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November 8, 2017

Healthier After the Bye

Filed under: Football,Players — Chas @ 8:28 am

If you are wondering, Pitt is 1-1 after a bye week under Head Coach Pat Narduzzi. A win at Virginia Tech in 2015 and then a loss last year on a Thursday night game — also against Virginia Tech.

As usual after a bye, a big thing is players getting a chance for a little rest and recuperation. And that is mostly the case for Pitt.

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October 6, 2017

Missed a lot this week. Solo dadding with the wife out of town.

I was hoping. Oh, how I was hoping this would be a better story. The firing of Scot Shafer at Cuse a couple years ago not only meant Syracuse has improved; but it ended the whole Kiwi Killer stuff.

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August 25, 2017

A hallmark of a Pat Narduzzi defense is being disruptive upfront. Not simply being able to stop the run, but penetrating in the backfield to keep pressure on the quarterback whether simply dropping back or those running the option or spread. The linebackers are going to play closer to the line, and look for chances to make plays up-front rather then contain.

The risk to his defense is that it also leaves the corners on an island with little help. It’s one of the reasons Pitt was so bad against the pass and led the conference in surrendering passing plays of 20 yards or more. (The other reasons included injuries and issues around talent in the secondary.)

It was a source of frustration for myself and many others that Narduzzi and Defensive Coordinator Josh Conklin refused to change — or even tweak — the system to account for the fact that the D-line simply couldn’t generate the pressure up-front that was needed.

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August 23, 2017

Almost as long as this blog has been around, a familiar question has been about getting the back-up quarterback some game reps. Specifically, when there is a senior starting QB. It essentially became a running joke in Tyler Palko’s senior year, of fans asking when Bill Stull might get a few mop-up snaps.

Which serves for some amusement to see this bit in Kevin Gorman’s column praising the naming of Max Browne as the starter:

DiNucci, by contrast, hasn’t even played a full game. He was 3 of 9 for 16 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions in late relief of Nathan Peterman in the Pinstripe Bowl.

That should have taught Narduzzi to get his backup more playing time during the season, something DiNucci needs if he’s to eventually succeed Browne at Pitt.

Ah, the classics. They never get old.

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August 22, 2017

Shocking.

I’m not saying it was inevitable. Just because Max Browne is a graduate transfer. A former 5-star QB recruit from California. Had a starting gig at USC for a few games last year. Looking to make it to the NFL and impress scouts this year. Came nearly all the way across the country to play at Pitt.

Pitt also had a good track record of transfer QBs succeeding. The quarterback Browne is trying to replace Nate Peterman started out at Tennessee. Before him, ex-Rutgers and Arizona QB Tom Savage ran the offense and he ended up in the NFL. The climate of the Panthers’ program bodes well for Browne to come in and thrive, which is obviously what he’s hoping for.

“The ideal scenario is to bring Pitt an ACC championship, and throw for a bunch of yards and touchdowns,” he says as he looks for a re-boot to his football career.

“I’m not an idiot. Right now, I know what my story is. It is what it is. A lot of people are writing me off. I know that’s not (in line) with the work that I’ve put in or how this should end. I know that I can play at a high level, end on a high note and put myself in a position to get drafted and have a career in the NFL. All the goals that were out there when I committed to USC are still out there. I just have to go have a good year.”

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April 27, 2017

Pitt Players and the NFL Draft

Filed under: Draft,Football,Players — Justin @ 4:31 am

The NFL Draft was my first dive into the world of amateur football over-analysis. While I unfortunately lack the time these days to dedicate more to the hobby, I’m still able to keep close tabs on Pitt players and what we can expect from them next week when they find their new, hopefully long-term, homes. A huge point of emphasis that any negative thing I post has nothing to do with what I think of players during their time at Pitt, but how they project to the NFL. I also want to be wrong to the benefit of players. Nothing makes me happier than Pitt players I know and love kicking ass and taking names in the NFL Larry Fitzgerald style. (more…)

April 6, 2017

Working Through the Offense

Filed under: Football,Players,Practice — Chas @ 9:45 am

A week and a half until the Blue-Gold scrimmage, and the pretense of who will be the starting QB in September remains comfortably intact.

“It’s good that you (reporters) don’t know,” Narduzzi said when asked if there was any separation in the quarterback competition. “It means we have no leaks in the office.”

No leaks and no fake news about the play of those vying to replace Nathan Peterman: redshirt sophomore Ben DiNucci, redshirt freshman Thomas MacVittie, freshman early enrollee Kenny Pickett and senior graduate transfer Max Browne.

“We have four very functional quarterbacks,” Narduzzi said.

While Head Coach Pat Narduzzi isn’t going to tip his hand, his offensive coordinator at least hints at the top-two.

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April 3, 2017

The first two years for Pitt under Head Coach Pat Narduzzi, have been mostly positive. The defensive-minded coach, though, has had to rely on the offense to be the side doing the heavy lifting.

The lack of depth and overall talent on the defense has been glaring — especially with the type of defense Narduzzi utilizes. Bringing pressure constantly without going all-out blitz. It relies on overall speed, depth to bring fresh bodies, and individual talents. All things missing from the defense.

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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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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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November 29, 2016

On the heels of breaking into the AP Top 25 at #24, Pitt players and a coach picked up some nice accolades.

In something that has become a regular occurrence, Quadree Henderson picked up his 5th ACC Specialist of the Week honor (yes, it is really called “specialist”).

He earned his latest award by compiling a career-high 257 all-purpose yards against the Orange, averaging an incredible 21.4 yards per touch.

Henderson averaged 18.7 yards on three punt returns (56 yards), 24.5 on four kickoffs (98 yards) and an incredible 20.6 on five rushes (103 yards). He had a 66-yard touchdown burst off a jet sweep to give Pitt a 49-21 lead in the third quarter.

Henderson’s (Wilmington, Del./Alexis I. du Pont) performance helped the Panthers achieve their highest single-game point total since 1977. His five Specialist of the Week awards are the most by an ACC player this season. He was previously honored for his performances in the Penn State, Virginia, Miami and Duke contests.

A highly viable All-America candidate, Henderson has four returns for touchdowns this season, including a nation-leading three on kickoffs. He ranks second in the country in combined kick return yards (1,121), fifth in kickoff return average (31.1) and 11th in all-purpose yards per game (159.75).

I’m assuming the ACC has a Specialist of the Year honor, which Henderson is a shoe-in to get. Along with 1st Team All-ACC recognition.

Speaking of which

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November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving and Senior Notes

Filed under: Football,Players — Chas @ 12:47 pm

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Hope you are enjoying it with friends, family and those who make you happy. I have been doing little things in preparation for the full-blown day of cooking (and maybe a bit to drink). The way things work out this time of year, we can’t travel to be with the entire family, so it is just the wife and kids. Which is much more peaceful, but we do miss out on the fun (usually) chaos of a house full of family.

There’s a game on Saturday, and I’m taking my son to it. He went with me to the spring game and had a great time. It just hasn’t worked out most of the season, but I promised him his first game this year so it is do or die time. On that note, does anyone have a couple extra tickets they aren’t using? Dragging him to the pressbox doesn’t seem like a good idea. I don’t think I can sell him as my intern. That means I have to pick a couple up. I know it won’t be hard to get a couple, but I might as well ask here first.

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November 22, 2016

The line on this game started at Pit -23.5. It has since risen to -24.5. I wonder how much of it is confidence in Pitt versus a lack of confidence in Syracuse.

Normally the Syracuse-Pitt “rivalry” game is a time for us to make fun of the ACC for declaring this the rivalry game. Point out how neither side really views the other with deep hate in football. That the series tends to shift one-sidedly for quite a while — and right now it is on Pitt’s side.

That’s still all true. But, at least the ACC went and moved it to the end of the season when there is a chance the game could means something in terms of wins and losses.

With that in mind, it isn’t a game that should produce the usual apathy and “meh” commentary. This is a game that could get Pitt to 8 regular season wins. Another nice step in year two under Pat Narduzzi, considering the strength of schedule took a noticeable jump compared to last year (and, yes, the frustrating closeness of some losses (and wins)).

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October 12, 2016

Position Switching and Redshirts

Filed under: Football,Players — Chas @ 9:51 am

Focus of today. Primarily some pieces on tackles and the secondary.

Stories today looked at the position changes for Brian O’Neill and Shakir Soto. In no small part owing to their game against Georgia Tech. Both have been thriving all season, but they really shined this past weekend.

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September 29, 2016

Basketball Head Coach Kevin Stallings is a disciple of UNC Coach Roy Williams. So it is no surprise that Stallings wants his teams to be playing at a faster pace. That has long been a hallmark of Williams’ teams at Kansas and UNC.

Pitt will attempt to up the tempo this year, and the media got an early glimpse this week.

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