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May 11, 2017

Sure, dump three bits of news on one day. It’s not like this time of year is starved for content or anything.

Pat Narduzzi is not a quick starter on the recruiting trail. We all know it. It is a bit maddening. Yet, even by his standards, this class has been slow to start. Pitt finally added commit number two. A QB from New Jersey.

Nick Patti, a 6-foot-3 quarterback from St. Joseph Regional High School in Montvale, N.J., has committed to Pitt.

Patti announced the news Wednesday afternoon on Twitter, becoming the second verbal pledge in coach Pat Narduzzi’s 2018 recruiting class. He’s rated a two-star prospect by Rivals.com and a three-star by some other scouting sites.

According to Rivals, Patti chose Pitt over offers from Boston College, Cincinnati, Rutgers and others. He’s considered a pro-style passer, and figures to be Narduzzi’s only quarterback in the class of 2018.

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May 3, 2017

Taleni Gone And Draft Thoughts

Filed under: Draft,Football,NFL,Scandal — Chas @ 7:37 am

Sorry, about the absence. Some family stuff came up last week that had me in-and-out-of-town through the past week plus. Nothing major, but time was at a premium.

Glad to be done with April. Fridays in April have been a month of bad news dropping. Most of it was related to basketball, but football decided to get in on the action with the dismissal of Jeremiah Taleni for disciplinary reasons.

To say this was surprising is being polite. Taleni was going to be a senior and expected to start at Defensive Tackle. He was receiving high praise from the coaches all spring for his leadership off-the-field and and his performance in practices.

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April 27, 2017

Pitt Players and the NFL Draft

Filed under: Draft,Football,Players — Justin @ 4:31 am

The NFL Draft was my first dive into the world of amateur football over-analysis. While I unfortunately lack the time these days to dedicate more to the hobby, I’m still able to keep close tabs on Pitt players and what we can expect from them next week when they find their new, hopefully long-term, homes. A huge point of emphasis that any negative thing I post has nothing to do with what I think of players during their time at Pitt, but how they project to the NFL. I also want to be wrong to the benefit of players. Nothing makes me happier than Pitt players I know and love kicking ass and taking names in the NFL Larry Fitzgerald style. (more…)

April 18, 2017

Quick Links, 4/18

Filed under: Football — Chas @ 7:42 am

Sorry. Just a little rushed today in the offline world. A few links and topics.

Pitt offensive lineman and defending Piesman Trophy winner, Brian O’Neill is apparently hurt and will be spending his summer vacation getting healthy. He should be ready for the start of the season, but still.

Penn State will “celebrate” their Big Ten Championship during their second home game. Hmm. Who do they play that week? Why not the first week? Since, you know, they are unrivaled? Actions speak louder then words.

Elijah Zeise just cannot stay healthy come game time. Even spring game time. He had a tremendous spring practice by all accounts and the accolades of the Ed Conway Award, but was a scratch for the spring game. Here’s hoping come September 2, he can be out on the field for more then just one game.

Qadree Ollison got more carries, but Chawntez Moss was more productive at RB  in the spring game. As the article notes, Coach Pat Narduzzi and the offensive assistants talks of spreading the wealth, but do tend to lean heavily on one back once the season starts.

April 6, 2017

Working Through the Offense

Filed under: Football,Players,Practice — Chas @ 9:45 am

A week and a half until the Blue-Gold scrimmage, and the pretense of who will be the starting QB in September remains comfortably intact.

“It’s good that you (reporters) don’t know,” Narduzzi said when asked if there was any separation in the quarterback competition. “It means we have no leaks in the office.”

No leaks and no fake news about the play of those vying to replace Nathan Peterman: redshirt sophomore Ben DiNucci, redshirt freshman Thomas MacVittie, freshman early enrollee Kenny Pickett and senior graduate transfer Max Browne.

“We have four very functional quarterbacks,” Narduzzi said.

While Head Coach Pat Narduzzi isn’t going to tip his hand, his offensive coordinator at least hints at the top-two.

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April 3, 2017

The first two years for Pitt under Head Coach Pat Narduzzi, have been mostly positive. The defensive-minded coach, though, has had to rely on the offense to be the side doing the heavy lifting.

The lack of depth and overall talent on the defense has been glaring — especially with the type of defense Narduzzi utilizes. Bringing pressure constantly without going all-out blitz. It relies on overall speed, depth to bring fresh bodies, and individual talents. All things missing from the defense.

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March 23, 2017

Pitt Pro Day Fun

Filed under: Alumni,Draft,Football,Good — Chas @ 7:24 am

Do campus pro days make a difference? Probably not for the players who received and went through the NFL Combine last month. Guys like Nate Peterman, James Conner, Ejuan Price, etc. who had their measurables taken in that setting probably won’t do much to change things. Any changes for them in the draft board will come from private team workouts and evaluations of their game film.

For the next tier, though, it is about getting noticed. Raising an eyebrow. Getting teams to reevaluate them.

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March 22, 2017

Digging in the Offense

Filed under: Football,Players,Practice — Chas @ 7:33 am

It’s Pro Day today in the Southside. The donuts are available.

Perfect time to start catching up on spring practices from the weekend and yesterday. Let’s look at a couple of the things regarding the O-line and running backs.

I have to admit. It still feels odd to be positive about the offensive line. It has been ingrained in me for the past 15 + years to worry about the holes. Changes. Depth. Yet, this is the second straight year where the O-line has me feeling good about things.

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March 17, 2017

Media availability was pretty decent after the first practice. Both coordinators were put out there, along with Quarterback Max Browne and Safety Jordan Whitehead. Quadree Henderson, the team’s offensive utility knife and Defensive Tackle Jeremiah Taleni got some media time.

Max Browne had some attention for wearing uniform number 4 — which probably speaks to a lack of topics as much as anything else. It’s always been the uniform number he wore. Nate Peterman also wore it, and I had no idea that was any sort of conflict or problem. Like plenty of QBs in college now, Brett Farve was the idol to many.

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March 16, 2017

Spring practices start today. 14 practices mostly closed off to the public and media, culminating in the Blue-Gold Scrimmage on Saturday, April 15. There’s no way it will be as perfect weather as last year, but at the moment I’ll settle for it being warmer then this week in the Cleveland area.

Yesterday was the pre-spring practices press conference. (Is that really what we’re calling it? Shut up.)

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February 16, 2017

It’s stale news, but still worth hitting.

Coming back to work for a third Pitt head coach, Charlie Partridge takes over as Defensive Line Coach.

Charlie Partridge, a renowned Florida recruiter who previously served as a Pitt assistant from 2003-07, will return to the Panthers’ staff as defensive line coach, Pat Narduzzi announced.

Partridge rejoins Pitt after serving the past three seasons as head coach at Florida Atlantic University. Prior to FAU, he was an accomplished assistant at Arkansas and Wisconsin.

“I’ve been a big fan of Charlie’s work for a very long time,” Narduzzi said. “I remember watching his defensive lines at Wisconsin and really admiring how they played. Charlie’s players reflected his high energy and passion. He’s an incredibly bright coach who is an excellent teacher and knows how to develop players.”

The opening sentence of Pitt’s press release sums up the hiring.

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February 5, 2017

Surprisingly Sims Out

Filed under: Assistants,Coaches,Football,Hire/Fire — Chas @ 11:01 am

It broke on twitter via Richie Walsh for KDKA-TV. And quickly confirmed by other outlets.

Defensive line coach Tom Sims is no longer with the team, according to a source.

Sims, a defensive tackle at Pitt who was a sixth-round draft pick in 1990 after his senior year, played in the NFL until 1996 with the Kansas City Chiefs and Indianapolis Colts.

Pat Narduzzi hired Sims, 49, back to his alma mater from Youngstown State in 2015 when Narduzzi took over as Pitt’s head coach.

With national signing day now in the rear-view mirror, and four defensive line recruits officially in the fold, Narduzzi will look for a new assistant to coach that position.

Narduzzi also said Friday morning on a conference call that when the NCAA approves a 10th assistant coach for Football Bowl Subdivision programs, which it’s expected to do in April, he will most likely add to the defensive staff.

From a coaching standpoint, this comes as a surprise. I thought Sims had been doing an excellent job considering injuries and lack of depth on the D-line.

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February 2, 2017

This Year’s OC is…

Filed under: Assistants,Coaches,Football,Hire/Fire — Chas @ 8:27 pm

…hello, Shawn Watson.

Shawn Watson, a 35-year coaching veteran who owns an extensive and accomplished record overseeing offenses on the collegiate level, has been named offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Pitt by Pat Narduzzi.

Watson previously served as offensive coordinator at Texas (2014-15), Louisville (2012-13), Nebraska (2007-10) and Colorado (2000-05). He also has head coaching experience on his résumé, serving in that capacity at his alma mater, Southern Illinois, from 1994-96.

Watson joins the Panthers from Indiana, where he spent the 2016 season as an offensive quality control assistant before being named the Hoosiers’ quarterback coach. His Pitt appointment serves as a reunion with Narduzzi. The pair previously worked together on the late Randy Walker’s staff at Miami (Ohio) from 1990-92.

“Shawn Watson was one of my first mentors in this business,” Narduzzi said. “He sat me down as a young coach and taught me how to work with wide receivers in my first full-time job at Miami in the early 1990s. Ever since that time, we have always talked about being able to reunite on the same staff again. I’m really thrilled that the time has finally arrived and he’ll be joining us at Pitt as our new offensive coordinator.

“Shawn is, first and foremost, a wonderful person and father,” Narduzzi added. “As a football coach, he is extremely knowledgeable, an excellent recruiter and will be a tremendous strength in the quarterback room and offensive staff room. I’m really looking forward to having Shawn and his wife Anita join us in Pittsburgh.”

I think most Pitt fans will concede that their first reaction to the name, was hardly, “Oh, hell yes!”

But it shouldn’t have been, “Oh, shit!” Either.

The latter would have been reasonable only if the name had been Scott Loeffler.

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February 1, 2017

Snap Class Evaluations

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 6:30 pm

Signing day is done for Pitt. I mean there is still the outside possibility of one other kid joining the class at the end of the week (Kane Taylor), but for all intents and purposes the dust is mostly settled.

That means it is time to see what the recruiting rankings say about the class.

I know. I know. Recruiting rankings are meaningless. It’s about the grit and determination. It’s about uncovering those diamond-in-the-roughs and coaching them up. Aaron Donald was only a marginal 3-star recruit with not many major offers. Yada, yada, yada.

Yeah, no. The recruiting rankings do matter. No one claims they are perfect. No metric would be when it comes to evaluating how teenagers project out in — well… anything in life. Still  they do a pretty good job compared to anything else.

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NSD 2017

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 8:25 am

Yeah, it’s really more than half over. Isn’t it?

With four kids already enrolled and taking classes, this isn’t a huge volume of signatories for National Signing Day.

Over half the 18 expected signees have their National Letter of Intent faxed over to Pitt by this point. Including Kenny Picket, Todd Sibley, Gabe Houy.

There are a couple other possible guys announcing today who might join the class.

It almost sees low key.

Almost.

Pitt has the thing going on with the ACC Digital Network to show behind the scenes stuff all day.

The media — including recruiting sites were invited to attend the whole day at the South Side Facilities. To be there when the kids faxes came through.

 

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