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September 7, 2015

The Narduzzi Era at Pitt began yesterday and Pitt came out with a 45-37 win against the tough and persistent Youngstown State Penguins in front of 49,969 mostly yellow-painted fans.  Here are the official game stats in case you are wondering how what happened came about.

There is good news and bad news coming out of this ballgame.  Here are the highlights so that you can see some of each type of play we had Saturday:

The fact that rsFR RB Qadree Ollison  (16 for 207, 12.9 ypc & 1 TD) is as good or better than advertised is the good news.

Ollison Congrats

So is the fact that we sacked a bunch the YSU QB of times… and Peterman’s arm.  Add to that watching Jordan Whitehead acting like The Flash running around out on the field.  What a smile on this kid when he talks about actually playing real college ball.

Interesting point; when he’s asked if the speed of the game surprised him he said that he wasn’t because Narduzzi was running faster practices.  That is good coaching and this kid has the mark of stardom on his forehead.  All else is pretty much ‘not so good’ and even some ‘bad’ news albeit that is very subjective according to the watcher.

However, as our Beloved Leader of North Oakland says: “A win is a win is a win”.  Not as original as “O! be some other name, What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet…” but he’s trying.  The press conference video is shown farther below.

Every Pitt fan is going to have their positive and  negative takeaways from this game but I think it is safe to say that overall the main feeling we are left with after the game on Saturday is disappointment, with a dash of worry throw in.

Our Blather predictions ran the gamut from a close Pitt loss to a huge Pitt 62-0 blowout win.  However most of us called for a tighter Pitt win, and that is what we got.  My own prediction fell short of the final over/under of 76 points scored but I thought a seven point Pitt win was in the cards and we won by eight.

So as not to be hypocritical here I have to reiterate that I wrote the YSU team had talented players, especially the D1 transfers they had into their program over the off season and that I felt the YSU coaching staff was fundamentally better than ours.  So when I say I’m disappointed it isn’t because I think we should have stomped an inferior opponent, it is because the way the Pitt staff coached and the way the players played was full of mistakes and bad decisions.

The team we hoped to see coming out of the gate at Heinz on Saturday afternoon was not the team we fans, even the more jaded of us, hoped to see.

Two things rang true with our fan’s outlook about what we’d have coming into this opener; fans underestimated the YSU players and their coaches and overestimated ours. Now to be sure we are talking about is the coaching staff at this point in time. Six or 10 games into the season Narduzzi & Co. may start to get it and make it all come together but that didn’t happen on Saturday… by a long shot.

Here is Narduzzi’s post-game press conference where he addresses media questions and his impressions and his wanting to get as many players onto the field as possible.

One fan suggested last evening that Pat Narduzzi needed to go into the locker room after the game and give the players an ‘ass kicking’. That’s totally directed at the wrong target. If Narduzzi did any ‘ass kicking’ in the locker room he better have started with himself and then onto Josh Conklin and Andre’ Powell.

Himself first because our kids came out the gate somewhat flat and I wonder if they weren’t overconfident in playing a team in a lower division, a recurring state that has killed Pitt teams many times over when facing ‘lesser’ opponents.  After all the hype and excitement about a “New Day”, a “New Era” and a “New Attitude” we did just what we always seem to do and became our own worst enemy.

When YSU drew first blood with a field goal to go ahead 3-0 the Penguins set the tone of the game in send the message to Pitt that the Penguins weren’t intimidated in the least.  Their positive attitude and our rather poor response to it was the story line of the game up until the final whistle.  It wasn’t like we were down for 60 minutes, that isn’t the case.  But we were taken unawares many times especially in the second half and that is what happens when you are playing back on your heels.

That said, if I had to wrap up Pat Narduzzi’s performance in his first ever game as a head coach I’ll say “pretty darn good overall.”  Mistakes that were made have to be corrected within five days and he’s the type of coaching personality who will make sure that happens, first by looking at his own performance, then at how his staff made their in-game calls, adjustment and personnel substitutions and then down to the way the players executed those staff decisions out on the field.

Five days until game time isn’t much at all and that’s why being a head coach is so much different than being a coordinator… his scope of responsibility is to have all parties shaped up in time, not just a third of them.  That takes getting used to and it really takes practice as a head coach. Expect some more mistakes, less I think though, as he learns on the fly.

Our players don’t need an ass kicking, not at all. They need to be sat down en mass and then individually and shown what they did well and correctly and then how they made errors and screwed up.  Then of course they have to be drilled in practice, both staff and players, to fix those problems before the Akron game.  I think Narduzzi is going to be pretty good with game to game adjustments and progress.

The first thing he has to do is sit Jim Chaney down and put these plays into the playbook.  Not kidding here, we need some spice and it would be awesome to see the Panthers execute#7 on this list .

That Akron Zips game is going to be fun to watch for just those reasons. They are a step up in class over YSU and have a good coaching staff with Terry Bowden as the HC. As we remember Akron whipped us last season and was another of our ‘worse losses ever’.  How we come out against the Zips when playing in their stadium and Narduzzi having the week to work on adjusting to this team will go way in how I see the Iowa game and the ACC schedule shaking out.  If the is a big improvement, especially on defense, and I’ll feel much better about the team than I do now.  Here is the Media Guide for the Zips.

Ollison aside; and he was fun to watch, I didn’t see anything that gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling about this team.  While 45 points should make us smile it didn’t come from the strength of a well balanced offense but mainly on some outstanding singular plays. Ollison had two long runs; one a 52 yarder, a real show of speed and power, to put us onto the YSU one yard line.  His other one was a unbelievably quick 71 yard blast down through the left side of the LOS for the TD.

Here is a great interview – his first after real-game action, and you get a sense of who he is, even if he looks like a 15 year old.  It’s nice he gives Conner some kudos for helping him on the sideline.

Kick Returner CB Avonte Maddox turned a kickoff from a bumbled catch into an 89 yard return for a score and TE Scott Orndoff’s quick thinking and great use of his hand strength in a 55 yard TD.  James Conner contributed his normal two rushing TDs also.  Here is Maddox talking about his game.

Avonte Maddox

So while those plays got us points we had no real effective sustained drives of the type we’ll need to keep the better ACC offense off the field.  We had 12 possessions for a total of 29:34 which averages out to 2 minutes a possession.  Our longest drive was 10 plays for 5:25 from the Pitt 36 to the YSU 27 and a FG to give us a 17-3 lead… which was the last time anyone watching felt comfortable during the game.

Don’t get me wrong, long yardage quick strike plays are what we have were missing last season.  We had few and far between and the fact that we had so many in this game is a great thing.  But we won’t be able to rely on them to win all the time.  We’ll have to have better ball control in the future.

Here is a great description of Voytik’s poor play from the Trib’s Joe Starkey:

“Voytik rarely threw the ball downfield. After three quarters, he had completed seven passes for just 13 yards and had an interception returned 41 yards for a touchdown.

Three other YSU points were set up on a Voytik fumble at the Pitt 9. He also badly missed Scott Orndoff on what should have been a 24-yard touchdown but later hit Orndoff on a crazy, 55-yard scoring pass.

The pass was intended for Elijah Zeise and appeared to be underthrown, but Orndoff crashed the scene like a young Mike Ditka and put Pitt ahead 38-23 with 12:21 left.  Voytik called it the luckiest touchdown pass of his life. He finished 9 of 14 for 72 yards.”

But I had to laugh when I read this quote from Narduzzi defending Voytik’s play:

“Narduzzi thought his quarterback might have just been suffering from some opening-game jitters.  “Scrimmages are different from games,” Narduzzi said. “You find out how they line up at Heinz Field. The lights go on, crowd’s there, band’s playing, how are we going to react?”

Well Coach, Chad Voytik should have reacted as a fourth year college QB who had a ton of playing time in the last two years, had a previous opening game win, and had 13 starts under his belt already.  Sorry, but Holy Hell Pat!  We are asked to look at one of the worst performances of a Pitt QB in many years and that’s it?

Either that is complete naivety on a newly minted HC’s part, which I really hope it is, or he’s blowing smoke directly at us.  Either way it is disheartening to not hear a head coach, who is a self-proclaimed straight shooter, tell it like it is.  Chad Voytik is a big boy now and probably as mature as any player on our roster.  He’s not going to fall over in a feint if it is acknowledged that he played poorly.

Narduzzi doesn’t have to throw his QB under the bus but easily could have looked at the media and said ‘Well, Chad would agree that there is room for improvement there and that’s what we’ll work on.’  or ‘We had some problems with the newly installed offensive system, its different than he was used to and Jim Chaney and Chad will work on fixing that.  

Either one is simple, but true and effective… and you know Voytik would be the first to agree.

Voytik Photo

On the flip side it was  refreshing to hear young Mr. Voytik say this about his underthrown deep pass that magically turned into a TD when his 6’5” 265 lb Fairy Godmother showed up.

“Voytik admitted that the pass was intended for receiver Elijah Zeise, but both were wide open, and Orndoff made the play. “It was kind of an ugly one, right?” Voytik said. “It was probably the luckiest touchdown pass I’ve been a part of.”

What I like about Voytik is that he has a firm grasp of just who and what he is as a person and as a football player. I watched him very closely, with my brand new yellow binoculars, when he was on the sidelines when rsJR Nate Peterman was sent in for his rotation.  Nnothing that rings false with this young man and that is a refreshing thing in the business of college football.

Voytik handled that just like he did in the past year when Trey Anderson would go in and that was with grace and helpfulness.  I really do believe that these two QBs, Voytik and Peterman, are each other’s biggest supporters just as the media has portrayed.

Anyway, we knew Nate Peterman would get in the game early, Narduzzi had said he wanted to see him in a couple of series in the first half.  As the Trib states:

“It was part of the plan to inject backup Nate Peterman, a Tennessee transfer, into the game for two early series. It probably wasn’t part of the plan to see Peterman look great on a touchdown drive and then watch starter Chad Voytik struggle badly for much of the afternoon.

I wondered whether Peterman might be “in the mix” for more playing time if this keeps up.  “We’ll continue to evaluate,” Narduzzi said.”

I believe that “We’ll continue to evaluate” process is going to consist of giving Peterman more playing time in each of the next two games and then using the comparative results and effectiveness of each QB to determine who starts going into the harder ACC schedule  in four weeks at Virginia Tech.  It kind of has to be that way doesn’t it?  How much better an evaluation can you get but from seeing the kid in more game action?

At least I truly hope that is the case.  I don’t think anyone can look at yesterday’s game and say Voytik did anything to cement that starting position.  He had flashes but overall it was poor.  The reality is that every PITT fan who wants the best for the team should embrace this dual approach as it will put our best resources forward when most needed – whether that is Voytik or Peterman.  This is what a good coach does to win football games. Too bad none of our previous HCs saw things that way; it could have gotten us a few more wins at least.

I missed Peterman’s INT on the misguided pass into the YSU guy’s hands, but certainly saw the deep pass Peterman threw down the right sideline to WR Dontez Ford that hit him perfectly on the hands and in stride (!) That play happened right in front to me and I’ll say that Pitt hasn’t seen a deep ball thrown that well in two years.

If anyone watched that game and still thinks Peterman was brought in to be a bench warmer or a 3rd sting QB body to fill out the bench they are seriously mistaken and possibly an idiot. I’m not naming names right now…

Pitt’s missing deep passing game last season was exactly what I asked Narduzzi about in the Media Day press conference and Peterman’s talent in this aspect of the game is just what Pat Bostick Jr told me about when he mentioned how good Peterman is.  He is here exactly to give Voytik legitimate competition and to make a run at the starting job.

It was no coincidence that Chaney called for that particular play for Peterman’s debut. The offensive staff wants to show everyone, not just the media and the fans, but also Peterman’s fellow teammates, how good he really is.  You know Chaney wants Chad Voytik to see that play also because that is what makes good players better, knowing you are in a hard and fair competition against another good player.

On the defensive side we saw the new aggressiveness Narduzzi and Conklin have been working to instill into our defensive players’ mindset and it made for some pretty exciting plays.  That too has its problems that need to be worked on and fixed though.  We over pursued on some plays and haul ass in the wrong direction on others.

We didn’t see the turnovers created that we were hoping to; our defense had one chance at a YSU fumble but we didn’t cover it and we had no interceptions. Those things will come in time when the aggressiveness is more controlled.

By that strong forward leaning approach to defense also gave us six sacks on the day.  Grisgby had two from this LB spot and Ejuan Price and Shakir Soto each had one from the DE slot. All in all we had 10 tackles for loss for 53 yards (including sacks) so that is a good foundation to for DC Conklin to work on and improve.

As predicted we did get burnt on the one- on one cornerback coverage more than once.  Terrish Webb got blown past on a 75 yard pass play when YSU’s stubs beat him and the late-in-reacting Safety Pat Amara on a deep down the middle pattern.  That helped them rack up a 13.9 average yards per catch which is poor coverage on our part overall.

Here are some other facts of the defensive game we played.  YSU had 407 total yards; 278 by passing and 129 on the ground, mostly thanks to a 75 yard TD run by Jody Webb where he made Matt Galambos look like sightseer in Times Square.

They had a time of possession of 30:16 to our 29:44 – almost equal actually.  We did hold them to a minimal 19% in 3rd down conversions and to 0/2 on 4th down tries which is excellent, even while we were fumbling around to a pretty poor 36% conversion rate ourselves.  YSU did have 16 1st downs to match our same number.

Was it a complete mess on our part? No, not at all and we did some very good things to go along with the ridiculous.  Oh yeah speaking of which, I forgot to mention four penalties for 23 yards which doesn’t sound too bad until you realize they were all either delay of game or procedure penalties. That was sloppy work on the staff’s part there.

But we have a good sense of what kind of work and emphasis Narduzzi and his staff will have to apply for the upcoming Akron game in Ohio. I don’t think the Zips will fare as well as did the Penguins, but again and just like this last week – we are going up against an opponent who shouldn’t have beat us last year (at home) but did.  That should be an interesting game, especially with the question marks that arose on Saturday.

In my season prediction article (6-6) I wrote that we could be a seven win team if we got the lucky breaks and the ball bounced our way because that is what we were missing in 2014.  Here is a great example of exactly that happening in this game.  Both plays are linked above by here it is in context:

That’s how I saw things and those are the issues I feel popped out of the game with some force.  Yours will be different for sure so let’s hear them.

 

 





Akron depth chart released … let’s reserve judgement until we see the real roster play.

link to blogs.post-gazette.com

Rori and Boyd back in. O-Line back to full strength. We’ll see what this team really is made of this week.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 09.07.15 @ 10:54 am

Reed… Thanks for the Highlights.

But… now for the SCARY part.

YSU did not look like a particularly good Football Team.

Certainly not as GOOD as Temple… which is BIG… has Athletes… and is WELL Coached.

Expecting Akron to be more like a Temple than a YSU.

Pitt is also Akron’s 1st Game which means Bowden and his Staff have had only had ONE THING to focus on.

Comment by PittofDreams 09.07.15 @ 10:59 am

You know what… forget the last part. Losing to Oklahoma 43-3 might not seem like a Game, but it was.

Comment by PittofDreams 09.07.15 @ 11:01 am

James Conner done for the year.

Comment by WINEDOGS 09.07.15 @ 11:08 am

Wow now we must hope to be 6-6, no way we win 8 without Conner–damn it

Comment by John 09.07.15 @ 11:11 am

I expect another week of vanilla offense this week with a large dose of Boyd. Voytik is going to look a lot better with him back. I also expect to see a lot of formations as Chaney is still experimenting with this offense. Hopefully there will be more planned read option with Voytik. That would be the sensible thing to do if they want to implement a two qb system.

On the defensive side hopefully Reggie Mitchell is healthy enough to play the entire game.

Overall I expect to see a big improvement in both the team and the coaching as both get over the “yips” of the first game.

Comment by JohntheListener 09.07.15 @ 11:14 am

Nice job Reed.

At least the “Pop” was associated with a “W.”

BTW, the kid who made the two interceptions for YSU – Leroy Alexander – is a transfer from Nebraska. He was a 3-star in the 2012 recruiting class.

Listened to Bo Pelini’s post game remarks. He was remarkably reasonable in his comments. Said he thought they’d win the game; took blame for not coaching them better. Said the effort was always there but the football smarts weren’t.

YSU is going to be a handful for the rest of their opponents. Smaller size, but some nice speed in their RB and WR…

Had to be a crazy day for Brian O’Neill, playing his first game at OT. I saw him looking for someone to block a few times. He and Bookser should grow a lot as players this week.

Voytik was beyond disappointing. Looked like his first varsity game. Yikes.

Peterman looked promising – but the receiver was blanketed on his interception and he still tried to get the ball in… Still, need to see more of him – was surprised he wasn’t put back in in the second half.

Impressive game by Avante Maddox. I wish him much health, as he is clearly our best corner.

Go Pitt.

Comment by MajorMajors 09.07.15 @ 11:16 am

We need to see more of Peterman in game situations, maybe next week they can start Peterman and bring Chad in for relief. Vanilla offense was the result of playing so many 2nd and 3rd stringers during the game, plus don’t want to show too much to the other ACC teams. Without Ollison’s big plays we lose this game.

On defense, thought the DE were productive for a change. Galambos must play faster or he will be riding the pines.

Akron may not be as bad as they showed against Oklahoma, Oklahoma is probably a top ten team.

Comment by Grizzly1 09.07.15 @ 11:16 am

Very objective analysis Reed. Will go back and look at the videos later. I particularly liked the sightseer in Times Square, very descriptive.

It appears that the two areas that require improvement are QB play and MLB. I think Boyd will help the QB, but we also need better pass protection. As far as Voytik vs Peterman, I still feel, let the best man win, and hopefully sooner rather than later. Peterman has to be kicking himself for the interception. If he would have led a second TD drive he would have made a pretty strong case.

I still don’t understand why Wirginis didn’t get some snaps at MLB. We know what we have in Galambos. Not much chance to beat GT with him, or anyone with speed. He cannot get to the sideline quick enough.

Narduzzi needs to recruit some studs at the position, maybe a senior transfer.

Comment by gc 09.07.15 @ 11:18 am

First off, my moniker is due to the Pittsburgh Penguins, not the YSU interlopers.

I grew up near Akron – went to KSU (can’t read, can’t write, Kent State). Akron has been trying for nearly 30 years to be a good Division 1/FBS program. I’ve not been to the new stadium, but my guess is that Akron U doesn’t draw any better than they did when I lived there.

Pitt has no business losing to a middling MAC team, Connor nor not. Of course, we know it’s happened too far often in the past.

I just chekced out ohio.com. The Northeast Ohio news medial has always talked more about Ohio State than all the local colleges and universities combined. Nothing has changed.

Comment by Penguins Fan 09.07.15 @ 11:36 am

Reed -Was the “pop” reference a harbinger of Connor’s knee injury? Well, the depth chart is already changing with the Connor news. Good luck Connor!

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 09.07.15 @ 11:40 am

–The coaches have raved about Galambos’ ability to get the defense lined up right. Is this what is holding back Q. Wirginis? If so, we need him to camp out in the film room.

–Best wishes to James Connor – football can be a cruel, cruel game.

–BTW, saw Rachid Ibrahim on crutches down on the field before the game.

Go Pitt.

Comment by MajorMajors 09.07.15 @ 11:55 am

@@@@@

Nice job by Reed; better than local
papers. My take:

Got the W
No sustained drives
Turnovers kept YSU in the game
Disappointed in CV
Pitt D looked “small”
O was sloppy
Hate playing teams from lower class
Must beat Akron
Really sad for JC

Comment by JR 09.07.15 @ 11:56 am

Thanks – after the news of Conner dies down I hope the readers get back on here and talk about the game itself.

I do have to say that when Narduzzi said “Oh, he’ll be fine (about Conner) in the press conference I turned to my buddy and said “How can he say that because Conner hasn’t had an MRI yet”. If you remember Conner was on the sideline the whole 2nd half and didn’t go to the hospital.

Narduzzi dodged a huge bullet by not playing Conner again in that game. Dumb move at the press conference but a smart move there.

Comment by Reed 09.07.15 @ 12:18 pm

But Narduzzi said there is “no question” that he should get it repaired now.

“There are different ways to deal with it,” he said. “When you look at it for his sake and his health, doctors make that call. Ultimately, James makes that call. Certainly, it’s not a coach making that call.

“As a coach and a father, (for) his best interests and his future, he needs to get it repaired now.

“They could brace it up for five or six weeks and see how it looks, and (Pitt could) lose him for half a season, but I don’t think that’s right for him, as a player and his future.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 09.07.15 @ 1:34 pm

11 men up on the kickoff return still baffles me.

With the condition of the turf, one of the 2 that are scripted to go back….could have easily slipped and not gotten there.

And YSU has the ball in scoring position.

Comment by Emel 09.07.15 @ 1:45 pm

We have never seen that before for a reason.

IT’S FRICKIN INSANE !!!

Comment by Emel 09.07.15 @ 1:45 pm

Emil – agreed. Was that PN or Powell making that decision?

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 09.07.15 @ 2:01 pm

Dunno TT.

Haven’t watched Nard Dog’s presser, perhaps it’s addressed there.

Comment by Emel 09.07.15 @ 2:05 pm

I would like to see Zeise get some more playing time. He had the 2 catches, almost had a 3rd on a nice play along the sideline, but his foot came down an inch out, probably would have caught the Orndoff TD, & had some nice blocks on Conner’s 1st TD & Ollison’s long run in the 4th that set up Voytik’s TD. It was only his 1st game so I expect he will continue to improve. There wasn’t much outside of Ford’s long catch(he had a couple nice blocks too), but Zeise seemed to do more than the rest of the wideouts.

Comment by Nick 09.07.15 @ 2:21 pm

Did anyone catch Cheesehead Paulie’s new look ?

He’s got the Rick Perry glasses thing going on now !

(much like Rick it doesn’t make him look any smarter)

Comment by Emel 09.07.15 @ 2:21 pm

Comment by Emel 09.07.15 @ 2:22 pm

Nick – there was no way he was going to catch that deep pass from Voytik – it was way underthrown and when Zeise had to come back for it the CB was draped all over him.

… and that was with CV winding up and throwing it will all his strength.

Comment by Reed 09.07.15 @ 2:30 pm

Thanks for the overview, Reed.
I’m watching the game now. It’s not very pretty. I wonder if some of our disjointedness was HCPN trying out so many players?

Also: “In my season prediction article (6-6)”
Is that your prediction for the season or your success rate in predicting seasons?

Comment by Caw Miller 09.07.15 @ 2:41 pm

It was in his hands when Orndoff pulled it out. He may have dropped it from the impact, but it was there.

Comment by Nick 09.07.15 @ 2:43 pm

I was more impressed with the blocks, especially on the Ollison run. He made a crucial block at the line of scrimmage & hustled downfield & made another around the 5 yd line. You see way too many wr’s take run plays off, particularly young ones.

Comment by Nick 09.07.15 @ 2:48 pm

@ Reed – good article – thorough and informative, as usual.

There is definitely a QB battle at Pitt. We will see both CV and NP vs Akron. May the best man emerge for the Iowa game so they can jell for entire game with the O as we head into the ACC season.

We need a WR or two to surface when T.Boyd returns – Zeise and Ford looked like they may be the two.

The OL and LB units need to improve if we are going to approach TT’s expectations. Freeze looked like an all-ACC player and Bam earned more playing time in my opinion. Artie and Biz played and I believe we’ll see them both in limited duty against Akron – they need to be ready for a full game against Iowa. The trial development of Bookser, O’Neill and Roberts will continue until a win is in jeapordy.

I believe this staff is building for a stronger team during ACC play – they want to win the OC games, but they are using them to develop depth – no matter how ugly we look.

Remember, HCPN has not allowed many to see team practices for a reason. Maybe, if we’re lucky, J.Whitehead is playing some O in practice.

HTP!

Comment by Erie Express 09.07.15 @ 2:53 pm

He didn’t open the practices because he didn’t want the media talking about players’ mistakes in practice which is a good reason.

Nick – 50/50 he would have caught it…

link to espn.go.com

Ford has been running good sharp patterns every time I’ve seen him. He gave a nice hitch at the 40 on that deep route and the WR bit on it… and Ford blew past him.

I know I say this a lot but if we have an arm to go along with Boyd’s speed and talent catching the ball it will go a long way to easing the problem of losing Conner.

Boyd really hasn’t been scoring nearly as many TDs as he should have been only 8 last season, if we had a consistent and good deep passing game.

We really need to get that part of the offense…

Comment by Reed 09.07.15 @ 3:13 pm

One thing I didn’t realize this summer was that Chaney is not a fan of the read option. I assumed that would be a big part of the offense since that was when Pitt was most successful last year, but now Chaney is on record as saying he’s not a fan.

If that’s the case, CV may not be a good fit for Chaney. If NP is their guy, just make him the starter already. Don’t throw him out to the wolves in ACC play. Akron and Iowa as tuneups then onto ACC action.

The one noticeable thing with NP though is he has a little hitch and slow release. CV gets the ball out much much quicker. I wonder if that’s what has been holding him back at TN.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 09.07.15 @ 3:39 pm

@ TT – the QB needs to make plays and NP made one play so far while in a Pitt uniform – zero at TN.

On the other hand, there is much film on CV. Whatever the hold up by this staff, we’ll know soon enough. I kind of like the competition and I want to see the cream rise to the top – let’s be patient.

I renewed my tickets mainly because of JC. I like the remaining cast of players and will root for all to succeed. If we can’t win eight games, I’ll be greatly disappointed. I’m with you TT, expecting 10 wins, but losing JC will cost us 2 W’s unfortunately.

Comment by Erie Express 09.07.15 @ 4:05 pm

Tossing – yeah, I mentioned that when I came back from Media Day and it is one of the reasons I feel there truly is a feeling among this staff that they will play who best suits Chaney’s offense… not the offense we had last season.

It is also the reason that Chaney always said that Voytik was the “incumbent starting QB”. That’s because someone had to be the starter and since CV was the incumbent then he was the first up. In camp I think they pretty much split reps as QB1.

The big CV fans don’t want to hear this but as we have seen with other positions, especially on defense, Narduzzi is having in-game tryouts because they are not beholden to any of these players on the roster, except for the kids they got to transfer in and the class of 2015 recruits they landed.

Everyone else is fair game and, truth be told, Voytik just didn’t play QB well enough last year to ensure he can’t lose the job.

BTW – that slow release leads to a flick of the wrist bullets and deep accuracy. I’ll take that any day over a passing game limited to under 30 yards in the air to get a completion.

This is what is great about college football – no one is guaranteed a job and other successful schools replace starting QBs all the time – why wouldn’t Pitt do the same this season if it would help?

We may well see Voytik as the starter for this season but he’s not a lock for it based on 2014 or the camps since then.

Comment by Reed 09.07.15 @ 4:15 pm

The deep passing game is all well and good.

Hell if we could get 2-3 long TD plays a game, I’m all for it.

But it isn’t that simple. It’s the lowest % pass you can attempt.

Savage had the best arm at Pitt since Van Pelt, maybe Marino. Yet after the games against New Mexico (who was a scrub) and Duke, how many long passes did TS complete.

You also have to have excellent pass blocking to throw deep passes, at it takes more time for the WR to run the route.

Did you see anything excellent in the pass blocking this past game against a D2 team to suggest this offensive line can pass block well enough to allow for deep passes.

Funny Tiny couldn’t throw the deep ball at all, never heard back then…we needed someone in there who could.

Comment by Emel 09.07.15 @ 4:18 pm

–TT – I didn’t notice any hitch in NP’s passing motion. Watched him some in warm-ups and he looked pretty smooth. You sure you didn’t see a crappy pump fake?

–A concern I have with the inside running game is I wonder if Artie is strong enough to block the bigger defensive tackles. I remember he struggled some in his first year – course he should be stronger now but he’s also had the injury…

–How about Darrin Hall – he went from looking like a RS candidate to the point where he’s going to see a lot of playing time…

–Anybody notice what a good game FB George Aston had? Very solid – shows up throwing key blocks on most of Pitt’s big plays.

–Perhaps we see Stephen Ezekoye get some carries unless they move Jameel Poteat back to RB – which seems like a good bet to me.

Go Pitt.

Comment by MajorMajors 09.07.15 @ 4:23 pm

Hitch was a bad choice of words. Elongated better explains it. It reminded me of Byron Leftwhich the way he really cocks his arm before releasing. It will add velocity and distance but it also allows DB’s to jump on the ball negating the velocity. Both QB’s have their flaws. CV didn’t look comfortable out there running the offense. Boyd will help. I don’t mind NP playing a series but entering the third series of the first game was odd.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 09.07.15 @ 5:20 pm

What was odder TT.

Them not putting him back him.

Were they afraid his confidence was shaken after the near pic and then the pic ?

Chaney might be coddling him.

Comment by Emel 09.07.15 @ 7:50 pm

FWIW – at Arkansas last year, HCBB did not like OC Chaney’s plat calling either. Just sayin…

Comment by Erie Express 09.07.15 @ 8:50 pm

Play, not plat

Comment by Erie Express 09.07.15 @ 8:51 pm

HCPN said in his post-game press conference that the plan was to put NP in the game early for a short while, just to get him some experience. He didn’t want to wait until late in the game, when the game might be on the line. How he performed was not a factor – they just stuck with the preordained plan.

Comment by 66Goat 09.07.15 @ 9:52 pm

Osborne, you aren’t supposed to take me seriously. If you want serious then I suggest the local papers – they have no sense of humor at all.

66goat – correct. This was a very scripted game and not just at QB but with all the positions almost. The personnel rotations didn’t go by situations or score either. I think the staff felt comfortable enough going in that they felt they could stick to that plan.

FUN WITH STATS!

Emel, I think there is somewhat of a misconception about Sunseri and deep passes. Sunseri could complete long passes and did so with some regularity basis especially in 2010 and 2012. His game wasn’t a ‘deep game’ like Savages but he got the ball downfield.

Part of what affects how many deep passes a QB completes is what kind of a passing game is being called. For instance, Graham’s offense in 2011 didn’t call for many deep patterns much. Another is how the OC uses the RBs in the passing game. In Sunseri’s three years as a starter our RBs had this for receptions per year:

– in ’10 (DW) the RBs had 101 receptions; he hit Baldwin 53 times for a on a 15.7 ypc average and Shanahan 43 time for 13.7. A lot of those were on 30+ yards passes especially with Baldwin… and yes, Baldwin helped him out sometimes.

So out of Sunseri’s 223 completions 122 went out to the WRs and TEs. Baldwin and Shanahan accounted for 96 of those and averaged 14.7 ypc which is high. To put it into perspective Baldwin & Shanahan’s combined 14.7 ypc average matches up to the national 2010 Top Ten Total Receiving Yards WR’s 15.9 ypc. Pretty darn close.

So in 2010 he was going intermediate and deep with those two all the time and completing a lot of 25-30+ passes. That was how Cignetti called the offense – heavy on RBs and then deeper throws to the WRs. Sunseri wasn’t as good as Stull with the deep passes to Baldwin but he got the ball downfield to him.

As I said, Graham’s game was more dink and dunk and run the QB so the RBs got 74 receptions which is still high. Out of the remaining passes Sunseri hit Street and Shanahan 92 times for 1247 yards and a 13.7 ypc average. Pretty good considering what Graham was trying to do.

Jump to ’12 under Paul Chryst and the passing game opened up. The passes to the RBs dropped to 58 and then Sunseri hit Street and Shanahan 135 times for 1958 yards and a 14.5 ypc average. Again putting that up against the 2012 Top Ten Receivers that up against the Top Ten 15.01 and it is again…. pretty darn close.

Take that for what its worth but I really do think all the bonehead plays and the general dislike of Sunseri leads people to believe he had no deep passing game which isn’t the case.

As I also said in an earlier article I went back and charted all Voytik’s 40+ total yards pass plays and save maybe four or five out of about 28 they were all major YAC. Sunseri had some of that two but he was also hitting Baldwin, Street and Shanahan downfield more often than we remember.

Comment by Reed 09.08.15 @ 6:50 am

Since I am not a grumpy geezer, I give Voytek a free pass. For one, the protection was pretty bad. O’Neil… is just not very good at this time in his career. If Pitt has to go the entire season with him at tackle, they are in big trouble. It was like a flashback to when Savage was the QB. The OL was so bad, the TE’s (usually 2 of them) didn’t run pass routes… they helped the tackles!

Good DE’s are going to have a sack-fest against this OL.

Comment by JohnRamella 09.08.15 @ 9:50 am

Reed- And how many of Tiny’s throws were YAC? His arm had zero accuracy. Period. Sharp in 20 range, sucked deep. Remember him having wideout open in his last year on post to open endzone and he threw the ball to the right of the center of the endzone – thirty yards away. What kind of alchol do they serve up there in the press box?

Comment by rkb 09.08.15 @ 12:30 pm

Reed and Blatherites – sorry didnt make to pregame festivities but facial impact + concrete = concussion. Went to game anyway and much was fuzzy.
Random thoughts from fragmented mind –
OL and DL nothing to write home about.
Reed was correct on Ollison, super.
QB – Neither was impressive. NP made on outstanding throw then threw into double coverage and Reed you can cheerlead all you want it was a horrible mistake period. CV was just as unimpressive. All that said I expect the competition to continue with NP getting perhaps 3 series vs Akron. I want the best but am not gonna shoot a load in my pants over one completion. 🙂
LB – except for Grigsby nothing impressed. Galambos should at best be splitting time with Wirginis – G will be too slow again for ACC.
DBs – made some good plays, like the potential of Whitehead.
E-mel you are dead on regarding the last YSU kickoff, 11 men on line with that field, DUMB!!.
The team has a long way to go – YSU is still a FCS ie D2 team.
I HATE RAP – lousy rhymes to a looped drum beat. Why the f@*k did they have to play that shit even during the 25 second clock. Again, this “noise” made by drug dealing murderers SUCKS. If anyone on here is on The Fan Committee – QUIT celebrating the dumbing down of America. Here’s a novel thought – how about the Pitt Band playing? RAP SUCKS. Watching a game with a concussion and headaches only adds to my objection to the contant assault of RAP, which SUCKS.
Reed – how many of those 30+ yd Tiny catches – if there were that many why are the avg yard per catch so low – yes low? Give a number of YAC Reed Sunseri. Clint Eastwood – “dont piss down my back and tell me its raining”. TS SUCKED and could hold either CV or NP jockstrap.
PS. Not revisiting TS anymore but say high to him at the family reunion Reed.

Comment by rkb 09.08.15 @ 12:51 pm

rkb – you and many others have accused me of some sort of relationship with Sunseri for years and I have never had one – although I talked with his Uncle for about a minute at the spring game in 2011. To be honest I’ve talked with Voytik more times than I did with Sunseri over his three years.

I also think it is interesting that everyone on here accused me of ‘hating’ on Sunseri when I was clamoring for Wannstedt to give Bostick a fair shot at competing for the starting job back in 2010… and know you guys say I love him – and neither is true.

That said – I disagree with your statement that Baldwin and Shanahan’s YPC totals were low in 2010. Baldwin had a 15.7 ypc and combined they had 14.7 ypc. That stacks up with the guys who were leading the nation in yard per reception.

Here is the link to the “Total Receiving Yards” listing for 2010. You can see for yourself.

link to web1.ncaa.org

I researched and wrote a piece a couple years ago about Sunseri’s YAC and I can’t seem to finds it now but I did the same thing then that I did with Voytik last year. Went back and reviewed all the pass plays that went for over 40 yards gained and it was almost the exact opposite of the major YAC Voytik’s receivers had on those plays last year.

Look, Sunseri wasn’t a strong armed QB like Tom Savage was but he could put the ball down field with pretty good accuracy… not all the time as there were some weird throws and inconsistency, but more often than fans remember or believe.

Anyway – I don’t believe Sunseri was as good as you guys think I do but I also don’t think he was a bad as YOU guys believe either.

Subject closed – Akron in 4 days

Comment by Reed 09.08.15 @ 1:20 pm

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