2017’s LBs; Upgrade, Downgrade or Draw

2017’s LBs; Upgrade, Downgrade or Draw

This is the seventh of a longer POV series looking at the individual positions which need to be re-filled in 2017 and whether we will meet the PRODUCTION we had in those positions. We will not factor in true freshman at this point.

Here the lineup going into 2017 less true freshman who aren’t on the roster yet…

23 Oluwaseun Idowu 6-0/215 RS JR
25 Elijah Zeise 6-2/230 RS JR
28 Anthony McKee Jr. 6-2/210 RS SO
36 Chase Pine 6-2/240 RS FR
39 Saleem Brightwell 6-0/210 RS SO
41 Jalen Williams 6-2/215 RS JR
44 Elias Reynolds 6-2/225 RS FR
48 Peyton Deri 6-1/205 RS FR
51 Jim Medure 6-2/220 RS SO
53 Brian Popp 6-0/235 RS JR
58 Quintin Wirginis 6-2/240 SR

In many ways you can say our linebackers were between a rock and a hard place last season being stuck right between our DL who did a good job at what they were tasked to do and our defense backs who didn’t.

The nature of Narduzzi’s defense is that Pitt is going to pack the box in almost any offensive scenario so our LBs are positioned just off the LOS for run support.  On passing plays we have the OLBs maintain ‘inside leverage’ to force the short passes into the middle of the defense.

With that our DBs were trusted to go handle the passing game ‘out on an island’ with the safeties having an options to pick up receivers when they felt it right to do so (basically when it was apparent run support from them wasn’t needed).

At least that was the defensive theory going into and through 2016’s 13 games. While the common belief is that Narduzzi has his way of playing defense and our DC Josh Conklin just genuflects and gets on with trying to make it happen, logic would say that because of the almost complete breakdown of our defensive game last year it would mandate changes.

What we saw was a terrible pass defense that lost us games that we could have and should have won. I don’t think anyone is going to argue with that statement – no matter how good some of our opponents QB and WRs were.

But – Narduzzi seems to be confident that what worked so well for him at Michigan State will do the same here so Vegas money says we’ll see the same approach to defense this season as last. 

Well, if Narduzzi isn’t going to change the fundamental tenets of the defense at least he can change, or is forced to change, the personnel. We’ll see that happen by dint of graduation this season in the LB corps.  Three-year starter and leading tackler “Mike” (Middle) MLB Matt Galambos is gone as is his mate, the two-year starter at “Money” LB, Mike Caprara.

Playing alongside those two for almost the whole season was ex-walk on now rsJR Oluwaseun (Sean) Idowu who quietly built up quite a resume’ as Pitt’s 3rd leading tackler with 74 total tackles from the Star LB position over the TE as the pass rushing LB.  He’ll be the sole returning LB starter for 2017.

Continue reading “2017’s LBs; Upgrade, Downgrade or Draw”



Earlier this morning I completed our Howard County, MD’s Naloxone training and certification class.  If you aren’t familiar with what this is about Naloxone is the opiate receptor blocker nasal spray that is used in case of a person’s overdosing on opiates.

This FAQ is an excellent source of info on the medicine.

It is no secret that every state, and almost every county in our respective states of MD and PA are having huge problems with opioid overdose deaths and they  reverberates through families, communities and across all social strata.

Well, we have the ability to help if that happens where we are and I can’t tell you how many people I know who have either overdosed or have had a family member do so – and so died as a result.  That is because I spend a good amount of time around homeless populations and drug addicts.

That is where I volunteer my time every week and why I finally told myself I have to be ready in case I’m needed to help.

Allegheny County provides the same training – it should be of no cost to you and pharmacies, of the Health Department itself, should provide you with the Naloxone kits you need.

I urge you to consider this training also. There are a lot of rumors surrounding this subject – some really off the wall – but I hope you educate yourself and then take advantage of these needed emergency response tools.

Good Samaritan laws are in effect in every state so that shouldn’t worry you.  I linked PA’s for you.

Thanks for listening…







POV Sunday Podcast; June 18, 2017

POV Sunday Podcast; June 18, 2017


Correction: Galambos and Caprara had five sacks in 2015, not last season.

Chris Peak has a truly excellent series on Pat Narduzzi’s defense he’s playing at Pitt (or Josh Conklin is).

Here is the DBs section:


Here is the link for those Rivals’ mailbag discussions I referenced…


And as a blast from the past…


….. remember her?


POV Readers Fill Out The Lineup

POV Readers Fill Out The Lineup

I’ll try to do a weekly spot where I answer some lingering questions raised in the comments section that weren’t subsequently answered by myself or other commenters.  One of those, for example, was regarding how many returning players the other teams have for this season.

Remember Pitt has only 6 Offensive, 4 Defensive and 1 ST players returning.  Here are the others’ returnees numbers.

ACC Returning

So you can see that we are at the bottom numerically if we look at just our offense and defense where we have only 10 returnees.  What does this mean?  Well, we better see the fruits of our expectations for Narduzzi’s recruiting efforts pan out on the field because every other ACC team is reloading at their vacant starting positions also and they all have less spots to fill.  Here is who has more than us of our opponents in ’17:

NC State – 18;   Miami – 17;    GT – 16;    Duke & VT – 14;   SYR & NC – 13. 

I don’t know about you all but when I look at NC State, Miami and GT having so many more returning starters than us I think you have to factor that in when discussing those games in advance – the bookies sure do.  Especially when given the fact that Miami and NC State are replacing whoever they lost with much higher rated recruiting classes than ours.

As we discuss below though… the games are not played on paper or on a laptop (yet, I can’t speak for 50 years from now).

As mentioned, let’s look at how our 2017 opponents’ Rivals.com recruit rankings were during Narduzzi’s first two full recruiting years of 2015 and ’16.

FBS Schools

2015’s  Rank

2016’s  Rank




21 18
Miami 26 23 24.5
NC 28 22 25
NC State 35 43 39
OK State 38 45 41
VT 24 49 42
Duke 62 31 46.5
Pitt 65 29 47
VA 44 61 52
GT 39 67 53

Interestingly enough all of these schools are in the top 41% of the whole 128 teams.

So – other schools reload just as Pitt will this season and as much as we want to think our recruits will do well, and some sure will do well for us, other school’s fans are hoping the exact same thing.

Again – it is the age-old question of is it the “Jimmys and Joes” or the “Xs and Os”.  In our case let’s hope our coaching staff is better that all our opponents because, apparently, our recruits weren’t better than them on paper.

Of course the games are played out on the field and not on paper thus our last season’s wins over PSU and Clemson refute this premise.  Clemson’s previous recruiting classes were ranked 15th in ’13 and 4th in ’14… yet we beat them, didn’t we? Continue reading “POV Readers Fill Out The Lineup”

2017’s WRs; Upgrade, Downgrade or Draw

2017’s WRs; Upgrade, Downgrade or Draw

This is the seventh of a longer POV series looking at the individual positions which need to be re-filled in 2017 and whether we will meet the PRODUCTION we had in those positions in ’16. We will not factor in true freshman at this point.

Wide Receiver will be a position of strength for us in this coming season almost surely.  I say that because as we wrote about the QB position early in this series I think we’ll have a downgrade there – so the ripple effect may impact the overall production of our WR corps for ’17.

To start let’s look at who departed Pitt over the off-season.  rsSR Dontez Ford and rsJR Zach Challingsworth.  Well, that was pretty simple wasn’t it? 

Of course our main WR coming back is the exciting and inconsistent – which is part of the excitement because we hold our breath hoping he’ll come down with the ball – rsSR Jester Weah.

Weah is a great example of kids who are just average in their recruiting rating (3*, 5.5) and don’t burst right out of the gate in college… but learn the new game and flourish in their upperclassmen years.  And yes, that is what a good player will do. 

Great players usually do make an impact earlier and Weah may have also if he hadn’t been stuck behind Tyler Boyd and Dontez Ford for his first few years.  But for now he’s pretty darn good and may just be great this season.

Weah has had the catching yips and was publicly open and refreshingly honest about that which I like him even more for.  He has great downfield speed and good moves – but his hands used to let him down when it came to gameday.  More on that later…

Continue reading “2017’s WRs; Upgrade, Downgrade or Draw”

POV Bits & Pieces & Polls; 6/14/17

POV Bits & Pieces & Polls; 6/14/17

A few off the top – no Roundtable Call-in this week as today is my son’s birthday and we are celebrating at our house.  We’ll do it again next week…

Addressing those great comments on the last “upgrade, downgrade or draw” articles about the interior DL…  we may be forgetting that these are a  ‘first run’ series of articles looking at the individual units… and that I have said in each of them we will re-visit the units after the fall camp is closed (the week of opener).  Thus now we are only addressing the current roster.

But again – the way we all look at these players – both already on roster and in-coming is interesting I think.  It is apparent that some fans and commenters are always optimistic regarding Pitt players and that is fine.  But I don’t really hear anything when those same players fail to live up to those high expectations.  It does happen sometimes guys – as much as we pull for the young men not all deliver the goods.


As to our discussions of the drop in rankings both 2016’s post-season and now this year’s preseason; first off that Orlando Sentinel prediction is ridiculous and I think somewhat lazy journalism.  I get that we are replacing more players this season than we have in many years (see chart at end) but it just is skewed way downward in my opinion.

For those readers who didn’t see before it here are the opening paragraphs:

The Pittsburgh Panthers are No. 82 in the Orlando Sentinel 2017 preseason college football rankings. Pitt loses some elite talent on offense and have problems to address on defense, but the Panthers are heading in a promising direction.

Our ranking: No. 82

Coach: Pat Narduzzi (8-5, entering third season; 16-10 overall)

2016 record: 8-5, 5-3 in Atlantic Coast Conference, finished fourth in Coastal Division

Look back: Behind star RB James Conner and QB Nathan Peterman, who were both selected in the 2017 NFL draft, Pitt set new school records with 532 total points, 40.9 points per game, and 5,808 yards of total offense in 2016.

The offensive outburst turned Pitt into one of the scariest opponents in the country.  Just ask national champion Clemson, which suffered its only loss of the season — at home in Death Valley — to the Panthers.

Unfortunately for Pitt, its defense often fell short at the most inopportune times. Of the five defeats suffered last season, the Panthers lost by 7 points or fewer in four of those games.

Pitt will have to replace its starting quarterback, running back and offensive coordinator Matt Canada, who left for the same post at LSU. But the Panthers are encouraged about building on their success heading into 2017.

Well, read the rest as it is very informative actually but I can’t for the life of me figure out how the number 82 came about.  The author must have thrown a dart at a number line.

Continue reading “POV Bits & Pieces & Polls; 6/14/17”

2017’s DTs; Upgrade, Downgrade or Draw

2017’s DTs; Upgrade, Downgrade or Draw

This is the sixth of a longer POV series looking at the individual positions which need to be re-filled in 2017 and whether we will meet the PRODUCTION we had in those positions in ’16. We will not factor in true freshman at this point.

First off we all better take a minute to read digest the following chart – the key info is in red:

Year GP/Starts
10 Keyshon Camp 6-4/285 DL RS FR 0/0
34 Amir Watts 6-3/285 DL SO 7/1
66 Mike Herndon 6-4/315 DL RS JR 6/0
90 Rashad Wheeler 6-3/290 DL RS FR 0/0
93 Shane Roy 6-4/280 DL RS JR 10/0
95 Zack Gilbert 6-1/240 DL RS FR 0/0

OK – got that? We have a single interior lineman returning who started a game as a Pitt Panther and him with only one start at that. 

Gentleman, start your wishful thinking engines… and keep your fingers crossed while doing so.

But this scenario that is exactly what hard, tough practices are for… and spring camps and fall camps and scrimmages also… to get these younger kids ready to ascend into the two-deep ranks and start playing the type of football they were recruited to do.

And we do have younger kids on the current roster – at least the ones I feel will get20160824pppittdefense1spt the  most playing time are still mostly virginal, save SO Amir Watts who got the whole way around the bases once.

Also, and let’s not kid anyone here, we were depending very heavily on dismissed rsSR Jeremiah Taleni to return in that Nose Tackle position and, as a senior, guide these younger kids in practices and then games.  He had only three starts last season but he played in a total of 21 games over the three years after his redshirt season and was effective in those times he played:

Played in seven games, starting three…starting assignments came in the final three regular-season contests…totaled 24 tackles, 5.5 TFLs and three sacks…had a career-high eight stops at Miami…in a start at Clemson, had four tackles and a personal best 1.5 sacks…had five tackles and a sack against Northwestern in the Pinstripe Bowl.

He had the 2nd most tackles for loss (5.5) and the 2nd most sacks (3.0) of the interior linemen behind the leader Shakir Soto (10 TFLs & 4.5 sacks).  If we want to play with stats and we tend to do – extrapolate his tackles and TFLs over ’16’s last four games, when he played the most, and he would have had 45 tackles and 16.0 TFLs over the full season.

Just for fun that would have put him up with Soto at 46 tackles and 10.0 TFLs and Price with 45 tackles and 23.0 TFLs. Not too shabby for a guy who had very limited playing time. That is what I expected him to do this season and we will be the worse for him not being in the lineup.  

Continue reading “2017’s DTs; Upgrade, Downgrade or Draw”