Why So !%?#^#?? Optimistic?

Note: Every so often we’ll have guest writers contribute some articles for a different Point of View toward the football program and the team. After all – we are called POV, right?  well, this is a good one from Dr. Tom Richards.

Well it finally happened.

Reed has decided to give me some extra rope. By that I mean,  he extended me the invitation to contribute an actual article for submission to the Pitt POV. Imagine that? He even gave me the subject he wanted me to expound on, that being last season’s abysmal  performance by our defensive secondary.

He also informed me that,  just like Jack Webb used to state on the old TV series Dragnet,  to give him the FACTS, just the facts, on why I’m expecting last year’s horrendous secondary performance to evaporate come 2017. No optimistic smoke & mirrors, just the hard facts, not even any alternative facts, just the hard ones.

But I know his true intentions, I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck ya know. He’s supplied just enough rope so that I can hang myself with it come about mid December, by then when we’re all bitching and moaning once again on why Pitt had such a sad repeat performance by our defensive secondary, keeping us from winning the ACC Coastal Crown yet again.

So let’s look at the facts. Last season Pitt went 8-5. Of the five games that we lost we got torched for over 400 yards through the air by our opposition three times or 60% of those games that we lost. Funny thing is, that in the only game that we were pretty much completely dominated, that being our Miami loss. Their QB, Kaaya went 30 for 47 with no INTS for 356 yards. But the difference maker wasn’t that passing attack, since in all of those three loses mentioned above, we were still in the game till the end.  The real difference maker? The Hurricaines also dominated us on the ground.

Narduzzi’s defense is a “stop the run first” mentality. And in that regard we were pretty successful throughout the season, with the exception of the Miami game. So as I see it, stopping the run and forcing the opposition to throw the ball, actually was a fairly valid philosophy that kept Pitt in every game that they played. That is except for the Miami game where we didn’t shut down their running game either, with them rushing for 187 yards with two rushing TDs.

So let’s just assume that Narduzzi remains just as stubborn in 2017 with adhering to this defensive philosophy. What are the factors that make me spout such optimism, as I have, about my expectations that our defense will go through some sort of metamorphosis? Now remember, “just the facts”.

Well the most obvious facts that many seem to interpret as apologies for Pitt’s poor secondary play has to point to a review of the competition. Of those four losses, the three where we got torched for over 400 yards plus the Miami game, we faced really, really good QBs – WR combos in every one of those contests. In fact, a Fox Sports article rates three of those four QBs as high round picks for the NFL this April.


That’s the good news. We won’t have to worry about facing Jarod Evans from VT, Brad Kaaya from Miami or Mitch Trubisky from UNC next season. The bad news? Both Mason Rudolph and his star WR James Washington return for their last year at OK St….gulp!

It wasn’t just the QBs that killed us though, we faced some talented WRs as well. Guys like Isaiah Ford from VT at 6’1” 195,  and the combo that killed us in that last heroic UNC drive that saw the Tarheels convert three 4th down plays to win against the Panthers in the final seconds of the game, Ryan Switzer & Bug Howard, now all gone to the NFL soon as well.

That’s some heady competition. And that’s not excuses, them just be the facts Jack! But Pitt didn’t always lose against that kind of talent. We did beat PSU, Clemson and Syracuse, all of whom have their own elite QB – WR combos. So why did we win those games? Mainly it was turnovers in the PSU & Clemson games and the Syracuse game was all about the offenses, BOTH OF THEM, Pitt just scored more! Was there even any defense put out there in that game, on either side?

So look it. Pitt stunk putting CBs out on their islands last season when facing elite talent, Fact#1. But when we stopped the run, we still stayed in the game Fact#2. And if we forced turnovers, we won games against quality competition, Fact#3. So where does that leave us going into 2017? Was it the Xs & Os, or the Jimmys & the Joes? Or was it the level of our competition, or maybe the turnover ratio? News flash!!! All of the above.

That is exactly why Coach Narduzzi stuck to his guns with installing this defensive system. Stop the run first, get some turnovers and make some plays and you win games. That is exactly what happened in the PSU and Clemson games. Don’t make those plays and us POV guys sit around on Sundays bitching about how Goddamn awful our defensive secondary’s play is against the guys who are good enough to play “throw and catch” over our CBs all game long.

So getting back to my optimism. Yeah, by nature I’m a glass half full kind of guy, but it doesn’t mean that I wear Pitt Blue & Gold Glasses either. Come on, if you are going to play the game, play it to win. If not, you’ve lost the game before you’ve ever stepped on the field. It’s just the way it is. That’s a Champion’s mindset Ladies and Gentlemen. You can choose to be optimistic or pessimistic, guaranteed, the optimists are the winners out there.

So why so optimistic? Like I said, I can see the warts on this team.  One of the biggest deficits in recent years has been the lack of elite recruits brought in, even worse,  simply adequate recruits to be able to compete at the P5 level. HCPC didn’t cut it with his, “just offer them”  attitude. Loser attitude! Actually I was surprised that he was able to bring in the quality OL guys that he did, his one recruiting strong point.

Lucky for us that the pedophiles to our East were under full attack by the NCAA and the courts back then or we never would have gotten Dorian Johnson in a Pitt uniform in the 1st place, and probably others as well. So yeah I bitched about the level of recruiting back then but I remained optimistic at the same time because the moral quality of the student athlete that Chryst brought in helped stabilize the program. After Fraud Graham, this program could have gone in the crapper big time. So we at least had that going for us.

So now Narduzzi comes in and we see an immediate uptick in the W-L column. With the same players that HCPC had at his disposal. Why? Attitude and mindset, that’s why. Coach Narduzzi can get mediocre kids to play well and good kids to play better. What can he do with great kids? We all are going to find out soon enough.

I’ve listed the names before, I’m not going to continue repeating them here again. The big picture is that Coach Narduzzi HAS recruited a better athlete during his short tenure here, especially DBs. Bigger, faster, more talented and more of them. He’s also opened up Florida for us once again, a football factory state for sure, and he has assembled a coaching staff that are rabid recruiters. That is going to show up on the field as wins and loses in the future, maybe the near future. To say more wouldn’t be dealing with the facts, because this talent is mostly untested and the flops will occur.

Damar Hamlin is a fine example, he came in injured, didn’t practice in Fall camp and when he did see the field, was ill prepared to hold down his corner spot. Paris Ford, coming in this year,  on paper looks good, who knows?

We’ll see soon enough. Solid competition brings out the best however. Even if Paris never sees the field and takes a RS, he will be providing competition. Let’s get Hamlin fully healthy and now, we have even more depth in the defensive secondary and on paper more talented players. That combination with the ingrained winning mindset that Coach Narduzzi has indoctrinated into this team over the last couple of seasons should produce results pretty soon.  

Results like deflected passes rather than big catches by opponents, more INTs, and hopefully thwarted 4th down conversions attempted though the air (I hate UNC!).  Make those kind of plays consistently and you win more games, PERIOD. Those are my expectations.

So, until proven otherwise, I’ll choose to remain optimistic.

Hail to Pitt.


75 thoughts on “Why So !%?#^#?? Optimistic?

  1. With the offense probably taking a step back this season the defense has to improve or 8/4 is going to be a hard feat to replicate.

    We shall see because if the defense doesn’t improve Conklin is gone with Partridge in waiting.

    I’m optimistic but reality just keeps showing up.


  2. Thanks Doc, great article, thinking along the same lines as you are. I guess the one main reason everyone expects PITTs defense to play better next year is? How can they be any worse. It seems as though that would be virtually impossible. I think there is more then that though and that’s through experience and I’m not talking about the players. I’m thinking the coaches have as much to prove next year as anyone.

    They realize just how bad that unit performed last year, it’s not just us armchair QB’s that understand this. Now throw in quicker and more athletic players throughout the entire defense and the chances get a little better to play a whole lot better next season. I look for some subtle changes and quicker adaptation next year in response to a defense that may be getting chewed up in any particular game. Which could come earlier next year.

    I also agree the offense probably won’t be as prolific next year but play more ball control. I’m betting that will keep the opposition scoring down a bit.

    Funny thing is, the one game I expect to play hll in and win is the Oklahoma State game. For some reason I feel good about that game already. If PITT can hang with psu next year and make a real game of it, it could catapult PITT into a whirlwind season that would amaze even the good DR Tom…..


  3. I’m going to start calling you Dr. Pepper. That was a nice little pep rally to start the day. HTP.

    For those criticizing Conklin, Narduzzi even addressed the elephant in the room at the opening of spring. In year 3, at MSU, Narduzzi’s pass defense was the same level of bad as Pitt found itself this year. Narduzzi’s pass defense was ranked 116/120 … https://www.teamrankings.com/college-football/stat/opponent-passing-yards-per-game?date=2010-01-08 … and that was in the passing shy Big 10.

    Like it or not, this is part of the process. Narduzzi is not going to part with his DC, who is implementing Narduzzi’s system, when Narduzzi himself went thru the same growing pains. The historical data is out there. Patience is a virtue (see what I did there Dr. Pepper?).


  4. Really good facts, Joe Friday! I couldn’the agree more.

    One thing I would add in expecting a better D this year: I fully expect to see much better pressure on opposing QBS- faster corps of LBs, more depth on the DL. Even though less experience, I think we’ll see QBs getting hurried MUCH MORE FREQUENTLY this year than last. And this can really aid the performance of the DBs!

    Last year, I grew quite weary of watching opposing QBs’ heads going from side to side going thru their progressions! You can’t give a good QB that much time to throw, and expect the DBs to maintain good position.

    We’ll see many more incomplete passes, and less-than-accurate attempts, leading to a nice increase of INTS.

    We’ll also see a lot of lob passes early in the season. If we can defend those successfully, they’ll go away as the season progresses.

    All in all, the good Dr has hit the nail on the head.


  5. We blew some coverages and even had DBs fall down last season, but what was really frustrating was 1) the number of times we had decent coverage but the opponent still came down with the ball; and 2) the number of times we were called for PI when both players seemed to be involved in the pushing and grabbing…

    I guess those calls will always favor the WR.

    Anyway, like Dr. Tom, I’m also thinking that our taller, more athletic DBs will benefit us in these two categories in the upcoming season — at least after we get a few games into the season…

    Go Pitt.


  6. Doc – will be interesting to see what the opposing offensive coordinators decide to do this year. Even though the over all caliber of quarterbacks will be less will they continue to throw deep on the panthers until we prove to them we can defend it? ( I would ) Opposing OC will see untested units all over the Pitt defense. Pitt needs to get more consistent pressure on QB – the question is will it require Conklin to increase the blitzing? Improvements in the 2017 defense must come from the LB & D Line.


  7. Loved the article, Dr. Tom, both content and your literary style. Kudos! I don’t expect the offense to be as good as last year but I think Pitt may have learned to try to grind more iñStead of just going for quick strikes, and to have faith in the QB earlier in the season, both of which should expose the (improved) defense less.


  8. Great article Doc, just keep in mind that the second string QB from Syracuse no less racked up the most yards against the Pitt defense. I don’t think we will be seeing him or many of the Syracuse receivers with one exception in the NFL anytime soon. As for Hamlin, I may be calling this a little early but he might never live up to his billing with his hernia being in focus for most of his career at Pitt.

    Also keep in mind the defense last year actually deteriorated from their abysmal 2015 performance. Not sure we can count on any great improvement this year with all the inexperience in the lineup this year.


  9. OT: Not sure where you guys think Pitt is getting scholarships for all the grad transfers. PSN I believe reported that Pitt used their 85th and last available scholarship giving it to the walk on kicker Kessman.


    1. There will be additional attrition after the spring, there always is. Finding a couple spots won’t prove difficult.


  10. All that experience proved worthless for the most part.

    I 100% expect to see a difference in PITTs defensive scheme next year. Might not be a great difference but I just cannot see the coaches standing around with their hands in their pockets watching a repeat of last season..

    Is it normal to not get one write-up of the scrimmage yesterday? I did see MacVittie throwing ball a couple times and a few runs but not much


  11. With UPitt having vanished to parts unknown, I will don the dubious mask of sanity and provide the voice of reason.
    You, Dr. Tom, are mad. Insane. Delusional .
    While we faced talented receivers and quarterbacks last year, our defense, particularly the secondary, was nothing less than horrendous. The back-up QB for Syracuse (a terrible team!) threw for more yards than what separates us from the moon.
    So, we rationalize; we claim our athletes are not athletic. Ryan Lewis plays by default and Gambos runs as if he is carrying on his back a Sherman tank. Then, at Pitt’s pro day, suddenly, these two are speed demons.
    This year, we replace Price, Tyrique, Soto (my favorite, btw) with lesser-knowns. Sure, maybe Hendrix emerges, but he showed very little against Younstown St (admittedly, small sample size.)
    And Hamlin? Just keep piling on the question marks there.
    HCPN says few deep balls completed this spring – maybe replacing NP is the reason for that.
    Wirginis replaces Galmbos, but if that was an upgrade, why didn’t he replace him last year?
    Oh sure, the dreadful T. Webb is gone. But other than that, I don’t see much improvement.
    So there it is. Will we be better? Sure, but only because we can’t be any worse.

    And by the way, great article!
    I’m just having some point-counterpoint fun


  12. I cant see how the secondary can be worse. Pitt will be up against different QB’s this year. New talent will take hold on the D and the unit will be vastly better at the end of the year after rookie mistakes are made.

    The O will take a step back. I see more ball control and that will actually help rest our D. We’ll be less prolific in scoring but we wont have to depend on the O to win games if the D does their job.

    I see an 8-9 win season. Plus a non-meaningless bowl game against a nationally relevant school. And Pitt gets its first bowl win under Nard Dog. Final ranking is 16 in the AP.


  13. And I’m being a realistic with my predictions. The optimist in me says 10-2 plus New Years Bowl win for an 11 win season and final ranking in the top 10.


    1. What is it with the state of Texas with all these great vibes? PittMan4Ever, from Houston, is on record predicting PITT to go 17-0 next year. Now there is an optimist!


  14. Your not listening Texas, one of the worst(statically) QB’s Pitt faced all year put up the most yards on us. I’d expect Penn State to air out the ball on it’s first possession on Pitt this year. All they have to do is use Barkley on draws and screen passes to mix it up on our D. At least that’s what I’d start out doing until Pitt forces them to do otherwise.


  15. Lol. The Syracuse game only turned out that way because Pitt went into cruise control with a huge lead and the offense being unstoppable. It’s the one throwaway game of the season. Time and circumstance dictated those stats. Typically, teams throw the white towel. Syracuse did not. They should have instead making the game an embarrassment.


  16. Believe what you want TT, the only embarrassment from my perspective is that Pitt knew what they were trying to do and couldn’t stop any of it. I’m not sure if Pitt were in the Syracuse huddle and knew the play that what was being called they could have stopped it.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Hey Gasman, there is only one VoiceofReason! 🙂 I’m also unhappy about the lack of a write-up among local papers about yesterday’s scrimmage.

    Note to the new AD: if you want increased interest in the football program, especially during the Spring push to sell season tickets, then put out some dawg gone publicity! There should have been an on-site press function with assistant coach interviews discussing what they hope to accomplish at Spring practice and at the first scrimmage.

    It also wouldn’t hurt if we had some scribes in this town with some b_lls to complain, or maybe (OMG) actually sneak in! Maybe Narduzzi wants to keep a lid on things, but what is he afraid of, that people will see Pitt doesn’t have a good secondary? Narduzzi takes this secrecy stuff way too seriously, and to the detriment of the publicity needed to get more fannies in the seats..

    Security is very tough now with an iron terrorist gate and a guard that actually is awake


    1. I agree with the overall point that Coach Duzz takes the secrecy stuff too seriously, but can you deny that we probably beat PSU last season because no one had a clue about the jet sweep offense?

      I’d like to hear any Pitt FB info too, but I keep going back to the PSU game and Pitt’s September Surprise Attack…

      Go Pitt.


    2. The Trib apparently thought it was more important in today’s paper to do a long article saying our new kicker isn’t good.


  18. Ike,
    I will concede that I predicted we would be 10-3 last year. BUT, that was before I realized how bad our passing D was!!! So, while I’m optimistic I’m also realistic!!! Hence, I fear every QB and WR on our schedule this year already has our Panther game circled to be the game to bring their family, friends, hopeful girlfriends, future father-in-laws, etc. to because this is the game that they will look like Danny Marino!!!

    Fact: Everyone already plans to throw the air out of the ball against us – and why not??? We earned the designation of the worst Div I passing defense in the entire US of A!!!!

    I understand that most of our opponents are giving out helium filled footballs when to their fans when Pitt comes to town!!!

    Thus, our pass D is going to be heavily challenged, game in and game out for 2017. Can we improve that much with that much heat in the kitchen? Dr.Tom thinks so. Boy, I sure hope the good doc is right with his prognosis!!!


  19. Pittman4, fact is, you were very close to predicting the right record last year. Now if someone would have predicted how bad the pass defense would be, that would have been a big help. It’s almost a hidden fear that we PITT fans have of the opposing teams continuing to hike and heave it. That’s why I think the PITT coaches are working hard to start next season with a plan to prevent last years opposing offensive game plans becoming a trend again next season.

    Here’s my deal with predictions. I never think PITT will lose the next game they are playing. I’m just one of those types that don’t like to say it out loud in fear of jinxing the team. Yeah, I’m goofy like that… ike



  20. D E F E N S E ! D E F E N S E !

    This team will win 8 games with their D and 2 with their offense.

    Different season with different personnel.

    10 – 3 is my prediction with a Coastal Division title. The Pursuit is on!

    Nice article Dr. Tom.



  21. Replacing something like 7 new guys on the D…lots of
    DBs moving up the ladder and hopefully Hamlin heals and lives up to his billing..need more pressure on the opposing QB and get his ass dirty more times from more defenders… that when good things will occur for this young D.. like breaking up more passes, ints, fumbles and getting off the field in 3rd and long situations… he’ll we must have lead tha nation in giving up a new set of downs when the opponent is facing 3rd and 10 or longer..
    Good job Dr Tom .. well written and to the point..Duzz is building his forces.. new comers of higher quality chomping at the bit…if we win the 1st 2 games we could go ” All the way!!”


  22. If you guys keep predicting 10 wins seasons every year, you’ll be right at some point (I’m hoping anyway.) That doesn’t mean it’s not absurd.

    This is a 7-8 win program and has been for some time. Can it be better? Yes. Will it be better? I hope so.

    Assuming it will be better because if the addition of a few DB’s and ignoring the loss of the starting QB, RB, LG & LT is a BIG leap of faith.

    Now, if a pessimist (Upitt) or realist (Reed, Gasman, Tossing Thabeets) makes a bold prediction, maybe that brings me hope. But when “Kool Aid & the Gang” (Dark Knight, Tx_Panther, Dr. Tom) predict 10 wins for the fifth straight season, it’s a bit much.

    That said– Good effort, Dr. Tom. If nothing else, you showed you have the moxie to put your opinions out there.


  23. I fall more to the pessimism end of the spectrum for the reasons other people have already made, but one point I would add here is that it’s not a great idea to count on the pass defense improving simply because some good QB’s they faced have moved on. Some so-so QB’s they faced last year are going to improve this year, and you can bet some other teams that lost a QB have a talented guy or two waiting in the wings, also. Brad Kaaya may be gone but you don’t think Miami doesn’t have somebody who’s probably 80÷ as good or better chomping at the bit for his chance to light up this secondary, too?

    You can’t figure on getting better by all your opponents getting worse.


  24. Doc thanks for putting the time in and pontification. Syracuse I agree is a throw away. We stopped the run because they didn’t run. Here is my problem with our defense. 3rd or 4th and long which is 8 or more yards. We were terrible. Those are big misses in my opinion. Game changers. You make your luck in sports. We didn’t make the plays and it all isn’t on the secondary. Think of NC game. They had 3rd and 4th and long. We didn’t stop them. My beef with our DC in those situations is this. If you can’t defend the deep out or deep crossing, you RUSH the passer with 6. Time, place and circumstance.

    Against Dairy, we need to stop Barkley first. That means run blitz. That means if he isn’t running the blitz should pressure the qb and not allow deep balls.

    If you can’t defend the deep pass, you hit the qb. Hit the qb early and hit him often. It wasn’t a db failure every time fellas although it appeared that way. Pressure the qb. Hit the QB. Juan had nice sacks, but he didn’t have big sacks. Although against Dairy, I think he got credit for the sack fumble early on. I am talking about when the game is on the line. 4th and 16 and we give up 16 and a third. NoExcuse. We just weren’t smart. That is on the coaches and the players and that must change. We need to get off the field.

    Pederson has screwed us for the last time with this schedule. Note to new AD. Lighten up the scheduling. We should always be 3-1 at the worst with OOC. Prrof is in the pudding. The ACC schedule is difficult enough to pull strength of schedule if ever the stars align and we go 11-1. I swear (but not on here) that Pederson did this difficult schedule so that he would have a chance to fire a coach and bring somebody else in, in order to make his position seem important. He is a tool and not respected at all. I have two meetings with big10 AD’s in two weeks and I will get some insight regarding our new AD. Should be interesting.

    When I talked to them before, they showed a great dislike of Pederson and did not respect him professionally. I tried to relay this to our Chancellor at the time, with no luck.


  25. With respect to optimism versus “same old Pitt”, I would point out that next season’s edition of the Pitt Panthers will be the most talented overall roster we have had in over 30 years.

    Think about that for a couple of seconds. We’ve had some great players, but not overall talent and depth like we have on this roster.

    Good things are on the way – hard as that may be to believe.

    The key = Coach Pat Narduzzi

    Go Pitt


  26. Come on Jay91. You gotta believe. Your post was funny and accurate. Maybe, just maybe our prayers will be answered. Long suffering Pitt fans deserve an 11 win season. We also deserve a better basketball coach. And an OCS while I’m at it. 🙂


  27. Huff.. disagree with you about scheduling.. bring on the best!!! Like ND does .. and like Pitt did when many of we POVerts martriculated.. and KICK ASS…


  28. I’m drinking the kool aid and always look at the glass half full when it comes to PITT! I believe that the Duzz wanted to redshirt the db’s from last year’s class in order to build depth. It was very frustrating watching the db’s getting burnt but the kids were too raw and why he stuck with the veterans. I expect great things this year from, Hamlin, Coleman, Campbell, Stocker, Miller, Jackson, and of course Jordan Whitehead, Paris Ford is and unknown at this point but what a stud. I also believe the DLine will be solid, Kam Carter, J Telani, Shane Roy, Blair, Hendrix, Folston, Edwards, Camp, Watts, Weaver, Jones, and Wheeler. Linebackers Wirginis, Brightwell, Idowu, Zeise, Reynolds, McKee, and Pine will be in good shape.

    Offensively, Max Browne maybe the missing link, add Chris Clark and you have the top rated players at their position coming out of high school! Weah is a stud and showed it last year, look out this year! Quadree Henderson, Tipton, Flowers, Ffrench, Matthews, solid. OLine, and running backs solid.

    I expect offensive will be great again, maybe not the numbers of last year but not far behind, and defense will be better. I’m predicting 9-10 wins! H2P!


  29. Last I heard, Upitt was in the air and Dark Knight was going to call into the round-table. Then poof.. they were gone. When we hear Upitt, we hear Darkie, when we don’t hear Upitt, then we don’t hear Darkie. One is pessimistic and one is optimistic. We may need a professional to figure this one out.


  30. Agree there was more than a D back problem with the D last year and I hope and pray the new talent on the team and among the D coaches makes a difference.Maybe with a strong guy like Partridge in there it will create a different mindset in our D coordinator and also among the team members. I also hope our new AD starts filling seats at home games. We are currently averaging 10 to 15 k less per game than when we left Pitt Stadium for the north side. Agree with previous commentator that some better PR in the burgh and western Pa. would help. Pittsburgh media dominates western Pa. not just Pittsburgh. 50 yrs. ago the PG used to put out a game day edition that sold out in Oakland by noon. Today we split media coverage with the nitters, WV and even Robert Morris.This must get better. H2P


  31. @BigB – history shows playing a stacked schedule doesn’t increase attendance dramatically or lead to a great win loss percentage. C’mon now, why would you recommend that PItt does something that no other team does that’s in a power conference. Equating the Pitt program to the ND program is not close to being fair. ND recruits nationally for all 4 and 5 stars. We don’t. But in your next breadth you want us to play their schedule which is easier than many. That makes no sense and that is part of the issue. It’s not what you do in bigtime sports any more, sorry.

    You guys are funny. You want to win 11 games going against a top10 schedule. That will never happen. Never! 11 wins with a top 50-60 schedule is nothing to be ashamed of at all. We don’t recruit 4 and 5 stars and win those battles against ND, Alabama, USC, etc. We are not a blue blood. You become a blue blood when you have prolonged success. You build that with years of success which is 8-9 wins with an occasional double digit run.

    I respect your opinions Big B but I think asking for a top10 schedule with top 35-40 talent and wanting a top 10 ranking and 11 wins is not realistic. Hopeful, yes. Realistic, no. You have to be smart. Look at OSU. They have Army, UNLV and Oklahoma as out of conference opponents this year and they get all 4 and 5 stars. Same with Alabama. They have Mercer, Fresno St., Colorado St. and FlaSt. Three easy wins and a tough game. ND has Temple, Miami OH, Boston College, Wake Forest, NCSt. and a bunch of games that could go either way. No more difficult than an ACC schedule. 5 Easywins. We need three easier wins and a toss up every year going into ACC play. When we have a great year we could be 4-0 going into ACC play. A good year nets you 3-1 going into ACC play and with a 4-4 acc slate puts you at worst, 7-5. At WORST! With a great year, you go 4-0 ooc and 6-2 or 7-1 in conference for a 10-2, 11-1 slate, very doable! It ain’t the 80’s any more and I was around in the 70’s and 80’s. It’s about consistent wins and losses brother!

    PS – All with an Administration that doesn’t pay top 10 or top 20 or top 30 salaries. Unrealistic expectations is part of the Pitt problem. I am not saying I am happy with that, but it is our reality. New AD must have a strategic plan and that sounds about right when looking at other “powerhouses”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Compare our schedule last year with WVU’s which finished ranked with 10 wins. They had 1 non-easy OOC game, beating BYU on a neutral field … but still, BYU doesn’t measure to PSU or OK St.

      B12 FB was crap this past year, 3 ranked teams with an undeserving WVU one of them. The 3 ranked teams the Eers played: lost big in Morgantown by 28 to OU, lost in Stillwater to OSU by 14, and lost to Miami in bowl by 17. No reason to believe Pitt wouldn’t have had 10 wins with that schedule. Pitt’s schedule included 6 ranked team.

      Again, many people here are just looking at the final number of wins without analyzing the schedule. Pitt may ending up winning 10 games this coming year if the other Coast teams turn out to be crap … who knows?


  32. Great job Dr. Tom

    I think the D is still one year away. This will be the first year of playing time for many of PN’s recruits.

    Kaezon Pugh is a perfect example. I think he will be a star and will show flashes this year but it will take another year for him to be at his best.

    Along with Hamlin, Pine, Coleman, etc.

    Let’s get some more speed at LB. For once can Pitt have a dominant stud LB? I don’t think it is Ziese or Idowu. Brightwell, Pine maybe? At least find a middle LB that can make tackle sideline to sideline.


  33. With good luck on defense as to health, the defense will evolve into a very good unit by mid year. I expect the D to be good early, but lack of experience in a couple positions will be a factor early. But Narduzzi is building a top defense that will give Pitt opportunities to win every game. On offense, Pitt will be good if OL stays healthy and if Browne is the real deal, very good. Pitt has playmakers across the spectrum on offense. They need playmakers to emerge on defense, they will. Beating OK ST at home is the swing game to a 9 win season.


  34. Sorry but I don’t buy it that the closed practice means no coverage. Are the offices closed? Are coaches refusing to call back? I think we have a basically lazy group of scribes in this town who will not make the effort to dig out a story or find something interesting to write about.

    Maybe they are afraid they will lose out on the free food, but there is no excuse for not finding and writing on a good story. That is their job. When there is a story, you can be sure that you will read the same thing in both the Trib and the Pittsburgh PG. They are just taking the official line without digging into the story behind the story. I could come up with 10 story lines over morning coffee that would make interesting reading.

    Come on, “journalists”, get the lead out!


    1. But I don’t see anything on PSN or PantherLair either. And usually Pitt puts out it scrimmage stats on its own web site, but haven’t seen a thing yet.


  35. Wal-Mart is the largest employer in 23 states, including neighboring (to PA) states WV and Ohio. The largest employer in PA is UPMC with 61,000 employees, and it appears to continue to grow ….. (even though it testified in court a couple of years ago it had 0).

    Something here has to work to Pitt’s advantage for recruiting … although I’m not sure what it is.

    (source of above is 24/7 Wall St)


  36. BTW, I understand UPMC is looking to expand in the Harrisburg area. I have always thought the sound of “The UPMC PITT Stadium” had a nice ring to it.


    1. Believe for the time being, same guy covers both Pitt FB and BB … like DiPaola at Trib. That will probably change come August, but not sure.


  37. Playing the Devil’s advocate, I think there are far too many unknowns to make much of a prediction.

    There is certainly the potential to be very good, but a lot of guys have to play far better than they have in the past on both sides of the ball.

    Unknowns on the offensive sides include Browne/MacVittie, Clark, Running Back, O-line, while they all have solid potential, how will they actually play?

    Many more questions on defense, Will we have a pass rush being the most important, will we be able to stop the run? Will the new guys live up to their high school reputations?

    This is the big transition year from Chryst’s to Narduzzi’s recruits. Narduzzi’s defensive recruiting classes looked better on paper, now they have to perform on the field.


  38. I would no longer give out coffee, doughnuts and a spread for the freebie taking media until such time as they cover Pitt. I would not allow them in any event for free. They take and take and take and give nothing back. Let Pitt football start to win more and the requests will come flying in for access. Cupcakes!

    At that point, I still keep them out until they start covering all Pitt and not on the back pages. Two can play that game. Need an AD that is not afraid to draw the line in the sand. The main stream media is now the bloggers for PITT!!!

    REWARD those that are fair about Pitt reporting and those that write about them often. Dump and limit access to those that don’t because they do more harm than good.


    1. who makes the decision as to who / what is fair? I guess anyone who says Pitt is doing great, and the coaching staff is top notch would be considered as fair. That may rule out Reed BTW who can be more critical of Pitt, especially the defensive coaching, than anything you read in the PG or Trib.

      I’m not panning Reed here … it’s his opinion and i’m fine with it.


  39. This is the problem that Reed has talked about, Narduzzi is alienating the sports media slowly but surely. At first I did not have a problem with the regular closed practices. I thought they were strictly for the psu game but they continued. Now closed spring scrimmages are also closed. This is doing damage that could be felt in the long run. Not a way to endear old fans and certainly not in any way to entice new fans. Open it up Narduzzi!


    1. maybe HCPN is still hyperventilating about opening up the pro workout session to the media. Again, it’s not only the PG and Trib, but there is nothing about the scrimmage in PSN or PantherLair which contributes more stories about Pitt than even Pitt POV.

      And apparently HCPN is fine with that … and you know what, I’m OK with it also. I’ll remind everyone that only a couple years ago, the MVP of the PSU Spring Game attended by 80,000 was a walk-on RB, who saw only mop-up duty in the fall. While I, like most here, reads everything (free) pertaining to Pitt FB and BB and would prefer more transparency, I also realize that the leading rusher in the scrimmage may not be jack come September.


      1. BTW, Pitt POV may do less articles in numbers than PSN and Pantherlair, but provides much more quality and research. It is a different type of reporting … as an analogy, they are more lie beat writers while Reed does features.


  40. All that is true wwb but I think the bigger issue is creating a buzz or at least some off season interest. We all know what a recruit thinks when he visits PITT for the spring game and then rolls on up the following week to that cesspool school and see’s 80,000 fans instead of 12,000. The biggest point you made there wwb, is that there is NO possible reason to close an early spring scrimmage, NONE!


  41. Here Ike, thanks for the word. Very involved in my 9th grader’s year end wrestling…became first freshman to place in States at his high school this year. 2nd in counties, pinned his way to first in Regionals and 4th in States. Been reading sporadically and loving the work of most everyone here esp. Dr. Tom, you, TT, EE, Huff, JRPitt and several others.

    Also picked a bracket or 2 this year but March doesn’t have the same feel without Pitt in the tournament and it sure looks like THAT is the future for a few years with the legacy of Herman Munster. Bright side of that is I will have my next 3 winters available with no attention taken away from enjoying my kid’s wrestling.
    I’d rather have the need to multi-task.


  42. Great article Doc but we haven’t seen the fruits of his labor on the offensive recruiting side as HCPC, Potato Paul for some (Maybe the Pirates can make it a new Pierogie for a new bobblehead?) and light it up on the offensive side. I agree he’s more balanced than HCPC was in the recruiting positive light, but he still hasn’t made us into what Miami currently is under one season of the coach who always loses the big game.


  43. Anybody think the closed practices benefited Pitt last year in the Penn State game? I do as I remember a comment about how they were completely unprepared for the “jet sweep” calls in that game. I believed they looked at all of the NC State offensive calls the previous year and didn’t recognize any of the plays that Pitt was calling this year.


  44. Maybe the Pitt beat writers should get off their duff and write a real story. (the opinion writers are no better) For example, it was previously reported that the kicker got the last available scholarship. So why is Pitt looking at graduate transfers? Are some players leaving that we don’t know about? If so, are they players on offense that are unhappy with the choice of the new OC? These guys should be interviewing people off the record and getting background to write real actual reporting. Why wasn’t Stallings at the new AD’s presser? Has anyone asked? Real reporting requires effort, and might cause these reporters to lose out on the morning donuts or the lunchtime bologna sandwiches..


  45. Doc – Great effort and enjoyed the post!

    Huff – your two posts last night are rock solid. Enjoyed reading them.Make the QB uncomfortable in the pocket and keep it that way the entire game, not just the first half.


  46. I have to agree with the posters who have said that they are hungry for coverage…but remember that it may have won us the Ped. State game.

    The defense will be better next season against the pass. Ford will be better than Webb or Mitchel. Lewis made one play all year, whoever plays for him next year will do better…just too many guys with potential that one does not do better. I think Maddox plays better after a bad year.

    Linebackers will be better as well. Caprara missed the year and I think we win one more game if he was healthy. That said, again, just too many guys with potential for not one or two to step up.

    I do think we are one year away from entering an era where we have a quality two deep where the backups have actually played a little. We all forget that we are just leaving the era where our players were recruited and coached by multiple staffs and our classes were in shambles a month before signing day.


  47. It’s one thing to close practice before a big game. That’s a tactical move that makes some sense. But extending it to all games, all practices and Spring scrimmages is going too far. The scribes in this town should tell the Pitt brass: We are not your friend, our job is to cover the Panthers and we will do so. You can make it easy or hard, we will talk to the players and staff off the record and find out what is going on in the locker room. That’s how it works. By the way, I was right that signing the Rutgers tight end means that someone has to go. Is someone transferring, flunking out or will they run someone off. How they handle the 85 scholarship limit says a lot about the integrity of the program.


  48. It’s pretty simple. If we played a traditional defense and said the heck with the stop the run first mentality the competition would have put up less points. That would have won us more games. Saying our defensive approach kept us in games is not a fact, it is as you mentioned an alternative fact. If Narduzzi wants to prove he’s a good coach than he better be able to evolve. If he doesn’t I fear much like MSU we will struggle against high powered offenses which are becoming ever more prevalent.


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