… our service members past present and those who will serve in the future. Thank You, stay safe and come home soon.
As to football let’s remember that while we all use words like “war“, “battle” and “campaign” to describe it and the games played, and that’s fine in my eyes, but those same words hold a world of different meaning for those in our Armed Forces uniforms.
POV Reading List for today and let’s remember only 70 more days until the ‘real’ physical parts of Pitt football starts. That is kind of depressing actually because we are all champing at the bit to see the new faces on the team wearing Pitt Script and showing us just how good they really are.
Here are some interesting bits that my friend Chris Lotz found and posted on his Facebook page. First off is Athlon magazine’s All-ACC conference pre-season picks for 2017.
On offense they placed these Pitt players in 1st to 3rd string honors (they had a 4th string but that is sort of ridiculous):
1st string: O’Neil at OL
2nd string: Henderson at All Purpose and Officer at OL
3rd string: Ollison at RB; Weah at WR and Bookser at OL.
I’m sure Pitt fans will disagree with some of these choices – or rather which lineup they are in. I’d have to Have Henderson at 1st string for sure even if no one can figure out what position he plays .
On defense Athlon placed these Panthers in the 1st-3rd string honors:
2nd string: Whitehead at Safety
That’s it for defense and as hard as I try I can’t see any other Pitt players who would break in to these lineups save perhaps Avonte’ Maddox at the 3rd string level. Now Special Teams is another matter:
1st string: Henderson as a KR
2nd string: Henderson as a PR
3rd string: Winslow as the Punter.
Still staying with Athlon’s rankings we see Pat Narduzzi listed at #9 out of 16 ACC head coaches:
9. Pat Narduzzi, Pitt
After cycling through three full-time coaches (Paul Chryst, Todd Graham and Dave Wannstedt) from 2010-14, Pitt has found stability behind Narduzzi. The Panthers are 16-10 under Narduzzi’s direction and have recorded back-to-back winning marks in ACC play. Additionally, Pitt has finished outright or shared second place in the Coastal Division in both of Narduzzi’s seasons.
While Narduzzi was one of the nation’s top assistant coaches (and defensive coordinators) at Michigan State, he’s still looking to find the right mix on that side of the ball in the Steel City. Pitt finished 10th in the ACC in scoring defense in 2015 and 13th in 2016.
That’s not accurate in my mind as I’d put him up at either #6 or #7 based on his first two years as a HC. A two-year span with 16 wins is nothing to sneeze at especially given the talent (or lack of talent on defense) he inherited from his predecessor.
I think that those bowl game losses factored into that lower ranking. As much as fans want to think they really don’t mean all that much they certainly do. Wins or losses there has a large part to do with how the post-season rankings are figured.
As we have discussed on here before a win in the Pinstripe bowl, and combined with those high-visibility wins over PSU and Clemson, would have helped put us right around #15 with a 9-4 record. If you remember we were ranked #24 on 11/27/16 and then went up to #22 to end the regular season and going into the Northwestern game. So, #15 isn’t far-fetched at all had we won that bowl game.
That would have pushed Narduzzi up in this ranking and perhaps into the ACC’s Top Five.
We need a to have a Narduzzi bowl win – it is as simple as that. This year may well be the season he does it – let’s hope so anyway and that will get that particular monkey off his back. Either way… his #9 is too low as we Pitt fans know.
Still in keeping with the rankings game; newly minted Pitt QB Max Browne has been picked as the #54 starting QB of all 128 teams going into Spring Drills (obviously an older list). This is a true showing of ‘pin the tail on the QB’ given the fact that Browne has a very short tenure as a D1 QB to draw inferences on so it seems they just threw his name in somewhere:
54. Max Browne, Pitt
Browne is one of the nation’s most intriguing quarterbacks for 2017. The Washington native was a five-star recruit out of high school and saw limited work in 2014-15 for USC before taking over the starting job in 2016. However, Browne’s stay at the top of the depth chart was limited to just three games, as Sam Darnold emerged as the Trojans’ No. 1 quarterback. The talent is there for Browne to keep Pitt’s offense performing at a high level, and he enrolled in time to participate in spring ball.
Which begs the question where would he have been ranked after the Spring Game with this decent effort:
Intriguing is exactly the correct word to use for Browne’s future at Pitt as who really knows what we’ll see when the whistle blows to start the YSU game?
Pitt also pulls in the 24th (out of 128 schools) hardest schedule for 2017…
A Week 2 date with Penn State looms large, but Pitt cannot overlook 2016 FCS runner-up Youngstown State Week 1. The Penguins stunned Pitt to open the 2012 season, and head coach Bo Pelini has a much more talented roster now. Those two games lead into a Week 3 home date with Oklahoma State. All told, the Panthers may play the most intriguing first three weeks of any team in college football.
I agree 100% with this writer regarding the YSU game. As we all have the dagger scars on our hearts from Pitt being upset by ‘lesser’ teams… like the referenced YSU beat down we received in 2012; or the infamous loss to Ohio in 2005 by a score of 16-10.
But maybe the hardest to take was the loss in the opening game of 2008 when in coming off 2007’s wonderful 13-9 beating of rival WVU we dropped a supposedly easy game to MAC’s Bowling Green 27-17.
I list those upsets for one reason; Pat Narduzzi hasn’t, and I think won’t, let his guard down long enough for a lesser talented team to win a game against us they shouldn’t have a chance to win. Now, that said, Youngstown State has an excellent HC in Pelini, did very well last season and upsets do occur… just not this year to Pitt I think.
Narduzzi had to do two things for me to fully embrace his hire. Be consistent and firm in his discipline regarding off-field incidents and he’s do that so far. The second issue was that he be able to out and best a team we went into the game as a huge underdog to.
Well, we saw that writ large last November against Clemson, didn’t we?
Have a safe and happy Memorial Day holiday. Nothing is more important than family and friends and this is a great day for both of those.