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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 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 5, 2015

Post-Signing Day Hangover

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 7:10 pm

Okay, Pitt didn’t exactly set things ablaze with the 2015 signing class in national perception. Even before the coaching change this was going to be a small and not considered stellar recruiting class. Size matters in the calculations of class rankings. It is just a question of by how much.

Why does size matter? Because the bigger the class size, the bigger the impact on the team. Even if the class isn’t loaded with 4 and 5-star talent. The more players, the more likely — just based on quantity — there will be players that matter.

As each recruiting site weighs size differently, the impact is more noticeable. And obviously disagreements in the value of individual recruits.

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February 4, 2015

A lot has changed in the way Signing Day goes down. It used to be the paper work was faxed to the school and no one would officially know anything until the school released the list later that day. Instead, fans would rely on the recruiting sites to report (thanks to coaches and the kids themselves) when the paper work was received/sent.

Now, the programs themselves happily let us know. All the reports come in via Twitter, and it goes a lot faster. QUICK EDIT/NOTE: It looks like the first news on Twitter for the receiving of NLIs is coming from HC Pat Narduzzi‘s twitter account.

Pitt has a small class. It was always going to be that way, regardless of who the head coach was. Just the way the numbers break for this year. I would say, that worked out to be a good thing in what has turned out to be a transition year. No scrambling to fill lots of spots. No overwhelming number of defections and flips.

15 14, maybe 16 15 kids will be part of this class.

The fun officially kicks off at 7 am Eastern.

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February 3, 2015

Day Before NLI Day Drama

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 2:21 pm

Okay, let’s get it out of the way. Pitt appears to have had a second member of the 2015 signing class flip to PSU. Last week it was TE Nick Bowers, today LB Kevin Givens. Penn State  has closed strong. In addition to flipping 2 verbals, they beat out Pitt for Shareef Miller and John Petrishen.

It’s frustrating, and it adds an extra level of annoyance because of to where they flipped. And if it happens next year, I might muster some real anger. Not this year. Not after a coaching change.

At the end of the day, this is not atypical after a coaching change. It’s flux. Guys who seemed sure and stable to commit have to rethink things. New coaches that have come in and may be able to make most of the players feel good about things, but it won’t be that way for all of them. It’s why coaches for other teams will still “touch base” and check in on players even after they commit. You never know.

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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 30, 2015

First off, the semi-official brewery of Pitt Blather is opening a new branch this weekend. Voodoo Brewery is opening another brewpub, Voodoo Homestead.

Voodoo Homestead — not a brewery or brewpub, but an unusual satellite pub selling just Voodoo brews — will open in a big chunk of the first floor of the former Homestead municipal building and fire station on East Ninth Avenue at Amity Street. The more-than-a-century-old, three-story building had been vacant for two decades when the borough approved selling it to Voodoo for $8,500 this past summer.

Since that time, the Voodoo crew has worked non-stop filling containers and containers with refuse, with a lot of that hard, dirty work being performed for free by volunteers, some of whom flew from distant cities to chip in.

Others volunteered to help decorate the decrepit but beautifully-boned building, gracing the vaulted ceiling with fanciful chalk artworks and colorfully painting the interior sides of two massive roll-up doors.

That’s why this weekend’s public opening was proceeded by a party for those volunteers, whose names are written in chalk behind the old-metal-barn-roofing-clad, 24-foot-long concrete-topped bar, right next to the chalked list of the beers that will be available to drink on premises or take home in growlers.

The article also gets into some of the lunacy of Pennsylvania liquor laws with the hoops Voodoo has to jump through for this. I realize every state is insane in their own unique ways with liquor laws, but Pennsylvania is a special kind of crazy.

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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 27, 2015

Sorry about the paucity of posts. Been a bit under the weather for the last week. Not enough to call off sick, but enough to be low on energy and not nearly enough of a clear head for coherent thoughts to make it to a post.

In the meantime, there have been several more verbals, one that will wait until signing day. And a flip away from Pitt.

Guess I’ll get the flip of TE Nick Bowers from Pitt to Penn State. Sucks to lose a talented TE, even more so to PSU. And with the WR corps thinned out a bit, not having additional depth at TE is a bit of a worry. Still, Pitt has good depth at TE/FB, and that’s not a particularly big loss. Only reason it seems bigger is where he flipped to, not that he flipped.

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They Hit the Ground Running

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Recruiting — Reed @ 11:40 am

We need a new thread as the last one was getting confusing between basketball, football and bar hopping… or was that the one before the last? At any rate we fans are kicking it with hundreds of comments regarding the changes in PITT football over the last month.

So, of all the issues that have been addressed by Narduzzi and staff what do you think is most important and what do you think will have the most actual impact once the regular season’s games start?  Do you feel we are in a better place (duh!)? Do you see these changes resulting in immediate impact on the field or are we a season or two away from a nice w/L record?

Which one singular thing has Narduzzi done to make you feel better about the future of PITT football?

Looking forward to your thoughts… and discussing any and all issues you want to talk about.

P/S: I’ll be at the PITT LOI Day festivities on Feb 4th. The gate opens at 5:00 pm and the show starts at  6:00 pm. I’ll be the very tall guy with longer brown hair and earring and a moustache (in honor of my idol, Dave Wannstedt). Hope to see you guys there and we can lose all our money at the casino afterward…

P/SS: Since the movie American Sniper came out everyone I meet seems to have been in the Special Forces as a sniper.  I swear to God, three guys said that to me in different places yesterday – two in Vietnam and one in  Iraq.

January 22, 2015

Recruits To the Defense

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 12:36 pm

It makes all the sense that the first two “official” verbals are both defensive players. That is the side that is in need of an influx of talent and depth. And, of course, Head Coach Pat Narduzzi is a defensive guy.

The first two verbals from last night are Jay or Jazzee Stocker and Shawn Curtis. The former from Coatsville, PA and the other from Doral Florida.

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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 20, 2015

WR Coach, New Offers, and More!

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Recruiting — Justin @ 12:12 pm

First thing’s first: Narduzzi’s coaching staff is finally complete with the addition of WR Coach Kevin Sherman. Sherman is currently the WR coach for Purude and prior to that held the same position at Virginia Tech and Wake Forest. Sherman is known to recruit the DMV region, which makes him a valuable addition to compete with the rest of the ACC for east coast targets. Here’s a list of all the commits Sherman earned over the years and you’ll see a few guys currently in the NFL like Kendall Fuller and Jarrett Boykin. (more…)

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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