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March 17, 2017

Media availability was pretty decent after the first practice. Both coordinators were put out there, along with Quarterback Max Browne and Safety Jordan Whitehead. Quadree Henderson, the team’s offensive utility knife and Defensive Tackle Jeremiah Taleni got some media time.

Max Browne had some attention for wearing uniform number 4 — which probably speaks to a lack of topics as much as anything else. It’s always been the uniform number he wore. Nate Peterman also wore it, and I had no idea that was any sort of conflict or problem. Like plenty of QBs in college now, Brett Farve was the idol to many.

New OC Shawn Watson mainly talked about getting acclimated to the new team and offensive assistants.

“Those guys have brought me in and we’ve shared a lot of football together, spent a lot of time together in our short period of time here, because we’re getting on the same page,” said Watson, hired Feb. 2. “What I’ve done is I’ve come in and tried not to change anything for the kids in terms of the nomenclature of football, how football’s communicated. So I’ve needed them to teach me, and they’ve been awesome.”

Of course, Watson, also the quarterbacks coach, has already begun his own teaching. Coach Pat Narduzzi referred to his tutelage of his position group as “quarterback camp,” helping to develop not just the veteran Browne but the three scholarship underclassmen competing with him.

So far, Watson has mostly been learning as much as he can about his new players and familiarizing himself with the offense’s potential strengths, all the while going one day at a time to install his system.

It does bring up a solid, and oft forgotten point. As much as there has been teeth gnashing over the fourth OC in as many years at Pitt, The offensive assistants have remained unchanged since Narduzzi’s arrival. Some underlying stability in the positions coaches for the players.

On the defensive side, DC Josh Conklin is trying to get the defense to simply be better then it has.

“We have to coach them better, No. 1,” Conklin said. “We have to find ways to put players in better position.”

Then, there’s swag. Conklin said defensive line coach Charlie Partridge, in his second stint at Pitt, is the man to coax it from his players.

“He’s a great motivator, a tremendous teacher,” Conklin said. “He brings great energy to those guys.

“For us, that’s where it starts. When they walk on the field, they have to have a certain swagger to them, they have to have a certain confidence about them.

“If they don’t, you are going to have troubles defending the run, defending the pass.”

Pitt’s defense certainly had trouble when the ball was put in the air. Of the 128 Division I teams, only Arizona State allowed more passing yards per game than Pitt’s 333.2.

“We hear it from coaches, fans, everybody,” junior safety Jordan Whitehead said.

Confidence is nice. It tends to remain when there is something to back it up. It will have a lot to do with the secondary and improvements there.

Jordan Whitehead being recovered from a broken arm will certainly help.

While he’s still getting comfortable having an arm that is in one piece again, Whitehead also has some other things from 2016 on his mind. In particular, he’s thinking about his performance. He was a second-team All-ACC selection last season after leading Pitt with more than seven tackles per game, but he can’t shake the feeling that 2016 was a step down from his freshman campaign a year earlier.

“I think I struggled and missed more tackles than I did my freshman year; I think that separated me from my freshman year to last year, just making more tackles,” Whitehead said. “Junior year, I’m picking up this role and being a leader on the defense and learning multiple positions, just to get comfortable with everybody, every position because you never know what’s going to happen.”

Whitehead can’t put his finger on why some of those missed tackles happened – “I just missed them; that’s on me,” he said – but he does acknowledge that he might have been trying to do too much in some situations, particularly as Pitt’s defense grew more porous against the pass.

“I probably (did) a couple times, just trying to make a play; not really focused on my assignment, just trying to make the play. It happens here and there to everybody, but I think just keying on your assignment will always make a better outcome than trying to do too much.”

While Whitehead works to stay in his lane on the field, he is also trying to take on a new role: leader. Pitt lost 18 scholarship seniors plus James Conner from the 2016 roster this offseason, leaving a serious void of leadership all over the team and especially on defense.

There is really no question that Whitehead will have to be a leader, not just of the secondary but on the team overall. There are only 11 scholarship seniors on this team.





Jackagain, I had a feeling Dixon didn’t have all the money he needed. But I’m not privey to the budgets. Also consider how little money Gonzaga makes/has. Tiny school +tiny conference +large distance travel cost +small area = little money.

No question Few has done a very good recruiting job.

Also remember guys, PITT was beating Gonzaga last yr. in Okinawa when the game was called. The only player lost from that team was Robinson.

For some reason, I got this feeling Dixon would have found a replacement among the new guys or new recruit. He might have made the tournament this year.

Sure hope he wasn’t pushed out, especially by Upittbaseball.

Comment by Old Pitt Grad 03.18.17 @ 9:20 pm

Virginia is finding out again that the Dixon style isn’t so hot come March….

Comment by Jackagain 03.18.17 @ 9:23 pm

small arena

Comment by Old Pitt Grad 03.18.17 @ 9:30 pm

right Jack….slogball and 100% effort in regular season with limited players only gets you so far in The Dance.

While these teams with the best players don’t always play at 100% in the Regular season…they do in The Dance.

UVA style is old BigEast Pitt. And like Pitt, when push comes to shove, you got to be able to make shots. And the sloggers are not able to compete and create their own shots.

Pitt got trounced by Florida as well, even though that was our best team in the last 5 years (Lamar).

Comment by Emel 03.18.17 @ 10:58 pm

More ammo that ACC was not very good this year.

Oakland University 74
Clemson 69

Ok so Otis apologists would say what…Oakland has better players than Pitt. 🙂

Comment by Emel 03.18.17 @ 11:06 pm

We do know that Pitt is paying many more shekels to Otis, than Oakland is to ..whoever.

Comment by Emel 03.18.17 @ 11:07 pm

Very disappointed Pitt decided to doing NOTHING.

When Otis himself gave Pitt an ‘out’ with his on court berating and f-bomb on a Pitt player.

Disappointed but not surprised. Cause cheap and no honor is Pitt.

That should be the new Pitt motto instead of Veritas et Virtus.

Cheapus et No Honorus

Comment by Emel 03.18.17 @ 11:10 pm

I wouldn’t hire Wang chun or Doris Burke Jr to work in the Apparel secrion at Dicks sporting goods.

Embarrassing even announceing these nobodies from dogshit conference USA and Eastern Michigan.

Must as well Cal U or Gannons AD and save on relocation

HDR is a chop shop

Search comittee of 68 people is PC Garbage.

Emel – I’m flying to Charlotte tomorrow. Dinner?

I can bring Wang Chun and we can talk about the 4k people at his games and how he hired and fired 3 coaches in 5 years in. Football. Let me know. Email me yes or no. Staying at Hilton Downtown

Comment by Upittbaseball 03.19.17 @ 1:06 am

Stallings in the Gorman TRIBLIVE article today ==>

“If you want the truth, next year will feel like year one in our program,” Stallings said. “It’ll be our opportunity to begin to make it our program.”

NOPE….it is YEAR # 2….and counting…
and EVERYONE is WATCHING this dumpster fire.

Comment by The Truth 03.19.17 @ 5:28 am

Pitt’s problem is not the new AD search or the off campus stadium, it’s this fan base.

Pitt Football is rapidly rising into an ACC contender and this blog is stuck on basketball.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL IS IRRELEVANT AT PITT!

Comment by scriptrules 03.19.17 @ 6:50 am

Surprised to see ACC getting HUMBLED in the Tournament.

Leads to the question of “Just how BAD is Pitt Basketball?”

Comment by PittofDreams 03.19.17 @ 7:52 am

POD , OPG….ACC getting nuked. ND played nervous and FSU and UVA acted like they’d never seen a basketball. All 3 teams totally intimidated. Refs ARE letting em play! Where was this when Pitt had its teams??

Duke gone soon….NC to follow. How bad does that make Pitt??

Comment by Dan 72 03.19.17 @ 8:17 am

Pitt BB will be back…when Kevin Stallings is long gone. There are numerous good young coaches in the D1 ranks. The Pitt administration allowed Barnes to take a lazy man’s approach to hiring one of the two key coaching positions at the school.

For that, someone should be fired. Unfortunately, he left town for Oregon State and will never be held accountable again by Pitt.

The question now is, how many years do we Pitt fans have to wait for Stallings to be gone?

Comment by Erie Express 03.19.17 @ 9:37 am

Proves Dokish wrong again that we win in any other conference other than ACC.

What a joke his statements are. We would
win less in Big12. Stallings saying year 1 starts now. Comical. No ownership and all ad candidates are puppets woth. O ballls because a real AD fires Stalings and his metamucil.

Comment by Upittbaseball 03.19.17 @ 9:56 am

OPG – It is true. Hearman Barnes read my posts and fired Dixon. Then excused himself and his 11 wives and is foimg to fire geritol from Oregon. Dixon had the money and a lot
Of it but chose jot to share his almost 3m a year. That is on him. How many millions you need jamie?

Comment by Upittbaseball 03.19.17 @ 10:00 am

Problems with Pitt Basketball go beyond Stallings. It’s SYSTEMIC at its core.

Pitt Basketball rode Dixon for years until his style of Coaching and resulting POOR Recruiting caught up with both Jamie and the Program.

And obviously Basketball not alone.

Football too suffering from the same systemic problems plaguing Basketball.

It clearly is rooted in the lack of Leadership and Vision by the people in charge who’ve somehow managed to stay in control despite their flagrant incompetency when it comes to Athletics.

And you can add Gallagher to that list.

Comment by PittofDreams 03.19.17 @ 11:53 am

Gallagher is certainly fair game for criticism, however he hasn’t been here long enough to form any competent conclusions about him. And in fairness, a very good football coach was hired under his watch. He hired a “basketball guy” to make the bb coach hire and it was a disaster, yes, but that AD is already gone, so that made amends to some degree. In other words, Barnes made Gallagher and the university look bad and he’s gone. KS had also made Gallagher and the university look bad, so let’s see how long tray takes to rectify

Comment by 1618mt 03.19.17 @ 12:21 pm

Lots of hypocrisy here. Most people want to give narduzzi three or four to get “his players” on board. Why doesn’t stallings get the same leeway? Sure the season sucked but it happens to most programs except for the dukes and the n’c’s

Comment by Goalie44 03.19.17 @ 12:36 pm

True, jury still out on Narduzzi.

Continuing to lose recruiting battles to Franklin… and back-to-back 8 Win Seasons and TWO Bowl losses does not exactly guarantee that the groundwork is being laid for a future D-1 Powerhouse.

To his credit, Narduzzi did govern Pitt Football to MAJOR upset wins against Penn State and the National Champions on their home turf.

But deferring to perennial INTERIM Athletic Director Randy Juhl… obviously curing Cancer is still easier than winning 10 Football Games.

Comment by PittofDreams 03.19.17 @ 12:52 pm

True Pod so why is the judge, jury and executioner out on stallings after one year? Granted maybe Dixon would have had better results this year, but don’t forget they were HIS players.

Comment by Goalie44 03.19.17 @ 1:04 pm

And there were no “major” wins in Pn’s first year.

Comment by Goalie44 03.19.17 @ 1:07 pm

@goalie44

Exactly, Dixon left the program with 2 guys, Young and Artis as ACC quality players, no bench, no big man and no point guard. Prior to Stallings please remember Pitt missed the NCAA tournament 2 out of the last 5 years. This program was definitely trending down.

It was evident this team did not want to play defense. The 2016 recruiting class is gone but would any of them really make a difference?

The pure hatred of Stallings is quite amusing but is it because of Stallings or the manner in which he was hired? Stallings knows more about basketball than us and he might be a bit harsh but college basketball is big business and your telling me none of these kids have ever been criticized ? I played high school sports and I have to tell you the coaches were not shy about criticizing performance in colorful language.

I don’t think Stallings will be here after the next 2 seasons unless he really has a stellar recruiting class in 2018. The Dixon recruiting over his last few years was pathetic you saw it this season.

If Stallings succeeds it’s because he went out and recruited ACC qualified players because the cupboard on campus is bare and his current class is an infusion of talent but unproven in ACC play.

Comment by WLAT 910 radio and the big beat! 03.19.17 @ 1:09 pm

I agree, but what I’m saying is that it would have been easier for Dixon to achieve better results with these underachievers than stallings because their was no loyalty. Again devils advocate will say loyalty has to be earned as well. That’s why I believe the book is still open.

Comment by Goalie44 03.19.17 @ 1:15 pm

Agreed

Comment by WLAT 910 radio and the big beat! 03.19.17 @ 1:35 pm

I am not a hypocrite. Football coaches get 4 years in my opinion before you can start to hold win loss accountability…depending on schedule. For instance, our outgoing AD was an idiot. Why schedule the toughest OOC schedule with a team that will be rebuilding? He listened to the playoff committee yap about how they will look at the OOC scheduling to break ties in the playoff picture. He failed to understand that you need to make the playoff for that analysis to take place. This is where you rely on your conference to mostly carry your difficulty of schedule. He never understood that. Pitt should have 3 very winnable games and one potential upset game every year. That gives us a chance at a special season every couple of years.

For bball, i think the same way. A coach has 4 years to get on the right path unless something comes up that throws that thinking off schedule. This year, something did. Berating and verbally abusing a player on national tv is inexcusable in this day and age. The head coach couldn’t deal with the pressure and exploded. Unfortunately, we have no AD to address that with the coach.

As far as AD, Tressel brings immediate credibility to the university. The others being considered, bring nothing. I am sure we will be inclusive instead of being excellent in sports to compliment academics.

Comment by Huff 03.19.17 @ 1:43 pm

It bothers me none stallings dressed down a player during the game. Coaches bitch out players all the time. When the famous coaches do it it’s because their passionate…

Comment by Goalie44 03.19.17 @ 1:54 pm

Like Patton said, “maybe i should have kissed the son of a bitch”…..

Comment by Goalie44 03.19.17 @ 1:56 pm

Comedy Hour here. Rockports DIDN’T win at Vandy with 2 First Rounders!!! Now he will win at Pitt and the ACC. LMAO

Comment by Upittbaseball 03.19.17 @ 3:45 pm

Stallings had a past at Vanderbilt that included his own players and it isn’t pretty. He finished his career below .500 in the SEC. He won one SEC tournament title during that time and no regular season championships. He made the NCAA tournament once in his last four seasons at Vandy and lost a play-in game by 20. He guided Pitt to their first sub .500 record in 16 seasons and their worst conference winning percentage in 40 years.

It doesn’t bother me either that Stallings berated a player for poor play. It does bother me that we was AGAIN caught on an open mike cursing at a player. He should be able to express himself like a leader at an institution of higher learning, not a DI at Parris Island.

Stop with the persecution nonsense. Stallings deserves to be seriously scrutinized. Stop with the typical drivel about a shitty roster. Pitt returned 6 of their top 7 scorers off of a tournament team last year. Yet Pitt scored fewer points this year than last and surrendered more points this year than last. The tough schedule excuse is fading with the very poor NCAA and NIT tournament showing of the entire ACC and of quality non-conference foes Marquette, Maryland and SMU. Pitt lost a game inside the city limits by 9 to a Duquesne team that finished last in the A10 and 10-22 on the season.

7 of 9 ACC teams already bounced from the NCAA tourney by the round of 32. Duke and UNC still to play.

Comment by Barvo 03.19.17 @ 4:00 pm

I’m sure if he had the success of a bobby knight, people would care less about his profanity. Dixon’ behavior court side was also a joke.

Comment by Goalie44 03.19.17 @ 4:49 pm

Stallings had a resume of work for Barnes to look at and it wasn’t stellar and he wouldn’t be hired by any other ACC team.

Barnes messed up – his two most important positions to manage were the FB HC and BB HC. Gallagher took care of the FB hire and Barnes messed up, big time, on the BB hire.

The initial displeasure over the Stallings hire was because of Barnes looking down his nose to the fans and calling us “noise”. I believe if Stallings would have tried to engage the fans and coach the team he inherited, he may not be so dispised.

But he did neither – he never made an attempt to give the fans anything – like telling us what his offensive and defensive philosophies were – or buying pizza for the Zoo – or engaging Pitt’s basketball history. And as far as coaching, he was a poor in game manager, gave up easily and oversaw some of the worst losses and performances in Pitt history.

KS will not win fans over nor win BB games at Pitt.

My money will continue to support Pitt FB and the Golden Panthers. But, I won’t go out of my way for BB until the Stallings era is over. In my mind, it already is over…

Comment by Erie Express 03.19.17 @ 4:54 pm

it takes just 1 or 2 elites to turn your basketball team around

it takes 5-6 for football

easier to right the ship in basketball

most recruits are ready to play in b-ball unlike football where size matters…weight room, film sessions, coaching. you dont hear red shirt basketball do ya.

basketball is a more simple game. yet i think its more beautiful than football.

Comment by TX Panther 03.19.17 @ 5:04 pm

At Erie, I could care less Barnes did or did not do any of those things. All I want him to do is win. I’m not a oracle. Time will will determine his success.

Comment by Goalie44 03.19.17 @ 6:23 pm

“Lots of hypocrisy here. Most people want to give narduzzi three or four years to get “his players” on board. Why doesn’t stallings get the same leeway Sure the season sucked but it happens to most programs except for the dukes and the n’c’s”
Sorry Goalie, Narduzzi has won 8 games in his first two years and much more difficult to right the ship in football as in basketball as TX Panther is so spot on as is Erie Express. Barnes called us “Noise”, we didn’t want a retread but a new up and coming coach like a Ben Howland at that time. We wanted a Bryce Drew, so we got KS and Vandy got what we wanted. So ultimately there’s a disconnect up top. Bad hire on Barnes, bad hire by Barnes on KS (but we must be patient now) and current names thrown out there for the AD position are more than underwhelming! Gallagher has got to get his shit together and very soon.

Comment by PTG 03.19.17 @ 6:30 pm

Yeah , we’ve won 8 games and embarrassed ourselves in each bowl game. I ageee the search was questionable but but stallings is going to get a chance to prove himself.

Comment by Goalie44 03.19.17 @ 6:55 pm

Pitt can’t even hire an AD. How are they going to fire and replace the bb coach by the time the season starts.

Comment by Goalie44 03.19.17 @ 6:58 pm

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