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August 28, 2014

Blue Hens In-Depth

Filed under: Football,Opponent(s),Players,Recruiting — Reed @ 6:02 am

Here’s a bit more background on our first opponent of the 2014 season… the DELAWARE BLUE HENS!!!!

Delaware is a  member of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) which is made up of smaller schools located on the eastern seaboard from Massachusetts to South Carolina.  Included in that list is William and Mary who PITT used to play sometimes back when I was in school in the mid-‘70s.  Great campus there BTW – right in Colonial Williamsburg.

As stated earlier PITT is 9-0 against teams in the CAA so we really shouldn’t have much of a problem with Delaware, but one never knows.  According to the Blue Hens ESPN site the football team went 7-5 on the season and 4-4 in conference.   In their only out of conference ‘big’ game they were beaten by the Midshipmen of the Naval Academy (Navy) 51-7.  Navy was 9-4 last season so factor that in I guess.

Here are last season’s statistics breaking down the details of the season.  It looks like they could run the ball well with a 4.8 ypc and their passing game was impressive with a 62% completion rate, 240 ypg and 27 TDs.  Their starting QB, SR Trent Hurley, played in 10 games last year, completed 64% of his passes for 2207 yds and had 22 TDs to seven INTs.  He also ran the ball 62 times and if you deduct the sack yardage against him he ran for 4.3 ypc which isn’t bad.  It’s something for the defense to think about anyway.

The Blue Hens two leading rushers from the ’13 team have graduated so that leaves SO Jalen Randolph as the featured back now.  He looks like a pretty good one to me. He played as a true freshman last season and had 63 carries for 319 yards for  5.1 ypc and five TDs which is excellent for a third string guy.

But what really opens my eyes about Randolph is this; he lost only six yards rushing.  Six yards! That is a true north – south runner folks and at 6’1” 230 lbs he’s no small back.  If our DL isn’t ready Saturday he could rack up big yardage.  Randolph was a 3* recruit by both Rivals and Scout who was also offered a scholarship by Temple and WVU so he’s no small time player.  He played FB in HS and here’s a clip of him in action as a Player of the Week.

Hell, the more I research this kid the more worried I get.

Defensively the 2013 Blue Hen team looked pretty average all around.  They gave up 31 points per game along with 2596 yards rushing (4.8 ypc) and 3023 yards passing (252 ypg).   Another thing that stands out to me is that their passing defense gave up a poor 61% completion rate. If Voytik can hit on 60+% of his passes on Saturday we’ll be in good shape.  The defense did stand out a bit by sacking the opposing QB 24 times so they can get at it there. They also held the opponents to a 37% 3rd down conversion rate which is very good.

The leading tackler on the team is SR LB Patrick Calloway with 120 total, five tackles for loss and one sack.  That is very impressive and someone to account for.

As far as the special teams go their punting and kickoffs were average.  They slid downhill quickly with their FG kicker who was only 6 for 11, but he graduated and I can’t find out who his replacement will be.  Whoever it is will be a rookie out there though.

So, my take on Saturday’s game? Even with the disparity of school size, recruiting stars, conference alignment, etc. I see these guys as being an opponent that can hold their own.  In my view ‘holding one’s own” does not mean winning the football game, in this case it means the Delaware staff and players are going to leave Heinz Field feeling pretty good that they gave our Panthers a competitive football game.

We are not going to lose this game no matter what.  Forget about YSU in 2012 – it’s a whole different team now and we’ll play like what we are; a young and talented team.  The spread is 27 points apparently.  I think the SO Randolph gives us some problems at RB, he’s a guy getting into his own spotlight and will thrive,  and the experienced SR QB Hurley completes  his share of passes, at least enough to worry us in the first half of play.  So …

It’ll be close at the end of the 1st quarter; PITT has a lead at the half and we win while going away in the second half.  Voytik is average as a college QB but will be OK as a first time starter.  Conner runs for 100+ and in the 4th quarter we start playing our 2nd and 3rd string kids, but not as much as the fans would want.  Fans panic at first predicting a loss when  Delaware gets their first 1st down;  then the fans feel a bit better after PITT scores some points, then are OK with the win but still find 128 things to complain about after the game ends anyway. We do not cover the spread.

PITT 31 – Blue Hens 13. 

Note: Delaware has some pretty famous alumni in sports and other areas.  VP Joe Biden, Gov Chris “a bridge too far” Christie,  NFL QBs Rich Gannon and Cool Joe Flacco along with the Raven’s OL Gino Gradkowski, US Army General John Custer III ( I added him because I’ve met him – he’s not really famous), etc.





No matter what the competition, I am always concerned about the first game of the year especially for a young team. All coaches say that the biggest improvement in the season is from the 1st to the 2nd game.

Nonetheless, I will be extremely disappointed if we don’t win by at least 17.

HCPC on 93.7 The Fan shortly.

Comment by wbb 08.28.14 @ 6:16 am

@@@@@@@
Pitt cannot take any opponent for granted. Best strategy
against these teams is to score early and force them into
obvious passing situations. Get the “W!”

Game on ESPN3.

Comment by JR 08.28.14 @ 6:32 am

Reed, they also have a terrific receiver in Michael Johnson.

Comment by steve1 08.28.14 @ 6:46 am

Comment by steve1 08.28.14 @ 6:47 am

Agree, with JR. FIRST, always respect the opponent! This game gets won in the trenches. Both of Pitt’s lines are just too much for the Blue Hens to hang with for four quarters.

I also agree that the spread is just too large to bet against. However nothing would make me happier than the Panthers smelling blood and taking it to an exhausted Delaware team with fresh second team troops,trying to impress the coaching staff with their own play, to cover that spread in the fourth quarter.

Pitt needs to develop a, “step on their throat, take no prisoners” team attitude to be able to win the close ones. It has been an aspect of Pitt teams of the recent pass to lose their focus once they are up in games and allow their opponents back in it with missed assignments and general sloppy less than 100 % effort, especially on special teams! That has to change if we want an 8-4 record this season and it should begin on Saturday with a convincing going away victory by the Panthers.

But then again, “that is why they play the games” isn’t it? So we’ll see.

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.28.14 @ 6:51 am

Steve1 – missed him. He’s a concern too. Now I’m more worried than I was before… thanks.

Comment by Reed 08.28.14 @ 6:51 am

Plus the Hens copy cat uniforms are pretty “neat”. So get focused and go out there and beat Michigan,, er, I mean Delaware!

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.28.14 @ 7:01 am

Reed, also worrisome is every time a Pgh area kid comes back to play us, this year being Hurley, they look like the Heiseman front runner
Also you missed one with Biden, “Plagerism Joe”

Comment by Pittman4ever 08.28.14 @ 7:17 am

To stop a good spread team you need defensive speed and to cover your assignment. Linebackers and safeties in particular. This will be a real good first test for Galambos and Vinopal. They must take the right angles since they are not blazers. Vinopal has the experience. Open field tackling is at a premium.

If we can’t get our offense cranked up vs. Delaware then we have a major problem. We should be able to run at will. Voytik should have time to throw. With a high of 91 expected, All ten linemen should play and maybe all 5 running backs. Every receiver that is dressed should also play. Delaware will be out of gas early, unless they are in ridiculous shape. They just don’t have the horses.

On defense we will need all of the two deep as well as cramping will be pervasive, especially among the big guys.

It would be good if we keep Boyd mostly under wraps in this one. Let BC imagine what he can do. I look for a very vanilla, grind it out offense, with a lot of tight end and roll outs to backs.

Save the flashy stuff, reverses etc. for BC.

Comment by gc 08.28.14 @ 7:40 am

One other key to victory, Don’t let them get up on us early.

Comment by gc 08.28.14 @ 7:55 am

They have some players, some at big time level from transfers. The spread tends to actually slow a defense down, they will get some yards. Overall, as the game goes on we should be able to pound them and pull away. And by the way, the Michigan helmets suck. I want to beat these guys by 30.

Comment by PittMan 08.28.14 @ 8:12 am

do I detect a Buckeye fan amongst us?

Comment by wbb 08.28.14 @ 8:17 am

No way. Hate the suckeyes and all things little 10, including pedophile state u. That’s about the only time I might find myself inclined to grudgingly accept anything urban liar might do as acceptable.

Comment by PittMan 08.28.14 @ 8:44 am

great response, particularly enjoy ‘urban liar’

Comment by wbb 08.28.14 @ 8:46 am

…. as for me, living here in suckeye land, I’ve taken a liking towards Big Blue, (at least one time a year)

Comment by wbb 08.28.14 @ 8:48 am

The key to beating the Blue Hens will be outscoring them, imho.

Comment by 1618mt 08.28.14 @ 9:11 am

I think Delaware, and every opponent for that matter, is going to do everything to stop the run and short passes until Voytik can prove he can throw the intermediate and deep passes.

I know some have their doubts but I think as the year goes on Voytik will prove himself to be a good QB. Better than average.

Here is hoping the D gets some sacks and QB hits. Hard to do against a spread offense.

Comment by notrocketscience 08.28.14 @ 9:22 am

I’d run Voytik more than a few times Saturday and make them respect his ability to roll out and either pass or take off.

1618mt – have to disagree. We’ll win if we keep their point total below ours. :)

Comment by Reed 08.28.14 @ 9:26 am

I want to hear #55 called getting those QB sacks &/or hurries against the Hens. Do you know whose number that is by chance, notrocketscience?

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.28.14 @ 9:30 am

Is everybody else seeing the same William-Sonoma banner ad at the top of The Panther Blather that I am. funny and a great omen. CAGE THE HENS!

H2T.

Comment by Dr. Tom 08.28.14 @ 9:32 am

@Dr Tom

Mine is a Comcast internet banner. And, I say “Peck the Hens.”

H2P

Comment by pmdH2P 08.28.14 @ 9:40 am

Watched some Ironhead highlights and can’t wait to see Ironhead II (Conner) run some hens over. I invision blue feathers flying all over the field.

Comment by Pittman4ever 08.28.14 @ 10:01 am

Guys, I can tell you the score of this Saturdays game even before it starts! 0-0 (Waka Waka)

Comment by Pittman4ever 08.28.14 @ 10:07 am

Reed & 1618mt, can’t believe you two aren’t head coaches!

Comment by wbb 08.28.14 @ 11:01 am

Seems like Delaware’s best talent is at the offensive skill positions so I’m expecting a lot of scoring in this one. Pitt will let them hang around, but will pull away late on a Boyd return TD and a Ronald Jones catch and run for 50+ yards. 45-24.

Another famous Delaware alum who’s invention often comes in handy late in the football season is Robert Gore, inventor of Gore-Tex. I know, you probably thought Al did that too…

Comment by Iron Duke 08.28.14 @ 11:14 am

Doc, with this big build-up you been giving him the past few weeks, this #55 better be pretty good. (hope you didn’t put too much pressure on him)

Comment by wbb 08.28.14 @ 11:50 am

Apparently they have a WR who was recruited by several SEC schools.

And in a spread offense, he’s going to be catching the ball, ‘in space’.

We’ll see if Douglas has these guys ready and ready to tackle in open space.

Cause 1 missed tackle in the spread can result in a very long play or TD.

Still not seeing any line for this game anywhere.

Where did you see -27 Reed or anyone else ?

Comment by Emel 08.28.14 @ 11:55 am

In another line of note.

Central Florida is a 2 point favorite now over Creepy Valley State.

UCF’s qb from last year is in the NFL, so not much respect for the Pedo’s.

Comment by Emel 08.28.14 @ 11:58 am

read a preaseason prediction of B1G yesterday and they had the Peds in 8th place. Too much youth. Still the bottom half of that league has been horendous for the past many years.

Comment by wbb 08.28.14 @ 12:18 pm

Also, Doc, the secondary will have to play a part if there are going to be many sacks. Teams that get the ball off quick are usually running around too much for the rush to get there – in other words – don’t think pocket passer standing there like Savage. If the secondary can create some pause, I like our chances to get back there, especially if we bring some backers to keep them guessing and get away from this stand up and engage stuff. I’d like to see our DB’s up hitting them on the line, not lined up 10 yards deep and playing scared. We bump em, I think our defensive front gets a chance to back there.

Comment by PittMan 08.28.14 @ 12:27 pm

Anybody know the anticipated crowd based on advance sales? I guess the heat will keep the drive by’s away. My guess on attendance breakdown is = 30,000, complimented by 35,000 yellow seats, courtesy of our AD who couldn’t even negotiate a seat color with the city. Oh, well, Delaware will like it, they have the same puke yellow. As a suggestion for the AD, you could at least move the students and band over into the parts of the stadium where a few people are

Comment by PittMan 08.28.14 @ 12:31 pm

I agree with iron duke I see this game playing out a lot like New Mexico last year, I expect a close game through most of the first half, but we start to pull away late in 2Q. I look for 42 v. 17.

Comment by PittHW 08.28.14 @ 12:44 pm

Pittman, the first game attendance is actually pretty strong. I’d say 45/50k. Which will still leave 15k empty seats which because they’re yellow, always make it look worse than it is.

Comment by PittHW 08.28.14 @ 12:48 pm

I was curious about attendance too so I checked out stubhub for tix availability.

Very few are available and only in the nosebleeds.

Comment by steve1 08.28.14 @ 12:54 pm

Pitt’s Gameplan pretty easy Saturday.

Offense…

Run Conner… Run Conner… Play Action Pass… to BOYD.

Defense…

Sack the COCKY Quarterback from Greensburg.

PITT WINS!

Comment by PittofDreams 08.28.14 @ 12:56 pm

Moving the students & band require you to move season ticket holders. Not a good idea for a team with attendance problems. Pitt tried moving season ticket holders from the upper endzone 2 years ago & failed. Those are the cheapest tickets available. Most of the people in the lower levels are Panther Club members & wouldn’t go quietly.

Comment by Nick 08.28.14 @ 1:45 pm

Yea that would be great idea Pittman.

In these games where many fans come dressed a Yellow seats. They should move add a couple more student sections to the sidelines of the field away from the endzones. As the TV cameras show the sidelines 95% of the game. And those seats should be given priority to have live bodies in them.

If those seats were filled, the occasional TV/Internet fan bouncing around from game to game and the ones that watch highlights would assume the place was filled.

Comment by Emel 08.28.14 @ 1:50 pm

Never sat in the upper deck at Heinz.

I’m afraid of heights ! :-)

Comment by Emel 08.28.14 @ 1:54 pm

Comment by wbb 08.28.14 @ 2:01 pm

Not sure what makes Delaware’s QB cocky. Didn’t see anything that made him seem cocky. He just didn’t say, “Yeah, we are proud to be on the same field as Pitt. It is an honor just being nominated.”

Comment by kanyon40 08.28.14 @ 2:03 pm

Sam Werner got nothing on the blatherites.

Comment by alcofan 08.28.14 @ 3:00 pm

Pitt and Delaware should play every year for the Flacco trophy, I only remember Flacco playing one series at Pitt but maybe he played more. Line em up and smash them in the mouth Pitt wins going away!!

Comment by Steve h 08.28.14 @ 4:35 pm

Between Mill, wbb, Rev George, we got Columbus covered.

I remain excited about this game because of the unity of the panthers AND the Blatherites! It’s been a long time since we have all been on the same page and I am looking forward to sharing a great year with all yinz guys!

“Freeze” is the ultimate name for the Grigsbeenator. Two opposite styles offensively. One team will run to set up the pass whilst the other will pass to set up the run. All the talk about the playmakers for both sides, but we know the game is won in the trenches. Put our big uglies on em early and often and wear those chickens out! Panthers win 41-20

Comment by dhuffdaddy 08.28.14 @ 5:26 pm

We’ve only just now sold 10k season tickets… yikes. That is terrible.

link to scontent-b-iad.xx.fbcdn.net

Comment by PittHW 08.28.14 @ 6:18 pm

I’ve got a question semi off topic. I would like to watch the game on my laptop since there is no cable here in the upstate NY boonies. I can drive to some free connection and use my Mac laptop. Can anyone tell me how/what to use/do?

Comment by 9-2,8-4,11-1,11-1,11-1 08.28.14 @ 7:25 pm

about the attendance issues:

All students should be in the lower bowl wrap around the endzone…don’t care if you have to move season ticket holders.

The endzone upperdeck (where I sit) should be covered and those season tix should relocate.

And finally..stop playing the loud music..its ridiculous

Comment by Keith 08.28.14 @ 7:54 pm

If you have ESPN via satelite, there appears to be some carries that don’t give you access to ESPN3 – which is the only video cast. Otherwise, I believe you’ll need to log on to 93.7 the Fan’s website.

If the radio website doesn’t work and you can’t get access to ESPN3, you can always use ESPN Gamecast which shows written play-by-play with some graphics.

Comment by PittHW 08.28.14 @ 7:57 pm

oh…..and one more thing about attendace….Win games!!!…and they will come…h2p

Comment by Keith 08.28.14 @ 8:00 pm

With only 10,000 season tickets sold and few available on stubhub, I guess we can assume that Pitt is holding onto many unsold seats for Saturday.

Could be a very, very sparse crowd. Am I missing something?

Also Dockish has his analysis up on his site, Very thorough, without blue and gold glasses. Does predict 8 wins though.

Comment by gc 08.28.14 @ 8:01 pm

Wannstedt live on FoxSports 1 talking about WVU-Alabama.

Comment by PittHW 08.28.14 @ 8:55 pm

Wow, rough start for Wake Forest. Also, a L to start the season for Steve Spurrier doesn’t break my heart!

Comment by PittPT 08.28.14 @ 9:04 pm

Well, Pitt has traditional been an individual game ticket crowd, which is actually the problem – most programs operate much like Pitt basketball in that they sell out the season tickets and it doesn’t matter if people show up financially. People will show up for game one, Iowa, VT, and GT because its homecoming but, unless we’re putting up good win totals, it could truly be the worst attendance year at Heinz.

Comment by PittHW 08.28.14 @ 9:04 pm

PittHW,
Thanks, I’ve been using Gamecast for a few years. I’ll try the Fan.

Comment by 9-2,8-4,11-1,11-1,11-1 08.28.14 @ 9:21 pm

Pitt sold 10,000 student tickets today(went on sale this afternoon). They’re easily at 50,000 total. The actual amount that show up is always a crapshoot.

Comment by Nick 08.28.14 @ 9:59 pm

excerpt from Wanny last night in-studio at Fox Sports 1:

Petros to Wannstedt: “You recruited Gary Nova, right?”

Wanny: “Uh, well, yeah that’s why I’m sitting here with you”

Comment by wbb 08.29.14 @ 6:09 am

I really just want to see our O-line pound the snot out of the Blue Hens.

Comment by Atlanta Panther 08.29.14 @ 7:23 am

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