Trawling the Internet for FB

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).

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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.

You know there will be a lot of talk spinning around there about the new ACC Network.  the bottom line to us fans and Pitt itself – there will be more money coming into Pitt and in turn Pitt’s athletic department.  For us? android_logo-1024x614_c
As it is a digital network we’ll see more games that may not have been shown by the ESPN3 Internet channel in the past. I don’t know the tech specifics and will figure it out in September I’m sure.

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:

YEAR TEAM RECEPTIONS
2012 WISCONSIN 43
2013 NC STATE 18
2014 NC STATE 33
2015 NC STATE 100

Then he compares Pitt’s TE usage to that.

Now, let’s look to see how Pitt fared over the same course of time:

YEAR TEAM RECEPTIONS
2012 PITT 30
2013 PITT 29
2014 PITT 25
2015 PITT 37

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.

Polling notes:
– 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.

41 thoughts on “Trawling the Internet for FB

  1. ACC Network is a thing. On top of that all schools signed an extended GoR. That brings big boy dollars & stability. This puts the ACC in the Top 4 conference for sure and in a position to LURE programs not lose them. As I’ve said before, you add ND as a Full time football member, other programs will want to join solely b/c of the money they bring. THE PLAY HERE IS TO ADD TEXAS AND ND AS FULL MEMBERS. The ACC would trump the B1G/SEC $$$ with those additions. Worst to First conference? That’s one helluva transformation and great foresight by this conference. So glad we are a member of what could potentially be the Big Boy conference of the future. Everything is trending up on and off the field not only at Pitt, but also the entire conference. Happy times for us Pitt fans, now it’s time to start winning on the field as this new era begins.

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  2. **Predictions:

    Damar Hamlin ends up a ferocious-Stud— I mean a Player who is all SEC / BIG-10 / PAC-12 / everywhere-quality NFL sure-fire Stud….

    ….Okay, easy-pick there (even though Hamlin is ONLY a 4-star player as opposed to some Nation-wide *5* star player—-even considering One- Darelle Revis was only a 3-star regionally-recruited guy lol)

    —- But I think —> *** Matt Caprara *** is going to be Pitt’s *break-out-player* this year, for the whole darn team.

    I really doubted him so hard — not for other peoples’ reasons though. “Oh, he’s 5’9” —- yeah, so what?? He could be a packed-on 225+ and that would give him great leverage, plus if he’s strong? Heck, Ray Lewis was is only 5’9” or 5’10” in person what is your point??

    Well, he had zero offers out of high school besides from desperate Todd Graham at Pitt —- well, yes, equals =

    Last ‘drawback’ —> Caprara is wayyyy toooo slowwww …… 😦 — I mean, this young man is ALL HEART and every Pitt fan knows this young man would give 100%, all-in whether it is #1 Alabama or an FCS team each down —- but we can all see the weight-room effort (Senior, last Hurrah!) Caprara has put-in, but can he or has he found a way to make himself just frankly more physically fast and explosive????

    If Matt Caprara can turn himself (TRANSFORM himself) into a true ‘explosive’ and quick Linebacker I as a Pitt fanatic will be so hype I can not believe it 🙂 .

    P.S. — , me, ‘Obsessed’ with QB-play — Nathan Peterman, you ready??? 🙂

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  3. I think the statement “The tight ends are going to be involved in the offense and used a lot more” has been a running theme of the offseason for the last 10+ years. I hope that Orndoff can become the new Mike Shanahan this year (I know he was a WR but had the size and skill set of a TE) but I will believe it when I see it. That being said I think the utilization of TE is a common complaint of a lot of fans of other teams as well. Certainly next year with Chris Clark if it doesn’t happen it never will.

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  4. 3 thoughts

    1. if we didn’t get into the ACC, we would be in the Big 12. We were actually invited before WVU but had already accepted the ACC (or about to) .. and there is much speculation that they wanted to partner Pitt and WVU, thus when their sports team had to come to Morgantown, they could also make a stop in Pgh. (which makes sense).

    2. It is documented that in addition to Pitt, WVU and Louisville also applied and lobbied for entrance into the ACC. In fact, you all may remember that the LVille AD was miffed and publicly stated that he was surprised they took Pitt over them. Probably TV market had a lot to do with that.

    3. any public poll like the Rivals.com will have a bias for the skill people and playmakers

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  5. Forgive me for missing out on some information. Didn’t a 5-star tight end (forgot the name) who started at UCLA wind up at Pitt last year as a transfer? Did he red shirt or sit out last year? Is he still at Pitt and on the team? I try to keep up but apparently have not been successful. Love your blog.

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    1. That’s Chris Clark and he has to sit out this year per the transfer rules as he did not enroll until the spring of 2016 semester.

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  6. Lots of money in Pitt’s coffers now to keep coaches and to show it is serious about winning.

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    1. There’s lots of money for the teams in all big 5 conferences. I’m not interested in getting into a bidding war just to overpay coaches that haven’t proven anything just yet. And for that matter, I’m not interested in overpaying for some coaches that have proved much.

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    1. Wow is right, that is biased as hell. Did you notice that is all his players listed there were only 2 Pitt guys, 1 UL guy and zero SYR players. He shuts out the ‘newcomers’ completely.

      This is why I don’t do my own predictions like this guy did – I’d be too far over on Pitt – plus I’m too lazy to really research other teams strengths and weaknesses.

      But right now I’d put Pitt no lower than 3rd in the Coastal Div for pre-season guessing.

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    2. I love it!!!!
      Since I’m now living in Georgia I totally get it. The Augusta Free Press is what it is. I’m surprised this rag even bothers with the ACC since GT is the red headed forgotten stepchild in Georgia when it comes to football. All you usually see around here are big red “Black G” flags flying and the usual rhetorical question “How Bout Dem Dawgs”? So needless to say this is an SEC state.
      Pitt building it’s football program under the ACC radar is the best thing that could possibly happen. Narduzzi doesn’t even want the pub that Pitt has already garnered, with ACC Awards for our newcomers like Whitehead & Ollison (both obviously absent from this AFP article, BTW). He wants to play the underdog roll for as long as possible in the ACC, it’s to our advantage, being able to sneak up on our opponents.
      Some teams that have a longer history with the Panthers, like VT, already understand that they are in for a fight when they play Pitt. In fact, my previous residence being in Virginia provided me the opportunity to engage with many VT alumni that are developing a healthy hatred for the Panthers now that we have joined them in the ACC Coastal Division & are getting tired of the Panthers beating them like a drum annually now. Unlike many other of our division rivals, they don’t pencil in the Pitt game as an assumed “W” preseason, they know better by experience.
      We went to the GT game this past season and I have to tell you that Pitt got little respect from the Yellow Jackets pregame. The consensus was that their option running Offense would be too much for the Panthers. Pitt would not be denied the victory though. Really was a great win for the Panthers. That was just the type of game that the SOP would lose in the past while the folded up like a cheap tent in the 4th Q, but not in this game.
      Funny how some of the Pitt Faithful discounted this win by season’s end since GT’s record proved them to be non contenders, but remember, PRESEASON, they were predicted to be the ACC Coastal Champs. So much for preseason prognostications.
      Narduzzi likes it that way. He’ll provide his opinion by his team’s actions on the field of play, thank you very much. Can’t wait for the games to begin!

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  7. I never get too upset when I see a prediction from a Southern writer. They all think every sport begins and ends with them.
    My best friend lives in Charleston and he gets so overwealmed with biased reporting he can’t see straight! There was never basketball before the old ACC and football was invented by the SEC, everyone knows that. It’s sort of like reading PennLive where you would think they are number one in everything. Just consider the source.

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  8. Back from the summer pro am championship where the Duquesne dukes of Rene Castro and Kale Abrahamson beat the Pitt team of Cam Johnson and Sheldon Jeter 133 to 124, no shot clock was needed. Roxelle Nix hit a nice 10ft jumpshot.

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  9. I lost my dog last night. She was the littlest Panther. She watched every game w/me. Casey was the greatest, most beautiful pup in the world!!!!!!! The Panthers truly have a Guardian Angel!!!!!!! God Bless You Casey!!!!!!! H2P

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    1. I feel your pain. Lost both of my golden retrievers over the last couple of years. Now I’m “dogless”. Pretty quiet around here since. One thing I’ve noticed however is now if a drop a grape or some other morsel on the floor, when I pick it up it’s not covered with dog hair and if it falls within the 5 second rule, is still edible. LOL!
      Sorry for your loss.

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  10. Can’t wait for the ACC network. Watch some baseball, lacrosse, etc. along with more football and basketball.

    The question will be, which cable companies pick it up? If I remember correctly, the Big10 had to fight with a few companies.

    Also, how will the streaming content work and how much will it be?

    As for the Big12 expanding, unless they steal a team from another conference, the schools mentioned so far do not fit in that league.

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  11. Sorry for your loss, DC33. We lost or own Casey a few weeks ago after 14 great years. The house was too quiet without her so we now have a new pup driving us crazy.

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  12. In the pre-season media voting for the All-ACC team back in 2013 (Pitt’s 1st year), Aaron Donald was voted 2nd team. And some of the Pgh media questioned if any of the ACC writers really knew how good Aaron Donald was, and the response was that he benefited by playing in a weaker league. Of course, at the end of the year, not only was AD voted Defensive POY, he won every national award that he was eligible for.

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  13. and BTW, in his final year, Revis didn’t make any All-American teams (1st or second teams) , just honorable mention. Just shows you how little exposure BE FB had, even though they always did well in the bowl games in that era (2005-2008)

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  14. Reed I enjoyed the clip of Hendrix.

    I am very excited about his potential and I think he is going to be an instant difference maker.

    The kid is a beast and obviously has put on a lot mass since the high school video.

    My dad would say to me each game last year who is that big guy down there and each time I would tell him Dad he is transfer from Tenn. and you will get to see him as a starter next year.

    He will be a big improvement over the no named ends that we have ran out on the field every year since Wanny left. The last difference maker at end I can remember were Romeus and Sheard.

    Price had 11.5 (5 in one game) sacks last year but he disappeared from a lot of games. I think he will improve and if Henderson delivers as advertised this will go a long way improving our defense.

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  15. @dc33 and dinosaur1, very sorry for your losses. Animals are tough ones. Real tough. They had wonderful homes and great families I’m sure.

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  16. PittsburghSportsNow currently running an interview series on Lamont Wade from Clairton. This guy will be an immediate difference maker on 95% of the programs that are offering him a scholly. Only on the top tier elite teams does he RS & not show up in the two deep for his college team come 2017, since he plans to enroll early and will therefore be eligible to practice in spring ball. I get giddy just thinking of the implications if for some reason Wade decides to follow in the footsteps of difference makers like Boyd & come through the Clairton pipeline to Pitt.
    Image a defensive backfield filled with the likes of Whitehead, Ford, Hamlin, Miller, Coleman and newcomer Wade just a year from now, coached by one of the best defensive minded coaches in the country. That line up would be a scary good, shutdown defensive backfield, shuffling in backups that are just as good if not better than the starters, when the 1st stringers need a breather. I can dream, can’t I?

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    1. Maybe it’s just my own optimistic POV, but I don’t think you’re dreaming. Considering that Hamlin is in a Panther uniform already and that Paris Ford is a solid verbal helping to recruit for the Panthers as we speak, why not go get Wade as well? If the kid is looking out for his own best interests, there is a strong argument for early playing time for a HS phenom with true star potential at the next level. Boyd made the most of it and Whitehead is following in Boyd’s footsteps regarding how he showed up as a true freshman star. Being a hometown hero by staying around to defend the 412 at Pitt is just icing on the cake for him.
      Considering the guy we got, Boyd, compared to the guy we lost, Foster in that recruiting class, it’s pretty obvious who has come out on top in that three year period. Early playing time is very enticing.
      I like the “Wade to Pitt” movement very much, and I ain’t dreaming.

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  17. 99.9% of people on Pitt boards are expecting Hendrix to be a complete animal on the field. Hopefully that happens but its not a lock.

    With our PSU game being so early you have to think its a big advantage for us. We have a ton of starters coming back. We’re breaking in a new OC but they are breaking in a new DC & OC. I’m glad were catching them early. With the season, so many returning players, so many of our players on nominations lists, we need to pull off a few upsets this year.

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    1. Nothing is a lock, injuries, cancer diagnoses, OC coaches moving on, disappointing bowl games and just plain old bad luck can all screw up a perfect situation, and that goes with any team. But if you’re realistic, if the way Hendrix has performed on the practice squad is any indication, he will a force to be reckoned with this season. When you consider that the bookend on the other side is Price who is now a sixth year player and about as full a grown man as you can be by your mid 20’s, we are going to be pretty good on the DEs this season. And we aren’t even looking into the two deep competition behind them as guys like Allen Edwards step in for playing time, and guys like Rori Blair don’t want to be forgotten while riding the pine either. Nothing is a lock but Pitt looks pretty good on paper this preseason going into fall camp. Lets hope that the injury bug is kept at bay. That can really put a ding into the optimism that is apparent around the program right now.

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  18. Doc,
    Agree totally! The “I-word” (Injury) is the biggest cuss word in athletics! IF our key guys can stay healthy we have a good chance of having a great season. Hence, if we get a good lead against Nova, the irreplaceable players need to come out (because of the next opponent), not only for their protection but to also give their backups some much needed snaps!! H2P

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