Many thanks to Richman, Ike, Pittman4ever, Dan72, and two new contributors; Huff and UPitt for taking the time to make me piss my pants laughing last night. I only wish we had been in a bar with drinks in front of us – that would have been perfect.
And – that’s why we tailgate, right folks? More on that later.
Here is the article from the Trib’s Jerry DiPaola that Ike referenced in regards to Max Browne winning the starting QB job (if you believe Narduzzi that there was a real competition going on). I think the only time I can remember a fall camp where that wasn’t stated was last year’s with the incumbent Peterman returning. Other than that we hear it every season regardless of who is in that QB unit.
We also talked about the two true FR who are being touted as sure to get playing time, if not start, in the defensive backfield – 3* Damarri Mathis and 3* Jason Pinnock – and how we fans had heard so much about last year’s true FR who we though would play this year as rsFR – 3* Phil Campbell, 3* Therran Coleman, 3* Henry Miller and 3* Bricen Garner.
BTW all those rsFR listed are between 6’1″ and 6’3″ tall and the two from the ’17 recruiting class are 5’11” and 6’0″ respectively… what happened to going with more height in that backfield.
Speaking of which Pitt fans believed that 2016 DBs recruiting was just wonderful (even if all 3*s practically) and they were the guys who were going to unseat the experienced Maddox, Briggs, Motley, etc… My bet is we see a starting DB lineup with those experienced guys starting and the younger kids in the two deep and rotated in if needed.
We also discuss what we felt the end-of-season “points for” and “points against” were going to be after we had 40.9 PPG for and 35.2 PPG against. Here is what the POV experts predicted…(+) is better in the defense column:
This is interesting I think and it falls pretty much in line with the answers I get when i have asked the same question to others. Of all the talk among Pitt fans about how much better we think the 2017 defense is going to be compared to last season the reality of opinions given was that it would only be a titch more than a field goal. But on the other hand they believed the offense was going to drop by more than a TD this year.
Looking back at that offensive points prediction; if we had scored 33 points per game last season we probably would have lost at least two more games – but maybe as many as four as we did the below in four of our wins:
PSU win – 3 point game; GT – 3 points, VT – 3 points and Clemson – 1 point win. Of course this idea is in broad strokes especially because we are dealing with season averages… but to me looking at these knowledgeable fan’s thinking that we are still going to give up almost 32 points per game – and then score seven less per game than ’16… well, I don’t see 8, 9 or 10 wins happening if that comes true.
Personally I think we score around 32 PPG and give up around 33 PPG – I just don’t think our defense is going to be all that much better this year if at all. For reference here is what we have done in the last seven years:
All in all this was a great Roundtable to produce, we really had a lot of fun and we all agreed that the new time of 9:00 pm on Wednesday evenings is much better – so put that time slot on your calendar and I hope you enjoy the video as much as we enjoyed making it.
Notes: From Peak at Rivals: When Narduzzi was asked about possibly redshirting Hamlin for the 2017 season he replied “I hope not. That’s not the plan.” which doesn’t sound all that good for the young man. Miss two years, or a year and camp and part of the season, and that opens up pathways for others to grab that spot he was supposed to fill.
Promising player/recruits who figured to contribute in 2017 such as 4* DB Hamlin, 4* RB Hill, 4* OL Grimm, FB Aston, WR Tipton, DE Gilbert, DL Moody, haven’t played, or can’t play, due to injury or illness this season – some have left the team (but retained on scholarship). That is a lot of talent we were banking on to help us this year and in the future.
Add those dismissals of Blair, Taleni and the suspensions of 4* Whitehead and Wirginis and you can see why some fans are wonder if this season is going to be what we thought it would be when projecting the ’17 lineup last year.
Remember POV Tailgating starts on Sept 2 in Red Lot 5A for the YSU game – articles on that to follow…
Here is the last Fall Camp Report – #20 in its entirety:
Coach Pat Narduzzi, defensive coordinator Josh Conklin and offensive line coach John Peterson were the coaches who spoke with the assembled media, while quarterback Ben DiNucci, offensive linemen Alex Officer and Brandon Hodges and linebacker Oluwaseun Idowu also featured in interviews.
Below are transcripts from all seven media sessions.
Head Coach Pat Narduzzi
“Practice number 20 today. We are just looking to get another day better. We had a good day yesterday, and we will keep pushing forward.”
On what the defense has shown during camp:
“I see more guys making plays. I see the attitude; it’s so much better. If you look back, was it like that last year at this time? I don’t know. But it just seems a little bit different. I see guys making plays on the ball. In the past year, guys were in position but didn’t make something happen. Our guys are playing a little bit different.
On if any clarity has emerged from the running back competition:
“We have a stable of guys back there. Darrin Hall has done some great things, as well as Qadree Ollison. Darrin had a nice move the other day. Coach [Andre] Powell has been on them hard about getting yards after contact, making something happen and making someone miss—don’t just run them over. Darrin had one of those plays.
On Aaron Mathews‘ ability to get caught up after missing some camp:
“He’s doing okay. There is nothing special right now. I would like to see more.”
On where Brandon Hodges is playing along the offensive line:
“He’s playing both guard and tackle—50/50.”
On Damar Hamlin‘s progression:
“He’s as healthy as he has been. I’ve seen a big smile on his face. We are just taking it easy and taking it slow. We don’t want to mess anything up. We just don’t want to go backwards. We are going forward right now and that’s how we will progress.”
On the likely hood of the freshman running backs being redshirted:
“If they are going to be fourth or fifth on the depth chart, then yes. But if we feel like they can help us win a game, we are going to play the guys to help us win. They have done a good enough job in camp. You would like to pick one—redshirt one and play the other—and find out who is close enough to help you. You have to see how your injuries go, too.”
Defensive Coordinator Josh Conklin
On how the secondary has progressed:
“It’s going well. The safeties have had a good camp and the corners have had a good camp. I think Avonte Maddox has really come along nicely. We knew he was a good player coming into the fall, but he’s really addressed some shortcomings and issues that he felt like he had.
On how he feels about the front seven generating pressure on opposing offenses:
“It’s amazing. I think Charlie Partridge has done a great job getting that group on the same page. Their knowledge level has increased ten-fold just in terms of what they know about the defensive package. I think a guy coming in like that that understands being a head coach, sees big picture and understands how to put the whole thing together, it’s really rubbed off on our guys. Anytime you know more than just your responsibility, or more than just your world, you have the ability to impact the game in some different situations in a better way.”
On the three starting linebackers:
“I think we feel pretty good about them. I think they’ve had a good fall camp. I think we knew what we were going to get when they developed. I think Saleem Brightwell and [Elijah] Zeise—those guys have taken a lot of reps in games. I’m excited to see them play a real college football game and take 65-70 snaps.”
On the linebackers’ speed and their ability to react:
“I think they’re there. That’s why they’re the guys. I think if they got to that stage where they know what they have to do, they understand what they have to do and then they also can operate kind of at an unconscious level, just in terms of the defense and the package. Now the challenge is for everybody on defense though.
Offensive Line Coach John Peterson
On why he like to cross-train offensive linemen:
“It’s really about building depth for the unknown factors. That’s the thing when you can’t predict what happens through the course of the game or the course of the season. Anything can happen and that’s why you practice guys in cross-training, because it allows that flexibility and depth.”
On picking his players’ positions:
“Everyone has their weaknesses and strengths, so I’m just trying to put guys in a position where they can use their strengths. So when you cross-train guys, whether it’s sized-based, knowledge or fitness, whatever it is, you try to put the pieces together that are going to help the team. That’s what this camp has allowed us to do.”
On how he prepares positions for game week:
“You do less [cross-training], because the guys really get honed in on the game plan. But just like anything, you could play right side, left side, guard, tackle. We have that versatility with guys that can snap the ball then play guard also.”
On Pitt’s center position:
“It’s a competition. Jimmy [Morrissey] and Connor [Dintino] have been battling, and they’re doing a great job. Like I said, you have guys like Alex Officer, who is really improving at center. We’re going into the season having multiple centers, and it’s very reassuring.”
Offensive Line Alex Officer
On playing different positions:
“I enjoy it because Coach Pete [John Peterson] likes to cross-train the guys, and I think that helps a lot with playing different positions. We don’t really have a set group of starters right now, and I think that Coach Pete does a great job with getting guys ready for all positions.”
On Pitt’s offense:
“I definitely think that Pitt’s offense has made a lot of progress over these last couple of weeks of camp. Each day we’re getting better and better. We’re trying to match or go over what we did last season. We have a lot of goals to reach this year.”
On Offensive Coordinator Shawn Watson:
“Coach Watson is definitely a great offensive coordinator. He really wants the guys to be able to learn the whole offense. It’s not just your position to learn, but to learn what the other guys around you are doing.
On being a leader:
“I’m not really the most vocal guy; I’m not a ‘hoo-ra-ra’ type of guy. I lead by example and just try to teach guys individually, behind the scenes. Brian O’Neill is our main vocal leader on the offensive line. I just help guys out and do my job.”
Quarterback Ben DiNucci
On if the news that Max Browne will be the starting quarterback was difficult for him:
“I don’t know about difficult. Anytime you’re in a competition, somebody is going to be the one and someone has to be the two. I just have to know my role now and be the best backup that I can be. I have to help the team in whatever way possible.
On if he felt like he had a true opportunity to earn the No. 1 job:
“Yeah, it was a great competition. It went three weeks and even all the way back to spring ball. It was a great competition. I think we did a great job of pushing each other every day trying to make each other better and make the team better in whatever way possible. He [Max Browne] came out on top; he’s a good player, so credit to him.”
On what he has improved on since the Pinstripe Bowl:
“The biggest thing for me in the offseason was working on my footwork, my reads and quicker decision-making. I feel like I’ve gotten way better in all three of those areas. The only way I can go from here is up, so I feel good.”
On how competition helped him improve:
“I think competition brings out the best in anybody. I felt it every day—competition against him and competition against myself. When you see him make a play, you want to make a play yourself. It’s kind of that ‘what does he do, what do I do?’ But you try not to make it that, you try to just control what you can control and let the rest handle itself.”
Linebacker Oluwaseun Idowu
On how the linebacker group is improving:
“Every day—three percent. Coach Narduzzi preaches it and we preach it to our younger guys. Every day we come out here with energy and focus to try and get three percent better every single day. Whatever we can, whatever we need to do to lock in mentally. It’s been every day. Every time we came out on this field, we’ve improved at something. No matter how much it may be, we improved at something. Every day we are always moving up the ladder and scale trying to get up.”
On how competition has changed their dynamic on defense:
“It pushes you to do your job better than the man next to you. You can be competing with the guys next to you, but you can also be competing with yourself and seeing how well you can do your own job. That’s what I preach to the guys every time.
On how a year of experience has helped him develop:
“Now it’s just playing ball. We’re back to basics just playing ball. You’re not hesitating on a step just because you might think ‘oh, it might be this.’ You know what it is, you’ve seen it before. When you’re taking these reps, you’re comfortable on the field with where you’re at and where you know you should be. You can get yourself in position as fast as you can, which helps you play the game faster.”
On the attitude of the defense being different from last year:
“It’s all about getting better as much as you can every day—three percent better. You’re seeing guys come out here with more energy, more passion for the game, more attitude towards their goals and more attitude towards getting better.
Offensive Lineman Brandon Hodges
On his excitement for the season:
“I’m excited for it. I’m ready for the fans. Coaches have been lathered up all camp. I’m just ready for it. It has been a great camp. It’s great bonding with the team, too.”
On what ‘lathered’ up means:
“It’s a term that Coach [James] Patton uses. Before every practice it’s, ‘get lathered up! get lathered up!’ Everybody is out here getting sweaty. The juices are flowing. I take that from Coach [James Patton].
On if Coach Watson has changed since his time at Texas:
“He has definitely hasn’t changed a bit. He’s always been a mentor to me, always been a shoulder to lean on. He’s always been a great guy to me and a great guy to the team. He gets on you. He’s hard-nosed; but at the end of the day, he loves you. He loves the team. If you mess up, he’s on you. After the play, he will come talk to you personally to let you know what you did wrong. Then everything is good from there.”
On his ability to get caught up to speed on the playbook and the motions:
“I’ve been in the film room. I’m up late at night—even right before I go to bed. I’m always on the film. That has been a big thing between me and Coach [John] Peterson.
On where he is lining up:
“I’m playing both [guard and tackle]. You have to be ready for anything, any possible time. I’m ready to play whatever Coach [John Peterson] wants me to play.”