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October 6, 2017

Missed a lot this week. Solo dadding with the wife out of town.

I was hoping. Oh, how I was hoping this would be a better story. The firing of Scot Shafer at Cuse a couple years ago not only meant Syracuse has improved; but it ended the whole Kiwi Killer stuff.

Imagine my joy at D-line Coach Charlie Partridge at least making an effort to stir things up with a story on Orange Head Coach Dino Babers.

“He comes out of his house and I can’t believe my eyes. I thought it was Santa Claus. He’s got a white beard, and I didn’t understand what was going on.”

When Babers got in on the passenger side, Partridge smelled something funny but didn’t say anything. Until he just couldn’t resist.

“Dino, what’s on your face?” Partridge said, finally giving in.

“Oh, I was waitin’ for you to ask,” Babers replied, per Partridge’s impersonation.

As it turns out, the Santa Claus beard was actually Nair, the hair removal product.

“He didn’t shave,” Partridge said. “He’d Nair his face, come in and wash it off. That was the start of my day. I was like, ‘Wow.’ So there you go, there’s my Dino story.”

Goofy, weird and a bit masochistic. That stuff can burn. Unfortunately not true.

Syracuse football coach Dino Babers wants to set the record straight on his shaving habits.

Babers used — and continues to use to this day — Magic Shave, a product for black men to reduce bumps.

To go even further, he said he uses the cream.

This is so disappointing. Given the general insanity of football coaches to maximize their time with everything, I could completely believe that a coach would decide that the time spent shaving is wasteful and there has to be a faster way — even if it burns. Frankly I wouldn’t be surprised if at least a couple coaches haven’t tried to get electrolysis on their face during a bye week.

When Rafael Arujo-Lopes was redshirted after coming over from junior college, it wasn’t hard to think he wasn’t going to work out. The fact that he barely played outside of special teams last year only further led credence to the idea that he was a player the coaches took a flier on and missed.

Instead, Arujo-Lopes has become Pitt’s most consistent and reliable receiver this season.

Lopes fought self-doubt and leaned on the same patience that helped bring him there. As he had in the past, he learned to let go.

Over the past two years, Lopes grew to better understand the game and its nuances, from coverages to rotations to the tendencies of opposing players he’d see on film. When combined with his hands and athleticism, that mental enhancement has made him that much more valuable.

“RaRa’s big-time for us,” quarterback Max Browne said. “As far as precision, he’s our guy with that. As far as executing the little things, in the slot, I think you’re getting a lot more hands-on, some more man matchups, so you have to be a technician in the slot.”

His Pitt coaches have been able to view his progress over the years, and they, too, have been impressed by a player inching closer to being a finished product.

“He has been about as consistent a wideout as you can really have, to be honest with you,” Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said. “He does all the little things right. We talk details and some guys doing things wrong. He doesn’t. He doesn’t make many mistakes out there.”

Lopes got some play when Ben DiNucci came in late in games, and the two kept hooking up on passes. At first it seemed like as much a product of their familiarity with each other on the second team. But he has kept it up.

What has stood out is that Lopes and Aaron Mathews are the only two Pitt receivers not just going over the middle making catches, but run great routes. They aren’t sloppy. Lopes has led the team in receptions because he is exactly where he should be.  It’s credit to his development and his own focus.

“Oh, man, junior college,” he said Wednesday, chatting with reporters as Pitt’s leader in receptions (19) and yards receiving (235). “Junior college definitely taught me a lot of stuff other than patience, but going through that process and not knowing the next step … ”

He had no choice, but to be patient.

“Especially where I was at,” he said. “I was in a desert-like place. I was really in my own (place), kind of felt like I was cut off from the world.

“Being patient, that’s the only way you can get through something like that. The moment you’re not patient, especially being in a junior college, that’s when you start getting into trouble. You get a girl pregnant, or you smoke weed, anything.”

Or just bored.

I really expected to see Paris Ford out on the field by now. Head Coach Pat Narduzzi seems to be getting closer to caving.

“Every week, we get closer to saying, ‘Let’s just put him in. What do we have to lose?’ ” Narduzzi said.

So far, Narduzzi’s better judgment has won the battle, and Ford, who missed training camp while tending to his academics, has stayed on the sideline.

“I don’t think you can put him in on defense right now,” Narduzzi said, “just because we haven’t had time to coach him. Not that he can’t learn. It’s just hard.”

When Ford joined the team in late August, Narduzzi said it would be “miracle” if he played this season. But he dressed last week for the Rice game, and he continues to impress coaches in practice with his attitude and his ability.

“He’s going to be a phenomenal player,” Narduzzi said. “He’s as good a freshman as I’ve seen.

“I would play him at receiver tomorrow or tailback, for that matter. You should see him as a punt returner. He causes our offense problems on the scout field.”

Narduzzi said Ford intercepted two passes recently, one time stealing the football from sophomore wide receiver Maurice Ffrench.

“Made Ffrench look silly,” Narduzzi said.

But, his future is in the secondary and Narduzzi won’t let him go out there and play by instinct alone. Just one more thing that makes this almost seem like a lost season for Pitt. So many things that haven’t gone right. You know, like the O-line.

I wasn’t too surprised to see that Syracuse is favored tomorrow at home. Even if they did lose to MTSU. They have made solid improvements this year. And Pitt has struggled. What surprised me was looking at the advanced stats to see how low Pitt looks right now.

Based on the numbers, Pitt isn’t favored in any of its remaining games. Not at Virginia and not the Thursday night home game against UNC.

With NC State looking legit along with Miami and a game at VT; the Syracuse game becomes a must win if Pitt is going to have a chance at 6-6. The possibility of being 4-8 or 5-7 had never entered my mind for this season barring major injuries.

It has definitely been a year where the team has taken a step backwards. I’m not seeing doom and gloom for the future, but it has taken a bit of the shine off of Narduzzi.

The defense has been better at times, but it is hard to shake that performance against Oklahoma State along with that second half collapse against YSU from the perception. That’s what makes the Syracuse game so important.

The Orange’s offense is the type that has been torching Pitt going back to last year. The secondary will have to make a lot of plays. This game has a lot more riding on it then a usual Pitt-Syracuse game.

Browne does NOT have the ability to LEAD Pitt to a win against a QUALITY Football Team.

The Good News is that I’m not sure Syracuse is anything more than average.

Yes, Pitt actually has a CHANCE Saturday!

This coming from the Guy who said Pitt had “no chance” against Georgia Tech… or NC State next week.

Comment by PittofDreams 10.06.17 @ 7:51 am

A fast Orange artificial turf might be just what the Doctor ordered for Players with names starting with the letter “Q”…

… if only Narduzzi was smart enough to have both of them on the field!

Comment by PittofDreams 10.06.17 @ 7:56 am

Pitt wins this one 28/24

Comment by WLAT 910 radio and the big beat! 10.06.17 @ 10:45 am

Given the flaws of each of our QBs, I favor Browne. At least when he does get around to throwing the ball he is accurate.

Comment by HbgFrank 10.06.17 @ 3:21 pm

After watching a lot of football the first two weeks I figured Pitt at 2/10 this year. I now think they might get lucky and make it 3/9. That will still take a lot of improvemnt.

Comment by Pitt60 10.06.17 @ 7:06 pm

I solemnly vow to refrain from any negative statements until half way thru the game Saturday.
PS. If its really really bad I may have to break my pledge before the half. LOL

Comment by Pitt Dreamer 10.06.17 @ 7:17 pm

Why do I think the season hinges on this game.
Lose this and we won’t lose a bowl game this season.

Comment by Gasman 10.06.17 @ 8:43 pm

D linemen kendall coleman and josh black out for syracuse.

Comment by alcofan 10.07.17 @ 8:05 am

Alcofan. Any little bit helps

Comment by DocJlk 10.07.17 @ 9:00 am

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