Let’s take a trip through the Internets, which is a series of tubes, and see what people are saying about our favorite football team (and the conference we live in).
The ACC Kickoff Festivities are in full roar tomorrow. Champagne, party favors and dancing girls have been arranged and the media is chomping at the bit to get to the hipper than hip host city Charlotte, NC. The Trib’s Jerry DiPaola is en route and has a blog entry to prove it.
You know it’s football season (ignore the calendar) when the ACC gets together for its annual media days Thursday and Friday. This year, the meetings, news conferences and the Orange Bowl Ice Cream Break (a personal favorite) will be held in downtown Charlotte, N.C.
Two players and the head coach from each team (Pitt’s Pat Narduzzi will be joined by quarterback Nathan Peterman and defensive end Ejuan Price) will be available for interviews.
The Trib has a nice podcast that explains the new network and other ACC details i.e. the “Grant of Rights”, which details schools’ hoops to jump through in exiting the conference…
One interesting point Jerry makes is the ‘status’ listing of the Power Five conferences:
SEC- Big Ten – PAC 10 – Big 12 – ACC (Big 12 and ACC rotate here) is the rank as of today but that is subjective. This new ACC network might raise the ACC’s profile higher in that pecking order.
Some fans won’t like this but it’s true and DiPaola mentions clearly that Nordenberg and Pederson lobbied long and hard to get us into ACC – as we would have ended up in the American Athletic Conference (AAC) if not. It was a close run thing folks – and I have had some conversations about how it went down.
The truth is that the ACC was leaning toward UCONN to capture that BB strength in both the men’s and woman’s game. Disregard that the article linked is on a UCONN site – that is how things shook out.
We tend to forget, especially at this time of the year, that without a doubt the ACC is a bigger and more well known nationally as a BB conference than a FB conference.
We have a rather bold prediction out of SB Nation’s Benjamin Tankersley. He think we’ll win the ACC Coastal Division.In his 2016 ACC Coastal Division Preview he lists our Panthers #1 with a 6-2 ACC record. It could happen I suppose.
We did it last year in Narduzzi’s first season so who’s to say we can’t match that – and even beat NC in the process for a possible 7th win? Two of the toughest games in our schedule this season are out of conference matches in OK State and Penn State (PSU not on paper maybe but I’m not looking at that game as a sure win by any means).
Here is what the writer says about Pitt:
1 – Pittsburgh (6-2)
Wins: Duke, Georgia Tech, Miami, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech
Losses: Clemson, North Carolina
Key Players: QB Nate Peterman, RB James Conner, DE Ejuan Price, CB Avonte Maddox
What does Pittsburgh need to do this year: Establish James Conner again and grow on defense.
I guess I should have prefaced these rankings by saying that I am expecting a pretty crazy year in the ACC this year. All the craziness starts right here with Pat Narduzzi’s Pitt Panthers. In Narduzzi’s first season with the Panthers were pretty solid all year, dropping only a few games. Losing to Miami and Navy weren’t the best showings, but this is also a young team, so there will be lapses like that.
I’ll disagree with one of his statements here. Conner is going to be important of course, but take out the ‘feel-good’ story of his return from cancer and the message should be re-establish the running game including James Conner.
Ollison did a very good job in Conner’s stead last year with a very good 5.3 ypc average on 212 carries for 1121 yards and 11 TDs. If we extrapolate that out to Conner’s number of carries the year before Ollison would have had about 1600 yards on the season with an increase to about 16 TDs.
Am I saying Conner won’t be needed? No, that’s crazy talk. I am saying that even if Conner doesn’t get ‘established’ (whatever that actually means) we have a good RB carrying the ball behind a very good offensive line. Which leads me to choose instead the passing game and replacing Boyd’s production of 2015 as a key need this season.
His point about the defense I can see – especially on the DBs/pass defense side of that equation.
On defense, I also expect the Panthers to take a step or two forward. Pat Narduzzi is one of the best defensive minds in the game, and he’s got some pretty good players. Ejuan Price led the team with 11.5 sacks, and Avonte Maddox had three interceptions and 12 pass break-ups. The key here is they need to find some more pass rush from the defensive line, as nobody else returns that had more than two sacks on the defensive line.
Transfer DE Dewayne Hendrix is going to carry some of that weight from his newly won starting position (I’m assuming but take it to the bank) . For those not too familiar with this young man let’s review his past: a 4* DE who was ranked 5th nationally at the position and who had more than 20 D1 Power five offers including Florida, OSU, PSU, Nebraska and MSU (When Narduzzi was the DC there so he knew of him).
You can bet Narduzzi was licking his chops when Hendrix called him and said he was transferring. Hendrix saw the field at Tennessee as a true FR then decided to leave and ply his trade elsewhere. He’s a rsSO this season (his transfer year was as a redshirt season) so he has a full three years with the Panthers.
Pitt Nation Sports’ Chris Logue, as I have said before, is a good and diligent researcher who put pen to paper well for us fans.
I talk a lot about how I think TE Scott Orndoff is a great fit for this year’s passing offense. I read this very well done article on just that point two weeks ago, copied down the link and forgot to use it. Here is a bit of it that regarding TEs in Matt Canada’s offense…
Scott Orndoff could be in the cross-hairs of Nate Peterman early, often and throughout the season. 110 receptions and 1,500 yards worth? Probably not.
New offensive coordinator Matt Canada brings that potential with him from Wisconsin and NC State. Research proves the value of a tight end in his system.
Take a look for yourself:
Then he compares Pitt’s TE usage to that.
Now, let’s look to see how Pitt fared over the same course of time:
I love watch Scott Orndoff surprise the opponents LBs and DBs with his secret speed. He’s a big guy at 6’5″ and 255 lbs. But he runs clean routes and gets good amount of yards after the catch once he gets those big mitts on the ball.
Rivals.com has an ongoing poll of it’s Panther Lair message board members regarding the 25 ‘best’ Pitt players going into this fall camp. Monday’s #s 25-21 were as follows:
25. DE Rori Blair,
24. OL Alex Bookser,
23. DB Terrish Webb ,
22. OLB Mike Caprara and
21. WR Quadree Henderson .
Sure, Why not? But take a look at the accompanying text Peak writes for the choices and how they were voted. Interesting stuff – for example for Mike Caprara he wrote:
22. Mike Caprara
Caprara enters his senior year at Pitt coming off his best season as a Panther. With eight starts, Caprara put up career highs in tackles (49), tackles for loss (10.5), sacks (5), forced fumbles (1), fumble recoveries (1) and interceptions (1).
The Woodland Hills alum also enters this season with an expectation of leadership for the defense. He is one of the elder statesmen of the group, and the coaches will count on him to produce and lead.
– Caprara appeared on 21 of the 31 submitted ballots -fewer than Webb – but he got a boost from five votes inside the top 13 (7, 10, 12, 12 and 13).
Yeah, I’d be one of the guys putting Caprara inside the Top 10 for sure. He came into his own last year and will be a really fine LB for us this year also.
Here is the poll results for yesterday # 20-16:
20. Bam Bradley – the disappearing man on the defensive roster. Coming out on the ’14 season I thought we’d see more of Bradley in at LB… didn’t happen. He went from 36 tackles with 5 TFLs & 1 sack the year before to last season’s 30 tackles 4 TFLs and 2 sacks. It wasn’t a huge drop off but going from getting PT as a SO then assuming he’d be better, and play more, as a JR.
19. Darrin Hall
18. Reggie Mitchell
17. Tyrique Jarrett
16. Damar Hamlin – Hamlin shouldn’t have been voted in as a recruit who hasn’t worn the uniform yet IMO – but they did.
That poll is a great and fun idea for the weeks before fall camp to get readers more familiar with the players we will be talking about the most. Keep checking on that site as Peak will post five more up every day this week.