Found the Future in a Pear Tree

It’s no surprise to Pitt fans by now that Pat Narduzzi has hired ex-Pitt Defensive Line c4pojy6xaaehdwpcoach Charlie Partridge as our new DL position coach .  Partridge was a fan favorite back in the early Dave Wannstedt head coaching days. You can see on his job chart that he was here from 2003 until 200 when he went to the Wisconsin Badgers.

And he was a fan and player favorite.  Our defenses were pretty good back then but his forte was player recruitment and then developing those players into real mainstays at their positions.  That was in his younger coaching days… he’s grown up since then.

What is pretty interesting about this hire, and this is based on  intuition, is that because  we are hiring a staff coach who has been 1) DL coach, 2) Co-Defensive coordinator, 3) Asst’ HC and the 4) a HC at Florida Atlantic. We are setting the future table.

My Pitt friends, what does that resume’ say to you?partridge-salary

That’s right… he’s Josh Conklin’s replacement as Pitt’s Defensive Coordinator if thing don’t get 1000% better on defense next year and quick like.  I think this is the first case of Pat Narduzzi really seeing the handwriting on the wall when it comes to Josh Conklin’s abilities and lack of production at a Power Five school.

Partridge was making $591K at Florida Atlantic (94th nationally) before he got fired there. So he’s not breaking the bank here at Pitt and I’ll wager he’s making less than that.  He’ll have one year under his belt if a change is called for at the DC spot.  If we start out badly enough and are getting burned in the passing game like we did last season then he’s on staff and ready to serve as an interim-DC in a pinch. 

Hey, playing both PSU and their QB McSorley (24/35, 69%, 332 yards and 1 TD last year) and then OK State’s QB Rudolph (26/46, 57%, 540 yards & 2 TDs… and  21 yards per completion!) is going to be the litmus tests on whether we have really gotten better on pass defense or not.

We’ll see a drop in our offense and I think this is going to be a precarious season in that without 40+ ppg (and we won’t get that) the defense just absolutely cannot give up 35 ppg again – not without a replica of 2016’s offense to bail them out sitting along side them.

I think some Pitt fans are somewhat kidding themselves when they say our offense is going to be as good next season – we lost five starters from that offense who were all great leaders, players and high performers for us. Plus you really never know how long it will take a new OC, in our case Shawn Watson, to get his feet under him with the real games or even to see if he’s any good as an OC at Pitt at all.

So in my opinion it is imperative that should our offense sputter over the first three games (YSU, PSU & OSU) we may well need the defense to be the bailing-outer and they may have to win games for us.  Not a comforting thought.

Any Pitt fans out there who feel confident at all that could happen at this point in time?  Didn’t think so.  Narduzzi may have to pull the trigger early on in the season, get a new DC and get way more involved in the defense himself.

Many other colleges and NFL teams make course adjustments in mid-season when things go sideways.  It isn’t all that unusual and sometimes the results are strikingly good. Narduzzi has been extremely loyal to Conklin but I strongly believe you just can’t let this defensive crap show roll downhill for three straight years. 

The reality is that as nice as 8 win seasons are we are stagnant in moving forward as a football team, the program and in the athletic department with the changes there also.  The football team missed a great opportunity to jump to 9 wins and a  possible #15 or better ranking with that loss to Northwestern. 

Believe me, if we had that last bowl won and were in consideration for a ranking the poll voters would sure as hell factored in our win over the National Champion Clemson and boosted us as high as we have been in a long time.

So what we are currently is a program that is spinning its Narduzzi wheels as far as the W/L columns go and as far as national recognition goes.  We can’t afford to slide backwards at this point… a 7 win season takes the wind right out of our sails and moves us back down close to SOP status.

Pat Narduzzi can not afford that and with a poor start we’ll be looking right at it,  so I think Charlie Partridge was an excellent hire as a stop-gap DC if needed… and as a great DL coach as per his hire.

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46 thoughts on “Found the Future in a Pear Tree

  1. Great hire. Welcome back Mr. Partridge. Seems like Conklin is going to get another season with this defense. Could we at least get a new DB coach?

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  2. Put me down as taking the under on whether the offense will be as good as last year. The defense will have to improve.

    I like this hire, not so much for a possible DC switch-out but because he is a really good position coach and the DL needs to generate better and more consistent pressure in passing situations if the overall scheme is to succeed.

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  3. two 8-4 seasons after 3 straight seasons 6-6 is not stagnation… slipping back from 8-4 this year would be the possible beginning of stagnation. but plenty of people thought pitt couldn’t get back to 8-4 in 2016. now plenty think they can’t get back to 8-4 in 2017. i think there’s going to finally be enough talent on the defense this year to get back to 8-4 or do better.

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  4. Wwb yesterday opined that Tom Sims will be brought back when the NCAA allows teams to increase to 10 coaches. Does anyone else think that is possible ? That strikes me as pure genius if it would come to pass.

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  5. My guess is Pitt lands a lot more players from Florida next year and is now the top recruiting state. Looks like the emphasis is Florida.

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  6. Good speculation re Conklin. I agree – had the same thoughts.

    Re record next year, don’t think going 1-2 will be that bad, no reason to panic and is a very real possibility … the rest of the schedule is realistically winnable and we could/(should?) end up 10-2. 9-3 is my prediction at this point though, and we go to the ACC Championship game to boot. 10-4 very possible.

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  7. It says to me lucky he can supposedly recruit Florida because his DC and HC roles have been shitty. If this guy is our future DC then God Help house. So we fire Conklin a F- and replace him with a D+?

    Imagine if we could hire a real Dac like Aranda or Chavis.

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  8. GREAT HIRE!!!!! When this rumor first arose my thought was that PN knows Pitt will not live on local players – W Pa is not what it once was. IMO Florida and Texas have the best and we are not cracking Texas. If speculation on PN going back to MSU in the next year or two CP is the only HC material in program but way too early for that speculation. I am just glad he is back.
    Though I am no fan of Conklin if you think Pitt will fire a coach short of misconduct mid-season Reed you and your caterpillar are smoking on that hookah way too much. 🙂 An internal demotion kept silent yeah maybe but it would be seen by PN as disruptive, I imagine. Now after next season an elevation to DC for Partridge certainly possible if JC poops the bed 3 years in a row..

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  9. We had an all time record breaking offense last season! Do yeah, I’m thinking that we have a drop off in offensive production in 2017,,,,,,, DUH!

    Our defense was at the opposite end of the spectrum last season, BAD. Defensive secondary, AWFUL! So once again, obvious alert!!!! Our defense is better next season. In fact by season’s end, a lot better!

    I keep explaining the circumstances, this defense gets a lot better real quick with the injection of young talent forthcoming.

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  10. LOL. doc you smoking tonight. Haha

    This guys looks 55. Cant believe he is 43.

    For a Dline hire great but by 43 you better be making it rain in college football. He barely made it as a DC and FAU couldn’t get rid of him fast enough as a HC.

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  11. I admit it. I agree with the author of this article. Nice job Reed.

    Upitt not impressed = Charlie Partridge a great hire??????

    Doc pointing out the obvious of the obvious. Heck yeah. How can PITT be that good or that bad next year?

    Still looking for that edit button myself. Right by the date huh?

    Again I like the experience with the asst coaches.

    Nice tommy, I expect PITT to be 1-1 after 2 but I think PITT beats OSU. Then of to the races for PITT!

    Unlike some, I consider this next season to be a bit of a crap shoot and if PITT falls to 7-5, depending on how the season unfolds, I won’t necessarily consider it a regression.

    Reed is the man, much like the Drake!!

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  12. Reed continues to ignore Narduzzi’s own history as a dc at MSU and his incessant preaching of loyalty. Narduzzi’s had the 116/120 ranked pass defense in year 3 at MSU. Conklin isn’t going anywhere as long as Narduzzi is here. Partridge is a great hire for recruiting and the DL, but as upitt mentioned, not much there as far as success as a dc or hc. Excellent addition though … but he’ll never be dc under Narduzzi. Doesn’t have any history with his defense either and we all know that Narduzzi is a system coach. Hopefully they bring Simms back if the NCAA approves the extra coach. Always sad to see a Pitt man lose a job. The offense will be fine. Not 2016 fine but the rb depth, improved TE playmaking ability and a veteran WR corp with a former USC team captain and 5 star qb will be fine. The OL can’t afford any injuries. This offense has a chance to be real explosive especially if Watson can successfully mix some of the elements of that Indiana offense with Canada’s.

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  13. I think Reed was more or less saying that Partridge is a safety nice net for PITT. I definitely agree with him there. Whether or not he’s a DC in waiting just in case I don’t know. imo the bottom line is Narduzzi has taken in experience to replace the turnover he has had to endure. I like that

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  14. Reed,
    Thanks for the article, really enjoyed it and agree with your thoughts. The one thing I hope you’re right on but fear you are not is Duzz dumping Conklin as D.C. and replacing him with the bird in the pear tree. I like your “wish list” but no way do I see it happening. But, like you I think Conklin Has Got To Go!
    Especially now that the bird in the pear tree can out recruit Conklin in Florida.

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  15. Ike – I just don’t even see him as a safety net. I just see him as a good recruiter and DL coach. I could see him with an assistant HC title at some point but he’ll never lead a Narduzzi defense. It took Narduzzi 4 years to get the def installed at MSU. The fact he fired the DL coach over the secondary tells you where he saw the real problem …. rushing the qb. This entire def is predicated on the DL getting pressure and forcing the qb to get rid of the ball early. When they don’t wr’s will always be wide open in 1:1 coverage. Fix the DL and you fix the secondary. That’s all this move was. I wouldn’t read too much into it.

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  16. OK TT, I do get what you’re saying but I can’t see the problem with Sims. Partridge is a D-Line coach and PITT did get pressure on the QB from the position last year. Soto and Jarrett also had good years with Soto adding pressure as well. Sims was asked to leave PITT for other reasons not explained imo.

    As far as Charlie’s future at PITT I don’t have a clue right now, although it leaves many options open. Which is good, no? One may think CP could replace Conklin in recruiting FLA…..but I like the idea of them both staying at PITT.

    and… Tossing, who in the heck knows what Narduzzi’s plans are? I do think one day his secret service way of coaching will be legendary. One way of another!

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    1. I disagree. I feel like our pass rush was very boom or bust. Unless Price got a good jump or snuck through, the defensive line would disappear for stretches and allow the QB to be very comfortable.

      The run defense was great though and should not be un noticed. But when you have one guy getting your sacks and a lot of the others from blitzing backers then miss on most of your recruits (especially at a position of need such as DE) then you get looked at by a coach.

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      1. You’re right burgher about a spotty pass rush but isn’t that the case with most teams? They way I saw it last year was most teams figured it out to snap the ball and chuck it before any pressure could be applied. I call it the “hike and chuck”, problem was… it worked too many times and it then became the rule for all teams.

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  17. I’ll take that bet Reed. I believe Partridge got a pay raise to come here and be Pitt’s DL coach. Maybe not much, but I’m guessing 600K plus on that front.—He may also be named Co Defensive Coordinator before the next season even begins.

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  18. You guys are a little too focused on Conklin being canned and replaced by Partridge. Not saying it can’t happen, but sez here it won’t happen in mid season 2017.

    Case in point: Pitt didn’t fire or even demote its secondary coach when we had arguably the worst DBs in America last year, deploying a scheme that couldn’t work with our roster personnel. Not only that, I didn’t see any effort to make scheme adjustments to help out the situation. It arguably cost us a 10 or maybe an 11 win season.

    Nope, bringing in Charlie Partridge was all about recruiting. Which by itself is a breath of fresh air, it’s the kind of move the big boys make (like LSU hiring Ed Odgeron as HC despite his less than stellar record). Pitt’s past experience says usually the opposite move is made, the most recent awful example was to promote Matt House to DC for no obvious reason and no attempt to explain or justify it.

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  19. I think this is a great hire. We need talent on the DL in order to take the next step.

    I agree with Reed that we probably just hired our new DC for next year as well.

    Does anyone else recall/remember the improvement of the linebackers from 2006 to 2007. I would love to hear what Adam Gunn and Scott Mckillop think of the guy.

    13 to 9 happened because the DL and linebackers played outta of their minds that game. I remember saying that it was one of the best defensive performances I have ever seen out of a Pitt team.

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  20. No way this guy becomes DC in 2017. Great DL hire.

    Narduzzi lets his OC do what they want. Not the case with his DC. They are running his D and the lack of adjustments prove he doesn’t want to stray from it. He fires Conklin, then he has to give up his D philosophy.

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    1. Exactly – Too many people don’t get that though. Firing Conklin would be an indictment on his own defense. It’s not happening.

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  21. Put me in with the group that think that this is mostly about D-line recruiting. f course is does bring more overall experience to the coaching staff on the defensive side. Someone that can be more valuable in making adjustments to the overall game plan. Someone that can better evaluate overall strengths and weaknesses in coaches meetings.

    I have been lamenting Pitt’s lack of talent and depth on the D-line, and linebackers for more than several years. Giving some credit to Price the last two, and Soto and Jarrett for the job they did this year. Also to Taleni for his heroics at Clemson and overall job when he replaced Jarrett.

    But this is not nearly enough if you want to compete with the big boys.You need great starters and really good depth at all positions.

    While, we are building depth, we still need more on the D-line and at linebacker.. Especially at D-End, the most important position on the defense at the college and pro levels.

    Partridge needs to get those elite D- Ends to come to Pitt.

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  22. rkb,
    I love how even your dog is a fanatic Pitt fan! But he needs to update to the new script hat. Have him go to pittpanthers.com on his computer and order one online! He looks like he’s a 67/8.

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  23. Word is that Charlie actually reached out to Narduzzi first. If this is true then any plans of bringing Sim’s back probably isn’t true. Which I didn’t believe in the first place. Still, he brings recruiting coaching and much experience to the PITT table. He’s like Mrs Dash, a little of a lot.

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  24. I like the hire for many, many reasons…many of them already said so they don’t need repeating.

    The offense will not be as good…it wouldn’t have been if everyone returned because people have seen it and we were not hit with very many serious injuries, until the Bowl game.

    The defense will be better…no question. The fact is go back and look at the starters on D and then think back at when these guys were recruited. Capara, was he a walk on, Webb, got a scholarship to get Boyd, Idowa and Lewis were footnotes the day before camp last August and ended up starting. The list goes on and on. We will be better.

    We are a year away from being a real player…which means Narduzzi is in his last year at PITT to set us back.

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