size on the line. Then there’s the improved health of guys like Bisnowaty.

Bisnowaty most likely will be starting for the Panthers at left tackle when they open the season Aug. 30 against Delaware. That is the position he practiced while he redshirted as a freshman in 2012 and played before his injury last season.

But in the past two practices, he has also seen some time with the second team at left guard. Offensive line coach Jim Hueber said this was just to work out some emergency scenarios in case a lineman or two get hurt.

“I have to have an eye on what we’re going to do when we’re going to start putting the team together,” Hueber said Wednesday. “What we would do if something would go wrong, rather than just say, ‘Hey we have some guys.’ I’m not sure that some of our redshirt freshmen are ready yet.

“It really is ‘What’s the fit?’ I think [Bisnowaty] is the guy that can move inside rather than [backup left tackle] Jaryd [Jones-Smith].”

Jones-Smith has been given props by both the coaches and observers of the practices. He’s widely considered to be the next player off the bench if a starter goes down.

Bisnowaty healthy is obviously important, but I can’t help but be a little worried about how he will hold up for the season. The same article notes that he has been battling back problems since high school. As anyone who has struggled with even the most minimal back issues knows, they don’t go away. They can flare up at any point and without any warning. More so on a person who carries over 300 pounds on a 6-6 frame.

Still, despite the stability at the O-line, it doesn’t seem that anyone is overly impressed with them either. That becomes a concern, because with Chad Voytik and to have a better offense, Pitt needs to be able to use the tight ends as more than additional blockers. That’s supposed to be the plan this year.

Where Savage was a pure pocket passer, and made his best throws deep downfield, Voytik is more of a scrambler and will rely on tight ends to give him safety valves when he escapes the pocket.

“They box people out,” Voytik said. “They always provide a throw, and that’s so helpful for me. Already going through plays, I’ll see a tight end who has a guy on his hip, but he’s still open. That’s been really helpful for me.”

Holtz said he and the rest of the tight ends have done a good job in training camp building rapport with the new starting quarterback.

“I think we have great timing right now,” Holtz said. “Chad’s going to do great this year. I’m excited for him to take over the team.”

Even though the numbers fans will focus on are the receptions, yards and touchdowns, Holtz is quick to point out what a tight end’s No. 1 priority in a pro-style offense is.

“Obviously, our first job is to block,” he said. “Our catches will come after that.”


Running backs. Reed mentioned him and I realized I had completely forgotten Jameel Poteat had transferred and walked-on to the football team. I’m not sure about his actual eligibility this year. At the time of his transfer, it was indicated that he wouldn’t be eligible until the 2015 season. He may just be getting some reps or something else has changed regarding his transfer status. I would imagine Coach Chryst would love to have him this year to be able to redshirt the entire freshman class of running backs. But more likely his last, best chance comes in 2015

Isaac Bennett seems to be showing his solid form. Not flashy, but consistent, not going to put the ball on the ground, and solid in blocking.

The Wide Receiver spot is the one area where there is a fair amount of comfort with the situation. From a clear number 1 and 2 receiver, to plenty of depth, and lots of potential coming down the pipe. Injuries can change that in an instant, but that is generally true for any team at any spot.

I’m not going to dwell on the QB situation right now. No one is sugarcoating that while Chad Voytik will be the starter; he does not appear to be near where we, the coaches or even Voytik himself wants or expected to be.

Over on the defense, the depth is more than a little shallow in the secondary. Yet, Reggie Mitchell is playing everywhere possible to cover all holes.

…versatile defensive back Reggie Mitchell, who has played safety, corner and nickel the past two weeks.

“I feel good about Reggie,” Chryst said. “He’s a smart kid, he’s dependable. The last two practices, he has come up with strips (forced fumbles), which we are trying to emphasize. I think he’s a heckuva football player.”Mitchell, a Shady Side Academy graduate who transferred from Wisconsin, was teamed with freshman Avonte Maddox at first-team cornerback after starter Trenton Coles went down with an undisclosed injury.

The move had more to do with Chryst’s quest to find depth at cornerback, where numbers are thin.

“Just getting a feel for what guys can handle,” he said. “What’s too much and what fits their skill set.”

And Avonte Maddox gets some big praise from DB Coach Troy Douglas, even as he cautions that there is more than just that one aspect.

“He’s a competitor,” defensive backs coach Troy Douglas said this week. “Probably out-and-out, he might be our best [man-to-man] guy. But you’ve got to do more than play man. It’s just the little things that we’ve got to keep coaching.

“He’s got a chance. He’ll be fine.”

Even for the speedy Maddox — he said his most recent 40-yard dash time was 4.38 seconds — adjusting to the speed of the college game has been his biggest challenge. Tuesday, he showed off his quickness when he chased down freshman running back Qadree Ollison from behind to prevent a touchdown in 11-on-11 drills.

“I knew it was going to be fast, but it’s way faster, so I just came out here and had to pick up with the speed,” Maddox said. “I’m getting used to it now.”

I am certain there are going to be more pass interference calls on the secondary this year, but I also believe the interceptions will be up significantly.

On the D-line the mantra of “it takes a village” to replace Aaron Donald continues.

Soto, like many of his teammates and coaches, preached a team mantra when discussing how the Panthers will make up for Donald absence.

“No one [player] is really going to do that for a while,” Soto said. “I believe the whole defensive line can do that, produce the same numbers he did.”

So far, a week and a half through training camp, Palermo said he can see flashes of Soto’s potential, but added that he hasn’t put everything together on a regular basis yet.

“Shakir’s done OK,” Palermo said. “Shakir needs to step up his game a little bit. He’s a starter for us right now, and he’s got to practice a little bit more on a consistent basis. When he does what he’s supposed to, he’s a very good football player.”

Part of the reason Palermo is a bit hard on his pupil is that he knows the importance of Soto to the defense and the possibilities if Soto can tap into his full potential.

There are legitimate expectations on the young sophomore’s shoulders, and Soto wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I like having people to have confidence in me,” he said. “I prefer that than having people not talk about me at all.”

It’s easy to also forget Devin Cook will be rotating at DE. He went down in the Duke game last year, and has been working his way back from a torn ACL and MCL in his knee.

And inside, Darryl Render had a good scrimmage.

The run defense dominated the Pitt ground game, and Render was in the middle of much of the action.

He batted down a pass and later intercepted a shovel flip that thanks to Donald-like quickness off the snap and the proper read of the play.

“I was where I was supposed to be,” Render said, “and it popped right there, and I said, ‘There it is.’ ”

Although it was only a scrimmage against a Pitt offense that has yet to find its legs, Render liked the results.

“We played good run defense,” he said. “That’s what we take pride in because, I guess, people are really sleeping on us because Aaron Donald is (gone).”

The other question in an era of more open offenses and much more passing, is whether the D-line will be able to generate pass rushes. Even with Aaron Donald last year, that was a struggle. That seems to be one of the big unknowns at this point.

Nice tunes Reed. Oh wow the Encore…really !

Couple of Pgh. legends on this one.

Mr. T & Little Georgie Benson.

link to

Comment by Emel 08.20.14 @ 3:18 pm

Eric would sit in with Spider Rondinelli, who was the leader of the house band.

Comment by gc 08.20.14 @ 3:19 pm

Oh yea for sure..Sonny Dayes on 51.

Was there for quite a long time !

Comment by Emel 08.20.14 @ 3:21 pm


Good lineup at Robert MOrris. I’ve become a big fan of Euge Groove and own several Rick Braun cd’s, one of my favorite trumpet players.

Comment by Emel 08.20.14 @ 3:23 pm

lol wafting herb….ikr !

Comment by Emel 08.20.14 @ 3:25 pm

I get that Delaware is FCS, but I see other games with lines on them, why no Pitt- Delaware line?

Comment by PittMan 08.20.14 @ 3:27 pm

They are waitng to see if Conner is starting on offense or defense, I suppose

Comment by wbb 08.20.14 @ 3:31 pm

I believe Sonny Dayes offered more than jazz and cold drinks.

Comment by Dan 08.20.14 @ 3:42 pm

In that time period (1973 -74) Hemingways was Frankie Gustines.

I think the place gc was talking about was on the 2nd floor.

The Decade only had Rock I believe maybe Blues in a blue moon.

Comment by Emel 08.20.14 @ 3:43 pm

haha Dan-o

Comment by Emel 08.20.14 @ 3:44 pm

Sometimes games involving FCS teams don’t get lines on them until a few days before the game.

Sometimes not at all.

Very hard for Vegas to put a number on that type of game.

Comment by Emel 08.20.14 @ 3:48 pm

Perhaps we’re talking about two different places??

I knew of Sonny Dayes on 51, maybe there was a Sonny Dayes Stage Door in Oakland??

From the late 70’s to the early 90’s, the Sonny Dayes I knew on 51, catered to, uh, hmmm, let’s say adult entertainment.

Comment by Dan 08.20.14 @ 3:51 pm

Maybe Sonny liked his jazz and women separate?

Comment by Dan 08.20.14 @ 3:53 pm

Sonny Dayes did move from Oakland to route 51, after a while the jazz stopped and the hanky panky began.

Sonny Dayes was on Forbes in Oakland closer to the City.

Comment by gc 08.20.14 @ 3:56 pm

Good memory Dan-o

So what happened at the one on 51 to keep it burnt in your memory. lol

Comment by Emel 08.20.14 @ 3:56 pm

CB Trenton Coles has left the program. Looking to transfer.

Comment by Mailman 08.20.14 @ 3:58 pm

I did see the George Benson show at the Mosque. Kenny Blake used to play at the sunken cork in Mt.Lebo a lot. Saw Spyro Gyra at the Holliday House in Monroeville like five times. Its all starting to come back to me now.

Comment by pd 08.20.14 @ 4:01 pm

That is a real shame, our best gunner from last year. Thought he would play a lot if not start.

Comment by gc 08.20.14 @ 4:01 pm

Oh yea the Sunken Cork forgot about that place.

Pittsburgh use to have some really cool places.

If you had a GF in all 4 suburbs you could keep more abreast of the music/jazz scene in those areas.

Comment by Emel 08.20.14 @ 4:04 pm

My memory is returning, the owner of Sonny Dayes was an original member of Bill Haley and the Comets, how’s that for Rock and Roll history.

Comment by gc 08.20.14 @ 4:06 pm

Mailman, you are really on top of things, you must have great sources.

Comment by gc 08.20.14 @ 4:09 pm

Chryst says team voted for captains, Clemmings, Vinopal and Grigsby.

Comment by gc 08.20.14 @ 4:11 pm

Chryst on Mark Madden at 5:30

Comment by gc 08.20.14 @ 4:12 pm

Emel, how about the Boardwalk on castle shannon blvd. used have a lot of jazz bands.

Comment by pd 08.20.14 @ 4:14 pm

Defensive backfield just got thinner.

Think I need a drink. Good thing it’s happy hour !

Comment by Emel 08.20.14 @ 4:14 pm

wow….yea right. I use to work out of an office by Caste Village.

The Boardwalk…that totally slipped my mind.

Comment by Emel 08.20.14 @ 4:15 pm

The Trolley party trolley use to stop in Castle Shannon as well at some bar out there on the corner of Park Ave. in Castle Shannon. Or close to it.

Comment by Emel 08.20.14 @ 4:18 pm

Today’s WSJ compared major conference coach’s records against ranked teams. Some current records:
F. Graham 3-5, B. Petrino 4-5, R. Edsall 0-8, B. Kelley 7-7, K. Flood 0-3, S. Shafer 0-3, D. Holgorsen 5-6 and P. Christ 3-4
link to

Comment by OhHowIHateOhioState 08.20.14 @ 4:31 pm

WTF?????? Just reported on Cardiac Hill that Trenton Cole intends to transfer????? I Don’t get it??

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.20.14 @ 5:21 pm

Wow this Coles news is not good, somebody asked Chryst about him after practice and he said he is working on some things. I should have known he always says that when somebody is about to quit.

Comment by pd 08.20.14 @ 5:25 pm

Sounds like a case of a kid who thinks he should start, finds out he will not and is too proud to stay and battle. Too bad, he really was our best gunner on the punt coverage team last year. Made lots of plays. We got burned twice when he did not play vs. NC.

Hope he changes his mind, if not hope he does well.

Comment by gc 08.20.14 @ 5:41 pm

@gc, actually, that’s really interesting. One of the comets?

@emel, no, not any hanky panky for me there. My memories are more of a driving by with unknowing family or clients and someone saying,

“hey, Sunny Dayes, what’s that place all about?? Good place for lunch??”

and I’d have to tell them, you might get more than lunch there!! LOL

Can also remember driving by the Tennyson Lounge over in Bethel Park.

I remember them saying, something to the effect of “hey, that’s a cool looking building, done in the tudor décor, what goes on in there??”


Comment by Dan 08.20.14 @ 5:45 pm

Now I see the math. Coles leaving opened up a scholly for our new 4* RB.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 08.20.14 @ 5:47 pm

Let me guess off to Hoopie U

Comment by pd 08.20.14 @ 5:48 pm

And I think we’ll be alright at corner with the four we have. Just need to hope that we stay healthy…

Comment by Atlanta Panther 08.20.14 @ 5:48 pm

I understand that we can’t afford much attrition, but I wonder if he’s gone because he assumed he was going to be the starter this year, and is not happy with camp.

If that’s the case, then we have to move on. Next man up.

Really, I know it’s a tough situation, but if you don’t want to be here mentally, you weren’t going to be that much help anyhow. In fact, he could be a detriment to others.

Not trying to spin it into a good story. Not good, but we can’t do anything about it, our only choice is to move on.

p.s. Was he a Chryst recruit??

Any reasons given why he’s going?

I’m not gonna rip the kid, but his timing is a bit off. A week before the opener??

Comment by Dan 08.20.14 @ 5:49 pm

Does Coles lose a year of eligibility while sitting out a transfer year since he used his redshirt at Pitt during his freshman year? If so then transferring seems silly. Unless he goes down in classification & is immediately eligible. Wether or not he started he was going to see plenty of playing time.

Comment by Nick 08.20.14 @ 5:54 pm

Coles was in the 2012 class so he was part of Chryst’s 1st class that he salvaged from Graham.

Comment by Nick 08.20.14 @ 5:56 pm

it just dawned on me that the only jazz channel now in Pgh is on the internet, and that Bill Hillgrove is one of the DJs … can someone confirm?

Coles was known as the biggest trash talker which is not necessarily bad in itself, but when you start believing all of your BS, then you do things like ths

Comment by wbb 08.20.14 @ 5:59 pm

Soory wbb, I listen to satellite or Pandora for Jazz, had not heard of a local internet channel.

Comment by gc 08.20.14 @ 6:04 pm

just checked his Wikipedia page and it confirms that he started in 2012 as DJ on the online Pittsburgh Jazz Channel — never listened to it though

Comment by wbb 08.20.14 @ 6:08 pm

if memory serves, Thomas quit but came back the next day and apologized. PC let him sit a week and brought him back, which IMO was OK since I believe that was his only incident.

He probably would do the same for Coles, although I’m not sure Coles will do the same

Comment by wbb 08.20.14 @ 6:11 pm

TJ Clemmings (offense) Ray Vinopal (defense) and Nich Grigsby (special teams) are team captains

Comment by wbb 08.20.14 @ 6:13 pm

Appears to be a done deal.

link to

Comment by gc 08.20.14 @ 6:30 pm

Whether he was a Chryst recruit is pretty debatable. I say if you give a guy 6 weeks, none are his recruits but c’est la vie.

Guys losing coles is not a big deal frankly. He left because even after losing the presumed starter he was passed for playing time at CB by a transfer and a true freshmen. If he couldn’t make the 2 deep this year, and he didnt,he wasn’t ever going to. I wish him the best of luck and thanks for opening up a scholarship.

Comment by PittHW 08.20.14 @ 6:36 pm

I am not surprised at all by this news. You could see it on the sideline the couple of times I was up there as Coles was pretty distant from the other kids. Just not surprised at all…

Comment by Reed 08.20.14 @ 6:48 pm

He was a good special teams player and will be missed. He did add depth for both games and practice. He knew if he couldn’t make it this year next year would be a non starter. HCPC said he will help him find a program and that is why HCPC is trusted by the football players.

Comment by chethejet 08.20.14 @ 7:23 pm

looking at the bright side, our 2 top RBs didn’t get charged with pot possession

Comment by wbb 08.20.14 @ 7:29 pm

This transfer is interesting. I guess he will go to Cal U. in an effort to play this year? I am disappointed when kids transfer when they are close to making a name for themselves. Perseverance is a terrific trait, ask Todd Thomas.

The captain picks are also confusing to me in some respects. I guess that we are so young on offense that Clemmings was a logical choice. JP Holtz may have been a slightly better choice, but we are splitting hairs between the two, so give it to the senior.

Defensive captain was perplexing to me. Thomas and Gonzalez seemed to be a much better choice than Vinopal. I have been critical of Ray V. for his play and I hope he gets better. I didn’t realize he was a two star when he went to Michigan. He needs to play well.

Comment by dhuffdaddy 08.20.14 @ 8:18 pm

This is sad news. Unless a player is a thug or a total malcontent, I always wonder what the real story is. Coles contributed last year and is talented, sort of disappointing when he isn’t even gone five minutes and immediately minimized by the “fans”. No one knows the real reason why he chose to transfer, there has been no comment by a coach, the Athl. Dept. or the player. Of the 80+ players we have left they must all be wondering, hell, if I tear my ACL a whole bunch of people will be on boards saying “good riddance” within minutes, next man up. Yet the next man becomes the guy they want to replace with the next man, and so on and so on. Some attrition is inevitable, and some for good reason, but I have to trust Coles is making a decision that’s best for him, and we don’t know all the factors. So, from my end, I wish him happy trails and best of luck, lots of programs out there and many that could use him to contribute.

Comment by PittMan 08.20.14 @ 8:23 pm

Can’t he transfer to a AA school like RMU or Duquesne and play this year too? I believe they are considered a lower division for transfer purposes so he’d be eligible immediately and wouldn’t have to go to D2.

Comment by PittHW 08.20.14 @ 8:27 pm

Ugly night for Pitt and Steelers (my God stupid can Bell and Blount be?) pirates pull out a win.

Can someone tell me what channel Mark Madden is on!

As a former HS coach, I can tell you that with some players there is no rhyme nor reason why they want to quit the team. Especially after camp! If Cole wants out tell him not to “let the door hit him in the ass!”

Comment by Dan 72 08.20.14 @ 9:10 pm

Coles was the ‘Clariton Kid’ who was rumored all through the off season to be considering transferring. Transfers happen in every program not Alabama, and even with them actually, so this isn’t something to get too worked up about.

Have to say this he was also the skinniest football player I have ever seen – I wondered how he’d make it through a season without getting broken in half.

Comment by Reed 08.20.14 @ 9:44 pm

Honestly if Coles is transferring because he got jumped on the depth chart, bon voyage…

Also, he was not actually recruited by Chryst, even though he was part of his 1st class. In the long run may be a good thing as it opens up a scholarship down the road. Short term it will hurt, because of the lack of depth in the secondary and his special teams experience.

If early playing time is something that is important to Jordan Whitehead then Pitt should be it for him.

@Dan 72: not sure how much it helps you now but Mark Madden is on The X 105.9 from 3-6 i believe.

Comment by Pap76 08.20.14 @ 11:09 pm

if he was slotted for PT in a thin position, then it hurts in the short run. For the 2nd year in a row, it appears that Pitt will have at least 2 natural freshmen DB learning on the job.

Comment by wbb 08.21.14 @ 5:56 am

Youngstown area has made some good contributions to Pitt football over the years. seem to remember a pretty good QB named Jim Traficant who had nice career at Pitt , and earned a reputation as a maverick congressman neither party could control and who spoke his mind in no uncertain terms—– so the party got rid of him. He was fun to watch on the football field and on the house floor.There were others some better on the football field but no more fun to watch.

Comment by Pitt 60 08.22.14 @ 10:40 am

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