Let’s start this pre-spring drills review off with what I think has to be a prime target this year for our new QB Kenny Pickett – the Tight End unit.  I like it when the TE has been used as a major part of our offense over the years.  If you  look back at some of most successful seasons in Pitt’s modern history you’ll find a TE had a lot to do with it.

Just to name two in DW’s 2009 year Dorin Dickerson and Nate Byham combined for 59 catches and 11 TDs – plus Byham was a beast in his blocking.  In Harris’ nine win 2002 season Kris Wilson had 18 catches for 389 yards at a 21.6 ypc clip… we’ve always relied on good TEs to get our best offensive results.

Let’s take the recent 2016 season for example.  We had a record-setting offense that year and our starting TE SR Scott Orndoff had a big part in that. He was our 2nd leading receiver and in addition he had a solid and successful presence on the end of our Offensive Line that season.  Where he truly excelled was in his downfield blocking which you really have to look for in the highlights to notice.

Look closely at that Yards Per Catch number of his – 16.5 for a TE is superb.

NAME REC YDS AVG LONG TD
Scott Orndoff

35

579 16.5 74 (TD)

5

I’m not sure we’ll replicate that with any one of our TEs this season.  That ’16 season was under Matt Canada and for some reason Watson has never really used his TEs in his previous offenses.

Here is who we had out there in our TE two-deep for 2017, you can see the difference between Orndoffs production and then last season’s TE production.  We had two less catches, 297 less yards and four less TDs…that almost 300 less yards really jumps out at you in a bad way.

NAME REC YDS AVG LONG TD
Matt Flanagan

17

160 9.4 30 0
Chris Clark

16

122 7.6 20

1

Tyler Sear

1 10 10.0 10

0

Flanagan has departed and we have the returning rsJR Chris Clark and SO Tyler Sear with the only in-game experience. SO Tyler Sear was a surprise when he was on the special teams unit and got into one game of live offensive action as a true FR.  he’s a tough bastard though as evidenced from this brutal video.

However we have two other TEs on roster and 4* rsFR Charles Reeves looks to be a good one.  He’s already 6’5′ and 265 lbs which is a great height for  both a Power Forward and a TE. From the Pitt roster:

A four-year contributor as a receiver and defensive end for traditional Ohio power Steubenville…ranked the No. 1 tight end prospect in the state by Scout and 247Sports…selected first team Associated Press Division IV All-Ohio as a senior and junior…Ohio East District Offensive Player of the Year…compiled 47 receptions for 750 yards (15.9 avg.) and eight touchdowns his final season…also had an interception return for a TD on defense…selected to the Scout 300 (No. 177)…rated one of the nation’s top 15 tight end prospects by Scout (No. 5), ESPN (No. 10), 247Sports (No. 13) and Rivals (No. 13)…rated the No. 6 overall prospect in Ohio by Scout, No. 14 by Rivals, No. 21 by ESPN and No. 23 by 247Sports…also a 1,200-point scorer in basketball.

rsFR Grant Carrigan is also going to be eligible this season. Here is his roster bio.

Rated the top tight end prospect in Pennsylvania and No. 3 in the East region by Scout…was a two-way standout for Pine-Richland, playing on the defensive line in addition to offense…played in only nine games due to injury but had eight receptions for 78 yards (9.8 avg.) on offense and 31 tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss on defense…helped team to a 7-5 record and the semifinals of the WPIAL Class 6A playoffs…Carrigan joined Pine-Richland for his senior year, transferring from Weirton (W.Va.) Weir after spending two years at national power Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas…rated the No. 11 overall prospect in Pennsylvania by Scout, No. 15 by 247Sports, No. 20 by ESPN and No. 23 by Rivals…Honor Roll student.

I have a feeling we are going to see Clark, Reeves and Sear play the most TE this season and in that two-deep order at the beginning of the season.  But, I think Reeves may be a surprisingly good TE even in his first season and may usurp that starting role from Clark.

I believe Chris Clark has been a bit of a disappointment for the team and fans.  He was a heralded 5* recruit who bounced from school to school before landing at Pitt. From the Pitt website:

Rated the nation’s No. 1 tight end by Rivals and Scout as a senior at Avon Old Farms and had more than 40 scholarship offers…averaged 19.4 yards per catch his senior year with 32 receptions for 621 yards and seven touchdowns…had 33 catches for 417 yards (12.6 avg.) and six TDs as a junior…selected to play in the Under Armour All-America Game…named to the Scout 300 (No. 23), Rivals 100 (No. 79) and ESPN 100 (No. 111)

His lack of experience was the main reason Narduzzi convinced the ex-Rutgers Mike Flanagan to come and start last season.

It would be great to see Clark finally break out and start showing those receiving skills because Pickett is very accurate in the short-intermediate passing game and that is where TEs really produce.  However, Clark’s blocking isn’t as good as one would hope for in a TE so we’ll see situational play at that position.  If Reeves can block well and catch some passes then I think he’ll have a clear shot to the top of the TE chart.

We’ll keep an eye on this position through spring drills and especially coming out of Fall Camp as this is a spot where we could see a big shake up in the TE depth chart.  But as always with every skill position on offense how well the TEs will do is based on what sort of offensive playcalling is coming in from the offensive coordinator.

So far at Pitt Watson didn’t use his TEs as we fans thought he would and that was surprising because QB Ben DiNucci played rather a lot and you’d think the TE would have been a good call for him to go to given his inaccuracy on longer passes.

EDIT: I just read Dokish’s take on the TE situation  and he made a good point I overlooked:

The Panthers did a good job of nabbing Clark in 2006, and Reeves, Sear, and Carrigan in 2017, but they failed this year to bring in another tight end. Little recruited Jay Symonds looked like a steal when he committed to Pitt, and the Panthers looked at him as an eventual George Aston replacement, though with tight end skills. But then his dream school, Stanford, offered him, and he flipped to them. Another commit, Matt Alaimo, opened up his recruitment just before the early signing day before eventually signing with UCLA. He had the talent to be an all around quality starter some day so that one hurt, too.

Because of the failure to sign a tight end, the Panthers may be forced to move one of their incoming defensive ends to tight end to strengthen the depth. The problem with that, though, is that all three of the possibilities to move project better as defensive ends. So the failure to land a quality tight end will have an effect on not one, but two positions.

NOTES:  This may be old news…Season ticket holders that are being displaced by the moves of our Student Section and The Pitt Band received this note for AD Lyke a couple of weeks ago:

Dear Joe Schmoe, 

If you’re like me, I’m certain the memory of our resounding victory over the No. 2 Miami Hurricanes to close last season remains fresh in your mind. Our young football team really put it all together that afternoon—a stifling defensive effort, timely heroics and that unforgettable game-clinching drive in the fourth quarter.

(Raise your hand if you watched ESPN the rest of the weekend for all the Pitt highlights. “Another Pitt upset of a Top 3 team!”)

The action on the field was outstanding, but my most vivid memory from that afternoon was the electricity from the crowd. I can still hear your fourth-quarter “Let’s go Pitt!” chants. You created an electric environment that helped push our team to victory over a team in contention for the College Football Playoff.

The goal for 2018 is to build on that win—on the field and in the stands. We want a game-changing atmosphere at Heinz Field every Saturday. To achieve that end, I want to provide you, our valued season ticket holders, with some details on what will be new about the Pitt Football Experience this fall.

A New and Prominent “Panther Pitt” Student Section: This fall, a newly energized Panther Pitt student section will be augmented to run the width of the north end zone. Our students provide the “pulse” of Heinz Field and we want them located in an area where they can have the greatest impact on the game. Additionally, the Pitt Band will move from Section 131 to the corner adjacent to the visiting team tunnel. This location shift will make a noticeable difference in the quality of acoustics. (These location changes are detailed on the map below.)

Our ticket staff will be contacting those individuals whose 2017 ticket locations were located in the aforementioned areas. We will work diligently to ensure you are informed and satisfied with your new seating options.

2018 Renewal Information: You will be receiving ticket renewal information in early March. Should you have any questions in the interim, please do not hesitate to contact the Panthers Ticket Office at (800) 643-PITT (7488). Our staff is eager to assist you with any questions or issues you may have.

We want you to have a remarkable experience as a Pitt season ticket holder. We appreciate your feedback and greatly value your commitment to the Pitt football program. Together, we can make our championship goals a reality!

 Hail to Pitt!

104 thoughts on “POV’s Take: Spring Drills – TE Position

  1. It wasn’t surprising we couldn’t land a TE in this years recruiting class with how little we used TE last year. I am hoping our lack of TE usage last year was more about lack of talent and experience than overall philosophy.

    Like

  2. I’m hoping OC Eatson watched the Super Bowl and will borrow some play calling from the Eagles and Patriots.

    Gronk Reeves could be a legend waiting to be turned loose with the right play calling. He fits Pickett’s style nicely. And he was a 4* recruit.

    Our 5* recruit, Chris Clark has two years left to make his way to the NFL. I’m rooting for a big leap forward this year. Pitt needs Clark to show up and put up the big numbers Reed mentions in his article.

    I Lyke Sear as the blocking, meat & potatoes guy – but his one catch last year early in the season was a thing of beauty, never to be tried again by OC Watson.

    Hope is not a strategy, but it helps us optimistic fans.

    H2P!

    Like

    1. and what did you expect?

      “Stallings will be unemployed a week from tomorrow”
      “Those snobs from the Dairy School can go screw themselves – literally”
      “We are not add tarps to Heinz but will put cardboard cutouts of fans in the upper deck”
      “Narduzzi was extended because he is touch his nose with his tongue”

      Like

  3. Who cares what she says on the radio. I just hope she has a plan in place to replace Stallings and Gallagher doesn’t reject a candidate.

    Like

    1. I listened to her interview and thought it was somewhat insightful.

      To paraphrase her comments…

      “The BB program is under internal review, top to bottom. Stallings is somewhat meeting her expectations in terms of effort. Not appropriate commenting until season is over.”

      “No tarp” this year

      “She is old friends with the WVU AD and there is interest in getting them on the schedule regularly”

      “Door is open for more PSU game if PSU has interest”

      Sounds to me like she’s going to let Stallings go. The three guys on air agreed and Colin Dunlap indicated the money is there to do it per conversations he has had with some alum.

      Some speculation that the tarp discussion may just be delayed a year until they get PSU fans money this year with season ticket purchases.

      I didn’t expect hear to break any news, but its sometimes helpful to hear it straight from the Lyke’s mouth.

      Like

      1. “Some speculation that the tarp discussion may just be delayed a year until they get PSU fans money this year with season ticket purchases.”

        I thought the exact same thing. That’s why they’re also increasing prices this year.

        I think she’s made her decision regarding Stallings. The only thing I would have expected her to announce today would have been her having reached a decision for him to return. There’s nothing really left for her to see in this season. There’s no upcoming wins and the players aren’t going to play any better. He’s a goner and she should have a list that she’s working through.

        Like

        1. she said other colleges are ‘right-sizing’ their stadiums and it’s not a bad thing. But provided no examples. Not sure what can be done especially when you don’t own the stadium

          Like

          1. Some are right sizing which is also misleading. Dairy College and OSu are taking out seats but spending on more suites. Both will see attendance numbers drop, but gate receipts improve.

            I watched Reeves in HS twice. He is the real deal. I hope they use him as a TE weapon. I see him as the old steeler, eric green, without abuse issues. Sear is a nice throwback TE. I like him a lot.

            From what I saw in Clark, I liked him too. This is his year to either poop the bed or be a star.

            Like

  4. For the record I was up at at em this morning and listened to the Heather Lyke interview. She did dance around the questions and did sound like your typical Athletic Director at the same time. When asked a question that was a safe to answer (tarping) she answer with a definite no not this year. It would have been unprofessional to discuss Stallings future on a radio talk show.

    It was all some sort of fluff and the questions were answered accordingly. Although she did seem stumped on one of the last questions.

    Like

  5. Reed, is that right that Clark had 16 catches last year? That doesn’t seem right. If true, it shows the TE’s had 34 catches last year which is a little over 3 catches per game. That’s only one catch less than Scott O. Which btw, that 17.6 ypc is crazy and not a normal average per catch for a TE.

    Like

    1. Ike, I look at H-Backs and FBs as lumped in with the TEs. I didn’t go into full detail but if you tally all up it shows we had 61 catches by that group in 2016 and 37 last season.

      You could add a few passes to Ollison also but if I remember correctly that was when he was in the RB position and not the FB position that he filled sometimes. If we had Aston back there last season the numbers would be higher as he had 22 catches in ’16.

      Bottom line is I think we need to use the TE much more as we only totalled 5.35 ypp on the season total.

      Like

  6. Shout out to JP Holtz since Reed didn’t mention him. Had a solid career.

    I think Clark can come on strong if used. A two tight end set would be good to see from time to time. Also help a yearling line. Also blocking down field to get those extra yards for Ollie and Co.

    Would be great if one of these guys becomes the “Go to guy” on third downs.

    Fixing BBall has to be Lyke’s number 1-5 priority, but now is not the time to show her cards.

    Sorry to the guys that have to move, but giving the students those seats is going to help game day atmosphere, and encourage more to come. Especially with the crap home season, except for PSU, the stadium should be half filled. Lyke may be better served to marketing to visiting teams to sell more seats.

    Like

      1. Versus Syracuse. He plowed over the safety the Steelers eventually traded a third rounder to draft and was a huge bust for them. Another disappointing loss, 14-13, under Chryst.

        Like

    1. I know at the LOI evet, Narduzzi made a reference about the Italian being tried at TE because of his athleticism … but of course, he wouldn’t provide any immediate help. It looks like Clarke and the 3 TEs from last year … although someone like Dintino or Herndon can be used in short yardage situations I suppose.

      here the receiving stats from last year .. http://www.cfbstats.com/2017/team/545/receiving/index.html

      what surprises the heck out of me is that we had more overall receptions in ’17 than in ’16 http://www.cfbstats.com/2016/team/545/receiving/index.html

      but check out the opponents figures at the very bottom of both years

      Like

  7. With four serviceable TEs on the roster right now, it is one of the deepest positions on the team unless Watson decides to go with a “double TE & 3 yards in a cloud of dust running attack” all game long for some unknown reason. Disagree with Dokish on the need to supplement depth with a DE transfer to this position for 2018. There will be a priority to recruit this position well though with at least one quality get at TE in the 2019 recruiting class & two would be better.

    Like

    1. I agree. We have plenty of talent and depth here, just untested. Clarke really needs to step it up this season or he will be passed over by the others who appear to be talented (at least on paper!). Clarke had a good opportunity to shine last year and as I recall, had some dropped balls, poor routes and missed assignments.

      Like

  8. That’s why I say it’s not a stretch that Ford could be an upgrade at safety in place of JW. There are times when expectations can be a bit unrealistic for a player then other times not so much. In Ford’s case not to such as he is of high pedigree with well known talent.

    Yeah, I don’t see the panic over PITT’s TE situation. If Watson wants to use two TE’s then they have athletic lineman in CD and MH that could be blocking TE’s.

    Like

  9. Matt Alaimo, a 3* recruit, opened up his recruitment just before the early signing day and eventually signing with UCLA – who signed 3 TE’s in the class, one 4* and two 3* recruits.

    Did Matt look at the Pitt roster and realize playing time would be tough and opted for a TE depleted roster at UCLA?

    Like

    1. I’m not so sure .. I assume he was aware of this when he verballed last summer. I assume that since he had such an outstanding senior season, he start getting interest that wasn’t there last summer and then chose Chip Kelly

      Like

  10. I’d like to address something that seem to have been glossed over here. Maybe I’m the only one who has an issue with this..

    In 2015, my seats were $135 ea. Due to the PSU game, the Athletic Department saw an opportunity to raise tickets almost 30% in 2016. There was another small increase last year. Now, due to another PSU game, my tickets have gone to $200 ea. While some of you may say that $33.33 is a relatively cheap ticket (and I agree), how does Pitt justify increasing ticket prices MORE THAN 48% over a three year period? Have they increased Football spending 48%? Have our wins increased by 48%? Have 48% more parking spaces been added around Heinz Field? More importantly, will our ticket prices be reduced when the PSU series ends?

    Pitt has a SERIOUS problem with attendance and revenue and that dump, Heinz Field, certainly isn’t a draw. I understand the need for increased revenue but increasing the burden on those of us loyal enough to buy tickets that many people wouldn’t even take for free, isn’t the answer.

    Sorry for the negativity but I got my renewal email today. Even though I knew about the increased ticket prices, it riled me back up.

    Like

  11. I put my donation in before Jan 1 of this year and that let me not only deduct the donation but the ticket price as well. I’m hoping that might offset the raise in ticket price a little? That is a very big raise in prices though.

    Like

  12. I’m watching the PA Senate Appropriations Committee hearings on State-Related Universities on PCN.

    Gallagher is pretty damn impressive- far more than that idiot Barron from Dairy U.

    It makes me wonder how successful our athletic department could be if he actually cared.

    Like

  13. Ike, I think you are a bad boy and the IRS will soon be after you. Ticket prices are only deductible as a business expense – gift or partially if entertainment – and not on your personal tax return.

    Like

    1. If it’s the same mailing that I received the document delineates between contributions to the athletic department as required for seats and contributions with no connection to seats. Contributions attached to seats are not tax deductible. Contributions that are not attached to seats are fully tax deductible.

      Like

  14. we seem to have plenty of depth in almost all positions. But in many of them, it is inexperienced / unproven depth, especially on offense. And TE is one certainly one of them

    Like

  15. this is pretty cool IMO

    Like

  16. LarryFitzgerald@LarryFitzgerald

    More Larry Fitzgerald Retweeted John McCain
    I would need to live another two lifetimes to be close to making the contributions you have, but thank you for your unwavering support of the #birdgang. Look forward to seeing you soon!,

    John McCain@SenJohnMcCain
    Thrilled #Arizona will get to watch @LarryFitzgerald lead the @AZCardinals next season – us old geezers have to stick together! #BirdGang

    Like

  17. LOL, I don’t do my own taxes. Just give an envelope with all that we gathered to the tax lady and get my check ready while hoping for the best. Now see if this were PITT basketball tickets then the IRS would probably give me a break for being ripped off.

    Like

  18. They say that about me concerning BB. Sorry to bring BB up, but what will the POVers say about Stallings if he is fired and then 3 years from now the same kids are winning the ACC?

    Like

  19. Speaking of bball.. two weeks ago the Central Catholic freshman finished an undefeated season.

    Three of the freshman players then got called up to varsity for the remainder of the season.
    I have a feeling that they are going to be a special group over the next few years.

    Like

  20. I’m glad the Nard Dog had the foresight to redshirt Reeves. He’s a YUGE target at 6’5″ and 265 lbs.

    Otis should have recruited him to play bball too. You know his has to be better than the Wookie and #42 who doesn’t even know how to block out. Well neither does the Wookie, but that’s beside the point.

    Like

  21. Ike,
    Concerning your tax situation. You are invited to hide down here in Texas until it blows over. PA doesn’t realize Texas even exists!
    We could cook together every day and Bernie could bo our supplier.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. The dinosaurs who viewed those 1-9 teams under Dave Hart….yous guys forgot to mention the
    leading WR on those teams……Bob Longo

    Bob was a big man on campus with the ladies

    Like

    1. Beautiful info Emel. There is no where else a younger sports nerd like myself could learn this stuff. I have a new one to yell at guys at the bar. “Leave that girl alone…Who do you think you are, Bob Longo?”

      Like

  23. TE is a critical position with a young QB and an inexperienced offensive line. Whoever starts will need to be able to both block and catch. Clark seems to take offense to blocking, so hopefully Reeves is prepared to handle some significant playing time. George Aston’s return would make the TE position a little less important.

    Like

  24. Agree with EEs take regarding Ford…Aston returning will be huge. Nice thread guys. Lots of laughs. Good way to start my day.

    Like

    1. Ruggedness and attitude.

      Gronk is confident that he is better than you as a defender and that he is going to beat you.

      I also Lyke the three Eagle TE’s.

      A lot of good film for our OC to watch –

      Like

  25. Another key point IMO regarding the use of TE’s in this year’s Pitt offense is that Duzz and Salem are working hard to recruit some top TE talent – several 4* offers and one 5*.

    If OC Watson ignores the TE as a weapon with La Pickett, we will settle for much less on the recruiting side for the TE position. Why would a 4 or 5* want to disappear in a mediocre offense?

    NOTE TO HEATHER: for those Pitt fans who are losing their seats to the student section move – offer them a free pass for 2 days of Spring practice.

    H2P!

    Like

  26. EE, you bring up a good point with PITT offering some high-end talent at TE. Here’s the thing though, I think two of the players offered are from out on the west coast and they have offers from most of the big schools out there. That brings me back to when Narduzzi was recently criticized a bit for not landing 4* players that he offered a scholarship to. A few he really has little chance of them coming all the way back to the eastern side of the country. Yet he doesn’t have much to lose

    HCPN is not hesitant to offer a big time recruit no matter where he is from. I guess he figures it still get’s PITT name known a bit more when they are offered regardless of the chances of landing the player?? << That sounds like forward recruiting/thinking. I know at least one of the TE’s is from out there. ike

    Like

  27. With that added weight maybe they are trying to make him a Tackle.

    One thing the real Gronk does better than any of them is catch the football, he also has
    amazing body control, for a real big man.

    Like

  28. So when will we see another Ramon Walker, Aaron Donald or Taglianetti on special teams? Guys that exceed all expectations in their performance on the field? I would say Conner is in that group, possibly Boyd, although he was highly touted. Who else would you put in that group and are there guys on the roster now that will surprise us?

    Like

    1. Not sure how you’re assessing this. Blair was a Rivals 4 star.

      I suggest guys like Artis, Patterson and Zanna for basketball. All were Rivals 3 stars who were very productive Pitt players over their last 3 seasons and have played or are still playing in the NBA or G League.

      Like

        1. Umm, okay.

          I’d include Nasir Robinson and Ashton Gibbs too. Both were Rivals 3 stars who were big contributors by their sophomore season.

          Like

  29. There is something about the approach of the NFL that concentrates the mind. Clarke will learn to block if he wants to get on the field in the NFL. What other position on the team has a 5 star and a 4 star competing for playing time? The TE position has the most raw talent of any position on the team.

    Like

  30. gc — I’d add George Aston and Nate Peterman.

    George…obvious…a walk on with zero expectations.
    Nate…although he his a 4-star recruit, I never expected him to be nearly as good as he was. What a competitor.

    Like

Leave a Comment Please and Keep It Civil...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s