POV Bits & Pieces & Polls; 6/14/17

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
   
AP 31
ESPN 31
Athlon 38
CBS 39
Playoff Committee 23        (before bowl)
USA Coaches over # 42

Now here are the 2017 Pre-season composite rankings:

TEAM Sporting

News

CBS Bleacher Report ATHLON FOX ESPN
1  Alabama 1 2 1 1 1 3
2  USC 2 4 4 5 3 4
3  Ohio State 3 3 3 2 2 1
4  Florida State 4 1 2 3 7 2
5  Clemson 5 7 5 8 5 7
6  Penn State 6 5 12 4 4 5
7  Oklahoma 7 9 8 6 8 8
8  Wash’ton 8 6 9 7 6 9
9  Michigan 9 13 10 10 16 14
10 Georgia 10 18 13 14 12 13
Pittsburgh 24 NR NR NR NR NR

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
2017      11 6 4 1 ?????
2016      18 8 8 2 8-4
2015      17 8 7 2 8-4
2014      14 8 5 1 6-7
2013      15 6 8 1 7-6
2012      14 8 4 2 6-7
2011      13 5 8 0 6-7
2010      14 5 6 2 8-5
2009      14 8 4 2 10-3

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…

86 thoughts on “POV Bits & Pieces & Polls; 6/14/17

  1. Good stuff, Reed … but the only positive thing I can write is that in addition to how many players you have to replace, you also have to consider who you are replacing as well as who you are replacing them with.

    Bottom Line- I expect a dropoff in the offense this year, but, after a rough start (4 games), I’m expecting the defense to be better. Will we reach 8 wins again .. who knows? We know we play some very good OOC opponents but it remains to be seen just how good teams like UNC. NCS, UVa and VT are.

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  2. Last season, we had the 10th highest scoring offense and that led to a remarkable fourth place finish in the ACC Coastal Division. Can’t blame pollsters for being skeptical of Pitt’s chances this season, but 82nd is just as unrealistic as 2nd would have been if they pegged us there.

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  3. Reed,
    Your writing and opinions are on target! Thank you for helping to keep us grounded and in the realm of reality. Enjoy your articles immensely!

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  4. I remember 3 years ago, every game on TV the announcers would comment on how young the team was. Well young teams grow up, they did and now we have a young team again. Be nice to have a median range age team so your not sliding down so far in experience every 3 years.

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    1. Ike a good get is one who starts and make some All American teams during his time at Pitt. One can never tell on any commit early on. Just ask USC about the 5 star Browne QB commit and how that worked out for them.

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  5. Zubovic or Bastida?? Bastida would be the first Florida recruit and Zubovic is a big time O-Lineman despite what some may think about 3 star players.

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  6. Ike

    I make the mistake of trusting the coach’s assessments of recruits—and not so much the star system. Plus, these kids have another year or two in high school.

    H2P

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  7. Here’s a question, who and why does the Orlando Sentinel think they are anything relevant? Also… I love being the team or guy that no one thinks can do “it” … PITT could very well end up at # 82 but I would take the under.

    ……. and since I don’t want to be the pain in the ash I won’t ask again….. How does someone post that PITT could have been ranked as high as #15 in this years preseason’s poll if they would have won the bowl game last year and now feel they should be rated #40 because they lost that game? < oops I did it

    I honestly do not think that game means a darn thing moving forward. I may not be rubbing shoulders with the so called experts but I also feel they they know less about PITT football than I do. They are fence sitters and fall whichever way the wind blows.

    The fumble by everyone’s favorite player from last year stopped that first PITT drive (Henderson) and Canada’s insane play calling killed another one and Georgie’s stumble at the goal line another. PITT blew the doors off Northwestern in the first quarter and still should have beat them with a TD catch by their best receiver. (Ordnoff)

    PITT should be ranked somewhere around #35, imo

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  8. I am sensing it is an OL at this point. That said, there are a few interpretations of the word big. Big as in 4 star or big as in 6-5 300 poundage. Hoping for flurrrida because I think the local kids will be jumping on the narduzzi train this year.

    There was some discussion on Pitt not getting Cam Goode who committed to VT. He and Doyle are on the same team and once things cooled with Doyle, I expected Pitt to lose out on Cam Goode too. So if you are Pitt, do you bring in Kevin Doyle if he wants to commit now? I would.

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  9. jrn, tell that to Robert Foster at bama. If you start to develop a solid deep team the more difficult starting from day one it becomes.

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  10. It is Zubovic – big in size.

    News from PSN –

    “Steelers have released former Pitt and West Virginia running back Rushel Shell.”

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    1. Ike, I hope you realize that Pitt has a very limited number of scholarships to offer this year. With 3 offensive lineman on board already it’s hard for me to believe that they will bring any more than one more OL candidate.

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      1. Keep in mind we lost one early due to injury and one of the kids coming in this year doesn’t have the normal 5 years. He is a JUCO so 1-2 would be expected given the depth. We have a walk-on in the 2 deep.

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    1. Good point jrn. I actually think that Chase Brown committing, kind of put the pressure on Big Z. Lackawana, which is where we got Chase, has a well thought of teammate in O-tackle in TJ Bradley who is considering PITT. Trust me, these guys aren’t bums. Solid recruits…!

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    2. Well I understand we don’t go by stars necessarily and the offer thingie is unreliable? So I have a similar question pmd. How in the heck will we ever know if PITT received a commitment from a good high school player that can help the team down the road?

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        1. pmd, that’s the point right? Agree 100%

          Some just don’t have the faith. So many of the great PITT fans have been soured about our football team from the past administration. (I don’t really blame them either)

          So we will wait and see what happens. I’m on official record as believing.

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  11. One of the most difficult positions to recruit is the DT position IMO. Pitt could use a couple of studs at that position for next years class. Size and quickness(like A Donald) would be appreciated by the Pitt defensive coaches I’m sure.

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  12. Agreed that the 5.7 ranking is so close to 4 stars which would make many on here ecstatic! 🙂 I think that is why so many believe that we have seen a recruiting uptick. High 3 stars are quality players. Good job for the head coach with another quality piece to the puzzle out of the WPIAL.

    @ Reed – I don’t think anyone is doing summersaults or backflips here. It is just good to see the 5.7 ranking in Rivals since this is the service you picked as the one you looked to when discussing stars. Just trying to remain consistent.

    Class is starting to look all Narduzzi with everyone eclipsing 6 feet tall. Do we have an official height of the heady c? Would be nice to know narduzzi’s height so that we can get a better feel for how tall these kids are that pose for pics.

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  13. I don’t think three star ratings for recruits are bad recruits. I think that you have to have a lot of higher-rated recruits to really get to a team that is going to be a solid year in and year out top 25 or top 15 Contender which I think is what every one of us wants Pitt to be.

    Notice I’m not criticizing these recruits. I just thought that by this time, with Narduzzi, and after two 8 win season our recruiting would be better.

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  14. Dam it Reed, if we would have only won that son-of-a-gun bowl game?

    I’m half sorry for that Reed but I just can’t help myself friend. 🙂 It’s gotten to that point… your best buddy … ike

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  15. If somebody on here thought we would be ranked #15 headed into this year that is beyond stoned. I am in the Reed camp on predictions at the present which I suspect is in a minority on here. At this point i see this year as being raw, lots of mistakes due to inexperience. Next year we solidify.
    Good article Reed.

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    1. It was indeed Reed who thought if PITT would have won the bowl game last year PITT would have been pre-season ranked in the top 18 or so. (I think it was 15)

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  16. Pitt will only go as far as its new QB
    Doesnt matter what happened in last years bowl game
    These bowl games are so irrelevant
    They are only a money maker for the NCAA
    If Pitt has no QB and their Defense sucks as bad as last year, Pitt is a 4 win team
    It has little depth and experience
    And plays in the toughest football conference
    And the coaches are still learning
    Not a good recipe
    But lightening could strike next year
    The conditions are right for it

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  17. I agree with Reed. The people who rate these teams have no clue except last years performance and returning number of players. Given that half the teams lose in the bowls Pitt could easily have come in at number 15 with a good bowl performance. It is not hard to think that Pitt could be pre-season 18-20 based on a solid performance and win in the bowl game.

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  18. Pre-season ranking consists of the usual suspects plus the ones who were coming off good years. Thus Reed is correct … we would likely have been pre-season ranked,even though we have a lot of players to replace. Actually, all considered, anywhere 30 to 40 is about where we should be with all of our question marks (and OOC schedule)

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  19. That’s not my question though fellows. I agree with all that. #82 is ridiculous but some on here think PITT is in the middle at #40 because of that silly bowl game loss? I think that is a bit unreasonable to drop them 22 spots from #15 over that loss.

    I give up and promise I’m moving on from last year. I’ll try and focus on the new season awaiting us all in a few short months.

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  20. Doesn’t matter where we are ranked at to start the season before games are played.. a lot of turnover on our team players and coaching… it only matters where we are at the end when the smoke clears.. a 9 or 10 win season and the the course is set..4 star recruits will be more numerous with a few 5 stars taking notice, coaches will need a raise to keep the momentum and consistency in the ranks. Hopefully, a fire 🔥 will be lit under the BOT, administration and fans a$$e$ … and we live happily ever after!

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  21. Ike – So a Junior in High achool is as good as Johnson or others because Narduzzi recruited him. Good Lord man. The kid wont be in colllege for 2 years and we are crowing him. You give Tom a run for positive thinking.

    Orlando Paper isnt the outlet they on line just picked up the piece. Happens all the time.

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  22. It’s college football. You replace important players every year. New stars emerge. It’s partly what makes the sport so refreshing to watch. It’s constantly changing. Teams are completely turned over every 4-5 years. Besides, college football is about systems not strategy. Once Pitt replicates MSU’s defense, they will be fine. I believe you’ll start seeing them turn that corner this year. We saw the offense last year, and lets be honest, before the season began most of us didn’t see big things … flash forward to this year … and I think you’ll see more of the same … now that they found their system.

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  23. We are a 35- 40-50
    Best team in country. Anything above that is craziness. Go 2-1 and maybe someone will notice. Remember we stunk for 30 years.

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  24. On to recruiting … this exemplifies what some of us have been saying … recruiting is on the upswing. I know. I know. Another 3 start … but another 3 star close to becoming a 4 star.

    Per Pittsburgh Sports Now:

    The most impressive part of this run on commitments for Pitt is the quality of recruit they’re landing and the teams they’re beating to land them. All of these recruits are rated right now as three-star but don’t be surprised if Zubovic, Jake Kradel, John Morgan and possibly Judson Tallander get moved up to a four-star.

    Here are the latest commitments and the list of offers each recruit held:
    Blake Zubovic- Penn State, Virginia Tech, Michigan State, West Virginia and Northwestern

    Jake Kradel- Iowa, Ohio State, UCLA, Virginia Tech, West Virginia and Wisconsin

    John Morgan- Maryland, Penn State, Virginia Tech

    Judson Tallander- Arizona, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Purdue, NC State

    Chase Brown- Minnesota, TCU and Virginia Tech

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  25. Tossing – This OC who has more jobs than success recently is no Canada. There is a reason Canada makes 2m a year and this jabroni is getting 600k. You guys thinking the office will be close to last year are eating shrooms.

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  26. Upitt: Zubvovic is a senior and he went to the same high school as DJ, Belle Vernon. The head coach is just as high on BZ as DJ.

    How familiar are you with shrooms?

    The national rankings will have PITT in the top 30 at the start of the season.

    Wake you up? I thought you couldn’t sleep? In case you are sleeping be advised you will be awakened before the recruiting class has been settled.

    Still thinking on the OSU bet you offered up. Let’s wait and see the point spread.

    Keep being yourself Upitt, you make the world go round… ike

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  27. Ike you are a good guy but jokes on health of a POVr probably in bad taste . Upitt are those shrooms responsible for mushroom manurre, never quire sure how they got those buggers to sht but mushroom manure must meat “good sht”. Am more in line with TT as to who offered in spite of Reed’s caution as to what means an offer or interest.
    While some may end up as 4 star it may also be wishful thinking.

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  28. My apologies on any insensitivity on any health issues. I meant no harm.

    I guess this upcoming season just can’t get here soon enough. All the bad will sort itself out then. Moving forward. ………………..ike

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  29. Back to the ranking thing… I suppose it does help if Pitt is ranked in the Fall when the little darlings are making their visits and choices. Many of the top kids commit right at the end of the fall football season, and having Pitt show up in the rankings over the Fall may produce a few more visits and commitments. So in that sense the bowl game does mean something if it means Pitt is showing up in the weekly rankings over the next Fall.

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  30. Ike – No worries. I love you man and know you mean nothing. Sleep is better but still lightheaded. Headed to BURG tomorrow. In Oakland Friday if anyone is around let me know.

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  31. Upitt I do appreciated that. Probably not this trip but do see Dr Star, (the best neurologist on the east coast) @ UPMC Mercy. He will fix you right up. He did a good job on my head after a small stroke considering what he was working with. (not much)

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  32. Upitt – Canada was making $600K last year. What does that even mean? Like Canada, this will be the first time Watson has free reign.

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  33. A high preseason ranking makes it easier to move up as long as you win. A low ranking makes it much harder to get into the top 25 because teams in front of you have to lose. The bottom line is you still have to win 9-10 to get ranked at the end of the year. That is why the bowl games are important. That ninth win would have solidly put us in the top 25.

    I really like the recruits so far, we are beating out good teams to get them. Unfortunately you never know for two to three years how the whole class pans out. Narduzzi seems to be stockpiling quality guys.

    OK so Canada caught lightening in a bottle, he had the horses and knew what to do with them. He leveraged one great year into a super contract. It will be interesting to see how he fares for the next three years.

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  34. TT – He was fired from UT with all 4-5 stars. Canada was good bc he knew when to call what he called. Plus Henderson was a surprise. Not anymore and I’m afraid Browne is no Peterman. Just not excited about our offense or OC.

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  35. Upitt, you’re right. It’s awfully hard to get excited over our Offensive Cordinator and his offense when we haven’t yet taken the field. Maybe we’ll get excited in September or October when we will actually see them on the field of play.

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  36. What if Clemson loses three of their close games rather than 1? No final four, no national championship. I’m glad they beat ‘bama, but, frankly I think there were several better teams including Alabama, USC, and Wisconsin. I’d love to have some more experienced coaches, but the players I’ve seen look about as good as the players on any number of tier 15 to 30 “solid” teams, and their “fit” looks really good. Sensible use of Browne (who will be shooting for a career redeeming-game or two), a couple of breaks, and the ACC Coastal should be ours with a final ranking 11-17….

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  37. It’s well documented Pitt is a young team this year after losing 18 seniors. Am wondering how this team inexperience compares to other teams in the Coastal, which team has the most seasoned roster. Just wondering.

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  38. Tossing, you are correct. I figured Peterman would have a good season but I didn’t expect 40 points per game but I don’t think we’re going to anywhere close to that this season. You are also correct about the nature of college football and this is why I like it so much. Every year we see different lineups, different strategies, different pressures and different new kids who get PT.

    But even with new players I just don’t think Josh Conklin as our defensive coordinator is a going to be a success here at Pitt. I think he’ll be average at best and I don’t see us ever giving up less than 25 points per game and with this offense, which I think is not going to be as good as last year, we’re going to kind of struggle this year.

    Also I don’t like the fact that our defensive backs, regardless of who we were playing, were the worst in the nation last year… that says volumes about Conklin and his DB coach, both of whom are back.

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    1. or does it say more of the previous coordinator … who brought in the 2-stars without speed and couldn’t land the likes of Dravon Henry, Montae Nicholson or John Petrishen? All 3 had Pitt as favorites before their senior years.

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