This is the season which we all believe will start to show Narduzzi’s worth as a recruiter but there is something other than that being overlooked there – this is also the year we are going to see just how well Narduzzi’s position coaches and coordinators have done at teaching our young players they inherited to become full-time starters.
We fans tend to look back at recruit rankings and forget that they don’t mean squat unless there is a staff in place to take that raw talent and make it really work at the D1 & Power Five level. This is especially true at the OL positions.
Pitt’s history (and every other D1 program’s) is lettered with recruits that came onboard with high potential and great expectations only to become backups, bench warmers or kids that didn’t make it a full four year’s in the program. Some just didn’t have what it takes, some didn’t care to work hard and some may not have had good enough position coaches to teach them how to play at this level.
As far as Pitt 2017 playing time experience goes when you look at the two-deep on the chart below you’ll see that 15 of the starting 22 positions are still manned by Paul Chryst recruits, and I don’t care what this list says Wirginis will start the YSU game at MLB – how long he stays there is another question. So we will see some of Narduzzi’s new recruits get playing time – mostly on defense where we need the most help.
HCPN’s position coaches have now had three years to work with those PC recruits to fit smoothly into his offensive and defensive philosophies and it will be interesting to see how well they will fair as full-time starters this season. Those now-starters would be MLB Wirginis, C Dintino, RT Jared Jones-Smith, DE Allen Edwards, Money LB Ziese, S Briggs and CB Motley.
Pittsburgh Sports Now reported that Pitt has released the pre-Fall Camp depth chart. Hmmm, more like “These are the only viable players who can play this position” chart. When you have only 10 of 22 starting positions returning there has to be a heavy dose of wishful think on fan’s (and the staff’s) parts to get back up to the level of play of the year before. We’ll see that writ large in trying to match the record breaking offense we had in 2016.
As a look-back here are the starters we are missing from last years 8-5 squad: Peterman, Conner, Orndoff, Bisnowaty, Johnson on offense. On defense we’ll not have Jarrett, Soto / Taleni, Price, Caprara, Galambos, Webb and Lewis. I highlighted those who I think are star quality losses, or potential star quality in Taleni’s case, and who’s replacements will have the biggest shoes to fill. I listed Soto because 10.5 tackles for loss isn’t to sneeze at.
Here is Pitt’s “This has to be a first draft” listing:
There are about 15 legit questions with this list starting with the most obvious in why list someone in Tre Tipton who you know for a fact can’t play the 2017 season? Another is the listing 49 players for 44 two-deep positions.
Another is who in Hell is “Maurcie” Ffrench?
I have some agreement with a lot on here too but other things really have me worried… and there were some comments on the last article about this list we should address also.
First off, I do believe we’ll see Ollison as the starting RB behind Aston come September. It only makes sense to put the guy you know can achieve success as a starting D1 rusher out there as opposed to two other backs – Moss and Hall – who have 42 and 36 carries respectively. To remind readers, the production Ollison had in his 2015 year was this:
It is one thing for Moss to have a 5.4 ypc average on 46 carries but another to better that with Ollison’s 5.5 ypc over a whole season’s 212 rushes. Ollison should get the ball early and often through the first three non-conference games to get his momentum set and should he falter then switch over to someone else.
Damn it though; I see some real trouble spots in this list, mostly going back to what I have been saying since 2016 came to an end and that is Pitt is relying very heavily on transfers, and other existing roster players, who have never suited up for a real game in a Pitt uniform… or who did suit up but and then played very sparingly.
Here’s my list of potential problems and I know this is a pessimistic look. I just think that Pitt fans do tend to look at every question mark we have and then are just sure things will turn out well there, but as we know that doesn’t always happen. So – here are where I think we could run into headaches:
QB – We have a transfer player (Browne) who has already shown he hasn’t been a successful starter in D1 ball over three years in college. Replacing: Peterman
TE – Another starter (Clark) is listed with one game under his belt at a different school. He started the opener then was quickly benched by the staff for the rest of the season. He’s backed up by a rsSR (Devon Edwards) who has done nothing in his time at Pitt and was actually moved from TE to DE at mid-point of last season. Replacing: Orndoff
C – We have a starter who is a converted OL (Dintino) and who has one start in his three years at Pitt – and that was at Fullback (!). His only experience is at any position but the one he’ll be starting in I suppose. Backing him up is a walk-on rsFR (Morrissey) with no playing time at all. Replacing: Officer
RT – a journeyman rsSR who hasn’t impressed in his time at Pitt at all (Jones-Smith) being backed up by a rsFR who was 0.1 point away from being ranked a two star recruit. (Morgan). Replacing: Bisnowaty
DT – A rsFR (Camp) with no playing time backed up by a journeyman (Roy) who had a total of 4 tackles total in his career. Replacing: Jarrett / Taleni
DT (Redux) – A SO (Watts) with 3 tackles total backed up by another journeyman (Herndon) with 2 tackles in his career. Replacing: Soto (Bottom line at DT is that we have four players with a total of 9 career tackles)
DE – We have a multiple year starter who has played worse each successive year (Blair) and is being demoted to 2nd string behind a guy who played only spot-starter relief duty last season (Allen Edwards). Replacing: Price.
Money LB – Three players, the starter (Zeise) being an untested converted WR, backed up by a career back-up, with a total of 6 career tackles between them. Replacing: Caprara
DBs – Don’t even get me started on these. Hardly any second string experience all around and iffy players except for Whitehead and Maddox. Some will look at this list of DBs and assume that the younger kids are ‘more talented’ and will jump the starters listed. But those young kids have no live game at all hardly.
However, thee three players back there listed as starters – Briggs, Maddox and Motley, are the three guys Narduzzi and Conklin have been talking about returning as starters since the week of the Spring game. Don’t be surprised if we see them out there against YSU, PSU and maybe OSU depending.
Now I do know that some of these vacant starting positions are going to be well filled and have success there… some may blossom into very productive players as I think Chris Clark may at TE.
But when you have legitimate questions – and there are legit unless you are a Pitt fan with blinders on – in 11 out of 22 starting positions… Hell, make it 12 because we have no real idea how Hendrix at the other DE position will play over the course of a full season (though I think he’ll do well)… then there is trouble in River City.
So many things have to click into place to make this year’s team a better team than we had last season – at least looking at the players on the field. And we know logically that just moving up and being average starters in all those positions won’t cut it – not when you look at who we lost in the spots those players listed above are replacing.
We have two players listed on the All-American pre-season two deep list – Henderson as ATH and O’Neil at LT. Those same players with Whitehead and Officer can be found on the list for All-ACC also. But those are positions we know are well filled, although I’m wary of Officer but he’ll probably be fine – I’m glad he’s been moved from center though. We are going to be in a lot of very close games this season and errant snaps we can’t afford.
I’m a show-me type of person but that isn’t across the board. If i feel that we are getting new starters that will produce at a high level – and the beauty of college football is that it happens every new season – then I’ll say so. As mentioned I think Clark will do so, maybe Brightwell also if he does take over for Wirginis.
Throw Amir Watts at DT in that group also as i like what he brings to the table. but again – to honestly believe that is every open spot, or even the majority of them, will blossom with star play is just too much for me to believe.
This will be a great season to watch Pitt football for just that reason – seeing the untested or unknown young men busting their butts and giving their all to win the job then try to excel at it.
Let’s hope that happens more often of not for 2017 – we’ll need that after the departures of very good, and some great, ball players we had.
Other Notes: The listing of the 2017’s Top 130 players as named by MSN came out yesterday and Jordan Whitehead was put in the 110th position:
110. Jordan Whitehead, S, Pittsburgh. The versatile Whitehead is such an enticing athlete that Pitt has used him on offense, too, but his main job is leading the secondary, where he’s been an All-ACC pick each of his first two seasons. Pitt’s secondary was a huge area of concern last season, but Whitehead is an excellent player to build around.
The power of the POV; Last week I received an email from an older Pitt fan who doesn’t comment but reads every word you all and I write on here. He read the “Call Out to Veterans” piece I did last month and contacted me because he also has PTSD, his from his military service during the Vietnam war .
He had never discussed it with anyone and so we got together yesterday afternoon and had a great, and much-needed on both sides, conversation. Thanks so my friend…. Anyone else out there who feels the need to talk with a peer in this please just drop me a line.
This week’s roundtable call-In show was the best we have had so far. Five Pitt fans talking about what we love – and no problems with the video recording or audio reverb as in the past. Lesson learned: if you want to participate get a pair of ear bud speakers you can plug-in so your computers sound goes only into your ears and not broadcast out the unit’s speakers. we’ll do it again on Wednesday, July 19th.
I am driving up to Clariton tomorrow for Tyler boyd’s football Camp for Kids and have some good questions to ask him when i get an interview chance:
“It’s a special feeling to be able to come home to the community that molded me, and teach young athletes the necessary skills to be successful at a game I’m most passionate about,” said Boyd. “Sharing my craft and talents to inspire the youth in Clairton and surrounding cities, and to excel at their dreams is what I want to do, like my mentors did for me.”
Boyd will bring along special NFL guests to assist as coaches for the day.”
Boyd’s camp will teach youth participants, important life lessons on becoming well-rounded individuals and giving back to the community. All participants will receive a free t-shirt, lunch, and an autographed photo of Boyd.
I will be at The Porch in Oakland at 5:00 for a 6:00 pm get-together for all us POV’ers who can make it. Again – 1st round is on me.
Coming soon to a blog near your… your very own POV Hoodie. I have 10 on order and if you all like them I’ll get more.
From POV’s Politically Incorrect Vault (PIV):