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May 19, 2015

Don’t get me wrong, last night was great and this is a good cause if you have some extra Jack to spread around. One thing I feel is that if we donate the money will be well used.  As said before, he’s working it and has been since his hire.  The links are nice also.  A piece about our own Center Alex Officer and the Rimington list is at the end of this article.

Dear Reed,Thank you for joining us at the “On the Prowl” Tour. It was an incredible experience for me to meet so many people who love Pitt. Check out the photos from last night. Since becoming head football coach in December, I have been overwhelmed by the tremendous passion, energy, and dedication of the Pitt family.  With the enthusiastic support of fans like you, I am confident that our outstanding momentum will continue. During the event, we mentioned a few ways that you can directly support Pitt and our football program:

  • GET INVOLVED – Pitt Alumni Clubs, which are active throughout the country, give Panther fans many great opportunities to network with one another. LEARN MORE
  • COME HOME – Come back to Pittsburgh, visit campus, and help us fill Heinz Field. BUY GAME TICKETS
  • CELEBRATE HOMECOMING – We are offering a $10 discount for the Homecoming game against ACC rival Virginia on Saturday, October 10, 2015.GET DISCOUNT
  • MAKE PITT STRONGER – We are currently upgrading our locker room, team rooms, and constructing a new student-athlete lounge in the Duratz Athletic Complex so that we can provide the best possible experience for our student-athletes and ensure we are able to attract top recruits. Please consider supporting this project. GIVE NOW

We appreciate your continued support, and we hope to see you this fall at Heinz Field. Together, we will show the entire country why PITT IS IT!

Hail to Pitt!

Pat Narduzzi
Head Football Coach

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You have to say one thing about our new Head Coach; he knows how to work a room.

PITT hosted a Pat Narduzzi Alumni Meet and Greet evening in Washington DC last night and approximately 220 PITT Alumni and fans showed up for the festivities.

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(Note: here is a late addition of all the photos taken by the PITT media department of the event – pretty interesting and try to play “Where’s Reed”  Hint: I’m taller than everyone else.  Look at photos #26, 46, 55 and 56.

It was a nice evening and was intended as an avenue for PITT to re-awaken the alumni – athletic department connections. There is really no telling how well that went over, I’m sure PITT will contact the attendees later to further the money side of the equation. It was very well produced, people were happy to be there, and Narduzzi used his oversized image and personality to get a good and excited feeling going with everyone to take home when they left at 8:00.

The plan was set up like this.  Schedule the evening in late May when DC is starting to really heat up so that in addition to the high temperatures you also get the springtime mugginess that permeates DC.  Then, arrange to have most of the event outdoors; the check-in line (with a five minute wait),  two  tables with PITT advertisements and information publications, a table of PITT shirts and hats for sale and two other tables with the ‘light appetizers’ which were actually substantial and well presented.

The only thing missing was the Red Cross station where one could get intravenously re-hydrated due to sweating every drop of water out of your body. A lot of the attendees parked outside of DC and took the Metro in and that four block walk on hot concrete was a killer.  It was nice later in the evening though and no matter how talented Narduzzi is he really can’t control the weather.

But honestly, the place was well arranged and attractive and because PITT rented out a smaller conference room at the most famous and expensive hotel in DC, The Willard, space was at a premium so they adapted well to the size allotted.

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May 11, 2015

They Keep Rolling In

Filed under: Coaches,Players,Uncategorized — Reed @ 9:01 am

There is a palatable sense of excitement surrounding the hire of Narduzzi and his staff and with the way Narduzzi and the PITT admin have used the social media, new technology and good old fashioned flesh pressing to make that happen. This is making the ramp-up to August and the beginning of fall camp where personnel issues will shake out and then onto the actual season, a time when our collective hopes and wishes may start to come true.  However…

Maybe it is because we have not much else to talk about or maybe it is because this staff keeps adding players we don’t expect to see onto the roster but there has been a lot of talk about Narduzzi’s ‘recruiting expertise’ and his ‘desire’ on here and the message boards.

The things I’m hear most often are that “this staff knows talent” and “this staff wants to win right away.” I get the win right away concept with him, although someone has yet to show me a HC who didn’t want to win right away. But I’m shaky on those other attributes we are attributing to him.

The real kicker is this. How do we know that “this staff knows talent” when every kid they have brought on board the roster by themselves so far has either been listed as 3*s or below or are regurgitations from others teams?

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May 7, 2015

Let’s Go See Narduzzi in DC

Filed under: Alumni,Coaches,Fans,Football — Reed @ 9:19 am

My fellow PITT Fans,

I just registered for a spot at this Washington, DC ‘meet up’ with Narduzzi and staff in DC.  Who else would you like to go, drink beer and ask the hard questions?  Should be a blast and it is free.  This should be a great time and maybe small enough that we can actually bullshit with some PITT people who we can get drunk and pry secrets out of about the program.  Here is the detailed info:

WASHINGTON, DC

Monday, May 18 – (6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.)

Occidental Grill & Seafood – The Willard Atrium & Courtyard, 1475 Pennsylvania Ave, NW Washington, DC 2000045

Metro Rail Line: Blue, Orange, Red, Silver Lines to ” Metro Center Station”.

It is on a Monday night so parking in that area might not be too bad – here are some local garages.  It may be easier is to drive to a Metro Station and take the rail line to “Metro Center Metro Station” and walk the three blocks to the Willard Hotel.  The easiest for us MD PITT fans in the eastern side of MD is to drive to the New Carrollton Station and take the Orange Line straight into Metro Center.

The Occidental Grill and Seafood is one of the nicest restaurant/Bar in DC so business casual or PITT gear is required I guess.

DEADLINE TO REGISTER IS MAY 13;  Call “Sue” at 412-624-4658 ASAP to reserve a spot – you can add one guest name also.

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April 29, 2015

According to Chris Peak, Pat Narduzzi tapped into his Michigan State pipeline to add former Spartan Mark Scarpinato to the team. Scarpinato, a 6’3 286 pound DT, is an interesting case. He left MSU after the 2013-14 season to go to med school at Wisconsin. At that point Scarpinato was a redshirt sophomore yet had already graduated, an impressive achievement.

Scarpinato appeared in all 14 games of his sophomore season as part of a four man defensive tackle rotation on the number one defense in the nation. I’ll look into how his eligibility will function in terms of whether or not his year off counts against him. I would assume so and that would mean the former Spartan will only be able to play this upcoming season. At worst, Scarpinato is proven depth at DT and can use his experience to aid his fellow DL in adapting to a new scheme. At best, he could be a starter on a DL that under-performed last season.

Also in recruiting news, a JUCO WR eligible to play this fall could be coming to town. Rafael Araujo-Lopes picked up an offer from Pitt, and it’s a safe bet that with Rob Harley in California today to visit him, the deal could be closed soon.

April 26, 2015

The Chancellor cast the die; the future is determined; there are no more options; events will proceed in an irreversible manner; the point of no return has been passed and we have received unto us a new Athletic Director.  In other words and as Justin states so well: “Pitt has hired Utah State Athletic Director Scott Barnes to replace some jagoff none of us liked”.

So it was announced yesterday that ex-Utah State AD Scott Barnes has been hired to fill the position that layed vacant for the last four months. His full resume can be found in this Blather article copied word-by-word from the subsequent PITT press release.

Before we get into the meat of the matter here are two good pieces that the PITT media dept. put out.  PITT rolled out the blue and mustard gold carpet for the introductory press conference. Here is the video introducing the long drink of water as our AD and the second is a photo slideshow of the same presser with photos of all involved including the only non-blond adult female in Utah, his wife Jody Barnes.  Funny how much more intelligent she looks then the last HC’s wife from west of the Mississippi. Plus he has a daughter named after a fantastic Pepperidge farm cookie – Milano – so he’s got a sense of humor also.

The local media seem to be happy with him, at least Jerry DiPaola doesn’t take any overt shots at the guy.

Just for local balance here is Sam Werner’s take on Barnes’ presser.  An even better read is Werner’s Redshirt Diaries where he lays down some of the more interesting and important pieces of information regard the Barnes hire.

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April 19, 2015

Let’s get the general atmospheric stuff out of the way first.  It was a fantastic weather day at 80o and sunny with enough breeze to cool the skin and blow away the scent of the bullshit being thrown around in conversations… in other words a perfect football day for a Spring Game.

The Station Square Riverhound stadium was jammed packed with fans wearing Blue & Gold and who were very involved in the day’s events.  PITT officials had said that they would allow the first 4,000 fans into the venue, a number which I was a bit skeptical of seeing, but the reality is they squeezed 5,300+ into the seats, standing room only spots and under the bleachers where a lot of moms and kids ended up because of the shade.

You guys know I don’t go off the deep end with positivity or expressing things in bold stokes but I will say this in all honesty, of all the scrimmages and spring games I have attended this was the only one with a true electric atmosphere in the alumni rooms, the sidelines, the media areas, the stands and most importantly with the coaches and players involved.  It buzzed all afternoon.

This wasn’t a case of just great logistics and advertising the football program for more season ticket sales, although it served that purpose also I’m sure, but it created a genuine excitement in the fans due to the numerous changes we have had since last Dec 26th when Narduzzi was hired. Interestingly enough the students and the fans in the stands actually stayed put until almost the end of the game and then left early only because the parking lots were jammed and there was a traffic jam in store.

Also, and maybe more importantly, there were beers to be had in the bars nearby afterward.  The athletic Media Department has done a very good job of highlighting the changes and using its resources to drum up interest and excitement for the 2015 season.

No, fans wanted every bit of PITT football they could get yesterday and PITT gave it to them.

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April 17, 2015

Spring Game: What to Watch For

Filed under: Football,Narduzzi,Players — Justin @ 7:24 am

The rosters are set. Blue vs. Gold. Fitz vs. AD. Voytik, Boyd, and Conner vs. everyone else…wait, huh? The setup of the teams is a bit odd. The seniors were divided into two teams and they took turns drafting from each position group in a snake style draft. For example, at WR, Team Fitz took Tyler Boyd, then Team AD took Dontez Ford and Zach Challingsworth, then it continued on from there. Basically, it’s a bunch of mini-fantasy football drafts. By drafting this way, it ensures one team doesn’t end up with 3 QBs and 1 WR like it could if they did it straight up. The downside is we won’t see the first team offense or defense in one piece. That will make evaluating results a lot more difficult because a starter could be up against a walk-on and thus the result may not be indicative of much. Will this be fun? Yes.  The football nerd in me prefers to evaluate though.

It’s odd, but I’m not eager to see Tyler Boyd or James Conner. I know what those guys bring to the table. I don’t now what Reggie Mitchell can do at safety in the new scheme. I don’t know how much the offensive line will miss Rotheram and Clemmings on the right side. There are a few big position battles like WR and the entire LB corps. These are the types of things I’m eager to have answered, but some of them will be hard to see in the game.

There’s still a lot to look for even if the focus needs to be on individuals instead of units. Here are the things I’ll be watching: (more…)

April 16, 2015

In-Between #14 and Other Notes

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Players — Reed @ 9:30 pm

Pitt Spring Practice #14;  April 16, 2015

It seems a bit like a broken record but the fact that after each practice Mike Caprara figures prominently in the discussion is pretty surprising.  At this time last April he wasn’t on anyone’s radar for playing time at all let alone being a starter.  Let’s keep an eye on him and Bradley during the game and see if we get any hints as to what shakes out at the beginning of Fall Camp with those two.

Neither the P-G or the Trib have any coverage of the last actual practice up yet but here are the links to their PITT Football pages so you all can check it first thing at work tomorrow, and remember to check the beat writer’s blogs also..  I’ll be on the road so this will be my last coverage also until the after-game report is done.

Tribune-Review

Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Also, here is a nice older article from the university’s Pitt News on the relationship between Chaney and Voytik.  I can’t remember if I had posted this before or not.

Pitt Live Wire Feature

Prior to Saturday’s Pitt spring football game, Coach Pat Narduzzi held the First Annual Blue-Gold Game Draft. See all the “highlights” and reaction in the following video:  Blue-Gold Spring Game Draft.  It truly looks like everyone had a blast doing it and I’d have loved to have been a fly on the wall there. Good team bonding and a great culinary incentive.

A reminder that Pitt greats—and NFL stars—Larry Fitzgerald and Aaron Donald will serve as honorary coaches on Saturday. “Team Fitz” is the Blue squad, while “Team A.D.” will be in Gold.

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Spring Game Roll Call & Notes

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Players — Reed @ 8:22 am

First, the Panther Spring Game Draft has been completed and here is a set of photos proving that even a .500 ball team can still have fun.  Also, here is the front page of The Pitt Live Wire Blog which has more tweets and stuff about said draft.  Apparently there is some wagering going on between the people involved.  From Jerry Dipaola…

Then the Trib follows up with Marty Stewart writing a nice article on DB Dennis Briggs.

Sam Werner of the P-G chips in with another Spring Game overview.

Time to get serious if we want to try to meet other Blatherites at the Spring Game.  I’m driving up from MD for it and will have media credentials that will allow me to roam the sidelines during the scrimmage.  With that I will be assigned parking in the West Lot probably closest to the stadium.  I’ll park there but will wander to wherever anyone wants to meet and I really want to get together if possible beforehand.

I’ll be driving a silver Prius Wagon (I know… but at 45 miles to the gallon I’ll take the jokes) and will be the tall (6’6″) guy with a mustache and wearing blue “Coast Guard” ballcap.

Here is the venue website  and here is an overhead view of the stadium and parking lots.  They are advertising taking 4,000 fans into the stadium. I’m not sure how but the place holds 3,500 seats.  I also am wondering if we’ll really pull 3500 fans into the stadium for the game. I hope so and there does seem to be a uptick in interest and energy among fans.  Apparently the stadium lots will open up at 11:30

Lets do try to arrange something – I’ll chip in $$$ for beer/booze and provide sparkling, even if politically incorrect, conversation.  Someone take charge and arrange something.  I’m the writer not the party planner. If we miss each other before the game then let’s pick a bar to go to afterward.

(BTW — anyone who lives in the tri-state area and doesn’t go to the game isn’t a real fan. Seriously, you’re not.)

 

 

April 15, 2015

In-Between #13 and Other Notes

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Media,Players — Reed @ 9:13 am

Pitt Spring Practice #13;  April 14, 2015

Some interesting stuff came out of yesterday’s practice. The first thing that caught my eye is LB Coach Harley talking about Caprara and Bradley. It certainly appears that not only does Caprara have a shot but that he may just win the SLB position outright.  I have heard he’s really showing leadership and FBI (Foot Ball Intelligence) out on the playing field.

Challingsworth has been in the news more and more lately and it seems he’ll be in the Top Three WRs going into the fall camp.  Good for him and he’s a local kid and a fan favorite.  Here is some of Jerry DiPaola’s article in the Trib today:

Tyler Boyd caught 78 passes last season for Pitt.  The next four wide receivers combined for 47, and that entire quartet is gone.  Somewhere in assistant coach Kevin Sherman’s “little pod” of young pass catchers, Pitt needs to find some help to prevent opponents from continually putting double-team defenses on Boyd.  It’s still early in the process — even after 13 practice days this spring — but Sherman has candidates.

Junior Dontez Ford appears to have won the starting job opposite Boyd (at least for now), while sophomores Zach Challingsworth and Jester Weah and redshirt freshman Elijah Zeise are chief among players competing for the No. 3 job. Challingsworth might be slightly ahead of the pack at the moment, a designation that could change as soon as Saturday at the Blue-Gold spring game.

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April 12, 2015

Pitt Spring Practice #12   April 11, 2015

First off the bat please watch this 1m45s  scrimmage highlight video.  It, I suppose, captures the best plays of the scrimmage.  If so either it was a very short scrimmage or the video camera broke down right after the scrimmage started.

At any rate it is fun to watch and they are some answers to a few questions PITT fans have been asking via their comments on here.  Here I’ll write out my play-by-play breakdown of the video:

– #29 SR RB Rachid Ibrahim inside carry for nice yardage

– #7 rsFR QB Adam Bertke pass to #41JR FB Anthony Rippole (2nd team)

– #85 SO WR Jester Weah reception

– Strong inside cut and run by #5 SO RB Chris James for a TD

– Voytik to Boyd

-#6 SR DB Lafayette Pitts with an INT in front of WR #80 SO WR Zach Challingsworth

– Challingsworth with a catch down the sideline

– Pass to Tyler Boyd on a crossing route for a TD

– #11 SO QB Nate Bossory (transfer from the Air Force) pass to #30 FR FB Stephen Ezekoye (3rd team)

– Bossory to rsFR RB Quadree Ollison for long yards after the catch TD

– Bertke almost intercepted by #38 JR DB Ryan Lewis in front of Weah

– Long TD pass from Bertke to #28 rsFR Elijah Ziese

– Zeise from Bertke in right flat

– Diving catch by Zeise from Voytik

– Voytik on a keeper down the right sideline for a nice gain

– Nice inside run by Ezekoye; waits and follows blockers for a long gain

– TD pass; Voytik to Ibrahim

– Best play of scrimmage: Quadree Ollison on a nice cut inside then speed for a 60 yard TD

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April 10, 2015

Pitt Spring Practice #11  April 9, 2015

Jerry DiPaola of the Trib-Review has a very interesting Blog piece about a cultural exchange between the PITT coaching staff and four football coaches from  the Technologico de Monterrey, a university in Mexico City.  He writes a great opening bit to start the article… When Hector Gabriel Salazer Chairez saw how the Michigan State defense responded to Pat Narduzzi, he said, “I have to meet that man.”  Well, he actually said it in Spanish.”

Some old-time PITT guys showed up for practice when Baylor defensive coordinator Phil Bennett, who held the same position at Pitt under Dave Wannstedt, visited practice, along with former Pitt coach Walt Harris and one of Harris’ trusted assistants, Bryan Deal.

He also put out an article about our favorite DB Lafayette Pitts and his outlook going into his senior season at PITT.  My favorite quote from it is this “The veteran member of the secondary is senior Lafayette Pitts, a three-year starter who can combine speed with toughness on his best days. Pitts and sophomore Avonte Maddox have been working with the first unit through the first 10 practices of the spring.

Narduzzi is quoted as saying this about Pitts: “Coaches expect Pitts to provide experience and leadership to a young group of cornerbacks that includes three freshmen and a sophomore. As such, he has been the target of scrutiny.“We are challenging (Pitts) every day to come out and be consistent,” Conklin said. “The corners can’t hide. What we ask them to do, every rep they have to be on.”

Good!  So they are seeing the same thing we PITT fans have seen for the last three years. 

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April 8, 2015

In-Between #10 and Other Notes

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Players — Reed @ 9:23 am

Pitt Spring Practice #10  April 7, 2015

P-G’s Craig Meyer has a feature article on rsSO Zach Challingsworth’s bid for the second receiver spot. Good luck to him as he’s got some more established competition there with Dontez Ford, Chris Wuestner both of whom have seen playing time and caught some of Voytik’s passes.  But really, there is a dearth or WRs behind Boyd and that #2 spot, and #3 and #4 for that matter, are wide open. So, throw Ziese into that mix also.

But once Adonis Jennings and Ronald Jones took off they didn’t leave much behind.

Though first-year Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said Ford is likely the No. 2 receiver for now, there’s still time for Challingsworth and others to close that gap.  “They’re all having those opportunities, and everything will come out in a wash,” Narduzzi said. “I see a lot of guys making plays.”  One thing aiding Challingsworth will be offensive coordinator Jim Chaney’s scheme, which the young receiver said utilizes up-tempo and no-huddle elements that, in some ways, remind him of the offenses he was a part of at South Fayette.

Apparently ex-PITT DB Titus Howard is enrolling at Slippery Rock to continue his college football career.  Good luck to him in both football and his academic and  life pursuits.  From the Trib:

Former Pitt cornerback and Clairton graduate Titus Howard said he told Slippery Rock coach George Mihalik he plans to enroll there.  Howard was suspended last season for violating team policy and dismissed prior to spring drills

 Here is a video of our OC Jim Chaney: Video: Offensive Coordinator Jim Chaney

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April 3, 2015

Pitt Spring Practice #9;  April 2, 2015

 Pitt Live Wire Blog

PITT is moving into its final six practices of the spring sessions and starting a five day hiatus to allow the players time off over the Easter vacation weekend. How the rest of the practices break down is they will resume on Tuesday April 7th and have four straight practices in pads, then one in shorts (of the required three non-pad practices mandated by the NCAA) the end up with the Spring Game on Saturday, April 18th – see you there!

There has been a surprising level of very positive chatter about rsJR Mike Caprara since the spring drills opened.  We PITT fans know him as the ‘undersized’ Woodland Hills linebacker who broke the school’s record for tackles in a career… no small feat considering the prominence of Woodland Hills in WPIAL football.

This is something of a theme this week as just the other day we were hearing and reading about SO DE Rori Blair being ‘undersized’ for the starting role. Personally, I think that a strong drive for success, a big heart and intelligence can make up for a lot of physical shortcomings.  One way of accommodating situations like these is to put those smaller guys in the right position to succeed, such as Conklin’s moving Caprara from the MLB position and utilizing his speed and quickness on the outside.  Honestly, I have like Caprara since his recruitment and am hyped to see him get some real playing time.  You don’t do what he did in HS without some real talent and desire involved.

On a side note it is interesting that Woodland Hills has pumped out a bunch of major football players in its history.  In 2012 alone they had five alumni on NFL rosters: Rob Gronkowski, Ryan Mundy, Darrin Walls, Shawntae Spencer and Steve Breston.  Not a bad snapshot of talent and to think that Caprara bested all of the past defensive players from that HS.  Aside from Spencer they all made poor college choices of course.

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