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October 11, 2017

What Do You Want To See in Final Six?

Filed under: Football — Chas @ 7:46 am

I’ve calmed down a bit. Stepped back. Had a chance to breathe.

A lot of people have pointed out in the ensuing hours and days after the end of the Syracuse game, that playing Kenny Pickett for one snap at the end of the game is not the worst thing in the world.

And they are right, with a big caveat.

Pickett has to actually play the rest of the season. Not start, but has to play some significant time. Not simply one series or two.

If the redshirt has been burned. If Pickett is the likely future at QB for Pitt next year. If there actually is a plan in place. If the head coach has patience with mistakes and not always being perfect in practice. If the offensive staff — and specifically OC/QB Coach Shawn Watson — can develop a QB rather then reach back into the transfer pool. There are more “ifs,” but you get the picture.

And this is my concern on this part.

I like Pat Narduzzi as Pitt’s head coach. I want to see him succeed (obviously). I’m reasonably patient in this and most of the coaching staff. I really am not in favor of getting rid of Shawn Watson after one season. (In no small part, because a 4th OC in 4 years seems really dumb, but also if Pickett is going to be the QB at least let him have the same QB coach for 2 years.) O-line coach John Petersen shouldn’t take the fall for this season, when you consider how well the unit was the last two.

I’m digressing, but back to my concern with Pat Narduzzi and young players. I don’t know that there is actually a plan. He says there’s one. He talks often about how much he wants to redshirt freshmen whenever possible. How they don’t want to play them. And yet that only seems to apply to the defensive side of the ball.

Pickett going in because of the chaos at the end of the game was ridiculous, no matter how you slice it. A.J. Davis and Tyler Sear had their redshirts burned in the first game, but have barely seen the field since. And in the case of A.J. Davis, it isn’t as if Pitt has found success at RB or are even sticking (completely) with one back.

The lack of touches for Davis — especially considering Chawntez Moss was suspended in the opener, again for Syracuse, and remains suspended — is mind-boggling. We are acutely familiar with how shockingly bad the O-line has been, but it still doesn’t make sense to have Davis with only three touches in 6 games.

Players improve over the season and can force their way onto the field (Maurice Ffrench). There can be so many injuries at one position, that no choice is given in playing them late in the season (Damar Hamlin). That hasn’t been the case this season.

And I do understand that coaches want to win. Their job depends on it. The theory of putting some guys out there to take their lumps this year, collides hard with the reality of trying to win games and doing right by the rest of the kids on the team that season. Not simply always looking long-term or the program overall.

Add in fans that will clamor for the long-term — when the game isn’t being played — and then rant madly during the game about how the coaches have to get that player out of the game because he is overmatched or playing poorly.

Here’s where Pitt stands at this point. The record is 2-4. The starting QB is out for at least two games.

Three of the remaining games are against top-25 teams. Three look winnable.

What do you want to see Pitt doing over the second half of the season — aside from just winning every game?

Get Henderson involved in the offense. 6 catches for 124 yds. w/ his open field running ability??

Time to convert a lineman to TE for short yardage situations. These TE’s can’t or won’t block.

Let Pickett play.

Love Narduzzi suspending troubled players. The day he doesn’t is the day he becomes Foge.

Comment by John Ramella 10.11.17 @ 8:43 am

Already posted but worth doing again.

A Defense capable of giving Pitt a CHANCE to be in the Game against QUALITY Opponents.

Comment by PittofDreams 10.11.17 @ 9:04 am

And, oh ya… Narduzzi finally commit to DiNucci enough to give the Pittsburgh native a CHANCE to show more of what he is capable of and prove his MANY Detractors wrong!

Comment by PittofDreams 10.11.17 @ 9:11 am

I just want to see some progress in all areas, I am not sure we have good players that can get better. It all starts with the offensive line and through six games there has been no improvement.
I have a sickening feeling this time next year we will be having the same conversations. At that point it becomes a coaching issue. Most of their targets in recruiting are picking other schools, this cant continue if the program is to improve.

Comment by Pitt Dreamer 10.11.17 @ 10:44 am

I’ve heard coaches will be voting on a change to the redshirt rules regarding playing time. If true I can’t imagine it wouldn’t pass

Comment by Kgh385 10.11.17 @ 11:32 am

I’d like to see a move from trying to establish the run game early to doing it more organically.

It’s Offensive Coordinator 101 … 8 man box = pass. Not an 8 man box = run. Let the game dictate the offense not the ideology. I believe that’s what made Canada so successful. He had a great feel for the game. Let the game dictate the attack.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 10.11.17 @ 11:40 am

I view 3 (or more) wins the rest of the way as success. This team is not as good as most folks expected, although, I think expectations were too high given a new OC, new QB, some key talent losses and lack of real depth. We have some nice players but not enough of them. PN needs another 2 years to get this thing turned around and stabilized such that we are consistently winning 8+ every year. H2P !

Comment by Tomas 10.11.17 @ 12:34 pm

Correct, Pickett needs to play every game.

Other than that, the only positive is we won’t complain about being passed over this year by an upper level bowl.

Comment by Gasman 10.11.17 @ 12:56 pm

Ditto to all previous posts. Add this, Watson aint the head coach! The boss needs to tell him where the bear sh– in the buckwheat and make some changes in play calls. The thing that scares me most is the ????s about recruiting.

Comment by Pitt60 10.11.17 @ 1:42 pm

Fix the damn offensive line!!! Nothing positive can happen with our center and LG getting pancaked into our own backfield 7-8 x per game. No offense can work, no OC can be judged. Of course maybe that’s why they are NOT fixing it.

Comment by Dan 72 10.11.17 @ 2:37 pm

i hope pn plays pickett a lot. the way he always insisted that dinucci and browne were more or less equal bothers me. though most seem to think pickett is a better qb prospect than dinucci, i am afraid that pn will favor dinucci out of loyalty to him.

Comment by auggie from latrobe 10.11.17 @ 3:26 pm

A quarterback with a future (I don’t care who it is)
An effective pass rush
3 interceptions
Solid halftime adjustments

Comment by Skeptic 10.11.17 @ 5:35 pm

Absolutely agree, Dan. No part of the offense is going to look until the O line comes around.

Comment by dinosaur 71 10.11.17 @ 8:49 pm

*look good*

Comment by dinosaur 71 10.11.17 @ 9:45 pm

– Give Pickett a series every game
– Play Whitehead at tailback 50% of snaps, and give Garner/Briggs 50% of snaps at safety in his place.
– If Dinucci looks so-so and Browne isn’t ready, let Pickett start a game
– As Thabeets said, if teams load up to stop our run, then throw on them ala the Rice game.
– Keep taking aggressive shots downfield with Weah and Clark, and find more ways to use Ra-Ra and Ffrench.
– Don’t panic, just improve each day!

Comment by Matt N. 10.12.17 @ 12:28 am

I love Whitehead at safety and he probably will garner All-America consideration if he keeps his level of play up for the rest of this season…however, if the idea is to have your best players have the ball in their hands as much as possible, can we afford to not make him our full-time tailback?!

He clearly has more juice and instincts than anybody else who has been given the ball, and if he can run for 100-150 yards a game for us and help balance our offense, I think I’m willing to let Garner take his place on D. His impact on our offense will be immense.

Comment by Matt N. 10.12.17 @ 12:36 am

As I recall from his recruiting file, I believe he averaged 40 yards each td he scored his senior year in high school. Think about that for a moment.

Comment by Matt N. 10.12.17 @ 12:41 am

I think you have to make Pickett your starter. I think AJ needs to play. To say that he ran the wrong way on a play is the reason he was benched is stupid. If AJ isn’t good enough, move Whitehead to tailback full time. Probably not in his best interest for pro-ball though.

Agree with Tossing Thabeets, when there are 8 men in the box, you have to throw the ball. Quick slant over the middle.

Comment by gc 10.12.17 @ 4:53 am

Have not seen a game since Youngstown St., but from what I read, the O-line is a huge disappointment. Could lose out if that doesn’t improve. Hard to believe after what Chryst built.

We had few injuries and self inflicted personnel issues last year. This year has been a train wreck. Last year, O-line, Peterman, Henderson, Weah, Aston all exceeded exoectations. Add to that the return of Conner. Jarrett and Soto exceeded expectations in the middle of the line and Price was Price. Plus you had a bunch of seniors that new their roles, even if they were not future pros.

This year, absolutely very few have even met expectations, Whitehead being the exception after missing three games.

How much of this can be blamed on Coaching vs just plain dumb luck and youth?

The coaches have to figure out which young guys need to play more and which guys just don’t have it. Another year when they can tell recruits, freshman will get the opportunity to play next year.

Will next year be the year when Narduzzi turns it around or the year we learn he just can’t get it done.

He certainly had a bad run of luck this year, but how much was of his own making? Recruiting to Pitt is not easy. Will Narduzzi redouble his efforts or begin to give up?

Comment by gc 10.12.17 @ 5:13 am

Pay CLOSE attention to what happens the rest of the Season. The way this Team plays is going to tell you whether Narduzzi has ANY chance of succeeding as Coach.

Unfortunately, with each passing Game it looks MORE and MORE like “Alea iacta est.”

Comment by PittofDreams 10.12.17 @ 7:06 am

Agree, Pickett has to play at least one series a game. If DiNucci continues to not throw further than 10 yards and not step up in the pocket, start Pickett.

If Herndon, Hodges, Officer, continue to struggle, start a redshirt freshman or freshman. They can’t be worse and will learn for next year.

Try Davis before giving Whitehead more carries.

Don’t ever ever play Briggs when Whitehead is getting a blow.

Comment by notrocketscience 10.12.17 @ 8:15 am

I agree with giving Pickett an opportunity but remember we’ve never seen him play because he hasn’t played. All we know is that Dinucci doesn’t look like the answer except as a placeholder for someone better. On offense you have to take what the defense gives you. We are not good enough to ram our style down the throats of anyone. I believe in putting my best players on the field wherever they can best help.

Comment by AnotherClancyrebound 10.12.17 @ 9:18 am

IMHO, the program is not in as bad a shape as it looks on the surface. Let’s face it, nobody expected us to beat the top teams in the country at this stage.

We should be able to beat the others, and are close. We lose because of a few fundamental mistakes – bad throws to wide open receivers and drops.

Under no circumstances should Pitt consider another head coaching change for a few years.

Comment by 66Goat 10.12.17 @ 9:38 am

Under no circumstances should Pitt consider another head coach change unless they already have a person in mind and committed. But I really at this point don’t think that will happen this year.

Comment by Pitt Dreamer 10.12.17 @ 11:40 am

Line up Paris Ford in the backfield along with Whitehead, that would give the other team something to think about.

Comment by grizzly1 10.12.17 @ 2:40 pm

Browne done for the yr with a shoulder injury.

Comment by alcofan 10.12.17 @ 3:52 pm

HEADLINE: Dave Huxtable makes his return to Pitt.

Former Pitt Defensive Coordinator highlighted this morning in the Trib Review.

Huxtable now leading the #8 Rushing Defense in the Country.

Not so long ago, he commandeered the #16 Overall Defense… during Paul Chryst’s FIRST YEAR at Pitt.

“He inspires our players, and he gets a lot out of them. Football-wise he’s extremely sound. He won’t do things that aren’t the right things to do. He’s not going to copycat somebody else because it worked. He’s going to make sure it’s something our guys can do…” – NC State Head Coach Dave Doeren.

Maybe Pat Narduzzi could learn something here.

Comment by PittofDreams 10.13.17 @ 8:01 am

One caveat… While ranked 8th against the Run… NC State is WAAAYYYYY Down the list at #132 when it comes to giving up Passing Yards.

Clearly for Pitt to have a CHANCE Saturday… they are going to have to PASS the football!

Sets an interesting Stage for the Opening Act of the DiNucci versus Pickett saga.

Comment by PittofDreams 10.13.17 @ 8:09 am

DiNuccie seems a gamer but his passing accuracy downfield will not get it done. Pickett threw 1 pass at Syracuse downfield on the numbers and tight, just like it had to be. I would like to see more of that kind of QB work. Without it—–we lose the rest of the season and Nardo may lose the team and the recruiting wars.

Comment by Pitt60 10.13.17 @ 9:06 am

Either way, Pitt is BETTER with either DiNucci or Pickett than they would have been with Browne.

Certainly, don’t like to see anyone go out the way Browne did… but he was simply NOT capable of beating a QUALITY Opponent.

Based on his HS Highlights… Pickett throws a NICE Ball and looks to be pretty ACCURATE.

Just two questions regarding Pickett…

Is his arm STRONG ENOUGH? Not sure. Will have to see.

The other question is how Pickett’s degree of ATHLETICISM will translate to the D-1 Level?

In High School, Pickett relied on his ability to move and run to be EFFECTIVE. However, he seems to be MORE COMPETITIVE than athletic… which is an obvious STRENGTH with DiNucci.

I’ve been clearly in DiNucci’s corner going back to the Bowl last year. Narduzzi has totally yanked him around due to his determination to STICK with Browne who he had lured to Pitt with the PROMISE to play.

I want to see what DiNucci is capable of if Narduzzi which just give him a little time.

With some improvement in his throwing, DiNucci has shown the signs of having the potential to be something pretty SPECIAL at the College Level.

Comment by PittofDreams 10.13.17 @ 9:32 am

North Carolina escapes punishment from the ncaa. Who says cheaters never win.

Comment by alcofan 10.13.17 @ 10:04 am

POD, I don’t know about Pickett because I have not seen him play. I have seen Browne and Dinucci play . If I had to pick one, the easy choice for me is Browne. He is very accurate and sees the whole field (when he gets around to throwing the ball). Dinucci is more dynamic in his style but he locks in on one receiver a lot and his throws are erratic.

Comment by HbgFrank 10.13.17 @ 5:27 pm

Its DiNucci game on Saturday to lose, you will not see Pickett unless the game turns sour.
This bobble head bull shit is really bothering. I have received 3 e-mails tell us to be there early to get a bobble head doll, only 30,000 to be given out. lol.
This is an indication of how far this program has fallen. Its is pathetic and a laughing matter when we have to bribe people with plaster dolls to come to see a Pitt football game. They will be lucky if they get anywhere near 30,000 to even come to the game let alone worry about having enough dolls to hand out. Where the hell are the priorities. This goes back to my previous criticisms of the athletic department, they have to many people with too much time on their hands. It really needs to stop. Please place all your energies and dollars into recruiting players and better coaches.
Does anyone know when they will be having bobble head day at Penn State, West Virginia, Ohio State, Virginia Tech,,,, you get the message.

Comment by Pitt Dreamer 10.13.17 @ 5:45 pm

Browne is a better QB than Dinucci and it’s not close. The WR’s have been awful with drops this season and, yikes, that OL … Dinnucci being mobile has hidden his flaws at times but over the course of an entire game they all come out.

Browne isn’t great by any means but he’s the better of the two options. If Weah and Aaron Mathews both make those catches … which they should have … Browne is the hero of the Cuse game.

Side note, I’m not sure how Ollison is at the top of the depth chart after getting Browne knocked out for the season.

I kind of just want to go with Picket and be done with it but Dinucci probably gives them a better chance to win. Unlike many, I don’t think game experience amounts to much if it’s just a series here and there. You need full games under your belt. The entire ebb and flow of a game to make it worthwhile. All or nothing. None of this halfsies bs.

Pickett or Dinucci – Pick one to be your ride or die and be done with it … Just don’t have Ollison back there on 3rd down to pass protect.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 10.13.17 @ 7:16 pm

Syracuse proved last nite that you need a play maker quarterback who can do it all to win. Run , pass and execute, did I say run…

Comment by Pitt Dreamer 10.14.17 @ 12:41 am

Still in Europe and just found out Syracuse beat Clemson. So Syracuse is for real. Will Pitt bring home a win for homecoming?

Comment by MariettaMike 10.14.17 @ 7:12 am

Dreamer – I do agree you need a playmaker at QB. Dinucci’s not bad but he’s more MAC level starter. Not someone that I can see leading Pitt out the mediocre doldrums. Pickett sounds promising but I know very little about him.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 10.14.17 @ 8:29 am

Picket and Nooch
all young RB’s
More young guys on D
Basically play your young guys, gain them experience
Use the second half of the year as practice for next year
And start looking for new coordinators on both sides of the ball; maybe start grooming someone you already have on staff

Comment by TX Panther 10.14.17 @ 8:30 am

Meanwhile, in the good news department, Men’s Soccer Team has beaten its third ranked opponent this season, notre dame.

link to


Comment by Pitt Dad 10.14.17 @ 8:53 am

Pitt is a soccer and volleyball school.

Comment by Kvah 10.14.17 @ 9:16 am

Pitt Dad – Pitt men’s soccer is improving rapidly with a legit coach and a good recruiting year. ACC is by far the toughest conference and Pitt is making a real effort to become competitive. They are very young. Looks like some of the minor sports are improving -Woman’s volleyball, wrestling, men’s soccer that I know of. Maybe there are some improvements in the athletic department that we aren’t really aware of or don’t see as much of. I know some of you might not believe it but there are more things to do at Pitt than just watch football and basketball even if they are our favorites. I know football pays many of the bills. Be good to see Pitt play well today and maybe get an upset. Hail tp Pitt!

Comment by AnotherClancyrebound 10.14.17 @ 9:19 am

Thanks, Pitt Dad!

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 10.14.17 @ 9:56 am

You’re welcome TT. With all the negativity about FB and BB, it’s important for those of us who care to support and enjoy all that goes on at Pitt. FB and BB will get better. In the meantime, there’s still much to cheer.


Comment by Pitt Dad 10.14.17 @ 3:09 pm

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