Sometimes I like to go back a full year and see what Pitt fans were saying at that time – then look at it in relation to what transpired over the following season – in this case 2016.
So let’s do that and see if what we thought would happen – happened. Here one from the Fall Camp days..
Reed wrote: I read that and all the other stuff Canada and Narduzzi have said about the QB2 position so far (meaning Manny Stocker) this month and don’t see Ben Dinucci getting anything but some off-hand and cursory discussion at all. Sorry to all the ‘local boy does well’ fans but I think we have to put that hope about Dinucci breaking into some real playing time as a ‘wait until next year’ scenario.
Well, that looks pretty accurate as Dinucci is now the solid QB2 coming out of camp. Let’s hope that he gets some playing time often and early, if we get big enough leads and that might only be the Youngstown State game.
And here is an exchange between myself and two commenters regarding the WR position:
NotRocket – IMO you can’t sacrifice talent for speed. Just because another WR may be faster – and remember Challingsworth ran another 4.5 just a couple of weeks ago – doesn’t necessarily mean they should start.
Well – obviously I was wrong about Challingsworth possibly starting – as a matter of fact he took off after last season. But Dr. Tom’s point about ‘catching the ball’ rang true because as soon as Weah did that on a regular basis his speed was a major factor.
Here is a bit from an interview with Josh Conklin regarding his Defensive Backs going into 2016. Remember this is from Aug 17th…:
What a great thing to emphasize. Challingsworth mentioned it to me when we were discussing the history of problems Pitt had in 2009-10 before he reported aboard. He was very adamant that the teammates looked out for each other – and that this staff has a zero tolerance toward indiscretions. Music to my ears.
Oops… spoke a little too soon on that one didn’t we? Pitt halved that with 221 days until Bookser’s arrest. Still – not too shabby especially compared to six years before that camp. We did have some in-house suspensions in that time period but no arrests until Bookser’s.
At the same meeting I sat with Dontez Ford and WR coach Kevin Sherman and discussed this:
One point Ford made to me was that while they learned a lot from Boyd… “Boyd learned a lot from us also.” I won’t sit here and tell you that the players I talked with missed Boyd terribly because that wasn’t the sense I got at all – and it wasn’t shown in a catty or bitchy way either.
Here’s an example – at both table of receivers I talked with I mentioned ‘the elephant in the room‘ comparison to Boyd and his being gone and each one looked straight at me like that hit the nail exactly on the head and agreed.
Bottom line – after talking with Coach Sherman and those four receivers, and telling of my public beer bet to all that our passing game would beat the stats Palko put up in his ‘best’ year – which was his 2871 yards and 25 TDs, they all smiled and agreed that could easily happen. Except Sherman who said “That’s possible“.
You all may remember I was adamant in my belief that we’d be a better offense and have a better passing game without Tyler Boyd on the field – and boy, did those guys, and their position coach, agree on that. Guys – Boyd wasn’t all that well liked and most felt pretty glad that he left early – at least that was the overwhelming impression I got last year and wrote about it.
Here is a bit from then about the guy we will most miss off the 2017 team – FB George Aston.
Aston didn’t necessarily care for the switch at first:
When George Aston arrived at Pitt last year, the previous coaching staff decided he was a fullback. “I wasn’t happy at all about it,” he said, noting he played only running back and linebacker at Sherando (Va.) High School.
But he was a walk-on during his first year at Pitt, and he couldn’t say a lot about the move. “I had to take care of what I control,” he said. “I just worked hard, the coaches believed in me and gave me a chance.
“God’s been looking out for me big-time.”
At any rate God has also spoken and Aston is our FB and I have to say that after reviewing game films I can see exactly why the switch was made. He’s 6’0″ and 245 so his body fits the role…
As to his blocking skills; he proved himself out there with flying colors. The one thing I know to be true in college football is that a RB never gets those big yards on his own. Look at #35 leading the way for Ollison in this highlight film. Keep your cursor on the pause button so you can watch some of them over again – he did that well.
We are going to miss him big-time my friends and I don’t care what Watson and Narduzzi have planned for Flanagan or whoever to mitigate this personnel loss – Browne needed Aston behind for many reasons. Let’s hope it is an eight week injury – but my gut says we’ll not see him until next spring practices.
Even though we Pitt fans are lamenting the loss of Aston, along with Tipton being injured and out for the year – and with some serious suspension time in the start of the season, these things do happen to teams. the question is does it happen to Pitt more than other programs or do we just feel like it does.
BTW – we are going to see a lot of yardage from Ollison this season – he’s actually stronger and faster than he was – which is pretty darn fast as he was clocked at 4.5 in the 40, tied with Moss, before the 2016 season. According to Narduzzi and Watson he’s the clear RB1 at this point and it will be his season to really shine.
At this time last year we read this:
Pitt defensive tackle (rsJR) Justin Moody and incoming freshman defensive back (FR) George Hill will no longer play football due to a non-football-related cervical spine condition and a preexisting cardiac condition, respectively, the school announced Friday.
Additionally, tight end (SO) Chris Clark and offensive lineman (rsSO) Mike Grimm will miss this season after undergoing knee and hip surgery, respectively, while freshman defensive lineman (FR) Zack Gilbert will miss the season due to a cardiac condition.
On a final note – toward the end of ’16’s fall camp Narduzzi was asked what defense he’d design to stop Pitt’s offense last season. here is what he said:
But if Pat Narduzzi was forced to design a defense to stop the Panthers offense — in other words, if he hypothetically were thrust into the role Villanova will assume Saturday at Heinz Field — he knows what he would do.
“I would try to stop the run and load the box up (with an extra defender or two),” he said. “Make us beat you with the pass.” But he amended that statement slightly, adding, “That’s scary, too, because you have Nathan Peterman sitting there. Pick your poison.”
Huh. That was every defense he’s designed for the last 15 years… and it sure as hell didn’t work against our opponent’s in the 2016 season did it?
I just hope to hell he and Conklin shake off the lethargic approach they have shown toward our defenses over the last two years. We have done this over that period of time:
2015 – 37th in Total Defense at 362 ypg; 57th in Scoring Defense at 26.1
2016 -101st in Total Defense at 452 ypg; 106th in Scoring Defense at 35.2
When you have a drop of 90 yards allowed per game and also 9.1 ppg it means whatever you are doing absolutely…sucks.
For the life of me I don’t get how the fans are giving Conklin a pass for the last two years – especially when Paul Chryst’s last year of coaching here had a team that gave up 26.3 ppg and only 352 ypg total… Maybe we Pitt fans are so jaundiced that eight wins covers up obvious gaps in team play… or we just love this staff so much the fingers point directly to the players.
That is my hope for 2017 – that if things remain the same on defense, or get worse – and don’t kid yourselves things sure can get worse – Conklin gets fired and either Narduzzi takes over the DC role or gives it to Charlie Partridge.
We’ll have the Sunday Podcast tomorrow and I’ll be introducing some new features on the POV – mainly POV apparel items for donations and some prediction polls.