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September 17, 2014

Onward With Iowa

Filed under: Chryst,Coaches,Football,Opponent(s) — Chas @ 7:13 am

The AIRBHG (Angry Iowa Running Back Hating God) has not yet struck this year, but last year he did so to a RB that some Iowans liken to James Conner.

“I’m not worried about how much he wants it as much as what we need and if he’s doing something with it,” Panthers coach Paul Chryst said last week. “I’ve worked with a lot of backs. We feel like we’ve got a pretty good gauge for workloads.”

Sound familiar, Iowa fans?

When the Hawkeyes visit Pittsburgh for Saturday’s 11 a.m. contest at Heinz Field, you might notice something familiar about the opposing offense.

A year ago, Mark Weisman ran the ball 85 times in Iowa’s first three games for a total of 425 yards (an average of 5.0 yards per carry).

He helped the Hawkeyes rebound from a 4-8 finish in 2012 to an 8-4 regular season in 2013, but the heavy workload took a toll. Injuries mounted and Weisman fell 25 yards short of the 1,000 plateau.

The 6-foot, 240-pound Weisman ran 60 times in Iowa’s final three games for a total of 198 yards (an average of 3.3 per carry).

Conner has run 80 times for 543 yards while helping Pittsburgh to its first 3-0 start in five years.

Is AIRBHG communicable? There is no known cure, but it is not been established that contact with Iowa infects others.

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September 15, 2014

A Tale of Two Halves: Chad Voytik

Filed under: ACC,Chryst,Football,Players — Justin @ 2:03 pm

Last week, some hack wrote about Pitt’s success in the red zone and the result against FIU was two turnovers in the first two red zone possessions. As recommended by readers, this week something negative shall be written.

Trey Anderson came in for a series in the early fourth quarter in a situation that once against perturbed Pitt fans. If you listen to Paul Chryst’s press conference, it won’t take a mind reader to see why: Chryst was not happy with Voytik’s play and pulled him for a series to calm his nerves. A quick second look at the game and it’s obvious Voytik was not finding open receivers and he would not let plays progress properly as the game wore on. In fact, there was a fine line between good Chad and bad Chad: the touchdown pass to Boyd late in the second quarter. (more…)

September 11, 2014

Looking Ahead

Filed under: ACC,Chryst,Football,Opponent(s) — Justin @ 10:49 am

Pitt is headed south for a matchup with the Golden Panthers of Florida International and as Chas mentioned earlier, there’s not a lot of important information to discuss. FIU is a team in rough shape; they’re one of the worst teams in FBS and have a true freshman starting at QB. To be blunt, if Pitt isn’t comfortably ahead in the 4th quarter it is cause for concern. The goals for the game are 1) health 2) comfortable win and 3) get backups good in-game experience. Anything beyond that is a bonus. Another statistically great game from James Conner would be a boon to his Heisman whispers.

With that said, it feels a bit prudent to look ahead a little. Pitt’s next two BCS opponents, Iowa and Virginia, have key games this week. Iowa plays in-state rival Iowa State and Virginia faces off against the newest ACC member, Louisville (Louavuhl). Thus far, Iowa appears to be a team that is trending lower than expectations and Virginia is exceeding them. (more…)

September 8, 2014

Red Zone Efficiency and Voytik

Filed under: Chryst,Football,Players — Justin @ 4:00 pm

One of the most impressive parts of the offense thus far has been red zone efficiency. Through two games, the offense has scored a touchdown on all 12 red zone possessions. Pete Roussel of 247 pointed out that this is not a trend unique to Pitt just this season. Paul Chryst offenses have been remarkably efficient in the red zone. (more…)

September 5, 2014

Boston Beatdown

Filed under: ACC,Chryst,Football — Justin @ 10:27 pm

A quick stat for yinz that I just tweeted.: last season Pitt averaged 23 points per game on the road. That total INCLUDES the 58 points from the Duke game. If the Duke score is removed, Pitt only scored a total of 57 points on the road last season, a mere 14.25 points per game. Pitt’s offense was not perfect. Voytik had a bad turnover, there were some early pass protection issues, and the defense let Tyler Murphy run wild on the first drive.

The football team opted to do the exact opposite of the fan base: not panic. (more…)

Anyone watch Pitt the Packers-Seahawks last night? Man, I can’t believe they would risk their biggest playmaker — Tyler Boyd Percy Harvin — on punt kick returns. What were they thinking using a weapon like that in such a risky place? He can run the ball, he’s a receiver. A vital part of their offense and they risk him on special teams. Why, it’s almost like they want to try and use a versatile and talented player in multiple situations to help the team.

There will be an open thread for the game tonight. I’ll be on Twitter as usual. Probably Justin, but you never know when it comes to games and coping with toddlers.

Remember, Pitt isn’t the only one that needs to raise its game after a patsy first game. UMass is a recent leap to D-1, and was picked for dead last in the MAC. They weren’t exactly a real challenge for BC.

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July 15, 2014

Slow Build

Filed under: Chryst,Coaches,Football — Chas @ 6:49 am

In Year 3 of Chryst, I don’t think there is yet a settled answer on Coach Paul Chryst. Some may have made up their mind about him one way or another, but I am definitely not one of them. There’s plenty I do like about him: the way he runs the program, the actual coaching, the message, the way he is building the team from the lines out. And there’s plenty that — to be kind — that I question. His hiring practices and recruiting being the biggest.

I think that unless Chryst had stayed at Wisconsin and taken over directly from Brett Bielema, he was going to be doing a full rebuild no matter what program he took over. He would have been determined to make the program the way he wanted. Even if it meant tearing some aspects down. That just seems to be the kind of coach he is. Given the state of Pitt when he arrived, that was fine.

The piece in the P-G today was a very positive one on the way he has been building the team and relations back for Pitt football. We all know the story by now. The coaching chaos. The lost recruiting classes. The mass transfers.

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June 5, 2014

That seems to be what is happening. Everyone is watching. Everyone is waiting to see what is happening over the next couple of weeks.

With a decreasing number of players expected to leave the Pitt program this year — thanks to the stability created by coach Paul Chryst and his staff — and 49 added in the past two recruiting classes, expect this year’s group to be the smallest since Chryst welcomed 16 in 2012.

Meanwhile, coaches and officials are making plans to host about 300 high school players this weekend and next at Pitt’s UPMC training facility on the South Side for the Paul Chryst Football Camps. This is, generally, where many players make up their minds, but where they also get plenty of instruction from members of the Pitt staff and other coaches.

The next two weekends are so important to the long-range growth of the program that Chryst is skipping ceremonies at Wisconsin-Platteville on June 13 where his late father George will be honored for three decades of service as coach and athletic director.

The attrition over the first two years is not uncommon. Now it is a matter of not just being more selective, but getting the kids to decide Pitt is their best choice.

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April 24, 2014

After all the spring practices are in the books. As the long 3 month stretch of nothing but conference and NCAA rules debates, police blotters, recruiting and mindless predictions as the only news in college football stare us in the face, the ACC tosses us one last nugget. A conference call with the coaches to talk about spring practices.

You can listen to the nearly 2 1/2 hours of coaches talking vaguely about spring practices here. Coach Paul Chryst is on at roughly 2 hours into it.

Coach Chryst was asked about Tom Savage’s rise in the draft boards.

“You never know what to expect so if you said you’re surprised or not surprised you’d be wrong,” Chryst said. “He certainly has a lot of the talents and physical attributes. The biggest thing Tom hasn’t done is just play a lot of football.”

Savage transferred twice before ending up at Pitt, which Chryst said limited his visibility to NFL teams. Once they got a chance to look at the tape, they apparently liked what they saw.

“I think a lot of the buzz that comes before he wasn’t as much a part of because he hadn’t played for two years,” Chryst said. “I think what he did in the season, the combine, individual workouts, it’s been great to see. Hopefully everyone is right and his stock is rising.”

In Chryst’s seven-year tenure as Wisconsin’s offensive coordinator, the Badgers had 27 players drafted into the NFL. In two years as Pitt’s coach, he has yet to have a player taken. That will change this year, with Savage, defensive tackle Aaron Donald and wide receiver Devin Street each likely to hear their names called.

“I think for the program, it’s good,” Chryst said. “But most important you’re happy for those individuals. That’s what really makes it special.”

Or, dare we say, “neat.”

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January 8, 2014

Morning, everyone. The deep freeze may be coming to an end but a third day of no school for the kids further disrupts life.

Amidst the hoopla for the last BCS Championship game, the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) released their Freshman All-American Team.

Tyler Boyd made the squad, so one more accolade for him and this Pitt squad.

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January 6, 2014

In theory, there might be a reason to tell a commit that if he is making the commitment, then he should not still be taking recruiting trips to other schools. This despite the fact that a verbal commitment is non-binding. One of those reasons might be a promise by the coach of the program not to recruit any more players at the same position.  A show of good faith by both sides.

But when you are  a program getting ready to leap from the Big East to the Big Ten. When you are a coach that has seen strained relations with your local recruits and some of the coaches in the area. You might want to be a little more flexible.

Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood is not that kind of flexible. It has cost him a few de-commits this year with his belief that recruits need to shut down visits even as he keeps recruiting others. Back in November, that cost him Adonis Jennings.

Pitt was the source of the rift then, as Jennings took an unofficial visit to Pitt for the Notre Dame-Pitt game. Pitt was the final beneficiary last night.

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December 30, 2013

Wanting To Be Positive

Filed under: Chryst,Coaches,Football — Chas @ 8:03 am

Ending the season with a win in a bowl game — regardless of the level of the bowl — provides a certain level of positive energy. Heck, just finishing with a big win even without a bowl helps (13-9 being the ultimate proof).

Next season may be 9 months away. Training camp, 8 months from now. Spring practices aren’t until March. Signing day is about six weeks out.

But right now, it is a good feeling. Finishing the year 7-6 feels a lot better than 6-7. A 3-5 record in the ACC has more positives than a 3-4 record from the final year of the Big East. They aren’t huge steps forward, but there is some sense that there is improvement.

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November 19, 2013

You can have the best facilities. A world-class training staff. Everything you need or could possibly want. And injuries will still happen. Just ask Florida this year. Or just go back to the 2011 season.

Pitt had a couple early bye weeks in the first half of the season and has now played six straight games. It can’t be terribly surprising that injuries are starting to happen with what seems increasing frequency.

Cornerbacks Trenton Coles and Titus Howard were the latest to join that group this week, as Pitt has suffered through a rash of injuries over the past few weeks, costing them a number of starters and key contributors.

In addition to the two cornerbacks, starting left guard Cory King (hamstring) and left tackle Adam Bisnowaty (back) also missed a 34-27 loss Saturday against North Carolina. Backup tight end Scott Orndoff has missed the past two games and appeared on the field for warm-ups Saturday with a sizable brace on his left leg. Defensive end Ejuan Price has missed the past four games with a back injury.

Add in (hopefully) a minor ankle to Devin Street and knee injury to Tom Savage and everyone begins to wonder.

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November 15, 2013

Light Football Thoughts

Filed under: Chryst,Coaches,Football — Chas @ 8:45 am

Sorry. Not a lot of time today, so I kind of have to keep it shallow.

Paul Chryst gets effusive about UNC’s tight end, Eric Ebron.

“You love watching him on tape, and then all of a sudden you’re like, ‘Shoot, we’ve got to play him,’” Chryst said. “He’s good, and I love a good tight end.”

That would have 12-year-old me 16-year-old me 22-year-old me Oh, hell it still has me snickering.

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November 11, 2013

Dancing Paul Chryst

Filed under: Chryst,General Stupidity — Justin @ 9:03 pm

This is apparently what Paul Chryst’s victory dance looks like. Post to twitter with the hashtag #ChrystDance. Enjoy the .gif after the jump.

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