Where There Are No Question Marks

Last week I wrote a lengthy article titled “Here’s Hoping For the Best” where I listed the positions where we would have to be replacing departed starters and how well I though we’d do in that regard – which was on the negative side. This article will be about our returning starters who will almost assuredly do well.

If you remember for going into the 2017 season we have only six returning starters on offense and just four on defense.  That is a hell of a lot of ground to make up to equal or better the quality of play we had last season.  The real rub is that we are going to rely pretty heavily on youth (rsFR and SOs) if the fan’s belief that Narduzzi will play better talent over experience.

I wonder about that last point and have a feeling we’ll see some old familiar faces in places we really don’t want to meaning the defensive backfield.  Narduzzi has talked numerous time in the off-season about Maddox SR) , Briggs (JR) and Phillipie Motley (JR) in addition to the one kid everyone wants to see in the lineupJordan Whitehead (JR).

So let’s talk about the ’17 players who we know are going to be returning starters and how well we think they will play.

Since we have already mentioned Whitehead let’s start with him. As far as any competition in his new position, Free Safety as opposed to the Strong Safety position he played his first two seasons, I don’t think there will be any worry with him as his talent is about as top end as it gets.  Add to that his two solid years starting in our defensive backfield experience and he’s a lock.

Still on defense we have only one other starting position (disregarding that silly “depth chart” put out by Pitt last week) I think is a returning starter is SR Rori Blair at DE.  I am wary of him as with a rather nice first season where he show some flashes of very good play he’s not live up to expectations.

With a full 12 games played in Blair ended up only the 16th tackler on the squad with 22 total. Now – within those 22 tackles he had 5.0 Tackles For Loss (TFLs) so his effectiveness when he was playing well (in spurts) was OK.  Because of that I think we’ll see him start the season opposite Dwayne Hendrix at the other DE position.

In addition to Blair and Whitehead we’ll have SR Avonte Maddox back as one Cornerback.  he played well last season in the midst of a total pass defense implosion. When I say “played well” it has to be taken in that contest because as far as defending the pass all of the roster’s DB pretty much screwed the pooch.

But for the 2nd consecutive year he led the defense in INTs (3) and passes broken up (8). He was the 7th leading tackler and here is a very interesting bit of info – from that CB spot he was third on the defense in TFLs with 8.5 – 2.5 of those being sacks. he could do that because he’s  fast and although undersized in the height department at 5″9′ he’s a strong young man.

Those are the only three returning starters on defense who I  think are going to play above average ball… that’s on defense.

Offense is another story and more to feel good about.  I’ll start here with the two returning starters I think will be the most important – rsJR FB George Aston and rsJR LT Brian O’Neill.

Aston impressed with his toughness back in 2015 when he played FB in four games for us. In that limited time he also scored two TDs on eight  receptions.  But it was his blocking for RB Qadree Ollison that really opened up our eyes and how Aston allowed Ollison to go on that great first year tear of 1121 yards and 12 TDs.

Then last season Aston came into his own with his concrete contributions to our offense:

Aston 1

I’ll go as far as to say that I think he has a good chance to be our offensive MVP this season.  That is if the staff and fans can find it in themselves to fully acknowledge what a FB’s job entails.

First – with a new QB in Max Browne, and he a QB who is not fast or shifty at all hardly, the defense are going to tee off on trying to attack him. The other RB and Aston are his last line of blocking defense against that – and chances are the RB has already shot into the LOS on a play-action pass fake or swung out on a wheel route.

Wonder why Peterman was sacked only nine times last season? We had a good interior OL for sure but go back and watch tapes of just how great Aston was of picking up and blocking the guy who had the best shot at a sack of our QB.

Add to that the fact that we don’t have Conner again and that’s going to make the FB even more valuable in lead blocking the smaller RBs (Moss and Hall) into the LOS.  On Henderson’s sweeps watch how effective the FB is in sealing off the corner.

Watch this video starting at the 2:57 mark and notice how Aston level the LB pursuit on Henderson TD run.  Then start at 3:16 and watch Aston work on four more plays for TD.

So I believe if Aston plays the way he is 100% capable of he’ll silently be the best on offense, except for maybe…

Left Tackle Brian O’Neill was switched from Right Tackle to the left side to replace Adam Bisnowaty at the all-important Left Tackle spot that protects the QB’s blindside.  If he plays the way he did in 2016, and he’ll be even better I believe, we’ll see him extent his “No Sacks Allowed Past Me” policy for the 2nd consecutive year.  As a plus O’Neill was just put on the Danny Wuerffel award to match his nomination as the nation’s OL’s best for the Outland Trophy.

Already a preseason candidate for the Outland Trophy for his fantastic blocking ability, O’Neill (Wilmington, Del./Salesianum School) now lands on the Wuerffel Trophy watch list for his off-the-field highlights. O’Neill has been one of Pitt football’s community service champions since joining the team.

His outreach into the community includes a mission trip to a Haitian orphanage during the spring of 2016 and fundraising for future trips to Haiti by Pitt student-athletes; visiting the Southwestern Pennsylvania Veterans Center and Mel Blount Youth Home; and volunteering his time for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh, Boys & Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania and Christmas at Pitt programs.

On the field, O’Neill is a returning All-ACC selection and the reigning SB Nation “Piesman Trophy” winner. He started all 13 games at tackle for the Panthers last season and scored two touchdowns on trick plays—a 24-yard lateral-catch-and-run against Georgia Tech and a 6-yard end-around versus Virginia Tech.

rsJR Alex Bookser is another good returning OL player and he’s also sliding around to start at the open Right Tackle position.  But he may miss up to three games at the start of the season – that number depending on how Narduzzi wants to award discipline.  He’ll sit at least one game for sure (I think). Bookser is solid and quite honestly he and O’Neill are the only two OL who I believe are locks to excel at their respective positions. 

Yes, I know that rsSR Alex Officer has been recognized nationally also and has 34 consecutive starts but I see him as being a good but not great, still – I’ll put Officer on the “Don’t worry too much about him.” list… even though I have a gut feeling he’ll disappoint somehow.

That right there are five of the six positions in which we have offensive starters returning to play.  Let’s look over at WR where we’ll see the last two starters (presumably) to be out there at kickoff.

rsSR Jester Weah has his last year to really breakout and attain that superstar designation – and he’s well on his way in my opinion.  While Weah didn’t catch a huge amount of passes last season…

Weah1.png

… at only 36 you can see that 870 total yards (62nd nationally) was the result of an astronomical 24.2 yards per catch average.  That 24.2 would be right near the top of all receivers last year.  He’s good and he’ll produce.

JR ATH Quadree Henderson is last on this list, but where to put him?  Is he one of the six returning starters?  Good question.

Well, Narduzzi just said the he needs Henderson to be a “complete Wide Receiver” so let’s place him opposite Weah.  Any Pitt fan who follows the team at all knows what Henderson did last season – but for those fans who were in solitary confinement with total isolation here are his stats:

QH1

He’s not replacing anyone as a KR/PR so we’ll discuss his success at that later on.

Above are the players I feel we don’t have to concern ourselves with playing good ball this season. We have a lot of question marks amoung our starting 22 positions but these aren’t any of them.

From POV’s PIV vault:

f25dc6e1713d4650bdc11065b010e379

 

97 thoughts on “Where There Are No Question Marks

  1. IMO I don’t believe Henderson is the answer opposite Weah at WR. Unless he can transform himself into Antonio Brown over the summer he should be moved into the slot receiver position for Pitt. I’d like to see Mathews opposite Weah starting this season.

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    1. Completely agree! I saw some of the pictures of Mathews helping out at Boyd’s Camp and the kid looks like he has added 20 Lbs. of muscle to that skinny frame of his. The height factor is a slam dunk advantage over Henderson as well when comparing the two on purely WR criteria.

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  2. On the offensive line, it will be interesting to see what the discipline will be for Bookster’s DUI.With a multiple game suspension potentially looming for Bookser, keep an eye on Justin Morgan who is waiting his turn behind Bookser. Morgan is a sleeping giant. Was a consensus #1 OL recruit in the entire state of NY, now ready to contribute after a full year in the weight room and the training table. I predict he will be a good one for us, perhaps sooner rather than later.

    No mention of Allen Edwards in this article. My bet is he sees the field more than Blair does by season’s end, even though he was only a lowly 2 star JC recruit from Dean College. He has a higher ceiling than most give him credit for. He’s quick off the snap which spells pressure on the QB.

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    1. I think Reed was only focusing on “starters” and while Edwards got plenty of playing time wasn’t a regular in the starting lineup. I agree with the potential as he is a heck of an athlete. Maybe Donald hung out with those boys in the spring to work on technique.

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  3. Despite all he has done, I believe Henderson’s value at flanker is completely undervalued since he was the catalyst of last year’s offense, and everything ran thru him.

    Think of this …. on the vast majority of the offensive plays last year, the initial action as the QB took the snap was to either hand the ball to QH or fake it to him.

    And because of his speed, the defense, in particular the LBs, had to first determine if QH had the ball or not. The fact that not only was he in motion at the snap, but many times he went in motion past the QB and then doubled-back , made it very difficult for the defense to be aggressive but instead had to be reactive. This in turn cut down say on the number of times the defense blitzed or ran something gimmicky.

    This is why I think that he is the most important on offense, and should remain in the position he played this past season

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  4. Yes he was great in the manner he was used last year. But he is a liability for most of the downfield passing plays. As Dr. Tom indicated Mathews height opposite Weah gives Pitt both size and speed for the down the filed passes. There is no reason why Henderson playing out of the slot position can not be just as effective in motion on many plays.

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    1. jrnpitt, you’re not quite getting it. By using QH as a decoy, this also helped open the passing lanes .. not to mention that after the fake, he had to be watched coming out of the backfield on a wheel route.

      You just can’t measure QHs’ value in the passing game by number of receptions he had.

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      1. wwb, your not getting what Narduzzi said in that he needs “Henderson to be a complete wide receiver”. Which by the way he wasn’t last year and I may be wrong but don’t think he’ll be a complete wide receiver this year. His best chance in the NFL will be in the slot and not as a wide out thus I believe he should be show casing that side of his game.

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  5. Just finished filling out a survey to season ticket holders related to the game day experience and merchandise purchases. When asked where I receive information regarding the program there is an “other” option to type in The Pitt POV…which I did.

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  6. If Matthews has a breakout year, Jester maintains or improves on eliminating those ” iffy” catches, Chris Clark debuts as a bone fida 5 star TE with Orndoff-like range . and add QA with improved midrange pass routes… look-out! Tons of potential on the O….One can dream…
    No where but up for the D….lotsa new smiling faces with fast feet… should be fun barring injuries…

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  7. A slot WR has to have excellent hands. Not sure that’s QH’s forte. He’s probably best suited on the outside as a deep threat. Or setting him up with a screen. I think you’ll see Clark play that slot role.

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  8. Until we can break down a player’s snap count then stats are mealiness to me. Blair still has a red-shirt available for a reason. I really like Edwards and he will help out immensely this coming season….. Having two players like Blair and Edwards = depth and that is a good thing.. but before we get a little down on a player we need to break down his actual playing time. One game played does not = a whole entire game. This is important fellows. Edwards played a whole lot last season….

    Agreed, Henderson can be as effective as a decoy as much or more as anything he can do. The beauty of last season. I hope PITT uses this to their benefit and I ‘m sure they will. Not to mention Tipton being out… it sounds like a plan..

    Matthews is becoming a man-child before our eyes. He will definitely be getting plenty of passes thrown his way. Weah will be an All American by season’s end…. Browne??? yeah maybe him too.

    Bookser?? The game-plan has already been played out. Why should PITT give the all American academic scholar more time off than other schools give their players? They shouldn’t. The kid is sorry… Nothing to see here. (HE WAS VERY LUCKY) sometimes this is how life works….

    Latrobe buried a great young man today who died in the line duty.. Pennsylvania State trooper Micheal Stewart who was killed in a unlucky traffic accident a few days ago. How truly sad. His grand-mother has been our fantastic paper carrier the past umpteen years. I dread looking her in her eyes. This great woman practically in tears when we told her of our good friend GUS (our lab) died a few months ago. Can’t even imagine how the family feels today. Very nice send off by Latrobe… probably 300 police vehicles and family. Which they all are family!!!

    ike

    We Are All We Got
    We Are All We Need!
    H2P!

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  9. With a defense as poor as ours was last year and one that is still very worrysome they’re not going to sit down a player like Rory Blair for a full season. You do that when you don’t have to worry about that position at all.

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  10. Reed, are you mixing up Blair with Bookser?

    My point was that Blair didn’t play a lot of snaps last year. One game in the stat book does not = a full game played.. Blair and Edwards will be really good for PITT this year.. ike

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  11. I’m not sure I ever saw Henderson actually catch a pass. He is a slot trickster not a starting WR from a pass catch perspective.

    He needs to turn himself into a Julian Edelmen.

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  12. Reed…and BTW. Why do we care about other teams?? Since we judge PITT football on what they do on the field as much as off it and you know do to. When we all stop complaining about losing a bowl game and wanting to be above the schools that want to win games more than PITT. < PITT is not going down a one way street here. It’s a two way street and that’s ok as long as PITT stay’s on the right side.

    Bookser is not a cold blooded calculated killer He’s a goofball who has problems and needs the one thing that can help him get through his problems. Taking football away is not the answer to his problems but playing football may very well be? Put your hand out and offer to pull him up back to his feet. Piling on is illegal..

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  13. i’m certainly wrong but sometimes it feels like only pitt fans could complain about and throw shade at an all-american player like quadree henderson

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  14. Ike – Bookser’s a 21 year old man and you want to treat him like a spoiled kid. He deserves whatever Pat Narduzzi sees fit to give him.

    And how do you come up with “He’s a goofball who has problems and needs the one thing that can help him get through his problems.”??? I’m assuming you believe football is “the one thing”. I’ll not play junior psychologist here but when you have two alcohol incidents in three years it isn’t only football you need to concentrate on.

    Sorry – but I think that mitigation of behavior is a load of crap. If you believe that a three game suspension (or whatever Narduzzi does) is too much for Bookser then I think you want to deflect responsibility from Bookser. Personally I think he’ll get one game but I wouldn’t blink at all if it is three – or whatever… because it is Narduzzi’s and the University’s job to ready these student athletes for life itself – not just the NFL.

    Especially a kid like Bookser who has all the earmarks of being a strong contributor to society later on. But to slap his wrist on this incident would lead him to believe the next time it happens he should get a slap on the wrist also… and if you have two in three years without serious ramifications then the door is open for more trouble.

    Now remember – I haven’t written one word about what discipline I think should be awarded in Bookser’s case. So I’ll do that now…

    I believe one game is the minimum – depending on what his attitude has been and what remedial steps he has taken to rectify his problem.

    Three games would be my personal limit – but Narduzzi is way closer to the situation then I am.

    I will howl if there is no formal discipline issued at all.

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  15. ..1. One game is what is on my mind. No more or less.

    Please stop telling me a 21 year old is a grown man. He may be 300 plus lbs but in zero way a grown man. So manny ways to get the young adult yet not fully brain matured help.

    Yes, I know you haven’t spoken on punishment but the connotations of your remarks leads “ME” < me, to believe you would want more then one game???

    The other point I was trying to make is……….. We both agree, We both want PITT to do their best competing while staying between the lines. It’s very important to me and I think most real PITT fans.

    That said. Giving a more severe punishment doesn’t do Bookser, you or I any good. This is what it is…Ask yourself the question. What would really help this young adult the most? Then ask, would a year suspension be the answer? It may very well may be.. I’m to the mind that could be possible or it could possibly ruin his life as well as save it.

    Like the Lair remark about the POV ( I hated) being a tough listen…………. Take the high road I say..

    Over 1200 patrol officers of all kind in town today from 40 states and two countries (Canada the other) and well over 300 patrol vehicles of all kinds to send off State Trooper, MICHEAL STEWART. God speed my Latrobe brother!… and blessings to the family…

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  16. Why would anyone want to turn QH into Edelman? This is almost the same argument complaining that Ollison wasn’t used enough last year. The team scored > 40 ppg

    Everyone had their purpose last year and I couldn’t think anyone being used any more effectively than QH was. He was extraordinary as a runner (60 carries for 10.5 ypc), receiver (26 rec for 11 ypg) and returner (1200 total yards) … not to mention his decoy work as described above.

    He is 5’7 and 180 lbs soaking wet … he should not be used as a possession receiver or TB who carries the ball 25 times a game. That is insane

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  17. Tre Tipton made two very nice, Boyd-esque type catches in the 1st qtr.

    Just saw the 30 yard snap by Officer over Peterman’s head. Beauty!

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  18. Offensively – I see QH as a Tavon Austin type player moreso than Julian Edelman. Edelman to me is a possession receiver who makes difficult catches in traffic and is tough. I think QH does not possess the ability to make tough catches while getting crunched. I don’t see Edelman, I see Austin.He should be a push although to me, he makes the same total yards, but the mix is different because the offense won’t give him as much space as he enjoyed last year.

    The Bookser discussion is funny to me. When it happened, I was in the minority when I said he would go through ARD and then miss one game. Most here crunched me on that stance including the owner, which is fine. I stand with my initial reaction to the incident. I think Bookser blows up this year because he has O’Neill, Johnson and Bisno as recent examples of how to get drafted. For him, he gets better this year.

    Weah, Officer and Aston are pushes as well. Weaj and Aston primarily because of the offensive constraints and closeness instead of a more spread look.

    Defensively – Candidly, if Avonte’ Maddox is more than a 5th db, we have a problem. I really like him personally, but he reminds me too much of the player that is a 1/2 step too late, too many times. I like him on blitzes. Maddox is a plus, if he is a nickel. Whitehead is a slight plus over last year. LB’s are all new, correct? Must be a push although Blackwell started at the end of the year so I think he improves. I see Rory Blair the same as Maddox. Blair is good, but if he is our best, I think we are in trouble.

    In my opinion, we need difference makers and if we are going to get better, the new talent should pass some of the incumbents. The two I see getting passed up are Blair and Maddox. I hope I am right and the upcoming talent beats them out. Not because I don’t like them but rather because I want the talent to prove itself and unseat incumbents.

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  19. I see where you’re coming from Huff. Here’s the thing. You say if Blair and Maddox don’t get passed up, PITT could be in trouble. Another possible scenario, they both have Scott McKillop type senior season’s?

    It’s happened before and it will happen again. Keep the faith brother… look ahead not behind…

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  20. Deep – If you think he is a WR in d1 or NFL I have land to sell you. He is a special teams and slot guy on sweeps. He is a all world talent at that but not a WR. Someone post his catching stats.

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  21. QH season was spectatular because he has element of surprise. Now teams will kick away and the sweep wont surprise many. So donmt get defensive and use him more as a decoy and involve others. If they overuse him we will not win games.

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    1. Henderson will prove you wrong. Last year he showed his speed.
      This season will simply be, “catch me if you can”.
      Problem is most teams can’t.

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    2. Yeah defenses knew what was coming after the ok st game at the latest and still didn’t stop him or slow him down last year. Once again upitt you’re being silly.

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  22. Looking forward to seeing what Matthews can do this season, now with Tipton out — and Ffrench looked good too. Unless our new OC stinks the bed, I think offense should be this team’s strength again and the D might have to do it with smoke and mirrors…and a lot of rotation.

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  23. Matt N.. hard for me to judge last yrs DL talent. Based on stats they looked solid against the run but those stats are deceiving as teams threw against us at will and atthe end of the season several ran against us rather easily- bowl game for example. Taleni made that big play at Clemson and maybe a few other key stops but he is gone. I think the DL upgrades along with the whole D this year but I do expect some growing pains. Next year will be the season to make the run for the ACC championship ( will need to get next years starting QB some action this season)

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    1. BigB — not saying the young guys don’t have talent or won’t get it done this year, but they’re replacing a lot of beef in there and just hope they’re ready to go from game 1 on.

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  24. There are plenty of question marks which is to be expected for a team that lost so many starters. Pitt is not Alabama or OSU which just simply reloads, replacing blue chips with blue chips.

    It is hard not to see a rough first month with two games against pre-season Top 10 teams plus at GT immediately after. But IMO we have every reason to believe that are younger talent will get up to speed because the potential of these younger guys, especially on the defensive side, is so much higher than who they are replacing.

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    1. I have to agree with your comments wwb – this young Pitt FB team will need to take it one game at a time and they must improve with each game.

      Coach Duzz will have this team ready for the YSU game and hopefully they can get away with a vanilla offense like last year’s 1st game. That will allow OC Watson to “surprise” the nits in creepy valley – the emotion of that game alone will be great. OK State game will be electric IF we beat the nits. If not, say hello to 35,000 yellow seats.

      The GT game is circled on everyones calendar. Whether this team is 3-0 or 1-2, the Yellow Jackets will be a stiff test to this young Panther D as we start the ACC Coastal race.

      I’m betting the coaches and players will be ready.

      HTP!

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  25. The article in today’s PG has me worried. It talks about the closeness of the QB competition. It is frightening if BD is vying for the top spot. Even if this is just smoke, it is worrying me that he is number 2. If Browne can’t beat him out clearly we are in big,big trouble.
    The fact that no challengers for the backup have emerged leads me to.believe a position switch for Mc is coming. And the Nitters got another 4 star. They are in fact dominating the state, and have the second rated class overall. No matter how we spin it, this is not good!!

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  26. The Bookster thing is pretty worrisome. Most think it will only be a one game suspension, but as I recall from the newspaper write up, there was a lot that happened there. If a judge goes hard on him, or if a felony is involved, he could be gone for the season…

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  27. PSU with 14 4 stars or better. That guy can recruit.

    Not worried about the QB battle. DiNucci looked pretty good in the bowl game.

    Still thin Browne will win. Competition makes you work harder.

    If Browne gets injured good to have a 1A.

    I have more concern about our lines. They both need to play well if we are to get past 8 wins, and have a chance to win the Coastal.

    Henderson is a great player, even if he doesn’t catch many passes. He is the best special teams guy we have ever had, by far, and his ability to get around the end or turn up field far surpasses Boyd or Whitehead.

    When he catches passes it is just icing on the cake.

    Clark is the key to the passing game, we need a guy that can pick up fourth downs in traffic.

    Aston is also good catching them out of the backfield.

    As long as our line does its job there are lots of options in the passing game.

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  28. psWho? – recruits with 4 stars still need to be coached. HCPN coaches his players up to higher ratings. So far, James from state college seems to coach his players down to a lower level.

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  29. You can’t sugar coat it. The farmers are really milking the cows this year. The Big 10 win must have helped with recruiting. Numbers and rankings don’t tell the complete story, but overall this is turning out to be a complete butt kicking in the recruiting wars.

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    1. Yep. Thanks a lot to Paul Chryst and the Badgers for totally ****ing the bed in the Big 10 Championship game.

      I guess I shouldn’t have been too surprised, though. Chryst never managed to win any big games when he was here, either.

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  30. Welp…..I ‘comprehend’ the idea that Quadree Henderson is a pure-slot type guy just because of being ‘small ‘n fast’ but it’s just not feasible based on who he is.

    He is super-serious NFL-Elite level Fast — and he’s also super-quick too. But like multiple other posters above said he is not a Slot Receiver. If he was —- ‘Cus Pat Narduzzi ain’t dumb lol —- he woulda been in the slot like Tyler Boyd got put into by Narduzzi.

    Quadree can catch but he is not a “Dirty Work” receiver. He’s a smallish, “Pretty-Boy” Receiver lol.

    Very, Very similar to a DeSean Jackson quality player.

    And THAT is why Pat Narduzzi is harping on him so hard to become a true passing threat and Step it UP this year.

    Julian Edelman is a 4.7 – 4.8 40 yard dash type dude who was an ex-QB and has super-sticky hands and crazy-quick steps who will sell-out to catch a tough ball. Quadree Henderson is honestly probably about the exact same size too — but he’s a 4.3 player who already could burn NFL safeties and corners, and THIS YEAR he needs to get that part about catching deep throws and scoring TD’s.

    YOU KNOW WHO IS THE PITT SLOT DUDE THIS YEAR??? — That is gonna be Aaron Mathews (6’4” !!! but super-quick WITH THE STICKY-HANDS WHO WILL FIGHT FOR THE TOUGH CATCHES lol) who is replacing Tre Tipton in that role.

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  31. Quadree Henderson at the next level is a DeSean Jackson level (JUST AS FAST — JUST AS QUICK) talent and he needs to play at his potential as reciever catching throws downfield (and making just as much impact with the ball as he does on the handoffs!!!).

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  32. ^^^^ pswho recruiting commentary is relevant no doubt…..

    BECAUSE IT BRINGS US BACK TO OUR POINT THAT RECRUITING QUARTERBACKS IS EVERYTHING!!!

    Some (frankly!) 3 star shrimp QB from Virginia (6-foot yeah right 🙂 hahaha) yet that dude lifted that whole team.

    5 Star , number one ranked overall QB HACK is 6-6, 6-6 lol….( 🙂 OPPOSITE of Pitt’s 5 Star, #1 QB though! 🙂 of course!!)

    All about the QB. Their runningback etc. guys were there but they were garbage. This Moxy-Oozing QB comes and lifts their whole team up. He’s the SOLE reason they came back against PITT last year!

    GOTTA FIND THE QUARTERBACKS — #NARDUZZIKNOWS —- THAT’S WHAT DRIVES EVERYTHING.

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  33. You can look at the alleged QB battle coming at fall camp in a few weeks as a good OR bad thing. It could mean lots of things. I guess that all depends on Browne. If he’s practicing well but can’t create a wide separation between himself and say Dinucci, wouldn’t that tell us that BD has picked up the position rather nicely?

    I say this all the time. If the coaches decide and or think someone who people have a perception as “not being that good” is worthy of playing, then I’m all on board with it. Playing the arm chair quarterback is fun and all but I always defer to the coach on who should play and who should not.

    I agree with gc, BD didn’t look all that bad to me in the bowl, some think he did. Apparently Narduzzi thought there was a significant drop-off himself as he mentioned it recently. I hope moving forward he gets whomever the backup is some quality playing time this coming season.

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    1. Honestly……

      I rag on Ben DiNucci because frankly from the Bowl game I just was disappointed that some of the plays he made were SO BAD against a team that was not very Fast + Talented.

      Say, Trace McSorley of penn state (Shorter, Same-Arm, similar speed and athleticism than DiNucci “Theoretically”) — he comes in against a very talented Georgia Bulldogs team in the Bowl Game and just Looks Good in the year before Pitt plays them. You can tell he doesn’t have powerful arm or Mike Vick speed —– but he just looked GOOD and you FELT he was a Baller.

      Ben DiNucci felt…..EH.

      Yeah, he made sweet-run for a first down. He made a great “touch throw” (or was it just a normal throw for him you couldn’t discern!!) to Orndoff that he full-on dropped no doubt for a TD.

      But that interception to end the game to the flat out-right was PITIFULL and it wasn’t excusable. Trace McSorley against an so-so-so much faster and higher-talented Georgia team doesn’t make any WEAK-AZZ throws like that.

      Ben DiNucci is 2+ inches taller, 20 pounds heavier, but kinda showed he is never, ever gonna be a Trace McSorley….many Pitt fans wrote him off after the Northwestern game. Northwestern frankly was— though ‘TOUGH’! — very, VERY slow and THE team a QB would want his chance against 😦 !!!

      Like

    2. Fully agree with you on paragraph 2. That is a big reason that they are paid the big bucks. Recognizing talent, aptitude for a position and developing same.

      I thought DiNucci looked okay in the bowl game for his first REAL game action. His INT didn’t look a whole lot worse than the one that Peterman threw early in the game. I do have concerns about DiNucci’s ability to stretch the field with his arm. He appears to have less arm strength than CV. However they hopefully will have an offensive plan that plays to his strengths if it comes to him playing major time.

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  34. 2 responses:

    1) LaRod Stephens Howlings is a bit smaller than QH but still had a creditable NFL career for the Cardinals. He played and contributed for about 4 or 5 years as I recall. I believe QH is not only a little bigger, but also faster and a bit more talented. Barring injury, he will get drafted.

    2) the majority of PSU 4 stars come from the Northeast and Maryland. PSU gets a tremendous amount of exposure in NJ, Eastern PA, MD and DC. Plus, they get a lot of national and prime time TV games which helps them nationally … especially with their white-outs and 107k.

    This is one of the bitter facts of life …. (we have to just) deal with it.

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  35. I don’t believe there is a real competition between Browne and DiNucci. Every year they play this game with QBs in order to keep them motivated. With other positions, the #2 guy gets 35-40% of the snaps. Not so with the QB position, so fake competition is needed to keep all QBs motivated in camp since the non-starters will hold the clipboard for the year.

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  36. If QH is playing the slot receiver position, he should get more matchups with a safety, and safeties are normally bigger than and not as quick as CBs. QH’s speed could create big problems for a defense in that role (and I think that’s what we saw last year).

    That doesn’t mean that as a slot receiver, he can’t get more downfield passes. But I think he fits the prototype for the slot pretty well (I don’t know, maybe his hands need to improve to be the “prototype,” but I don’t remember him dropping many balls last year).

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  37. You want Aaron Mathews (Super-Quick Cuts, Great sticky-hands 6’4” so impossible for LB’s to cover him ) as the slot this year as he grows, with All-American full-receiver Jester Weah and DeSean Jackson type Secondary Destroyer Quadree Henderson on the outside.

    The you also have the Tight Ends to make tough catches underneath with the 6’4” Sophomore Aaron Mathews.

    Lol @UPitt says, “Just make Quadree Henderson like some random slot receiver from the NFL Superbowl winning team” and somehow that catches noise 🙂 haha.

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  38. And flip side to having QH in the slot matched up against a safety is that you put a 6’4″ receiver like Aaron Mathews on the outside, which creates a matchup nightmare for a corner (who is likely 6’0″ or smaller).

    Like

    1. Yes — but then you have the fastest player on the field getting ENGULFED into the Box — going into all the linebackers and safeties.

      This is Tactics. You can always get guys mixing it up it’s not an 100% set-every single play formation thing.

      But a Quadree Henderson is faster than 97.5% of college Corners and faster than 100% of college safeties — so if he can run past them and a Pitt QB can throw him the ball far-enough that changes the entire game-plan of every defense in the country.

      Quadree Henderson in the slot just goes into the heart of the defense and has to come out of the muck.

      Julian Edelman (and Wes Welker) and other guys like other peopel have said are actually “slower” straight-line guys who are quick and tough.

      Henderson can always come-in motion and into the box as a slot quite-often —- when Matchups favorable to Pitt can be made and the Pitt Quarterback is smart enough to change the formation and routes.

      Like

  39. Ben DiNucci did throw a real bad pick in the bowl game last year. I think he also threw another interception as well. PITT was trying to fight back with many of their key offensive guys out of action. I think DiNucci’s only other playing action was when he lined up in the victory formation??

    When I look at his lack of previous playing time, I thought he played well enough to win that game as bad as PITT played overall. So I consider that when trying to evaluate his play.

    To me, Henderson is built like a slot receiver, not trying to stereotype here but his main thing is quickness and he is very speedy. < (he’s short) I don’t know but I’m guessing his route running might be suspect. I too like Matthews to break out this year, so here is the way to get all three on the field at the same time. I think Flowers and others could possibly step up as well.

    I’m not as quick to rule out MacVittie as others seem to be. I think he can still see some playing time at QB this season, if not and he’s gets past over by KP we may very well see him at tight-end at some point.

    LaRod was a specialist in the NFL. His time at PITT as a running back was a little hit and miss though. We all know how great Quadree is and the country does as well, he’s an all american, but a receiver moving forward might be a tall task for him… ike

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  40. LaRod was a trained running back and 3rd down specialist as well as a kick returner. QH is more Tavon Austin in my opinion without the deep threat. Perhaps he becomes a deep threat this year, but who knows. Dietrich Jells comes to mind on deep balls! QH will have a spot in the NFL with another good year for sure.

    I don’t worry about the Dairy HIgh School recruiting. However, if you look at the recruiting rankings within the coastal, there is cause for concern. Miami, VT and NC are having banner years recruiting 2018, so we need to keep going strong. This is why I make room for Banks at TE….for now. Banks or Reeves may end up as offensive Tackles with their size and athleticism.

    It is no surprise to me that the DL from Doyle’s HS, who was high on Pitt, committed elsewhere once we received a verbal from Patti. Strategic recruiting remains critical.

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  41. P.S. – A complete receiver also blocks, which never gets mentioned! Perhaps that was also in the subtle message from the coach. I think Mathews will excel at blocking ala heinz ward, because he has seen this play out in his own back yard. Not sure Henderson does that too well so let’s not be sold that Narduzzi only meant catching the ball.

    Like

  42. One things for sure. With Weah, QH, Matthews, etc., we have a barn full of stallions!!!
    Ike, praying for the family of the fallen PA State trooper.

    Like

  43. O’Neill and QH named to All-ACC team voted by ACC media

    Others who collected votes were:
    • Safety Jordan Whitehead, fourth.
    • Punter Ryan Winslow, sixth
    • Guards Alex Officer, seventh, and Alex Bookser, 12th.
    • Wide receiver Jester Weah, eighth.
    • Cornerback Avonte Maddox, 10th
    • George Aston, a fullback, received one voting point in the running back category.

    That’s 2 defenders and 6 offenders

    Like

  44. PittManForever. I was sad yesterday. No one wants to lose any family member and I kept thinking this over and over. This young trooper died while finishing up his night shift but it was so surreal. One minute there and the next?? The family will surely appreciate your prayers, Thank You..

    Thanks wwb and here is your list from above:

    O’Neill and QH named to All-ACC team voted by ACC media

    Others who collected votes were:
    • Safety Jordan Whitehead, fourth.
    • Punter Ryan Winslow, sixth
    • Guards Alex Officer, seventh, and Alex Bookser, 12th.
    • Wide receiver Jester Weah, eighth.
    • Cornerback Avonte Maddox, 10th
    • George Aston, a fullback, received one voting point in the running back category.
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Guys take a look at this list and think about the fact that over half of the players listed have been much maligned over their careers at PITT. What does this tell us all?

    PITT fans aren’t much different than other fans around the country and that’s probably the saddest statement. College football fans are great people by in large but we all do get a little over the top at times. OK, maybe fanatical at times.

    Anyways, what would we all do if we couldn’t express our feelings, frustrations and our absolute correct opinions on what the hell is going wrong with PITT if we didn’t have the great POV with Reed! ?? …………..

    I will be sitting out tonight’s round-table discussions as I do feel the need to step away for a short while to try and retrieve back some perspective < ( if I ever had any). I’ve been reacting to some points of views with a little more vile than I should have been and for that I apologize.

    Now it’s time for others to step it up and jump into the Reed round-table pool!! ike

    The water is fine
    Just drink some wine
    H2P!!

    Like

  45. Don’t worry Heather will get attendance up to 80K right?

    LOL

    Or is she more concerned with compliance and BS. I say yes.

    Like

  46. I’m not worried with outrecruiting these teams right now

    I’m worried about recruiting well enough to beat these teams frequently enough that Pitt gets into a position where it can and does outrecruit them

    I think Narduzzi can manage that

    Because that’s the only way it’s gonna happen, the financial disparities simply aren’t going to change any time soon if ever, unless a near-miracle happens

    Like

  47. Out recruiting Penn State, Ohio State and Notre Dame will be a long time in coming. Perhaps just perhaps Narduzzi may out coach some of the same mentioned. But you certainly couldn’t say he out coached anyone on the defensive side of the ball with the Pitt defense going from dismal in 2015 to dismal plus in 2016.

    Like

        1. OSU called off the dogs early in that game. They could have scored 100 if they wanted. They scored with 9 players on the field on one play.

          Almost every player on last year’s defense is going to get a shot at playing on Sundays. Price, Jarrett, Soto, Galambos, Bradley, Mitchell, Webb, and Lewis are all headed to camps. Whitehead, Maddox, and Brightwell will end up in camps too. The talent wasn’t that bad. These guys went toe to toe physically with Clemson. They faced a schedule of future NFL QBs and went 8-4.

          Like

  48. Ike take a time out. I know it’s hard to read some of the posts on the pov but since we know it’s being read by a wide audience it doesn’t hurt that those responsible be held accountable for what showed up on the field last season.

    Like

  49. Ike you may have to take another time out after reading the Pitt Football Notebook just released on the Trib this afternoon. Narduzzi’s comment about our defensive back this year may not be any better than last year. But since we are playing against teams who lost their QB’s to the NFL we may actually look better made me have to take a time out,

    Like

  50. Knowing how much Narduzzi likes to play it close to the vest, I suspect that the supposedly close QB competition is nothing more than a smokescreen.

    Like

  51. Although who the true QB leader remains a mystery. Remember Watson isn’t afraid to play a younger QB if he thinks he has the greatest upside.

    Like

  52. I thought Dinucci looked way shaky in the bowl game – but then he looked like a different player in Pitt’s spring game.

    In the spring game he looked confident and in control — he only threw about 5 passes but they looked good…

    I was surprised by what I saw — so I don’t think Coach Duzz is just blowing smoke about Dinucci…

    Go Pitt

    Like

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