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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.

 

January 19, 2017

Several Pat Signals

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 8:44 am

Pitt got three more verbals in a roughly 24 hour period. Only two are known, though.

The first, was Jason Pinnock. A cornerback from Connecticut. Pinnock was a Boston College commit, but after a senior year that saw interest in him rise he decommitted. Pitt offered him and both Syracuse and Notre Dame were showing interest. Pinnock was supposed to to take a visit to South Bend, next week but has since cancelled his remaining visits.

His star rating is not high. Rivals.com has him updated to a 3-star, but the other recruiting sites say 2-star. At 6-0, 180 pounds, he is along the physical lines of what Coach Pat Narduzzi wants in his corners. Obviously, he is not going to see the field right away.

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December 28, 2016

Open Thread: Pinstripe Bowl 2016

Filed under: Football,Open Thread — Chas @ 11:16 am

2pm, ESPN

The less said about the announcing crew, the better.

Hello, all. Hope everyone had a great holiday weekend. Nice and peaceful with my family. Stayed off the computer for most of it, though, I did watch plenty of football and basketball. Sometimes it is just nice to watch games without the running commentary on twitter and elsewhere.

I have been and will be rushing about to finish work early to get home to watch this game, and probably roll right into the Marshall-Pitt basketball game tonight (there will be a separate thread for those who are also double-dipping). 2pm on a weekday sounds great when you are off from work, but when you still need to put in the time, it becomes a bit of an annoyance.

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December 15, 2016

Recruiting Drought Ends With Two

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 5:21 pm

Hey, maybe Pitt should lose an OC more often.

/remembers that this will be OC #4 in 4 years

Oh, yeah. Pitt already has that down pat.

Despite the departure of the offensive coordinator, Pitt picked up two recruits on the offensive side of the ball. It’s been a while since there has been a Pat Signal.

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I know the premise might piss some off as too flippant, but I can’t disagree that Pitt coaching searches are a bit of a pip. A groundhog day thing full of crazy rumors, angst and a bit of self-loathing.

So, yeah. Matt Canada took the OC position at LSU. More money and a higher profile job. Calling it a “lateral move” is either ignorant or an attempt to cheap shot Pitt. I favor ignorance in this case.

To expand on some of what I said the other day. If Canada had stayed at Pitt and had similar success for just one more season he would be in the mix for head coaching jobs in the MAC, C-USA and Sun Belt. Have success at LSU for a year or two as OC. Especially in light of all their underachieving in the past 7 or 8 years and he is in being interviewed for AAC, low Power 5 conference jobs and OC spots in the NFL.

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December 13, 2016

Canada to LSU?

Filed under: Assistants,Coaches,Football,Hire/Fire — Chas @ 8:10 am

It seems that the dominoes that would have to fall for Matt Canada were no longer in place last week. Lane Kiffin did not get the Houston head coaching job. Kiffin was the favorite choice — by all reports — to be the OC under non-interim HC Ed Orgeron. Kiffin was ready to leave Alabama and they were ready for him to go.

Instead, Kiffin took a pay cut and will be the new head coach at Florida Atlantic.

Kiffin’s salary at FAU will average in the $1 million range annually, according to sources. He was making $1.4 million per year as Alabama’s offensive coordinator.

Brief digression. Recruiting in Florida is realistically tougher than ever. Forget the top tier schools there — FSU, Florida, Miami — and all the top-tier SEC schools that recruit the area. Competition for the underrated, diamonds-in-the-rough, athletic 3-star kids now has Charlie Strong (USF), Butch Davis (FIU) and Kiffin working to keep them in state. Pitt and a lot of other programs are going to have a lot more work to do if they want to pry kids out of Florida.

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December 12, 2016

Thank You James Conner

Filed under: Football,Honors,Players — Justin @ 10:08 am
Atlanta, GA - December 8, 2016 - College Football Hall of Fame: Portrait of College Football Awards winner of the Disney Spirit Award, James Conner of the University of Pittsburgh Panthers (Photo by Allen Kee / ESPN Images)

Atlanta, GA – December 8, 2016 – College Football Hall of Fame: Portrait of College Football Awards winner of the Disney Spirit Award, James Conner of the University of Pittsburgh Panthers
(Photo by Allen Kee / ESPN Images)

The news hit me twice in about thirty seconds. When James Conner announced to the world a little over a year ago that he had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, I had the unfortunate pleasure of learning twice. Pitt put up a feed online for fans to watch but there was a lag. So while I scrolled on twitter waiting for the press conference to begin, I saw it.

“James Conner announces he has been diagnosed with cancer.”

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December 7, 2016

(For Immediate Release)

CLARIFICATION ON TV CREW FOR NEW ERA PINSTRIPE BOWL

(Bristol, CT) Due to the number of questions, ESPN, the Worldwide Leader in Sports, wishes to address the surprising number of questions that were directed to the ESPN Media Zone with regards to the announcing crew of the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. Following the press release of the announcing crews for all of the 2016-17 college football bowl season, there was much reaction to Mike Golic and Mike Golic, Jr. serving as co-analysts in the booth with game caller Ryan Ruocco and sideline reporter Paul Caracaterra.

The combination of the co-host of ESPN’s morning radio show Mike & Mike in the Morning with his son is in no way a stunt or nepotism. Mike Golic is a well-respected voice in sports and we feel that Mike Golic, Jr. is a rising star in the broadcast of college football.

This decision was made with the full support of the New Era Pinstripe Bowl organizers and sponsors.

“When ESPN approached us with the idea of Mike Golic and his son working the game from the broadcast booth, we were very excited,” said Pinstripe Bowl Executive Director Mark Hozman. “The idea of two Notre Dame alum and partisans talking about Northwestern and Pitt seemed ideal.”

“Northwestern is located in a suburb of Chicago,” Hozman continued, “The epicenter of Notre Dame subway fans. The idea of not being able to escape Notre Dame references and discussions of Notre Dame Head Coach Brian Kelly for even one game has to be a tremendous incentive to attend the actual event to avoid hearing such sparkling conversations.”

“For Pitt fans, Mike Golic only reads quick summaries of teams in the AP top-10 to effect a knowledge of college football. This year, that includes Penn State, who we fully expect him to confuse with Pitt during the game.”

“You don’t want to hear these morons? Buy a damn ticket,” added New York Yankees Chairman Hal Steinbrenner.

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