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.

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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