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August 29, 2017

Something Will Happen on Offense

Filed under: Assistants,Coaches — Chas @ 7:27 am

With the exception of certain Offensive Coordinators (Scot Loeffler), we really don’t know for sure how things will go. Matt Canada was a decent, but not outstanding OC. He was fired/scapegoated by NC State’s HC Dave Doereen, and seemingly ended up at Pitt because of his ties to HC Pat Narduzzi. Nothing about the hire screamed revolutionary, outstanding. At most it seemed like a decent fit, and wasn’t horrible.

Instead his schemes meshed perfectly with the players. The players took to it, and quite literally ran with it. Pitt’s offense went from slightly above average — with Tyler Boyd — to explosive. All while in a pro-style offense. He parlayed that into one becoming one of the highest paid assistants in college football, and a couple steps closer to becoming a head coach within a few years.

I also think back to the last decade when Dave Wannstedt had to hire a new OC to replace Matt Cavanaugh. The heavy, early favorite was Noel Mazzone.  Fans (including myself) did not respond well to the possibility, especially based on his track record. Mazzone was not hired — whether fan reaction played a role or not remains unknown — though it definitely didn’t help. He coached high school for a year before going to the PAC-12. A couple years with ASU, and then getting hired at UCLA where he was reinvented as an outstanding OC. So much so, that Texas A&M hired him away last year at a big salary.

Shawn Watson came with Charlie Strong to Texas from Louisville. His rep suffered fiercely in Texas, but prior to that he was considered an excellent OC. He runs a pro-style offense, despite rising to prominence with Teddy Bridgewater as the Louisville QB. So, the players on Pitt’s roster will fit better for what he wants to do.

Max Browne at QB should fit very well with Watson, much like Peterson meshed with Canada last year. Browne has a stronger arm, and is very eager to prove himself after losing his starting job at USC.

The pieces are still in place for a very good offense. Starting with Quadree Henderson doing a little bit of everything all over the field. Jester Weah will stretch the field vertically. The middle and slot should be more available for over-middle and underneath passes And behind an excellent offensive line, a stable of running backs led by Qadree Ollison should have Pitt able to pound teams regularly.

Not that there aren’t plenty of legitimate questions. For all the talk about the versatility of the O-line, is that more a reflection of mediocrity — with the exception of Brian O’Neill — on the line at each position? The same could be said of the running backs. After Weah and Henderson, will any of the receivers really start to make an impact? Mike Flanagan is a very good blocking tight end, but Chris Clark is a complete enigma after his transfers and injuries.

I don’t think Pitt’s offense will replicate last year’s explosiveness, but then I doubt it would have even if Matt Canada was still the OC. Heck, it should be very good. Just not record setting.

This year the most important player on the roster is Max Brown. I agree with Chas that this offense will not be as explosive as last years. It does need to move the ball on long drives, consume clock, and score in the red zone.

If the defense can improve a little and make some big plays, we can win a lot of games.

Max will need to make good decisions avoiding turnovers and convert third down opportunities. The high end for Max is ACC offensive player of the year and a Coastal championship.

Comment by scriptrules 08.29.17 @ 7:55 am

The low end for Max Browne with an e…is getting crushed as a statue behind a mediocre O line.

Comment by Dan 72 08.29.17 @ 10:58 am

I think the offense can be explosive if the line holds up and it should. I think the only question marks are Jones-Smith’s knee and Morrisey/Dintino,
but when Bookser comes back there is enough depth to move guys around if needed. If they jell early, we should be in great shape.

Of course Browne has to play well, and he should. We have the skilled positions pretty well covered, with lots of options as to who makes the play.

Comment by gc 08.29.17 @ 1:08 pm

A ground control offense that eats up a lot of the clock this year may well be just what the doctor ordered.

Comment by wbb 08.29.17 @ 1:40 pm

Maybe wbb, but when you have Weah, Henderson, Ffrench, Flowers, Lopes and Mathews with Flanagan and Clark, you have quick strike potential. I also remember Ollie, breaking off some big gains as well.

It may not happen in the first three games, but when Browne gets comfortable look out.

Comment by gc 08.29.17 @ 3:12 pm

Yes – when Browne gains confidence and gets more comfortable this offense will be exciting to watch. I just hope the O-line doesnt get him killed first. Browne is pure drop back. Wish he had legs though.

Comment by TX Panther 08.29.17 @ 5:14 pm

The low end for Browne is a body cast after the first 4 games.

Comment by TX Panther 08.29.17 @ 5:16 pm

link to

Pitt’s Kickoff hype video from Pitt LiveWire…

Comment by NickC 08.29.17 @ 6:03 pm

gc, no doubt that we have big play potential and expect to see it throughout the year. But not sure this year that we can afford to get into a shootout with the likes of PSU and Ok St.

Comment by wbb 08.30.17 @ 11:39 am

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