A few off the top – no Roundtable Call-in this week as today is my son’s birthday and we are celebrating at our house. We’ll do it again next week…
Addressing those great comments on the last “upgrade, downgrade or draw” articles about the interior DL… we may be forgetting that these are a ‘first run’ series of articles looking at the individual units… and that I have said in each of them we will re-visit the units after the fall camp is closed (the week of opener). Thus now we are only addressing the current roster.
But again – the way we all look at these players – both already on roster and in-coming is interesting I think. It is apparent that some fans and commenters are always optimistic regarding Pitt players and that is fine. But I don’t really hear anything when those same players fail to live up to those high expectations. It does happen sometimes guys – as much as we pull for the young men not all deliver the goods.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL POLLS
As to our discussions of the drop in rankings both 2016’s post-season and now this year’s preseason; first off that Orlando Sentinel prediction is ridiculous and I think somewhat lazy journalism. I get that we are replacing more players this season than we have in many years (see chart at end) but it just is skewed way downward in my opinion.
For those readers who didn’t see before it here are the opening paragraphs:
The Pittsburgh Panthers are No. 82 in the Orlando Sentinel 2017 preseason college football rankings. Pitt loses some elite talent on offense and have problems to address on defense, but the Panthers are heading in a promising direction.
Our ranking: No. 82
Coach: Pat Narduzzi (8-5, entering third season; 16-10 overall)
2016 record: 8-5, 5-3 in Atlantic Coast Conference, finished fourth in Coastal Division
Look back: Behind star RB James Conner and QB Nathan Peterman, who were both selected in the 2017 NFL draft, Pitt set new school records with 532 total points, 40.9 points per game, and 5,808 yards of total offense in 2016.
The offensive outburst turned Pitt into one of the scariest opponents in the country. Just ask national champion Clemson, which suffered its only loss of the season — at home in Death Valley — to the Panthers.
Unfortunately for Pitt, its defense often fell short at the most inopportune times. Of the five defeats suffered last season, the Panthers lost by 7 points or fewer in four of those games.
Pitt will have to replace its starting quarterback, running back and offensive coordinator Matt Canada, who left for the same post at LSU. But the Panthers are encouraged about building on their success heading into 2017.
Well, read the rest as it is very informative actually but I can’t for the life of me figure out how the number 82 came about. The author must have thrown a dart at a number line.
BTW – some on here have commented that Pitt finished 2nd in the ACC Coastal division. That is not true- we ended up 4th in the Coastal according to the ACC official standings with a 5-3 ACC record. That is due to us losing to both Miami and North Carolina who finished at #s 2 and 3 respectively.
In 2015 we finished higher as #2 in the Coastal with a 6-2 ACC showing. So with that it showed a bit of a backward slide from ’15 to ’16 as far as division play went.
That said, we had a comment discussion on the last article about what we think we should be ranked going into 2017 – I said around #40.
Now – here is where we were ranked at the end of 2016’s games (note the Playoff Committee’s ranking stopped before the bowl games) I highlighted the link to the USA Coaches Poll because I think they are more accurate in some ways than the media polls:
|Media Poll||’16 Post Season Rank|
|Playoff Committee||23 (before bowl)|
|USA Coaches||over # 42|
Now here are the 2017 Pre-season composite rankings:
|3 Ohio State||3||3||3||2||2||1|
|4 Florida State||4||1||2||3||7||2|
|6 Penn State||6||5||12||4||4||5|
Let me take a minute and explain why the Northwestern loss was so important to Pitt in terms of the pollsters, and why they dropped us… some like a rock. First off we went into the bowl at 8-4 with wins over PSU and Clemson and a #23 ranking which was about right for us.
Northwestern however was a 6-6 unranked team and was an underdog getting at least 4 points, some lines were at 5.5, going in to the bowl. We all saw what happened on the field and as much as we want to explain it away by pointing to injuries, and we certainly did have them, the game, and Pitt’s play in it, was NOT well received by the national media up in the Yankee Stadium press box.
I know as I was sitting smack in between two ESPN reporters and a AP stringer. SI was a row in front of me, etc… But you could tell by the conversations that were going on during the game from that first that no one up there though Pitt should have lost that game regardless of the circumstances.
From that first bumbling Pitt drive where we hit a pass for 38 yards to get down to NW’s 20 then went backwards and had to settle for a FG is when the media grumbling began. Then just a couple of series later when it was NW 14 – Pitt 3 there wasn’t anything that was going to make it better in their media eyes no matter how close the score was later on in the game.
I had many discussions during the game and the constant theme from the guys I was talking to was that Pitt was choking away the game and had lost to a much inferior team. Especially pointed out was the disappearance of Pitt’s “vaunted” rushing defense and how NW racked up 248 yards against us.
Again, that’s what I listened to on Dec 28th and wrote about shortly afterward.
So I’m not surprised one bit that most of the media outlets had us at 30 or below at the end of the year… and have us basically unranked going into 2017. Throw in the fact that we are losing so many starters on both sides of the ball – especially on offense with Conner, Peterman, Orndoff, Bisnowaty and Johnson gone – the pundits’ outlook now is a solid “I’ll believe it when I see it” mode.
As am I to be honest. I think we sure can get back to playing good and winning football but the problem with Pitt has been for years that we are inconsistent in our wins and losses and how we play the individual games. In 2016’s case we were crazy inconsistent between the quality of the offense and the defense also .
It isn’t enough to have won eight games – college football is all about ‘what have you done for me lately‘ and that bowl loss was, in the national media’s eyes, what they saw when they voted and what they are remembering now. Most of them anyway.
With all the question marks we have with new, young and inexperienced personnel in the starting lineups I think somewhere around 39 or 40 is about right going into 2017’s season of play. However #82 is, again, totally ridiculous.
If we beat YSU, which we should, and upset PSU at home, which we hope, we’ll rise rather quickly into that Top 25 I believe. Then when we beat OSU we’ll be on our way…
Note: Here are the returning starters numbers by year:
|Year/Total Starters Back||Offense||Defense||Special Teams||W-L Record|
This is why I’m calling this our “Wishful Thinking Year”. We are having to replace over half of our full 23 player starting lineup…