Pitt POV’s Friday Round-up; Aug 5th

We finally get to read a new Redshirt Diaries entry from Craig Myers of the Post-Gazette. Apparently Pat Narduzzi did a Q&A show in front of a live audience yesterday somewhere… I guess the FAN’s studio.

With the start of training camp just a handful of days away, Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi joined the morning show on 93.7 The Fan for an hour this morning, where he was asked a wide range of questions pertaining to his team and the program as a whole entering the 2016 season.

Below are some highlights from that conversation. To hear the full interview (it’s about 28 minutes long), click here.

He makes a point that we have been talking about for sometime and that is the three RB sets:

This goes in line with what Narduzzi referenced last month about potentially using James Conner as a wide receiver. It’s not clear whether all three players would be in the backfield at the same time — I’d doubt that — but having them out there in some capacity seems like more than a strong possibility.

“How would you like to tackle James Conner on a bubble out there?” Narduzzi asked when explaining the scheme. I wouldn’t, Pat.

My thoughts on that are rather skeptical.  First off we have WRs and a TE who can split out wide.  But even more so I think we’ll see him used as a decoy if he splits out.  Right away the DB will be screaming his head off when he sees that body in front of him – which will bring either the Safety in and/or a LB over to help.  That opens up more space behind the LBs to pass of opens up a spot where the departing LB was.

Conner will be more like a Bubble receiver out there than an actual WR.  While we are talking about receivers and the passing game here is a great visual reference.ath-263-passing-game-13-638

Those three routes on the near right are what we’ll see most for Conner (and Ibrahim especially).   Those are the Bubble, Flat and Wheel.  The Wheel and the Bubble are moving routes and the flat is a quick pass out to the RB who just moves sideways a bit.  That graphic  has interesting descriptions of what the receivers should do with their feet next to the routes’ names.

Narduzzi says all the right things about Boyd but really reiterates what we have written on here many times – that we have more targets out there without him.  It will be a different and better passing game this season.

He also said this: “They (WRs) will win jobs through camp – they have to make the plays in the game and not just in practice“… hear that Jester?

Another bright spot of his interview was this tidbit:

On running back Rachid Ibrahim: “Through the spring, he limped around coming off an Achilles tendon injury. It’s a long, hard injury, but he came back from it. Just a week ago, watching him run out there, it’s the first time I’ve seen him get into a full stride without looking like he’s limping. He’s finally through that.”

We’ll remember that Ibrahim was injured all of last season. I think his return is as important as any personnel issue going into 2016 save maybe Conner’s health. Especially if we are to believe Narduzzi and Canada that we’ll use ‘all weapons at our disposal this year.’  BTW – coaches say things like that and don’t do it sometimes – this year will be a good time to really spread the ball out.

Ibrahim was the #2 back going into the 2015 season and is very talented. Fans forget just how productive he was as an understudy for Conner in 2014 and we have to understand that no one was getting the ball much when Conner was on that record-setting roll that season. But Ibrahim has been good for us especially with that 8.0 ypc average.:

Ibrahim

Speaking of injuries and what it does to a depth chart… and how those depth charts change very quickly sometimes read this:

The great news is that Pitt has enough depth at running back get through Ibrahim’s injury. Starter and All-American candidate James Conner is going to eat up a lot of carries right off the top. Sophomore Chris James, his primary backup, should see an increased role. Beyond that pair, the Panthers have true freshman Darrin Hall, who the staff has already said will play, and redshirt freshman Qadree Ollison.

So- after Ibrahim’s injury it was Conner, James, Hall and Ollison in that order.  Afdter Conner’s injury a week later it was Ollison, Hall and James.  This is how the RB depth chart changed and produced over the first four games of the year:

Youngstown State: Opener, Conner starts and is injured.  Ollison kicks ass in a record setting game:

YSU Rushing

We win that game. Damn – 207 yards, is its his job to lose?  Then Akron without Conner:

AK2

We win!! Ollison got the lion’s share of carries.  He’s the man!  Now to Iowa:

Iowa rushing

Woop – How did that happen? Darrin Hall tries to stake a claim but with a 2.7 ypc that ain’t going to happen.  Onto VT:

VT rushing

Ollison back on top and stays there for the rest of the season, eventually ending up with 1121 yards and 11 TDs on the strength of a 5.3 ypc clip.  That was also the beginning of the end for Chris James’ time at Pitt.

Back to the Narduzzi interview:  Talking about Whitehead the interviewer asks if he’ll have an offensive package.  Well fans, Narduzzi pretty much puts the nail in the “Whitehead should play both ways” argument when he said ‘We have more weapons on offense so we don’t have to but there will be his package out there.’  In context that means maybe a little bit but he’s a fantastic defender and that’s what he’s out there for.

Trib-Review has Chris Peak’s Podcast from yesterday. His Five Pieces of Advice for Narduzzi is interesting.

On a separate note the Pittsburgh City Paper’s  Mike Wysocki has a great article about the three Olympians from the Pittsburgh area. Nice headline also.

“A trio of female athletes will carry Pittsburgh’s hopes into the Summer Olympics

Once cornhole gets its Olympic credentials, we’ll quickly see more Western Pa. Olympians on this list.”

Here is another good piece by Chris Logue over at Pitt Nation Sports and here is why I like his writing:

As I alluded to last week, keeping mental focus during a brutal week two battle against Penn State that guides them to Stillwater in week three to face a fast Oklahoma State team will be battle number one and a stretch in that numerous question marks will have answers beside them afterwards. Again, excuses in the results should be kept at the waist. Or buried, whichever. This isn’t the year for that.
 
It’s not even the most difficult two game stretch of the season. Oh-so unfortunately.
 
Penn State transitioning to Oklahoma State will be the season bench-mark. How did they perform, how did they rebound and how did the progression forward continue? Those are answers to take with us through the season, at least until the Miami into Clemson trips.
 
It’ll be either a dream, a bad dream or a tragic nightmare.

 

 

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15 thoughts on “Pitt POV’s Friday Round-up; Aug 5th

  1. We beat Va Tech by less than a TD. Peterman had 15 carries for 4 yards (which means he had his share of sacks.) Meanwhile, Ollison carried the ball only 4 times more with a 6.4 average. That day, Ollison’s average in a Power-I set with a TE and H-back was 3 carries for 72 yards … for 3 1st downs and 1 TD (the only one Pitt scored in the 2nd half — 2 plays in.

    I am so damned glad that we have a new offensive coordinator who (hopefully) utilize our strengths.

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  2. Reed, definitely agree that Ibrahim is a valuable add this year. He was very productive two years ago and a great change up for Conner. He has a real knack for getting yards on 3rd and long. He’s got a certain shiftiness that Conner, Ollison and even Hall have yet to show.

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  3. We don’t have enough footballs to go around to give all of our running backs much time on the field(barring injury). And let’s not forget we have some posters here looking to give some of our incoming freshman a look see at RB. Yikes!!!

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  4. Off topic but maybe a lesson here for zealous fans who go over-the-top insane when a recruit commits to another school. Spencer Lee, a senior at Franklin Regional in Murraysville, is actually the No. 1 wrestling recruit in high school at any weight level, and is the only high schooler training with USA wrestling in Rio. Here is an excerpt from a USA Today story about him:

    But when it came time to college, Lee chose over Iowa over Penn State. He made his decision in April, he said, out of respect for both programs. Neither was as aggressively recruiting other wrestlers around Lee’s weight so he wanted to give the program he didn’t select a chance to pursue alternatives. The Iowa coaches will be in Rio with Team USA and also get a chance to spend time with Lee.

    “I got some bad reactions,” Lee said of how some in Pennsylvania received his choice. “One guy tweeted me, ‘Congrats, you ruined my 6-year-old son’s day.’ It’s not really your 6-year-old’s decision where I go to college. I would love to make your 6-year-old’s day, but I really like Iowa. A lot of people said I’m a traitor.

    on my soap box .. I want to remind everyone that these are 16 and 17 year olds, many being courted by some of the top programs around, and being told all kinds of things they want to hear by all schools (including Pitt.) It’s the kid’s life .. let him sink or swim on his own.

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    1. Good reminder for sure.

      Spencer and another western PA wrestler (Teasdale) were both top recruits nationally, and both committed to Iowa around the same time. While PS has been the top wrestling program in the country for the last six or seven years, Iowa is no slouch and has a rich wrestling history as well. These two wrestlers were probably recruited by all the top programs.

      What’s impressive to me is that both Spencer and Teasdale are good at both folkstyle and freestyle wrestling. Folkstyle is what you see in U.S. high schools and colleges. Freestyle (and Greco Roman) is more international and is different than folkstyle. Good folkstyle wrestlers are not always good freestyle wrestlers…

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  5. Reed, thanks for an excellent post, another in a long list. We Pitt fans are fortunate to get your first rate analysis on such a regular basis. I know I look forward to your posts every day. Camp is just a few days away; we have so many promising things to watch for this year: Conner’s return, Ibraham’s and Ollison’s play, the “new” passing game, our talented deep offensive line (among the best in the country), the second year of Narduzzi’s defense, the Penn State game, J. Whitehead’s play — and we’ll watch how the defensive line performs, and even look to see how many fans show up at Heinz, etc. There’s lots of anticipation; it should be an exciting season. Keep up the great work! HTP!

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  6. Narduzzi seems like a great guy and more importantly a honest man as far as I know. It’s fun to listen to him but he really doesn’t say all that much. A few of my takes on the interview starting with Rachid Ibrahim, Didn’t want to hear he was still limping around a few weeks ago. His strength is speed and he won’t help PITT much this season if he hasn’t regained his quickness and speed. Another comment on Tyrique Jarrett a little more encouraging. PITT will need better play from the D-Line for sure and lastly on Ollison. Sounds like the young man dedicated himself during the off season and he will surely help especially if Rachid Ibrahim may be limited.

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  7. You can bet with our stable of RB’s Pitt will see 8 and 9 defensive players in the box many times this year. It’s critical IMO that Peterman have a good year in getting the vertical passing in sync. He certainly will be given ample chances in succeeding at that phase of the game with how I believe Pitt will be defensed this coming season.

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  8. Some pretty sad news being reported at PittsburghSportsToday on the status of some of the current Pitt football players. Incoming freshmen Hill may be out of football forever with an enlarged aorta. Also incoming freshman Gilbert has a heart condition that may be treatable. Defensive lineman Moody out of football forever with a cervical spine issue and offensive lineman Grimm out for this season.

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  9. Moody is staying on as a student assistant, Hill will remain on scholarship as a medical exemption, Grimm is out with a hip, & TE Clark is out for the year with a knee. Clark was gonna sit for transferring anyway.

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  10. QB & Defense. Both need to make plays this season. Tough schedule. Pitt may have a better team & a worse record than last year??? Win the games you are favored to win and of course CRUSH pedo st!!!!!!! H2P.

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