Predictions are Funny Things…

A commenter posted a link to The Panthers Prey – Chris Dokish’s blog about Pitt football and Dokish’s take on our 2017 defense.  Dokish specializes in recruiting stuff mostly but also tends to get way into the weeds about individual player’s abilities and talents.

panthers-prey
Chris Dokish’s Website

People love reading that and I do also.  It is apparent he puts a lot of research into his writing. However, I believe about half of it.

That’s no slur on Dokish’s work,  but when you are in the business of offering predictions regarding how well players will do in the future, as he is, then you basically have a 50/50 chance of getting your predictions into the “correct” ballpark.  I know this to be true – after all I predicted that Jack Lippert would be a three-year starter and that Chris Wuestner would be the next Mike Shanahan.

The thing is that fans read Dokish’s stuff but never go back to see how good he is at doing this.  Let’s remember to do that after the 2017 season and compare Pitt’s real results to his current predictions.

Well it is too much to cut and paste but I suggest you take a reading of the whole piece – I do like to read his work – and pay close attention to his “DBs” section toward the bottom of the article.  This is what he said for the upcoming 2017 season:

Bottom line- It’s going to be hard to convince some people that the secondary could be a lot better, but I have to say anyway that there’s a real possibility that the secondary could be a lot better. If Whitehead returns to form, and Hamlin and Ford live up to their potential, there will be an enormous improvement. And these are three elite talents so it’s not unimaginable.

Also, last year’s underclassmen, like Jackson, Motley, and Stocker, should get better now that last year’s shell shocked season is over. Throw in some very talented redshirt freshmen like Coleman, Miller, Campbell, and Garner, and you can see that there may be light at the end of the tunnel sooner than people think.

“If, if and may be…”  Again, I’ll believe it when I see it.  But remember that quote above as you read the rest of this piece.

We heard this last year from Dokish also; Hamlin was sure to be a starter right off that bat as was Henry Miller after he got his feet wet in the beginning of the year… Whitehead was going to be a 1st team All-American, and so on.

What no one ever seems to do is go back and look at his older articles when he rates the units and see how well he did with his crystal ball then.  So let’s do that.

Back on August 30th of 2016, the date right before the opener of last season, Dokish had this to say about our defensive backs when discussing the relative strengths of the unit.

Defensive Back: This is another unit that was hurting badly just a few years ago, but this is also Narduzzi’s specialty so it’s no surprise that the position is quickly becoming a strength.

Motley, Jackson, and Henderson are fast and have good ability, but Hamlin has future star written all over him so he will be hard to keep off the field. Incoming freshmen Bricen Garner, Therran Coleman, Henry Miller, and Phil Campbell are the future but they all may redshirt this season unless they can definitively prove that they are a better option than the many players currently above them.

Get that – the truth was that the new kids didn’t “definitively prove that they are a better option than the many players currently above them”.   At least not last year.

In his summary of the unit he predicts this grade for them:

Summary: The one cornerback spot is suspect until, and unless, someone comes through there, but the unit also possesses three really good starters, including a possible All-American. There is also good depth, numbers, and raw talent. For those reasons, I see no reason why this can’t be at least a good unit. Grade: B

We fans can’t be saying one thing about the players in the defensive backfield, or quoting a semi-expert on them, at one time and expect others to believe what is being said… then down the line when the actual results are in just ignore those earlier predictions, especially if we turn again to the same source to bolster a later argument for the next year.

I’m not criticizing Chris Dokish for his predictions. Really, I’m not. 

I think it takes a large amount of guts to put such detailed thoughts out for public consumption and since I can’t predict anything with more accuracy than he has done I sure can’t complain about his. He does it on a regular basis.

But the main point is that time and again coming out of the 2015 season everyone and their brother felt that the poor defensive backfield play we had (54th in Passing Yards Allowed and 66th in Passing Efficiency Defense) would just automatically get better with the injunction of Narduzzi’s recruited talent.

We all know that takes time but, well, this was Pat Narduzzi and if Pat Narduzzi knows anything it is DB talent.  But it wasn’t Pat Narduzzi who was saying he was going to play those true FR kids in 2016 – it was the fans and guys like Dokish who stated that would happen.

Time and again I have read and heard about how terrible our talent was in that backfield in ’15 yet that same poorly talent group started again this season and took a dive to the bottom of the national pond in pass defense.  Over and over this was said and here is what the actual differences were between ’15 and ’16:

pass-suck

But reading the articles linked above drives home my point that it is the coaching that is suspect and I believe it to be much more at fault than the players themselves.

Which makes me worry about what this unit is going to be like in 2017.  Yes, on paper we have ‘better‘ players coming in to take the jobs of departing guys and yes, we can’t get much worse.  But then again nothing says we automatically will be better either.

Here is another quote from Dokish that strikes to the heart of the matter (emphasis mine):

CONCLUSION: Once again, on paper, the defense looks to be behind the offense. It was very apparent that former head coach Paul Chryst recruited much better on offense than on defense, so the offensive side of the ball was much further ahead in Narduzzi’s first two years.

But surprisingly, Narduzzi’s staff is also recruiting better on offense, than on defense, at least as far as players that are ready to play early in their career. Put another way, on the offensive side, the staff is recruiting more established talents, whereas on the defensive side, the players being brought in are more developmental.

That’s not to suggest that the defense won’t be very good soon, maybe even this year. There’s a lot more talent, athleticism, and speed than what the defense had when Narduzzi arrived, but few of those players have actually established themselves on the field yet.

I agree with that 100% and so I’ll stay somewhat pessimistic about this upcoming DB group until I see some radical changes in results from the unit as a whole, which will also require, in my opinion, a complete 180°  turn of results from the coaching staff… and that may not happen with the same DC and DBs coaching we are carrying over.

Lastly – I ‘follow‘ Dokish on his articles and suggest you do the same – he puts a level of detail in his work that no other Pitt football writers do – myself included.

Editors Note:   If you enjoy what you read in the articles and the comment discussions on the POV then please consider being a supporting patron through our donation site on Patreon.
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33 thoughts on “Predictions are Funny Things…

  1. And once again, you ignore the competition difference between the two seasons. In 2015, we only faced two NFL caliber QBs (Kizer and Maaya) .. and both lit us up.

    The coaching staff was the same in both years .. are you implying the coaching got worse this year?

    A few other differences for 2016 … Lewis replaced Pitts, Maddox missed 4 games; Whitehead missed 3 1/2

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  2. It definitely does take courage to publish predictions. My perception is that Dokish is wrong about as often as he is right. My problem with him, as it is with others who do his type of work, is that they rarely acknowledge their errors and will typically make an effort to contort the intent to diminish how wrong they were. I also don’t understand why people quote him or paraphrase him and others as if they are unquestionable experts. They’re people with opinions who are either paid to express those opinions or have considerable time on their hands. They are perceived to be sufficiently accurate so as to be credible.

    One of the more humorous things I saw in regard to Dokish were some tweets he had put out pumping up Pitt basketball earlier in this season. Somebody then responded by captioning a Dokish tweet after Stallings was announced as coach in which Dokish stated he was done with Pitt basketball. No response from Dokish. A couple of weeks ago Dokish tweeted that if you refused to follow Pitt basketball while Stallings remains as coach that you aren’t a true fan of Pitt basketball.

    Zeise is my favorite predicting coward of the moment. He had repeatedly said in December on The Fan that he believed Pitt basketball would finish in the top half of the ACC this season. He said that they had the talent and that Stallings had the appropriate style to mesh with the team. I’ve not heard or seen an admission of error and Zeise has stated in an article a couple of weeks ago that the team probably doesn’t have the talent to compete for the top half of the ACC.

    WRT the Pitt DBs next year. I think it will help that the likely guys next season are all bigger and hopefully physical. I also think it would help immensely if their technique is coached to watch the receiver’s actions and turn their head for the ball. Seems like as long as a DB turns his head for the ball and isn’t clearly impeding the receiver’s ability to catch it, there will be no PI. The VT game was the most egregious example of this last season. It would also help if the D line can collapse the pocket rather than individually try to breech gaps on passing plays.

    Thanks Reed!

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    1. I don’t mind Dokish for not acknowledging his errors except for the fact the he often tells you when he was right. I read his stuff for the same reason I read all other Pitt stuff (PSN, PantherLair, PG, Trib, Cardiac Hill, etc) … to get information.

      Heck, if Dokish’s (and now PSN) predictions were right on recruits preferring Pitt, our team would be perennial Top 10

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  3. Oh good! Lafayette Pitts is once again redeemed as an overlooked and underappreciated star and Pitt D played NFL caliber QBs. Is it just me or are NFL teams frequently wrong about college QBs? The point was or should be that those same future NFL QBs didn’t typically produce similar results against more competent defensive teams.

    Also, the defensive secondary was sliced and diced before and during the games that Maddox and Whitehead went down. I recall that some fans were actually thankful, without malice toward Maddox actually being injured, that Maddox would be out of action.

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    1. Pitt played:

      Deshaun Watson — won

      Mitch TrubiskyALMOST won lol

      Mason RudolphAlmost Won

      Jerod EvansAlmost Won

      Brad KaayaErrr, not even close but offense crapped-the-bed too

      —– If any poster does not comprehend how good those QB’s Are then they should not be trying to post on Football — just saying lol

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      1. DK, you omitted the PSU QB who turned out to be pretty good … to the tune of 49 points vs USC, loaded with 4-stars DBs. And PSU also scored 38 pts vs Wisc (7th ranked defense … which only proves how helpless you can be vs NFL caliber QBs and WRs)

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    2. AS I indicated when I posted Dokish’s article on the last thread, the reason I did it was for his take on Maddox this past year … which I happen to agree with, since there was a discussion about him on the thread. I dont care that he is only 5’7 … he was still our best DB this year.

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  4. @Reed, let’s go-over the entire Starting Secondary this season, in the final season of weeding-out the Chryst+House Era:

    Reggie Mitchell (2 star recruit — Paul Narduzzi desperation transfer who was maybe going to get on kickoff team as a Senior at Wisconsin) + Terrish Webb (2 star / Not Ranked, part of the: Get Tyler Boyd to Pitt sweepstakes) + Avonte Maddox (2 star, low 3 star MAC offered recruit from Detroit, 5’7”, 4.5 – 40 guy Pitt beat out Bowling Green and Central Michigan for) + Ryan Lewis (2 star, pure-legacy recruit from Washington State who only got meaningul playing time as a RS Senior because Chryst left the cupboard so bare)….then: Dennis Briggs (unranked recruit of Pittsburgh City Schools) ….. You get the point.

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  5. ^^^ Sorry Safety Reggie Mitchell was brought to Pitt by Paul Chryst I meant — Pat Narduzzi recruited young Safeties other Power 5 Programs were actually fighting-for out of High School.

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  6. Guys,
    After that incredible Super Bowl game I was in the mood to rewatch one of Pitt’s great games from this past year. Naturally, I chose our BIG win at Clemson. While it was our signature W for the year, it was a mistake to rewatch it! Why? Our D backs were so PATHETIC it’s all the announcers could talk about the whole game! And rightly so!
    Reed, you are absolutely right to continually call out our worst ranked pass D in the nation. For evidence, just rewatch the Clemson game! Please don’t tell me “Hey, we won the game”. Watch it again and you will painfully see that we won the game DESPITE of our disgustingly BAD D system and lack of talent. Both the “x & o’s” and the “john and joes” were deplorable. I made a HUGE mistake in rewatching it.
    #H2 P

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  7. I’m with you Reed, if this season’s defensive secondary isn’t significantly improved, with the talented players now in the pipeline then ITS THE COACHING!

    Not sure how you see it being a 50/50 proposition, predicting how incoming talent is going to pan out. JUCO guys & grad transfers that have a larger body of work to analyze after HS, maybe, but figuring out if HS stars are future contributors in the college game is a pure crap shoot & those odds are rarely 50/50.

    So much can go wrong in making that HS to D1 transition. Academics, injuries, the competition for playing time, major change in environment, being away from home, etc., & just continuing to develop one’s potential into adulthood both physically & mentally, all variables that need to be considered in predicting future success.

    Two quick examples of star recruits that most all recruiting services labeled as blue chippers destined as college All Americans, Rushel Shell & Robert Foster.

    Neither blossomed to reach their individual potentials. With Shell it was attitude & lack of comittment to put in 100% to reach it, with Foster it was injuries at the key period when he had to produce or get buried in the depth chart on a team filled with exceptional talent that simply passed him by. So in the final tally, any Monday QB analyst who calls out those who venture out on such thin ice to predict the futures incoming recruits are really at a distinct advantage because even 4 star recruits can end up as total washouts in a program, if any of the variables detailed above surface to bite them in the ass. So I’d say the odds are more like 25/75 for 3 stars and 40/60 for 4&5 stars odds for predicting future success.

    That being said, if your team is loaded with a half dozen 4 star recruits for a position like DE where only two starters are required, well then those elite teams just reload year after year, think Ohio State & Alabama. Teams like Pitt by comparison, to be good you have to be lucky with all of your blue chippers panning out because when they don’t you don’t have another 4 star guy right behind him waiting for their turn.

    On Pitt’s roster right now, we are one level down in that equation. Our up and comers are all highly recruited 3 stars now with multiple offers from power 5 schools at many positions. Maybe not as deep at some positions as others but on paper HCPN is just recruiting better recruits in general.

    Now specifically, last year and this year’s recruiting classes focused on bringing in a lot of DBs with our prized recruit in years 15, 16. & now 17 all being 4 star DBs. Whitehead in 15, Hamlin in 16 & now Ford in 17.

    These facts will prove out to be the difference makers in the dramatic improvement that can be anticipated in our defensive secondary in the near future. If this doesn’t transpire by 2018, then for sure it’s not because of a lack of talented players available but rather an inability to develop the talent available in an effective defensive scheme for those players to be successful on the field, AKA inadequate coaching.

    We’ll see soon enough. My spin on the matter, we get lots better this season! Hail to Pitt!

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  8. Dokish has lost me with all his political statements. If you are that myopic on one subject you are most likely that way on all other subjects. Therefore, I do not think his opinions are very credible.

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  9. Hey guys – I was just showing you someone else’s POV on the DBs talent levels. I didn’t say they were that good.

    Dark – I suggest to take some of that energy you put into disparaging my posts and put it into researching the comparisons of those ‘great’ QB we faced and what they did against Pitt compared to what they did against all the other teams they faced last season.

    Oh wait!! – I already did that and posted it twice – it was so much more yardage and TDs against Pitt then they averaged against other teams it isn’t funny even… but keep on thinking that the only team they played was Pitt and that those QBs were the reason we completely sucked at pass defense and not the staff and players we have in Oakland.

    Those QBs’ other opponents were not dick-stomped nearly as badly as Pitt was against them… yet Pitt fans continue to point outward for the root of our troubles instead of taking a clear look at what actually transpired.

    It wasn’t them; it was us.

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  10. Part of “us” as dumb as this sounds >, was the PITT offense. They were so prolific and scored so fast, it no doubt put a burden on the other team to score often. A case in point is the New England Patriots last Sunday. Brady looked like he lost all ability until they went down by 25. What happened then? He set a super bowl record in passing. Why? He had to throw and throw often.

    PITT’s offense last year actually was just a small part in why the pass defense was so terrible but was in fact a problem.

    BTW, Hamlin was hurt 2 years ago with a sports hernia and he should have never played last.

    Reed, you think you can find anything on George Hill. I have read where he may a small chance to have his heart condition helped in some way and possibly allowing him to play football again. This would be great news not so much for PITT but for George Hill. I say this with all honesty.

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  11. I tried to focus on one player in particular at games I attended- Terrish Webb.-virtually never in position to defend against the pass and fundamentally a
    Piss poor tackler.. Duzz had to have better freshmen on the bench ..my guess is Duzz was
    trying to redshirt all the frosh until injuries took their toll.
    There seemed to be little safety help throughout the season… case in point was the VaTech game where the continued to throw alleyoop/jump balls to their taller receivers against or short CBS…of course not getting pressure on the QB is a big factor in progressing in 2017..
    UPitt mentioned last year that Duzz’s D in the past outside the slow BigJoke has been known to give up some big scores so questions remain…regarding the caliber of players on the field and Duzz’s system on the best P5 conference in the country and our PITT Panthers playing the toughest non-con schedule in the country…Bring it on!!!

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  12. The new defensive back candidates have “Potential”, but I’m not a believer until I see the results. Also one should keep in mind that playing a DB in the Narduzzi/Conklin defenses one has to be not just good but very good to make a big difference. I hate to even bring this up but what little I saw of Hamlin last year didn’t excite me in the least. Now to get thrown out there as a freshman in the Narduzzi scheme is not exactly an ideal situation for any recruit. Hopefully some of these young man develop quickly because right now I see PSU tearing up our DB’s come next September.

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  13. Quit reading Dokish’s …I figure anyone who has his head stewed on backwards with his extreme intolerant leftist views is not worthy reading.. probably fake news.. I learn way more on here…
    tickets on sale through PITT… ordered a pair for Ga Tech and Va Tech

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    1. I don’t think the criticism of Dokish because of his political views is fair and I don’t agree with any of those views. I cringe when I read what he had to say but it’s his Twitter account. To say that his political views means his football acumen is suspect just makes no sense. Do you think that there are people out there with his political views who are billionaires because of what they see and all of us don’t see? If you think not you know not what you are talking about.

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  14. I believe HCPN is kicking himself in the butt for putting Hamlin on the field this past year .. and it may have shown just how desperate he was. Now, if by late October this year he shows no real improvement, then I worry about him.

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  15. Love the concept of not being able to separate political views and football recruiting analysis…. those subjects are pretty closely related… lol…. I think the use of the word “intolerant” is ironic there.

    Dokish and PSN are Pitt dreamers, but they do put in the time and effort. Time and effort that I do not have to put in myself so for that I am grateful.

    This team needs to win this year or things will get very stale I think both on the recruiting front and fan perspective. The schedule is wide open except for the tough back to back (toughest in the nation at this point in time BTW). Need to capitalize

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  16. So are there any predictions for next year or will there be a predictions post Reed? The schedule is way to hard with a new QB I think. 5-6 wins this year and rebuild again the next 2 years.

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  17. I’m predicting or at least hoping like hell that before spring practice PITT doesn’t come out and tell the world all the bad news concerning players health and playing status.

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  18. Hey, BigB — Let’s turn this around. I really disagree with what you just wrote and because of that everything you say about anything is absolutely worthless. Pretty “intolerant” (not to say ridiculous), no?

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  19. Burger@ 1;30, I find it ironic that you lumped Dokish and PSN together in your post. Fact is that Dokish and Mke Vukovcan who runs PSN are polar opposites when it comes to political viewpoints. Yet they both very much “tolerate” each other, and both are (as we all are) extremely passionate Pitt fans or they wouldn’t do what they do.

    This is our common ground

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  20. Why must politics always come into play? Someone can have views on sports that have NOTHING to do with their politics. I find it funny that when someone posts a liberal view and all the conservatives get upset – and vice a versa. They BOTH should look in the mirror lol.

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  21. Well, I am left of center but because this is a strict “no politics ” blog it doesn’t matter.

    Dokish and PSN are homers and that’s fine but that’s not how I or you guys roll. We are pretty open and honest with our opinions, negative or positive.

    Besides, how very boring would it be if we all agreed on things?

    I can say that I have first hand feedback from some Pitt people who read us and really appreciate your comments and use them iwhen looking inward at the program and athletic dept.

    The positive feedback I get from other Pitt fans at the games and events is fantastic and I hear that they read the POV for the reasons stated above… we don’twalk in lockstep with the other media and that is the sole reason we do this– it takes time, effort and $$ to do this as much as we all do.

    Which is why I keep reminding all you that each comment you post is read by literally tens of thousands of readers. In that we have influence that is sort of hidden… but that is exactly the case.

    I have met very few who don’t like what they read here… some are sick of me, but really appreciate you guys.

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  22. If I can go back to the topic from yesterday on unsung heroes, I was thinking about that from the basketball perspective this morning on my way to work. The name Pat Cavanaugh popped into my head. I believe that he was a walk on guard from the 90s who turned into a pretty decent point guard with a penchant for hitting big shots late in games..he gets my unsung basketball hero vote.

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    1. About the only part of the comment about Pat Cavanaugh that was accurate was that he was a walk on point guard in the early 90s. He played with a lot of heart and hustle, but was not very good. I was a student at the time, and never understood why he got the minutes he did. I don’t think any of his teams made the NCAAs, although I may be wrong about that. Last I knew he was running a very successful promotional products business in Pittsburgh. I had a friend who worked for him years ago and said it was awful working for him.

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  23. I have to correct myself. Pat Cavanaugh played in late 80s. He was on some teams with Charles Smith and company which did have some success. The early 90s teams were less successful. Pat was named team captain twice, which was a testament to how hard he worked. Paul Evans loved him for reasons I never fully understood.

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  24. Maybe I just admired Pat Cavanaugh’s hustle, or it could be that I always root for an underdog…For the same reason I always liked to watch Darren Morningstar too.

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  25. When will it be determined whether Hamlin receives a redshirt for the 2016 season? I like the medical argument that he had surgery, tried to make a go of it, and couldn’t do it. I think it is 70-30 for a redshirt.

    I like Jeff Delaney as an unsung hero. He made some big plays and was solid. He wasn’t a 5 star or anything. One of the fastest dudes I ever knew.

    On Narduzzi’s recruiting, we are getting bigger, stronger and faster. I personally think we are about two years away from a breakout recruiting class. Partridge makes us really strong in Flurrrida! What is Narduzzi waiting for. Make it happen.

    Still like Tressel as AD. We have to look at that option. He wants to build a power because so many doubted him. He would be great for 5 years. Tressel and Dantonio are tight.

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