This morning the main Pitt beat writer for the Trib-Review wrote a piece on Pitt’s QB situation titled “Pitt backup QB brings experience” which immediatly caught my eye because that is the exact topic we all were discussing on here in the comments section just a day ago.
DiPaola wrote the article and relays this about the OC’s take on Manny Stocker:
Then, there’s this from Canada: “I’m very excited about putting the ball in Nathan’s hands when the game is on the line.”
But that doesn’t mean Stocker is being ignored. “Manny is getting better every day,” Canada said. “He’s playing like a senior needs to play.” Canada said the difference in Stocker from their time together three years ago is his attention to detail and willingness to tackle difficult situations.
“Pressure is a privilege,” Canada said. “Sometimes, we don’t like it. If you want to be the guy, there’s pressure, and he’s learning to embrace that and understand that and work at that.
“He’s attacking the details of the game.”
OK then; I read that and all the other stuff Canada and Narduzzi have said about the QB2 position so far this month and don’t see Ben Dinucci getting anything but some off hand and cursory discussion at all. Sorry to all the ‘local boy does well’ fans but I think we have to put that hope about Dinucci breaking into some real playing time as a ‘wait until next year’ scenario.
The Post-Gazette’s new Pitt football beat writer, Jenn Menendez writes about the new throwback uniforms:
Narduzzi intimated there is a strong chance the throwback uniform could become a regular fixture after it debuts Oct. 8. He added that his senior leadership group, referred to as the “Eagles,” will be tasked with making that decision on a weekly basis.
“I think it’s going to be something that seniors, our Eagles will kind of decide what do we want to do,” Narduzzi said. “If they like the look? I’m open to anything. I just want to coach football.”
This is very interesting as usually the school administration and the contracted apparel companies get together to maximize the ‘visibility’ of the different uniform items to make the biggest profits.
BTW – Ms. Menendez was the Post-Gazette’s hockey writer before coming over to Pitt football. Strange move all around and not to sound too critical but is this another example of the Panther’s football program not getting the respect it deserves from that paper? I don’t really understand the Post-Gazette.
It seems like once they determined that Paul Ziese shouldn’t cover Pitt football because his son was on the roster (a decision I thought was ridiclous as it implies Ziese couldn’t be professional enought to be a fair observer) we’ve had nothing but transitional reporters assigned to our football program. Sort of an afterthought as it were.
In the last few years we have had Ziese, Werner, Craig Myer and now Menendez and someone named Alex Iniguez who I haven’t heard of before today…. it seems like a game of musical chairs almost but it always seems to be only one – maybe two voices covering the team.
Over on the Trib we have Jerry DiPaola, John Grupp, John Harris, and for opinion pieces Rob Rossi. They just seem to take Pitt football more seriously – especially now that they roped in Rivals.com Chris Peak into doing those great podcasts.
Apparently the P-G’s Mr. Iniguez thinks the throwbacks are “Lit“. I think it is really way cool and total boss the way he works this slang into his article. I mean really bitchin’.
Pitt announced it will wear its throwback football uniforms for the homecoming game Oct. 8 against Georgia Tech at Heinz Field. Objectively, they are, as the kids say, lit. Seriously, look at these things. The royal blue. The mustard yellow. They’re beautiful.
Note to self. Let this young whippersnapper know that those colors are nowhere near mustard yellow – unless you only use <<<<this on your hot dog. But back in the day the mustard gold was based on this >>>.
If I can tell the difference so should someone who gets paid to report on it.
Speaking of DiPaola, he has a piece on how there are still starting position up in the air.
Wide receivers Dontez Ford, Quadree Henderson and Jester Weah were labeled “solid starters” by Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi on Wednesday. But the competition at that position — and at other places on the team — is far from finished.
“Those other guys are making plays, too,” he said. “I think they are solid starters right now, but I don’t think there is a whole lot of separation (from the rest of the group).
“It’s fall camp. It’s hard to separate.”
What ever does Narduzzi mean by that? Not to nit pick but he says one thing – they are solid starters, then in the same breath says they really aren’t. Fall camp is most certainly the time the coaching staff should be testing these WRs to their limits to see exactly who can do exactly what. It is the perfect time to separate them.
My thoughts: Ford, Challingsworth and Henderson open up the season as the Top Three WRs- but I also have heard that there will be a lot of rotation at the receiver’s positions.
Jerry D had an earlier article in the same vein but about the running backs competition:
“It seems like that’s a hot topic right now,” Powell said. Then, with simple logic, he tried to cool off the narrative. “We don’t play tomorrow,” he said.
So the competition continues, with James Conner at the front of the line looking nothing like a player who spent the past year rehabbing a knee injury and fighting cancer with 12 chemotherapy treatments.
“You wouldn’t know,” Powell said. “I think he’s 100 percent, physically.”Good offenses use several running backs in a typical season, and lining up the candidates behind Conner — sophomores Darrin Hall and Qadree Ollison, junior Rachid Ibrahim and freshman Chawntez Moss — could be the most difficult decision coaches will encounter in training camp.
I know fans always want the freshman phenom to come straight out of HS and become the star RB right off the bat. Lord knows we have had our share to do just that with guys like Dorsett and others. Here are the Pitt Freshman with over 1000 yards in their debut seasons:
|Player & Year
||Yards||YPC||TDs||RB They Replaced
|Dion Lewis – 2009||1799||5.5||17||LeSean McCoy|
|Tony Dorsett – 1973||1686||5.3||13||Stan Ostrowski|
|LeSean McCoy – 2007||1328||4.8||14||LaRod Stephens-Howling|
|Curvin Richards – 1988||1228||5.9||8||Craig Heyward|
|Bryant Thomas – 1981||1132||5.2||7||Randy McMillan|
You can see that each of these RBs really had no one else to contend with in their true or redshirt freshman years. That situation is definitely not the case for young Moss this season. If he redshirts, and with Conner and Ibrahim gone (assuming Conner declares for the draft after his JR year), then maybe having just Ollison and Hall as competition Moss could breakout in ’17.
This year though? If we see much of him it will be as a special teams player – we have deep RB talent on the roster ahead of him.
Pitt Football Training Camp Quotes, Day 10 (From Pitt’s Media Dept.)
The Panthers will hold their second two-a-day of camp on Wednesday.
“We’re going into practice No. 11 this morning. We’ve got a two-a-day. We had some good meetings yesterday. It should be a little lively this morning, and we’ll be a little light in the afternoon. We’ll do a lot of special teams situational things tonight. I’m happy with where we were yesterday, but you’re never happy totally. There’s little things that we’ve got to improve at every position. There’s no perfection out there, that’s for sure.”
On why the linemen and quarterbacks wear knee braces during camp:
“It’s definitely preventative. We want all of our O-lineman [wearing them]. Do you really think our D-linemen want to wear those? As a matter of fact, on the first day we had a guy not wearing them in shorts. Anybody can fall on anybody, and that’s how you save on the doctor’s bills I guess. It’s a preventative thing.
For quarterbacks, it’s the same thing. The left knee when you’re getting back in the pocket, especially for a right-handed quarterback, can get fallen into. We’re just trying to save and protect these kids. The O-linemen generally wear them during the games as well. The defensive line takes them off. I’m not going to make them wear them in games if they don’t want to, if they don’t feel right. I think it’s a safety thing. We want to keep them as healthy as we can. You don’t want to lose guys in practice.”
On how the depth of the offensive line will help with the rushing attack:
“To be a great football team, you’ve got to be able to run the ball, and it starts with the offensive line. Although, you’d like running backs to be their own blockers—BYOB—you’ve got to have a strong offensive line. I’m happy with where they are. There will be more juggling going on at that position as well, and we do have some different tailbacks.”
On when the offensive line starters will be decided:
“We’re going to roll right into the first week. Maybe we’ll solidify things after this Saturday. You never really know, but it’s a process and it takes time. The more stuff you install, you find out what guys can do and don’t do well. That kind of formulates where you’re going to be at that position.”
On if it’s hard to get some of the younger players to get excited about special teams:
“I don’t think it’s tough to talk them into it. I think it’s a lot easier with the redshirt freshmen than it is with the true freshmen because I just don’t think that they know. If you sit in one of the offensive or defensive meetings that we sit in for 50 minutes, and then all of a sudden it’s 20 minutes of special teams, after the 40 or 50 minutes your head is already spinning.
So I don’t know if there’s a point where they don’t want to do it. I think it’s a point of where they’re like, ‘Woah.’ One particular individual, after his first meeting came up to me and was like, ‘Coach, I don’t know what is going on.’ That was a kid being honest. There were three more of them that didn’t know but didn’t say a word. I said, ‘Hey, don’t worry about it. You’re going to be fine. It just takes time.’”
On how you respond to a player not understanding what’s going on:
“Just like I did. ‘Hey, it’s going to be okay. Relax.’ Everybody is going to take it a little different. He just had these eyes about that big like, ‘Woah. What just happened to me?’ It’s hard to take it all in, especially for a freshman.”
On if offensive depth helps in evaluating quarterbacks:
“Yeah, they are surrounded with talent, and the quarterback needs to be protected. Sometimes behind the No. 2 offensive line you feel like that guy doesn’t have a chance when he gets out on the field because he’s worried about getting hit in the mouth. It certainly [is important], especially with the offensive line.”
If WR Quadree Henderson has accepted the challenge to step up:
“Quadree Henderson has always accepted it. He was a freshman that came in and played a lot for us and made some big plays for us, but I think he’s gotten better. I think you’ll see a much improved Quadree Henderson this year. He’s always been confident, and I think he’s always stepped up to the challenge.”
On if WR Quadree Henderson’s speed will give them the ability to stretch the field:
“I think so, but we’ll find out. Right now—today—it probably won’t, but Quadree [Henderson] is fast. He’s got good wheels.”
On if WRs Dontez Ford, Quadree Henderson and Jester Weah are looking like starters:
“All camp, it’s been hard to separate. Those other guys are making plays too. I think they’re solid. I think they’re solid starters right now, but there’s not a whole lot of separation. Those other guys can make plays too.”
On the continuing camp battles:
“I think we’ve got more than five guys who are capable. Camp allows guys to compete and play more than one position. It’s a long season and a long camp.”
On the evolution of OL Brian O’Neill:
“For a young player who has gone from tight end to tackle, he’s done very well. He is studying and is invested in being an offensive lineman. It’s night and day. His confidence is growing. Last year at this time every step and every verbiage was new to him. Now he doesn’t have to think about the verbiage or the language. He’s really fine-tuned his technique, his hands and feet and the finer points of offensive line play.”
On the importance of having depth:
“If it’s a hot game, you allow guys to roll in and stay fresh. Also, it’s a physical game and we want our guys to play physical. Hopefully we stay healthy—knock on wood. Last year was a unique situation where five guys maintained a healthy status for the whole season.”
On OL Alex Bookser:
“He’s played both guard and center throughout camp. He has taken a lot of snaps at the guard position and now he’s starting to get more snaps at center as camp goes on. He took more snaps at guard today than he had in the past, but again that’s that versatility. These guys are a very selfless group. They understand the big picture, and they’re all willing to do whatever it takes to help the team.”
On the decision-making process regarding starting jobs:
“Obviously when you get to game week you try to have a little more specific rotation idea. Until then, every day and every practice is a new identity. Everyone has a plan until something happens. You then have to react to the daily grind and the opportunities that camp brings to you. That is the great thing about having multiple guys that are able to do those things.”
On the significance of the upcoming practices:
“Every part of their play will be evaluated. That’s part of the process. They understand that.”
O’Neill was asked the question “When did you realize that you were actually a good OL?” and he answered “Georgia Tech, that when instead of running to the left side all the time they started running behind me.” That is a good example of little slices of info I like to hear.
On remembering being a tight end in the past:
“A little bit. I’m ready to go at tackle and that’s where I’m at, and I’m good with it.”
On his transition to offensive line last year to now:
“This time last year I was figuring out where I was going on the field and what I was supposed to be doing. Now [my focus] is on how I can do it to the best of my abilities, how our offensive line can be better as a whole and how we can help our team out. It’s not just what I’m doing, but what everyone else is doing and how it improves our offense as a whole.”
On being comfortable at the right tackle position:
“The less you think, the better you play, in terms of pre-snap and during the play. I can go now and T-off on guys and not have to worry if I’m doing it right. I know what I’m doing now. I feel comfortable doing it now.”
On the offensive line’s ability to create plays:
“We have three or four guys that can run better than most tackles that are out there. We have a super athletic group as a whole. If you look at the numbers in the weight room, it’s a pretty impressive group from top to bottom.”
On being able to open gaps for running backs:
“That’s something that we need to improve on from last year. We had so many three-, four-, five-yard runs last year. We need to make those runs 10-, 12-, 15-yard runs this year. Second-level blocking and getting to the edge quicker will help with that. We have a lot more pieces in place to do that from top to bottom this year than we did last year.”
On what he’s learned about the defense so far in camp:
“I’ve learned that we’re getting more detailed. There are different coaching points and different things that we’re talking about in the meeting rooms now. There were even some situations out there today that the ball didn’t bounce our way on defense, but they were good learning opportunities.
Those situations that we went through, I don’t think that we could really talk that out that much when we first got this defense, when we were first learning it. I think that’s a good thing to build off.”
On if the defense has changed a lot from last year:
“No, not really. That’s one of the good things about Coach’s defense: it’s very sound. There are no gray areas. No matter if it’s a spread offense or a pro offense, a lot of the roles for the D-line, linebackers and the secondary don’t really change. That’s what you like to see as a player.”
On if having a lot of seniors on the defense will make a difference:
“Absolutely. A lot of the seniors are holding guys accountable. That’s a good thing to see because it’s a long season, and it’s going to take more than just 11 guys. Having that depth—not necessarily by position, but seniority—can go a long way.”
On how communicating defensively has improved in year two with this coaching staff:
“I think when you talk about that perspective of things, it’s all about communication. That part of the game is clicking right now. Sure, sometimes things don’t really bounce our way. The offense is going to make some plays and all that, but the communication is there, and that’s a good thing. That’s something that we can build off each day.”
On whether the defense asks lots of questions in meetings:
“There are a lot more questions being asked. We’re asking different things here and there about what we are seeing out there. Not necessarily what the plays are, or what we have set as a defense, but what our reads are. Why did we do this in the play? What did we see? When you know the defense, it becomes second nature.
You’re not just sound in your position. You’re seeing what’s going on in front of you. You’re getting a coverage call behind you. There’s a lot more parts coming together as whole before the snap of the ball and even during the play.”
Let’s all watch this again…