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January 8, 2015

Running through the usual list of PITT sports websites I visit every morning while I have my first cup of Joe I read an opinion piece by Joe Starkey of the Tribune Review titled What PITT Football could be that he posted on Wednesday night. I found that it mostly made sense and was well thought out, hitting on the the root of the matter of PITT football program’s mediocrity over the last 31 years and what Pat Narduzzi has to bring to PITT to change the culture of apathy on the part of the administration, students, local populace and, in my opinion, the local media as well.

Starkey opens his article with a simple declaration “It’s time for a key substitution regarding Pitt football: Excuses out. Expectations in”. That is a pretty simple stance to take and one he expounds upon later in his piece when he says:

Time will tell whether Pat Narduzzi is the guy to change all this, but you have to like the fact he is coming from a place (Michigan State) where Mark Dantonio & Co. looked at all the built-in excuses, kicked them in the face and created an entirely new culture. And did so without batches of five-star recruits. After decades of mediocrity, Michigan State has become a bastion of positivity and big wins.

That is fantastic! PITT will do it right now if only Starkey would let us in on exactly how Dantonio & Co. accomplished it! I do wonder if Starkey and PITT fans forget that sometimes ‘excuses’ can also be seen as ‘reasons’ for an outcome and vice versa. If in the past, as a lot of us believe, the PITT administration tried to create and sustain a successful football program while stinting on the financial resources to make it happen then is it an excuse that it didn’t work out or is it a reason we did what we did?

Perhaps it depends on how one looks at the University’s financial situation as a whole or maybe just the level of honest interest the Chancellor and the BoT had in fielding a successful team, which might have been even less than we saw in public. To me that is a contributing reason for the poor results we have seen over the last two decades, to others it may just be an excuse. Nothing happens in a vacuum, there are always reasons things turn out the way they do.

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December 3, 2014

James Conner: ACC Player of the Year

Filed under: ACC,Football,Honors,Players — Justin @ 1:26 pm

It was just announced that Conner has won the ACC Offensive Player of the Year Award. Conner beat Jameis Winston 16-13. Naturally, he’s also the Offensive Player of the Year as well. Conner had a historic season in 2014 which included breaking Tony Dorsett’s record for rushing touchdowns in a season.

Not bad for a guy who was initially recruited as a DE.

November 6, 2014

The bye week feels like a great time to break out my old column Optimist vs. Pessimist. There’s not a whole lot to be optimistic about the rest of this season, but perhaps a bowl win could inspire a little hope like it did at the end of last season. Naturally, two more wins are needed before Pitt can even think about going to a bowl game. Let’s examine whether or not James Conner and company can win two of the last three games against UNC, the ARCHRIVAL ORANGE, and Miami. (more…)

November 1, 2014

PITT – Duke Predictions

Filed under: Conference,Football,Opponent(s) — Reed @ 6:51 am

As bad as last week was I still don’t think it was an accurate reflection of the talent this Panther team has or its ability to play well and win games. With that I’m expecting a much better showing by PITT this week with a return to a strong running game and the staff getting the other RBs and different WRs the ball more often then in the past.

Conner gets 100+ yards and two TDs, Voytik throws for one and we score another by some other player.  Trey Anderson might be that other guy.

PITT – 31 Duke – 27

What do you think?

October 30, 2014

Projected for Upper-Middle

Filed under: ACC,Basketball,Conference — Chas @ 7:47 am

So the Media Day for the ACC Operation Basketball went off yesterday. Other than the awkwardness with academics and investigations at UNC and Syracuse, it was a typical media day. Coaches and players answered the same questions. The conference commissioner filibustered as long as he could to minimize the time allotted to the media to ask questions.

And, of course, the preseason conference poll was released. The ACC has its voting done by all the local media covering the teams (I’m sure my ballot just got lost in the mail).

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October 29, 2014

That’s right. ACC basketball media day is today. Coach Jamie Dixon, James Robinson and Cameron Wright are down in Charlotte for the day.

The ACC is doing interviews and taking fan questions on Twitter with the hashtag #ACCTakeover . I don’t see any problems when UNC Coach Roy Williams gets his turn. What could go wrong?

There will be coverage on ESPNU and on ESPN3.com all day today.

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October 27, 2014

Monday Morning QB

(This is a weekly series of articles entitled “Monday Morning Quarterback”.   I will try to post them two days after the football games are played so as to have our wilder emotions under control by then.  It will be my take on the positives and the negatives we saw happen and a chance for commenters to agree or disagree and to add their own thoughts.)

We met the enemy and they are us.  After some games this season it has been kind of hard to find three positives to list in this series’ articles.  Today it is virtually impossible.

POSITIVES

1. The holder on our PATs. At least he didn’t fumble the ball.  Seriously.

2.  Our Running Backs. A while ago I mentioned ‘every RB not named James Conner’ in an article. I’ll do that again here. Ibrahim, Bennett and James all had good plays to try to keep us in the game.  Ibrahim (3 carries for 66 yards)  took a handoff down the left sideline for 50 yards to set up a Conner TD; Bennett, although he was one of the now-record breaking PITT fumbling crew, took a beautifully thrown wheel route from Anderson down the right side for a 35 yard TD and Chris James contributed a nice show of yards after the catch on a short dump pass from Voytik that James turned into a 23 yard gain.

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October 25, 2014

Georgia Tech Predicitions

Filed under: Conference,Football,Opponent(s) — Reed @ 5:53 am

Another hard one for me to fathom, but they all are it seems because I have a 50/50 record at best predicting winners.

I think the weather is nice, crowds will be bigger and the defense will be focused and hold GT down below their average offensive output.  Big ACC game to win if we can….

PITT – 27 GT – 24

October 23, 2014

Georgia Tech Preview

Filed under: ACC,Chryst,Football,Opponent(s),Players — Justin @ 10:51 am

The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are coming to Heinz Field this Saturday in an attempt to continue the craziness that is the ACC Coastal Division this season. Everyone in the division is 2-1, 2-2, or 1-2. That means each team is still within one game of first place. There are scenarios in which the entire division goes 4-4, a cluster%&#@ that would certainly make things interesting. A win this weekend and next will suddenly put Pitt in the driver’s seat to take the division. (more…)

October 18, 2014

Monday Morning QB

(This is a weekly series of articles entitled “Monday Morning Quarterback”.   I will try to post them two days after the football games are played so as to have our wilder emotions under control by then.  It will be my take on the positives and the negatives we saw happen and a chance for commenters to agree or disagree and to add their own thoughts.)

We met the Virginia Tech Hokies on the turf at Heinz Field on a rare nationally televised Thursday night game and came away with a very satisfying 21-16 win.  It was a close game and one that even to most optimistic of PITT fans had to doubts about as the 4th quarter unfolded.  The win puts us at 4-3 on the season with a 2-1 ACC conference record that is just about what we figured we’d have at this point of the season.  It is safe to say that we needed to start the second half of the season with a conference win if we want to have any chance at a Coastal Division championship.

POSITIVES

1.  Our defense, again. When you hold a team, any team, to 26 yards rushing on 21 carries (1.2 ypc) and 2 of 14 on 3rd and 4th down conversion tries you are playing excellent defense.  That is the kind of stout play that results in low scores for the other team (16 points with three FGs) and a win.

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October 12, 2014

Monday Morning QB

(This is a weekly series of articles entitled “Monday Morning Quarterback”.   I will try to post them two days after the football games are played so as to have our wilder emotions under control by then.  It will be my take on the positives and the negatives we saw happen and a chance for commenters to agree or disagree and to add their own thoughts.)

Now that we are in the middle of the 2014 schedule let’s take a moment to look at what we fans have liked or disliked about the staff, team and players after six games have been played.  We stand at 3-3 with a 1-1 record in ACC conference play.  Last week we lost a close one to Virginia Cavaliers on their home field and this coming Thursday evening we play the Virginia Tech Hokies at Heinz Field.  It is safe to say that we need to start the second half of the season with a conference win if we want to have any chance at a Coastal Division championship.

POSITIVES

1.  Our defense. Yes, we have given up some big plays and yes, we have allowed the other team to score more points than us in three games but there were a lot of factors that went into that.  One factor that stood out and pretty much crippled us in our recent three games losing streak was our crap offense (see “Negatives #1″ below).

But we are holding our own on defense this season and while it doesn’t seem like it at times it’s true.  Granted we stumbled a bit against Akron when we let a team not know for its run game tear up the field but that was mainly due to a couple of long runs through pretty poor arm tackle and angle taking attempts.

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October 6, 2014

Monday Morning QB

(This is a weekly series of articles entitled “Monday Morning Quarterback”.   I will try to post them two days after the football games are played so as to have our wilder emotions under control by then.  It will be my take on the positives and the negatives we saw happen and a chance for commenters to agree or disagree and to add their own thoughts.)

These MMQB articles are getting harder and harder to write given the inconsistencies of our coaching staff’s decisions, our team’s efforts and our individual player’s success’ and failures, even from play to play sometimes.  I’m still not sure exactly what caliber of PITT football team we have this season.   I’ll put down some more personal opinions at the end of this article.

POSITIVES

1.  Todd Thomas’ play at OLB on defense. He came rigged to play last night and ended up with 12 total tackles; seven unassisted, five assisted with one tackle for loss, most of which seemed to come in crucial situations. He was all over the field and at least two of his tackles stopped important 3rd down conversion attempts.  There is a lot of fan discussion this morning about how DC House is substituting for Thomas in certain situations, most specifically passing downs and against the spread formations we have seen in some past games.

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September 29, 2014

Quicksand

Filed under: ACC,Athletic Department,Chryst,Embarrassing,Football — Justin @ 9:44 am

There’s a scene in Oscar-snubbed film “The Replacements” where Coach McGinty (played by Gene Hackman) asks his NFL replacement players what they’re most afraid of. After some typical responses, QB Shane Falco (played by the enigmatic Keanu Reeves) hits the nail on the head:

Quicksand (more…)

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…)

(This is a weekly series of articles entitled “Monday Morning Quarterback”.   I will try to post them two days after the football games are played so as to have our wilder emotions under control by then.  It will be my take on the positives and the negatives we saw happen and a chance for commenters to agree or disagree and to add their own thoughts.)

PITT travelled down to hot and humid Miami to play the Florida International University (FIU) Golden Panthers on Saturday and, after some worry-making moments, came out with a win by the score of 42-25. PITT fans, the media and maybe even the players themselves for a bit, went into the day feeling as if this was going to be a cakewalk but it wasn’t.  FIU played a pretty tough game given their lower stature in the FBS division.

POSITIVES

What first comes to mind is that our defense did a good job for the third straight game.  Don’t let the 25 points FIU had fool you, one TD was a long and freaky tipped ball reception that took FIU down to our three yard line and another two points were on a safety.  Other than that we kept FIU from scoring another TD for 40:40 minutes of game time when they scored with 5:49 left to play.  That is some solid defense.

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