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September 1, 2015

Last Minute Guard Happens

Filed under: Basketball,Injury,Recruiting — Chas @ 2:20 pm

Busy day.

The Jonathan Milligan transfer is real.

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.

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August 31, 2015

Coleman Brings the Class to Ten

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 6:20 am

Sorry, despite being a Sunday night I was out for offline activities and couldn’t do this last night.

I won’t lie. That Therran Coleman had West Virginia, Wisconsin and Arizona State among his final five choices makes his decision to come to Pitt just a little more sweeter to me.

Coleman made the announcement on local Pittsburgh TV. Not too much drama to it.

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August 30, 2015

Recruiting info can be nebulous, confusing and contradictory at the best of times. How about around midnight on a Saturday night?

Jason Jordan is a sportswriter for USA Today  covering high school sports.

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August 28, 2015

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.

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August 24, 2015

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:

RUSHING

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

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August 17, 2015

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.

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August 13, 2015

(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.

Players Meeting Room AV

Front view of new Players’ meeting room

Players Meeting Room

Comfortable as hell seating

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August 10, 2015

Camp Opens and Verbal Happens

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 7:43 pm

Training camp for Pitt opened today. Optimism abounds.

Oh? What’s that? One of the top local recruits just happened to be at the camp today?

Nice.

No. We aren’t going to read anything into that. The young man, is going to make up his own mind, in his own time.

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Newkirk Heads Elsewhere

Filed under: Basketball,Transfer — Chas @ 6:13 am

I know, this should be nothing but football coverage at this point. But…

In the space of his two years at Pitt, Josh Newkirk went from speedy sparkplug, to the guy some wanted to supplant James Robinson at point guard, to the guy who became lost on the court, to one of the players many expected/wanted to transfer because his play had fallen so far, to “oh, he had an injury, that explains it.”

In May, we finally learned how bad his injury really was. He needed microfracture surgery on his left knee.

Microfracture surgery is still such an emerging surgical technique for athletes after an injury. In some ways it is akin to UCL (Tommy John) surgery in the 80s. It works, but the recovery rates and level of recovery from where the player was, vary greatly.

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August 9, 2015

Pitt’s fall training camp starts today with the player’s reporting in from their time off-campus where they were tasked with finding a spot for the next new Pitt Stadium.  Serious on-field stuff won’t begin until tomorrow however when the staff and team can get on the field and start getting familiar with the new crop of players and reacquainted with the physical side of actual football.

Just as a point of info here is how the practice days will be conducted in general. A typical single practice day will go like this:

Coach Narduzzi Briefing: 9:25 a.m.

Practice Viewing/Photography Window: 9:55-10:25 a.m.

Closed practice from 10:25 until 12:15

Interviews: 12:15 p.m. (select players and assistants)

This is what we’ll see when Tuesday’s Media Day rolls around and  I’ll be up there for those sessions (more on that later):

Practice Viewing/Photography Window: 9:55-10:25 a.m.

Coach Narduzzi Press Conference: 1:30 p.m. (second floor team room)

Team Interview and Photo Session: 2:45-4 p.m. 

Some interesting things to note is that in all of the allowed two-a-day practices the evening practice is completely closed to the media.  That makes sense as no real news will be generated between 2:30 or so until they start up again in the evening. So that is the logistics behind the next three weeks of camp.

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July 28, 2015

We’ve talked on here about how great it is to have landed a defensive ‘genius’ as our Head Coach, especially after the rather disastrous showing by our Panther defense in some of our close losses over the past two years.  It is nice that we have a HC with a defensive bias, especially after spending three years with Paul Chryst who pretty much ignored the defense and left it in the hands of an inexperienced and overwhelmed DC in his last two years at PITT. (Surprisingly, in Chryst’s first year of 2012 with Defensive Coordinator Dave Huxtable running the defense was ranked 17th overall.  Still we pulled in seven losses.)

When looking back on our defensive shortcomings last year the low point was the knife in the neck, thrust by DC Matt House, that gave us the quick bleed-out defensive trauma in the bowl loss against Houston.

We boldly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory on the strength of our Swiss-cheese defense allowing three TDs in the last 3:41 of the game.  It was apparent that our defense was so confused and upset out there trying to get them in the proper positions pre-snap was like herding cats. That game, as sadly negative as possible and even worse than the ‘Same Old Pitt’ games, will be remembered for eternity.

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July 8, 2015

Here are some small PITT football issues that have been in the media lately.  The one I saw first and am personally most concerned about is the possibility of WR Juwann Winfree sliding from Maryland, where he had gotten suspended twice, over to PITT.

The move comes just nine days after Maryland Coach Randy Edsall suspended Winfree indefinitely for violating the school’s student athlete code of conduct. It was the second time in eight months that the troubled Winfree had been suspended by Edsall, who also banned the freshman wide receiver for two games last November for violating the same policy.

He played in eight games as a freshman, catching 11 passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns. His best game came against Michigan State shortly before he was suspended last November, when he caught four passes for 80 yards and a touchdown.

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July 6, 2015

Yesterday we looked at the four of the last ten QB recruits we have landed and it wasn’t that pretty.  Today we’ll look at the last six QBs and because they are more recent, less Pat Bostick in ’07, we’ll probably remember more of what they did or failed to do for the team.

Remember we are looking at recruits and not transfers or walk-ons and the scores awarded are based on what they did as QBs here at PITT and not how they may have contributed in other way such as playing defense as in Gonzalez’s case.

Anthony Gonzalez, 2010 – This kid was loved by the PA HS football fans and PITT made a hard push to get him onboard beating out other schools like PSU, FSU, Oregon, Clemson and  Maryland for his services.  After taking a redshirt his first year Gonzalez played a lot on special teams and sparingly at QB. In line with his dual-threat reputation coming out of HS DW had him run the Wildcat a few times as a rsFR.

Of course, as is the inevitable fate of PITT QB recruits it seems, he ended up on defense in 2012 where he found a home and played well for us at the strong side linebacker position. Here is what Gonzalez thought about all the moving around from QB to H-Back to Safety to SLB.

Guess being suspended twice from the team didn’t hurt his playing chances much.  The first time was for a drug bust and second for being a bad boy.  I wonder if that is the first time a PITT player has been suspended by two different head coaches as this involved both Graham and Chryst.  Maybe he’ll make it into our record books based on that.  I don’t think even Elijah Fields pulled that trick off.

SCORE: C

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July 5, 2015

(Folks, this is a two part very large article that I split up to make more manageable. Part 1 now and Part 2 tomorrow).

While I was driving around with my wife today I mentioned the dig Chas gave me about recruiting and ‘stars’ being a favorite topic of mine in his last post.  About five minutes later she turned to me and said “Then why don’t you write an article about the last ten quarterbacks PITT recruited and see how they stack up?”

So here they are in full glory. The last ten HS QB we recruited to play at PITT, not the last ten QB to have actually done it. I didn’t include transfers like Peterman and Savage not actually recruited or ’14 class recruit Bertke whom we haven’t seen play yet. The recruiting class is listed first. Read ‘em and weep….

‘13   Tra’von Chapman     4*    12th     PC;  Dismissed from team ;

‘12   Chad Voytik               4*    4th      TG;  Currently starting QB

’11   None, Nil, Zilch, Nada, No Way, No How

’10   Mark Myers               4*    11th     DW; Now at Div III John Carroll

’10   Anthony Gonzalez     3*    12th     DW; Rushed 8/36 & 1 TD ; LB

’09   Kolby Grey                3*    28th     DW; Played defense, C&W Singer

’08   Tino Sunseri             3*    24th     DW;  PITT’s 3rd leading passer

’08   Greg Cross               3*    NR       DW; No passes; 5 runs for -3 yards

’07   Pat Bostick                4*    6th      DW; FR starter, spot work after

’06 – Kevan Smith           2*    NR     DW; 37/67 for 419 yards and 1 TD

’06 – Dexter Davidson     3*    32nd    DW; Redshirt ’06; gone in ’07, no PT

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July 2, 2015

Bits & Pieces; 7/2/15

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Players,Recruiting — Reed @ 8:26 am

Time to catch up on some media articles and podcasts about PITT football that have gone public over the last few days:

First off AD Scott Barnes has been doing some rounds of pretty detailed interviews with media outlets.  Good, that is exactly what we need at this point in time leading our upcoming season.

Here is a great piece by the University’s Pitt News who apparently got a nice chunk of Barnes’ time to answer a bunch of pertinent questions.

Of course two topics jump out.  One is timely and the other is timeless:

TPN: In light of Tyler Boyd’s recent incident, how high of a standard do you think college athletes in general should be held off the field?

ADSB: We will hold our student athletes to a higher expectation due to the front porch they sit on, and that’s more of in terms how they conduct themselves publicly, obviously, and the quality of people they are and the quality of people we recruit… 

Hmmm, that sounds familiar.  We talked about that on here the day after Boyd’s arrest. There is this interesting Q&A also.

TPN: How much do you think Pitt’s struggles to fill up Heinz Field for football games are part of the nature of having an off-campus stadium? How much of that do you think can be improved with improved amenities and fan environment at the games?

…and crickets on the stadium part of the question.  Nothing.  I think the Chancellor stated what he stated about never seeing an on-campus stadium in his tenure at PITT so this administration steers clear of the issue. Barnes spoke a whole lot on the new Fan Committee however.

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