Football Bits & Pieces

NOTE: I’m wondering if I got ‘punked’ at the LOI Day event. The guy I talked to there looked exactly like our old DL position coach Inoke Brecterfield… and when I asked him if he was Coach Brecterfield he said “yes”  I introduced myself and we started talking about things we had in common (Pacific Islands) and about our current DL Jeremiah Taleni (who Brecterfield recruited and coached).  7511380

But the point was brought up on here that Brecterfield was almost sure to have been in Wisconsin on Wednesday for their LOI Day. gig.  I have been researching to see if Brecterfield was indeed in Madison, WI and can’t verify it.

In the interest of accuracy and honesty I’ll say that now I’m not sure at all it actually was him – but if not it was a very strange thing for someone to do.  And if it was that is strange in other ways also.

Watching the Super Bowl last night made me remember the best comeback I never saw.  Back in 1970 my oldest brother and I wpitt-stadium-pittsburgh-pennsylvaniaent to all the Pitt home games like we had ever since we were born.

The year before in ’69 Pitt was 4-6 under Carl DePasqua and had lost to West Virginia 46-19.  In ’70 we were sitting at a surprising 3-1 and had a three game winning streak against Baylor, Kent State and Navy when WVU came into Pitt stadium. They were 4-1 and nationally ranked at the time.

We old guys remember the Pitt rivalry games very well and back in those days it was really WVU who got the most hatred from Pitt fans.  Penn State was Penn State but we could look down our collective noses at the “rabble from the Hollers“.  One lasting joke was that a person we saw at the game couldn’t possibly be a WVU fan because he was actually wearing shoes.

So playing WVU that Saturday was a big deal especially because their team had been doing so much better than our Panthers back then – they had up just finished the 1969 season at 10-1 and their new head coach was the up and coming Bobby Bowden.  And it was Pitt’s Homecoming Game so the fans packed the stadium.

wvu-1970

We were firmly seated and ready to watch a great game on a gorgeous day that I remember very clearly because I was supposed to have gone hiking in the Laurel Highlands with my girlfriend at the time… and went to the game instead.

But something funny happened on the way to halftime – we had been getting our asses kicked up and down the field and when the whistle blew to end the 1st half we were down 35-8. It was ugly and unexpected and sucked.

Honestly I ask you, who wouldn’t leave that putrid game to try to make up with the prettiest girl in Western PA? Especially when your team is down by 27 points with only 30 minutes left to play?  We weren’t the only ones to leave early that day either – there was an exodus of Pitt fans who thought the way we did.

Well, we did leave, and in the car the whole way home we were listening to our Panthers stage one of the great 2nd halfs of play in college football history.

“We had them 35-8 at the half and were killin’ them,” Bowden said many years later. “We were killin’ them. The second half, we couldn’t even make a first down.”

Curiously, Bowden made the shift in the second half to a more inside offense, relying on a power attack.

Such a decision proved disastrous. It also changed the way Bowden, who won 377 games before retiring last season, coached the remainder of his career.

“I sat on it when we were ahead 35-8 and I said ‘We are going to win this thing,’ ” he explained. “And we lost and I said, ‘We ain’t ever going to sit on this thing again.’ And we didn’t.”

Pitt scored every time they touched the ball in that comeback and didn’t give up a single point.  13-9 was one for the younger Pitt fans but I always think back to that 36-35 game and feel that was the best Pitt-WVU win I never watched.

The game in 1970, when Pitt trailed at halftime, 35-8, and stormed back to win is one of college football’s most astounding comebacks.

Pitt didn’t punt in the second half.

Pitt ran 67 plays in the second half.

Pitt scored two third-quarter and two fourth-quarter touchdowns, all while shutting down the Mountaineers’ offense over the final 30 minutes.

It was homecoming at the football cathedral on Cardiac Hill and, when Pitt scored a touchdown with 55 seconds remaining — then forced a fumble on the ensuing drive — it had pulled off what had seemed unattainable: Pitt 36, West Virginia 35.

Needless to say my brother and I blew it by leaving and now that time has passed I can laugh about it.  But watching Brady pull that victory out last night; love him or hate him you have to acknowledge just what wonderful thing he did, made me wonder about all those Patriot fans who might have turned their TVs off when the score was 28-3.

For a kick here is an advertisement for The Band playing at the Syria Mosque (hurts to think about that place now) soon after that game. Look at those ticket prices! 

I took that girlfriend of mine to this concert and broke up with her the next day.  Too many other “prettiest girls in Western PA” were there and wanted to party at my place after the show but she was tired and went home early. Big mistake on her part…

the-band

“Catch a cannon ball now to take me down the line
My bag is sinkin’ low and I do believe it’s time
To get back to Miss Fanny, you know she’s the only one
Who sent me here with her regards for everyone…”

Back to football:

We just had a conversation in the comments section of the last article about Josh Conklin and our Defensive Backs.  Posted was an article written in the Trib-Review on the same subject. Here it is – read it and then the following is what I have to say about the issue.

In PC’s last year we were # 24th in the nation in pass defense and that was with four guys – Vinopal, Mitchell, Maddox and Pitts who were all 6’0″ or under:

Ray Vinopal – 5’10”
Reggie Mitchell – 6’0″
 Lafayette Pitts – 5′ 11″
Avonte Maddox – 5′ 9″

Here is what we were like on defense in Matt House’s last season (2014) compared to 2016:

Table 1 Pitt’s Decline on Defense

Category 2014 2014 2016 2016 (+ or -)
Total Defense 33rd 359.8 ypg 101st (-78)
452.8 + 93  ypg
Rushing Defense 55th 160.8 ypg 16th (+31)
119.6 + 41.2 ypg
Passing Yards Allowed 24nd 198.9 ypg 127th  (-103)
333.2 +134.3 ypg
Team Pass Effic.  Defense 43rd 121.59
106th  (+72)
143.57 +21.98
Scoring Defense 58th 26.3 ppg 106th (+48)
35.2 8.9 ppg

Oh – and in 2015 we gave up 17 TDs in the air as opposed to 28 this last season.

That article above is a huge try at misdirection on Conklin’s part when being interviewed. He’s a great one for making excuses for that horrid defense last season.

BTW – here is the 2015 roster for MSU in Narduzzi’s last year as the DC there – almost every CB and DB is under 6’o”.  You’ll see that only 3 of 13 players were over 6’0″:

msu-dbs

And Pitt fans are buying into this also – that we have to have tall kids back there to be effective. it just isn’t true.

It is Pitt’s latest urban myth to cover for just plain crap coaching. I truly believe that Pitt fans feel that just because Narduzzi hand-picked Conklin then Conklin should get a free pass… but like I said yesterday  OCs and DCs are utterly disposable and cutting out Conklin as soon as possible makes perfect sense because we almost literally couldn’t get any worse on defense with a new guy there.

Another showing in pass defense like this last season and we may backslide in the W column rather rapidly next season.

118 thoughts on “Football Bits & Pieces

  1. Still have the cowbell they gave out at the 1970 PITT vs WVU game…. best game I ever saw …no instant replay or TV time outs in those days.. the game had a ” flow” to it…it was really a college game with most of our team coming from WPA….I can still hear Ed Conway the voice of the Panthers on the highlight film yelling ” and here comes PITT !!” as we pounded the ball down their throats with Denny Ferris and Tony Esposito.. and I was at the Clemson game which is up there but not number one in my book…

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  2. Reed, lots of thing to comment on here … but the poster of one the best bands ever plus an excerpt and video of arguably their most classic song (of many) takes the cake for me.

    If the mystery man you talked with knew about Taleni and the Hawaiian Islands, then it was Brecterfield … or maybe Taleni’s cousin

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  3. I was at the game and I stayed right to the end. Of course I didn’t have a piece of tail hucking me to take a spin to Linn Run either. I’ve had this conversation a few times, I was also at the Navy game when PITT made a very similar second half comeback from a large halftime deficit. Where I really messed up was not going to The Band concert. About the WVU game, wasn’t there an obscure RB for PITT that ran all over the eers during that second half?

    BTW, I think I’ve become oblivious to Reeds negativity. and also BTW. Only 2 of those MSU d-Backs were under 5’11” and 8 were 6’0″ or better. and we don’t know who the players were that actually played? Stats?? They tell the story you want them to tall or I mean tell.. ike (this post was meant in a fun spirit and this disclaimer to keep Reed off my back) 🙂

    H2P

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  4. Couple things,
    a.) Lady Gaga (or Kaka?) or whatever her name is as our DC couldn’t do any worse then Conklin’s worse rated D in the country.
    b.) I heard The Band live in Pittsburgh in the mid to late 70’s at (I believe) Three Rivers Stadium as the pre-band to, was it Eric Clapton? – Little help here. Was it Clapton or someone else? Thanks

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    1. If memory serves … July 1974 Clapton’s comeback concert (after 3 year heroin habit) opened by Todd Rungyon and The Band. The Band was really good that night.

      2 months later , I saw The Band along with Santana and Jesse Colin Young open for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (4 Way Street tour) at the old ‘Mistake on the Lake’ in Cleveland.

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  5. FIrst Reed, I give you credit. Persistently trying to point out the failure of the pass defense under Conklin. Be prepared for an equal and opposite reaction about Pitt having faced better passing teams with more NFL level talent under Conklin.

    The thing that truly stuck out to me in the post, and one that I perceive as completely unintentional, is the clip from the PG about the Pitt-WVU game.
    The game scenario:
    Pitt with a winning record
    WVU with a winning record and ranked
    A serious rivalry game
    The Pittsburgh metro area population was estimated to be 2.75 million people
    An opponent with a rabid fan base centered in a town located about 70 miles from Pittsburgh
    The Steelers having won 0 championships,coming off a 1-13 season, and in the midst of a 5-9 season
    The Penguins in their third season of existence
    The Pirates having completed their season and having lost in a league championship series sweep.

    The PG headline states the game drew 50,000 fans to Pitt stadium which had a capacity of 56K+

    Good job on taking in The Band at the Mosque. An remarkable act at a remarkable venue.

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  6. I suspect it’s taking Conklin a bit longer to learn Narduzzi’s D. Does that mean we should keep him? I’m not certain, but I do wonder how much of a part he played in helping Pitt to land a lot of that Florida talent this year.

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  7. Lafayette Pitts was actually fast and made the nfl. The rest of the secondary is slow and small. In fact the entire secondary is really slow and small outside the 2016 and 2017 recruiting classes. The secondary recruiting was nothing short of embarrassing prior to Narduzzi. Probably need 2 more years to turn it around since all the secondary talent is young and the upperclassmen are small and slow. Although a Hamlin Ford Whitehead backfield is promising.

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  8. Wowww —- Reggie Mitchell, Terrish Webb, Ryan Lewis, Avonte Maddox, Dennis Briggs — ALL the 2-star, MAC offered Defensive-Backfield starters who had to play this year so that Pat Narduzzi didn’t have to play all his RS Freshman and True Freshman ( I.E. “Narduzzi’s Recruits lol ).

    @Reed the medication for #HaterItis is just a Lil’ #DuzziKoolAid 🙂 🙂 🙂 haha

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  9. Just my opinion, I think Maddox is better than some think, he’s almost always around the ball. He is small though. Corner-backs have been beaten up by the fans for a long time at PITT and next thing you know, boom, they are playing for a NFL team. I get that it probably happens everywhere where a team doesn’t win 12 ,13 or 14 games a season.

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  10. @Reed RS Freshman even are 19 year old kids only a year removed from High School. They have to come to a Power 5 College to Comprehend how to Eat, Train, and Focus to play such an Intense Sport on such a High-Level.

    True Freshman are Little 18 year old kids, used to playing against a bunch of future Intramural Flag-Football players, now playing against freakin’ 22 year olds with NFL Player bodies in the ACC.

    Such a Hater right now! 🙂 hahaha — Please, Don’t be TOO on Narduzzi’s “Jock” this 2017 Season when Max Browne and This “Scrub” Josh Conklin DOMINATE the ACC Coastal. 🙂 🙂 lol — Tellin’ Ya, Forecasting the Future 🙂 .

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    1. Maddox was one the few 3-star DBs recruited by PC regime, and easily the fastest. I’m pretty sure he became a starter in his freshman year. The duo of Maddox and Pitts were actually pretty good although Pitts occasionally got burned … mostly always covered the best WR one-on-one.

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      1. Seriously, if Maddox was 5’11” or 6′ he wouldn’t be able to find Pittsburgh on a map. He has the tools and I expect him to get a long look in the NFL.

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  11. Reed. Ok, I forgive you – you were young and foolish back then. I stayed and watched the greatest Pitt comeback ever. A few of my buddies left to go watch Pistol Pete Maravich’s NBA debut on TV. Again, young and foolish.

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  12. Narduzzi had the 116th ranked pass defense in his 3rd year. Conklin’s not going anywhere. Narduzzi preaches loyalty – how could he fire a guy in year two of what took Narduzzi 4 years to install? Conklin is the DC but it’s Narduzzi’s defense. He’s Narduzzi’s ride or die. Firing Conklin would be an indictment on him. Nothing to see here, move on.

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  13. Narduzzi had the 116th ranked defense in his 3rd year as DC at MSU. Narduzzi preaches loyalty to a fault. He’s not going to fire his hand picked DC after 2 years in what took him 4 years to accomplish. Conklin is Narduzzi’s ride or die. Firing Conklin is an indictment on Narduzzi’s defense. Nothing to see here. Move on.

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  14. http://www.nfl.com/player/traewaynes/2552448/profile

    @ Reed Trae Waynes, 1st round pick of the Vikings and a LOW, LOW 3 star CB from Wisconsin is “listed” at 6′ , 190 (prolly 5’10”) — was an All American at MSU for Narduzzi

    http://www.nfl.com/player/darquezedennard/2543474/profile

    Darqueze Dennard, Unranked (acutally a 2 star recruit with no info on some sites lol) is only 5’10”, 195, from Georgia.

    Just a few of Pat Narduzzi’s Actual, Personal Recruits who were absolute stars in college and first round picks — and I can list off a few of his 3 star, “Under 6 Foot” Safeties and other corners who were college studs and draft picks.

    MY POINT —- It might occur, that —- as I’ve said from early on watching him recruit here at Pitt with Ohio , (PA duh lol), Jersey, Maryland, Washington D.C., Florida (!) all so much closer — Pat Narduzzi migh be recruiting BETTER than he did at Michigan State.

    @Reed this ain’t the 90’s anymore.

    Frankly a lot of us only even vaguely remember the Walt Harris days (Good he was fired if he or his agent tried to insist Pitt should settle for mediocrity, PERIOD).

    Nowadays, #PittIsIT 🙂

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  15. …….ike….That obscure running back was Dave Garnett…for all you newbies born 1968 or later just “google” 1970 Pitt vs WVU football…and watch the video.. the late Panther play by play man, Ed Conway ( married to Eleanor Shano of WTAEchannel 4) does the play by play in part 2 of the video towards the end…one of the greatest voices ever silenced by cancer way too soon….Bill Hillgrove took over when Ed died.
    Hey Darkie, could you post those vids….Please…I don’t have those skills

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  16. My point is that fans pointing fingers at the DB’s height is just wrong when trying to make excuses for a horrible pass defense is off base.

    Now saying they are slow or not talented may be different but my case all along is that we have had the same guys almost in the backfield and have drastically slipped over the past two years.

    Why do fans have such a hard time admitting that it is the coaching that is different?

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    1. @Reed just saying that Narduzzi personally recruited (I believe off the top of my-head) 7-8 Corners and Safeties to MSU who during his time there were draft to the NFL (and of course he recruited a ton of other players too).

      At Pitt he’s getting these 6-foot plus guys with tons of offers, when at MSU his NFL guys were low-ranked 3 star guys no one else even offered.

      Damar Hamlin, along with a ton of these other talented DB’s coming in, were all guys who tons of schools were fighting over and they chose Pitt — which no one can say about some the guys who Narduzzi got to MSU who ended up being All American, NFL Picks.

      I’m excited —- And as I say, look at how James Franklin BLEW UP in his 3rd year with his 3rd class — I think Pitt **Blows Up this year and Max Browne shows the Country why he was the #1 QB in the country out of HS.

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  17. wwb & Ike,
    Thanks for confirming it was the Clapton concert at 3 Rivers in 74!!!
    Clapton and The Band were great! Todd Rundgren – meh!

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  18. I think the DBs will hold there own this year..gotta get more consistent pressure on the opposing QB and that may be a year away…lots of youth moving forward and game speed experience is needed…hope we progress on both sides of the ball week after week.

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  19. Pittman4ever…oops, holding was a bad choice and used the wrong “there”- shoulda been “their”…as a group they gotta be better in 17….

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  20. Pitt has some outstanding talent while young in the secondary. Pitt under narduzzi has transformed the secondary to speed, size reach and just need experience now. If you think Hamlin if healthy, Ford, Coleman and Miller aren’t big time gets, think again. As to the WVU game, I was there and it was maybe the best atmosphere of any PItt game before the Majors era.

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  21. Still no official word on Spring game yet but PN mentioned the 22nd the other day.

    FWIW…I also had a conversation the other day and was told that Ollison either had left or was going to. Absolutely not confirmed but wouldn’t be surprised at all.

    Keep emailing topics to write about… it may take a while but I’ll get to them.

    I also owe some more donors Thank You notes and gifts… monies received so far have gone directly into POV’s expenses.

    I’m selfish so I’ll say “Keep it up!” and also thanks again.
    .

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  22. It ain’t over till it’s over.

    It is the coaching that is different. You happy now Reed , I agree with you?. It is especially the coaching responsible for failure when you put guys, that can’t handle it, out on an island to defend WRs that are 4 inches taller than them and a tenth of a second faster in the forty.

    Look it, I’ve got a 12 year old neighbor who can run like greased lightening but is still short at a little over 5′. When we have enough folks to play some 2 man pass & catch, I don’t even try to guard him when he’s the receiver, since the kid cuts on a dime and, as I said, is fast. At 6’2″ I stay in and try to make his QB have to throw around me while he’s down the street imitating a jitterbug with his moves. But when we have the ball I eat his lunch consistently when I’m the WR and he trys to guard me. That is, if I have the neighbor kid as my QB who can actually throw the ball high and away making it easy for me to catch it without Darin bothering me with his defensive coverage. I have a couple foot advantage on the squirt, it’s no contest.

    So back at you Reed in your stubborness to make your point, that the coaches are the weak link in this defense. Ain’t so. However the coaches are just as stubborn as you are, which is a problem when they teach Narduzzi’s system and lack the necessary talent to get a fast pass rush and don’t have CBs that can cover one on one on an island. Our 2016 defense is the result of that frustrating effort. That going to be changing fast, starting this season.

    I’ll wait to “tell you so” until you compare the stats at the end of next season between 2016 & 17 for our defense. There will be no comparison. Better players, quicker players, taller players, more talented players will make this staff look like they know what they’re doing on defense soon enough.

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  23. Doc, don’t be so hard on Reed, he has a pulse on most everything. Well, maybe except for who he’s been talking to for a few hours…lol….. …ike………..The Devil made me do it!

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  24. Ah, you all are forgetting a huge factor. Compare the schedules from 2014 and 2016.

    It pretty much explains everything. Last years schedule was filled with high powered offenses, not so in 2014.

    I totally agree the pass defense sucked last year, no excuses. It is on Narduzzi. You just can’t compare the two seasons to make the point.

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  25. Wow, Lafayette Pitts is like the James Robinson (basketball) of football. Most fans couldn’t wait for them to graduate but they’ve become fondly remembered as good players since they’re gone.

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    1. Like Bill Stull…..

      Outside of Stull of course these guys now look ‘good’ because they have NO replacement. They are much better than a ghost…

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  26. I was at that game in 1970. My fraternity brother, Dave Havern was on fire. There were only a handful of us left. What a spectacular comeback!! Greatest moment I can remember at Pitt Stadium.

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  27. Reed, great memories awakened from your article. I was a junior at Pitt and worked at a local supermarket that year. My boss was an EER fan and would not let me take that day off to go to the game. He looked like Orville Reddenbacker with a flat-top. He broadcast the game over the store speakers and when Pitt made its famous comeback he shut down the sound in the 4th qtr. Me and my buddy had transistor radios at out checkout counters and let out a huge cheer when the game ended. I didn’t lose my job but quit shortly afterwards. Also, always loved the Band…still have a copy of The Last Waltz for viewing.

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  28. Ah the WVU game in 70. I was there alone and miserable. My HS girlfriend (a 10) left me the previous week for the librarian at McKessport Jr College. Later married him.

    I sat with my frat bros and was utterly miserable at halftime. As Pitt started their comeback I looked skyward and said “God if you let Pitt win this game, I will go to church every Sunday for a year!” They did.. and I did!

    Mid week that week following the game, Dave Havern showed the film of the game over in the Psych building. When it came tohalftime on the film he said ” if you left at halftime, leave now!”

    He called WVU the snakes… lowest form of reptile on the planet. I have ever since!

    Maybe greatest Pitt game ever!!!

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  29. Dan72 … what frat were you in… I remember carrying the Phi Delt standards onto the field at Pitt stadium when the team ran out onto the field….we probably played intramural against each other

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  30. couple thoughts on format, I like the reply button good enough and it’s my own fault I don’t look at the recent comment box enough but.. some replies, thoughts and posts get lost on there in recent and past articles. Is there a way to separate recent comments by articles to stay on the current page? If I made any sense there? I’m really talking about 2 separate issues here, One, replies that get buried and 2, comments in past articles that get buried when the POV is busy with comments. I think it would be fun to keep all articles in play for a longer discussion.

    I posted this in another article to make a point.

    What I didn’t mean to do is like myself again for the third time. I’m always refreshing and somehow make it look like I like myself a little too much…. ike

    A few posts in this article by anonymous was………. me. once again by accident……. H2P!

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  31. Anyone worrying about running back is batshit crazy. McCoy, Lewis, Graham, Conner, Henderson, Ollison etc.. There have big so many primetime backs at Pitt. And now people are scared by signing a pair of high school all Americans to go with what they have returning? Um… Reed might as well pencil in the 4 win season now.

    I’m not worried about RB next season… I just think that, aside from Ollison, the be st backs on the roster are going to be true freshmen… Not sold on Hall at all and will to see what Moss will do as a full-time back.

    I’d beg Ollison to stay and run him like crazy right out of the gate.

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      1. I think you are correct… so now he’ll be two years removed from HS before he sets foot in a classroom – and his LOI is voided by going back to HS so we’d have to recruit him again… interesting.

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        1. Why do I feel like I heard he was basically done here at Pitt….. I feel like someone reported before both parties had moved on. Do not have a source for that though… Maybe PSN???

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  32. Our DB’s will be better next year. Some say they cannot get worse. I think the talent level has increased and you will see Duzz’s guys on the field with the exception of nickel back Maddox.

    And the video of The Band was very enjoyable. Keep em coming…

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  33. The secondary can’t be worse. We had 2 starting safeties when whitehead got hurt run 4.7 in the 40 and 5’8 Maddox at 4.55. This was the worst secondary talent ever and Lewis is a Mac football player. Ridiculously undersized with turtle speed. Billicheick would of got rocked coaching that secondary. We would of been better off starting all freshmen getting them experience. Worst secondary in division 1 hands down based off talent, including the midmajors

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    1. singing …
      Up on Cripple Creek she sends me
      If I sprang a leak, she mends me
      I don’t to speak, she defends me
      A drunker’s dream if I ever did see … one!

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  34. BigB…..Like Reeds brother, I was a Fiji. I played HS Football and was not good enough to play football for the Fijis. We won or were second every year. At least 5 of my brothers were
    HS Football superstars and could have played for Pitt. I had an offer to walk on from Dave Hart in 68 ( still have the letter) but when I saw the size of the Pitt players at fresh orientation, I said no way. Played freshman baseball and traveled with varsity for Bobby Lewis. Played IM basketball against Phi Delts.

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  35. FWIW, Dokish has a few new articles up on his blog Panther Prey … he is, as we know, an apologist and cheerleader, but he does provide some detail and insight on this coming year’s offense and the new OC

    Like

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