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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 22, 2015

Remember when Chris Jones was given a late scholarship after an excellent senior season of high school? A versatile player who was clearly going to be a development project. Along the lines of Brad Wanamaker and Lamar Patterson?

Well, it might be happening.

One game does not mean he’s arrived. But what Jones has been doing in the month of February has been a couple notches above his January. Which was better than his wretched December. In other words, he’s actually been developing and improving as the season has continued.

It’s been a theme for this squad, the entire season. Young players developing. From the leap Jamel Artis has made. To Sheldon Jeter coming into his own. Michael Young’s consistent work. Josh Newk — okay, there is an exception. Back to Jones.

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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 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 3, 2015

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 28, 2015

We have been talking a lot about recruiting lately because, well – because that is what is going on right now and we like what we see. I think it’s been made pretty clear that we Blatherites feel what Narduzzi is doing is exciting and really pro-active as seen in the post  “They Hit the Ground Running”. I really do like what I see happening and I think that is echoed through PITT football fandom.

But at the risk of being a contrarian, and that is just what I’m going to do here, all this talk of Chryst not recruiting defensive players is pretty much either hogwash or selective memory. Here is what he did according to Rivals.com (which I think is the stingiest recruit grading website). Note that the 2012 and 2015 recruits listed are the kids who committed while he was the HC. I also included the “ATH” recruits if they ended up on defense:

2012 – seven total recruits – five on defense w/ four 3*s

2013 - 27 total recruits – nine on defense w/ six 3*s

2014 – 23 total recruits – 12 on defense w/ 10 3*s

2015 – nine total recruits – four on defense w/ one 4* and two 3*s

As stated I like what Narduzzi is doing but looking through the burgeoning hype it does look like he’s pretty much in line with what Chryst did while he was here… so far. 2016’s recruiting class will most probably be a whole different story as far as a new HC’s  2nd year recruiting goes (always better than the 1st fractured class) and I think we’ll see Narduzzi bring in some top shelf guys, depending on how the ’15 season plays out of course.

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January 21, 2015

Now that the football coaching staff is in place, the fans are excited and recruiting is in full bloom let’s take a very early preview of who we may see playing ball out there on the field as starters for us in 2015. Paul Chryst left Pat Narduzzi with a very young roster and a younger but experienced two-deep rotation.  Most of the starters on the 2014 team were FR and SOs and sometimes the lack of experience showed up in pretty dramatic ways.

Here is who we either fielded as starters last season or I assume will fill a starting role in ’15. This is my take on it, we’ll know some more after Spring practices (not too far away) and, of course, it will be firmed up over Fall camp:

OFFENSE

POSITION PLAYER YEAR GROUP in ’15 YRS STARTING
QB Chad Voytik rsJR 1
RB James Conner JR 2
H-Back Jamar Parrish JR 2
WR Tyler Boyd JR 2
WR Dontez Ford (?) rsJR 0
TE J.P. Holtz SR 2
LT Adam Bisnowaty rsJR 1
LG Dorian Johnson JR 1
C Artie Rowell rsSR 1
RG Alex Officer rsSO 1
RT Alex Bookster SO 1

 

That setup is probably pretty much etched in stone with the exception of the WR2 spot, rsSO Jester Weah could get in there for speed and maybe the OL will mix it up a little. We scored 32 PPG last year so the skill positions will be held fast. Our new OC, Jim Chaney, won’t have a rebuilding task ahead of him, but my fear is that he won’t see what is right in front of his face and try to get fancy when non-fancy did just fine for us on offense.

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January 15, 2015

3…2…1… RECRUIT!

Filed under: Coaches,Players,Recruiting — Justin @ 10:06 am

The recruiting dead period is over and coaches can now visit players in person. That makes today the day for Narduzzi and company to start earning their paychecks. As Chas mentioned, recruiting was a huge emphasis when hires were made and hopefully this decision will bear fruit soon. Chancellor Gallagher gave Narduzzi a much larger budget than Paul Chryst to hire assistants and the next several weeks will should justify that.

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January 9, 2015

Since we are undergoing a period of changes in the athletic department and the football program in particular let’s take a look at the players who either won’t be on the roster next season via expiration of their eligibility or by virtue of being pushed ‘into their life’s work’ as the saying goes.

At this point we have no idea how sentimental or ruthless Pat Narduzzi will be when it comes to current players he is inheriting on the roster. We saw the large attrition conducted under Paul Chryst but most of those players who either left on their own (few) or were moved out (many) were mostly the type of players Chryst didn’t want to retain because of character issues or by being negative influences in the locker room.

Chryst supplemented those actions by his recruitment practice of weighing personal qualities equally with the talent and skills the recruits would bring to the team. To me it is hard to judge just how well that balance worked out. Some fans care more about the results on the field rather than any off the field issue that might occur; others feel that the players should be actual student athletes who via their play and behavior reflect positively on the university.

Below is a list of players, with their current year status shown, who will be either gone by eligibility or could be on the chopping block for the 2015 season.  A rsJR listed below will most probably be a 5th year rsSR in the Spring and as such they have that last season of eligibility. Given the rest of the roster and what we think we know about Narduzzi’s preferences in the type of player he wants (i.e. faster defensive kids) who do you think we’ll see unexpectedly gone by the 2015 spring practices.  Those practices will start in mid-March and go until the second week of April so they are only about ten weeks away. 

While we are at it let’s also take a look at which ‘players gone for sure’ guys we think will be the hardest to replace by underclassmen at their positions.  Have fun and please explain your reasoning! 

PLAYERS GONE FOR SURE

Isaac Bennett    RB    SR
LaQuentin Smith   DL    SR
Kevin Weatherspoon  WR    rsSR
Manasseh Garner   WR    rsSR
Matt Rotheram   OL   rsSR
T.J. Clemmings  OL   rsSR
David Durham   DL   rsSR
Anthony Gonzalez  LB   rsSR
Ray Vinopal  DB   rsSR
Todd Thomas  LB   rsSR
Adam Lazenga   FB   rsSR

PLAYERS WHO COULD BE ASKED TO LEAVE  (5th year)

Trey Anderson   QB   rsJR
Ronald Jones   WR    rsJR
Khaynin Mosley-Smith   DL   rsJR
Devin Cook    DL   rsJR
Nicholas Grigsby   LB  rsJR
Lafayette Pitts    DB   rsJR
Ejuan Price    DL   rsJR
Artie Rowell    OL   rsJR
David Murphy    LS   rsJR
Jameel Poteat    RB   SR (transferred in last year & is eligible in ’15)

January 4, 2015

I have a confession to make, with a question to go with it.

Was anyone else laughing when the buzzer went off at the end of the bowl game? Honest to God, I was and my wife couldn’t understand it (and I wasn’t even drinking or taking any Windowpane acid either).  When we went up 31-6 she turned to me and said “I guess you didn’t expect this to happen, did you?”  My reply was that there was no way the game was going to end nicely.  Not that I thought we’d lose, I didn’t, but I was sure there would be drama at the end.

When the Houston QB hit those two long completions in a row, 43 yards and 32 yards down to our 7 yard line at the 4:00 mark I was resigned to it.  Then, when Nick Grigsby grabbed his own balls instead of the football on that second on-side kick I knew we were sunk.  Silly women, she couldn’t believe what happened but we PITT fans weren’t that surprised were we?  Reading the 600+ comments in the game thread I can see that that is true.  There was much anger and some disgust but really, no one was saying ‘I can’t believe this happened‘ because deep in our hearts we knew it could.

That’s why I’m not even parsing the game that was played.  It doesn’t matter who did or didn’t do whatever whenever.  IT JUST WAS.  As PITT fans we ‘get’ that.

And perhaps that was Fate’s way of saying “Boys, it is time for a completely clean slate for 2015“.  The Chancellorship changed, the old AD was shown the door,  the head coaching job turned over and I believe all the staff coaches will be gone this week.  Perhaps in the long run, and especially given our recent four year history, this kick in the nuts loss is the perfect way to make us sit back and clear our own minds as far as being a PITT football fan goes.

I’ve decided not to have any expectations whatsoever with Narduzzi and the new people he’ll bring in.  I firmly believe we have a 50/50 chance of being ‘Same Old PITT” as we do with winning lots of football games.  I’ll take things day to day and will walk the “Show me!” line as the off season goes by and the games begin.  I look at PITT football with tabula rasa; a blank slate to imprint with facts and opinions as things unfold and not before.

Anyway, I had a great time writing and conversing with everyone on here during the ramp up to and then the playing of 2014’s games.  We’ll have just as much fun, hopefully more, starting today for the new 2015 season.

Chin up boys and HTP!

January 1, 2015

As seems to happen regularly with PITT football this last year was one that was neither very satisfying or particularly exciting until the last days of the last week of the last month when the personnel changes began happening. Then things started to roll into developments that we can sink our teeth into on here. Some good, some undecided but that still excites fans.

Let’s start from the New Year of 2014 and look back at the most interesting thing that happened in each month. This will be Part 1 and will encompass January until the end of September and the four games played to that date.

Jan 6th:  Tyler Boyd was named as a Freshman All-American Wide Receiver for the ’13 season. That made sense considering he broke the big receiving records that a past PITT star, Larry Fitzgerald (that never gets old), had set back in 2002. Boyd racked up 85 receptions for 1174 yards and seven TDs in his rookie year, all from the arm of transfer SR QB Tom Savage. Not too many people in Western PA were surprised that Boyd did this since he had been a star at undefeated Clariton HS for the past four years. If you remember, the first thing PITT had to do after Boyd signed his Letter of Intent back in 2013 to was enroll Boyd in a Personal Therapy program to teach him how to accept losing football games. He had six chances to show that he was OK in that area. That was a good thing as in this, his second year, Boyd was a fine all-around player and teammate and has built on that to be a stalwart of the future Panther teams.

Feb 5th: LOI day came and went without any real surprises. We signed almost the expected full class with the exception of QB Wade Freebeck who bagged on us for the Vanderbilt Robber Barons. That left us with one QB in the class in Adam Bertke who looked good in the fall camp. As has been Chryst’s plan, a lot of these true FR saw playing time. On offense the FR who contributed most was RB Chris James who played in all 12 games, had 82 carries for 406 yards (4.9 ypc!) and 4 TDs which is a great first year especially considering he was playing behind our star RB Conner. WR Adonis Jennings got in some games in the 2nd half of the season, held back because of limited time in camp practices due to an injury, and had 6 catches for 55 yards (9.2 ypc). Both those guys, including the redshirted RB Qadree Ollison, who at 6’2” & 220 could fill the FB role later or more likely be the thunder to James’ lightning, will be the nucleus of the skill positions in the future.

But it was on defense where we saw the most impact from this recruiting class. DB Avonte Maddox , a future star for us, played in all 12 games eventually starting five in the latter part of the season. He had 27 total tackles. DB Pat Amara played in nine games starting two and had 18 tackles;. LB Quentin Wirginis played in all the games, mainly on special teams coverage squads and had five tackles. Wirginis has a ton of potential and is a ‘tough kid’ as stated by the staff. I don’t doubt that as I know his father from my professional life (he owns the Gateway Clipper Fleet) and he’s no pushover either. (more…)

December 28, 2014

From Now Onward

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Players,Recruiting — Reed @ 9:58 am

Alright, we have dissected, diagnosed and disagreed for the past week on Paul Chryst’s tenure as the HC at PITT over the last three years.  We’ll keep doing so I’m sure but the last thread was 400 comments and trying to keep a decent conversation we can all follow with that many is impossible.

So, here is a new thread and what I’d like to see is our opinions and hopes about what Pat Narduzzi will bring to the PITT table given what we know about him, his track record as the DC at MSU and what he is stepping into in a few day at PITT.  What is he getting in terms of player’s talent, experience and potential, perhaps the most important of all considering he’ll almost surely be here at least three years, and what he can do on the recruiting trail from now until LOI Day?

Is the lack of a new AD for perhaps months, maybe even into the spring, going to impact his start here?  Will we really put out the big money for staff?

What do you see our play like in 2015 given our returning starters, our opponents and the fact that we’ll have a new coaching staff (I still think Rudolph goes to Wisconsin after the bowl game).

This will be fun and remember that we save all these comments so when Narduzzi departs in three years to be the DC at YSU we’ll have our opinions to look back on.

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