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November 29, 2016

On the heels of breaking into the AP Top 25 at #24, Pitt players and a coach picked up some nice accolades.

In something that has become a regular occurrence, Quadree Henderson picked up his 5th ACC Specialist of the Week honor (yes, it is really called “specialist”).

He earned his latest award by compiling a career-high 257 all-purpose yards against the Orange, averaging an incredible 21.4 yards per touch.

Henderson averaged 18.7 yards on three punt returns (56 yards), 24.5 on four kickoffs (98 yards) and an incredible 20.6 on five rushes (103 yards). He had a 66-yard touchdown burst off a jet sweep to give Pitt a 49-21 lead in the third quarter.

Henderson’s (Wilmington, Del./Alexis I. du Pont) performance helped the Panthers achieve their highest single-game point total since 1977. His five Specialist of the Week awards are the most by an ACC player this season. He was previously honored for his performances in the Penn State, Virginia, Miami and Duke contests.

A highly viable All-America candidate, Henderson has four returns for touchdowns this season, including a nation-leading three on kickoffs. He ranks second in the country in combined kick return yards (1,121), fifth in kickoff return average (31.1) and 11th in all-purpose yards per game (159.75).

I’m assuming the ACC has a Specialist of the Year honor, which Henderson is a shoe-in to get. Along with 1st Team All-ACC recognition.

Speaking of which

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November 27, 2016

Vomiting Points, Hemorrhaging Coverage

Filed under: Football — Chas @ 4:20 pm

… Or…

I took my son to Pitt and a Big 12 game happened.

Thanks again, to Wally for the tickets. My boy had a great time. Good to see you again and to talk.

Where to begin — or end — with that game?

Tons of points. Even more yards. Volume, volume, volume of explosive plays. Too many mistakes by the defenses to count. And at times, it felt like the game was never going to end.

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November 26, 2016

12:30 pm. ACC Nework syndication.

Thanks to everyone who offered tickets so that my son and I can attend the game (as fans) today. Much bigger response than I expected. He’s excited about going, even if it is going to be cold and had to get up very early.

Pitt is the heavy favorite. The Syracuse offense does not look to be in good shape with QB Eric Dungey doubtful for the game. That leaves Zack Mahoney as the starter. Additionally, players not listed on the injury report are question marks.

Junior wide receiver Steve Ishmael, redshirt freshman center Colin Byrne and redshirt senior guard Omari Palmer are not included. It’s unclear if and how much each will play against the Panthers.

The Syracuse defense is not exactly its strong suit. It averages giving up 35+ points a game.

Time to send the seniors off with one more home win, and finish with an 8-4 record.

November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving and Senior Notes

Filed under: Football,Players — Chas @ 12:47 pm

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Hope you are enjoying it with friends, family and those who make you happy. I have been doing little things in preparation for the full-blown day of cooking (and maybe a bit to drink). The way things work out this time of year, we can’t travel to be with the entire family, so it is just the wife and kids. Which is much more peaceful, but we do miss out on the fun (usually) chaos of a house full of family.

There’s a game on Saturday, and I’m taking my son to it. He went with me to the spring game and had a great time. It just hasn’t worked out most of the season, but I promised him his first game this year so it is do or die time. On that note, does anyone have a couple extra tickets they aren’t using? Dragging him to the pressbox doesn’t seem like a good idea. I don’t think I can sell him as my intern. That means I have to pick a couple up. I know it won’t be hard to get a couple, but I might as well ask here first.

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November 22, 2016

The line on this game started at Pit -23.5. It has since risen to -24.5. I wonder how much of it is confidence in Pitt versus a lack of confidence in Syracuse.

Normally the Syracuse-Pitt “rivalry” game is a time for us to make fun of the ACC for declaring this the rivalry game. Point out how neither side really views the other with deep hate in football. That the series tends to shift one-sidedly for quite a while — and right now it is on Pitt’s side.

That’s still all true. But, at least the ACC went and moved it to the end of the season when there is a chance the game could means something in terms of wins and losses.

With that in mind, it isn’t a game that should produce the usual apathy and “meh” commentary. This is a game that could get Pitt to 8 regular season wins. Another nice step in year two under Pat Narduzzi, considering the strength of schedule took a noticeable jump compared to last year (and, yes, the frustrating closeness of some losses (and wins)).

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November 21, 2016

The Steady Drumbeat of a Blowout

Filed under: Football,Opponent(s) — Chas @ 8:39 am

The points didn’t come in one wild quarter or half. There wasn’t a defense that completely overwhelmed and demoralized Duke. Instead, they were steady consistent blows on both sides of the ball. It didn’t even feel like a blowout until you looked up at the score in 4th quarter.

Duke never quite seemed out of it in the first half. In part, because, Pitt fans have been conditioned this year to understand that no lead is truly safe. But primarily because while Pitt was dominating, they weren’t destroying.

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November 19, 2016

Open Thread: Duke-Pitt Get Messy

Filed under: Football,Open Thread — Chas @ 10:58 am

Ah, the joys of a 60-hour work week, and family commitments. I still have the Marquette-Pitt basketball game on the DVR to watch on Sunday. No spoilers, please.

For those of you not going to the game:

3pm, Root Sports Pittsburgh and various other RSNs and ACC Network Extra/WatchESPN.

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November 16, 2016

I hope no one is assuming Duke is a gimmee at this point. Duke is a good team that has noticeably improved from the start of this season to this point. It was expected to be a rebuilding year for Duke, and it has. But there have been improvements in this team as the season progressed

Duke is sitting at 4-6, but it is not the same team that lost to Virginia and barely eked out a win over Army. They upset UNC the week before. They lost by only 3 to Virginia Tech the week before that. And last month they held Louisville and presumptive Heisman winner Lamar Jackson to by far their lowest offensive production of the season in a loss. (Plus, they beat ND which even if ND sucks, is worthy of giving them some props.)

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November 14, 2016

Good to be Dead Wrong

Filed under: Football — Chas @ 7:23 am

And this is yet another reason why I don’t gamble.

I think the last time I was as dead certain of a Pitt loss that wasn’t was the 13-9 game. If we want to go cliche, then “That’s why they play the game.”

It was a day when Pitt went on the national stage — this was a national ABC telecast, not regional — and made a statement.

When James Conner reminded everyone that he is a hell of a running back, and a lot more than just an inspiring story.

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November 12, 2016

Open Thread: Death Valley Days

Filed under: Football,Open Thread — Chas @ 10:34 am

3:30 pm, ESPN.

This won’t be the normal open thread intro.

I haven’t had a lot (anything) to say this week about the game today. Mainly due to the fact that I don’t know what to say.

Not in a this team sucks, it always has sucked and always will suck kind of downer. It’s that Pitt right now has a glaring weakness that has not gotten better. That Clemson will completely exploit that weakness. That Clemson is a top team in the country with better players almost across the board to boot. I can’t envision a scenario that leads to a Pitt win.

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November 7, 2016

Not So Good

Filed under: Football — Chas @ 8:18 am

Sorry about the lack of open thread and Sunday posting. Last minute work stuff pulled me away all morning Saturday. By the time I got home, it was after 2pm. My wife was nice enough to DVR the game for me, which I had failed to do. Otherwise I would have missed out on having a glimmer of hope, before it was extinguished.

I can’t say I was expecting a win, but I wasn’t expecting that second half either.

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November 3, 2016

Prepping for Miami

Filed under: Football — Chas @ 7:26 am

Good history with Miami is not something that can be recalled vividly. Since 1984, Pitt is 2-17 against the Hurricanes. With many, many blowouts. 11 of the losses by 20 points or more.

Miami has been in something of a talespin since their last-minute loss to FSU. Losing four straight. Mark Richt is having Al Golden-level success in his first season. On the flip side, you could say they are a lot like Pitt. Beating the teams they should beat, and losing to the better teams (and Notre Dame). Their losses are to VT, UNC, FSU and ND.

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November 1, 2016

Nagging Narduzzi

Filed under: Football,Media — Chas @ 7:40 am

Pitt Head Coach Pat Narduzzi got a bit animated on the sidelines during the VT-Pitt game last Thursday. Seemed that the frustration with the secondary and that as a defensive-minded coach, calls for pass interference were going against only the defense, were really starting to bother him.

I didn’t really care about that part. Jim Harbaugh stalks the sideline like a maniac and goes bug-eyed on an official at the drop of a hat. You can see maniacal moments from coaches from the pros down to Pop Warner. When you are winning — Harbaugh — it’s the passion that is part of the key to your success. When you aren’t — Pelini — it’s being unable to control your emotions.

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October 28, 2016

Pass (Un)Happy

Filed under: Football — Chas @ 7:40 am

Another game, another loss because secondary was torched.

Tech’s emphasis on testing Pittsburgh with deep passes was a matter of necessity, in Hokies coach Justin Fuente’s opinion.

“They don’t give you a whole lot of choice with the way they play,” Fuente said. “The amount of people in the box, the leverages, how compact they are in there. I thought our guys accepted the challenge. They knew that going in. It certainly wasn’t a surprise.”

And Pitt fans knew it coming into the game. The only question would be how many they would get. Give VT’s QB, Jerod Evans a lot of credit. He didn’t miss too many shots. He put the ball where the receivers at least had a chance.

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October 27, 2016

Sorry about the week off. I was out of town on business and then meetings that took up way more time than anticipated. Got back late last night, and it is right back to everything else. Tonight it is Virginia Tech coming to Heinz Field for the big Thursday night ACC game.

As is tradition, the guys at The Key Play and I exchanged questions about the respective programs ahead of the game. You can find my answers to Joey’s questions here.

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