masthead.jpg

August 2, 2014

Now that a severe suspension has been issued by PITT for whatever reason it may be a good time to review the NCAA’s and the School’s responsibilities in one aspect of discipline – the drug policies.

We don’t know what happened with Howard but we’ve seen the academic suspensions resolve themselves after one semester or a certain period of time.  We have also seen other disciplinary actions resulting from drinking, fights, arrests, issued by a number of games also.  If you remember Anthony Gonzalez was suspended two games by Graham basically for possession of pot, but there was no failed test involved.  However, any disciplinary action can be gived a year suspension if the university deems it necessary.

So, just to remind our readers;  there are two types of drug tests in D1 football.  One is the NCAA mandatory test that is unannounced and the other is the school’s tests issued according to its formal policy.  Here is a link to the NCAA’s drug policy.  Also, the following is from the NCAA’s Q&A about their policies.

“Who is responsible for testing student-athletes?
(more…)

That’s the nice way of putting it. It started leaking a couple hours earlier than the typical “bad news on a Friday” release (those are resereved for roughly around 5pm). Titus Howard got the season long suspension.

Pitt lost another key member of its defense Friday when coach Paul Chryst suspended sophomore cornerback Titus Howard for the season. Howard was listed No. 1 on a depth chart Chryst issued last month.

Chryst did not comment on the reason for Howard’s suspension.

Howard, who played on Clairton’s four PIAA and WPIAL Class A championship teams, was an important reserve last season. He played in 11 games and started against Old Dominion on Oct. 19 and Bowling Green in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl on Dec. 26. Overall, he recorded 21 tackles and two pass breakups.

Don’t even care to speculate. He’s a kid who screwed up. He’s not off the team for good. Howard will be fully reinstated to the team for next year, assuming he does what he should. He will train and practice with the team. He just will not be allowed to play.

There is no pretending that this isn’t a rough loss for the team this year. Especially when facing teams that like to run spread formations.  Howard had pulled ahead of Coles in spring practices. The cornerback position has some talent, but is paper thin and very inexperienced. Pitt may be forced to play true freshmen once again this season — Avonte Maddox and Phillipie Motley. The other possibility is seeing who can be pulled from the rather deep wide receiving corps.

August 1, 2014

I’ve been sitting down at the computer a few times over the last three days with fingers poised to write about PITT’s defense going into summer camp then the season and it has taken me some time to try to get a handle on what exactly to put out to you Blatherites.

I guess I’ll start from the very bottom and work up. Aaron Donald is gone and he ain’t coming back.  The “All-World” winner of every major award he was eligible for gave the defense its identity and leadership last year and he’ll be missed.  That isn’t cutting edge journalism folks as I just repeated what every single PITT already knows and is nervous about.

However, I’m a firm believer that in college football  players who have been in the shadows will frequently rise up and grab the reins of leadership by their play themselves.  This is what happens when underclassmen get a year or two of experience under their belts and become starters and sometimes stars.  We’ll not see anyone specific fill Donald’s shoes, he is a once in a generation player, but that doesn’t mean the staff can’t make adjustments to minimize his absence.

What I found interesting, and a bit disheartening,  is that this week Chryst stated publicly that he  heard from some of the DL kids after the season ended that they sometimes eased off a bit knowing that Aaron Donald was going to make the plays.  Here’s Chryst’s take on that and what it was like having Donald play for him.  I wholeheartedly agree that it will ‘take a village’ as Hilary says.

(more…)

NCAA rules allow D-1 basketball programs to go on an international tournament once every four years. The competition is rarely much, but the attraction for coaches — and why they push hard for it despite the obvious expense — is that it gives them extra team practices. It’s a huge incentive. The fact that it is permitted once every four years, though, does make it a commodity that can’t be wasted. A team can’t wait an extra year and then get to take a trip only three years apart.

For Pitt players on the 2014-15 team, this means they get a trip to the Bahamas and a trip to Hawaii this year.

Don’t worry, the players are taking it seriously. This summer trip is all about basketball.

Sophomore transfer Sheldon Jeter smiled when discussing the anticipation for the trip.

“It’s exciting. We get to go to the Bahamas,” he said. “It’s not an everyday experience. It’s definitely something I’ve been looking forward to all summer.”

Jeter said it isn’t the basketball aspect he is looking forward to the most.

“Probably just relaxing, getting the chance to enjoy the beaches, the women down there and all that. It’s nice that we get to play basketball down there, but I’m looking forward to a vacation probably a little bit more than I am the basketball,” he said.

Goddammit Jeter. Get on the same page, here.

(more…)

July 30, 2014

Football Notes, 7/30

Filed under: Football — Chas @ 6:38 am

Just need to clear some tabs.

Tyler Boyd stories worth reading. This one from a couple weeks back on being raised by his mother and coming out of Clairton. This one yesterday in the ESPN.com ACC blog talking about the aftermath of an electrical fire that gutted the house in which he had lived.

The family was homeless, and not long after, the house’s owner decided to tear it down instead of rebuilding. But the town’s youth football president quickly sought out Payne, offering an empty room in a building he owned only a few houses down from Payne’s previous home. The youth league’s vice president helped set up a bank account for donations, while local businesses in Clairton and up and down the Monongahela turned tip jars into donation buckets. Raffles were held. Rival high schools chipped in.

“We were truly blessed because in a month’s time it was like we never had the fire,” Payne said.

It all resonated with Boyd. When it came to committing to a college, Boyd felt a loyalty to the region. So when Tennessee and West Virginia made late pushes, Boyd was conflicted but never decommitted from Pitt.

“I felt with all that support, how can I leave?” Boyd said. “I can get help from a lot of people, and it’s not even from family or friends. It’s the people out there that respect us as a family and see what we’re doing and that it’s all positive. … If I went far, I don’t think people would have my back like in Pittsburgh.”

You what depresses me. As I read that, there was more than a small part of me trying to figure out if this sort of community support would run afoul of NCAA rules. And if it had happened in December 2012 rather than 2011, it very well might have. Or at least some people on a rival message board might claim it was.

(more…)

July 29, 2014

Live and Die On the Line

Filed under: Football — Chas @ 6:49 am

This is no great secret. As important as it will be for Chad Voytik to develop quickly at QB. As much as there are big questions about who will be the second and third WRs to take some of the coverage away from Tyler Boyd. As curious as I am to see how James Conner looks. It all starts on the O-line.

Chad Voytik isn’t going to have much success (or avoid injury) if the O-line isn’t giving him a chance. Conner or any of the other running backs can only do so much if the O-lines isn’t at least producing some sort of opening for them to hit.

Health is the concern for the offensive line — as it is throughout the team — but there is a reason to have optimism.

(more…)

July 27, 2014

Reading over the last two posts Chas wrote about the 2014 PITT football team I’ve been having a great time with the over 200 comments you guys left on them.  They show just how very ready we all are for PITT training camp to open next week and for the season to start soon afterward.  I’m just as anxious to get the ‘real life’ stuff happening and to jump in with both feet as anyone.

I’ve waited on writing another piece until the 2014 PITT Football Media Guide came out so that I at least can provide some truthful info to go with my opinions that I’ll lay out in this post, and please  remember they are my opinions unless I preface an item with “This is a no bullshit…”.  I’ll try to mix and match both though.

As to the comments on those two last articles; there are pretty detailed reasons we fans have for why we’ll probably either suck or be great – but no one seems to explain why we’ll probably be 7-6 again, or maybe 8-5 with a good bounce or two.   That’s pretty much where I am at this point of the offseason without having had my ‘boots on the ground’ as I will soon at a couple of the camp practices coming up.  Now, that projection can change either way once I see how the kids are doing during practices so nothing here is etched in stone.

Here are some of my thoughts on the offensive side of the ball going into the season.

I’m not as high on the expectation for quarterback Chad Voytik as some of us are. Yes, he did well in the bowl game and that showed me that at least he isn’t a deer in the headlights.  But beyond that I’m not convinced that he’ll match the level of play our last two QBs gave us in 2012 & 2013.  That’s right, I’m including Sunseri’s productive season of 2012 – what are you going to do about it?  That said I’m also not as panicky as some are in case Voytik gets hurt out there.

(more…)

July 25, 2014

That Cautious Optimism

Filed under: Football,Prognostications — Chas @ 9:11 am

Tyler Boyd got left off the  pre-season 1st team All-ACC squad. For what it’s worth, Phil Steele did the same in his annual preview guide. I wonder how much of that is a “disrespecting” of Boyd or a belief that his numbers will drop with increased focus and Chad Voytik at QB. Either way, it isn’t a huge thing beyond additional motivation. As should be the fact that no Pitt players outside of Boyd were even in the second team.

You would think that a team that apparently has only one “sure” star player coming into the season wouldn’t have much in the way of expectations.

And yet, there seems to be a lot of positive views to Pitt. The two deepest previews of college teams have surprisingly upbeat takes. The ones that look at the make-up of the squad and the deeper numbers like where Pitt is heading.

(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).

(more…)

July 22, 2014

2014 ACC Football Media Days

Filed under: ACC,Conference,Football — Chas @ 6:48 am

I’m not sure why the ACC starts media day on a Sunday. Other than to make it as clear as possible to BYU  that they will never receive an invite. I mean, it doesn’t seem like a bad deal for the media. Prepare the stock “Five things for ACC Media Days” column in advance. Show up on a Saturday to the nice resort hotel. Get one free night to party and have a good time. Nurse the hangover. Put the digital recorder on the podium and let those stock questions flow to the players.

I mean, it is media day. It isn’t really about the media any longer, as we saw from the 4-day long SEC event. It is about marketing the conference to everyone else. It is about getting the fans ready for football season. It is the starting point to coverage for the new season.

(more…)

July 17, 2014

Pitt got a verbal from another big offensive lineman. Tony Pilato — no, not this guythis guy.

In the last few months alone, the big offensive lineman from Hempfield took a pair of spring visits, attended the Panthers’ prospect camp in June and returned for another visit a week later. So when Pilato finally made his commitment Thursday, the decision was a natural one.

“I just think it was a really good process with them,” Pilato told Panther-Lair.com. “All the coaches were really genuine and they’re all great guys; I really enjoyed spending time with them and the players. When it came down to it, it was the right fit for me.

“I think it really felt natural with Pitt. I just wanted to take my time and consider all my options. But they offered me first and that was a big thing, and t was just good with them. Toward the end of the process, it just felt right with them.”

As has been the trend with Pitt’s O-line recruits in the Chryst regime, Pilato is a big ‘un at 6-7 and 310 pounds or so.

(more…)

Regardless of the ability to help Pitt, can we at least agree that the best thing in the long-term for Joseph Uchebo was coming to Pitt and getting better medical help for rehabbing his knee.

In moments like these, it’s easy to forget Uchebo is still recovering from a devastating knee injury that put his basketball career on hold for almost two years.

But then he runs up the court with a noticeable hitch in his step, a clear reminder that his battle to get back to full health is not over.

“It still hurts,” said Uchebo, a native of Nigeria. “Sometimes when I’m running I feel the pain, but not like it used to be.”

The pain was so bad in the weeks after Uchebo collided knees with an opponent while playing for Chipola Community College in Marianna, Fla., that he could barely sleep at night.

But Uchebo said he continued to play for about two more weeks on the recommendation of team doctors.

“They told me it wasn’t that bad and I was happy to hear it wasn’t that bad,” he said. “But it was that bad; they just wanted me to play.

“As time goes, the truth starts coming out. You know, I was so [angry]. Like, is my basketball career going to end just like that? I was thinking about that every day, every night.”

Uchebo had to go through two microfracture knee surgeries. As fast as players come back from ACL tears, microfracture surgery is a far different animal. It is a much slower process, and a lot more time is involved. And there is no doubt that misdagnosing it back at the community college made it that much harder now to heal.

(more…)

July 16, 2014

I’m sure you all know, but to repeat the news from this afternoon. Defensive End Ejuan Price has suffered a torn pectoral muscle and will require surgery. This will keep him out for the entire 2014 season. To say Price has had some issues with injuries is putting it kindly.

2012: Missed entire season with torn right pectoral muscle.

2013: Missed 7 out of 13 games with back problems.

2014 Will miss entire season with torn left pectoral muscle.

In a normal career, Price would be heading into his senior year. As it stands, he is looking at earning a rare 6th year for 2016. That’s about the only good news from a Pitt fan perspective. (more…)

July 15, 2014

Slow Build

Filed under: Chryst,Coaches,Football — Chas @ 6:49 am

In Year 3 of Chryst, I don’t think there is yet a settled answer on Coach Paul Chryst. Some may have made up their mind about him one way or another, but I am definitely not one of them. There’s plenty I do like about him: the way he runs the program, the actual coaching, the message, the way he is building the team from the lines out. And there’s plenty that — to be kind — that I question. His hiring practices and recruiting being the biggest.

I think that unless Chryst had stayed at Wisconsin and taken over directly from Brett Bielema, he was going to be doing a full rebuild no matter what program he took over. He would have been determined to make the program the way he wanted. Even if it meant tearing some aspects down. That just seems to be the kind of coach he is. Given the state of Pitt when he arrived, that was fine.

The piece in the P-G today was a very positive one on the way he has been building the team and relations back for Pitt football. We all know the story by now. The coaching chaos. The lost recruiting classes. The mass transfers.

(more…)

July 14, 2014

Not Letting Go

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chas @ 6:46 am

In my draft folder is a kind of longform piece I’ve been working on regarding the seemingly neverending UNC cheating scandal. The scandal has been fascinating to me because as Carolina has struggled to do everything in its power to minimize the mess. From claiming it was an academic scandal for the entire school, not just the athletic department. To saying it was a rogue professor who made it all happen. To smearing an of their own people who might say this is a problem. All to protect “the Carolina Way.”

But in the end, they have only made it worse. They keep trying to cover, obfuscate, deny, attack, etc. All because they are so heavily invested in “the Carolina Way” as mythos that defines them.

(more…)

Powered by WordPress © PittBlather.com