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March 3, 2015

The Narduzzi Build

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Narduzzi — Chas @ 2:16 pm

Pro Day for Pitt seniors. Plenty of snippets on Twitter regarding it.

One of the themes that constantly emerges from the recent spate of articles on Pitt and new football coach Pat Narduzzi is that Pitt is not in for a rebuild or a complete remaking of itself with a new head coach.

In the open workout that the media got to attend on Friday, Strength and Conditioning Coach Dave Andrews echoed that point.

Strength and conditioning coach Dave Andrews said the previous coaching staff put down a solid foundation.

“This is an add-on job for me,” said Andrews, who spent last season as Notre Dame’s assistant strength coach. “This is not a tear-down-and-rebuild. The gentlemen who came before us have done a great job preparing these kids.”

It’s a nice nod to the former coaches, but it is also what the players and fans should hear.

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February 27, 2015

Football Notes, 2/27

Filed under: Football — Chas @ 8:19 am

The football team has workouts at 5:30 am. In a nice publicity move, the media was invited to attend today’s workout.

Oh, no. I wasn’t invited. I’m up at that hour, but I wasn’t invited to attend. No, it doesn’t bother me at all, why do you ask?

I wonder about these extremely early workouts. I get the team building. And making sure they get those workouts in early before a full day. Seems the best reason for it is to cut down on the risk of bad things happening with the kids. Especially on a Thursday night.

Sure, they are college kids, young and strong, who can occasionally pull the full partying and show up for a solid workout without flinching. But even the kids can’t keep that up for long. Instead, in the back of their minds they know about that coming workout. Having to be ready to go. An easy way to minimize the chances they put themselves in bad situations.

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February 26, 2015

No PITT fan likes it when a young man, who mutually agreed with PITT to enroll as a student athlete leaves the program. Whether it is on his own, he gets moved on by the staff or can’t handle the disciplinary requirements and are dismissed before they have a chance to complete their full four years toward a degree, it always seems a disappointment to all concerned.  We fans get attached to these players as early as their recruitment and then we’re sometimes surprised and disappointed when players are here one minute and gone the next.  Poof!

Since the recent, not totally surprising, news of rising rsSO DB Titus Howard being dismissed by the Narduzzi for cause, and the departures of rsSR QB Trey Anderson, SO OL Conner Hayes, rsSR DE Devin Cook (transferred to the Richmond Spiders) and rsSR Luke Maclean this may be a good point in time to look at what kind of attrition we have had in the past and what we may see coming out of this year’s spring practices and fall camp.

Addressing the four players above it seems as if at least two of them who played their HS football in Michigan, Conner Hayes and Luke Maclean, may have designs to join their old coach Paul Chryst. That will be an interesting thing to keep an eye on as neither was recruited by Wisconsin or by Narduzzi’s Michigan State before signing with PITT.

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February 23, 2015

Titus Howard Gone

Filed under: Football,Players — Reed @ 10:49 am

According to sources closer to the program than me,  CB Titus Howard has been dismissed from the team.

Apparently he didn’t learn from last year’s full-season suspension.  Will add more info as it comes in.

UPDATE: From wbb @ 3:26 below:

“Trey Anderson, Devin Cook, Connor Hayes and Luke Maclean have left the #Pitt football team and Titus Howard has been dismissed.

February 20, 2015

PITT’s Running Backs from ’75 on…

Filed under: Football,Players — Reed @ 11:39 am

PITT TOP TEN RUSHERS OF ALL TIME

Name Seasons Total Yards YPC TD:Carry Ratio
  1. Tony Dorsett
1973-76 6,526 5.6 19.7
  1. Ray Graham
2009-12 3,271 5.5 18.6
  1. Curvin Richards
1988-90 3,192 5.5 34.3
  1. Craig Heyward
1984, 86-87 3,086 4.5 28.5
  1. Dion Lewis
2009-10 2,860 5.3 18.1
  1. LeSean McCoy
2007-08 2,816 4.8 16.7
  1. Billy West
1993-97 2,803 4.9 28.6
  1. Elliott Walker
1974-77 2,748 5.7 16.5
  1. Curtis Martin
1991-94 2,643 5.1 34.5
    10.  J. Conner 2013-14, 2,564 5.7 13.0

 

I find this listing interesting as it shows pure stats and, in turn productivity, yet you can’t tell what factors affected these RBs in producing those stats.  Did the fact that Curvin Richards played two years with Alex Van Pelt cut down on the number of TDs he had?  In 1989-90 they played together and during that stretch Van Pelt threw 31 TDs and Richards only scored nine so most probably yes. (more…)

February 17, 2015

Spring ’15 Two Deep?

Filed under: Football,Players — Reed @ 3:26 pm

Since we have less than four weeks until the PITT Spring Practices begin let’s start speculating on who we will see as starter and in the two deep for next season.  Obviously not etched in stone and pretty much off the top of my head.  We’ve been up and down with BB lately so here is a post with no emotion attached…  My “stars”: Rori Blair on D and James Conner on O.

OFFENSE

1st Team

2nd Team

WR Boyd, Tyler JR Zeise, Elijah rsFR
WR Ford, Dontez rsJR  Weah, Jester rsSO
LT Bisnowaty, Adam rsJR Jones-Smith, Jaryd rsSO
LG Johnson, Dorian JR Baker, Carson rsSO
C Rowell, Artie rsSR Roberts, Gabe rsJR
RG Officer, Alex rsSO   Roberts, Gabe rsJR
RT Bookser, Alex rsFR   Jones-Smith, Jaryd rsSO
TE Holtz, J.P. SR Edwards, Devon rsSO
H-BACK Parrish, Jaymar JR Orndoff, Scott JR
QB Voytik, Chad rsJR   Bertke, Adam rsFR
RB Conner, James JR James, Chris  SO

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February 13, 2015

Fun With Numbers: Close Losses

Filed under: Football,Numbers — Chas @ 8:22 am

Offseason football stuff means digging around the numbers.

Earlier in the week, ESPN.com writer David Hale started tweeting out some stuff about close losses. Surprise, Pitt was one of the hardest luck teams when it came to that.

The number is already engrained in the minds of every player at Pitt: 20.

That’s how many points separated the Panthers, who finished 6-7, from being 11-2 last season. It’s a number that defines their failures in 2014 and their motivation for 2015.

“Our new strength coach actually wrote it up on the board,” Pitt quarterback Chad Voytik said. “So we’re using that as fuel for the offseason. If we don’t finish a drill or finish team conditioning, we’re saying, ‘If you don’t finish a spring, you’re not finishing a game either.’ But there’s a level of frustration, too. We know we could’ve been a whole lot better, and we’re looking to change that.”

Pitt and VT both had five losses by seven or fewer points. No other team in the major conferences had that many. Pitt was 1-5 last year in games decided by seven points or less (thanks again, VT), culminating in the blown Armed Forces Bowl.

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February 9, 2015

I’m not going to put much up this evening but want to direct your attention to some excellent pieces that Chris Dokish is posting up his on Blog Panther’s Prey.

He’s now looking at and writing about the Panther’s offensive positions going into the fall camp, not spring practices, because he includes some recruits in the 2015 class.  At the end of each piece he rates the TALENT and the DEPTH of the position.  His rating system is “Excellent”, “Very Good”, “Good”, “Average”, and “Poor”.  Which is kind of strange as “Average” falls below the mid-point, but it works with his reasoning.

He starts off three days ago with “A Look Ahead” at the current QB situation.  I agree with almost everything he has written about Voytik especially. Considering the other two QBs on the roster at this moment are unproven in a PITT uniform the spotlight is directed toward Voytik and that is as it should be with a returning starter.  He will most probably be given token competition in fall camp but let’s bet that he’s the starter and transfer SR Nathan Peterman from Tennessee will be his backup. Those fans hoping we’ll see a change at QB with either Peterman or Bertke should realize that if it happens at all it will be because of injury or if Voytik turns into an interception machine.

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February 6, 2015

LOI Day Event Recap

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Players,Recruiting — Reed @ 8:59 am

A friend and I attended the PITT LOI Day Event last night at Heinz Field and all I can really say is “Wow, that was short”. The presentations, as they were, lasted 40 minutes total with Bill Hillgrove taking five minutes to open and close the event..

I had been to an earlier one back when DW was the HC and it was more extensive and detail oriented than Wednesday’s was but what the fans and season ticket holders got the other night were very short staff introductions, small (very) bits on the recruits with a joke or two thrown it.  But, to give the staff credit the reason it was short and not super detailed was most probably because every one of those coaches have been travelling around the country for a month busting ass to get the kids to sign on with PITT and that evening was the first time they could completely relax and be with their families in a long time.

To set the scene it was held in the East Club area of Heinz Field with a small stage, hundreds of chairs lined up 12 to a row and HDTVs situated about every 30 feet around the room. PITT got a fantastic turnout with what I’d estimate to be over 600 people there, maybe even a bunch more. So it was very well attended.

Here is a recap from my notes:

Bill Hillgrove came on stage first and without much preamble introduced Pat Narduzzi to a standing ovation, then Narduzzi introduced Chancellor Gallagher and he got one from the attendees also. Narduzzi while energetic and fun to listen to has to be on speed because his mind literally overruns his mouth sometimes. He was so jittery that he couldn’t keep his body still and couldn’t finish some of his sentences because his words were jumbled up and spilling out.  But even with that it was 180 degrees different than Paul Chryst’s public speaking and 100% more enjoyable to watch and listen to.

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February 5, 2015

Post-Signing Day Hangover

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 7:10 pm

Okay, Pitt didn’t exactly set things ablaze with the 2015 signing class in national perception. Even before the coaching change this was going to be a small and not considered stellar recruiting class. Size matters in the calculations of class rankings. It is just a question of by how much.

Why does size matter? Because the bigger the class size, the bigger the impact on the team. Even if the class isn’t loaded with 4 and 5-star talent. The more players, the more likely — just based on quantity — there will be players that matter.

As each recruiting site weighs size differently, the impact is more noticeable. And obviously disagreements in the value of individual recruits.

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February 4, 2015

A lot has changed in the way Signing Day goes down. It used to be the paper work was faxed to the school and no one would officially know anything until the school released the list later that day. Instead, fans would rely on the recruiting sites to report (thanks to coaches and the kids themselves) when the paper work was received/sent.

Now, the programs themselves happily let us know. All the reports come in via Twitter, and it goes a lot faster. QUICK EDIT/NOTE: It looks like the first news on Twitter for the receiving of NLIs is coming from HC Pat Narduzzi‘s twitter account.

Pitt has a small class. It was always going to be that way, regardless of who the head coach was. Just the way the numbers break for this year. I would say, that worked out to be a good thing in what has turned out to be a transition year. No scrambling to fill lots of spots. No overwhelming number of defections and flips.

15 14, maybe 16 15 kids will be part of this class.

The fun officially kicks off at 7 am Eastern.

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February 3, 2015

Day Before NLI Day Drama

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 2:21 pm

Okay, let’s get it out of the way. Pitt appears to have had a second member of the 2015 signing class flip to PSU. Last week it was TE Nick Bowers, today LB Kevin Givens. Penn State  has closed strong. In addition to flipping 2 verbals, they beat out Pitt for Shareef Miller and John Petrishen.

It’s frustrating, and it adds an extra level of annoyance because of to where they flipped. And if it happens next year, I might muster some real anger. Not this year. Not after a coaching change.

At the end of the day, this is not atypical after a coaching change. It’s flux. Guys who seemed sure and stable to commit have to rethink things. New coaches that have come in and may be able to make most of the players feel good about things, but it won’t be that way for all of them. It’s why coaches for other teams will still “touch base” and check in on players even after they commit. You never know.

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This is a long post but since there isn’t a PITT basketball game for a few days it’s something for us to read,listen to and discuss.

At first I wasn’t that excited about listening to the interview but once I realized how in-depth Paul Zeise was getting I re-started the interview and took four full pages of notes. I had to paraphrase some of the info below but these are Paul Zeise’s thoughts (not mine). I added some background and italicized some of the more interesting info.

Linked below is a interesting and detailed interview with the P-G’s Paul Zeise conducted by the Wisconsin Football Blog Buckaround.com which is much like The PITT Blather is to PITT football. The interview is Episode 63 titled “Paul Chryst: PITT Head Coach with Paul Zeise The podcast is about 50 minutes long and I urge all of us PITT fans to take the time to listen to it.  Zeise doesn’t pull any punches when discussing the recent history of PITT football and has some very  interesting ‘inside info’ .

It is a pretty hard hitting and very insightful discussion by someone who was right in the middle of everything as a PITT beat writer working with PITT’s football program from 2014 on back. With the recent, welcomed changes in the football program and how the administration is unfolding and the fruits of that happening, it is inevitable that when discussing PITT football we’ll cast back to the last three HCs we had before Narduzzi and their impacts on the program.

Something to remember about Paul Zeise is that just because he was taken off the P-G PITT football beat prior last season he still was very involved and privy to the inner-working of the football program, especially with his family’s’ experience with the recruiting process, but he wasn’t writing about it due to a conflict of interest. (more…)

January 30, 2015

First off, the semi-official brewery of Pitt Blather is opening a new branch this weekend. Voodoo Brewery is opening another brewpub, Voodoo Homestead.

Voodoo Homestead — not a brewery or brewpub, but an unusual satellite pub selling just Voodoo brews — will open in a big chunk of the first floor of the former Homestead municipal building and fire station on East Ninth Avenue at Amity Street. The more-than-a-century-old, three-story building had been vacant for two decades when the borough approved selling it to Voodoo for $8,500 this past summer.

Since that time, the Voodoo crew has worked non-stop filling containers and containers with refuse, with a lot of that hard, dirty work being performed for free by volunteers, some of whom flew from distant cities to chip in.

Others volunteered to help decorate the decrepit but beautifully-boned building, gracing the vaulted ceiling with fanciful chalk artworks and colorfully painting the interior sides of two massive roll-up doors.

That’s why this weekend’s public opening was proceeded by a party for those volunteers, whose names are written in chalk behind the old-metal-barn-roofing-clad, 24-foot-long concrete-topped bar, right next to the chalked list of the beers that will be available to drink on premises or take home in growlers.

The article also gets into some of the lunacy of Pennsylvania liquor laws with the hoops Voodoo has to jump through for this. I realize every state is insane in their own unique ways with liquor laws, but Pennsylvania is a special kind of crazy.

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January 29, 2015

Football Schedule Released

Filed under: ACC,Football,Schedule — Justin @ 10:13 am

The ACC released the 2015 football schedule this morning. While opponents and location have been determined for awhile, the order of ACC games as well as the dates (Thursday vs. Saturday) were not known until today. As I worked through these previews, I realized that several opponents will be better in 2015, notably UNC. The first thing that jumps out to me is that four of the last five games are at home. If Narduzzi and company can get this team playing at a high level, a late season run is possible. (more…)

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