This is the sixth of a longer POV series looking at the individual positions which need to be re-filled in 2017 and whether we will meet the PRODUCTION we had in those positions in ’16. We will not factor in true freshman at this point.

First off we all better take a minute to read digest the following chart – the key info is in red:

Year GP/Starts
10 Keyshon Camp 6-4/285 DL RS FR 0/0
34 Amir Watts 6-3/285 DL SO 7/1
66 Mike Herndon 6-4/315 DL RS JR 6/0
90 Rashad Wheeler 6-3/290 DL RS FR 0/0
93 Shane Roy 6-4/280 DL RS JR 10/0
95 Zack Gilbert 6-1/240 DL RS FR 0/0

OK – got that? We have a single interior lineman returning who started a game as a Pitt Panther and him with only one start at that. 

Gentleman, start your wishful thinking engines… and keep your fingers crossed while doing so.

But this scenario that is exactly what hard, tough practices are for… and spring camps and fall camps and scrimmages also… to get these younger kids ready to ascend into the two-deep ranks and start playing the type of football they were recruited to do.

And we do have younger kids on the current roster – at least the ones I feel will get20160824pppittdefense1spt the  most playing time are still mostly virginal, save SO Amir Watts who got the whole way around the bases once.

Also, and let’s not kid anyone here, we were depending very heavily on dismissed rsSR Jeremiah Taleni to return in that Nose Tackle position and, as a senior, guide these younger kids in practices and then games.  He had only three starts last season but he played in a total of 21 games over the three years after his redshirt season and was effective in those times he played:

Played in seven games, starting three…starting assignments came in the final three regular-season contests…totaled 24 tackles, 5.5 TFLs and three sacks…had a career-high eight stops at Miami…in a start at Clemson, had four tackles and a personal best 1.5 sacks…had five tackles and a sack against Northwestern in the Pinstripe Bowl.

He had the 2nd most tackles for loss (5.5) and the 2nd most sacks (3.0) of the interior linemen behind the leader Shakir Soto (10 TFLs & 4.5 sacks).  If we want to play with stats and we tend to do – extrapolate his tackles and TFLs over ’16’s last four games, when he played the most, and he would have had 45 tackles and 16.0 TFLs over the full season.

Just for fun that would have put him up with Soto at 46 tackles and 10.0 TFLs and Price with 45 tackles and 23.0 TFLs. Not too shabby for a guy who had very limited playing time. That is what I expected him to do this season and we will be the worse for him not being in the lineup.  

What is telling about TFLs and sack totals, and actually about how defenses usually work, is that the interior defenders are not really ever going to be up among the top leaders in tackles unless you have an uberstar freak like Aaron Donald in there. Over the last five years he’s the only DT to be in Pitt’s Top Five in total tackles (5th in 2012 with 59 tackles and 28.5 TFLs).

That means 48% of Donald’s stops were behind the line of scrimmage. We will not see that out of anyone this season I don’t think.  The only other player in recent years to be so effective at penetration, however slight, was our prized DE Ejuan Price who finished 51% of his stops last season behind the LOS.

Speaking of who did what on defense here are the Top 15 tacklers for us last year:

Top 15.png

Ah well, Taleni is gone, as is Price so attention turns to the returnees.  This was  the interior two-deep going into the Clemson game toward the end of last season:

bbbb

The question now is who will see playing time out of the group listed in that first chart in the beginning of the article.  One thing to note is that because of the nature of these articles and with  discussing only players on roster at this time means we will not address DT Kam Carter, who isn’t on the roster yet after transferring in from a junior college.  When we revisit the team’s individual units after fall camp closes in a reprise of these articles he’ll certainly be in the discussion then.

Well, three of the top six (not really a two-deep at that point, eh?) inside players do not return for 2017.  So if I was making out the lineup right now I’d have JRs Mike Herndon and  Shane Roy at NT – hoping Roy has put on some pounds since last season.

Herndon, if you recall, was an offensive lineman when he came to Pitt but switched to defense prior to the start of last season – he may just be the surprise ballplayer on the DL this year.

But both of those guys are rather tall for the nose spot at 6’4″ where the nature of the action there is to get down and disrupt the middle of the opponent’s offensive push. That moves the ball carriers to the outside so that the DEs and LBs have a better shot at them. Remember Aaron Donald was even a bit small at 6’0″ & 285 but his quickness and bull strength made him one of the best that has ever worn any team’s football uniform – college or NFL.

I expect to see redshirted 1483340Rashad Wheeler at 6’3″ & 290 to be up at 300+ pounds by September and get some playing time as a NT during the year also.  Again, he’s a young and untested lineman though and not to be confused with Rashad Weaver over at DE.

“Wheeler with pressure up the middle, the runner spins away from Wheeler… runs wide with Weaver in pursuit along with Wheeler…now Weaver and Wheeler combine to make the stop for no gain!!”

That compacted bulk and strength is why you’ll see these inside lineman drop into a three, or even a four, point stance vice standing up as the DEs are wont to do, as the DTs need that rising first step movement and its leverage.

On passing plays they need to open pass rushing lanes for the LBs to penetrate and for the Safeties to blitz if that is called by the DC.  Basically this means they have to manhandle 300+ or maybe 600+ pounds of offensive linemen out of the way for their teammates to execute their own responsibilities.

Over at the other tackle spot I’d start SO Amir Watts and havescreen-shot-2015-09-01-at-1-10-08-pm another redshirt FR Keyshon Camp, who Narduzzi stole when Camp was a USC commit, back him up over at the other DT slot. 

However, depending on off-season weight room work and subsequent growth combined with how well these youngsters produce in fall camp, we may see these players slide in and out of the two tackle positions as the season progresses. I don’t think anything is etched in stone with the DL at this point at all.

We could also see a defensive end bulk up and move inside to provide interior run support as we saw happen with Shakir Soto, who played DE his first three years here and slid inside before last season. 1331231041_wiz_khalifa_taylor_allderdiceThe tandem of Soto at DT with Tyrique  Jarrett (from perennial football powerhouse Taylor Allderdice) next to him at NT worked very well for our rushing defensive.

We were in the national Top 10 almost the whole season before slipping down to 16th at season’s end – due mostly to late season injuries to both of those players.

But one of the big problems for ’17 is that no one, so far, seems to be the type of lineman who will demand a double team and thus free up lanes for the LBs to either rise and plug gaps on rushing plays or get in behind the LOS and after the QB on passing plays.

We are woefully thin in this area right now but our newer linemen, Watts and Camp especially, will get more playing time as the season progresses and the others will too. Narduzzi goes with experience in the beginning of each season then builds the youngsters into starters and solid backups as the weeks roll over.  Although he may have to speed up the process here as Roy and Herndon really don’t strike fear into any opposing offensive coordinator’s hearts.

Right now and on paper, because we haven’t seen hardly anything of these lineman out on the field yet, I’ll mark this down as a (for now) …

DOWNGRADE

Here is a truly excellent article written about DT Mike Herndon when he was still in high school. The author of this piece is a real wordsmith…

He became the first Riverheads player to earn a Division I football scholarship since Tommy Cooper signed with Virginia Tech in 1973.  “I mean, it’s a big accomplishment, but I just try hard at what I do and it pays off,” Herndon said.

The decision came fairly quickly. After attending a football camp at Pittsburgh, Herndon visited the campus again three weeks later with his mother Patricia and his stepfather, David Wetzel.

The Panthers laid their cards in front of Herndon. He met with criminal justice professors. He visited the dorms, ate in the dining hall and was given an opportunity to meet Chancellor Mark Nordenberg and G. Reynolds Clark, the vice-chancellor for external relations.  Then came the coaches, who discussed his future as a defensive tackle.

“Every kid wants to believe that someone will recruit him and say ‘Come play for me,’” Riverheads guidance counselor Katie Crabtree said of the process. “He was given that opportunity and he deserved every minute of it. ”

It came as a bit of a shock at first, that he was being recruited by major college programs. It hadn’t happened in 40 years at Riverheads, despite three state championships and a number of talented players.

But the attention allowed him to realize what he had the potential to do. Now, more than ever, he says, he wants to make an impact on the field, to prove those who had confidence in him that they were right.

“You don’t see 6-foot-4, 315-pound guys that can run,” Riverheads head coach Robert Casto said. “You don’t teach that. He’s worked hard to get there, but there are two things you don’t teach. One of them is size and one of them is speed. And when you have both, that’s what separates a Division I player from a Division III player.”

A trip down memory lane…

Next up: The Linebackers…

65 thoughts on “2017’s DTs; Upgrade, Downgrade or Draw

  1. Last year most everyone was negative about the interior line, many saying Jarrett was fat and out of shape. I knew he would be good, but was surprised about how well Soto played. More than most D-line is an upper classman’s job, because it takes time to gain the strength and size required. Look at Donald, although he played for four years he wasn’t very good until his junior year and was absolutely dominant his senior year. Soto took till his senior year, and was to light to even play tackle till then.

    This is why losing Taleni hurts so much, he finally had the speed and power to make a difference. I will be very surprised if the young guys are consistently good. Really need Herndon, Roy and Carter to step up. Watts a young guy with some experience and loads of talent should make plays as well.

    Let’s hope all of these guys are working hard in the weight room.

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    1. Pitt had some good D-linemen last year and in only Pitt fashion it never came to full fruition. Hendrix-Soto-Jarrett-Price had the making of a really strong starting front four and injuries derailed Hendrix and Jarrett.

      The JuCo, Carter, has to pan out so the interior has better depth. Roy got high praise from Narduzzi in the spring and that has to roll over into the season.

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    2. Point generally taken but factually, or at least statistically (ha ha), inaccurate with regard to Donald. Donald played all 13 games as a SO. Donald had 22 solos, 25 assisted, 16 TFL and 11 sacks that season. About the only thing in that line that Donald significantly improved upon in his next two seasons were his solo tackles.

      Donald was two years behind Alecxih (a future pro) and Caragein as a freshman. He still garnered playing time and performed well.

      If Conklin/Partridge can find an interior pairing in 2017 like Alecxih and Caragein they will have done very well.

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  2. Reed,
    A very fair and balanced article. Thank you. The potential and components are there but the experience and bulk is not. For now: DOWNGRADE

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  3. Agree on Herndon, he could very well be the wild card D-Tackle this coming season. Well, at least we better hope either him or Roy step up to stuff up the middle of the line. I see where Herndon is suppose to be fast for his size but I really didn’t notice much from him other than being a space eater, same for Shane Roy. So yes we should cross our fingers.

    about Taleni? I wasn’t so much as dissing him but pointing out that he really didn’t play much until Jarrett and Soto got hurt….. btw Not only did the two get hurt the same game but the very same play… also, it appeared that Watt’s had beat out Taleni earlier in the season for back-up playing time.. Then the youngster fizzled a bit.

    I caught a few PCC games last year and Wheeler played tight-end and did catch a few passes. He has some nimbleness for a big man. I like him to be a surprise, he’s athletic but he does have a body build like the former tight end for the Steelers, Eric Green. Let’s hope Rashad is in better shape than Green was.

    I really don’t know how great Jarrett played last year? I did see him make a few outstanding plays but very far and few between. Again, was this because of the opponents passing lights out against PITT?

    No one thought Soto would do as well as he did last year and is why I ask, why can’t another player come along and do as well? Watt’s, Wheeler and Camp along with the two older players should give PITT the same production or even more as pass rush goes next year.

    Teams didn’t run the ball against PITT for one reason. That didn’t want to waste one down not throwing it.. When teams wanted to run the ball they did with some success..

    This is a DRAW!! ……………………….but in a couple years this group will be dynamo

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  4. Once again, Downgrade is the appropriate rating .. and once again, Pitt will dependent almost solely on what the current staff has brought in these past 2 years …. thus, the inexperience.

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  5. Soto had pretty much been a starter as D-End for three years, before moving to tackle. He grew into the position. Was never much of a pass rusher, but was quick for a tackle. I think Taleni was talented but a slacker, why he didn’t see the field until they ran out of guys. Hope Carter is in shape, plenty of opportunity. Should be a good battle this fall. We should have better depth, but no clear cut starters at this point, with Watt in the lead, based on performance and experience.

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  6. Not even a question it’s a downgrade. And if injuries take out a few of those mentioned we may have to go to a 3 man defensive line with 4 linebackers.. Maybe our pass defensive will show up this year if only for the reason that our opponents don’t see the need to pass the ball. Narduzzi’s defensive philosophy on defending the run first may be serious jeopardy this season.

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  7. Downgrade to start the season. Having a new and improved DL line coach helps and three or four games of experience will do wonders. I can’t remember many seasons when we don’t have at least a couple of DL injuries, so depth may become an issue with this young bunch. If injuries occur, and given our less experienced (but more athletic) group of LBs, we might have a hard time stopping the better teams on our schedule.

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  8. Great point rocky, how this D-Line group plays could depend on a great new coach in Partridge. There are some good young players he can coach up..

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  9. Just talked to the Duke ticket office…tickets go on sale July 10…$ 52 to 62 for sideline tickets… great stadium to watch a game if you haven’t been….

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    1. yes, I really enjoyed the game 2 years ago. And as I recall, there were plenty of empty seats, mostly GA.

      I also recall that my face got sunburned watching the game, but woke up early the following am in Raleigh to drive home and had to scrape the windshield (mid-November)

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  10. blockquote, div.yahoo_quoted { margin-left: 0 !important; border-left:1px #715FFA solid !important; padding-left:1ex !important; background-color:white !important; } It could be a tough season unless these young men grow up very quickly. Tough September and a lot riding on little experience. Great to have good coaches who must coach them up   Inexperience may hurt us. H2P  Friends of Pitt

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPad

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  11. I didn’t watch all of Donald’s highlight reel, but included should be where Aaron called the timeout at the tail end of the Syracuse game his senior season when the Orange were going to run a fake field goal. Moosehead and his army of misfit assistants didn’t notice the lone Orange player along the sideline and it took Donald calling that time out to help save the 17-16 win.

    Of the myriad of reasons why Wannstedt shouldn’t have been fired, reason number 18 is because Donald never would have played with the soufflé of crap defensive ends that he had to due to all the coaching changes. Donald could have been even better as scary as that sounds.

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  12. As far as DL goes-common sense sez DOWNGRADE..but I was at the Military Bowl where our huuuge and good ACC OL could not hand the smaller, quicker and more athletic (maybe smarter) 1-2 stars the Middies put on the field that day…there is hope men and it’s happening in the weight and film rooms, with coaching and a new bunch of players who are ready to step onto the stage and aren’t in this game to get their collective A$$e$ handed to them..they have been competing most of their lives and it’s their time to shine.
    PITT football is moving forward and that championship whether it is the ACC Coastal or the ACC is on the horizon.

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    1. and Sporting News ranked them #24. Just goes to show what you can do with pre-season ratings.

      Like everything else, the answer is somewhere in between (24 and 82) .. hopefully a lot more towards the former than the latter

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      1. Reed: but………….you are record as saying if PITT would have won the PinStripe bowl they could have been pre-season ranked as high as 15-18. How does that one loss drop PITT 22 spots in the “mythical” ranking’s?

        I welcome your response….sincerely your friend ike…

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  13. gc … no problem..Dokish’s twits spew venom.. just go there to see if there is any news and see his intolerant remarks…I enjoy your commentary …

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    1. BigB may I suggest Mike Vukovcan’s twitter account … he owns the PittsburghSportsNow blog.. or Chas Macri twitter … he hates PSU. Both are big conservatives.

      Politics aside … Dokish twitter still contains much Pitt and Pgh sports info as does the PG Sports twitter whicih also can be very leftist.

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  14. I try and steer clear of all pretentious fake news. If I want anyone to know when I have a bowel movement I’ll let all you guys know instead.

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  15. It’s quite likely we will have about 4 seniors on offense and 3 on the defense starting this season. Pitt may be a fairly young team overall this year.

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  16. Excuse me for this but I’m bumping this comment up so it’s addressed by everyone.. I mean no disrespect, it’s just I can’t figure it all out.

    “Reed: but………….you are record as saying if PITT would have won the PinStripe bowl they could have been pre-season ranked as high as 15-18. How does that one loss drop PITT 22 spots in the “mythical” ranking’s?

    I welcome your response….sincerely your friend ike…”

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  17. Ike,
    Isn’t it about time to let us POVites know you’re having a ride on your beautiful white porcelain pony?
    :>)

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  18. ike we lost to a 6-6 team in a nothing bowl, it didn’t drive us up, we went down as we should have. They pushed us around. It was an embarrassment. It left a lasting impression IMO.
    D-Line is a definite downgrade this year. There is no way with such inexperience down the line will make us better. I expect (hope) for something from Roy. I was impressed with his speed on pursuit which of course could be damning with praise as the opponent got downfield by beating someone else. He got no quit in him Experience at the P5 level is hard to beat and we aren’t playing 5 star inexperienced players. If they stay healthy maybe they will be decent by the end of the year and very good next. Expect one or two to step up but it could with injuries be a disaster. I am not left or right, I am cynic.

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  19. Pittman and rkb, I get all that. and thank you, PITT should be ranked somewhere near 30th imo. My question was more about how the one loss could possibly drop PITT so far in someone’s mind’s eye ranking. How can the margin of being either a 40th ranked type of team or a 15 ranked team based on a bowl game loss with the way that game played out?

    Reed knows I love him but as I’m prone to do, I don’t buy everything someone try’s to sale me.

    Pittman, if you ever get two hours of spare time I would share how my life is not exactly hunky dory…. but I try and keep moving forward because of blog friends like you…. ike 🙂

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  20. DOWNGRADE this year or interior line??

    Last year’s interior line was manned by a washed-up, undersized true-senior who flailed in his career as a D-end, and a 340 pound 5th year senior who was still probably 30 pounds over-(bad)weight and was hurt a huge portion of the season?

    He was actually maybe a liability last season, but true freshman Amir Watts got a ton of starter snaps last year — but he comes back this year as a starter with that experience + he will be 20+ pounds stronger this season. Watts played last season as a freshman super-undersized. Now he’s listed at almost 290 going into 2017.

    RS Freshman, 4 star Florida Recruit Keyshon Camp is 6’4”, 285 (so already at least as heavy as Shakir Soto) is ready-to-rock — Pitt beat Southern Cal, Florida, Alabama, Miami when he wisely chose PITT .

    It looked like a total Train Wreck waiting to happen going into 2017 with 280 pound D-End burnout Shakir Soto, and Tryique Jarrett (dude woulda gotten fined hard in the NFL — woulda have been so much better at 305-310 instead of freagin’ 340-over) as the starters.

    Then they even get hurt at Clemson in the heat of battle, and Pitt still wins that game with a 260 pound freshman Watts and Jeremiah Taleni — then Pitt finishes the season strong with those two as the healthiest guys.

    I say upgrade at Exterior, & Interior D-Lines just because even if they’re young and green, NFL-Potential players are bubbling-up into these starting spots now for Pitt.

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    1. And I like Pitt at 22-25 nationally to start the season.

      I saw that bizarre off-season article too posted from the Orlando Sentinel, where it ?? appears ?? some writer there posted an articlewhere they had Pitt as literally the lowest ranked Power 5 team?? It was bizarre.

      The defense, and offensive line will be fine. The running game in the Utter, Worst Case Scenario will be a little bit better than Narduzzi’s first year with Chaney, where Qadree Ollison got 1,000 yards as a RS freshman.

      If Max Browne comes-through for Pitt this year and steps up — https://n.rivals.com/content/prospects/2013/max-browne-19857 — he was literally the unanimous #1 QB in the Country and top-10 overall, and his offer-sheet is literally just the whole Power-5 listed alphabetically lol — this season should be 9-3 all-the-way.

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  21. Yes Pitt did drop out of the top 25 last year and yes it was because of their bowl game. That’s the way rankings work. Their preseason ranking this year that I saw was conditional with a big ? and qualifiers surrounding it which is the discussion here. What will develop? H2P

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  22. DK beat me to my point. Looking back on last season, no one had any confidence in our DT’s. Yet you guys now are saying we will have a hard time filling the shoes of Jarrett, Soto and Taleni.

    Really? There are stars on this roster waiting to shine. Watts, Camp and Carter come to mind. I personally will be rooting hard for Zack Gilbert – he’s my new favorite Panther now that Conner has moved on. Roy and Herndon are veterans who will lead this young group and may make a statement to get noticed by the next level scouts.

    The biggest change will be Charlie Partridge’s coaching. Motivate, move fast and mow down the guy with the ball.

    My pick for the DT crew is a DRAW. Expecting much improvement once the ACC games start.

    HTP!

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  23. EE … you are so right… many posters , including myself, thought the DL would be suspect last year.. lotta new blood.. bigger, stronger and hungry!

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  24. Can we please stop with comments which suggest our loss to Northwestern in the Pinstripe was an “embarrassment”? Embarrassing is when you turn the ball over 4 times and lose by 25. It’s not embarrassing when your starting QB, your best lineman and your inspirational leader who happened to be former ACC offensive player of the year all get hurt. The game was still in the balance late into the game. A couple of plays (e.g dropped TD by Orndorff, stumble by Aston) go our way, and we win. Was it disappointing? Sure. I made the trip to the game, so I wasn’t thrilled. We play them 10 times, we win 8 times. But sometimes the ball bounces funny. It did on that day. And while Northwestern was certainly not Alabama, they weren’t Bowling Green or Youngstown State, or Ohio U either. THOSE losses were embarrassing.

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  25. Thank you Wlat and that loss surely shouldn’t cost PITT 22 spots in this years preseason polls.

    In other words, if anyone thinks PITT should be ranked #40 going into this next season but thought that PITT could have been ranked #15 if they would have won the NW game otherwise is unfathomable to me. .

    That game means absolutely nothing this coming year. Can we move on please?

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    1. Ike: To be honest, 35-40 is about right. We were outside the top 25 to end the year and we’ve lost half of our starters to graduation. An upset of PSU or Oklahoma State could bump us right back up though.

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  26. Dark Knight you are so enthusiastic! Interior Defensive Line, MAJOR DOWNGRADE come game one. Soto, Jarrett & Taleni were not great but were experienced. Not having Taleni coming back makes this unit the most suspect going into the 2017 season.

    Come game twelve, we will see, but my guess is that we will have found some quality replacements for them by then.

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  27. Fellow povites,
    My son’s old HS wrestling coach would always say “Opinions are like rear ends, we all have one and they all stink.” While that proverb is pretty accurate I do enjoy reading all of our opinions and our validation for them! Keep up the great opining!
    (From, of course, the only guy on here who doesn’t have a stinky butt!) LOL

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  28. Coach should reconsider and bring back taleni he didn’t commit any crime..was he arrested for any crime? No i don’t think so give him another chance everyone deserves 2nd chance

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  29. Anyone have intel on what Taleni’s offensive conduct was? I figured that by now we’d have heard something. Instead, crickets.

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    1. Since there was no report of any arrest, my guess is that he failed a drug test and got an automatic (1-year) suspension from the NCAA. Thus, his eligibility will be exhausted and there is no way the NCAA would grant him a 6th year under the circumstances. He had sufficient time to earn his degree .. and hopefully for him, he did.

      Now this is just conjecture.. I don;t know anything more than anyone else. It may be unfair for me to assume …. but whatever he did, it had to be something pretty serious.

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  30. Ike,
    To be clear, the “porcelain pony” is merely a construction worker type reference to the toilet.
    Thus, when you are riding the porcelain pony you are merely taking a good old fashion dump! :>)
    [refering to your 5:12pm comment and then my 6:23 pm comment above my friend].

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  31. Agree with what Ike was trying to say. Not saying where Pitt should be ranked based on the media or coaches polls, but what kind of team they have.. is the team of the quality in the top 20 or 40?
    Ratings based on previous performance, sure, 40.
    Based on expectations and talent? That’s the question here.

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  32. Even though Reed did not want to factor in the two new DT’s that will soon be added to the roster, I will.

    JUCO Kam Carter – big body at 6’4″ 295 – known as an athletic big guy with a psu chip on his shoulder.

    True FR Jaylen Twyman – 6’2″ 310 top 25 DT in the 2017 recruiting class. No college experience, but a highly sought after prospect by P5 schools. Clemson had two top 25 DT’s play as FR last year – one even started. Why not at Pitt?

    My gut feeling is that these two add good depth to this unit and Kam may even start the YSU game.

    Experience seems to be driving the “downgrade” rating at this position. Pitt was faced with the same scenario last season and Duzz found a few players that are now on NFL rosters. This season, the numbers are more plentiful and there is a new, more proven & experienced coach leading them.

    Partridge and Duzz do need to land two more quality DT’s in the 2018 recruiting class IMO.

    I reconfirm my rating as a “draw”.

    HTP!

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  33. I disagree with many commenters above (so what else is new, right?)

    Anyway, I can remember being pretty excited about the DL last summer … mainly due to our bookends DEs. Price was already proven and Hendrix was this 4-star transfer who had raves for his spring practices. I thought having DE pressure coming from both sides would be a big plus … but of course, all of this went down the drain in the first quarter opener.

    Maybe this is just more bad Pitt karma. The last time I was so excited about our bookend DEs was back in 2010.

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  34. I’m with you wbb, was very hopeful last year, then Hendrix went down in the first game. Sure hope he lives up to his pedigree this year. It could make a big difference. We also need Carter to be an impact player. Those two transfer guys could solidify a decent line and give the young guys time to develop.

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  35. just caught the tail end of an HCPN interview on 93.7 The Fan just now. Heard him mention Saleem Brightwell, Whitehead and Hendrix as players he is looking forward to this year. Again, I only heard the last minute or so.

    He said Whitehead is taking over a leadership role

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  36. Those of you worried about the offense taking a step back, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Duzz has consistently said he wants an attacking offense. Watson just came from one of the most explosive offenses in the country in Indiana. He’ll have Pitt attacking. They know what works. Will it be 2016 explosive? Probably not. That was a historic season on that side of the ball for Pitt. I don’t think the drop will be very steep though and I think the defense will be better. I’m excited for the season.

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  37. I’m with you, Tossing. I have a feeling that this team will turn out to be pretty good, unless there are substantial numbers of injuries. If Browne has an above average season, the office should be just as good but maybe not as much scoring. The defense continues to be a concern with the large number of inexperienced players to be counted on. But if Duzz has been recruiting like everyone seems to think, we should see some surprises from some RS Freshmen and transfers. I’m saying 9 wins with the bowl game an unknown..

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  38. I think some interesting points were made here in this article. Looking back on last years defense and more specifically the D-Line, how did we feel about this unit before last season began? I don’t think all that much, Jarrett had done very little and Soto was considered an underachiever, even more-so than Blair is this year.

    Price was a given and did have a history to go on but the D-tackles were probably considered a draw or downgrade going into last season. When considering how good individual units will be, such as the D-Tackles, D-Ends and inside/outside linebackers you have to consider how each unit can help the others. This also includes the D-Backfield. Football is indeed a team sport in all ways.

    The one upgrade will be speed, Narduzzi has done a good job so far as to bring in the body types and athleticism to implement his style of defense but I do think PITT is still one year away from being a prototypical Narduzzi D. RS sophomores do not very often make up the backbone for National Champions.

    Here’s a quote from a highly regarded D-Lineman from Florida in a PSN article from Vukovcan, His name is Parker Devine, I hope this doesn’t offend any policy issues and the point is this is his take on PITT and Narduzzi’s recruiting

    “As I’m starting to narrow down schools, they are one of the top schools that I’m looking at. I think Coach Narduzzi is building something pretty special. He’s bringing in a lot of talent especially that 2017 Class. Then I was looking at the commits for this year and they’re pretty talented as well and I think they’re going to be something big in a couple of years,” said Devine.”

    Have a good day everyone. …ike

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  39. Random….but Jordan Whitehead got a Healthy-Scratch type deal at one point last season…..Someone here said / commented he probably hooked-up with one of Duzz’s daugthers lol — Shotgun Wedding got him promoted to Free Safety 😉 haha.

    Horrible haha but for Jordan Whitehead and Pitt that Free Safety spot is a true-blessing, and Whitehead only played at that in-the-box, extra-linebacker strong safety spot because there was absolutely ZERO SPEED on the roster whatsoever, with Molasses-Footed Terrish Webb and Reggie Mitchell as the sole other eligible / remotely-capable safeties besides not Yet-ready, RS frosh, skinny 180lb Jazzee (aka ‘Jay’) Stocker on the roster.

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  40. Healthy-Scratch is spelled ATTITUDE! Not good, I hope Whitehead has turned it around because he is desperately needed. Remember, the staff was talking about Taleni as showing good leadership right up until they booted him. By the way, is there any cutoff date for kids to enroll as graduate transfers? Can it go right up to the start of the school year? Still holding out hope for a couple of Sr. BB transfers to come in to help avoid total embarrassment!

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