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October 17, 2016

Upcoming Gauntlet

Filed under: Assistants,Coaches,Football,Tactics — Chas @ 7:25 am

With the win over Virginia, Pitt sits at 5-2 and gets the much needed bye week.

Star defensive end Ejuan Price missed most of the second half after leaving the game with an undisclosed injury. He was tended to by the training staff, and never left the sideline, but did not re-enter the game.

Free safety Terrish Webb also left the game with an undisclosed injury before halftime and didn’t return, and linebacker Quinton Wirginis also appeared to get banged up on a punt return.

Pitt is off until Oct. 27, when Virginia Tech will travel to Heinz Field, marking first of three big opponents on the schedule. Miami and No. 4-ranked Clemson are up after the Hokies.

“It’s perfect timing,” said coach Pat Narduzzi, regarding the off week. “I wish it was two weeks instead of a week and a half, but we’ll take full advantage of it. Our trainers and doctors will do a great job with our kids and we’ll come back fresh.”

Narduzzi rarely comments on injuries, and gave no indication of the seriousness of any of those suffered at Virginia. He simply replied “yes” to a question about whether it was a testament to get such a strong finish by the defense after a day with so many injuries.

I get Narduzzi wanting a little more time. Especially with injuries on defense. Really, though, the bye week could not have been timed any better. With a Thursday night game as the next one, Pitt doesn’t have a short week to prepare, and gets the extra couple days to rest and prepare for going on the road.

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September 26, 2016

I believe that the overwhelming majority of Pitt fans have no interest in even pretending that there is a case to be made to get rid of Head Coach Pat Narduzzi. Upsetting, maddening, frustrating and every other adjective you might care to use as the last two losses have been; they are not enough to even consider firing assistants or coordinators. Let alone the head coach.

That said, I do put the loss to UNC primarily on the coaching in the 8:44 of the game. Specifically on the head coach who once more defaulted to coaching only like a defensive coordinator.

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November 24, 2015

Protecting the Interior

Filed under: Basketball,Players,Tactics — Chas @ 8:29 am

Pitt’s frontcourt is in far better shape than last year. The additions of Nelson-Ododa and Maia are to replace Uchebo and Randall are obvious. Nelson-Ododa and Maia are better shot blockers. They are more aggressive on defense, more consistent rebounders and they are better on offense.

That isn’t to say they are all-ACC caliber players. They are simply better than what was. The one issue that is bedeviling to this point, though, is the emphasis on freedom of movement and more fouls being called.

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October 12, 2015

Second Half Conservatism

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Narduzzi,Tactics — Chas @ 6:57 am

For the game, the offense had nice enough numbers. 363 total yards. 222 in the air. 141 on the ground. The overall play calling appeared a bit run heavy. 35 rushes (including one sack) to 24 passes. About 59% run, 41% pass. It’s the way it ended up there, that is a bit of a concern.

Last week after the win over Virginia Tech, Head Coach Pat Narduzzi admitted that Pitt got very conservative on offense in the second half. That approach continued — and if anything was worse — in the Virginia game.

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June 9, 2015

Basketball Rules Changes for 2015

Filed under: Basketball,Tactics — Chas @ 11:21 am

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel (PROP. Really? PROP is the acronym for the rules committee? It’s like the jokes write themse– Okay, get back on topic.) approved changes for the upcoming 2015-16 college basketball season. Most articles focused on two components. The 30-second shot clock and time outs.

The 30-second shot clock is the most visible change. The goal being to speed things up and hopefully increase scoring. I’ve discussed this a couple times, so, yeah. Unintended consequences will be the watch word for this one.

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May 5, 2015

As early as December — barely a month into the college basketball season — the stats were already damning the college basketball season as likely to be one of the slowest. Sure enough, it came to pass.

Everyone has their favorite reasons. Lack of skill by incoming players — which goes in several directions. To the pernicious effect of AAU basketball in this era and all the societal blame that follows.  Or that it necessitates coaches of those particular teams to slow the game down to give them a better chance to compete.

The increased emphasis on defense, coupled with the rising trend of statistical analysis and film scouting to have players in better position. Correlated with that is the use of offensive efficiency which values the possessions and slows things down on the offensive end as well.

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October 15, 2014

What To Expect With VT

Filed under: Football,Opponent(s),Tactics — Chas @ 7:38 am

It will be kept simple.

After the Q&A with The Key Play was released, VT let it be known that running back Marshawn “Juice” Williams was also out for the the game. Three backs down in their depth chart. That means Caleb Johnson will be their primary back.

A couple other key injuries for the Hokies are on the defense. Starting DT Luther Maddy and CB Brandon Fascyson will not play. If you are looking for reasons why the line on the game has swung a bit. The injury list is a good place to start.

This means a bit more passing. Not deep throws, but much more of the short stuff. Slants. Quick outs. Controlled throws to create a little space. As for deep throws, they will take about as many as Iowa took. See if they can take advantage of the corners going one-on-one while the safeties play up to defend the shorter passes. Whether VT QB Michael Brewer will be accurate enough is the random roll of the die. (more…)

July 23, 2014

What Is the Defensive Identity?

Filed under: Football,Tactics — Chas @ 6:49 am

This is something I’ve been turning over in my mind for the past week.

I know the identity of the offense. It is being built from the line out. A big, bruising line that will pave the way to run and give plenty of choices for the QB. There’s speed among the receivers. It is obvious that Head Coach Paul Chryst and OC Joe Rudolph has a vision for the offense that they are implementing.

I don’t know that I can say the same about the defense. I don’t know what the long-range goal of Chryst and DC Matt House are with the defense. Is it simply that they relied so heavily on Aaron Donald or centered so much around his talent that they haven’t implemented their longer term plan? The role in the secondary is changing completely from last year’s soft coverage to more pressing (not, a bad thing, but it is a complete shift).

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June 26, 2013

Block/Charge and Other Rule Changes

Filed under: Basketball,Tactics — Chas @ 9:10 am

That may or may not be of any significance for the upcoming college basketball season.

It goes without saying that the block/charge call is one of the toughest calls in basketball. For the most part, unless the action is blatant you can bet that the reaction by viewers regarding the legitimacy of the call almost entirely depends on whether the call goes for or against your team.

The NCAA announced an intent to change the way the block/charge would be called over a month ago, and yesterday the rule — along with some others — were made official.

The implementation of a charge circle was supposed to help offenses by not allowing defenders to camp underneath the rim, but it just ended up being a crutch for officials, who were forced to look at multiple things (foot placement and defensive positioning) at once, and ended up calling a lot of charges that should have been blocking fouls simply because the defender was outside the circle.

The change in the rule, which will require a defender to be established in legal defensive position prior to the offensive player beginning to raise the ball to initiate a shot attempt (rather than when he leaves the floor) should help shift that balance, and won’t reward defenses for last-second slide-ins after primary defenders are beaten off the dribble. It will be interesting to see what impact that will have on teams that teach and use help defense in that way.

This move favors offense over defense. Obviously. Will there be gaming of the system by some players who will try to go to the hoop with the ball already in a raised position to sell the call (and will some coaches try to teach this)? Yes. You can bet on that. But I still think this is a good rule change — once officials get used to making the call.

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March 5, 2013

With more than 15 seconds left, Villanova still had a chance to avoid overtime and grab the win. They were bringing the ball up-court looking to score (or more likely, draw a foul call from King Karl Hess). Ryan Arcidiacono had killed Pitt all game was bringing the ball up court. Pitt’s defense was solid — but just as important — Villanova didn’t do a good job of executing an attempt at a pick-and-roll (click the link, more explanation, pictures and video to explain). Poor spacing, clogged lanes and good defense led to Arcidiacono having no one to dish the ball to. Instead he had to run into Dante Taylor and hope for a foul call — that even Karl Hess couldn’t make at that point. The ball went out of bounds off of Tayler

Nova still got the ball back with a little more than 3 seconds left. Villanova called a timeout. Jay Wright diagramed up their play.

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June 5, 2012

Please don’t read too much into this. The Big East filed a motion in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court to have the case removed to U.S. Federal District Court. Contrary to the very ill-informed headline, the case has not been transferred at this time.

In the lawsuit, filed May 11, Pitt seeks damages for several transactions it has had to make in its effort to leave the Big East. It seeks repayment of $250,000, for instance, that it had to pay another school to buy out their contract to play a home football game, when it had to cancel that game to make room for new conference member Texas Christian University.

The Big East’s court filing Monday said that since the conference and the school are in different states, and the amount in dispute is substantial, the case should be heard in federal court.

It is really such a minor legal motion considering this case will never get to trial. We all know this suit was filed to force the Big East to get the matter settled.

Still, to misunderstand that it is a motion is stupid. Not to mention it does not mention which District Court they want the case removed to. Western District of Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh)?  Rhode Island? The lack of any actual information is annoying, but I don’t care enough to dig. The only thing that a move to U.S. District Court would allow is to make it easier to join or for Syracuse to join the case.

November 3, 2011

Defense Terrifies But Delivers

Filed under: Football,Players,Tactics — Chas @ 10:56 am

With the exception of the Iowa game, the Pitt defense has really done a great job this year. They’ve kept Pitt in games. They changed defensive systems, and have had to play a lot more minutes than they did last year given the change (and struggles) of Pitt’s offense.

There have been no indications that the defense is outwardly frustrated with the offense, or even rumblings of such. Defensive coordinator Keith Patterson has done a very good job as the season progressed of getting the defense to make more stops. Though, he isn’t satisfied.

“What I tell our guys, you can go all the way back to the Iowa game, we’ve just played good but we haven’t played great yet because there isn’t an opponent we have played yet that we couldn’t have held to 15 points or less — not one — so that is what we are striving for.”

Patterson said he wants to “shoot for perfection and shut people out.” That will come down to paying attention to details and maintaining a focus throughout the entire game.

He cited examples of what he was talking about from each of the past three losses (Notre Dame, Rutgers, Utah), instances when the defense lost focus for one or two plays, and it cost them.

That’s part of where the terror comes into play. During the games themselves, I get frustrated with the defense. I literally find myself squirming when the defense is out there. As if twisting and contorting while watching will improve on the angles the defensive players are taking to the ball.Failing to get off the field a lot of times. Giving up big chunks of yardage, and letting the field position be shifted against the offense. As close as they seem to be to making the big play, they are just as close to giving up the big play.

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September 16, 2011

The question is whether the frustration will be on the Hawkeye or Panther side of things. The styles of play may not be similar, but the talent level, expectations and concerns by the fans sure seem to run parallel.

If you want to stereotype Big Ten football, perhaps even moreso than Ohio State, Iowa under Kirk Ferentz has been the conservative, physical poster child of Big Ten football.\

“They’re not going to panic,” Graham said. “I think the key in this game is going to be playing hard-nosed, smash-mouth. A 3-yard gain is a positive gain for them. That doesn’t bother them one bit. They’ll line up and do it again and again and again and again. And you’re going to have to stop the run.

“This is going to be the best offensive line we’ve played. They’re very big, physical, and grind it out. Their center [James Ferentz] is an outstanding player, left tackle [Riley Reiff] is an outstanding player.”

Pitt defensive coordinator Keith Patterson said that the key against a team like Iowa that has a big, physical offensive line and employs a vanilla, pro-style system is playing physical.

He also said they can’t be lulled to sleep by the Hawkeyes offense and must understand that, in what likely will be a close game, every snap matters.

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Sunseri’s Leash

Filed under: Football,Tactics — Chas @ 10:32 am

All the things that have been discussed this week, the conversation keeps coming back to Tino Sunseri. Is he going to get better? Is he regressing? Will things finally click after a couple games? Is this the best he will be? All  he will be?

I don’t know. None of us actually know. There are plenty of opinions. Many of them quite hardened by this point. Not after simply the first couple games in a new system, but based also on what was seen last season.

What we really do not know, though, is what Todd Graham is thinking. He’s stated that Sunseri is still his starter. That he hasn’t lost faith in him, and that he believes in him. At the same time he didn’t mince words about what Sunseri is doing wrong and that it can’t continue. Is it a threat? A public challenge?

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September 2, 2011

Lines and Leadership

Filed under: Football,Players,Puff Pieces,Tactics — Chas @ 1:26 pm

Getting harder to focus on getting the post out. I’m excited for tomorrow. Ready for the start of Pitt’s season.

Not sure if there will be a liveblog for tomorrow. With the game on ESPN3.com (i.e., the computer) I’m not sure how many people will be eager to switch screens or be using multiple computers. I’ll figure that out tonight. At the minimum there will be a open thread for comments and probably my Twitter feed, which will be active. Of course, I’m worried about my in-game Tweeting, just because of the speed of the game. Not sure how fast I can really tap stuff out on the phone while at the game. On to the links and commentary.

Team captains were named a couple days ago. I find this a welcome change from the previous approach of naming team captains halfway through the season. If you don’t know who the leaders on the team are by the end of camp and practices, then there was something wrong with the way the camp was run.

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