Here is a great take on our 2018 prospects to fill out the Offensive Line two-deep.  It is written by man about town and golf bon vivant Erie Express.

PANCAKE MIX by Erie Express

 My days at Pitt (1981 to 1985) were bookended or “Marked” by some great offensive linemen, starting with OT Mark May in 1980 and ending with OG Mark Stepnoski (from Erie) in 1986.  While I was at Pitt, we had numerous OL All-Americans such as Jimbo Covert in ‘81 & ‘82, Bill “Pancake” Fralic in ‘82, ’83 & ’84 and Randy Dixon in ’86.

The Offensive Line is a notoriously difficult position to evaluate and project, and there are sure to be plenty of wild cards this season. Nevertheless, below is my 2018 preseason, pre-Spring practice player rankings with the top 10 returning linemen, all grouped together regardless of position.

Alex Bookser 4* (all ranking services) 5th yr SR w/26 starts & a total of 37 games played.

Jimmy Morrissey WO 3rd year SO with 12 starts.

Mike Herndon 3* (all services) 5th year SR with 1 start and a total of 30 games played.

Connor Dintino 3* (all services) 5th year SR w/1 start @ FB w/a total of 35 games played.

Tony Pilato 3* (all services) 4th year JR with 12 games played.

Bryce Hargrove 3* (all services) 3rd year SO with 1 game played.

Brandon Ford 3* (all services) 3rd year SO with 1 game played.

Justin Morgan 3* (all services) 3rd year SO – DNP

Jerry Drake  4* ESPN (3* others) 2nd year FR – Red Shirt

Carter Warren 4* ESPN (3* others) 2nd year FR – Red Shirt

Now, I believe HC Narduzzi looked at this group and it was obvious Pitt needed more experience.  Thus, he went the JUCO and grad transfer route –

Stefano Millin 2* (all services) 5th year SR with 33 starts at Kent State.

Chase Brown 3* (all services) JUCO w/21 starts at Lackawanna JC with a 40 time of 4.76.

Devon Davis 3* 247Sports (no * others) JUCO with 20 starts at Lackawanna JC.

The key is about getting the best five on the field at the same time and playing together.

For now, that means rsSR transfer Millin at left tackle, rsJR Herndon at left guard, RS SO Morrissey at center, rsSR Bookser at right guard and JR Brown at right tackle. For Brown, it’s a position change but a familiar one. He started nine games at guard last year and 12 at tackle in 2016.

The tentative starting offensive line has a combined 72 career D1 starts.  Brown has 21 JUCO starts, but I gave him a big fat zero for D1.

Depth and experience at offensive line is one of Pitt’s two biggest areas of concern (along with safety, IMO) entering spring practice.

In 2017, Pitt’s OLine was ranked #14 at the start of the season by Athlon Sports, just one spot ahead of Wisconsin at #15.  The nits were ranked # 27.  Oklahoma, Alabama, Clemson and Auburn were #1 through 4. Georgia was not ranked in the top 50.

My opinion is the 2017 OL underperformed.  Brian O’Neill shifted from RT to LT while rehabbing a shoulder injury and never showed the star power he possessed in 2016.  Alex Officer also changed positions from C to LG and seemed to take a step backwards in his development.  Jaryd Jones-Smith returned from an injury that nagged him the prior 2 years and he struggled to be effective most of the season.

There is no doubt the Panthers have a need for experience on the offensive line in 2018, especially at tackle, where 2017 starters Brandon Hodges (graduation), Jones-Smith (graduation) and O’Neill (NFL Combine fame) have all departed.

Left guard Officer also graduated, leaving Pitt with just two returning starters in 2018, with right guard Bookser and center Morrissey. Bookser has some positional versatility, having played right tackle and center in the past, but grad transfer Millin brings something Pitt didn’t have on the current roster in an experienced left tackle.

Playing together for some time usually helps the OL play. Unfortunately, Pitt won’t have that scenario going into next season. A major job ahead for the new coach IMHO.” – comment posted by jrnpitt

Enter new OLine coach Dave Borbely, who has more than three decades of experience coaching the OL at the collegiate level. He owns 37 years of experience overall, including tenures at ND, Colorado, Virginia, Louisville, Stanford and, most recently, Maryland.

Coach Borbely has worked with Pitt OC Shawn Watson at two prior stops. They most recently served together on Charlie Strong’s staff at Louisville during the 2012 and 2013 seasons, with the Cardinals achieving a combined 23-3 record, finishing in the nation’s top 15 both years.

Louisville’s 2012 team went 11-2, won the Big East championship and rolled past No. 3 Florida, 33-23 in the Sugar Bowl, to finish 13th in the final polls. In 2013, Louisville’s offense averaged 460.8 yards per contest en route to a 12-1 mark and No. 15 final ranking. The Cardinals capped that season with a 36-9 drubbing of Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

Coach Borbely and OC Watson also worked together at Colorado. During Borbely’s four-year tenure (2002-05) there the Buffaloes won three Big 12 North titles.

Borbely’s 1st major-college appointment came as a grad assistant at Tennessee (1984-85) under Johnny Majors, the legendary former Pitt head coach.

Better, about the same, or worse than 2017?  I’m going to say better because of one important point – talent-wise this group is about the same, but HC Narduzzi knows that the juggling of the OL that former coach Peterson did last year was costly.  Borberly will be instructed to assemble the five best and stick with them unless injuries disrupt their chemistry.  That consistency will make this group better.

My Two-Deep looks lyke this:

LT Stefano Millin RS SR/GT / Jerry Drake Jr RS FR

LG Mike Herndon RS SR / Devon Davis JR TR

C  Jimmy Morrissey RS SO / Connor Dintino RS SR

RG Alex Bookser RS SR / Carter Warren RS FR

RT Chase Brown RS JR TR / Bryce Hargrove RS SO

These five starters need to eat, drink and NOT sleep together beginning now, to develop a good chemistry.  And the four not named Alex need to mandate a 2 drink limit for Bookser.

The right side of the OL will be the run strength side and the left side will protect La Pickett when he throws bullets to his numerous weapons of choice – Ra Ra Lopes, Mo Ffrench, Tre Tipton, Rueben Flowers, Aaron Mathews, Shockey Jacque-Louis, Gronk Reeves, Chris Clark, George Aston, Qadree Ollison and the four RB’s carrying 4* ratings.

This Pitt offense has plenty of talent, IMO.  The key to 2018 will be an above average offensive line.  These guys need to be workout animals and get into the best shape of their collective lives.  Because when the 4th quarter starts these guys need to be pancaking the gassed opponents and allowing the RB’s to run wild.

The Pursuit – clearly defined by HC Narduzzi, executed by his players and misunderstood (if not altogether unknown) by most Pitt fans.

Note: Here are the two-deep listings for the opener against YSU last season (left) and then the two-deep in the last game against Miami (right):

 

YSU OLsMiami OLs

 

 

 

101 thoughts on “POV’s Take: Spring Drills – Offensive Lineman

  1. Well we would hope a OL coach with the vast experience of Ming the Merciless would be able to work his
    wonders on this group of large individuals.

    Nice article EE…..would you like a job replacing say….Jerry What’s his Name at the Trib.

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    1. Hargrove was my next player in. He is athletic for a big man, as he was a very decorated basketball player at the HS level in Ohio and he was recruited to be a DT/DE (mixed rating amongst the services).

      But instead I errored on the side of experience. Hargrove only played in one game in the three years he’s been at Pitt. And by not getting on the field with last year’s jumbled bunch, he fell onto the cutting table.

      I found this nugget in my research from Football Outsider, but could not fit it into the article –

      Out of 9 categories of measure (really, there are actual OL measurements) Pitt’s average ranking was 79 out of 131 teams. Our best was a # 31 ranking and our worst was # 112.

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      1. Yea i think i read somewhere, where Hargrove didn’t even start playing football till his junior/senior year in HS. I guess he thought basketball would be his ticket. So he might be a late developer.

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  2. Very well done EE. The manufacturing plant must be running well giving you the time you put into this writeup. With Millin not coming in until this summer that will hurt any continuity in the line that might begin to be established in the spring. Does Chase Brown actually run a 4.78 in the 40? If so that actually beats the best time O’Neil’s 4.8 best time at the NFL combo this past week.

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  3. Great job EE … and I agree with your projected starters and backups. Of course, we have never seen most of these players perform so it is pretty much speculation.

    There is little reason to think this OL will be anything more than functional at best. And it should be the main reason why the team cannot be expected to vie for a Coastal title (but you never know.)

    We can only hope that the games will follow the pattern of the last 2 games of 2017 (against 2 ranked teams) …. a pretty good defense and minimal mistakes and a few key plays from the offense.

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  4. EE, good write up, well thought out. Agree a lot of speculation is necessary due the nature of the players, however because last year’s OL roster was botched, I feel we stand a decent chance to improve. My biggest concern is actually the center position, I hope either Morrissey makes a huge jump in play or someone else grabs the spot.

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    1. The one JUCO transfer from Lackawanna, Devon Davis started at center. He also started at guard.

      I kept Morrissey and Bookser in their starting positions from the end of 2017 so that there was a stable foundation to build upon.

      The center position will have heavy competition with five potential candidates IMO and maybe more. Morrissey, Dintino, Bookser, Drexel and Davis.

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  5. One guy I would consider for the 2-deep is Gabe Huoy rsFr. I know he had a better offer sheet than Brandon Ford, a fellow USC alum who he followed to Pitt. I’m not expecting anything big from him but believe he deserves mention

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  6. Leave Herndon at defensive tackle. That is where he has played his best football at Pitt.

    Best case is Millin and Brown lock down the tackle spots and left guard is the real position to watch. I’d prefer one of the younger guys hammering down that spot for the next three seasons. Owen Drexel pushing Morrisey is something I hope transpires in the spring, too.

    Too bad it doesn’t seem to be in the cards for Pilato at left tackle. One of Chryst’s last O-line recruits.

    Warren and Drake are the two kids to keep an eye on as there has been so much written about them since committing to Pitt. Now after some time in the weight room they have a chance to lock down a spot on the line.

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  7. Narduzzi already had Millin penciled in at LT when he agreed to come to Pitt. With the new coach things may change but Narduzzi has a way of almost guaranteeing any graduate transfer the first opportunity to fail whether or not a more talented option is available.

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  8. Oscar day movie trivia: Zyzzyx Road (2006) which starred Leo Grillo, Katharine Heigl and Tom Sizemore with a $1.2M budget, was the lowest grossing movie of all time … $30.

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    1. I used to pass that exit when going to Vegas from San Diego.

      Amazing that movie was made and I can’t get any studio to buy my Knute Rockne screenplay.

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  9. RICK, great write- up. The hardest task for this OL to accomplish going into the fall season will be holding Bookser to a “2 drink” limit…. kidding.

    So many questions in this group as we expected. Talent wasn’t there last year as we started a walk on freshman st center and nobody could step up and beat out an obese slow A Officer but the group played better in the last 1/3 of the season.

    I like Morrisey at center.. no ball snapped over the QBs head and he probabley is calling assignments for the OL so he must be smart. Drank a couple of beers with his Mom and Dad in Atlanta last year- great people. Thought Jimmy was smallish but his Dad looked to be 5’10” or shorter..

    Read somewhere the the Golden Flash transfer had a great game blocking against Clemson.. plan on looking at him in that game…

    It should be an interesting year in the OL… Ming should be in full Ming costume on game day. Recruits would love it!

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  10. You know it’s great to have 4 star and 5 star guys for the O-Line, but it’s not necessary to have a good to very good offense. I look at Texas Tech, they have a bunch of 3 star and lower O-linemen. They always can put up great numbers on offense. For example last year, though they were only 6-6 (6-7 with a bowl loss), they put up 34.3 ppg (23rd highest scoring offense in the nation).

    Year before they put up 43.7 ppg (5th in the nation)

    You need more proof you don’t need 4 and 5 star kids on your O-line to score points.

    2015 – 45.1 ppg (2nd in the nation)
    2014 – 30.5 ppg
    2013 – 35.8 ppg
    2012 – 37.5 ppg
    2011 – 33.8 ppg
    2010 – 33.1 ppg (23rd in nation)
    2009 – 37 ppg ( 7th in nation)

    If you have an innovative OC, who uses whatever strengths you have and negates the negatives,
    you can move the ball and score lots of points.

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    1. Can we please stop comparing Pitt to other schools who get 3-star recruits and have success like Texas Tech or Wisconsin… because we’re Pitt we don’t have the same programs, coaching staffs and we don’t have the same recruiting areas. It’s a exercise in futility in my opinion.

      Much depends on how good your OL coach is at teaching the OL over their first two years for their future success…hench HCPC’s OL recruits playing so well after being coached by Joe Huber, one of the best in the nation.

      Sadly he was followed by the newly departed Jon Peterson who wasn’t very a good OL coach. This is what makes me and other fans worried about the OL this year.

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      1. Isn’t comparison exactly what we do here on the POV? Your point t is well taken Reed, but if the idea presented with such comparisons is what could be, not necessarily what will be, I see no harm in looking at player units with similar star ratings. Let the readers draw their own conclusions, IMHO. And Ming the Merciless has coached at some of the higher profile FB schools in the past.

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      2. Who else are we to compare to? Surely not the purebreds. Possibly other Coastal teams? But they mostly have their own stadiums and don’t compete with NFL teams.

        Everyone has its own .unique features as Reed suggests … so maybe the comparison is to past Pitt teams …. but looking at the past 25 years or so, the bar is not too high

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  11. Btw I didn’t want to overkill it, but you can go back all the way to 2001 season with the Red Raiders and
    that is additional 8 years of what i posted above…2001 they avg’d 33.5 ppg.
    2002 – 38.4 ppg
    2003 – 42.5 ppg
    etc
    etc

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  12. It’s not uncommon for Texas Tech QB’s to complete 70% of their passes, which is pretty incredible.

    And they just plug them in for a couple years and then it’s another one.

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  13. Their 1st year QB last year had 33 TD’s and only 10 picks while throwing for 4000 yards at a 67% completion ratio.

    The year before Patrick Mahomes threw 41 TD passes and only 10 picks for 5000 yards at 66%.

    We’re in the dark ages of football, get me some TT offensive coaches.

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  14. Before anyone says ……oh they can’t beat a good defense.

    2009

    Bowl Game: Won Alamo Bowl 41-31 versus Michigan State (nard dog’s defense)

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  15. This is the most interested I’ve been in an offense in many years. That’s because of the qb. We haven’t had a kid with this skill set in forever. Now, what we will do with it is the question. With this Oline I can’t see a pound and grind offense, and certainly not a TT type spread. But-slants, routes for the t end, and maybe wheel routes to backs. Keep them off balance and keep Kenny upright. If he is half as durable as McSorley I’d be thrilled. The use of the Oline will be interesting, but if the Duzz wants that Woody Hayes offense we are screwed.
    I actually think this team sets up for a Northwestern type offense with the personnel we have. Not top shelf talent, but the type of offense that can give teams fits if the sceme is right.

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  16. For future writers: use Rivals.com for recruit star ratings for consistency on here please. If you want to mention another do it separately…but I’d suggest dropping ESPN’s ratings altogether as they are the joke of the industry.

    They had Mark Myers as a 4*, 11th ranked HS QB when the others had him at 3* and 2* and ranked 32nd and 101st or so.

    Rivals is by far the most accurate.

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  17. A pro style offense is a different animal.

    The O-line will be the key to success or lack thereof this year.

    I am not as positive about it as EE, great article by the way.

    Unless some of the young guys are good enough to beat out these transfers,

    I see this team getting stuffed at the line and a lot of sacks and hurries.

    We need some of these redshirt sophs to be ready like O’Neil was.

    P-5 football is a big step up from Kent St and JUCO ball, so no guarantee

    that these guys can make that step.

    Last year we counted on Max, Hendrix and Clark all 4-5 star guys and look what happened.

    Transfers required to patch up a weak o-line is a real problem. Especially against the level of

    talented d-lines we face this year.

    I’d say it is a good thing that Pickett can run.

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  18. Well done EE and thanks. I honestly think that PITT’s o-line is in the midst of a nice but slow turn around. I don’t agree that PITT has not recruited well in this area. It hasn’t been lights out but they seem to be well enough stocked with good young players that already have some real good size.

    I would say generally speaking that high school o-lineman are just bigger then most other kids and tend to dominate at that level. Upon arriving at a P-5 school or such it may take some time to build their bodies and minds up to that kind of level to be effective for the team. Morrissey is a complete aberration of this though. Dintino is known for being as strong as a horse so it was very strange when he couldn’t beat out JM. I think that shows that the center on an o-line is the mental cog of the unit.

    Gosh knows who will be the 5 that step up and makeup the starting group? I do agree with those that say that it’s more about technique, cohesiveness and one of my favorite words, continuity. Yet that word is a problem when it comes to players, they leave every 4 years or so. That’s why I think it’s important to keep the coaching staff together for as long as they are a benefit to have around.

    Having said that, it was time for the changes that occurred this past off season.

    Again, I like the past two recruiting classes for the o-line but it may be a while before we see the newbies? This years unit can be anywhere between fairly good to a total mess. I hope Borbely can identify the top 7 or 8 players and get them the most reps early on so they can develop that chemistry together no matter of what year of school they are officially designated to… ike

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  19. In PN’s first three recruiting classes he had all 3* star OL recruits except for one 2*. Of those 3* kids only two were ranked above 5.5 and one of those has already left the program.

    Our starting Center had to be filled by a walk on in ’17. That wasn’t because he was too good not to play but because we had no more talented guys to play there.

    Our OL Transfers:

    Millen was a 5.2 2* recruit

    Brown was unranked out of HS

    Davis was unranked out of both HS and JUCO

    Honestly, this low talent level combined with what I believe was poor coaching by Peterson…and who knows what Borbly might do here, scares the crap out of me… Especially because PN’s track record with his transfers, save Peterman, is not good.

    It all revolves around the OL and if they don’t really play well we see the same crap offensive production or worse.

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    1. The lowest ranked of the PN’s DL recruits is Rashad Weaver — Rivals 2* (5.4) … yet as a rsFR this past season, he played as well if not better than his 3 and 4 star linemates. Which may lend credence to what many here has suggested …. that a FL 2-star equals a 3-star from many other areas.

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  20. Pitt could be OK this year. I do think Narduzzi needed to change the OL track record here. Pitt has numbers at least which is far better than the prior two head coaches. If Warren, Drake and Hargrove are on the second deep unit, that is pretty good. Recruiting was better in Kradel and Zubovic with Brown being the JC transfer who has good athletic skill. It will take another very good recruiting class to change the dynamic here. the grad transfer is held in pretty high regard by Narduzzi for this year so if he can come through, that is a big help. .

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  21. Where are the rest of Bookers offensive line recruiting class? In a perfect world PITT’s O-line coming into this next season should have 3 or 4 players from that class.

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      1. Right – and we could use Grimm now… also Alex Paulina was a 5.7 3* kid who is gone also.

        Personally I’d love to see Brandon Ford get into the lineup because his parents are so very nice. i sat and talked with his dad Richard for about two hours at the bar of the Pitt hotel in NYC the evening before the Pinstripe Bowl. he, Scott Orndoff’s dad and myself threw back more than a few that evening. Orndoff’s dad is one of the funniest parents I’ve met while doing this.

        Penn State really pushed for Ford but he was a “Pitt Kid” since childhood.

        I tell you Erie – this really worries me way more than another other unit on the team.

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        1. On paper no question about it the OL should be a major weakness which is frightening because the OL is the most important unit fir any college team. But the game is played on a field and not paper so all we can do is complain, worry and wait and see. As almost everyone says, this is PN’s team. I make that statement with an asterisk which is that college football is IMHO all about a team’s seniors and this team’s seniors are short in numbers and quality because PN came on board in January giving him very little time to recruit.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Grimm and Conor Hayes were the two linemen. Proof bringing in just three linemen in a class is a bad idea. Should be four and five in every class.

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  22. For BBFans:

    First Round

    Tuesday, March 6

    No. 12 Boston College vs. No. 13 Georgia Tech, Noon, ESPN2
    No. 10 Syracuse vs. No. 15 Pittsburgh, 2:30 p.m., ESPNU
    No. 11 Notre Dame vs. No. 14 Wake Forest, 7 p.m., ESPN2

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  23. Last year’s OLine play was astoundingly disappointing. If we had adequate play we would have won 3 more games. It is scary what this year could be. Just have to hope the coaching change will be beneficial.

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  24. Yes EE, Grimm was one player PITT lost to attrition.

    Yes, I thought PITT played ND as well? Shall I even dare to say PITT will beat cuse? That should wake up the crowd.

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  25. Didn’t somebody post on this site or maybe another that two offensive lineman that made the all NFL team came out of HS unrated?

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  26. Pittman2003…if QH doesn’t lay the ball down on the Carolina 1 yard line and Jester doesn’t turn around and look for defenders vs VT we have 2 more wins and a bowl bid…possibly another win as they were starting to get their act together.

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      1. No one said it was the end of the world Ike – but damn, a 5-7 season is crap and you know it. When, and if, we turn it around to 7+ wins next season you can minimize 2017 or call it an aberration but until then – if it walks like a duck…

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  27. Again, up a few comments, Bernie makes a great point. When a football game is played there is no doubt that a win or loss is the most important aspect of the game itself. …. but isn’t it what and how the game transpires that is almost just as important?

    Example, can we say that if the PITT BB team only did this or that, it would have changed the perception of the entire season? (other than the little things, like outscoring the opponent) I say no, it really wasn’t the injury to Luther or a few fatal mistakes it was born from ineptitude all the way around.

    I get the difference between 13 and 30 games but the point still stands. The sky isn’t falling because of 5 win season, although it did cause a bleak to moderate forecast. It still boggles my mind somewhat that after how Narduzzi started his head coaching career at PITT and how bowl game losses stick in the crawl of so many. .. and yes I would have loved for PITT to win both bowl games and I do think they are important. … but not the sky is falling important.. ike

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  28. 5 wins was disappointing. i’m glad they didnt play in a crappy bowl. recruits dont care about bowl games in Detroit picked up by espn2.

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  29. Excellent piece. I’ve really enjoyed these positional overviews. This isn’t hardcore football analysis, but one observation from looking at the player bios for the linebackers and offensive lineman is that Pitt has a high percentage of players from prep schools and relatively affluent suburban districts. It’s common these days for top athletes to go private, but even allowing for that, it seemed that Pitt’s numbers in this area stood out. About 3/4 of their LB and OL went to prep schools or Upper St. Clair, Montclair, NJ type publics. Curious if this is a coincidence or part of their recruiting strategy and how Pitt compares to other schools in this area. Regardless of their pedigree, let’s hope the O-line and linebackers meet (or exceed) their potential, because, on paper, these two position groups give the greatest reason for concern. They also offer the most room for growth, however. H2P

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    1. interesting observation. Based on my knowledge, a players readiness depends much on coaching and practice. Not sure if these prep schools have better coaches, training programs, nutrition, more time to practice, etc. I would think these schools would have more resources. Bottom line is Pitt needs to develop better pipelines into the best schools. That takes time and money.

      Liked by 1 person

  30. Excellent job EE.

    But I will not be surprised one bit if Bookser ends up at one of the tackle spots. Just seems unlikely to me that you could bring in two OT starters.

    I always worry about the OT being quick enough to handle the speed rushers. I think Bookser could be okay there. And I think it would be easier for one of the new guys, or the young guys, to play guard.

    And we really need the OL to get into better shape – seemed sluggish last season. We need meaner and leaner, IMHO.

    Go Pitt.

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  31. Ike – if you are looking at “…what might have been wins” the flip the script and count YSU as an almost loss.

    Duke led us 17-10 going into the 4th quarter, if Hall doesn’t get that 92 yarder at the start of that quarter then we probably would have lost that game – we won that game on one single play. Duke outplayed us in that game IMO –

    It goes both ways – the bold fact is that it was a 5-7 win season and except for a single game at the end of the year it was pretty much poorly football and a disappointment (to everyone but you).

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    1. what you just wrote made a lot sense. After 2 straight 8 win seasons, a 5 win season was indeed a disappointment … and even if Pitt pulls that game out vs VT, it was a disappointment.

      Our sights were definitely higher than a few years ago

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  32. Reed, the difference between our two scenarios is….. PITT’s wounds were self inflicted. As far as the Duke win goes it was Hall who took the ball for two long TD’s, nothing that Duke did. YSU never had a lead in that game. In fact they had to overcome a 21 point deficit to make the game close.

    I understand that there are many things in a game that determined the outcome and the point was, Stupid breakdowns can be fixed… ike

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  33. Big B,, BTW,, I was a published author even before my two recent PittPOV pieces. In the mid 90s, I wrote an article published in Contract Management entitled “Systems Contracting Feasibility for R&D Facilities”

    I assume my Pulitzer was lost by UPS

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  34. Never like the preppy Phil until I found out he was involved with insider trade issues. That brought him back down to earth.. I’m more of a fan of Miguel Angel Jiménez. I really like Payne Stewart though. Rocco from Greensburg..

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    1. Played one hole of golf w Payne in the Memphis Pro Am in 88. My company sponsored the hole. Nicest guy in the world…God rest his soul. My hands still shake at the thought of the experience. Still…Phil is and always has been my fave.

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  35. Here’s my Phil story (maybe). In 08 during US Open at Oakmont, I was living in Highland Park. And I took a stroll in the early evening in Friday after work. At about 7 PM I was leaving the park (reservoir) area near where the old bigger houses were and I was passing a guy who just got out of his SUV, and was opening up the rear door. He smiled at me and said HI as I strolled past …. and I thought nothing about it. Then, it dawned on me that he looked familiar … and then I thought it may have been Phil … he looked a bit thinner than he did on TV.

    I asked around and found out that many of the pros rented houses for the week in the general area but I could not confirm it was Phil. And I wasn’t about to go around that neighborhood knocking on doors. So until proven differently, that was him

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  36. Disclosure: This comment is not presented in any way to cause a stir or buck any decisions made.

    Let’s talk about the star rating and scouting services. As we all know that Rivals is to be used as the standard on the POV. Truth? I’m very OK with that. I’m just thinking we could go with Rivals and if it strikes a poster writing a comment to add the fact that another recruiting service had the recruit in question rated higher or even lower then that should be fine.

    Another truth of mine is that too much is made of star rankings in the first place… and no that’s not the first time you read those words from the tips of my fingers. Now I know that the higher a player is rated the better chances a team would have a much better chance of a winning record. Got it! …..

    I’m talking a player that is .1 point from a higher or lower star ranking while at the same time is actually in the next category on another recruiting service. I think that bares a mention as the entire recruiting evaluation is subjective as any business in the business.

    Let’s take Jerry Drake jr, This young man was a high 3* by rivals and a 4* elsewhere. So what makes this player lesser than a player rated 4* by rivals and 3* by other services? << There is none… Drake was and is a big recruit.

    I get that Rivals should be the base we all use, yet I don’t see the harm in including other data to support a thought and expression.

    Now don’t going get all fired up commander. I happen to think you’re a low 5* but others may think you’re more like a high 4*

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    1. Rivals.com on here please.

      I never said you couldn’t make mention of another recruiting site, but I prefer that we use Rivals as a baseline and talk about Rivals’ stars awarded first off because aren’t we always comparing players? If we are comparing Joe to Jim then use a single recruiting site.

      if we’re going to do that let’s use one system that covers everybody and then if you want to say he’s also rated 4* on ESPN or whatever then do so but I believe that is cherry picking and muddies the waters.

      But Ike, if you do that, then you should also mention the other recruiting sites with lower star ratings for the player you are talking about…and I haven’t seen one Pitt fan do that but me. Everyone wants to see Pitt recruits with the most stars so they shop the websites, and that isn’t realistic and honestly leads to more disappointment in the long run.

      Again…Mark Myers is a great point. Three widely varying appraisals. 4* to 3* to 2* and from 11th rated QB nationally to 32nd to 103rd….and yes Rivals did have him as the 4*. Swung and missed on that.

      As I said, I have been doing this in-depth since 2006 and feel Rivals.com has the best handle on Pitt football and it’s recruits by a large margin.

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  37. Trenches. Gotta win the trenches. Four star running backs with no star OL will get you some yards, but not great yardage. I didn’t like Morrisey at Center last year. Most teams have “A” (singular) walk-on on their team. Last year, we had 3 starters (Idowu, Aston, and Morrisey). That’s nearly 14 % of your offense and defense.

    If those are recruiting misses, they need addressed. I’ve carried this torch for well over a year that when the new recruits can’t beat out the juniors or seniors, we need to get better recruits.

    OSU is going to lose a solid MLB as a graduate transfer (Booker) in a few weeks. Pitt should be all over him. He is an example of what I just wrote. A 5 star sophomore pushed him out. It doesn’t mean he is bad (he’s not), just means the recruiting is working the way it should. The new, push the old to higher compete levels or get passed up.

    Our OL needs an infusion.

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  38. Huff

    I think the exact opposite. LOL.

    Especially for the second tier teams like Pitt. Pitt needs a team of 3rd to 5th year guys, experienced, program developed kids to be competitive. Pitt isn’t recruiting more than a couple four stars per year. Therefore, they need to wait for many of the three stars to grow in the program.

    In theory, Pitt makes a run at an ACC championship every so often. That is, when the stars align and the team has many upper class-man starting. Sure, a four star should play pretty early.

    That holds for Pitt basketball also.

    I agree on the walk-ons. That shows misses in recruiting. Also, it is ridiculous that Pitt had no back up for Ashton when he went down. If you are going to have a FB that is a big part of the offense, he should have a quality backup. That is another subject.

    I am not big on the grad transfers. I think it is useful to fill in where you lack depth. That is why I think Pitt got Millin from Kent State. Sure, he will have a chance to start, I doubt he does.

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  39. I hope this new OL coach likes and produces smash mouth lineman. Nothing like watching a team that you KNOW will make one yard on third and one, fourth and one.

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  40. NRS – Not sure we disagree on this.

    The grad transfer can yield a good result, sometimes. They need to be clear fits at a position of need due to injuries/unplanned attrition, etc. For my example above, The DC was a LB coach and is familiar with the LB from OSU, who would be considered a stud at Pitt. If it’s a guaranteed upgrade in position, I am for the grad transfer if when you weigh the risk vs. reward, the reward, trumps. If Pitt doesn’t get Booker, I see him going to Cincy and…..then getting drafted with a good performance.

    I am not for picking up a 2 star grad transfer from a place like rutgers or kent st. If they were that good, they would be going to the combine. Different scenario with usc qb last year. Browne got passed up dy Darnish (a 5star vs. a 4 star). Not a bad risk to take last year. Same with qb this yr. He was a former 5star. Nothing lost by bringing him in at this juncture.

    Flanagan took valuable snaps from Sear last year. To me that was a waste of his year, especially when it was determined that we weren’t going to have a great record. Granted, it gave Clarke some competition, but at the end of the day, a loss at the TE position with regard to practice and play reps.

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