No Man is an Island

Hmmm,  four key defensive players lost for at least the first three games of the season – and two of those for the whole damn year.

There is a hell of a lot of fingers crossed and crazy deep wishful thinking going on with Pitt football fans today. It seems that when, over the offseason,  you lose three players who started games last year on a defense that truly and seriously was terrible,  and they are dismissed from the team or get major suspensions – somehow that turns into a good thing.

Well, it really isn’t no matter how you spin it.  Here’s my take on some of those comments.  Lucky this is a weekend… and the fall training camp hasn’t started yet.

Reading these last day’s comments I have to ask why is everyone saying Wirginis is injury prone? He has played in 38 games over the last three years. He missed only one game way back in 2014. He’s missed some practices but played in all the games.

Plus – from my info he was going to be the starter at MLB – again don’t put too much stock in that not-really-a-depth chart that was published on the 13th – Narduzzi even said it was just thrown together by a staff member in late June before Tipton’s injury (7/8)  to give to the printers to put out the 2017 Pitt Football Media guide (which I got in the mail yesterday).

BTW – that 2017 Pitt Football Media Guide is 207 pages of stats and facts and had to get to the printer way earlier than the media’s depth chart ‘release’ date to written and internet outlets of July 13th so that they could be printed, mailed and received by media members before the start of fall camp. In essence that depth chart means nothing.

As to the players themselves  – I think a lot of Pitt fans are looking at these dismissed and suspended players as individuals and not as players who were going to be taking the place of starters on the field, especially in Taleni and Wirginis’ cases.  In other words fans are taking that player out of the team context he would be playing in.

Yes, DE Rori Blair himself wasn’t a star player – but as a defender with 33 games played along with 20 starts he’ll be missed because we are replacing him with ???  Who ever it is won’t have any starts at DE at all.

DL Jeremiah Taleni wasn’t a long-term starter but a proven player who the coaching staff themselves said was going to be the mainstay of the DL this coming season – he had 21 games played in his career at Pitt with four starts and came on very strong against good opposing competition at the end of the year – and he’s being replaced by ???? (again).  Who ever it, maybe Watts, will have only one start and seven games played.

LB Quintin Wirginis has tons of experience under his belt and in the times he got in he played very well. Most importantly Narduzzi believes in experience – why else do you think he went with Galambos and Caprara as starters the last two years?

We had at least two LBs on the roster who were way more physically talented than both of Galambos and Caprara in Grigsby and Bradley – throw in Brightwell and McKee also – but he kept playing those two guys.  This year Narduzzi sure would have gone with a player who had MLB experience and started Wirginis there.

Jordan Whitehead will be replaced by a lesser Safety who is already on the roster – you can pretty much bet on that. Why? Again – Narduzzi loves experience – he’s shown us that over the last two years, especially in the defensive backfield.

The seminal reason Taleni, Blair, Wirginis and Whitehead would have started in the beginning of 2017, and why we’ll see existing roster kids take their places, is because with only two starters returning for the first three games HCPN isn’t going to throw the season away by playing 10 defensive players with little or no starts in the beginning of the year. Nor should he.

Fans may then say “Well – why doesn’t he just assume the PSU and OSU games are losses and get as many young people in to play for experience?” If he did that he should be fired on the spot, and I think he’d be the first to tell you that.

His job isn’t to win ballgames next year – certainly not now in his third year as the Pitt HC – his job is to do his best to win every single game for this year and if any fan doesn’t believe that, and thinks Narduzzi should throw in the towel for September then don’t be shocked if  the whole season goes downhill afterward.

Players aren’t stupid – they want to win every single game and are risking serious injury every single game for those wins. They aren’t playing hard out there just so that the team might be better in a year from now.  Narduzzi’s job, and what he is getting paid millions of dollars to do, is win each individual football games as they are scheduled.

So these suspensions sure do mean an awful lot when you put them in context of who these young men would have been playing alongside when they take the field.  You can’t just cherry pick them individually and say he’s ‘Good’ or  ‘Not good‘ because we fans at this point have no real knowledge in that who will be replacing them is any talented in college ball at all.

Notice I said college ball – worlds away from the stardom all of them had in high school.

And yes – all these Narduzzi wonder recruits Pitt fans have touted over the last two years are almost all 3* kids, with apparently mythical qualities that separate them from every opponent’s 3* players, but who haven’t seen the field at all yet.

I understand the Next Man Up concept – but in Pitt’s case in early 2017 I sure as hell wish that the next man had more than a game or two played at the college level.

If all that doesn’t make fans worried for how this season is going to play out then they are a true dyed in the wool optimists who think the grass just has to be greener over that hill – even if it isn’t always the case.

57 thoughts on “No Man is an Island

  1. It is your problem that you’ve talked the defense down so far this offseason that losing some starters to suspension doesn’t seem like a big deal. If what you’ve written about the defense before yesterday is true, it isnt a big deal. At all. It’s almost not a deal. They werent going to be able to stop anybody with blair. They weren’t going to be able to stop psu or ok state with whitehead and wirginis. So who cares that they don’t have them now. There is zero difference in the expected results either way. Suspend the whole defensive two deep the whole year. Play nobody but freshmen and 3rd stringers. According to the conventional wisdom expressed here, even that would have a minimal effect on the defense’s performance. It was already barely above the floor. So what if it falls the final few inches?

    And oh yeah nobody wants to talk about how much things are gonna suck over and over and over again. They’ll start to talk about how things might not suck so bad as a change of pace if nothing else, disregarding the other allures of thinking that pleasant things are gonna happen.

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    1. Thanks Deep – I needed your comments with my cup of coffee this morning. If you give me lemons, I’ll make lemonade. Somehow, Reed’s lemons in this article smelled like urine.

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  2. I’m still on tap for a 12-0 season.
    Why?
    Because with the misery of work and taxes and fatal diseases lurking around every corner, I’m not going to make myself even more miserable lamenting a pre-season fiasco caused by thoughtless punks who evidently care substantially less about Pitt football than i do.
    So, H2P my brothers!
    Now, think we can run the table in the playoffs?
    And how far do you think Rockports will take us in March Madness?

    Without big dreams, we are just living another
    Pitt Groundhog’s day, mired in endless mediocrity.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As long as future NFL All Pro Kam Carter didn’t get kicked-off we’re good 🙂 haha

    9 Wins! 9 Wins!

    Bowl Win vs. SEC top 10 team! = 10 Wins!

    7 Players Drafted in 2018 Draft.

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  4. Well said Reed.

    Increasing the questionmarks on a team with many questionmarks is not a good thing.

    How much of an impact it will have is debatable, but it will have an impact.

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  5. Not much time right now as I am a little busy, just have to say Reed. We Have Found Common Ground! Great Great Article.

    Losing these players is a big deal. Wirginis being injury prone is like saying Hamlin is injury prone. Both had one injury and in Hamlin’s case it just took a long time to go away through ineptitude of the people in charge of taking care of him.

    BUT!! PITT can persevere and I’m sure of it! … . .. ike

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    1. That is a good thing – let’s hope he is on the practice field as well. Rumors say he won’t know his academic status until Friday, 8/4.

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  6. I’m sick of Pitt’s Ground Hog Day. Pitt needs to hire a real AD to end the cycle of mediocrity. Sorry Heather but you’re nothing more than MAC material. MAC results we get.

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  7. Narduzzi appears to love experience because he was trying to redshirt as many kids as possible. The pathetic lack of depth Chryst left didn’t help. Narduzzi’s only choice was experience.

    I’ve said this several (many) times now … Narduzzi runs a system defense. He runs a system defense because he wants to be able to plug and play players in case of injury (or apparently suspension). Next man up. The system is a gimmick defense to overcome a lack of talent when compared to the Blue Chip schools. Just like they did at MSU. Go ahead stack those MSU defenses up against teams like OSU. It’s a different league of player. Yet, MSU was still competitive. Top 5 ranked defense nationally competitive.

    Unfortunately, Narduzzi had to play with Chryst’s players (the best players were still Wanny’s) the last two seasons while trying to protect redshirts for “his” players recruited specifically for “his” system. Those players now have a year of experience in the system that they were recruited for and a year in the weight room. They’re ready for big boy football.

    CFB has changed a lot the last decade. Experience is important but if the player isn’t a good fit for the system it doesn’t matter. The kid recruited to play in that system, even with a lack of experience, will be the better player. All those system-recruited players will be cutting their teeth this season. Watch out.

    Woodhead hurts but he missed 4 1/2 games last season and Pitt only lost one of them. It’s not the end of the world. Wirginis was a borderline starter. There is better talent behind him. Rori was a below average player. Taleni had a good 2nd half of a season. Wirginis may be the biggest loser out of the bunch. He may have a hard time cracking the two deep when he comes back. IF Paris is in camp, the Woodhead loss is even less dramatic.

    Narduzzi is building a program not a team. Everything he is doing is for the long term benefit of the program to build Pitt into a consistent winner. Y’all are making way too big a deal out this. It sucks but only one of the suspensions really hurts and even that can be overcome.

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  8. One of the best and honest articles written! Nice to see in the world of we suck or we will go 12-0. Basically the Anti- Dokish who honestly couldnt write for a Middle School.

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    1. Reed, thanks for the reality check. And I was only thinking bad things could come from this.
      It is comforting to know that if our coach decides to play his untested young players during these suspensions that you feel he should be fired on the spot. Our President would be proud of your resolve to spare no prisoners policy.

      I just got off of the suicide hotline and they convinced me to hold off until the Rice game is over. They assured me that even with only our walkons left on the roster that we still could possibly win that one.
      In the meantime I’m sticking with you & Upitt. With the philosophy that, “why predict anything other than defeat & mayhem” especially when the potential for good things occurring for the Pitt Football program haven’t looked so promising for years, I must commend you on your level of pessimism. Beat Rice!

      Let’s go get a beer!

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  9. Tossing – I remember Briles and Baylor hanging 55 on Narduzzi’s vaunted Defense of all his players.

    He is what we always thought. 7-9 wins and notjing more.

    Good thing for Pitt and Mrs. Lyke and her MAC Pedigree is that is all they want anyway.

    Look at the Dork they hired for hoops. OU has dropped to 13. Dallas Mike and I have Under. I will start a pool so send in your money and bet.

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    1. And MSU beat Baylor in that game. I believe the MSU stopped Baylor on their last offensive drive to win the game, which IS what it is all about – winning, right?

      To quote both UPitt and Reed from the Chryst era – three of these suspended players are MAC level players, with Whitehead being the only P5 player amongst the group of four. AND, they were all credited as Chryst recruits – Reed has hammered that point to us over and over with regards to Whitehead.

      Bottom line is they are four young men who do not have an “S” on their chests and will be missed on the Pitt depth chart. There is nothing we fans nor Duzz can do right now to bring them back for the 1st three games of 2017. My tickets are bought and paid for – I’m going to make some lemon koolaid and sip it until the season starts.

      Turn out the lights – there is nothing to see here – and coach Duzz wouldn’t let you see it until game day anyways…

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  10. You guys are funny. Swearing that Zeise is a D1 LB even though he played 25 plays over 3 years.

    It cracks me up.

    Tossing – You should run a “Camp Wishful thinking”. Invite the BOT and Heather and Twitterduzzi and Rockports and that bum soccer coach who lost all his games. Oh and Jordano and his below .500 record. Comedy Hour in Pitt Atheltics.

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    1. You tell em Upitt! We should have been beating up on the Delawares, Villanova and such for the last few years while competing for real national championships against the liks of YSU, if we had just jumped on the FCS bandwagon when we had the chance.

      We suck and are an embarrassment to true D1 programs like Rutgers and Boston College. Why do we even bother?

      You da man. Tell it like it is!

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    2. UPitt – the comment about Zeise must have been deleted by Reed cause of the “swearing” I’m guessing? I didn’t see anyone comment on Paul’s son / recruit. Again, a MAC level recruit from the Chryst era.

      I did see a few MAC players drafted ahead of Pitt players – one RB went before Conner. Wasn’t Big Ben and James Harrison from a MAC school.

      Someone lightly touch on the fact that 3 of the 4 players are from the WPIAL and were all Chryst recruits. Then why is coach Duzz getting hammered by a few on the POV?

      Makes no sense –

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  11. No man is an island unless he plays cb for pat narduzzi

    Also not sure what the point of the article is other than to throw shade at people who just wont bow to reeds superior wisdom re pitt football. It’s just so exasperating when the delusional won’t abandon their delusions huh. Well so what, it shouldn’t matter that much to anyone… and there are plenty who are just as needlessly bothered by people not budging from their pessimistic perspective.

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  12. So how could Quintin Wirginis last year, not beat out Sean Idowu at Outside linebacker last year, while the invsible, 200 pound walk on (lol 225 with all his equipment on and shake-weights in both hands riggght Idowu was embarrassing himself each game?

    Any smart coaching staff — if they felt Wirginis was even remotely good enough to be an every-down linebacker and not just a seldom-utilized back-up type — would want a true Junior who was 25 pounds bigger than the walk on receiver Idowu to start. All they have to do in that spot is try and make clean-up tackles and the staff felt Wirginis was only useful as a ‘body’ to give Matt Galambos occassional breathers.

    Just grasping constantly for negative straws, hoping one might break the Camel’s back lol. 😦 Misery 😦 doesn’t love company though!!

    #HailToPitt !! Fall Camp in 36 hours or so! 🙂

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  13. Upitt – MSU beat Baylor … And it was 42 points not 55 … And they shut out Butler in the 4th quarter … And it was an exhibition game … I mean glorified NFL preseason game … er, I mean bowl game … 5 weeks after the season ended.

    I don’t have outsized expectations so I’m not sure what you consider optimistic. I think 9 wins sounds about right this season with next season being the jump year. Always thought that. Year 4 is the year the program takes off. This is the transition year. I also still think 10 wins is very doable as there is not a game on the schedule I would call un-winnable.

    I thought the team was better than most fans thought year 1 … and I was right. I thought the team was better than most fans thought year 2 … and I was right. This season I appear to be trending with everyone else. Most seem to say 8-9 wins.

    I don’t think the suspension influence the final record one iota. I don’t. Despite what Reed says, I didn’t think Wirgins would start. I never thought much of Rori or Taleni. Whitehead, like I’ve consistently said, sucks but they only lost one out of 4 1/2 games without him last season.

    Big old shrug on the suspensions.

    MSU/Baylor boxscore: http://www.espn.com/college-football/recap?gameId=400610179

    Apparently, you have to take Upitt seriously, not literally.

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  14. Dear Lord. Typical Pitt fans blaming AD. WTF. Give her a chance. The only ones who are to blame are the young men who did this to themselves. To themselves. I expect to win these games because only one of 11 pieces are missing. Get a pass rush and be aggressive on d and score a Bunch of points. Then again I am not your typical Pitt fan

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  15. If we have any faith in Narduzzi’s recruiting efforts over the past three years, the suspensions of the defensive players are not a death sentence. No doubt, it will be difficult to replace Jordan Whitehead’s talent. However, I have nearly ZERO concern that we cannot find capable replacements for Wirginis and Blair. Remember, HCPC left the defensive cupboard bare when HCPN took over the program. That, combined with injuries, and some excellent opposing QBs and receivers, exposed our inexperience and lack of depth. Some of the young guys who are talented but who were not quite ready last year will contribute this year. I truly believe that our defense will be better this year as compared to 2016. The won’t be the Steel Curtain, but they will be better. It’s hard to imagine them being worse, even with the suspensions. We have young talent. Hendrix is a somewhat unknown commodity, but could make a real difference. Have faith gentlemen.

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  16. Wirginis suffered a lisfranc injury where one of the bones in the middle part of his right foot was fractured. – Fractured foot. Senior year of high school.2013-14.

    Per the Trib’s Jerry DiPaola, linebackers, Bam Bradley, Quintin Wirginis, and Anthony McKee may all be pretty limited. 2016, Spring

    He started this spring on the outside looking in, but only because of a right arm injury that held him out for the first few practices.- 2017, spring.

    I like Wirginis because he plays reckless and powerful. However, he often leads with his head and I thought there were several mentions of potential concussions and stingers, but I may be wrong.

    It’s a no lose situation for Narduzzi with regard to W’s and L’s for the first 3 games. Sure he wants to win and gets paid to do just that. But there is also a built in excuse for not winning and of course he will say all the right things about how winning is the only thing that matters, and he and his team make no excuses. When in reality there are excuses. No getting around that. Kind of like when big ben gets hurt but here, with multiple players, but none of which is irreplaceable.

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  17. I look up without fear as I truly know the sky is not falling. It must be awful to walk around life with a helmet on all the time. ike

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  18. Well gentlemen, I have GREAT news!!!! Fall practice is upon us with the games immediately after. So what’s the great news? SIMPLE: Very soon we will all know who is actually right about our predictions and opinions. Hence, will the pragmatists/realists claim the day or the optimist/positive thinkers claim it????
    Stay tuned to this same Pitt channel (WAM) and Pitt time (BAM) to see if our hero’s win (Boom) or our zero’s lose (ZAP)!!!!!!
    “Holy pigskin Pittman, I can’t wait!!!!”

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  19. Dang. Some of you wake up every morning crying in your coffee. Life is good folks, smile once in a while. LOL

    This is a 7-8 win D with or without the suspensions. The hope is that the young players Pitt recruited the past two years step up. They had to step up either way for the D to get better.

    Does anyone really think Wirginis is that good? Some of you act like he is the next Hugh Green. He is just another Galambos, Caprara type player. If he wasn’t, he would have beat them out.

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  20. if Wirginis and Whitehead were suspended for pot (as alleged in the previous blog’s posts) then the fact that Bookser only got 1 game for his crime is absolutely insane.

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        1. BTW I occasionally use a different browser so I am listed as Anonymous …. but I can assure you that I am not the only Anonymous here. In fact, I’ve only posted a few times as Anon … as I forget sometimes I’m in a different browser … as you can see when I posted above as Anon, I immediately switched to a different browser

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  21. Still don’t get even the minimal Blair comments, he did nothing on the field and he’s a senior now, a blessing in disguise that someone else will get his minutes, please no more whining about that. If we start the season 1-3, that’ll prove nothing, there’s a real good chance we started the season that way with Whitehead, this team will not likely be competitive on the defensive side of the ball for another year or two. Take a look down the lineup and evaluate the players and their experience at certain positions, rather than being lazy and looking at “stars”; we’re not there yet. That said, we are well coached overall (Conklin = unproven) which means we should be competitive this year, and that should give us a chance any given week.

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  22. First off, who said our defense was going to suck?

    What I have been saying is that I not sure the offense was going to be able to better and win games because of an average at best defense. Look – it was OK for some fans that we gave up 35 ppg last season because the offense scored so well – I don’t think we’ll have that strong of an offense so there is my real concern.

    I also mention the fact that Narduzzi has played experience because that is what he’s done so far – I never said those experienced players are going to be better than whatever newcomer he may place in their stead. They may well not be.

    I think we have some good young talent coming into their own this season but my concern is that we are going to be way overloaded with inexperience in the beginning of the year against teams that will take big advantage of defensive mistakes.

    I think those young kids will play well once the get into the 2nd half of the season.

    You guys make some real mistakes in assumptions when you read my articles – first off you can’t separate what I say I think Narduzzi WILL do with what I think Narduzzi SHOULD do.

    Believe me – those are two distinct things… but you don’t take the time to really read the actual words I write.

    For instance when I say HCPN will use an existing roster player with experience to take Whitehead’s place in the first 3 games I don’t think that is a good idea – just that that is exactly the type of personnel move he has made in the past.

    I have said in the past that Blair isn’t the DE we thought he’d be as he grew, but that article above said my concern was who we were going to replace him with given that the whole DL is gone from last season now. Which is why I said this:

    “Yes, DE Rori Blair himself wasn’t a star player – but as a defender with 33 games played along with 20 starts he’ll be missed because we are replacing him with ??? Who ever it is won’t have any starts at DE at all.”

    There is nowhere in that article that I said we were going to be any worse on defense this year than last – but I inferred heavily that these suspensions are going to make it that much harder to be a BETTER defense in those first four games – yes, I include GT in that hard schedule run to start the season.

    Finally – I have been explaining how I think Narduzzi has been doing a good job through all this and while I haven’t made a formal season prediction yet I’ll say now that i see at the least 7 and probably 7-8 wins when the dust settles.I have written that before on here in the past two weeks – how much different is that then you commenters’ predictions above if you are being honest? Probably not that much different at all.

    So how in hell am I so damn negative? Perhaps because I don’t write the exact words you want to read? or is it that YOU don’t take the time to really read and understand the words and thoughts I do write before you jump down to the comments section to have your say.

    Or maybe because I don’t think you can point to any player who hasn’t played yet and assume he’s going to be 1) a good starter and 2) as some fans think a star. Sure we’ll have some do that this year but we are replacing 10 – count them 10 – starters from a poor defense last year so not all the new kids are going to be up to snuff.

    Look – the article was about the spin jobs some fans are doing with these suspensions that I think is just over the top wishful thinking. Can any one of you guys tell me that losing four starters from last year’s defense isn’t going to hurt over those first three games? Especially Whitehead, Taleni and Blair?

    I have not written once that i thought we didn’t have a chance against PSU and OSU – but I have written that with these lost personnel it looks a hell of a lot harder to win those games – again, anyone disagree with that?

    Look – I write positive things when things are positive. Losing four players in one day to discipline awarded isn’t a positive thing no matter how you spin it. So yeah, my tone these last two days leans on the negative side if you wish to see it that way. This was a negative development.

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    1. FWIW, as I wrote the other day, if Pitt were to somehow win at Happy Valley, it would be every bit theupset that 13-9 was .. if not more

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  23. we’ll see by the end of this year if indeed PN’s defensive recruits contain a mythical quality. My guess is that PN’s recruiting provides a much better balance of 3 and 4 stars between offense and defense than his predecessor … especially when considering the transfers brought into the program as needed

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  24. Reed – bingo!!

    WWB – This would be a bigger upset. On the road. # of lost NFL starters, PSU much better at end of year vs. when we played them, etc.

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  25. “Missing & Tossing” good posts from both of you.

    PN is building a program and this is just a blip on the radar. This team can/will beat PSU, and will take OSU to the wire. OSU gives up a boatload of points and is historically not a great road team (home teams, including Kansas are almost always in the game. Or is that because OSU Boone Pickens Stadium is one of the very few stadiums in the country where the field runs east & west). If our offense is as good as the potential, and Browne is the real deal (I believe he is going to be a very positive factor) we win these games by outscoring each one, and that will become the story line all year. This team should be a very pleasant surprise. Beautiful Sunday morning on the East Side. H2P

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  26. Narduzzi has no real latitude on the failed dug tests for JW and Wirginis. Repeat offenders receive 3 games or 25% of the schedule. Wirginis couldn’t beat out Galambos the last two years. He is a body and has flashed some potential. But Pitt clearly didn;t think he was that guy. Bookser pending legal concerns aside gets one game as it is his first suspendable offense. By the GT game, Pitt will have started their MLB’er and he will be a rotation player.

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  27. Boy that “fingers crossed” opener really provoked some people.

    So let’s see, Blair sucked but yet in Pat We Trust? Blair was a starter last season and was a sometime starter in Narduzzi’s first season. Blair was 4th on the team in sacks last season (2nd among returning guys). He was 7th in TFL (2nd among returning guys). Blair also started several games as a freshman under Chryst. So Blair was determined to be D1 starting material by two head coaches and two DCs over three seasons. He’s a guy that didn’t live up to his freshman promise, but he shouldn’t be judged to suck and very easily replaceable if you trust in Narduzzi’s judgement.

    Wirginis is the returning leader in sacks. He was third on the team last year behind Price and Soto. He was 9th in TFL (3rd among returning guys). Not bad for a guy who was a situational player. Wirginis has also been a standout special teams player every season. I think some are forgetting that.

    DN, Wirginis is listed at 240 pounds and looks it. Idowu is listed at 215. That position is a position in space. In any event I’m not sure yet why you are convinced that Idowu should be easily replaced given how much you respect Narduzzi’s judgement. Idowu was 3rd on the team in tackles and 5th in solo tackles last year. That would make Idowu 1st and 2nd respectively among returning players.

    Taleni was the 5th on the team in TFL and was the top returning guy. Taleni also managed 24 tackles (8 solo) and 3 sacks (5th place and 3rd among returning guys) while primarily playing only the last month of the season mostly in place of Jarrett.

    It’s a fact, not opinion, that most of the underclassmen defensive line and linebackers expected to play this season have proven nothing at a D1 level yet. Edwards and Folston played behind Blair most of last season and weren’t any more productive. Brightwell played well in limited duty but has become a revered player because of one huge int against Clemson. It is truly a leap of faith to think that the underclassmen will replace or exceed the production of the returning seniors above. I hope they do, but that’s all there is.

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  28. I don’t think anybody said Blair sucked, he just wasnt very productive. There’s a reason Edwards got a lot more time at the end of last season. A quality young End is not going to be a significant drop off and may even represent an upgrade by seasons end

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