Later than I wanted, but time has been limited during daylight.
Pitt planned for a sleepwalk of a game after traveling back from Okinawa, and they delivered. The Pumas of St. Joe’s College (somehow, apparel and shoe company Puma does not sponsor them) were the big patsy on Tuesday. A subpar D-II team that came for a beating and delivered on their end.
The first half was extremely sloppy and you could see the lack of energy from Pitt. They missed a lot of shots from outside. Struggled at times with defense. Yet still led by 14 at the half.
(This is one of a weekly series of articles entitled “Monday Morning Quarterback”. I will try to post them two days after the football games are played so as to have our wilder emotions under control by then. It will be my take on the positives and the negatives we saw happen and a chance for commenters to agree or disagree and to add their own thoughts.)
This is will a Friday morning edition of course and that’s good because I don’t want three days to think about that game before I can put it into the history books… and I don’t think you want to either.
We’ll get back to all that in a second… here is the obligatory highlights video:
Now lets get the hard part out of the way with Narduzzi’s post game press conference:
Here is the info dump on the game and the cumulative stats for the season:
OK, now is the hard part and it is a bit like looking into a ‘Way-Back’ mirror to the last week of camp where we talked about things that might bite us in the ass… sprinkled with some new problems that have shown themselves growing week-by-week.
One thing that I’ll keep first and foremost in my head for the next ten days is that a good, solid, football team came into Heinz Field and won the game. North Carolina is no stumble bum team that just happened to get luck breaks to win the game. That wasn’t the case, they came here and won the play on both sides of the ball and scored more than we did.
In the euphoria over the season to this point, I’ve probably been as guilty as anyone in dismissing former head coach Paul Chryst as nothing more than a placeholder for Pitt. Maybe even holding Pitt back. It’s not really true. Especially when it comes to laying things out for recruiting.
The sins of Chryst are known and used frequently. I was never a big fan of the way he put together his staff — at least on the defensive side. He hardly distinguished himself, even by his 3d year, as a great tactician. His recruiting was passive. He was dry and boring as 3-day old toast with the media and public. There was little that seemed to inspire the players to play with belief in their ability to win in close games.
A little confusing and hectic evening. Kaezon Pugh had stated weeks prior that he would be committing on October 19 — choosing between Pitt, West Virginia and Maryland. Given the firing of Randy Edsall at Maryland, it seemed a given that the choice was down to Pitt or Hoopies.
Pugh’s cousin is Dravon Henry, and plenty of rumors suggested that he really wanted to play alongside him on defense. For the longest time he was considered a WVU lean and an important player for that program as they try to cut a bit more into recruiting the best players from Western PA.
Pugh was slated to appear on KDKA news, in their sports segment to make his decision public. But on Tuesday, there was nothing going on. KDKA was not teasing the exclusive on social media. Pugh wasn’t talking. It got weirdly quiet to the point that everyone was unsure whether Pugh had decided not to make a decision.
Safety Paris Ford has committed to Pitt according to Chris Peak of Panther Lair. The consensus four star prospect from Seton La Salle chose Pitt over offers from Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Michigan State, some school in Central PA surrounded by cows, and numerous other P5 schools.
According to Peak, Ford chose Pitt because he “wanted to show people that this ‘#412Crew’ movement can be serious if a big piece committed…[s]o I decided to be that piece.” While his relationship with Narduzzi and the coaches undoubtedly was the primary reason, it’s safe to say the high level play from the defense so far makes this decision a lot easier.
Ford is a great addition for Narduzzi and could be the start of a domino effect bringing numerous other WPIAL stars into the fold. Ford joins Exree Loe as the second commitment for the 2017 class.
(This is a long look at the current QB situation so far this season)
Pitt is in the midst of something we haven’t had in a very long time and that is a genuine quarterback competition being played out in real time and for the world to see. We have been told there were competitions in the past but those were lip service to the media. This season however we are being treated to something this new staff feels is of uppermost priority, finding the QB which is the best overall for the team. Here is background on the issue and some Q & As that may help to enlighten our fans as to what is and has been transpiring in this interesting development.
How did Pitt get the two principal QBs, Chad Voytik and Nate Peterman, on the roster?
For that we have to go back to 2011 when both Voytik and Peterman were in their senior years in high school. Both players were star high school QBs and one left his hometown state of Tennessee to go to Pitt and the other kid left Florida to go to play his college ball in Tennessee.
In high school Chad Voytik was a 6’0” 192 lb running QB and played for the Cleveland Blue Raiders, located in Cleveland, TN, a small town of 42,000 located 30 miles northeast of Chattanooga and in the western foothill of the southern Great Smokey Mountains.
Voytik had a very good career there being named both an All-State player and a high school All-American. He was a dual threat QB at Cleveland, passing for over 5,000 yards in his three years starting and was also a prolific runner.
Voytik was a Rivals.com four star (4*) player who was also ranked 4th nationally among senior QBs and the #1 player at any position in TN. Twelve other D1 schools wanted Voytik as a recruit including PSU, Clemson, Virginia, Syracuse and Louisville. Those are all good football schools and play in competitive Power Five conferences.
The University of Pittsburgh men’s basketball team has added JUCO guard Jonathan Milligan for the 2015-16 season head coach Jamie Dixon announced Tuesday.
“We are fortunate to be able to add a guard of Jonathan’s caliber at this point in the year,” said Dixon. “He is a promising combo guard who received a lot of high major interest out of high school and while he was at Kilgore College. He has the ability to score from a variety of spots on the floor and break down defense by getting into the lane. He also has the quickness and instincts to be an outstanding defender in our program.
Milligan averaged 14.3 points, 2.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game last season while leading the Kilgore College to a 21-9 record and a Region XIV Tournament appearance. He increased his scoring to 17.5 points per game in conference play en route to claiming first team all-region and Region XIV all-conference accolades.
I love that the press release manages not to mention that he had to be released from his NLI with FGCU.
This is a very long one folks; enjoy it for your weekend reading pleasure.
As we all know that in any Pitt pre-season there is nothing even remotely negative written about the team, players and the coaching staff by the local media, especially with a brand new head coach such as we now have. The only straight opinions you’ll get will be from some local bloggers and maybe a recruiting website that follows the Panthers. Keep that in mind while you read this article please and realize there is certainly some good about this team to go along with the not-so good… like the ‘good news’ media has been feeding us all preseason.
We all have thoughts about what’s positive with Pitt in 2015; here are my thoughts about what I see and feel. Earlier in the pre-season we mentioned that we would hold off on a season W/L projection until fall camp had ended. Now is that time and here’s mine.
We are a week until the start of the 2015 season and the real beginning of year one of ‘The Narduzzi Experiment’. We’ve been getting camp reports, scrimmage stats, leaks about this and news about that and we have all been doing what fans always do at this point. We are wondering just how good or how bad the team in going to be this year.
Every season is a blank slate to start anew, especially with a shiny new Head Coach and his eager staff coaches. Those new additions add another layer of mystery and excitement for us when looking at what will happen over the next 12 weeks. What it does also is add a new layer of concern, and to some fans, worry because of the unknowns with the staff.
Pitt had its final scrimmage of camp Saturday and Rivals.com compiled the stats for that matchup between our Offense and Defense. This is from a free article on their website and I thank them. I also would like to remind all Pitt fans that Rivals.com does a superb job of following the team and the program, especially on its subscription service. So, I give them credit and thanks for this type of detailed info.
No great surprises during the play really, it was a practice scrimmage with the ‘star’ players held out for the most part. This last week of camp is for winnowing down the players until a two-deep lineup presents itself. I think Narduzzi will announce that later this week. Here are the stats from Saturday:
Qadree Ollison – 21 carries, 58 yards
George Aston – 6 carries, 19 yards
Stephen Ezekoye – 4 carries, 7 yards
Rachid Ibrahim – 1 carry, 0 yards
Nate Peterman – 3 carries, 7 yards
Chad Voytik – 2 carries, 6 yards Darrin Hall – 1 carry, 3 yards
With two solid weeks until the staff and team break out of camp and start their game week preparation for YSU it’s safe to say that we are seeing some certain things shaping up.
Of course a starting lineup hasn’t been announced yet but from the various local media reports and the Pitt Media Dept’s Pitt LiveWire website we are getting some idea of a few position battles that are getting a bit hotter as the camp progresses.
Jerry DiPaola of the Trib Review has a nice Pitt Locker Room blog article on this subject a couple of days ago and we referenced it a bit in the last article. Here are some significant battles we should keep our eyes on. Remember – this is how things look now on defense but with a new staff and a defensive minded HC things could change pretty drastically:
Defensive End: Right now it would be Shakir Soto and Ejuan Price as the starters; transfer Allen Edwards and Rori Blair in the two deep, along with newly minted DE James Folston rotating in. Narduzzi was waxing eloquently the other day about former LB Folston and the speed he’s now bringing to the DE position. Folston is a rsFR who has a 4.6 40 time which is pretty good for a LB/DE but I think his jump off the snap quickness is his strength and what the defensive staff likes at that end position.
As much as I’d like to think Price will stay healthy and be a big contributor I just can’t. So for me the progress of Blair is paramount. He gained some weight after last season and is listed going into camp as 6’4″ & 240 lbs but I wonder. he still appears thin but who knows what kind of heart and desire he has. Sometimes the intangibles mean a lot more than height, weight or 40 time. Let’s hope he gets back from suspensions and works his way back into a DE starter.
(This is a long article so I’ll break it up into two parts)
Pitt football held its annual Media Day for fall camp yesterday and I drove up to attend. It was an interesting day and we media types had time for as much access as allowed given the closed portion of the practices. We had escort with us so that we can break off separately and tour the new parts of the football facility. Thanks to Ted Feeley of the Media Staff for doing that with me and answering all of my questions.
All in all it was a good and worthwhile day with some info and ideas we have heard about Pat Narduzzi and the program reinforced and some other bits of new info coming to light with questions asked.
Because most fans don’t get a chance to see these practices and the facilities I took a bunch of photos and will take you all on a tour now and then later on in this article. What I’ll write here are my impressions from what I learned from talking with the staff, some players and some family members. My approach was to not repeat what the other media guys will write about, there really isn’t any ‘football news’ to discuss in the 2nd day of camp, but to allow you guys a bit of an inside view of things Pitt fans don’t usually get to experience.