Let’s start off with the normal info flow from the Pitt Athletic Media Dept: here first are the all-important Game Notes for the OK State Game.
I was hoping to see an “or” after Max Browne’s name on this but there are some changes; no FB now but three WRs with Ffrench fleeting up; at RT we see Hodges under Bookser; at Safety we have Stocker above Garner now; Kam Carter is #2 NT under Roy. See also Hamlin’s 3rd string at Free Safety.
Garner may be dinged up a bit if I remember correctly. So, these changes are the two-deep shaking out due to what the staff has seen take place out n the field in the first two games. I have heard that Aston should be back at FB by game #4 (we learned this at the tailgate last week ).
- Pitt will play a Top 10 opponent for the second time in as many weeks when it hosts No. 9/8 Oklahoma State at Heinz Field. The Panthers are looking to bounce back from last week’s 33-14 loss at then-No. 4 Penn State.
- This will be only the second all-time meeting between the Panthers and Cowboys. In the inaugural game last season, Oklahoma State used a late touchdown to slip past Pitt, 45-38, in Stillwater.
- In Oklahoma State, the Panthers are facing one of the country’s most prolific offenses. The Cowboys are averaging 51.5 points and 572.5 yards per contest.
- Fueling the Cowboys’ attack is quarterback Mason Rudolph, the all-time leading passer in Oklahoma State history with 9,352 yards. Rudolph’s top target is explosive receiver James Washington, who averages an incredible 30.4 yards per catch. Both players are All-America candidates.
- The game will be a significant test for Pitt’s youthful defense. Through the opening two games, the Panthers have essentially been breaking in nine new starters on that side of the ball. This week’s two-deep lists only two seniors—end Allen Edwards and cornerback Avonte Maddox—on defense.
- Pitt’s ability to possess the ball will be key. Through two contests, the Panthers have averaged 36:25 in possession time, the sixth highest average in the nation. In contrast, the quick-strike Cowboys average only 26:42 to rank 101st.
- Oklahoma State is the highest ranked opponent Pitt has hosted at Heinz Field since a 42-30 loss to No. 8/9 Notre Dame in 2015.
- The Panthers’ last win over a Top 10 foe occurred on the road, 43-42 over No. 3/2 Clemson last year in Death Valley. Pitt last defeated a Top 10 team at Heinz Field in 2003, a 31-28 win over No. 5 Virginia Tech.
This marks the second meeting between Pitt and Oklahoma State…it is the final contest in a two-game home-and-home agreement…the inaugural game was played last year in Stillwater, a 45-38 Cowboys victory…the Panthers have played eight of the 10 programs in the Big 12, the two exceptions being Kansas State and Texas Tech.
…And in an ultimate smoke-blowing exercise Pat Narduzzi really, really likes Max Browne according to Batko of the P-G:
“In the immediate aftermath of Pitt’s loss Saturday to Penn State, coach Pat Narduzzi was reluctant to lay too much blame at the feet of quarterback Max Browne. He’d have to look at the film, then would be able to give a better answer on how he felt about his play under center.
Well, Narduzzi looked at the film, and sounds as if he’s not down on Browne. “It doesn’t change from what I thought after the game,” Narduzzi said Monday. “Matter of fact, I felt better after watching the tape. Obviously, he’s not perfect, but there wasn’t one guy, coach, player that was on Saturday.”
Wait – “it doesn’t change from what I thought“… but… “it makes me feel better“. OK – we’re getting into Lou Holtz territory here. Well, I watched the game again and still think Browne played pretty poorly but then I don’t have to try to buck up a rsSR’s mental disposition either.
In the Thank God department I am so glad none of our POV’ers were severely injured up in State College last weekend…
In the ‘We have no real football to discuss’ department Meyer of the P-G feels this is (still) newsworthy... Honest to God – no discussion of how Q. Henderson faltered in a big game, how well Ollison did and how he may fare against the OSU defense, or whether DiNucci may, or should, see some series early in the next game? No, no real football to write about here – just gossip. C’mon PG, get it together.
Like the Trib’s Jerry DiPaola did with this piece discussing what I mentioned above – Henderson’s non-appearance in the PSU game.
If Pitt All-American returner Quadree Henderson is getting frustrated with his lack of big plays, no one would be surprised.But coach Pat Narduzzi said Henderson’s demeanor is fine. Asked if Henderson is experiencing frustration after averaging only 20.8 yards on five kickoff returns, Narduzzi said, “Not really, no.”
But he added, with a smile: “I’m getting frustrated with him. How about that?”
Included in that article is this bit:
Much has been said and written about Pitt’s inexperience, but Narduzzi doesn’t like that excuse, saying some young players have successfully stood up to the pressure.
Center Jimmy Morrissey, a redshirt freshman who was awarded a scholarship last month, is one such player.
“What’s Jimmy Morrissey going to look like in a year?” Narduzzi said. “I mean, that guy is snapping the ball, pulling around and making some great blocks on the edge.
I agree 100% that inexperience shouldn’t be used as an excuse – it is however a valid reason we barely beat YSU then lost handily to Penn State (and 19 points is ‘handily’ my friends).
There is a difference between excuses () and the reality of the situation – sometimes that gets confused and it is all in the way the speaker presents that issue. Inexperience is a huge factor this year – but fans shouldn’t use that as any sort of excuse for losses. If we lose games because of it – well, that’s what happens in life.
Now – at the end of the year if we have a poor record and fans want to shift blame from the team to the coach – or vice versa – then that would be excuse making.
My take? Same as it has been all along – some inexperience is OK as long as it is surrounded by more experience and good talent – something that right now our defense does not have.
Kev Gorman has a good take on a difference maker for PSU last week.
Barkley turned that third-quarter pass from Trace McSorley into a 46-yard touchdown and added a back-breaking 8-yard run in the fourth as the No. 4 Nittany Lions beat Pitt, 33-14, Saturday before 109,898 at Beaver Stadium.
Barkley wasn’t just the best player on the field — he had 183 total yards, with 88 rushing, 45 receiving and 50 on kickoff returns — but did more than anyone to dictate the outcome.
Essentially, Barkley did what the Panthers couldn’t: He made a momentum-changing play and finished a long drive by scoring in the red zone.
“That’s just the nature of the game, explosive plays like that,” Barkley said. “When you get momentum, when you get it going and get it rolling, it kind of stops the defense from what they’re trying to do and changes their game plan.”
I bolded the part that is so true – and what we haven’t seen happen once in two games so far this season. Our longest run play from scrimmage has been Ollison’s 32 yarder. Our longest pass play(s) was again 30 yards to both Ollison and Flanagan – none of which were touchdown plays. Unacceptable.
It is OK to get by without big plays if you are consistent in creating long series that result in TDs but that didn’t happened against PSU – the one TD we had took place at the end of a long 75 yard series, but that was the only one – the other Pitt two scores were FGs.
Which is why Henderson’s inability to replicate last year’s success so far is such a big issue. He has this for “longs” on the season so far: 17 yards in rushing, 7 in receiving, 28 on Kickoff returns and 0 on punt returns.
Man- -he’s averaging only 5.6 yards in 15 touches from scrimmage and only 13 yards per touch on special teams. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that changes but remember this – he does not have the surprise factor any longer (from scrimmage) that he did last season.
Still – I scratch my head as to why Maddox took that first sweep call in the beginning series and gained 1 yard. Hell, Ike could have done that.
On a Separate Note:
One of the things our new AD Heater Lykes did in trying to improve our game-day experience was partner with a professional group – The Tailgate Guys – to allow more Pitt fans, groups and alumni to have a real tailgate on the ‘Great Lawn’ without the hassle of tailgating logistics. And wouldn’t you know, that company has a true Pitt football connection…
Central Catholic grad and Pitt football player alumni, Justin Acierno, who as you may recall was with the Pitt athletic administration as the Ass’t AD for Ticket Sale and Marketing back in Pederson years is their representative to Pitt.
One thing Justin did while at Pitt – love it or not – was integrate “Sweet Caroline” into the game day stadium experience. I was ambivalent about it – but the students sure loved it as did the majority of fans who were still around at that point.
Not only did Justin make that decision he also used great initiative in creating the U of P’s Marketing Academy. Which I am very impressed with as a way to get business students real life experience.
The University of Pittsburgh’s Marketing Academy gives undergraduate students an internship where they do all of the above. The formal program, a joint effort between Pitt’s Department of Athletics and the College of Business Administration (CBA), assigns a student to one of Pitt’s eight Olympic sports. From day one, the onus is on the students. They must grab the reins of their team. No one holds their hands. The students, in short order, develop a full-fledged marketing strategy aimed at increasing attendance and improving the fan experience.
“It’s a win-win for everybody,” says Justin Acierno (A&S ’05, MBA ’07), who as director of marketing and ticket operations for Pitt athletics supervises the academy. “The students get the opportunity to oversee something and put their own twist on the sport. It helps us in athletics, because we don’t have the full-time staff for each Olympic sport. We need help because promotions and event planning are so time intensive.”
So now Justin is with tailgate guys and when I asked him to send me an overview about what he does with them I got this:
At the core, we are a hospitality company. We specialize in customizable, hassle-free tailgating. We work with each guest to determine the number of people they would like to accommodate and we develop a package that is right for them. We can provide everything from tents, tables, chairs, coolers w/ ice and television packages.
We also partner with caterers in the local markets to provide an easy food option for our guests as well. If you still want to have the feeling of doing your own tailgate, we also allow you to bring some of your own items/food and we provide a bellhop service to help you move these items to your tailgate. We aim to be a one stop shop for you and your guests.
In partnering with Pitt, we believe it to be a great fit. With the tailgating options becoming limited based on new garages being built and the challenges fans face with arriving at the parking lot together to ensure a parking space next to their friend, our services are very attractive. We have seen great momentum going into the season and the Oklahoma State game will be a great crowd.
Many fans will need to see our set-up and operation in person to understand exactly what we do. So, the Oklahoma State game will be a great marketing tool for us.
…and he goes on to invite fans to drop by and see him on the great lawn.
Now – it may be an advertising bit there but after all his job is to get Pitt fans under their tailgate tents – but anything I find in where a past player has gotten his Pitt education as Justin did, then work hard and succeed… and then gives back his efforts to make Pitt a better place then I want everyone to know.
NOTE: DO NOT use them instead of coming to the POV Tailgates – I had to throw that in guys…