Time for New Blood on Offense?

The second year of a new head coach’s tenure is where he begins flexing his personnel decision-making muscle.  He has two complete recruiting classes that bear his name to choose from and can begin to start looking at playing talent over experience.

That’s not something 1st year HCs do often because there are so many changes happening with the existing 80+ players on the roster they have to walk a fine line to keep some positive continuity going toward a successful first year.

Pat Narduzzi did that well last season ending up with an eight win season.  That isn’t to say he didn’t change things up,  he sure did and in a big way at some places… like QB.

It takes a leap of faith to replace an incumbent starting QB with another QB who didn’t have much of a track record at all.  In doing that with Voytik and Peterman Narduzzi leaned on the old phrase “Play the best player.”  But as much as sports fans want to think that holds true in all instances, it really doesn’t.

The real phrase should be “Play the best player given the circumstances“.

There are many times that a less physically talented player will sit on the bench when a lesser skilled player is out in the field for extraneous reasons – most often experience in the offensive or defensive schemes being deployed.

That tends to go by the wayside after the HC’s first year because in most cases the offensive and defensive coordinators have been retained over the offseason thus so have their philosophies toward their unit’s planning.  We’ll see that on the defensive side of the ball this season.

The offensive side is a bit of a different story.  We have read camp reports lately that stated new OC Matt Canada’s offense was going to be similar to departed OC Chaney’s with the exception of position labels and other terminology.  As I have written before I wonder just how much of that is true when our offense was so overall ineffective last season.

But let’s say that the staff isn’t just blowing smoke and that’s true.  That means we will be in the second year of schemes continuity and the players, save for the incoming 2016 recruiting class, are familiar with what is being asked of them.

Which means the time is ripe to star really getting Narduzzi’s own players out on the field and building a team that will play ball together this season and in the near future.

Aside from the QB position we saw some other changes in the lineup happen early on due to superb talent rising to the top of the depth chart.  First to come to mind is FR DB Jordan Whitehead usurping JR Pat Amara’s starting role – which ultimately led to Amara’s departure.

We saw Darrin Hall take over the #2 running back spot and forcing Chris James to the bench… and out-of-town.  Now that situation arose due to Conner’s injury and illness but is a fact that happened. And as mentioned above we saw Peterman’s abilities overtake Voytik and the Voytik caught the next train for the station also.

These things aren’t new to Pitt or any other college football team and truth be told is the exact reason I like college ball so much more than the NFL.  I love the individual position battles, even at important positions like QB, and I love the player’s stories and how they handle what comes at them.

I think the best is when a player is dropped from the starting job yet remains upbeat and involved enough to still contribute during the season.   We may see that happen more than once in 2016.

So – who is the new blood we may see fight their way into the two-deep and then possibly into a starting role?

Let’s take a look at the offense today.

At QB the starting job is set.  No one on the roster meets or exceeds Peterman’s skill and QB knowledge and his track record as a starter is well-known.  He wasn’t a star player last season but did well overall. The question at that spot isn’t who will start but who will be in that crucial QB2 role going into Villanova.

For the first time in two years we have heard rsFR Ben Dinucci’s name spoken in conjunction with actual playing time.  His competition is Manny Stocker; a QB turned WR turned QB again. Stocker has no real successful college track record as a QB but he did see the field in numerous games at both NC State as a true FR and then again at Tennessee-Martin as a SO.

I think fans feel that Stocker is only a running QB but that really isn’t the case.  He passed for 2,000 yards and 20 TDs in a Pennsylvania D1-AAAA school – so he’s familiar with throwing the ball.  He’s a legit 6’2″ (stood next to him last Tuesday) and listed at 215  – a veritable redwood among saplings compared to our last two starting QBs before Peterman.

Here you can see some of Stocker’s HS highlights. At the 1:10 mark he goes deep and hits his WR with a pass that travels 45 yards through the air.  He can throw outs also so he isn’t just a running QB.  I think if he were needed to play on a regular basis the game plan would have to modify a bit in both good and bad ways.

We’ll shorten up the passing game but put more QB keepers in the game plan.

Ben Dinucci is a fan favorite, there is no denying that.  A poll taken by the Trib-Review by their readers heavily favored Dinucci over Stocker as thus:

Trib’s Poll for the 2nd string QB;

60% Dinucci

19% Stocker 

21% No Opinion.

I’ve always wondered why people even do a poll if they are going to choose “No Opinion”

“The Nucch” is a  Pine-Richland grad and was a PA championship HS QB so people want him to succeed.  He may well do that at Pitt but I don’t think he’ll rise much above the 3# spot during his career.  i talked a bit about his recruitment in my podcast yesterday and just feel like he was brought onboard to 10 fill a QB scholarship and 2) to get a local favorite son on the roster.

I may be wrong about that.  I paid pretty close attention to him when i watched what little we could see in practices over the last two years and then again in the Spring game this April (see graphic below) where he went 0-4 and just wasn’t much impressed.  I’ve been wrong before though and it looks like Narduzzi and Canada are giving him a legit competitive shot at that back up position.

However, this year I think it will be Peterman and Stocker getting the QB snaps in-between games and next season it will be MacVitte and Bo Schneider as the #1 and #2 guys – or vice versa. MacVitte will keep on a redshirt through thick or thin this season unless we get a “Put Bostick in” situation due to injury like we saw in 2007.

Oh, and don’t put any weight whatsoever in any kid being a HS championship QB when thinking about how they will do in college. At one point we had four of them on the roster at the same time – Sunseri, Myers, Anderson and Gonzalez.  A lot of good that did us.

So IMO – Peterman and Stocker then Dinucci with MacVitte keeping the redshirt on all year.

At Wide Receiver it is a bit of a different story, and that position is ripe for changes.It is also one where a talented youngster can waltz in and get major playing time based on raw skills and speed… as we saw in 2013 when Tyler Boyd came in and promptly forced prospective starters Ed Tinker and Kevin Weatherspoon to the bench.

As for the two-deep going into this camp our two returning starting WRs are both upperclassman.  SR Dontez Ford will be on one side and rsJR Zach Challingsworth will be on the other.  rsJR Jester Weah’s name has been bandied about also and a wish and a prayer… although he did have a good spring scrimmage with three catches for 102 yards.

But after those three we have all young players who really haven’t seen much PT.

I think the best ‘new’ WR to get thrown to a lot in ’16 will be rsFR Tre Tipton.  He played a bit last year then had a season ending injury so he’s still an unknown entity to fans.  However, I watched him in 2014 when we still had open practices and was pretty damn impressed.  He’s not a huge kid at an even 6’0″ but really does well with yards after the catch with his being fast and elusive.  That comes from having an 11.9 ypc average as a RB in HS I’m sure.

But we also have some real eye-openers coming in fresh off the farm and will see them play also. Most notably, and most talked about lately, is FR Aaron Mathews, a big boy at 6’4″ and 190.  He was a Rivals 3* ‘Ath’ (a catch-all phrase meaning he can play just about any skill position), was ranked the 14th best player in PA and was heavily recruited by PSU, WVU, NC State, Syracuse and the perennial powerhouse Old Dominion.

Here’s the thing about Mathews – he can run fast and is tall.  Since we are going to be throwing deep more often (really, we are!) we need guys who can get downfield quickly and not let the ball bounce off the top of their helmet on a regular basis.

Plus we flipped him from the Nitters by telling him he could play WR for us – that was mainly due to Boyd leaving and another WR scholarship opening up. We fans talk a lot about FFrench and Flowers but I think Mathews is the one true FR to watch when it comes to getting playing time.

Which brings us to the most watched and debated position on the offense – Running Back. We have had our twists, turns and uncertainties here over the last year and it looks like that won’t stop now.

Last season we had JR James Conner coming off a record-breaking and wonderfully productive 2014.  There was no arguing he was going to be the featured back and the workhorse of the offense.  Going into fall camp last year the two-deep at RB was Conner and SO Chris James with JR Rachid Ibrahim and rsFR Quadree Ollison as backups. Ibrahim had an injury in the last days of camp and that left the RBs with three viable players

It all changed lickety-split with an injury to Conner in the 2nd quarter of the 1st game. From that point on it was in-game tryouts to see which RB could pick up the slack.

For the rest of the YSU game the three remaining RBs did this; Ollison had 16 carries for 207 yards (12.6 ypc) and a TD; James had 32 yards on 7 carries and Hall went nowhere on 3 carries.

That sealed the deal for Ollison as a starter and the next game against Akron Hall won the back-up role and James was sat down.  From that point on James and Hall split carries – Hall getting more at 64 for 257 yards (4.0 ypc) while James had less carries 56 for 253 yards but a higher ypc average at 4.5.

That wasn’t good enough for James as he followed Chryst to Wisconsin where he has to sit out a transfer year this season.

So who is the surprise this year as a ball carrier?  Setting aside the assumption that Conner will be back and full strength (a big assumption mind you) the chatter has been that FR Chawntez Moss is giving Ollison a run for his money as the #2 RB.

Which is kind of hard to believe on my part given Ollison’s very good production as the featured back last year.

His 1121 yards on 212 carries for a great 5.3 ypc was well done for a rsFR and in any other circumstances would be an automatic pass to the next year’s starting job.  But not at Pitt apparently.  Let me put something in perspective here.  I’ll show you a graphic (albeit a bit old) that has Pitt’s all-time Top 10 running backs listed save for Conner.  Take a look at what yards per carry they all had…


Ollison’s 5.3 ypc would have been 4th best – that is how well he ran the ball last season.  So when I hear that the staff is saying that Moss might overtake him, or Darrin Hall also for that matter, I’m pretty skeptical.

Plus all the coaches could talk about at Media Day when discussing the RBs is how drastically Ollison followed the staff’s orders and lost his baby fat, gained muscle and turned in the lowest 40 yard dash time among the RBs.

That sure doesn’t sound like someone you sit down unless there has been a true shooting star hitting the Southside facility when no one was looking.

But Moss’s name keeps coming up in these camp reports.  He was a 3* recruit out of Ohio with kind of unremarkable offers – the only Power Five schools who looked at him seriously were Pitt, Iowa and Indiana.  he was rated 41st in Ohio as a schoolboy and 35th nationally.

He reported aboard early on in Jan so that is always a good sign for the staff coaches plus his highlight tape is pretty good also I suppose – it’s hard for me to tell what these videos actually mean given they may be playing against defenses with 9th and 10th graders on them.

My thoughts on this?  The staff us floating Moss’s name so much to act as a fire under Ollison’s ass.  Something is going on between the coaches and him i think, otherwise you just don’t disregard a kid who produces the way Ollison did last season.

I don’t anticipate any young surprises on the Offensive Line or at Tight end.  The OL will rotate more this season now that we have better depth that we did.  Jared Jones-Smith will be returning from a season ending injury and he was a past starter.  TE & OL

The OL is full of guys with a lot of experience and/or returning lettermen but no FR who look to break into that two-deep squad.  Except perhaps rsFR Alex Paulina, a 3* kid who committed early and had VT chasing after him.  At 6’3″ and 300 lbs he has the size to give the other guys breathers when necessary.

Our TE corps is situated the same way with SRs Scott Orndoff and Jaymar Parrish as TE1 and TE2.  rsJR Devon Edwards is over there also.  His was an interesting recruitment – he was rated a 2* yet had nine Power Five offers with Nebraska and WVU among them.

Here are those Spring Game stats I mentioned above:

spring game '16

We’ll hit on the new defensive kids tomorrow…


32 thoughts on “Time for New Blood on Offense?

  1. I feel a little better about Stocker as #2 seeing his abilities in HS. DiNucci I agree is a permanent #3 and was filling out the recruiting class with a WPa player who as I recall had decent stats but no big time offers. Speaking of recruiting, it seems we are getting out clocks cleaned regularly this year. Nard gets high marks so I must wonder if his assistants are good recruiters. It also would help to have some stability and success.
    Don’t find much to disagree with in this excellent article.


  2. We have something like 16 starters back. Its time to make some hay.

    @Reed on the WR’s, I don’t even think you mentioned the guy I think is going to start opposite Ford and that is Henderson. Big play potential with his speed, we got a glimpse of that last year with the kickoff return for a TD.


  3. I can’t see how Canada’s offense will be similar to Chaney’s unless he decides to pick out one receiver to throw 75% of this passes to this season. Then I’ll be a believer and I’d also be calling for his removal at season’s end.


  4. First off … there are two types of contests to ignore statistic-wise: NFL pre-season games and CFB spring games. The leading RB at PSU 2 spring games ago was a walk-on, never to be heard from again. And I would also take half of what we’re hearing about the current fall practices with a grain of salt (remember 09 Stull vs Sunseri?)

    Barring injuries, Peterman will be the starter at QB, Ford will be the starter at WR, Orndoff will start at TE, and the OL has 7 players that will get ample PT. The rest is up for grabs including Conner … although it wouldn’t surprise any of us if he picked up where he left off (But we still can’t count on it as yet.)


  5. Henderson, yes in the slot.

    @Jrn – Its hard to throw to other receivers if they cannot get open or they cannot catch the football on a regular basis. We’ve been looking for a second WR to step up for how long now? As much as possible this year Canada is going to go with the strength of this offense and that is running the ball.


  6. The good news is that Conner doesn’t have to pick up where he left off. Lots of great options.

    I would hope that Canada spreads the ball around to keep Conner fresh.

    Ollison has put on muscle and lost weight, Hall and Moss are there and Ibrahim is the X factor.

    Conner hopefully will still be unstoppable in the redzone. If he is, Pitt could finally overachieve for a change.


  7. After watching the Stocker highlight film he looked to me like a smaller version of Rod Rutherford (which is good!).
    Which interestingly, I sat next to Rod’s mom when we beat Texas A&M at College Station some years back. She was a very nice lady, down to earth and very easy to talk to.


  8. Well bj let’s hope some receivers can get open for Peterman to spread the ball around to. We some pretty small quick receivers that should be able to get open underneath the deeper coverage. However I have seen a lack of touch in Peterman’s short game that may keep Pitt from executing those plays on a consistent basis. I guessing I’m hoping for Tom Brady to show up wearing Peterman’s number this year.


  9. Gonna drop this here. Have a parking pass for Penn State, looking for another for some family (Pitt fans only). I know this is a long shot. Looked online, not any for this game, although others. So, I’m assuming a hot commodity. Willing to pay premium if anyone has an extra or knows of one.


  10. @Reed — Read your entire piece, but still have to say, “NO” on one singular point. Manny Stocker came to NC State as a Freshman while Matt Canada was there. He only, ONLY got playing time because NC State was in a terrible quarterback situation (a la Pitt with Wannstedt who offered Pat Bostick, Tino Sunseri etc. and Paul Chryst) and their top guys got hurt. Manny Stocker was absolutely awful and could do nothing but try and scramble. Manny Stocker also could not even play quarterback at an un-renown junior college program.

    That is a problem. Ben DiNucci is not getting hyped-up to hopefully earn the #2 spot because he is a “Favorite Son”. It’s because if this RS Freshman, with a full-year under his belt at Pitt to get to know all of his peers and his receivers, running backs and company after a full year in the program —- If Ben DiNucci isn’t even good enough to win the back-up job over a player the coaches wouldn’t even offer a scholarship to, and turned into a straight-up SCOUT TEAM Wide Receiver until this spring, then Pitt Football is basically pinning all of our hopes on Thomas MacVittie period should (been hurt before and not that big and strong) Nate Peterman get hurt.

    —- I already said I think Bo Schneider has a weak arm and is not going to take Pitt anywhere as a starting QB— yet even though he has to sit out a year Pitt gave him a scholarship right off the bat, even if he’s a career 3rd stringer.

    Pretty urgent situation here , and even if you try to rationalize and watch his High School tape Manny Stocker barely passed for 2,000 yards. That’s AWFUL for a Division 1 recruit unless they played in a triple option offense. Almost every single completed pass in the tape is a total scramble drill completion, against high school players who might not even play inter ural flag football.

    Manny Stocker got BURIED on the depth chart by Matt Canada (yes, now Pitt’s offensive coordinator, small world huh?) because he CANNOT THROW THE BALL in real, power 5 games. If Ben DiNucci is awful as well, FINE. But let’s call it what it is — if Pitt has 2 untalented backups who cannot play Power-5 Ball then we better hope Thomas MacVittie is the player many Pitt fans hope he is if Nate Peterman goes down, because he might as well play.


  11. A shot in the dark was a bullseye. Well, not on here, but I put the feelers out, and son of a gun, a client is staying in town, has hotel parking, and is sending me his parking pass. Price?? Invitation to the tailgate! Handled!!


  12. Fun article to read. Keep up the great work. I can see a starting line-up with the following cast:

    O-line will be a combo of five of our six best – Biz, Johnson, Officer, Bookser, O’Neill or JJS
    D.Ford and S.Orndorff split wide (best we’ve got)
    J.Parrish as the blocking TE (best run support we’ve got)
    J.Conner and R.Ibrahim in the backfield (RI sometimes in the slot)
    NP at QB

    Off the bench with fresh legs we will get QO and Moss in the backfield. (Hall takes a redshirt???)
    Henderson, Tipton and Challingsworth as WR’s
    No QB subbing unless we have too (please not this year)
    If we want the O-line fresh for the last five games, we need to rotate the best of the rest and get them experience when we can.

    And occasionally, insert J.Whitehead because WE CAN!

    I look forward to your D-article tomorrow.



  13. I think you made a nice synopsis here Reed. I do feel that if our WR’s have trouble getting separation (which they struggled with consistently, except for Boyd last year), we will see a mini package with Henderson, RAL and Tipton. Nothing spreads the field better than quickness and speed. I think Weah has speed but not quickness. I think Chally has decent speed and decent quickness, but is not a number one or two. I see him as a three if the first two can stretch the field. I really like Mathews a lot. The question to me is whether they will go get the ball or will they will wait for the ball to get them.

    The OL is intriguing. We need cohesiveness and my preference for OL is Bizno, DJ, Bookser, Oneill and Jared Burger Smith. Paulina and Officer rotate in at the center and guard position. Between Bizno,Oneill and Burger, we have great depth there also. Things are shaping up well for those two offensive units.

    RB should be fun. 24 starts for sure. Can’t disagree with the analysis. However, I think Rachid gets lost unless D. Hall redshirts. Hall was the first Narduzzi big recruit and he was from an area where future kids can come to Pitt. We need spacing going forward between Ollison, Hall and Moss.

    Offense main concern will be pig protection with RB’s. The main guy hasn’t been hit in over a year. Ollison seems to put it on the ground too. We will win the turnover battle b a lot this year in my opinion.


  14. DK good points on Stocker. I hope NP stays healthy but if MS had to play Canada would utilize his legs more than his arm. Rutherford was not a real good QB as a drop-back passer but a dual threat. The only thing I would say is that 3rd string as a FR is not determinate of what he could do today. He is an athlete as his HS tape shows. Reed is correct this could be a disaster position. To your health NP!!.


  15. Pitt will become contenders for the national title when they get a QB with the arm strength of Rutherford, the moxy of Palko, and the brains of Bostik. Tall order I agree.


  16. Reed,
    Correct me if I am wrong, but HCPN is more Darwinian than any recent coach.
    Tells Bam -wanna play, lose the belly.
    Tells Chad – don’t let the door hit you. Same with you, Chris.
    As for you Alex Officer, you might have been a former starter, but show me what you got today.
    I think when he came to Pitt, HCPN said no job was safe. Competition daily, no matter what you did yesterday.
    I never got that sense with Paul, or especially Dave.


  17. http://pitt.247sports.com/Season/2017-Football/Commits

    ^^^^ Pitt’s Hard Commits so far, 12 Overall with plenty of time to find more great players.

    Our Pitt Panthers actually have 11 hard commits from ‘every-dow’n players, and one commit from our Steven Adams (New Zealander) of football (lol) — our future big-legged, star Aussie-kicker, who “technically” is an unranked, 0 star recruit (….Because he’s a kicker…..who’s from Australia lol……but no-kidding the recruiting experts drop Pitt at least 5-7 spots in the overall rankings for him vs. if he was a ‘solid-3 star recruit’, no joke if you’re into overall rankings 😦 😦 even if he’s Pitt’s future Sebastian Janikowski ).

    However many Pitt fans have been “Conditioned” by the recruiting classes and players brought in by Paul Chrst and equate Pat Narduzzi’s classes of somehow being similar ——- wow, my goodness no—— especially even in this class so far, all of these three star recruits (except Paris Ford, who is a universal 4 star Stud) are not the Paul Chryst-type recruits (who in 2015 and this year are still almost all the starters) solely because they 3 star ranked players who may not have many/any other Power 5 offers. Why? First-off, because All of the linebacker are Fast. Yes, Narduzzi is recruiting players in his first classes at linebacker who are light in High School — but they are explosive and have great height. They have frames to put on weight. Same with Narduzzi’s long, athletic D-Back recruits who yes are 3 stars. That is Narduzzi’s plan — to let his Long and athletic Linebackers and defensive backs hit the weights and Chicken & Broccoli hard, and evolve into fully-formed physical specimens to soon put the hurt-on North Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Miami….and that other team……um……PS….Who? And some of these guys will even get their chance to dominate West Virginia after the PS Who Cop-Out as RS Seniors.

    People who get on recruiting and want Pitt and Pat Narduzzi’s recruiting classes to emulate those of Nick Saban / Urban Meyer with his recruiting have to understand that he has a different approach, as he takes great pride in finding “under the radar” guys (hey, give Narduzzi a few years, he may be bringing 20-3 star, 5 4-star 25 player classes to Pitt every year, but he needs time to evolve into a True Head Coach).

    But for right now, Pitt fans worried about recruiting also outta pay close attention to who the heck Pat Narduzzi is winning with in 2015 then this year. Narduzzi’s deck of cards packed with 3 star, MAC offered Chryst recruits who greatly lack elite athleticism.

    Yes, great Offensive line —- a 2 star tight end who is now a STUD Tackle, 4 star and 3 star offensive lineman. 2-star Dontez Ford, then only LOW 3 star upperclass wide receivers. Mid-low 3-star Scott Orndoff….All low 3 star, almost no Power 5 offer running backs — and almost all of our offense had awful “Offer Sheets” (hard to believe, huh?).

    Hahaha how about defense??? Transfer Dewayne Hendrix who was once a 4 star, then….2 star and barely 3 star defensive tackles….2 star Caprara, then 3-star, MAC-offer recruits in Bam Bradley, Matt “Hey, Who Put Cement In My Cleats” Galambos , Quintin Wirginnis, Ryan Lewis, Avonte Maddox, Tarish Webb, Reggie Mitchell….

    Yet nationally, and all Pitt fans and supporters, expect Pat Narduzzi and company to make it ‘Effin happen with all of these Hard-nosed young men. No excuses.

    Imagine when Pat Narduzzi even gets all of “His” 3 star guys stuffing the roster. I guarantee people will be shocked by how athletic, dynamic, and just Talented Pitt’s Roster’s will feel across the board.

    I’m an optimist about Pitt recruiting this year, and I think Donovan Jeter will fulfill his Pitt destiny and be a beast for Pitt. Lamont Wade….heck, he might just decide he wants to help in the effort to put his hometown Pitt Panthers ‘Over The Top’.

    So now in the ACC & the future Big-Time, Nationally Broadcast ACC Network, and in absolute prime geographic + amazing-city recruiting location I think Pat Narduzzi is going to bring in Primo (albeit 3 star + Loyal, Local 4 and 5 star for the next couple years) players and build up Pitt.

    I’ve said before, that when the Pitt Panthers are stocked-full with truly Pat Narduzzi recruiting classes from the incoming freshman to Redshirt Senior, Pitt will indeed resemble the best, and most Stocked Michigan State teams — just Deeper, Faster, and Stronger.


  18. Does anyone get the same “name” impression for Kenny Pickett as we did with Chris Blewitt?

    Or is it just me…

    These closed practices are harder to follow than the Sandusky cover-ups.


  19. from OC Canada yesterday post-practice:

    On the growth of quarterback Manny Stocker:

    “He’s getting better every day. He’s taken a couple of big steps. We’re throwing a lot at him, and he’s taking it in stride. He’s playing like a senior needs to play and I’m proud of him. He’s probably more focused on the details. Manny worked hard [at NC State]. I would never question his work, but the details matter. So does appreciating pressure. Pressure is a privilege. Everybody doesn’t have pressure. Sometimes we don’t like it, but if you want to be the guy then there’s going to be pressure there. I think he’s learned to embrace that, understand it and work at that. I think he’s attacking the details of the game and the details of his position.”


  20. DK – A few things – I wasn’t ‘rationalizing’ Stocker’s existence, I was explaining it. Big difference. Fans think he’s a total run-only player and that’s not true. Dinucci isn’t much better than Stocker IMO. You do seem to think stars matter as you reference them a lot yet forget to mention Dinucci was a 2* recruit with crap offers.

    As for passing for 2000 yards… well, Chad Voytik passed for 1590 in his SR year and Pitt fans went ga-ga over his recruitment. But yes, I agree with you that our QB situation sucks across the board. It would have been great if Voytik handled his demotion better and could have stuck around but that wasn’t to be.

    Huff – Challingsworth is a lot like Shanahan (except Shanahan didn’t have a receiver like Tyler Boyd grabbing all the balls his first two years) except faster.

    In his JR year SR Shanahan had 39 catches for 493 yards (12.6) and 4 TDs; in his SR year he had 62 catches for 983 yards (15.9) and 6 TDs. I could see Challingsworth easily matching or exceeding that.

    @bj – you mentioned ‘looking for a 2nd receiver for how long now?’

    The main point I have been trying to make for a long time here has been that Jim Chaney didn’t care about 2nd receivers at all – his game plan, and Rudolph’s before him to a lesser extent, was to get the pass to Boyd on every passing play call they could.

    For example: Our WRs had 136 catches last season as opposed to 76 by other receivers (TEs & RBs mostly). So in 212 total receptions non-WRs had 33% of the catches.

    Out of those 136 catches Boyd had 91 or 67%. Get that? 67% of our WR passes were to Boyd. That is the playcalling on Chaney’s part with some small amount of NP decision making thrown in… but mostly that was how the passing offense was built.

    It wasn’t that we couldn’t find a 2nd receiver, it was that Chaney didn’t want to use one. Dontez Ford was the leading receiver not named Boyd and he had the ball thrown to him only about 33 times. He caught 26 of those for 505 yards.

    We’ll see a big difference in the passing game this season with a lot of different receivers getting the ball. We may not have a superstar receiver but I think Ford is going to put up big numbers… but the other WRs are going to get both PT and passes thrown to them this season.


  21. Somebody compared Chally to Mike Shanahan. Sorry not buying that. That is a slight to Shanahan. He produced 169 receptions and 12 Td’s in his career. Chally has about 12 receptions and 1 TD. I dunno about you but I judge players by production.


  22. DK, I really appreciate your optimism and hope that your forecast is correct. But you do sound a little like Narduzzi’s agent.

    I don’t think they are getting the guys that would be their first choice so far. I agree that there is still time to finish the class strong, and the PSU game will be huge in this effort. Many recruits attending the game.

    I do agree that Narduzzi is playing with Chryst’s guys this year, and next year will be the true test of Narduzzi’s recruiting.

    We will find out very quickly if this is the eight win team of last year or the one that lost three of their last four games.

    I am hoping that we do really well this year and that we finish with some great recruits.

    Being a long suffering Pitt Fan, I am far from certain that it will happen.


  23. Shake it up 2-2 no defensive backfield move Ollison and Connors to safeties; whitehead and Hamlin to corners. Neither Connors or Ollison will make RB in NFL but if they loss 10 pounds and gain a bit of speed in the 40, they are perfect size and speed for the NFL at safeties (6-1 200 lbs or heavier). Moss and the freshman coming in from Ohio recruited by Ohio State can handle the RB position.
    This would be next year possible 1980 defense.
    May want to keep Ollison as RB and put new kid as safety.
    Use your best players were they will be most effective.
    Connors less than 4.8 yards per carry.
    Crazy maybe but Sherrill put his best athletes on defense and won 33 games.


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