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August 27, 2015

Mostly Unrelated Items

Filed under: Football — Chas @ 7:08 am

I don’t know how I had myself convinced that college football began this evening, but I did. Way too much wishful thinking. I am very sad. No, wait. I blame it on some medication mixed with alcohol. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Justin asked a very good question regarding negative recruiting.

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August 26, 2015

Fan Fest was last night, which signals the end of training camp. Practices now, are ostensibly about getting ready for the first opponent. While most of college football begins this weekend. Pitt has an extra week.

In a way this is good. As eager as I am for Pitt’s season to start. To make the trips to Pittsburgh and see my friends. It is the end of summer, and this extra weekend allowed me to avoid major screw-ups because I forgot when Pitt’s season begins and scheduled other things. For example, I don’t have to disappoint my daughter by cancelling at the last minute on a nighttime 5K we are doing this Saturday (only downside is watching college football all day without drinking).

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August 25, 2015

Pitt LiveWire Practice #15

Filed under: Uncategorized — Reed @ 8:52 am

(From the Pitt LiveWire Practice #15 Press Release)

MULTIMEDIA: Pitt Live Wire Blog

VIDEO: Coach Pat Narduzzi

VIDEO: Defensive Line Coach Tom Sims

VIDEO: Defensive Tackle Tyrique Jarrett

VIDEO: Defensive Tackle Khaynin Mosley-Smith

Coach Pat Narduzzi

Opening statement:

“Saturday we had a nice scrimmage. We stayed pretty healthy getting through that, which is obviously always a main concern. You still hit, but you try to stay healthy. We had some big hits out there as well, but it was a good scrimmage. We got a lot done and we’ll just try to get three percent better today.”

On balancing keeping players healthy while getting them ready for the season:

“There’s some guys you need to see and there’s some guys who’ve made an impact already. You try to protect those guys, and there’s some guys who need work. There’s a fine line, but you have to go out and work. It’s just like the pros in preseason games. I mean, the guys are going to go out and you have to play. I didn’t watch the [Steelers] game, but I’m sure Ben [Roethlisberger] didn’t play the whole time. So you’re getting the guys that need to get reps and find out who your two-deep is going to be as you look at the season.”

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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 21, 2015

September To Set Up November

Filed under: Fans,Football — Chas @ 7:13 am

Parents visiting for a week. Kids heading back to school this week. The usual chaos of the transition of activities.

How about a terrifying concept of the worst case scenario for this season?

PITT: Can technically start the season with losses to Bo Pelini, Terry Bowden, and Kirk Ferentz. Good God.

My sphincter clenched upon reading that.

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August 20, 2015

Pitt Produces Legends

Filed under: Football,History,Honors — Chas @ 12:06 pm

The Football Writers Association of America has been around for 75 years. They have been picking All-Americans since 1944. To honor their own existence they released their 75th Anniversary All-American Team.

A few Pitt players made the list.

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What do you want to see? Part II

Filed under: Football — Reed @ 7:01 am

You all never answered the question I asked toward the end of the last article.  That was: “What do you as fans want to see taking place in camp, the week’s practice before the YSU opener, and then through the first game?”

Would it  be more competition at a positions?  Better play from the O or D?  Narduzzi issuing the two-deep ASAP?  Longer  videos from actual practice sessions so we can see the individual players in action?

Let’s hear your views and opinions… it doesn’t have to be limited to the above questions but anything that jumps out at you.  Make it the whole season, 2017 recruiting, Heinz Field suggestions, ticket availability, is Pitt a BB school? etc…

You get the drift.

P/S: Chaney closed the door yesterday on any starting QB changes at this time:

“Guys, here’s the deal,” he said to reporters, his voice full of conviction. “Chad is the incumbent starting quarterback, and he remains the starting quarterback at Pitt.”  The confusion may have stemmed from coach Pat Narduzzi’s reluctance earlier in the day to discuss his timetable for naming a starter.

“I haven’t thought much about it, to be honest with you,” he (Narduzzi) said.  Narduzzi has no plans to change quarterbacks, but he doesn’t want to create the impression that the previous season’s starter automatically gets the job.

That’s about what every Pitt fans save the Dark Night and UPitt figured the stance in camp would be and it’s the way things played out so far.  Let’s hope both kids shine in camp so to be ready for the season.  Keep in mind that Voytik has never been a good camp/practice player so if we keep hearing reports of him ‘not being sharp’ or ‘having an off day’ it doesn’t really mean much.  If he loses the starting position it would be after playing poorly in games, not on the practice field.

Now, the real question is whether Narduzzi will pull a DW/TG and never play the QB2 unless it is an emergency.

My gut tells me we’ll see a ‘soft’ rotation in some games where Chaney gives Peterman to get sharp in a game situation and air the ball out.  That might be predicated on big leads so lets hope that happens also.  Either way it is nice to at least feel that we have a competent back-up in place.  That wasn’t the case over the last seven years or so.

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 14: The Pitt football team practices at the UPMC Sports Complex on August 14, 2015 in Pittsburgh, PA.

Nate Peterman’s guns (Rivals photo)

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 16, 2015

Where We Stand Week 1

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Media,Players — Reed @ 11:54 am

It’s been a full week of the ’15 training camp and other than a good look at the behind the scenes and how the logistical side of things are running let’s take a look at what other’s are saying about the past week of camp and who is doing what.

Halfway through the week Peterman was moved up to QB2 and that is for a very solid reason, he is very talented.  Looking at the 1st scrimmage stats for the two principal QBs below we see that Peterman not only held his own but did well on Saturday.  Voytik threw a Pick-6, a pass blocked by DE Blair and new DB Matt Steinbeck took it in. More on him below.  Voytik apparently completed a nice TD pass to Orndoff down the sideline on a deeper throw.  No mention of how the 73 yard TD to Jester Weah from Peterman unfolded. Either way, this is something we need to see more of in the regular season.

Passing Comp/Att/INT Yards % / YPA Long TDs
Voytik 11-25-1 183 44% / 7.3 62 2
Peterman 11-16-0 243 69% 15.8 73 1

 

Rushing Att Net Long Avg
Voytik 3 15 15 5.0
Peterman 7 34 10 4.9

 

Nate P scrimmage 1 Voytik Scrimmage 1

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August 13, 2015

(to follow on from this article’s Part 1.  If you haven’t read that please do so now and this piece will make more sense.)

I did grab James Conner after a while and had a nice talk with him.  I started out by asking him if he was going to let any of the other running backs get carries this season and he said “I hope so, they are real good”.  But what I really stopped him for was to let him know I just had a long conversation with his ‘step’ father Mike Gallagher and it was so obvious that Mike was proud of everything Conner has done since he was a kid.

There really was more to the conversation with Mike Gallagher, who has a strange back story himself, than just his pride in his surrogate son.  Mike is dealing with a serious case of diabetes and will need a kidney transplant sooner than later. I mentioned to him that I was all set for surgery last year for transplanting my kidney to my next door neighbor friend.  That conversation between Mike and I happened at around 9:30 am.

When I got home from Pittsburgh I found out that a kidney had become available for my friend and the hospital’s transplant team called him to tell him at 9:30 – the same time Mike and I were talking about it.  That surgery went well and my friend’s on his way to normal times.

Life is surely inexplicable sometimes, isn’t it?  I mention all that because I told Conner that his work with the kidney foundation is going to pay off big time soon.  I think Conner had expected another stock interview and was pretty happy to have an honest man to man conversation instead.  He’s lost weigh and looks fantastic.

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(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 11, 2015

The verbal yesterday was the good stuff. Camp itself had little of major news. And that’s a good thing. When practice is padless, big news is usually bad news. A suspension, a fight, an injury, an arrest.

The biggest stuff out of camp was an apology and confidence.

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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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