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August 24, 2017

Receiving/Defending Depth Chart Bits

Filed under: Football,Practice — Chas @ 7:08 am

Two sides of the ball. The receiving corps and secondary. Both are anchored by a senior. Both are going to be heavily reliant on youth. Lots of questions.

First, a little on Pitt’s latest verbal since he happens to be a cornerback.

The Cardinal Gibbons three-star cornerback committed to Pittsburgh on Monday night after stating earlier in August he was favoring Wisconsin. Before the Badgers, Penn State appeared to be his favorite, and UCF was a trending pick leading up to Monday.

“[Pittsburgh] will be very happy,” [Marquis] Williams said. “I’m going to change college football.”

The 5-foot-8 speedster, who is ranked the 76th-best corner in the nation, according to 247 Sports’ composite rankings.

“They’re getting a really fast guy with a lot of speed,” Cardinal Gibbons coach Matt DuBuc said. “And a guy with ball skills because he can play receiver too, special teams guy. A guy that can do a multitude of things.”

Former FAU coach Charlie Partridge, now the defensive line coach with Pitt, played a major role in Williams’ recruitment late.

“Charlie Partridge did a great job recruiting him. We’re close with Charlie, and it ended up working out,” DuBuc said. “I think the ACC was better for him than the Big Ten.”

Williams clearly doesn’t lack for confidence.

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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 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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March 17, 2017

Media availability was pretty decent after the first practice. Both coordinators were put out there, along with Quarterback Max Browne and Safety Jordan Whitehead. Quadree Henderson, the team’s offensive utility knife and Defensive Tackle Jeremiah Taleni got some media time.

Max Browne had some attention for wearing uniform number 4 — which probably speaks to a lack of topics as much as anything else. It’s always been the uniform number he wore. Nate Peterman also wore it, and I had no idea that was any sort of conflict or problem. Like plenty of QBs in college now, Brett Farve was the idol to many.

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March 16, 2017

Spring practices start today. 14 practices mostly closed off to the public and media, culminating in the Blue-Gold Scrimmage on Saturday, April 15. There’s no way it will be as perfect weather as last year, but at the moment I’ll settle for it being warmer then this week in the Cleveland area.

Yesterday was the pre-spring practices press conference. (Is that really what we’re calling it? Shut up.)

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August 26, 2016

Receivers Still Needed

Filed under: Football,Practice — Chas @ 6:03 am

Here’s a fun statistical anomaly:

We all knew that Tyler Boyd was the receiving corps last season. So, I guess it shouldn’t be a shock that he was over a quarter of Pitt’s yardage — with Qadree Ollison getting nearly the other quarter.

As deep as Pitt’s running back situation is. As much as we will all cheer every time James Conner touches the ball. Pitt will need to throw the ball.

The No. 1 receiver position is set in Dontez Ford. Who is not the biggest or fastest receiver, but is the most consistent, toughest and reliable receiver on the roster. The lost spiritual successor to Derek Kinder.*

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April 13, 2016

Spring Game A Few Days Away

Filed under: Fans,Football,Practice — Chas @ 7:41 am

Reed has killed it for football coverage this spring. Much, much appreciation.

I’ll be making my first Blue-Gold game in far too long. Going as a fan/parent (bringing the boy with me) for this one. Hopefully I’ll be able to convince the kid to let me stop by for at least one drink before all the other activities.

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August 11, 2015

The verbal yesterday was the good stuff. Camp itself had little of major news. And that’s a good thing. When practice is padless, big news is usually bad news. A suspension, a fight, an injury, an arrest.

The biggest stuff out of camp was an apology and confidence.

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August 19, 2014

Cleaning Up Some Football Debris

Filed under: Football,Practice — Chas @ 6:03 am

First off, I can’t thank Reed enough for the work he’s done in August. It’s been tremendous having him writing and making the trips for practices and scrimmage. Some fantastic stuff.

There’s not a lot I can add to that part. So I’m just going to clear some tabs, hit the links, and toss a few of my own thoughts in along the way.

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August 6, 2014

Eyes On the Defense to Start

Filed under: Football,Practice — Chas @ 8:46 am

Usually the first couple days of practice, most of the media attention is on the offense. There’s a logic to that. The practice is padless, so there isn’t any hitting or tackling. It’s a chance for skill players to really stand out. Add in when a new QB is taking the reins, the extra attention is there.

Not that the offense hasn’t gotten some notice. Freshman RB Chris James has looked good — and eager.

Yet, that hasn’t been the story in the first two days. It has been about the defense — specifically the secondary for the first two days. The lack of depth with the DBs. The new, energetic and talkative coach of the DBs also helps.

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August 5, 2014

Camp is Open! Camp is Open!

Filed under: Football,Practice — Chas @ 6:42 pm

[EDITOR NOTE: Crap. I thought I put this out before taking the kids to camp and going to work. Nope. Still sitting in draft mode. So, it’s late and dated by 12 hours but nothing else to do but push it out now.]

Padless. No contact. But still, camp is open and that means one step closer to actual Pitt football.

Let’s do this with a link run through and then note some actual things from camp.

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April 17, 2014

Another Spring Practice Ends

Filed under: Football,Practice — Chas @ 2:12 pm

It had to figure, right? Pitt decides not to do a spring game and the weather was absolutely perfect this past Saturday.

Well, from the talk and some reports the Field Pass event was a success. Pitt had more people than they expected sign up and attend the event. I think if they had announced the event at the same time they made the announcement not to have a spring game, the reaction might have been better. Including from me.

Seems, though, that Pitt is at the start of a trend. Or at the very least a debate on the merits of spring games. For programs that will pull in over 30,000 fans for a game, it’s a no-brainer. For other programs it becomes a trickier decision, much more about what the coach and the athletic department feel is needed.

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