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March 16, 2017

Spring practices start today. 14 practices mostly closed off to the public and media, culminating in the Blue-Gold Scrimmage on Saturday, April 15. There’s no way it will be as perfect weather as last year, but at the moment I’ll settle for it being warmer then this week in the Cleveland area.

Yesterday was the pre-spring practices press conference. (Is that really what we’re calling it? Shut up.)

 

The theme of the spring appears to be about finding leaders. It’s a subtle thing, but articles vaguely hinting at the topic are here, here and here. Narduzzi seems to be emphasizing it on the defensive side. Perhaps surprisingly, it is Jerimiah Taleni who he is singling out as the guy who at the very least, has been leading the way all through the offseason.

“I’ll mention Jeremiah Taleni: he’s just come so far, it’s unbelievable,” Narduzzi said. “The kid’s really become a leader. I’m watching him in the winter workouts coach up the young guys. That’s when you see it. I’m not saying he’s a captain; we’ll find out in August or September. But right now you look at him like, what happened to you? He’s made some major strides in that.”

Narduzzi said two other key positions should lend themselves to leadership roles.

“I always look at your quarterback and your middle linebacker as leaders because they’re really talking every play to your football team. Obviously with Nathan Peterman gone, you lost a major leader there. With Matt Galambos gone…we’ll miss Matt. He was a major leader; he was a guy that led our defense. Those are two major guys and voices that our players are used to hearing every day. So those are some voids that we’re looking for.”

Taleni, is the (only?) Pitt player who has the coolest picture with the Dalai Lama.

Narduzzi talked a lot about the defense — big surprise. Between his roots on that side, and the struggles of it last year. Well, that should be a big topic.

On offense, of course there is the issue of replacing James Conner at running back. Though, that one may be a bit of “to be continued” checkmark with the incoming freshmen ,A.J. Davis and Todd Sibley.

Narduzzi is always hesitant to single-out certain players, whether it be on the injury front or something as simple as those who are making strides in practice, but he specifically mentioned that he looks forward to seeing how running back Qadree Ollison progresses this spring. He expounded on Ollison, who faded into obscurity last season after his 2016 breakout when he was named ACC offensive rookie of the year in James Conner’s absence: “He is a hundred percent different from what he was a year ago. He was feeling good about being rookie of the year, goes into spring and he’s just OK. But he’s a different dude out there now. He knows the door’s open and he looks like he’s ready to grab it.”

One player who’s not in the 95 percent of healthy guys is running back Darrin Hall, who was banged up in the bowl game and will remain out for spring camp. Between Ollison apparently looking better and Chawntez Moss grabbing backup work last year as a freshman, maybe not the best omen for Hall.

The same can be said for the tight end spot where the Chris Clark is the only tight end presently on the roster. But talented young players arrive in the summer in Grant Carrigan, Charles Reeves and Tyler Sear.

Then there is the case of the presumptive starting QB, grad transfer Max Browne. Fitting in, getting used to Pittsburgh, and getting ready.

Other topics to expect heavy focus. New OC (and the offense, generally under) Shawn Watson. How does Jester Weah continue to progress? Which receivers really take a significant step this year? How about some reshuffling on the O-line?

Then there’s the defense. Starting with the secondary. Oh, that secondary. Heck, the defense as a whole with the changes up front on the D-line and linebacker.

 





“presumptive” Starting Quarterback… is the exactly the right descript for Browne.

Going to be a battle.

Comment by PittofDreams 03.16.17 @ 8:58 am

Positions open all the way around on both sides of the Ball.

Expecting to see some unexpected names ending up as Starters or major Contributors.

Comment by PittofDreams 03.16.17 @ 9:02 am

Crean is fired. Hold on read this from there AD. Not like our lazy fat ass pumpkin headed sob.

Glass said that he has been charged to find a new coach. He will not create a search committee but said that he will consult with basketball experts around the country, including former Indiana players.

Wow an AD with Balls. Eats 4M wants to win and running the search. Not building a 23 person pussy search committee and using a search firm.

Hire this man Pitt!!!!

Comment by Upittbaseball 03.16.17 @ 11:46 am

One thing you can say as you watch NCAA – it is a 3 point shoot around. BB as we knew it is dead.

Comment by Frank MD 03.16.17 @ 11:47 am

Time to turn my unrealistic expectations for Pitt athletics over to football!

I am particularly interested to see how the back 7 are on D this season. Presumably changes across the board at LB with at least an infusion of athleticism. Certainly a new safety and hopefully no more expectation of Maddox covering 6’3″ receivers.

On to the d-line. Hendrix hopefully healthy this year. Does Blair finally deliver on the promise of his freshman year? Does Pugh appear here now? Will Folston and Edwards make a push? What of last year’s group of freshman Watts, Wheeler, et al?

For me the biggest concern on offense, and fairly sure I am in the minority, remains the new left side of the line.

I can’t wait for fall.

Comment by Barvo 03.16.17 @ 11:55 am

Certainly not a shocker that Crean is gone. Agree though Upitt, nice seeing the anti-Barnes process under which the new coach will be hired.

Watching ND-Princeton game in NCAA. I recall quite a bit of commentary about how Pitt bball didn’t have athletes last this past season. I think Princeton and ND might each have one guy that looks particularly athletic to me and yet both teams are playing in the tourney. Apparently basketball skills and smarts, and presumably GOOD coaching, will still make a team successful.

Comment by Barvo 03.16.17 @ 12:01 pm

Barvo, agree about the left side of the line. Face it, last year it all started up front when we likely had 4 of the 5 starters who will end up in the NFL. JC and QH had holes to run thru, and NP was rarely pressured, let alone sacked.

I remember one Saturday am last May when I was listening to XM Radio 84, College Sports, and Matt Canada was interviewed. The 1st question was to assess the strengths of his offense … and he immediately talked a few minutes about his OL. You can see right away how enthused he was about it.

Comment by wbb 03.16.17 @ 12:04 pm

Halftime:

Virginia 30
UNC-Wilmington 29

Isn’t UNCW the one that has the coach we should hire ? Keats or something.

This could be the first be upset of the Tourney.

Comment by Emel 03.16.17 @ 12:37 pm

^first big upset^

Pitt was down by 11 and 17 to Virginia in UVA’s last 4 games.

Anybody gonna say UNCW has better players than Pitt’s starting 5.

Comment by Emel 03.16.17 @ 12:40 pm

That was 11 & 17 at halftime.

Otis can’t coach at all. Run the bum out of Town !

Comment by Emel 03.16.17 @ 12:41 pm

Virginia has looked vastly more capable, especially on the offensive end, since Tony Bennett went small. And why not? When your scrappy mid-major opponent’s center is the size of your starting wing, why not put five guys who can shoot, and don’t risk mismatches defensively, on the floor?

UNCW is playing, what amounts to 4 Guards and 1 Forward who is 6’7″.

They had a 15 point lead until UVA went small.

Comment by Emel 03.16.17 @ 12:46 pm

Tom Crean fired after 9 seasons at Indiana. I’d take him in a heartbeat!

Comment by Dan 72 03.16.17 @ 1:01 pm

Over Otis….for sure. No brainer.

Comment by Emel 03.16.17 @ 1:05 pm

Wow, Princeton giving ND all it can handle. UVA’s slogball finally starting to take its toll on UNC Wilmington though.

Comment by 1618mt 03.16.17 @ 1:16 pm

The Seahawks hanging tough…a timely TO by their HC…something Otis is not familiar with.

Comment by Emel 03.16.17 @ 1:38 pm

Pat signal

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 03.16.17 @ 1:48 pm

Maybe a new BBall Coach. 🙂

Comment by Emel 03.16.17 @ 1:55 pm

Or an AD 🙂

Comment by Emel 03.16.17 @ 2:00 pm

Or an OCS 🙂 🙂

Comment by Emel 03.16.17 @ 2:11 pm

Lol. I’m guessing it’s one of the 4 QB’s Pitt was trying to pressure into committing.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 03.16.17 @ 2:22 pm

or a new defensive coordinator.

Comment by goalie44 03.16.17 @ 2:28 pm

Pretty sure it’s the TE from Mass.

Comment by JJ 03.16.17 @ 2:52 pm

Symonds? I bet he ends up at DE.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 03.16.17 @ 2:58 pm

Oh just another kiddo who might make the 3 deep in 3 years. lol

Comment by Emel 03.16.17 @ 3:53 pm

~ goalie….a new DC was/is on the wishlist as well

Comment by Emel 03.16.17 @ 3:54 pm

Man the more this BBall season sits with me I realize we traded in an Audi (ok, missing some key options, admidtedly, lets say, base model) for a beat up Kia.

Football gonna be super interesting to see how it develops! Thank you spring practice! Need the diversion.

Comment by DD 03.16.17 @ 4:23 pm

Hard to see the offense being as prolific as last year but we will see!

Comment by DD 03.16.17 @ 4:25 pm

Too bad Pitt doesn’t have the guts to fire our flunkie Stallings and make a serious play for Crean.

Comment by Coach Ditka 03.16.17 @ 5:31 pm

Maybe Crean will take a year off?

Comment by Tony in Harrisburg 03.16.17 @ 5:48 pm

Omg, Pitt is not getting tom crean

Comment by Keith 03.16.17 @ 6:00 pm

Dont get my hopes up Emel

Comment by TX Panther 03.16.17 @ 6:11 pm

Be careful what you wish for. Crean is an egotistical asshole who runs an overly complicated offense and has worn out his welcome with fans, players and the administration at both Marquette and IU. D-Wade got him a Final 4, not coaching acumen. Is he an upgrade over Stallings? Yes … but that isn’t saying much. On paper, I admit he looks intriguing but the guy is a headache.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 03.16.17 @ 6:17 pm

Comment by wbb 03.16.17 @ 7:11 pm

check out highlight film … good blocker

Comment by wbb 03.16.17 @ 7:12 pm

Crean is not for us. He is a good coach did a good job with Marquette. He should have recruited better at Indiana considering their BB history.

That’s what we need a recruiter!; A METRO NYC guy. There is so much talent in the area

Comment by Old Pitt Grad 03.16.17 @ 7:30 pm

I don’t like Crean at all. I share Tossing’s opinion on this one. Looks like Villanova has taken charge of this game. Too bad, really enjoyed watching Mt. StMary’s taking it to them in the early going. I didn’t get to see the Princeton Notre Dame game, but I would loved the upset in that one.

Comment by Justinian 03.16.17 @ 7:46 pm

Watched the tape of the new football commit……he knocks the fuck outta people…

Comment by Kvah 03.16.17 @ 8:01 pm

The cost of a six year contract entitles PITT to one more year to see if Stallings can get something going. Need to make sure the money didn’t buy a real coach.

My guess, Stallings won’t do shit. Next year, we get the hot coach, a youthful METRO NYC recruiter. One of the Hurley’s or Jay Wright type.

Comment by Old Pitt Grad 03.16.17 @ 8:03 pm

I think the Rhode Island coach Hurley would be a good candidate. He says he really likes Pittsburgh …. when Wagner won at the Pete a handful of years ago, it made the Hurleys a known entity as coaches, plus low-seeded RI just won the A10 at PPG Paints Arena

Comment by wbb 03.16.17 @ 8:10 pm

Kvah, coaches apparently think so too

Chris Peak? @PantherLair

The #Pitt coaches have a very specific plan in mind for new commit Jay Symonds: they want him to be the next George Aston.

Comment by wbb 03.16.17 @ 8:14 pm

lol First day isn’t even completed yet..and 2 BigJoke teams have already been booted.

Comment by Emel 03.16.17 @ 8:28 pm

Old Pitt Grad, not that much talent in the NYC metro area anymore.How many NYC metro teams in the tournament?

Comment by alcofan 03.16.17 @ 8:39 pm

What coach who is coaching this weekend wouldn’t be an upgrade over Stallings?

Comment by Tony in Harrisburg 03.16.17 @ 11:10 pm

alcofan, the real question is not the number of Metro NYC teams in the tournament, it is the number of Metro NYC players in the tournament.

There is always a shit load of players coming out of the area

Comment by Old Pitt Grad 03.17.17 @ 2:43 am

I likike the car reference DD. Here’s a clothing one: In Jamie’s heyday we shopped at Heinz Healey…his last year’s more like Mens Wearhouse. Stallings has us at Gabriel Brothers.

Comment by Lastrowofsection4 03.17.17 @ 6:40 am

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