The Spring Game is Up Next

I think I could describe the perfect quarterback. Take a little piece of everybody.  Take John Elway’s arm,  Dan Marino’s release,  maybe Troy Aikman’s drop-back,  Brett Favre’s scrambling ability,  Joe Montana’s two-minute poise and, naturally,  my speed.
Peyton Manning

What do we expect to see out on the field in April when Pitt holds its 2017 edition of the Spring game?  Will anyone jump out at us and make us shift focus from players we already have penciled in as starters?  Is anyone going to make us forget the players who just graduated from that position leaving it open?

I don’t know but let’s look at a prime position where this will happen.  First we’ll start as every football fan does – looking directly at the QB.

I don’t believe anyone who has been logically following Pitt football over the past two years thinks that Pat Narduzzi brought in ex-USC Trojan QB Max Browne 26_4826581to do anything but be the starter in September.  Recent history shows that he wants results from that position right away and will do what is necessary to make sure that happens.

He sat down the incumbent starter returning after the 2014 season and tossed Peterman to the top of that QB heap. He’ll do exactly the same with Browne with the only difference being there is no one returning that has played more than one half of a football game.

However I’ve had conversations with some Pitt fans who are just sure that Browne was brought in to back up the heir-apparent rsFR Tom MacVitte. Had to burst their bubble on that thought right quick.  Others feel like Browne will be the starter but that we’ll still see a lot of MacVitte as the QB2, that he’ll get a good amount of playing time and maybe even platoon with Browne.

Well, you guys have heard this from me before but… I’ll believe that when I see it.  In two years under Pat Narduzzi we have seen virtually none of the back-up QB once the starter is ensconced.  None at all last season until an injury forced him and Oh Canada to reach into the QB depth in the Pinstripe Bowl.

And that move opened up another can of worms and made some fans think all of a sudden that rsFR Ben DiNucci was put in instead of SR QB Manny Stocker, who had been taking the QB2 snaps all season long.  Apparently taking them anyway – after the game reports from Narduzzi when asked about the surprise insertion was that DiNucci was taking practice snaps prior to the bowl game so that’s why he flung him into the fray.

Anyway – all this adds up to, in my opinion, a non-issue (but still fun to discuss).  Browne is the starter no matter what happens before April and straight through until the opener against Youngstown State.

Now, I’m not at all sold on Browne as a D1 Power Five starter being super successful.  The fact that he started a few games at USC in the Pac-10 conference means nothing really.  I also really don’t care at all that he was the #1 recruit back in 2013 – we just read an article that showed what highly rated recruits did 10 years later and the super recruits failed just about as often as others did.

But on the other hand Peterman had even less experience than Browne did and he just had the best year any Pitt QB has had in decades. So it is a mystery and a fun one to think about and discuss.

here are Browne’s career stats to date:


Here is a compendium of Browne’s experience at USC.  I think the most interesting thing in all of this is a mention from his FR year:   He won USC’s Co-Lifter of the Year Award.

That ties in perfectly with what the PSN guys just posted a few days ago – this quote on Browne from HCPN:

“Max was one of those guys that had a lot of faith and kept sticking with us through looking for an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. … He’s been nothing but a leader and a tough guy in the weight room.” 

Hooo Raaa!!  We all know games are won in the S&C gym

If I sound like I’m down on Browne that isn’t the case – I think he’s a potential lifesaver for our offense because I don’t think MacVitte is anywhere ready to play and I don’t believe DiNucci has  D1 talent for a starting gig or even 2nd string role.

I am of the thought that our defense is going to give up big points again in 2017.  Maybe not the outrageous 35.2 that we graciously allowed our opponent’s last year.

Sirs, Good afternoon – here is your table. I’m Josh and I’ll be your server today… You say you’d like a touchdown?  Then may I suggest you pass the ball?  That seems to be the all the rage this season!

I think we’ll still be giving out 30+ points in ’17 so our offense again is going to have to keep pace to pull our asses out of the fire as they did eight times last year.  With Peterman and Conner gone, and with a new vagabond OC I’m not so sure that will happen – so the QB play is going to be under even more pressure than usual.

It may sound like I’m parroting the PSN piece I did read it when published but stats are stats…and there is only so much to talk about.  Maybe I am …but in a ton more detail.

Anyway, my worry is that Browne can’t throw the deep ball as well as Peterman did last season.  Peterman had a truly outstanding average of 15.4 yards per completion and as PSN stated that was good for 4th nationally – that’s to go along with his overall 8th nationally in total Passing Efficiency.

Here is what we have had from our last decade’s QBs in terms of their best Yards Per Completion. As you can see Peterman blew his predecessors away with this important production.


Guys – I know I harp about this and I know that is because I have been a Peterman fan since June of 2015… but he did such a damn excellent job for us last year.  We may not see an as effective QB as he was at Pitt for a very long time.

Browne’s career YPC at USC was a poor 9.4 yards and that six yards is a huge drop off.  Plus he’ll be throwing to receivers who, for the majority, don’t have a ton of experience past the two returning starters Weah and Q. Henderson.  And Weah is still a crap shoot as to whether he brings the ball in or not.

But we have speed in the WR waiting room and I’m hoping Watson & Browne (Purveyors of Fine Foods) can take advantage of that.

So I’m thinking we’ll go backwards in that area and that would hurt our offense a lot.  Browne just has never been known for a real strong arm since he’s been in college.

Now, there is a dynamic at play that could make a ton of difference in 2017.  Browne just saw a Pitt QB who also transferred in not only have a great year but also positioned himself to be an NFL draft pick – no small potatoes in any young man’s eyes.

So I think the motivation factor will be there for sure.

Another real plus for me about Browne is that he graduated USC with a degree in only 2.5 years after he enrolled. That level of dedication and intelligence says something to me and it may just be that stats and numbers aside this young man has the desire and grit to really succeed at Pitt and let’s hope that’s the case because we sorely need him to stay healthy and be as effective as possible.

I think we’ll see a smart and confident leader out there and one who will be productive but just that.  Something along the lines of Peterman;’s 2015 year when he first took over the QB job:

2015 193 314 2287 61.5 7.28 51 20 8 25 138.6 59.4 68.0

We’ll get our first public look at Browne at the Spring Game in a few months but I’ll go up a couple of times earlier to watch as much as I can of spring practices and tell you what I see.


Check out this piece by PSN today – you won’t ever see that happen on the POV.  They do it their way and that’s fine, we’ll do it our way and remain a family.

Our great POV’er Erie Express, Mr. Eric Caldwell, is really ramping up the plans for the POV Golf Outing in April.  It will be at the Quicksilver Golf Club – close to Pittsburgh and it looks beautiful.  He’s busting his butt making things just right for everyone and I can’t wait. Thanks Eric…

I have no idea who these ladies are but they show up when you look up images for Quicksilver on Google… Right there doubles the entrance fee.  Also the course has a house band…


53 thoughts on “The Spring Game is Up Next

  1. Geez, I thought those girls were the ones Upitt sent up for the outing! Either that or they are the Carrick 5th grade art class all grown up!
    Eric, glad you could work it out with Karl( the GM) for the outing. If there is something we would need or request from him let me know and I’ll talk to him. For those of you who haven’t been to the course they have a great clubhouse. The course is somewhat easier now as they have removed some trees, and the greens are a bit slower(done to speed up play), but at that time of year it should be all most of us can handle!


  2. The only reason Dinucci was the #2 QB was because Macvittie was redshirted. Mac was the #2 QB at Pitt going all the way back into camp, where he took that position about 1 week deep into Pitt camp. Had Peterman got injured early in the season, Mac would have been the starter, not Dinucci.

    Was Peterman really a great downfield thrower, or were Pitt’s WR’s just really fast and able to make big plays? Weah and Henderson were two of the best yards after catch players in the country, which are severely skewing Petermans stats. Its easy for a QB to look good when a player catches the ball for 10 yards then runs for 70.

    Where is Tawny?


  3. You can’t use yards per catch as a measurement of “going deep”. I honestly can’t think of a true successful going deep pass all last year except maybe Orndorf’s tap catch. Perhaps there were others but I can’t remember one. The high yards per catch for Peterman was due to JW’s speed and strength after the catch and QH’s QH.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you Nathan Peterman for your contributions to the Pitt football program. Although you were only here for half of your college career you will always be viewed through my eyes as 100% a Pitt man


  5. I’m assuming that the golf outing date has not been set yet while Eric is still waiting for an announcement on the date of the Spring game. I can’t commit to the golf outing until I know that date. Planning on it, if it’s set for the weekend of the 15th or 22nd of April though.


  6. Reed, what makes you think that PN calls the shot on the QBs PT in lieu of the OC? I can see PN taking over on defense during the game, but I believe he’s been pretty much hands-off on offense .except maybe some 4th down call. There was no reason at all for PN to butt in this last season. I’m pretty sure PN wasn’t sorry to see Chaney leave but the fact Pitt countered with > $1M for Canada showed the reverence he had for him.


  7. Correct on the golf date – waiting for Pitt to announce the Spring Game date.

    I thought maybe we’d find out when the OC was hired. I was mistaken, as it must coincide with the AD hire – waiting…


  8. EE I assumed the gals were our caddies – great job!
    i am with Reed on NP, he was the best QB we had in a long, long time. Thanks NP – wish the local team would take a flier on you.
    Until we see Max Browne it will be hard to know if he can throw deep, he sure wasnt a top rated HS QB on what I’ve seen as his Savage foot speed.


  9. good article. couple things:

    I agree with the couple posters wondering how and when did Peterman become a good deep passer? Another case of the lying stat. imo he was an outstanding intermediate passer throwing to speedy receivers who broke tackles or just outran the defenders. He was tremendously improved his second year. Something that Browne won’t have a chance at. It’s a one shot deal and that could be a problem… but I do believe Browne has a very strong arm.

    I do agree Reed, that we may see more of a Peterman first year type QB than his second year. but…..Browne did play more and in more important situations at USC including becoming the starting QB last year than NP ever did at Tenn.

    Question? Who was the starting QB at USC keeping Browne on the sidelines? I know from last year but earlier on?

    Seeing the uniform Marino is wearing in pic just makes me upset again they didn’t get the colors right. No biggie but c’mon man. They blew it.

    Reed, I’ll be real interested in your predictions for next years record come late summer. I can’t see how you are going to feel PITT can win 8 or 9 games with your outlook on the entire team. The defense is still going to suck and the offense won’t score as many points (which isn’t that far fetched) with next years schedule. Calling Watson a vagabond has a negative connotation to it as well, imo. It’s easy to see that I’m a half glass full when it comes to PITT football and I’m probably the one who keeps wishing too hard for good to finally come to the PITT football program.. …….ike



  10. Ill offer a prediction. North Carolina is going to stink next year. They lost 95% of their starting offense and all their coordinators left the program or quit. Pitt beats North Carolina, 1-0. Go Pitt


  11. Brown is a nice addition and will lend experience and leadership to the offense. MacV will be better for another year of growth and experience although limited. Nice win for the BB team. Things have stabilized as the seniors get it. TEAM PLAY. Recruiting is picking up and give him a couple years to sort it out.


  12. My guess is that Max Browne’s stats will fall somewhere between Nate Peterman’s first and second Pitt seasons stats..Also call it a hunch, but I predict Kenny Pickett will give Thomas MacVittie añ all out battle for the starting QB job in 2018..


  13. I truly we will be better on defense next year for multiple reasons. First we played against some of best QB’s in the country. We will have tough time with psu and mcsorley. A lot of others are gone so that helps. Another is secondary has some young guns who will learn on the job. We will have some good dlineman. I see growth at linebackers We wlill be better and completion QBs not as strong. Offensively I agree our ends are fast and helped the longer throws seem long We had good QB and I hope that we are better equipped this year with a few more choices to go to if needed. We will have some breakout seasons for some of younger recruits. I am positive. We need a few breaks blocked field goal?? To turn it around to great season. H2P


  14. Now to answer the question:

    Hendrix and Edwards will be great replacements for Price and Edwards/Blair. (Edwards will be greatly improved) I’m not sure what happened to Rori and why he didn’t play in the bowl game but he may be running out of chances. Roy and Folston backing up but my surprise pick here to contribute is Bryce Hargrove. Big young man who was considered a bit of a get when he signed.

    WR, Aaron Matthew was an absolute beast on special teams as a gunner. He has the guts, drive and athleticism to be a star and could be a real riser this coming year. Watch out for him

    DB’s: I love Bricen Garner, a player who is always around the ball. He will help in some ways this year for sure. Paris Ford will not be re-shirted and not surprise me because I know he’s dam great! Hamlin, Coleman and watch out for Jalen Williams. < could be a sleeper as well?

    OLB is another spot that could have surprises. I have always loved Zeise, add Pugh and my surprise pick here, Elias Reynolds. I know everyone is high on Pine and he will be an upgrade but the talent level will go up 10 notches this year for this years entire line-backing core..

    imo …………….ike



  15. Good win at home vs the Cuse.
    Spring game at Heinz?
    Will they at least tarp off the upper deck?
    And have a real Pitt script at the 50?
    And will we have a real AD by then?
    Answers: ?, NO, NO and BIG NO


  16. Ike, we are going to have a very inexperienced defense this year with young kids at all the crucial positions… now that might mean there is more talent there, maybe maybe not we don’t know yet, but there’s an awful lot less experience. The only linebacker we’re going to have with any real playing time is Wirginis. Brightwell got a little bit as did Oluwu, but our defensive line is going to be brand new and that’s a big deal.

    While I think Watson might be a good one, he’s had a lot of different jobs over the last four years. It’s as if he’s going down on the scale until Pitt hired him but that doesn’t mean he won’t do well for us, we’ll have to wait and see. But he won’t have the type of prime talent that Matt Canada had I believe.

    We keep hiring guys that were fired from their jobs and that’s how I see Pitt being just as reluctant to open up the pocketbook now as they ever have been. By the way that offer of $1M to Matt Canada was proffered to him after he came back from Baton Rouge from his interview and already had the new position wrapped up. I had written that before.

    That was a smoke offer because Pitt knew it wasn’t going to be taken.

    MacVitte was not the next QB up in 2016. It was Stocker until the last regular season game.


  17. Hmm. You stated Peterman had even less experience than Browne did..
    Based on stats above, it looks like Browne played about 2 and a 1/2 games or so?
    Pretty sure Peterman played more than that in 2015 coming into the 2016 season.


  18. The defense will be better simply because it can’t be any worse.
    That said, which defensive linemen step up?
    Blair – unreliable.
    Hendrix – has not really seen the field in two years and, depending on his foot injury, may not see it again.
    And if they are moving a 210 lb linebacker to DE, what does that say about the quality of players already there?
    We will be better, but I doubt by much.


  19. Losing experienced players vs gaining much more highly athletic and speedy defenders? You see that as a negative and I see it as a positive. How many times did I see at the hike of the ball and after only a second or two, Galambos and Caprara’s heads snap skyward as if they were at the Latrobe airshow watching the Blue Angels fly over their heads without ever moving a single step? Answer, many upon many. Yes, I know that superman couldn’t have done anything to stop those plays but why were they standing there 5 yards off the line of scrimmage? Because they were run support and couldn’t be afforded to drop off the line of scrimmage because they were way too slow to recover.

    Now think back to one of the biggest plays for PITT last year. You know the one where Brightwell was 15 to 20 yards downfield to intercept Watson’s pass and return it 60 yards back down the field. Why didn’t we ever see Caprara doing that? He didn’t have that speed.

    How bout Jarrett? Loved the kid but PITT almost won as many games without him on the field as PITT did with him. He’s not irreplaceable. Oh and BTW, His replacement (Taleni) also made one of the biggest plays of the year for PITT. (also against Clemson)

    Soto may be missed but only if the young guns don’t step up. I do think the depth will be improved though.

    DB’s? No brain-er here. Another year of experience for some and others will add that speed so sorely lacking

    See Reed, My glass is half full and you tell it like it is. Don’t tell me the cage match is back on?… ike



    1. Northwestern’s 4th quarter TD (which was the difference in the game) was when PiItt was actually playing zone, and their TE ran a crossing pattern … Caprara missed pickimg him up and we was wide open, and scored


  20. One thing is for sure. There is a ton of young, hungry talent on the defensive side of the football and it’s going to be fun watching how it all plays out. On offense I love Aaron Mathews as a player who will have a big year. He’s gifted with talent and size. Plus, to my eye, he plays with great desire. He’s going to make some good things happen.


  21. Peterman had a heck of a year for Pitt, but he also missed some open guys and the OC didn’t have enough confidence in him to let him throw on third downs on our own side of the field until well into the season. Not knocking Nate, that would be crazy, but he was far from perfect, meaning that Max B. can be far from perfect too and still have an excellent year.

    What I worry about most is how smoothly NP handled the tricky timing of the jet sweeps and the quick handoffs – I think they only botched it maybe two times all season. And the offense was really disciplined regarding penalties – I hope that Mr. Watson can have carry over the offense being a well-oiled cat.

    And hopefully Max will master that slant pattern throw to Jester like Nate did. That is a dangerous weapon with Jester’s speed – ask the Orange.

    ERIE EXPRESS —– Never played Quick Silver, but it looks like it has a lot of sand traps??? I hate sand traps! But please put me down as intending to play. Do we play a scramble or do I have to play my own shot? Are there any other left-handed POV golfers out there?

    Go Pitt.


  22. Example of player staying home to be home town hero instead of going to Creepy Valley and becoming one of the Pedo Cult and Nitter Nation. Thank God he didnt become one of those zombies.


  23. Ike — surprised by your call on Bryce Hargrove. I remember watching his video and thinking he didn’t have the quickness for defense. I’m betting he ends up on the offensive line, but we could sure use a couple guys having the light go on at DE…

    Go Pitt.


    1. Thanks MM, I kind of dropped the ball on Hargrove there. I have gotten in the habit of using “ourlads” roster listing over the years as they do stay on top of things. Hargrove is listed at 6’4″ 260 lbs but his # is 71 so I guess that was the plan I wasn’t asked for my opinion on. So scratch that although he could contribute on the O-Line in a few years I suppose.


  24. The biggest thing we may miss from the QB play of Browne this year is the running ability that Peterman showed several times in games last year. He was never utilized that much in that part of the game for good reason IMO because Pitt had no capable backup to take his place. Had Peterman gone done in game #1 instead of the bowl game Pitt would have been lucky to have won 4 games last year.—-As for Narduzzi’s contribution on offense, I see it as very little and thus Watson will be calling most of the shots on that front. He may inclined to use the backup QB much more than our previous two OC’s. If MacVittie has the foot speed posted about previously getting him outside the pocket on occasion for some plays utilizing his height and foot speed may not be out of the question.—-As for the D, Pitt will have to utilize what it can with whatever speed it could inject in their lineup this year over last to make a difference on that side of the field. Doing so may or may not result in any improvement displayed over the past two year. I have my doubts as the loss of Price certainly detracts from some speed at the end position.


  25. @Erie, Hopefully us over 65 can hit from senior tees no matter the format. Thanks for organizing. Gonna be a blast.


    1. Yes, we will make the Gold tees in play for the older players.

      Exception: Dr. Tom will need to hit from the back tees regardless of his age.


  26. Thoughts on the defensive line coach (Sims potential replacement) –

    Charlie Partridge’s name was floated, but that feels like Sean Miller for BB or Jim Tressel for AD – high on the Pitt fan wish list, but out of reach for various reasons.

    What about former cuse HC and previous D coach Scott Shafer. I know he has visited Pitt during the 2016 season and he and HCPN have a brief history together at RI and Northern Illinois.

    Just a thought –

    As an alumni donor, I’d kick in more if Tressel was the AD choice and the school needed more to close the deal. I wouldn’t be able to close the deal, but I’d pony up something. Barney never did contact me during his brief AD term except to ask me to buy BB season tickets – I asked to be removed from that call list until further notice…


  27. If Tressell is hired, you will see boosters from the 70’s come out of the woodworks. The money will flow in. Now with money, there must be accountability and controls. Checks and balances. Because money corrupts. And I dont want Pitt to cheat like NC and allow a child rapist to hang out in showers. But the fundraising would be astronomical. And in this business, its money that helps make champions.


  28. Johnson, Biz, Price, Orndoff, Peterman and Conner all picked to participate in NFL combine .. the most in a long time. Anything that can be used to influence recruits is good


  29. Couple of things:

    This is the official Pitt Football website and what I used for the roster, stats, archives – a wealth of info:

    Peterman could run very well and if you take out the “sack yardage” which was 10 sacks and (-) 75 yards (awesome!!!) he had 62 carries for 456 yards which is 7.4 ypc. Voytik’s in 2014 with the same adjustment was 9.0 so we have had two good running QBs in a row.

    But only 10 sacks given up last year – that will drop off a bit but we need to keep up that pace with a less mobile QB in Browne.

    Erie is really working hard on the Golf Outing and we’ll shoot out the details the day Pitt announces the Spring Game.

    More donation gifts are in the mail as we speak…thanks for your patience.


  30. Anytime now the NCAA will probably allow for an extra coach on the staff. That would put PITT down two coaches and a AD. This isn’t cute anymore. I’ve come completely across the field on this secretive issue with Narduzzi. There is a definite need for a little more transparency down on the south-side and at PITT.

    Reed, can’t you get your hands on a cutter and cruise on down the Monongahela with a periscope and a high def camera attached?


    1. Ike – Pitt also needs a HC for wrestling. Barney was working hard these past two months for his paycheck. Wait, I meant hardly working. My dyslexia kicked in there for a moment…


  31. I would cough up coin for Tressel.
    Would withhold for Herman or an equivalent.

    Youngstown hired him.
    Why shouldn’t we?
    But alas, we will not, because we are snooty, holier-than-thou, think we are better than that.
    Redemption. Ever hear of it?


    1. hey, my dad graduated from UY (it wasn’t a state school then), and one of my best friends is a professor there (I was best man in his wedding). Our current HC’s dad was long time coach there. Our late DL coach, who is a Pitt alum, coached there.

      Both Akron and YSU extended offers to Tressel as President (not AD) … mainly because of fundraising, which like it or not, is a major criterion.

      And lastly, Tressel was forced to step down because he turned a blind eye to his players who were trading in school merchandise for tattoos …. woooo!! Compare this to what a handful of CURRENT ACC coaches were involved in, and are still prospering.


  32. Let’s be clear about Tressel. He stepped down and the NCAA levied a show cause decree, not because he looked away from the activities as noted above. Had that been the issue, he would have received a slap on the wrist from both bodies.

    Tressel lied and tried to cover it up, which sealed his fate. That’s what caused his issues. Look, who has never lied? Who has never tried to cover it up? The issue is whether he has changed his ways. As President of any University, you cannot lie, nor can you try to cover things up. Now more than ever. No scandals have hit YSU during his tenure which means to me that he has turned the corner. Why Gallagher won’t make that move flummoxes me to no end. If you want a proven winner, which Tressel is; and a leader, which Tressel is, you make that move yesterday. He is successful in all that he has done athletically from a leadership perspective. Did he lie, yes? So what! Our Chancellor and AD has lied about prioritizing athletics so that it leads to future giving. Unless you live in this space and analyze this every day and see how it is accomplished successfully, administrators will get frustrated and NEVER get it. Tressel is the home run hire and the Chancellor needs to move on this if he wants to maximize giving in 10-15 years and solidify his legacy at Pitt. Separate the offense from Tressel stellar accomplishments and it’s a no brained. Communicate fully and understand the offense completely and it shows just a minor blip on the screen. If you are afraid of this as a Chancellor, you are in the wrong profession. Hire a colleague now!


  33. EE — Scramble is nice when you have players of different skill levels or have old guys playing against the youngsters who can bomb them. Even two- man scrambles can be fun.

    But any format is fine with me.

    Go Pitt


  34. Yeah Ike, that’s true. I don’t know many folks that re-create themselves at 60. Tressel is a sports guy in an Administrators body. I would hope they would consider him strongly! He could put us on the map nationally.


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