Let’s start off with this; we will resume Roundtable Call-in Show tomorrow night at 8 p.m. I’ll be on the air at 7:45 p.m. and you guys can call in at 8 p.m. and thanks in advance for participating.
OK – we lost Aston for the season it looks like – maybe Narduzzi will discuss it in an interview today, maybe not but from all indications Aston’s ankle injury is sever enought to, most possibly, keep him out of camp and then the full season of play.
No matter how we want to spin this, “next man up” or changing the offense to accommodate this personnel loss – however you want to spin this I believe this is a huge deal for the 2017 offense.
Aston not only was a superb blocker, some TV commentators in the bowl game labelled him the best blocking back in D1 – and I agree with that, but he was a real offensive force as well.
Last year he scored a TD in every 4.4 times he touched the ball. That is truly outstanding especially considering his 10 TDs were tied for 2nd best on the team with Jester Weah. He was a force in there on every play and I very much doubt we’ll be able to replace what he brought to our 2016 record breaking offense. See the end of this article for more Aston video…
So – new starting QB, new starting FB, new starting RB, new starting TE, two new starting OL…?? Fingers crossed for those guys.
Here is a bunch of topics covered by Jerry DiPaola of the Tribune-Review. Note he mentions Mathews missing camp for two weeks.
Pitt sophomore wide receiver Aaron Mathews will be absent from practice until the end of next week while he takes care of “personal obligations,” coach Pat Narduzzi said.
Narduzzi did not label Mathews’ situation a punishment. But if the sophomore from Clairton misses the first two weeks of practice, he will fall behind others competing for playing time. Mathews recorded six receptions last season as a freshman.
Pitt is seeking depth at wide receiver behind starters Jester Weah and Quadree Henderson. There is an opening for the third spot, with sophomore Tre Tipton lost for the season after injuring his knee in a bicycle accident.
Freshman Dontavius Butler-Jenkins already has made an impact with his coaches.
I think it is kind of strange that everyone is talking about Henderson being the 2nd receiver out there. I wonder about that – I can see it as a part-time role depending on the play calling, but think that our regular two WR set will be Weah and Mathews (or another WR). That will be an interesting thing to watch come September.
Well, here is another article in the Trib that discusses the above issue and how the team has to ‘grow up’ quickly. Interesting that the beat writers and other media types are more concerned about the lack of experience in the two-deep than fans are. It certainly concerns me and a lot.
But as good teams will do – the older players are pushing the underclassmen to get more involved… Then, there’s Brightwell, whose personality used to lean toward that of an introvert. But as the middle linebacker who must ensure everyone lines up correctly and hears the calls, he can’t afford to sit back.
“He was quiet at first,” junior linebacker Seun Idowu said. “Now, he’s a freakin’ crazy man, going all over the place. He’s getting more comfortable in that position.”
O’Neill said Brightwell is following a natural progression. “You kind of worry about yourself (at first), then it gets to the point where you kind of worry about the guy next to you,” he said. “Then you worry about the whole picture.”
Idowu said players have learned they’re not just along for the ride.
This is an excellent take on Pitt’s quarterback situation now and in the future. It is written by Nick Gordon of the Pittsburgh Sports Now staff. It is a comprehensive take on how Narduzzi has built up the QB roster since he’s been here.
I agree with a lot of his thoughts here – DiNucci has surprised me a bit grabbing the QB2 spot, but I’ve a strong feeling that is ascending by age rather than skill – and the fact that MacVitte isn’t progressing as well as some have hoped he would at this stage.
But I have said all along that in my mind Kenny Pickett is the one to watch a the real future of the QB position at Pitt. When you watch him in practice, as I had a chance to with an extended viewing time in the spring thus seeing him in real practice action, and then again in the spring game something just jumps out to you. The Pitt people are really happy to have this kid on the roster and Gordon echoes that:
Last but not least we have freshman Kenny Pickett. Kenny will surely redshirt this season, which has little to do with his own talent and almost everything to do with learning the playbook and the guys in front of him.
Pickett is a mobile quarterback who throws beautiful ball. Of the quarterbacks on the roster, Pickett probably throws the best ball. Granted, there are a lot of factors that come into play when vying for the job of starting quarterback, but being able to spin it is a good way to start. Pickett is an athletic quarterback that extends plays and throws exceptionally well on the run. Accuracy is a major asset that Pickett possesses.
Here is a nice entry video of Pickett when he first came to Pitt. BTW – he’s listed as 6’3″ inches in every site I can find but on Pitt’s roster they have him at 6’2″. Standing next to him at a spring practice I’d say he was 6’3″ easy. Great arm on this kid. The fact that North Carolina offered him – and they know QBs with Mitch Trubisky and then Marquis Williams before him- makes it nice also.
It was good to get him on campus in January because I think with that his bit of an edge in learning Watson’s playbook, and with a full red-shirt year, he’ll be right in the mix for starting in 2018.
If you want a good idea of why I don’t drive up to PGH to see practices any longer with the closed sessions – Narduzzi allowing just a 20-25 minute “photography window” – then read this chat by the P-G’s Brian Batko. There is absolutely noting at all for the media to watch or see that can give fans any indication of what is going on in camp. Here Batko tries to make light of it:
Brian: Which of the FR running backs has looked the best?
Brian Batko: Hi, Brian. Wow, it’s like chatting in a mirror. But honestly, I can’t really give you a good answer for that. At practice, we don’t see anything that sheds any light whatsoever on the backfield, let alone the freshmen. And position coach Andre Powell hasn’t tipped his hand one way or the other on AJ Davis and Todd Sibley, including whether or not either one will even play at all.
Or try this one…
Mike: How do the young players in the secondary look – Hamlin, Miller, Coleman, Garner etc.
Brian Batko: Hamlin is still limited, so not seeing too much for him, other than he appears to be moving around well in the exercises he does on the sideline. (Etc…)
It is so frustrating for everyone that if it wasn’t the local sportswriters actual jobs to go to the practices I’m sure they would skip a bunch of them or just show up for the staff and player interviews after all the actual closed practices are finished. Here is a typical fall camp day:
Monday, August 14
Coach Narduzzi Briefing: 9:35 a.m.
Photography Window: 10-10:30 a.m.
Interviews: 12:10 p.m. (select players and assistants)
So you can see there 90 minutes out of a total 120 active practice closed to the media. That 30 minute photography window is just that – all exercises and basic unit drills so that the papers and websites can have new photos of the players and prove they actually went down to the Southside to cover the team, as it were. Nothing of value to the fans at all.
I used to truly feel remiss if I didn’t get to two or three practices in each of the spring and fall camps, and I did the with regularity when the program was under DW and PC, but now it just isn’t worthwhile to do so.
OK – there are some things to chomp on – keep up the great discussions in the comments section and remember that civility is the byword on here. It is what separates us from other Pitt sites – I believe that 100% .
And see you tomorrow evening at 8:00 pm for the Roundtable Call-In show.
Here is the Pitt 2016 highlight video – watch #35 on almost every good offensive play – he’s everywhere with his blocking.
Here is Narduzzi’s presser from today’s Media Day:
Interesting point at the 4:50 mark in that the players have local Southside hotel rooms to nap in in between “double” practices (two-a-days).
And again at the 8:50 mark when Narduzzi talks about the academic strides the NCAA has made with their standards and thus kids are graduating more and earlier so to be able to transfer for the “Grad transfer” rule.
13:30 – We’ll have less “or”s on the depth chart due this season due to the lack of upperclassmen experience on the roster…
16:10 – Ollison is the front runner at RB – others have looked good also. (Bet on Ollison starting against YSU)
18:00 – Aston’s injury… “still too early… same with Motley“.. That is the first i have heard about an injury to Motley.
As I have said – I think Narduzzi is an excellent off the field head coach and a great leader for his players. He’s knowledgeable about the important issues and recognizes what is really important is all this.
Note: Pitt will have a “Hail to Heroes” Day at the opener on Sept 2nd. Good for them!
PITTSBURGH – Pitt Athletics will host active military members, Veterans and First Responders, as well as their family members, at Heinz Field on Saturday, September 2 for the annual “Hail to Heroes Day” for the Pitt football team’s 2017 season opener against Youngstown State. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. and the first 20,000 fans in attendance will receive a commemorative “Stars and Stripes” Pitt Script magnet decal.