How We Look on Paper

Pittsburgh Sports Now has a ‘five story lines going into camp‘ piece up and they make good points.   But since this is what I do I’ll take a friendly shot, for fun, at the article and place a rebuttal of my own.

Mike Vukovcan (I’ll call him Mike V. because his name is hard to pronounce even in my head) is clearly drinking the Narduzzi Kool-Aid when he says this:

On paper, Pat Narduzzi looks to have a 8-9 win team and if things break right, Pitt could be looking at 10 wins. While that might now seem like much, consider that since 1981, Pitt has only had 1 ten win season (2009, 10-3).”

We may have a different idea of what “on paper” means here.  When I hear the words ‘on paper’ it means stats and historical facts. One formal definition is:

“…on paper definition, meaning, what is on paper: judging something by how it has been planned rather than how it really works in practice.”

So using that as a basis I’m more pessimistic than he is for the upcoming season.

Since the 2016 schedule is also written on paper then I’d say that in theory Pitt looks to have a 7-8 win team at best. I look at the published schedule and see some games where we could easily come out of there with an “L” vice a “W”.  Again – just looking at it with the same eyes as, let’s say, a West Coast sports writer who is only looking at the team info and knows nothing abound the quality of the staff, the players or the real background of the team’s makeup.

When I look at the factual particulars of the seven main units that comprise the team out on the field (three offense, three defense and special teams) I see only two that I’m content will get their jobs done well and that is the Offensive Line and the Running Backs.  OK – The special teams look pretty good also.

To me everything else is a tossup.

Let’s look at the team as if we knew nothing about them but what is published…(a two-deep graphic is at the end of the article).

At QB I can’t be sure Peterman is going to be in his good mid-2015 form because to be brutally honest he sucked hind tit in the last two games.  The momentum at that position was markedly downward and helped end the year with two losses.  Let’s not even talk about the QB2 situation because Stocker has no resume’ to speak of at QB. I see that info and am not impressed.

As to our receivers… although I do feel that WR Dontez  Ford will have a big year and that we’ll do better in the passing game department – that is really just my gut feeling.  On paper our WRs are mostly inexperienced and have been non-productive in the past.  Aside from Ford (26 catches) hardly anyone has caught more than a few passes; Challingsworth had 12 catches last year, Henderson had 2 and Weah had zero.  That is a total of 14 passes by three of the four two-deep receivers.

Adding to the nervous making we see from the stats pages that the Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada is banking on Jester Weah to play opposite Ford as the WR2. Weah hasn’t been able to catch a ball thrown his way in two years of eligibility.

That unit is not something that looks good on paper at all.

We have one experienced TE in Orndoff and then no one at that position who looks capable of filling Holtz’s blocking TE role… at least not as well as he did it. Yes we have guys who have switched position over to TE, most notably Jaymar Parrish but he has one catch as a TE.

On defense… well, our interior Defensive Line  is scary and not in the way you want it to be scary.  It is scaring us instead of the other guys. It is filled with dime-a dozen talents and that’s not good.  We are filling out that part of the DL two-deep with players who haven’t produced a measurable lick so far in their careers at Pitt.

Of these names which one makes you feel good about stopping the inside running game and putting pressure on the QB?  Soto, Jarrett, Taleni and Moody.   That’s not a  Murders Row there is it?  Take a look at last season’s defensive statistics and see if you can even find some of those names in the upper half of the listing…

At DE, and on paper, Hendrix has about three minutes of playing time in college ball and no production to speak of.  DE Ejuan Price, while great on paper, went through some pretty poor dry periods in getting pressure on the QB.  Price is a good one but again, on the other side is a kid we hope will finally produce but has not done anything yet in Rori Blair.

Behind them at LB are some gamers and kids who have done pretty well so far but just like the DL we are populating that two-deep with guys who didn’t get any PT last season like Zeise and Brightwell.  So on paper that is a real concern.

That unit, in tandem with the DL, was ranked 40th against the run giving up 149 yards per game and 18 TDs.  Not the worst showing but not that good either.  Among 2016’s prospective front seven we have no influx of proven talent…  not even just a little bit as the second string LBs have nothing to show in the way of production because there was none.

Wirginis had some PT but again there isn’t one player other than SR Matt Galambos that you can point to and say he’s one of the better ones in the business… and that’s a stretch but he does have good numbers as seen here… and if we are looking at pure facts then his progression shows he’ll be a good one in 2016 also:

galambos statsThe defensive secondary has to get better because, as much as we like those kids, they were pretty bad against the pass last season.  Ranked 66th nationally they allowed our opponents 2791 yards in the air for another 18 TDs.

We got torched with big passing plays on a regular basis.  While we have a bona fide star in Safety Jordan Whitehead the other DBs are not world beaters.  DBsHere is who we have planned as of today for that unit. Sorry, but other than Whitehead I don’t see any players there that would lead an impartial observer to jump up and down.  The chart below shows what we did in our pass defense work last year.

You can see that our opponent’s average per catch is very good… meaning we were bad at it.  214.7 passing yards given up per game is bad also.  That means opponents were able to get big chunks of yardage on a regular basis. Plus only 10 INTs (78th nationally) for just 135 INT return yards and one TD.  That is pretty poor all around actually.

PASSING YARDAGE  Pitt   2478  Opponent   2791 
   Comp-Att-Int  212-343-9  215-385-10 
   Average Per Pass  7.2  7.2 
   Average Per Catch  11.7  13.0 
   Average Per Game  190.6  214.7 
   TDs Passing  21  18 

But how do I really feel about the team going into this upcoming season? 

I always save my public predictions until the fall camp is at least two weeks in and the opener’s two-deep is set. One of the reasons for that is that is the point when the staff has gotten their eyes on the last year’s recruiting class who are coming off a redshirt year and are ready to contribute.

Along with the redshirts the staff also gets to put the new recruits, the class of 2016 in this case, in uniform and out into practices to see which ones of those kids can contribute right away. So the dynamics change a ton from the end of spring drills to the end of fall camp because we basically have about 35 or so new players to consider playing during the season.

But in the spirit of fun that this article is intended I’ll jump forward a bit and throw out some of my gut feelings now.

First – forget about what the “on paper” actually says – it tells only half the story when it come to college football.  We have so many new players coming and going through the roster in any given year that the cast of characters changes yearly and even weekly in some cases.

With that I have great hopes that our offense under Matt Canada will blossom – to a very big extent actually. We are going to have a good running game with Conner, Ollison, Hall and Ibrahim running behind that talented and experienced OL.

I like Peterman and while we can’t say those last two games were a fluke, we can look at the rest of his body of work and feel confident he’ll grow as a 2nd year starter – especially since we’ll see more of a deep passing game this year.

Our WRs have talent even though they haven’t had a chance to show it yet – Ford will have a breakout year being out of Tyler Boyd’s shadow.  Challingsworth is a good ball player as is Henderson I believe.  They just didn’t have a chance at more receptions with Boyd there.  Weah is the wildcard and I don’t think anyone who knows football can look at him and predict success.

On defense we are in Year Two of Conklin’s defensive schemes and that should settle things down a bit. Now he knows who can do what and can tailor his approach to fit.

I think our DL is, sorry to say, just what I wrote above – I don’t see any immediate help there even with the rookies 3* Keyshon Camp and 4* Amir Watts because I have no idea how they will do.  Stars really don’t mean much to me and they mean absolutely nothing to the staff coaches.

I think if we are going to get better in the interior of the DL it has to come from better play of the listed two-deep players.  Keep our fingers crossed on that. Transfer rsSO Dewayne Hendricks will beat out Blair and have a very good year for us opposite Price at DE though and I like Folston at DE also – he’s fast and growing.

We are in pretty much same the same scenario with the starting LBs.  Caprara, Galambos and this new kid Idowu (think Bradley in that last starters spot maybe) will have to carry the load and do it better than we did with Grigsby in 2015.  Wirginis is the wildcard here – I have always been high on him but truthfully, I expected him to show up earlier than this season.  He may end up a career back-up.

Brightwell is being talked about at LB also… but the unit is pretty much the same actors as we had on stage last season.

Now – we may get a jolt in the defensive arm with the inclusion of true FR Damar Hamlin at DB.   JR Avonte Maddox is probably set at one corner but the other two-deep CBs can be sat down.  rsFR Henderson is untested and both SR Ryan Lewis and SO Phillip Motley can be beaten out.

Boy – won’t it be great if Hamlin can replicate Whitehead’s true freshman success?  We’ll see, could happen I guess.

Now, those positive spins I have on the intangibles (at this point) doesn’t mean I see 9 or 10 wins coming our way.  I don’t.  I think we’ll see a 7 or possibly an 8 win season again because of the schedule we face.

Unless something drastic happens of course. If out of nowhere Weah plays like Larry Fitzgerald, Galambos channels Scott McKillop and Watts is as quick off the snap and is as tenacious as Aaron Donald… I’ll stick with 7-8 wins.

 

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36 thoughts on “How We Look on Paper

  1. IMO 7-8 wins is reasonable, anything more is a pleasant surprise.

    On the LB situation, I believe some here were hoping for McKee and/or Brightwell to move right in but not sure you can discount 2 or 3 years experience just like that. Also, with better DL play, you will see better LB play … and I’m expecting (hoping) the DL to be the most improved unit this year

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  2. The cornerback position is scary and it’s imperative that Hamlin can start immediately, though that is a lot to put on a true freshman. I sure hope Malik Henderson can be counted on coming off his redshirt year, though there has been no buzz on him. I’m not high on either free safety, but the two are seniors so maybe there is the kind of play you expect from a kids with experience.

    The defensive tackles I’m not giving up on yet. Moody and Taleni are redshirt juniors and these were the type of recruits who needed three years in the weight room to battle in the trenches, so they could be much better in 2016. I don’t know what to expect from Soto. He was a kid who needed a redshirt season and has been treading water ever since. It’s a shame when that happens to a kid since he gets just one college career.

    On offense, Pitt needs to run the ball 65 percent of the time, throw it 30 percent and the other five percent should be jet sweeps or reverses to Ffrench and Henderson. The O-line MUST stay healthy and play even better than it did in 2015.

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  3. LeftCoast, Last year our Time of Possession (TOP) were over 2 minutes less than in 2014 .. which wouldn’t have mattered if we scored more. But we didn’t .. in 014, we averaged nearly 3 ppg more than last year. Sadly, we had the horses to improve on both of those stats but IMO they weren’t utilized properly.

    This year, I expect better utilization of our resources. And more TOP also helps the defense, especially the DL which will get bigger breathers

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  4. The only definite wins I see are Virginia and Syracuse, and perhaps Villanova. I saw CBS Sports had us as a darkhorse team ala UNC last year to win the Coastal. You can perhaps do that if you have a dynamic QB ala Marquis Williams who can carry a game by himself. Maybe Peterson will be that guy, and then again maybe not. I’m really not liking Weah being the #2 WR, but I am hoping the Flowers or Ffrrenchie kid come in and offer something else, other than Dontez Ford and Zack Whatever. I don’t see much YAC from anything that graced the field last year. In other words, the Ground Game better be YUGE !

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  5. If PITT were playing last years schedule I would be all in with an 8, 9, or 10 win season. They still have some holes but the depth is building up fast.I hear all the caution and I do agree. Still I am a firm believer in Narduzzi. I would say this being the second year under his coaching is the most prominent reason I think PITT will be good. Yeah the players are in their second season as well but I think coaching will improve immensely. Closely followed by the players. One other thing, I think Rory Blair is better than some think and showed flashes last year. DE for PITT is a strong unit.

    PITT gets 8 or 9 wins I will very happy. I expect 7 wins and that will be respectful. I just want to see a better prepared team that limits stupid mistakes and show effort each game and every play.

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  6. Great article, Reed.

    Personally i am right there with you at 7 wins. With the very highly thought of new coaches in pitts division, georgia tech possibly getting healthy again, and the tough ooc games its a very difficult schedule.

    As for position groups, the o line and rbs should be quite good. Peterman should be solid, although, i dont see a huge breakout season happening for him. At wr, i think its imperative that ford steps up and, just as importantly, henderson, tipton, ffrench/flowers show flashes. If that doesnt happen then i think our wr’s will severely hold the entire offense back.

    Defensively im big on the de’s. Dt’s absolutely need camp and watts to produce because, outside of jarrett, i havent even seen flashes from the guys already on the roster. Im very very optimistic about damar hamlin, therran coleman, and george hill at corner. I think that all 3 of them could make an impact right away, but of course theres no garauntees.

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  7. I keep reading that we have good talent at WR? They have only had one player in front of them for a few seasons now and couldn’t break through. Comparing to other ACC teams, were weak at WR, no other way to spin it.

    The offensive recruiting this year so far leaves a lot to be desired. The Canada hire has not moved the needle. The run heavy offensive style has something to do with it….think QB’s and WR’s.

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  8. With the schedule we have this year along with a new offensive coordinator a seven or eight win season would be very acceptable. Do not see us having a chance against Clemson (at Clemson) nor against OSU (at OSU). One of those seven or eight wins needs to be against PSU at home otherwise a seven or eight win season will be considered a disaster.

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  9. Reed thank you for not drinking the PSN kool-aid. They need to stick to recruiting news. If I’d wanted to read a hastily-written and poorly researched season outlook that didn’t add anything to what’s already been out there for six months I’d have clicked on over to Cardiac hill.

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  10. I wish we would never have won 8 games last year because now there is all these expectations on this team (DW was right). Joking aside I have always hated the prediction game because you are making forward projections based upon last years information. On paper the schedule looks more daunting than last year so it is possible to me that the team could be improved but end up with a worse record. If PSU is a win then 6-6 would be ok and anything above that is a solid season in my book. What I really want is for Pitt to finally not look lost on defense when they are facing a mobile QB…that is when I will know the defense has improved. Offensively if they say they are going to throw down field more and utilize the tight ends…then please actually do it and don’t just say it in a sound bite.

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  11. I know I’m already pretty tough on Vuk and his methods for covering recruiting, but I now also question his football knowledge. Reading his recruit breakdowns, I figured he made things sounds rosey mainly because recruits probably read his articles. But after the following statement, I really question his football knowledge:

    “On paper, Pat Narduzzi looks to have a 8-9 win team and if things break right, Pitt could be looking at 10 wins.”

    I would love to A) know what paper he’s looking at, and B) know how drunk/high he was when reading it.

    These types of statements make me really question the football knowledge of the guys over at PghSN because it reeks of hometown bias. Sure Pitt can break through and win 10 games, that’s not the part I have a problem with. Saying this could be a 8-9 win team (floor record) is what makes me scratch my head.

    On paper, IMO, we look like a team that could struggle to win 8 regular season games, and I would not be all that surprised if we win only 6.

    On paper, we are out matched against UNC, OSU, PSU, Miami, and seem pretty evenly matched with VT. And just a reminder, our coaches still haven’t proved we can defend the Triple Option so GT is a toss-up. I could very well see losses in all those games, granted I do think we’ll beat Va Tech (since we’ve had their number recently) and GT b/c we did last season.

    Very troubling how much their fandom goes into their “analysis” articles. I hope their prediction is solely for clicks, just like everything he tweets…

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    1. The triple option scares me too. That’s why I feel the win over GT last season at Bobby Dodd Stadium was such a solid Pitt victory, even when considering GT’s off year in 2015. That GT game is a troubling thought if our defense remains a step slower than them on defense this year. I continue to see this season as one that builds on it’s own momentum in order to be successful beyond .500.

      The psu game, although played down by guys like Reed because it is an OOC contest with no bearing on the ACC Coastal Crown aspirations that this squad has, IMO, HUGE consequences. Those who have never experienced a Pitt vs. psu game 1st hand before cannot fully appreciate the hype and vitriol that the fan bases of both schools will whip up for this contest by game day. The winner of that game obtains the PA football bragging rights for the year and that injects a whole bunch of MOJO into the winner’s season going forward. Believe me, both psu & Pitt will provide more than enough old dinosaur fans to reignite that rivalry in the younger fan bases of both schools right there at Heinz Field come September 10th. The next three years will only make those rivalry flames grow higher!

      Unlike Emel above, I don’t think that Pitt has any problems taking care of the Wildcats on 9/3. The return of James Conner in uniform along with it being the start of a new season of Pitt football will get enough butts in those yellow seats at Heinz for a good atmosphere and James will be the catalyst for a solid win. We will not be looking past Villanova.

      The next week will be pivotal however. The self confidence that this team will garner beating those pompous a$$holes from creepy valley will go a long way in determining the W-L record in our next four game stretch thereafter. Losing, by comparision, could leave a lasting detrimental mark on this team’s pyschie however.

      Beat psu and I think we have a solid chance to play beyond our potential going into the OK ST. game. If that game goes our way, ending up 5-1 in the early season is a real potential. By contrast, losing to psu could see us floundering going forward, just as easily to a 2-4 early season record, ugh! We must take care of business come 9/10.

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  12. Ghost – cast your wishes for some other team please. Pitt won 8 games last year – that is a fact. If a program is going to get better, it has to start somewhere. Last year was the start of the Narduzzi era. Let’s get some optimism on here.

    Winning can be contagious – this team can win 10 games this year. Not one game (other than Clemson) can be penciled in as a loss – heck UNC almost beat Clemson last year and in my opinion Pitt had a better team than UNC. It’s just that our OC did not play to our team’s strength and we lost.

    Emel – be careful about penciling Virginia down for a W – they snagged a transfer QB from TCU who is a runner & gunner – he plays the style that Bronco likes. They have some good players at the skill positions and on D. But they are very thin on both lines.

    I think all of our starters will be above average – we need to build some depth and find the next T.Boyd. Oh, and OC Canada should plan to run the ball a lot – that would go along way to making Pitt great again.

    I can’t wait for camp to start so we can see what kind of team we’ll have this year. Wait – that won’t happen as the practices will be closed.

    Guessing the pedo game will be the first time we see how good we possibly can be.

    HTP!

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  13. If you look at the schedule right now, Pitt well could be favored for 8 games. The 7 home games and at UVa. Yes, GT will be tough but we beat them at their place last year. Yes, VT will be tough but they haven’t beat us at home since Mike Vick played for them .. and we beat them at their place last year. Yes, PSU may be tough but I’m betting we will be favored.

    And of course, as the year goes along we can be not as good as hoped, and other teams may be better than expected. But right now, 7 or maybe even 8 wins is not outlandish.

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  14. Do we dare dream that this is the year that Pitt breaks through and overachieves?

    I think it is actually possible. If Conner returns to form as a touchdown machine.

    If Hendrix is as advertised and with Price we have a consistent pass rush.

    Of course we also need Peterman to be consistently good. Also some of the new guys to contribute.

    This could be a very good, possibly great year.

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  15. Sorry Reed if these videos bug you? — I don’t think shared+embedded youtube videos slow down the blog for visitors though right??

    …….That throwing motion though 😦 …….

    I screamed from the top of every tree last year that straight-up, Chad Voytik was not a Division 1 QB and he had to taken off the field. I figured too that Pat Narduzzi would see everything he needed to see after a few snaps and bring in a new guy….and I man ANY new guy….

    That said Nathan Peterman is 150% the starter until he begins handing balls off to the other team or gets hurt. And I’m okay with that Because he is by-FAR the best game QB Pitt has had since Bill Stull. I like Peterman a ton and I think he’s got a big Heart and, “Serviceable” Division 1 talent.

    But he’s already so hamstrung as a passing QB with his “Double-Clutch” motion. Our Offensive line is Elite and frankly so are Pitt’s RB’s with Conner, Ollison, Ibrahim, Hall and maybe even young Moss. But defenses are gonna throw 9 guys in the box from snap one this season……Can Nathan Peterman step up? Has he gotten better this offseason?? That’s huge too, has Nathan Peterman just improved overall with an entire true offseason at Pitt as the incumbent starter?

    —– I’m sure it’s wayyy to late for him to get that Kink out of his throwing motion. It takes so much power and zip off his ball, makes his release way to awkward to snap off on the run, makes his short passes and screens awkward to deliver —and plus it takes more time….We’ll see —- just not ‘Bullish on Nate’ right now dunno why?

    I’m all with you on your wins vs. losses view here. This schedule is brutal — as in our Pitt panthers went from having (literally, not hyperbole here) maybe the single easiest schedule in all of Power 5 last to… well, a very legit schedule this year.

    Miami is *Back* with Richt, and they’re already pulling a James Franklin and “Dominating the State” —- except as many posters here might note, that State is freakin’ Florida and not Pennsylvania! lol

    North Carolina is going to be tough every year now after that staff got their players and continues to recruit. Virginia Tech is going to be tough again under Fuente after sagging in Beamer’s last years. Plus now Pitt faces a *Real* coach at Virgnia in Bronco Mendenhall.

    —— That being said, as many here must feel — Pitt always had the “Way”: great, great recruiting grounds, great, great school, *Good Enough* stadium that is essentially for all intensive purposes *almost-on* campus, great facilities. They call that a “Sleeping Giant”. But only with a Chancellor who Values football, and a great Head Coach with enough financial support, could Pitt ever have the *WILL*.

    Just to use a comparison (different styles and culture of course but for Success) — Pitt should be north-east Baylor (minus our coaches trying to turn blind-eyes to players clearly doing terrible things. Handle it, and its over.) — complete with how Baylor DOMINATED Texas this last decade we’ll do to Penn State

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  16. Ok, let’s stay on point. On paper, the schedule is more favorable if you look at it more closely. As an example, GT plays Vandy, Clempson,Miami and then Pitt in successive weeks. That favors Pitt in my opinion. Miami plays FSU, NC,@VT, @ND and Pitt in successive weeks, advantage Pitt. VT plays @NC, @Syr, Miami and Pitt in successive weeks, advantage Pitt.

    The schedule has some tough games on it for sure, but I think we actually get a break in some close match-up games because of our opponents schedules prior to our game. A different slant on paper, but so much in sports, as in life, is time, place and circumstance. It would be nice to catch a couple of these teams after a brutal stretch.

    In other good news OSU just got a verbal from the number 2 ranked qb for 2018. The good news is that the QB Arturs Silgowski(?) who is high on Pitt but higher on OSU may have his decision helped a bit. Go get Arturs! He is going to be good.

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  17. That’s it! I’m tearing up my season tickets. Damn, I thought we were going to have a good year! Hell, after the losses to Villanova and Penn State life as a Pitt fan will be over.

    Thanks Reed! And I was so optimistic.

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    1. That’s what I like OBVIOUS sarcasm, unlike that utilized by one of our presidential candidates that employs such a refined subtle form of sarcasm when referring to Russia finding deleted emails. Suuurrre, it was sarcasm, believe me. Idiot.

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    2. @ Jackagain, you are way off worrying about our “no receivers” offense. The loss of Boyd creates a vacuum that will simply suck new blood into this receivers corps for playing time. Unlike others, I’ve by passed stone hands Weah on the depth chart already, go run track my friend. That’s OK, Pitt’s other receivers will be adequate this season. Just watch how Dontez Ford responds to being Pitt’s next go to WR. He not only will have a 1,000+ yd receiving season, he’ll earn it the hard way with solid YAC yardage. Likewise Orndoff gets to finally step out from the large shadow cast by JP Holtz. He reminds me so much of Shanahan from a few years ago. His deficit will be in his TE blocking ability as compared to Holtz, as a receiver however, the guy will be just as good as Holtz was. Remember 40% of the time that Orndoff touched the ball last year, the Panthers were adding six points to the scoreboard.

      The million dollar question will be who comes on strong as the newbies in the group? Challingsworth, not actually a newbie, came on strong towards the end of the year in 15. He’s a very serviceable WR. But maybe somebody else gets a fire lit under them and becomes a phenom in 2016. From what I saw on kickoff returns from Henderson last season, I’m excited to see what he could do in his own YAC production with an open field catch over the middle. Who needs Weah’s speed if Henderson can catch? This kid looks plenty fast enough to me & and he’s shifty in the open field with quick cut change of direction moves. Another guy with potential that was retarded in his development with injury is Tre Tripton. His skill set, ditto as that of Henderson.

      Even if none of these guys can provide that spark required to claim a spot in the WR two deep, we still have a couple real good youngsters coming in as true freshmen. I like what I see in Flowers a lot & although I don’t think he has the impact potential of a freshman Tylor Boyd, he could see playing time as a true Freshman if he comes into fall camp with the same “can do” attitude that Boyd displayed three years ago. And let us not forget about Aaron Matthews either. Although I fully expect him to RS this year, you just never know how these HS stars are going to respond to the competition at the next level. And remember, we stole him from penn state late in the recruiting process because he wanted a shot at WR instead of playing as a DB. So he may have something to prove come fall camp.

      So no worries in our passing game as I see it, especially if Canada is adament about utilizing our RBs split out or out of the back field for pass plays as well. Ibrahim has already proven himself in this regard in 2014 & Conner is a monster in the open field after catching the ball in the flats. Boyd leaves a big hole with his departure but it actually is addition by subtraction. With his absence sprouts opportunities for so many others to prove their worth to this team.

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  18. With our tough schedule, no receivers or inside linebackers, I’d be happy with 7 wins…..as long as one of them is against the pedos.

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  19. Dan – I said 7 or 8 wins! If that isn’t optimism given our last five year record I don’t know what the word means. Sure we can do better – but I need to see Narduzzi win a game against a ‘better’ opponent before I start penciling in wins against schools like OK State, NC, PSU (for the emotional Big Game) and Clemson.

    Dark – I just don’t see the hitch you and others talk about. Peterman gets the ball to the receiver faster than any QB we have had in a long time not named Tom Savage. I know the staff raves about that part of his passing game.

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  20. Wish I could throw a football like Peterman. The coaches should be saying like Jackie Sherill said to Dan Marino – Son, don’t let any coach ever change your throwing motion.

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  21. Yesterday on chris peak’s podcast he talked a lot about how the coaches will likely use the running backs in the pass game a lot more. Even splitting them out wide or in the slot.

    I really really hope that isnt just empty words from the coaches or peak. The more i think about pitts receivers the more worried i am and pitt could be a legit 6 deep at rb. Get them all touches.

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  22. @ Jackagain, you are way off worrying about our “no receivers” offense. The loss of Boyd creates a vacuum that will simply suck new blood into this receivers corps for playing time. Unlike others, I’ve by passed stone hands Weah on the depth chart already, go run track my friend. That’s OK, Pitt’s other receivers will be adequate this season. Just watch how Dontez Ford responds to being Pitt’s next go to WR. He not only will have a 1,000+ yd receiving season, he’ll earn it the hard way with solid YAC yardage. Likewise Orndoff gets to finally step out from the large shadow cast by JP Holtz. He reminds me so much of Shanahan from a few years ago. His deficit will be in his TE blocking ability as compared to Holtz, as a receiver however, the guy will be just as good as Holtz was. Remember 40% of the time that Orndoff touched the ball last year, the Panthers were adding six points to the scoreboard.

    The million dollar question will be who comes on strong as the newbies in the group? Challingsworth, not actually a newbie, came on strong towards the end of the year in 15. He’s a very serviceable WR. But maybe somebody else gets a fire lit under them and becomes a phenom in 2016. From what I saw on kickoff returns from Henderson last season, I’m excited to see what he could do in his own YAC production with an open field catch over the middle. Who needs Weah’s speed if Henderson can catch? This kid looks plenty fast enough to me & and he’s shifty in the open field with quick cut change of direction moves. Another guy with potential that was retarded in his development with injury is Tre Tripton. His skill set, ditto as that of Henderson.

    Even if none of these guys can provide that spark required to claim a spot in the WR two deep, we still have a couple real good youngsters coming in as true freshmen. I like what I see in Flowers a lot & although I don’t think he has the impact potential of a freshman Tylor Boyd, he could see playing time as a true Freshman if he comes into fall camp with the same “can do” attitude that Boyd displayed three years ago. And let us not forget about Aaron Matthews either. Although I fully expect him to RS this year, you just never know how these HS stars are going to respond to the competition at the next level. And remember, we stole him from penn state late in the recruiting process because he wanted a shot at WR instead of playing as a DB. So he may have something to prove come fall camp.

    So no worries in our passing game as I see it, especially if Canada is adament about utilizing our RBs split out or out of the back field for pass plays as well. Ibrahim has already proven himself in this regard in 2014 & Conner is a monster in the open field after catching the ball in the flats. Boyd leaves a big hole with his departure but it actually is addition by subtraction. With his absence sprouts opportunities for so many others to prove their worth to this team.

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  23. Many excellent points by all. At this point I have optimism tempered by past disappointments. It is all too difficult to predict on the past, i.e on paper. What disappoints me most at this point is HCPN closing fall camp to reporters. Rather than high school video I would rather have a knowledgeable person such as Reed pointing out who catches his eye. Come on Nard, it makes sense during the season when putting in game plans and plays, not at camps. You need to generate excitement and not through canned daily propoganda. In deference to Dr. Tom I will avoid humor for as long as I can – unless the Doc gives me laughing gas. 🙂 Damn broke that promise already.

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  24. Peterman does not have a hitch like a Charles Barkley 4 iron. Peterman straight arms the ball which is slow and deliberate. Against good defensive linemen, he will have his passes knocked down at the line. Also, his balls get there a little late because his throwing motion is elongated and too slow. I think that is what is being referenced. No Hitch, no glitch. Straight arm and slow.

    When I looked on paper at our opponents schedule, we have the opportunity to jump on some teams that are coming off multiple weeks of tough games. Those are the ones I identified. That works to our benefit in my opinion.

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  25. Sorry, one last thing about paper. If we study the Rival recruiting stars and compare our last four classes to OK State’s, we compare favorably. So on paper, that game is not a loss like many are predicting. Or, are their texas 2 and 3 stars equivalent to our east coast 4 stars. Maybe, on paper.

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  26. wwb – no, I was just about to post the same question. Good article to read regarding Pitt getting to a greatness level in the mid-70’s, lead by J.Majors and T.Dorsett. Also, I enjoyed the video of TD and the references to Paul Hornung being so distraught over TD running all over the Irish year after year.

    HTP!

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  27. I hope that references to politics can be left off your blog. I read it for PITT sports information, not someone else’s political views. Or religious views. Sorry to get too serious here, but I want an escape from all the political arguing and the religious evangelizing. Sport has always been a comfort place for me because at its purest it rewards the best and ennobles even those who played their best but lost.

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