Pitt POV’s Friday Football Roundup

Here are some of the interesting things I ran across when doing research for the other articles I wrote this week.

The ACC Kickoff is in full swing and now we’ll start getting some news out of there. So here is a nice article and accompanying video with Narduzzi talking about the offseason... and dealing with the James Conner situation.

How does he handle James Conner?  “It’s uncharted territory,” Narduzzi said.

Conner, who endured a six-month bout with Hodgkins lymphoma before being declared cancer free in May, is “working out like an animal,” according to his oncologist, Dr. Stanley Marks.

But what happens next month when Conner, the 2014 ACC Player of the Year, puts on the shoulder and hip pads for the first time in 11 months and tackles the physical grind of a football season? What hidden effect, if any, did the 12 chemotherapy sessions have on Conner’s body other than eliminating the cancer cells?

Nice shirt Jerry!

I agree with the above 100%.  We all want this to work out well for all involved – some fans want a storybook ending.  But the reality is there is a chance we may be somewhat disappointed.  I say ‘somewhat’ because, as I have said before on here, that phone call Conner got from Dr. Marks was my storybook ending.  All else is gravy.

(Note: see the info below on the two-deep going into camp…)

The best piece of the linked content above is the video of Narduzzi talking about the young man so watch that also.

The Post-Gazette has a piece on Narduzzi’s desires for 2016.

“Did we win so much?” Narduzzi said when asked about his success in year one. “I’m glad you’re happy with it; we’re not happy with it.”

Yes, Pitt’s 8-5 record last year did represent a relative high-water mark. It was the Panthers most wins since 2010. They also finished second in their division.  But for Narduzzi, the goal heading into year two is to raise the bar higher.

“I guess it’s all how you look at it,” Narduzzi said. “We don’t feel like we won as many games as we wanted to win. We wanted to win them all. If you don’t win them all, you’re not happy and you don’t sit there and say, ‘Hey, we won eight!’”

You know what – I’m getting pretty tired of football coaches who just refuse to be actual human beings when asked questions.  Wouldn’t it be nice to hear one say “Hell guys, in my first year as a HC and we won 8 games – your damn sure I’m happy with that!  We’ll get more this season but that’s not a bad way to start off in my book at all.”

Which would be so true because you know that’s how he feels and would be nice to hear.  But all we get is canned response # 143.A.6 and I don’t know about you guys but when I hear that stuff it goes in one ear and out the other.

Before you complain about my attitude with this read this truthful and honest quote from our DE Ejuan Price who has played for three different Pitt head coaches:

Even defensive end Ejuan Price, one of the stars on defense last season, admitted it took a little bit of time for him to totally buy in.

“The first couple of games, I wasn’t really trusting the system,” Price said. “I wasn’t trusting it all the way. There were a couple of times where I would do my own thing, I would take myself out of the play. If I’d have done what they told me, I would’ve been in a good position.”

I’d say ‘out of the mouth of babes’ here but Price is the elder statesman on the roster, he may be 35 years old for all we know, so it is more like he’s mature enough and comfortable enough as a leader on the team to actually tell the truth to the media.  Yeah Him!!

drawing-1My good friend Chris Logue over at Pitt Nation Sports has a nice piece on whether or not Jordan Whitehead could pull a Charles Woodson and win the Heisman Trophy based on being a two-way player.

Hey, I’m all for Pitt players winning as many awards as they can but I’ll disagree with Chris on this one.  His thoughts are:

Simply put, you put your best players in position to touch the ball to make the best and most impact plays during the 60 minutes. Excluding Jordan Whitehead of that opportunity would be a travesty.

tony_dorsett_3
Whitehead’s Pitt’s 2nd Winner?

My friend Chris should be a playwright as he has a flare for the dramatic.  Travesty is a pretty strong word for that situation, maybe “dumb ass thing to do” would fit better.

But I disagree and here is why – unless that defender, in this case Whitehead, is spectacularly good at receiving or fantastical at running back then you keep his great talents, for the most part, where he is spectacular – and that is at the Safety position as he proved last season.

I want to see our guys who already play offense get the ball and make things happen over the course of those 60 minutes… let the OC borrow Whitehead for a special play or a change of pace series every once in a while but to play the kid for solid all-snaps on both offense and defense is setting the kid up for injury when it isn’t necessary.

To say nothing of taking away any surprise factor we would hold over the opponent’s DC’s game plan against our offense.

And spare me the ‘an injury can happen on any play’ theory… because, well, no kidding and that is exactly why the staff has to minimize the opportunities for it to happen by not exposing Whitehead when it isn’t necessary.

We are reading about Whitehead get nominated for yet another award every time we wake up it seems.  Why does that happen you ask.  I’ll tell you – because he kicked ass as a Safety in his true FR year.

Chris goes on to say:

As Boyd referenced along with Whitehead last season in a video, “Big time players make big time plays..” To win the most prestigious award college football has to offer, you have to play big on every stage. It’s absolutely necessary and is a task that Whitehead is more than capable of achieving along with the help of his teammates.

Which is true.  However I want those big time plays to generate points toward wins for the team and the program… not be statistical fodder for a run at a Heisman Trophy.  If Narduzzi really feels he needs Whitehead on offense to light a spark or catch the defense on their heels then have at it.

But doing so to generate votes for an award when there may be better offensive players that you are taking snaps away from for that purpose is the real a travesty (and a dumb ass thing to do).

Pitt Nation Sports also has some back articles I looked at and this one about how Dewayne Hendrix ended up at Pitt is very interesting and especially good because it is a first person interview with the young player himself.  This is from the March 8th piece (before spring practices and before Hendrix donned a Pitt uniform for the first time):maxresdefault

“4th quarters are going pretty good, it’s a grind everyday and everyone is trying to get better for the team,” Hendrix said. Continuing with, “..I have trimmed a lot of weight, right now I’m 255 and just trying to be really lean but keep the same speed and strength. The coaches want me to play at 260, but all good weight, nothing sloppy.”

Dewayne Hendrix came to Pitt from Tennessee at 275 pounds during what would have been his traditional sophomore season. Through the 2015 season and the beginning portions of 2016, Hendrix has dropped a massive 20 pounds but has firmed his frame allowing for greater explosion off of the end. Also great for containment on the edge.

That bolded text is mine because that is exactly what we saw from Hendrix in those early practices and then in the Spring Game.  Hendrix wasn’t pursued by Pitt in HS but Narduzzi saw his potential and that 4* rating and offered.

chris-duzz-e1453435598136
Wait – Chris! Where’s my wallet?

And here Chris gathers an insightful prediction from Hendrix on who he thinks could have a breakout year for the Panthers in 2016…

… I asked Dewayne to name someone on the team poised to break out next season. It’s hard to replicate the successes of Qadree Ollison and Jordan Whitehead, but Hendrix said, “Malik Henderson and Dane Jackson will play a big part this year.”

Hmmm, I don’t suppose the fact that both those kids are on defense with Hendrix, they are both are defensive backs, and that as rsFR they both came to Pitt at the same time  as Hendrix weighed heavily in his choice there.  Now, if we find out they are roommates then the fix was in.

Here is a blog I never heard of before: Armchair All-Americans and it had a preview of the Pitt QBs going into the coming season.  In case this hasn’t been drummed into your heads enough this offseason here is the gist of the matter:

Peterman will be the likely starter when the season rolls around with Pitt hosting Villanova on September 3rd in their season opener. The big question is who will be backing him up and looking to take over his job if the opportunity presents itself. The QB position is filled with youth as the young hopefuls look to make a case for their future as the starting QB for Pitt in the coming seasons.

Here is the 2016 Preseason depth chart for the Panthers without recruits listed.  I have to call bullshit on some things here though. (See below photo and hat tip to the P-G’s Sam Werner for posting it on Twitter).

cn5dvbwxeaeytae

First off are we to believe that Qadree Ollison is the 3rd string TB after putting up 1121 yards at a 5.3 ypc and 11 TDs… really?    If he isn’t the starter on Sept 3rd then there is something going on in the clubhouse we haven’t heard about.  Sorry Conner fans but I think that’s strange.

I asked in yesterday’s article about some ‘disappearing players‘ and Bam Bradley was one of them.  He went from being a starter to seeing rsSO OLB Oluwaseun Idowu jump over him and take a starter’s job with newly switched ex-WR now OLB Elijah Ziese under him.  Idowu was a walk-on two years ago and last year played only on special teams and had two tackles.

Wow!  Something’s up with that too.  But I do love walk-on success stories.

SR DB Terrish Webb is placed over ex-starter Reggie Mitchell and… this is very surprising,  DE Rori Blair apparently has been fleeted up to starting at one DE slot over the aforementioned Dewayne Hendrix.  That won’t last long.

Blair had a statistically good 2014 as a true FR in part time play and I was very high on him getting a starting job as a SO last year.  He made some plays but didn’t see the steady starting time I though he would.  His stats line was 25 total tackles with 3.5 TFL with 1.5 of those being sacks.  That last number is a drop from his 5 sacks of the year before.

Here’s another thing to ponder about our DE position.  Not only is Hendrix the talk of the defensive town since he descended from Heaven before the spring drills but SO James Folston, a LB who bulked up (from 201 lbs when he came to Pitt to 245 now – and on a nice 6’3″ frame) and was moved over to the DE position got some good play in in the latter half of the season.James Folston

Folston is another unheralded recruit, a 3* with scarce offers,  who has impressed the staff and is making waves on the Southside.  I think all this adds up to Blair being on the outside looking in once the two-deep becomes more fixed after the first couple of games.

There is a phenomenon in the sport we love to follow that is gaining popularity with the advent of the internet and associated technology.  It is the desire – no, the need – to sound like you know more about what is going on then everyone else.

Those who are engrossed in that are  “Football Geeks”.

nerd_medium
This is not Reed.

They are out there, they are vocal and they are legion.   These guys are usually found on the sport’s message boards where they can ‘hit and run’ on any given topic thread and leave people having to take time to look up what they wrote about.

 

As a public service to you, here is a great website that explains in excruciating detail just WTF they are talking about.  Here is an example why that link is necessary to be bookmarked on your computer. Say you read this:

“Remember when Huge Green would slide from the 3o Tech to the 3 tech before the snap to cover the B gap and Ricky Jackson would bull rush around the corner from the 80?  That was Boss!”

 The last sentence was more like ’70s idiot speak.   Here is a partial chart that clears up any confusion you may have about offensive play calling.  Study it as there will be a quiz next Monday:

football terms chart

That’s a bit different then Pitt’s old standard playcall of “Throw the goddamn ball to Ditka you idiot!”

Here is a great listing of terms from there:

100% definition of the effort level demanded by coaches who majored in math or science

110% definition ot the effort level demanded by coaches who majored in physical education

SOME BASKETBALL STUFF:

For the basketball fans on here let me share this gem with you also.  Going back to Pitt Nation Sports;  writer Stratton Nash did an excellent two-part series on “Pitt Basketball Recruiting – A Decade in Review” pitt20basketball-422516900

Here is Part One of that article then follow up by reading Part Two for the full info dump.  It is well written and informative.  Here is Stratton’s intro and it keeps getting better from there on…

Keeping with my theme of unlocking truths, half-truths and non-truths, I offer another attempt to identify which of the three truths apply for a college basketball program to have a recruiting home-base for the head coach position to be a valuable one, or to be viewed as an upper echelon program.

I’ve followed Pitt football and basketball recruiting for a long time, but only in the last few years have I noticed the frequency by which this statement was being made by Jamie Dixon, reported by Pittsburgh media and discussed by Pitt Basketball fans.

 Look Back Saturday tomorrow…

15 thoughts on “Pitt POV’s Friday Football Roundup

  1. With how the season ended I must agree with Narduzzi’s conclusion that the season was OK at best. No way should he have been “happy” when he was walking off the field after the Miami and Navy games to end the season.

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  2. How the heck can Jester Weah, All American be listed 5th?!!! Should be 1A. 🙂 I hope he makes me eat enough crow to be sick to my stomach. The picture of the guy in the basement room with the computer is a young wwb. 🙂 Gotta read this article seriously later.

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  3. Ollison start in front of Connor? Hell no!

    If Connor is healthy he starts, end of story. Now that is a big ‘if’. Also, just because he starts doesn’t mean he plays a lot. It will depend on how camp goes. Even if he isn’t back shape-wise, he should start just as a tribute to his effort.

    When Connor is healthy he is twice the back that Ollison is.

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    1. Not – you are greatly exaggerating – I listed what Ollison’s numbers would have been had he got the same amount of snaps last season as Conner did in 2014 and here they are again:

      Given Ollison’s 5.3 ypc average if he had Conner’s 298 carries he would have had 1579 yards and 16 TDs. Yes, not as good as Conner but pretty damn good overall considering this is what the latest Star RBs for Pitt did in their best years. Look at the numbers below then remember what Ollison would have had with as many carries as these other RBs had.

      Ollison – 212/ 1121 yards, 5.3 ypc and 11 TDs

      Graham – 164/ 1042 yards, 5.4 ypc and 11 TDs

      McCoy – 308/ 1488 yards, 4.8 ypc and 21 TDs (Ollison would have had 1632 yards)

      Hayward – 378/ 1791 yards, 4.6 ypc and 12 TDs (Ollison would have had 2003 yards)

      Lewis – 325/ 1799 yards, 5.4 ypc and 17 TDs (Ollison would have had 1722 yards)

      Richards – 232/ 1228, 5.8 ypc and 8 TDs (Ollison would have had 1229 yards)

      So you can see that Ollison was right up there as far as production goes, very good actually. Only Graham had less carries in his ‘best’ season than Ollison.

      I think because he’s in Conner’s shadow – especially with all that has happened to Conner over the last year – that the fans really underestimate just what Ollison did for us last season.

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  4. russb, this may surprise you but I am by no means a computer nerd …. FYI, I am on my home computer no more that 3 or 4 hours per week.

    My job, which is where I’m at right now, consists of acquiring request for bids, coordinating them, ensure that all of the information required is included, and then submitting them to ensure that the bid is received by the due date. I have to have a fair amount of legal and contracts, finance, product and company knowledge as well as being able to write in business terms.

    Overall, I am responsible for nearly $100M per year in bid value. However, my work cycle is very sporadic. There are times when I am busy from 6:30 am, when I usually arrive at work, until 6 pm. Then other days, all I do surf the web .. most news, entertainment and sports sites but my main focus is Pitt BB and FB. Right now, after submitting 4 bids from last Friday thru this past Wed, I don’t have anything due until Aug 2. My next responsibility (always subject to change) is a conference call on Mon afternoon.

    This is why you see wwb so often

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  5. Don’t understand the Ollison demotion as Hall showed me less than James.
    As for Connor starting, I suspect that he will start if for no other reason than to credit him for his accomplishments.
    But when the rubber hits the road,Mitch will be best man standing, as it should be.

    And wasn’t Bam Bradley injured? Otherwise, if he is passed by a walk-on, then there must be issues we haven’t heard.

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    1. Gasman – Bradley was dinged up and missed a few spring practices but i doubt that had much effect n the proposed two-deep. And we do have to remember that this listing is fluid as can be. After two weeks in fall camp is when the staff starts listing & practicing the 1s and 2s … last week of camp for sure.That gives them that full week of camp and ‘game week’ (not a full week this year) to get ready for Villanova.

      Also – I do know Idowu was pretty impressive in the spring. But two years ago i think most fans though we’d see both Grigsby and Bradly as starters last season then Caprara played his way into that spot.

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  6. If Narduzzi said he was happy with 8 wins, the fan base would jump all over him and you know it. There’s no way that he can admit that. This is just a non-issue to me.

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  7. You are 200% correct when you say that Whitehead needs to be at the position on the field that he is the most spectacular at, couldn’t agree more. However, it’s such an odd dilemma that Conklin, Canada and Narduzzi(a possible law-firm?) in making sure he isn’t under-utilized given his background on offense, too. Still, I think borrowing is a great way to state how he could be used on offense. A play here, a play there, just enough to change the pace.

    As I referenced, there is fuel in the run that Manti Te’o had in 2012 that makes it appear favorable for Whitehead to be in contention for the award by – as you said – being great at his home position on defense.

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    1. Chris, I got you and there have been good two-way players who did very well on both sides of the ball. Call me cautious but I dread Pitt losing a superstar because we risked him without it being necessary to do so.

      But I could see this scenario playing out: Pitt’s offense gets off to a terribly slow start and it costs us wins we could have had if the offense played as well as in 2015 (and that wasn’t a great offense). If we really needed quick-strike points then I could see doing what you advocate. In that case Whitehead may be the answer and risk be damned.

      But now? I think we keep him as we had him last season – plying his trade on defense where he is being recognized as one of the best in the land and acting as a shot of adrenaline every once in a while on offense.

      Another reason that supports your case is Boyd being gone. He wasn’t much of a big-play guy last season at all and that was missed. Whitehead can fill that void if necessary.

      My point is used him as absolutely necessary and who knows – we may have others on offense have breakout years to diminish the need for Whitehead on offense completely.

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  8. Dontez Ford will do a good imitation of Tyler Boyd this season. 1000+Yd totals with solid YAC stats. The only thing that will suffer is his TD totals since I feel we will have so many other weapons to option with when we get within the red zone. With Orndoff at TE, a strong running game and other up & coming receivers like Henderson for example in the slot to change up with when the field shortens, there will be plenty of other guys to put six up on the scoreboard with. You heard it here 1st.

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  9. The Untouchables (former Pitt BB alumni) are putting on quite a show in the Elite 8 against the City of Gods on ESPN 2.

    Up 13 at the end of the 1st half.

    HTP!

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  10. The Untouchables are down 3 with 4 minutes to play – blew a big lead, missing free throws and lay-ups.

    $2 million on the line…

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