April 21, 2014

Football Link Clearance, 4/21

Filed under: Football — Chas @ 10:23 am

I’m doing the usual dad thing in the morning. Getting the kids ready for school. Drinking coffee. Trying to see what news is happening on the internet. Then my daughter comes up to me, and tells me her stomach hurts. Before I can even suggest she head to the bathroom she proceeds to unload the contents of breakfast, and eventually what appeared to be part of last night’s dinner on my shoes. Good start to the week.

The QB situation for this season has essentially been known since the end of last August when Tra’von Chapman was dismissed from the school and team. Owing to few blowouts in the second half of the season and an O-line that between mediocrity and injuries should have been considered a work hazard for any QB, there wasn’t the Tyler Palko-Bill Stull-esque classic clamor to get Chad Voytik some work. There may have been an occasional murmur, but nothing significant.


April 19, 2014

The Savage Surge

Filed under: Draft,Football,NFL — Chas @ 6:28 am

It has been amusing watch Tom Savage work his way up the draft charts. From mid-third round to top of the third. To somewhere in the second round, up to the top of the second. Now he is — at least in the rumors and chatter — to be heading into the first round.

How hot is he? Late last week Savage’s agent, Neil Schwartz, had to tell two teams who wanted to set up a visit or meeting with the quarterback that he didn’t have any time left to do so. “There are literally no days left on his calendar for him to go see any other teams,” Schwartz said Saturday. The deadline for teams to host players or work them out is April 27, and by then Savage is scheduled to have either worked out for or had visits with 24 or 25 teams. That’s an amazing number of workouts and/or meetings … and when I say meetings with teams, I mean time with either the GM, coach, offensive coordinator or two or three of those. … Amazing to think a player so itinerant and with so little college success could be leap-frogging A.J. McCarron, Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger. But there’s a good chance Savage will.

The reasons are understandable.


April 17, 2014

Another Spring Practice Ends

Filed under: Football,Practice — Chas @ 2:12 pm

It had to figure, right? Pitt decides not to do a spring game and the weather was absolutely perfect this past Saturday.

Well, from the talk and some reports the Field Pass event was a success. Pitt had more people than they expected sign up and attend the event. I think if they had announced the event at the same time they made the announcement not to have a spring game, the reaction might have been better. Including from me.

Seems, though, that Pitt is at the start of a trend. Or at the very least a debate on the merits of spring games. For programs that will pull in over 30,000 fans for a game, it’s a no-brainer. For other programs it becomes a trickier decision, much more about what the coach and the athletic department feel is needed.


April 11, 2014

As the spring practices reach their endpoint, the talk turns to the change in how the players themselves are from when Coach Paul Chryst came in with a whole new staff. A lot of that theme for the day comes courtesy of Offensive Line Coach Jim Hueber and his typical bluntness.

“When we came in here, there was a reason we got hired and it wasn’t because this was utopia,” Hueber said. “I think we fought through that. We had kids that didn’t want to buy in to our way. You look around now, there’s not much bitching and moaning, there’s not many guys missing. We don’t have the problems that we had before.

“How that pans out in wins and losses we’ll only know as these recruiting classes get older.”

Now in the stories from both papers that last quote was left out. That is the nut, though.


April 9, 2014

Link Dump, 4/09

Filed under: Football,Practice — Chas @ 7:41 am

No real theme to the stories. Basically some of the ones that have piled up in my browser tabs that need to go.

The pads came off for yesterday’s practice per NCAA spring practice rules. Given the number of players banged up or sitting out practices for injuries, that seemed like good timing. The good news is that Isaac Bennett is returned, but is going to be limited in practices. At this time of the year, it is hard to say what are real injuries that would keep a player out for games and what are little things that they are just being careful not to aggravate when the season is five months away.


April 8, 2014

So Much For RB Depth

Filed under: Football,Injury,Practice — Chas @ 7:23 am

At least for the rest of spring practices.

It’s been quite a few months in the offline world. Not necessarily in a good way. That’s really all I want to say about the latest gap in posting.

When last I posted on football it was about the running back position. About how there was depth and lots of good feelings at the spot. Naturally that couldn’t last.

Pitt running backs James Conner and Isaac Bennett will miss the final five practices of the spring session because of injuries suffered Friday, the university announced via social media.

Conner, a rising sophomore, sprained his left knee, while Bennett, a senior, sprained his left shoulder, the team posted on Twitter.

The injuries are not expected to prevent them from being ready for offseason conditioning when it begins in May, the team said.

Bennett and Conner combined for 1,596 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns last season.

Conner left the indoor practice facility on a golf cart with his knee wrapped in ice. He had an MRI, which revealed no structural damage.

Not long after Conner was injured, Bennett injured his shoulder. He watched the remainder of practice with his arm in a sling.

Yes, it could have been worse. Both with sprains. Not tears or breaks or anything else.


April 1, 2014

Good Runs

Filed under: Football,Players — Chas @ 7:03 am

A year ago the running back position was a mess. Rushel Shell had thrown his tantrum and was in the midst of deciding where he would consider transferring. Pitt only had two backs in Malcolm Crockett and Isaac Bennett.

None of the guys coming in as freshmen seemed like anything close to saviors. Heck, it really seemed the plan was for either if not both James Connor and Rachid Ibrahim were ultimately to be on the defensive side of the ball. Basically the running back position was a complete mess.

A year later it feels like there is real depth and lots of talent at the spot.


March 31, 2014

Going Link Diving

Filed under: Football — Chas @ 7:44 am

A few short hitters for the day.

Who is responsible for this? Who? I’m prepared to accuse a Hoopie or Nitter of doing it as negative recruiting.

Has Pitt taken some grief for the non-spring game? A little.


March 30, 2014

What The Offense Offers

Filed under: Football,Practice — Chas @ 12:52 pm

I guess the only question I have is, why did they decide to work on this now?

While quarterback Chad Voytik goes through his first spring as the presumed starter, sharing snaps equally with Trey Anderson, he is working on cleaning up mechanics in his throwing motion.

“My stride length is a little long,” he said.

He said Chryst noticed it, but Voytik said he has been aware of it since high school.

If Voytik’s accuracy suffers in practice while making the changes, he isn’t worried.

“There are a lot of days before the first game,” he said.

Chryst said perfecting the details can make a difference.

“You have to teach what to do,” he said. “But how-to is important. That’s where you gain an edge.”

And by now, I mean why didn’t they work on it any time in the previous two years? Yeah, it beats deciding to fix this sort of thing in the fall, but Voytik is a redshirt sophomore. There was no coaching change during that time to throw any work on it off.

You would think that the time to work on it would be earlier when there is a lot less pressure and plenty more time to get it straightened out. This isn’t exactly the giant hitch in the throwing motion Pat Bostick had, but it just seems odd that the coaches waited until now to have him work on it. I guess Chryst being a lot closer to what the QBs are doing this year must have decided it wasn’t something that should be left uncorrected any longer. Well, as long as it is all taken care of before the end of August.


March 28, 2014

Eyes On the Defense

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

Offense is what everyone notices. It’s always the focus of stories. Especially in the spring practices where contact is more limited, so it is easier for the skill positions to stand out.

It doesn’t feel this way for this spring. Even with all eyes on Chad Voytik. Even with the annual angst concerning the O-line. No, the questions, concerns issues of depth all seem to be on the defense.

It’s replacing the irreplaceable Aaron Donald. It’s the half the DBs being new starters. It’s the questions at the defensive end spots. And without any obvious stud players coming in this fall, it is about seeing who is developing this spring.


March 18, 2014

Spring Practice Always Seems Too Soon

Filed under: Football,Practice — Chas @ 7:36 am

I’m not saying Coach Paul Chryst does his level best to minimize any hype and attention to football in the spring, but cancelling the Blue-Gold Scrimmage and having the first practice on the same evening as Selection Sunday. Well, it’s hard not to make some inferences.

Between my absences and basketball season, football talk has gotten a short shrift from me. Not that there has been much beyond speculation for most of the last month. Still, there were some items.

Bryan Murphy and Mark Giubilato have left the team, though the two will remain at Pitt to finish their academics. Both will be seniors. Some attrition was expected simply because the scholarship numbers weren’t adding up correctly.


February 27, 2014

Just Spring Practices. No Game.

Filed under: Fans,Football,Marketing — Chas @ 6:08 pm

Just a bit bland.

Did not expect this when the schedule for spring practice would be announced.

Pitt has canceled its annual spring football game.

Coach Paul Chryst said Thursday that he believes finishing spring drills with a regular practice will be better for his team.

“The thinking behind that is to get one more good work day out of (the players),” he said. “Most if not every spring game you end up really sacrificing a lot.

“These days are really valuable for us. I’m not in a hurry to get through spring ball, and I want to maximize every day with it.”

Spring practice will include the NCAA-limit of 15 practice sessions, beginning March 16. The final session is scheduled for April 13. All practices will be held at UPMC Sports Performance Complex on the South Side on the outdoor fields or at the indoor facility.

Is there a large element of truth to this? Absolutely. Coach Chryst has, at best, shown antipathy for the Blue-Gold Scrimmage. It has been clear that as a coach he sees it as a waste of valuable practice time. Decrying at the end of the scrimmage how they need more practice and wishes for more time.


February 21, 2014

Recruiting Goes Early

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

One (and everyone has their personal favorite) of the reasons for angst over Head Coach Paul Chryst’s recruiting strategy has been the slow start to recruiting. Early verbals were few and far between. While other schools were pulling those early commits, Pitt was waiting. Appearing to get left in the dust.

Not this year. It’s not yet March, but Pitt has 3 verbals for the 2015 class. Offensive lineman Alex Paulina kicked things off in January. They added a TE at the end of January and now a linebacker.

The theme with them all is that they are Western Pennsylvania recruits. Three of the top-ten recruits in Westertn PA based on one ranking. If you care to make overarching declarations then it could be seen that the coaching stability and Coach Chryst’s approach to recruiting is starting to bear earlier fruit. At least locally as the players and coaches in the area have come to know and be familiar with him.

We know Chryst isn’t going to come out and try and glitz, glam and dazzle recruits. He’s not going to push. He is going to be himself and let the players and their families make the decision. At this point, though, he has been establishing real relations with the local coaches and players that will be seniors this fall. Now they are much more comfortable with what he is doing and there seems to be a lot more desire to play for him and Pitt.

At least at a local level.


February 20, 2014

Okay, I’m trying  to be back. It’s been a rough few weeks in the offline world, and a lot of the crap has been coming to a head this week. That’s why I’ve been largely silent this entire week. Hopefully I’ll get things back in order soon.

I know there’s a lot of stuff to cover. Right now, I’ll just discuss my feelings on the changes in position coaches.

To recap. Brooks Bollinger resigned from his position as QB Coach at Pitt. He is not taking a job elsewhere in D-1, but has decided to pursue a lifestyle that lets him actually spend time with his family.


February 14, 2014


The move to hire Troy Douglas as Defensive Backs Coach was made official. But with it, a little bit of adjusting to the coaching duties.

Chryst also streamlined positional assignments for Pitt’s defensive staff. In addition to coordinating the defense, Matt House will work with the linebackers. Chris Haering will coach the outside linebackers and serve as special teams coordinator. On the defensive line, Inoke Breckterfield will continue to coach the tackles and John Palermo will focus on the ends.

Chryst additionally announced that Desmond Robinson, who served as player personnel director this past season, will not be returning to Pitt’s staff.

Question. When did “streamline” become popular verbiage in football circles? Living in the Cleveland area I couldn’t help but absorb the Browns-Jimmy Haslam stuff this week. Haslam kept emphasizing the front office being streamlined. There was one position eliminated (CEO spot held by Joe Banner). Two people fired, but only one position eliminated.

Now Pitt has “streamlined” essentially be completing the phase out of Desmond Robinson. Otherwise, I’m not seeing “streamlined.”

Sorry, bit of a tangent but this was bothering me.


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