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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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September 2, 2016

Less than 24 hours until I hit the road to Pittsburgh. The familiar giddiness is building. A smile creeps over my face as I think about it. I’ve missed this.

Think the Pitt coaches are hammering home to the players about what nearly happened to Tennessee against Appalachian  State last night? The risk of taking a team likely, simply because they are FCS? Without any doubt.

So what’s news?

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September 1, 2016

At some point I will have to do a post on Big XII expansion, simply because it has not failed to amuse me this entire spring and summer. It is just so perfect, though, that a conference named for 12 with only 10 members would announce “6 to 8 finalists.” Yet, the list actually goes to 10, 12 or even 13.

Anyways…

The year was 1998. My first year as a season ticket holder. I wasn’t unrealistic. I knew it was going to be a struggle that year. 1997 was loaded with seniors and 1998. Well, 1998 was bad. We got an idea in that first game as Pitt struggled to beat Villanova 48-41. One of two wins that year and 0-7 in the Big East.

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August 31, 2016

The two topics covered in the news regarding Pitt.

This has to be one of the best parts of being a head coach. Getting to reward walk-ons with scholarships. These are kids that either took a chance on themselves or needed to be at the school because of family or some deep desire for that particular school. They earned the scholarship for the work they have done since coming into the program.

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June 21, 2016

Recruiting Stars & Pitt Players

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Players — Reed @ 3:18 pm

Here is a post I had in draft form and forgot to put up.  I did it before that “Art of Recruiting” series of last week.  Discuss-able info as far as stars awarded and Pitt player – present and past.

YR Player Position Stars Nat’l Rank Top 3 Schools
2003 Larry Fitzgerald WR 4* 15 OSU
2003 Andy Lee P NR NR
2006 H. B. Blades ILB 3* 32 Auburn, Iowa State, VA
2007 Scott McKillop ILB 3* 31 Nebraska, PSU, VT
2007 Jeff Otah OT NR NR Pitt
2008 Scott McKillop ILB 3* 32 Nebraska, PSU, VT
2009 Dorin Dickerson TE 4* 8 (ATH) PSU, Michigan, Tennessee
2010 Jabaal Sheard DE 3* 23 Auburn, AZ State, RU
2013 Aaron Donald DT 3* 37 Akron, RU, SYR
2014 James Conner RB 3* 26 (DE)                YSU, Ohio, E. Michigan
2014 T. J. Clemmings OT 4* 16 ND, PSU, Florida
2014 Tyler Boyd WR 4* 12 ND, PSU, Wisconsin

This is an interesting list I think.  As I was looking up the All-Americans I also jotted down the lower rated kids who have become either stars or real solid producers for us.

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June 19, 2016

PA won the annual Big 33 football game yesterday – forgive the PSU slant with the link but apparently this is the best coverage I can find… (neither of the two major PGH papers had a word on it at the time I wrote this)… even though it looks like Pitt recruits contributed also.  But with three TDs (in only 67 yards) he gets the lion’s share of the publicity.

Our DB Damar Hamlin  did well also.  Pitt had six on the roster compared to PSU’s two.

This is an interesting bit about SYR recruit Joel-El Shaw… apparently he thinks coaching staff’s words don’t carry much weight:

At first, Jo-El Shaw almost balked at the opportunity to represent Pennsylvania in the annual Big 33 Football Classic. It was at the first team-wide practice in April and the Pennsylvania coaches figured Shaw would play fullback since that’s how he’s listed on the roster.

“I told them I was going to go home,” said Shaw, now a Woodland Hills High School alumnus. “I told them, ‘You can go find somebody else, because I ain’t playing fullback.’ ”

To what ought to be no one’s surprise James Conner is still giving back more than he receives…

Conner was honored at a dinner hosted by his oncologist, Dr. Stanley Marks, on Friday night at the Field Club in Fox Chapel.

Not only was Conner honored with the award, which is given annually for the past 30 years to a cancer patient, it was re-named the James Conner Courage Award, Marks said.

“James is the first recipient,” Marks said.

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