May 23, 2016

Conner Completes Crushing Cancer

Filed under: Football,Injury,Players — Chas @ 5:31 pm

Treatments finished. Cancer, beaten.

Statement from Pitt football coach Pat Narduzzi.

“Over the past six months, James Conner fought cancer the same way he plays football: relentlessly and without surrender. He has inspired and touched so many people in how he has handled this challenge. James is an incredibly special person, and I’m not even thinking about his football ability when I say that. Everyone at Pitt feels blessed to know him and we are tremendously thankful for the wonderful news he received today.”

Don’t care how crappy work was. It is a good day.

December 4, 2015

Cancer Picks A Fight With Conner

Filed under: Football,Injury,Players — Chas @ 2:16 pm


Pardon me.


I mean, what else can you say.


September 11, 2015

Health and Clearance

Filed under: Basketball,Coaches,Dixon,Injury — Chas @ 12:32 pm

Somewhere this week, a bit of basketball had to be posted. Between Conner’s injury news at the beginning and the Backyard Brawl at the end, there was always something a little more breaking to post. Now, here we are a little more than 24 hours to a football game and you are looking at a basketball post.

Starting with the news yesterday that Damon Wilson was academically cleared by the NCAA. The news was initially tweeted out by Jeff Goodman of But there could be more.


September 9, 2015

Familiar names on the Zips team. No, not just Tra’von Chapman. One of their wide receivers has a very familiar name and has made an impression.

Passing wasn’t going to come easy to the Zips offense against the Sooners.

However, what little bit of promise displayed in that area came from the performance of Jerome Lane Jr. The former Firestone High School standout, caught three passes for 57 yards, including a long reception of 42 yards. However, coach Terry Bowden pumped the brakes on praising Lane just yet.

“If Jerome Lane would stay focused and learn his assignments and do the little things, he could be good at any one position on either side of the ball,” Bowden said.

It might also help if the coaching staff settled on where they want to use him. Last year, Lane was playing linebacker for the Zips. It doesn’t seem likely he will go back to the defense given the issues for Akron in the passing game. Akron quarterbacks completed only 6 passes for 88 yards the entire game (Chapman was 0-8).


September 8, 2015

With the fine work by Justin and Reed, there isn’t much left for me to do at this point.

The pall cast over things with James Conner’s injury is noticeable. He’s having surgery, and because of the very cautious approach, he will not be coming back this season.

But Narduzzi said he had no problem coming to the conclusion that Conner needs to get the torn medial collateral ligament repaired immediately, regardless of the ramifications to the team.

Surgery is scheduled this week and will be performed by Dr. Volker Musahl, medical director at the UPMC Center for Sports Medicine. Musahl also performed knee surgery last year on Pitt center Artie Rowell.

MCL injuries typically heal between one to two weeks and four to six weeks, Charleston, S.C., sports medicine specialist and knee surgeon Dr. David Geier said.

That timetable would allow the MCL to heal nonsurgically and give Conner, the reigning ACC Offensive Player of the Year, a chance to return before the end of the season.

Narduzzi, however, said such a plan wasn’t considered.

“There are different ways to deal with it,” he said. “When you look at it for his sake and his health, doctors make that call. Ultimately, James makes that call. Certainly, it’s not a coach making that call.

“As a coach and a father, (for) his best interests and his future, he needs to get it repaired now.

“They could brace it up for five or six weeks and see how it works, and (Pitt could) lose him for half a season, but I don’t think that’s right for him, as a player and his future. He’s a guy who wants to play. If he could tape it up and go, he would.”

Narduzzi added, “There’s no question what the right thing to do was.”

Geier, who has no first-hand knowledge of Conner’s situation, said surgery “makes sense for a running back” because of the cutting and lateral motion required of players at that position.

Often, linemen who suffer such injuries are able to return in the same season.

As Narduzzi points out, this is about his future. First and foremost. If he were to try and just rest and rehab it, he could comeback this season, but that greatly puts his future in question and risks re-injuring it.


September 7, 2015

Conner Out for the Year

Filed under: Football,Injury — Chas @ 11:11 am

Sorry to pop this over Reed’s new piece, but this is big, bad news.

Pat Narduzzi’s 12:30 pres conference dropped a bombshell.

Jame’s Conner’s “minor” knee injury that held him out of the rest of the YSU game as a precaution, turned out to be anything but.

It is an MCL injury to his right knee that will have him out for the rest of the year.

Horrible break for the kid. Not good for Pitt, but minor by comparison.

Odds are that first half against Youngstown State was the last we will get to see of James Conner on the field wearing Pitt. Next time he plays, it will almost certainly be in the NFL.

Here’s hoping for a full and successful recovery.

The Narduzzi Era at Pitt began yesterday and Pitt came out with a 45-37 win against the tough and persistent Youngstown State Penguins in front of 49,969 mostly yellow-painted fans.  Here are the official game stats in case you are wondering how what happened came about.

There is good news and bad news coming out of this ballgame.  Here are the highlights so that you can see some of each type of play we had Saturday:


September 1, 2015

Last Minute Guard Happens

Filed under: Basketball,Injury,Recruiting — Chas @ 2:20 pm

Busy day.

The Jonathan Milligan transfer is real.

The University of Pittsburgh men’s basketball team has added JUCO guard Jonathan Milligan for the 2015-16 season head coach Jamie Dixon announced Tuesday.

“We are fortunate to be able to add a guard of Jonathan’s caliber at this point in the year,” said Dixon. “He is a promising combo guard who received a lot of high major interest out of high school and while he was at Kilgore College. He has the ability to score from a variety of spots on the floor and break down defense by getting into the lane. He also has the quickness and instincts to be an outstanding defender in our program.

Milligan averaged 14.3 points, 2.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game last season while leading the Kilgore College to a 21-9 record and a Region XIV Tournament appearance. He increased his scoring to 17.5 points per game in conference play en route to claiming first team all-region and Region XIV all-conference accolades.

I love that the press release manages not to mention that he had to be released from his NLI with FGCU.


July 2, 2015

Jaryd Jones-Smith Out For the Year

Filed under: Football,Injury — Chas @ 9:54 am

Well this was a bummer of a press release.

Pitt sophomore tackle Jaryd Jones-Smith, expected to contend for a starting position on the Panthers’ offensive line, will miss the 2015 season due to a right knee injury.

Jones Smith (Voorhees, N.J./West Catholic [Pa.]) sustained the injury during an offseason conditioning session. He was a significant member of Pitt’s offensive front last year as a redshirt freshman, playing in all 13 games and making three starts.

“We are incredibly disappointed for Jaryd,” Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said. “Our entire team will rally behind him as he works to overcome this challenge. Jaryd is a great young man and a tough competitor. Even though he is sidelined this year, he is going to remain an important member of our team this fall.”

It was expected that Jones-Smith would take man the right OT spot this season. It’s a tough, tough break for Jones-Smith. For the Pitt offense it hurts, but it isn’t that devastating.

Jones-Smith was a solid recruit (3-stars, offers from Arizona, NC State, Michigan), but not considered a linchpin to the O-line’s future. He developed much quicker than expected, and at times was one of the best O-linemen not named T.J. Clemmings on the field last year for Pitt.

If there is one thing that can be pointed to as a clear plus for the Paul Chryst period, it was the work done to build real depth on the O-line. Something not seen since… I don’t even know for sure.

Aaron Reese was named his back-up on the 2-deep coming out of spring practice. There are other options, though, that would require a little bit of line shuffling.

…redshirt freshman Alex Bookser, who played tackle at Mt. Lebanon, but was Pitt’s right guard this spring.

Moving Bookser would create more movement on the offensive line, with sophomore center Alex Officer possibly moving to guard and senior Artie Rowell regaining his accustomed spot at center. Rowell missed most of last season with a knee injury, but he could be ready for the start of training camp Aug. 10.

With a new coaching staff, I’m not as sure what they will do. Chryst and staff, I think would put Rowell back at center (if he’s healthy and ready), with the plan DiPaola laid out. Not sure what Narduzzi will do.

The good news is that there are options, and actual time to figure this out. It didn’t happen in season. It didn’t even happen in training camp. There will be some competition in camp to get the best five on the line.

Jaryd Jones-Smith out for 2015 Season

Filed under: Football,Injury — Justin @ 8:19 am

According to Chris Peak of Panther Lair, Jaryd Jones-Smith suffered a knee injury and is out for the 2015 season. He will have surgery this week. Jones-Smith was set to start at RT this upcoming season. Unfortunately Jones-Smith has already used his redshirt, so he will lose a season of eligibility. Peak had this say about who could replace him:

The most likely option might be to move redshirt freshman Alex Bookser, who worked at right guard in spring camp but came to Pitt as a highly-regarded offensive tackle prospect. That scenario would probably mean a move for redshirt sophomore Alex Officer from center to right guard and a return to the starting lineup at center for redshirt senior Artie Rowell.

Other options could include junior Dorian Johnson, who started 13 games at left guard last season but played tackle as a freshman in 2014, as well as redshirt freshman Aaron Reese, who was Jones-Smith’s backup in spring camp.

This is a big loss for the team, especially given Jones-Smith was set to replace NFL starter TJ Clemmings. Thankfully the roster does have a lot of talent, albeit unproven, on the OL. This situation will be one of the key things to monitor this summer.

May 7, 2015

Newkirk’s Knee

Filed under: Basketball,Injury,Recruiting,Transfer — Chas @ 12:15 pm

Josh Newkirk had knee surgery last week.

Pitt guard Josh Newkirk, who averaged 5.9 points and was second on the team with 93 assists last season, is expected to be out four to six months after having surgery to correct damage in his left knee, coach Jamie Dixon said Wednesday.

Team physician Dr. Bryson Lesniak performed the surgery last week. It involved repairing Newkirk’s lateral meniscus and a micro fracture on the outside part of his knee.

“We expect Josh to make a full recovery and rejoin his teammates for the upcoming 2015-16 season,” Dixon said. “He’ll start summer school on Monday. The surgery was a success, and we know that Josh will work hard during the rehabilitation period.”

I remain continually amazed at the ability of the Pitt athletic department to keep information so tight.


September 28, 2014

Looking For Something Positive

Filed under: Basketball,Injury,Players — Chas @ 9:48 am

Maybe there’s some good news from Pitt basketball.

Senior guard Cameron Wright, Pitt’s leading returning scorer, had surgery Friday after breaking his left foot a week before the team’s first practice, a team source said.

Wright, who broke his foot Thursday, is expected to miss 10 weeks.

The Panthers’ first practice is scheduled for Friday.


July 16, 2014

I’m sure you all know, but to repeat the news from this afternoon. Defensive End Ejuan Price has suffered a torn pectoral muscle and will require surgery. This will keep him out for the entire 2014 season. To say Price has had some issues with injuries is putting it kindly.

2012: Missed entire season with torn right pectoral muscle.

2013: Missed 7 out of 13 games with back problems.

2014 Will miss entire season with torn left pectoral muscle.

In a normal career, Price would be heading into his senior year. As it stands, he is looking at earning a rare 6th year for 2016. That’s about the only good news from a Pitt fan perspective. (more…)

June 4, 2014

Football Notes, 6/4

Filed under: Alumni,Football,Good,Injury,Lists — Chas @ 7:27 am

Scott McKillop is done with professional football. Now it is time to give coaching a go.

After he was released this year by the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League, he decided to pursue a career in coaching. He said his familiarity with the Pitt program led him there.

“It’s definitely something I am looking forward to doing,” said McKillop, a graduate of Kiski Area. “I have to get my feet wet and prove I can do it and work my way up.”

McKillop was an All-America linebacker and Big East Defensive Player of the Year in 2008.

Due to NCAA restrictions, he won’t be permitted to instruct players on the field, but he will help in other areas.

“He can be a life coach,” Chryst said. “Here’s a guy who walked it and did a good job doing it.”

McKillop is taking a volunteer coaching position. He can help with breaking down film and work off-the-field with players.  As McKillop says, it is the starting point.

For Pitt and Coach Chryst, this is very good. Having one of Pitt’s best players from the last decade around the players and program is the sort of thing they should want. Between the coaching chaos that had happened and trying to change a lot of things around the program, bringing in a former player it arguably should have been a priority sooner.


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.


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