Let’s get back to some Pitt football talk. All the issues surrounding the MSU scandal aren’t going away and we can talk that to death if left unchecked. Pitt BB should be shot and put out of its misery.
First though I want to mention this – I deleted some posts today due to political content. I’ll do that a few times then let the poster(s) know I’ll ban them if it keeps happening… along with any racist posts that are encoded. This blog has an extremely low tolerance for that bullcrap.
So – 2018… We have questions galore in this offseason and especially because we just came off an extremely disappointing 2017 season where we went 5-7 without a bowl bid. Let’s look at the talent on hand and see if it makes us feel any better about the possibilities of turning that record around to seven wins at least.
Here is the final two-deep found in the Game Notes published prior to the Miami game.
Here is my verrrry early prediction of the 2018 two-deep. Note: I edited it because I was rushed and forgot about Aston, Wirginis and Ford.The bare-bones table above is what I figure, at this very early date, what may be the two-deep coming out of fall camp. Let’s not bet on this holding especially the lineman on both sides of the ball. It is always hard for any fans not actually at the practices to tell which OL are doing what.
And, truth be told, even when I attend the practices and watch the OL and DL go at it out there it just looks like a bunch of water buffaloes beating the crap out of each other.
But I think the skill positions on offense might be pretty accurate as could be the LBs and DBs on defense.
Does what you see there fill you with anticipation? If so what sort – joyful toward a winnings season or more like looking at the same problems we had last year and thinking it will be tough to get back to winning regular season.
I have to say at this point I’m not jumping up and down about this. We’ll know a lot more going into the last two weeks of August when the staff sets their two-deep and the others fall by the practices’ wayside.
Let’s talk about the offense first and then in a later article I’ll post the same graphics and we’ll discuss the prospective defensive players.
For one thing a quick glance tells me we are replacing eight offensive starters right off the bat with only WR Araujo-Lopes, Center Morrissey and OL Bookser as returning full-time starters. That is worrisome in itself but I just haven’t been satisfied with Pat Narduzzi’s recruiting enough to feel comfortable with the replacements of departed starters (off a rather poor offense).
TE Chris Clark is still a question mark to me but may play better now that the stronger blocking Flanagan is gone. As I’ll talk about later I think the TEs may play a much bigger role in the offense this season.
WRs are where we may see a true FR step up. I know fans are excited about the Florida kid Shocky Jacques-Louis (pronounced “Shocky Jack Louie”) but aside from a cool name and his being the 25th ranked WR in the ’18 class I know nothing about him. Supposed to be very fast though – maybe we’ll finally have a QB who can really stretch the field.
I’d like to see a change at running back though. Hall became the go-to back toward the second half of the season but I still think that if you give Ollison the starting job and feed him the ball continuously he’d produce more than Hall. Those two great runs Hall had for long TDs (79 and 92 yards) against Duke were nice and helped us win the game but the problem with Hall is that he really doesn’t move the ball forward on a continual and consistent basis like Ollison tends to do.
If you take away those two runs mentioned Hall’s ypc average drops from 4.9 (respectable) to 3.9 (poor) and that is with 126 carries. Ollison on the other hand had limited duty with 90 carries and still carved out a 4.4 ypc with five TDs.
But the career numbers tell the bigger story to me: Hall has 1,045 yards for a 4.5 ypc with 11 TDs and Ollison has 1,645 yards for a 4.9 with 18 TDs. That is a big difference right there. I can’t help but think given the right attention Ollison could replicate his very good 20165 year when he rushed for 1,121 yards on a 5.3 ypc with 11 TDs.
It will be interesting to see what SO A. J. Davis can do in the backfield again. So far he was totally ineffective rushing for only 40 yards on 16 carries (2.5 ypc) and one TD. He didn’t have any games where he had more than a 4.0 ypc average. Maybe rsFR Todd Sibley can surprise but I’m not holding my breath on him either.
We haven’t recruited any RBs in the 2018 class so far and only Sibley and Davis last year and I can’t help but feel that if Narduzzi and Watson feel like the stable of backs we have now suffices, and really as average-at-best that they are, that is a big mistake.
The reality is our run game was pretty bad last year and that was with an experienced OL. We were 84th in the nation with a paltry 148.5 ypg. We did score some TDs on the ground but that was mostly because Watson didn’t trust any of our QBs to throw passes in the Red Zone.
I have a real worry that our OL is actually going to be worse than last year – and maybe a lot worse. If so that cripples our already poor running game and puts undue pressure on the new QB to execute.
At QB Pickett is going to be a good one, but I worry that fans are expecting stardom from him in ’18 and that might not be the case. I do expect good play from him but the nagging fact that he threw 66 passes last season with only one TD – a shovel pass at that keeps popping up when I think about his play last season. Then again he only threw one INT so that’s on the plus side.
One aspect of his game, and he looks like a gunslinger so far, is that he’s going to have to develop a quicker release instead of using his legs to buy time. I wish Watson used the TEs more because I think that, especially in the first half of the year, Pickett is going to need shorter passing patterns to move the ball. I just don’t think he’s going to get the pocket time needed to go through full progressions like Peterman did in 2016.
I firmly believe that if Pickett goes down for any length of time and Town has to fleet up to be the starter we will be screwed and tank on offense. I truly believe this mainly because 10 I’m not at all impressed with town’s history and 20 I don’t think we have a supporting cast to cover inadequacies at QB.
Here is a good Cardiac Hill article breaking down the two-deep for Pitt going into the Oklahoma State game last season…
Next article we’ll look at the 2018 verrrrry early Defensive two-deep.