I know fans always want to look at the Spring Drills and then the Spring Game and, say that it is only the spring and these things don’t matter, especially if things go sideways.  But I’m not sure that is exactly true.

So I decided to look at the box score stats of the last three Spring Games and see what sort of comparisons there were between them… and if there was any correlation between what we saw in the spring then again in the regular season.

Now – admittedly these are broad comparisons but I think there might be a little something peeking through here.

For the most part the 2016 and 2017 seasons, and to some extent now, are good periods to look at what we had as a team in the spring.  In 2016 we had a record-setting offense with a nice 8-5 record at the end of it to show some real football success over that year.

As we know last season was a different story because we dropped our offensive production drastically – from our great high of 2016’s 40.9 ppg (but giving up 35.2 ppg)  to ’17’s 23.9 ppg (and giving up a better 26.6).  That drop of 17 ppg was horrendous and put us in the 101st spot nationally in scoring offense.

So let’s look at the Spring Games comparisons in the major offensive categories from 2016 through today’s 2018’s games.

SG Combined

I have been writing since last season ended that we are going to have some major troubles on offense even with Kenny Pickett becoming a full-time starting QB because we are patch-working and cobbling together an Offensive Line that will not be as talented as our mediocre at best one last season.

Yes, it is spring and things do change over the summer then into the fall camps, but looking back over the last two seasons  and what we saw play out from the spring to the actual season I do wonder if today’s putrid effort by the combined offensive lines isn’t a harbinger of things to come.

Here are the last three Spring Game box scores. This one is today’s…

SG 18.1 stats

 

 

Now let’s look at what we did this time last year prior to our losing 5-7 season:

SG Stats 17

And because it costs nothing to post stuff on here let’s look at our Spring Game stats before our 8-5 2016 season:

SG Stats 16

Here is a review of the scrimmage by MajorMajors

Spring Game Thoughts…

I always get fired up for the Pitt Panther spring football game – until about 10 minutes into the game when I remember how boring they normally are. This year was no exception for me, but it’s still fun to get a glimpse of our Panthers.

Here are some disappointments and some positives that I took away.

Disappointments:

— The Oline. This was obvious to any observer. Our Olinemen look big, but not exactly fit, IMHO. They might be too big. Too big to move well. Once the game started, this became the reality. The defense was in the backfield all day long.

The young offensive tackles were beaten badly by the defensive ends. Houy, Warren, etc., they are young and inexperienced, and they looked it. Our new offensive line coach may be having nightmares for a while.

First thing I would do is have each offensive lineman lose 10 to 20 pounds. Think lean-and- mean versus large-and- slow.

— Charles Reeves. The guy sure looks impressive. Big butt and thighs – like if he gets rolling, who’s going to tackle this guy. But I just didn’t see much aggressiveness out of him. Made a couple of blocks and missed one that I saw. But when he went out for a pass, he looked kind of slow and just ran parallel to the line of scrimmage the couple of times I watched him. I had been hoping for much more. He is young, but I’m guessing he needs significantly more time before he’s going to contribute in any significance way.

— Wide receivers, in general. We need someone to step up and I have been hoping that guy would be Michael Smith. My take after today was that he may be good eventually, but not yet. Since I have high hopes for him I sought him out during warm-ups. When I watched him run down for his first pass, the ball clanged off his hands. Not the impression I was looking for. During the game he did catch one long, underthrown pass. But I watched him on a couple of plays and he just didn’t seem to have the “quicks” I was hoping for. Like Reeves, Smith seems to be a ways off from being a contributor, IMHO.

Maurice Ffrench didn’t have a very good game either. Caught some balls and made a couple of runs, but he dropped one pass that was right on the money and he muffed a punt. He’s another player I have high hopes for – hope he just had a bad day, because we’ve seen him make some plays.

It should be noted that we did have several wide receivers sitting out – like Ra Ra Lopes, Aaron Mathews, Tre Tipton and Dontavius Butler-Jenkins.

Running backs. My disappointment continues to be that they just aren’t elusive. In their “defense,” they had no room to run in the spring game.

Punter. Based on this game, our new punter is going to make us really miss our old punter. He was inconsistent. He hit a couple decent ones, but most had little hang time and not great distance. Lots of work to do over the summer.

Positives:

Well, the above is kind of depressing for Pitt fans, but there were some positives, IMHO.

— Kenny Pickett has a lot of mustard on his passes. The ball gets there in a hurry. So much so that on the first few passes of the game, he hit guys in the hands and the ball went right through their hands. Maybe Kenny had some adrenalin pumping.

And you could tell that Kenny was itching to run on some of the plays that were ruled as sacks, and it looked like he may well have eluded the rush on a couple of them.

— Rashad Weaver looks like a player. He was disruptive all day. After the game I stood next to him on the field. He definitely looks like a player.

— Q. Wirginis looks like a player. He played with great energy and was moving really well. Was in the backfield making plays, just like you want to see from your middle linebacker.

— The speed and aggressiveness of the defense. They were cranked up and brought big-time pressure on almost every play. The stats for the offense are poor because there was no room to run and there was no time to pass.

57 thoughts on “2018 Pitt Spring Game Recap

  1. Well, I mostly agree, but with the mix of starters and back-ups on the offensive line isn’t going to favor the offense. The running plays were straight up the gut with a couple of sweeps. I thought Nunn had a good game also. Reeves looks really slow and dropped one that was right in his hands. Interesting that they split him out wide. Patrick Jones also had a good game.

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      1. Chryst enjoyed recruiting against sanctioned ped st. Wouldn’t have had nearly the talent. I like chryst but this is a fact.

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        1. Chryst couldn’t have had it easier recruiting wise. Pedo St was leveled by scandal. The only reason Dorian Johnson came to Pitt was sanctions. Chryst had the whole state of PA to recruit with little competition. We saw (and commented) how great Potato Sack was as a recruiter with his mustard stained ill fitting sweatshirt on. Remember?????

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  2. Couple other comments on spring game:

    –Awesome job, as usual, by Fran Lokar with the tailgate – and with the golf outing the day before. Along with an awesome job by JoeL on the grill at the tailgate.

    –Was encouraged by the play of Ruben Flowers. He seemed to be much more confident than we’ve seen him in the past. Made some catches like he’s matured some and may be ready to contribute. Kenny Pickett seemed to look for him and completed some nice passes to him. Course they tried the stop-route along the sideline once to many times and Dane Jackson was waiting in the weeds for the pick-six.

    –The Mack kid looks like he will contribute when he’s eligible. Made one really outstanding play where he was well covered, but he made a nice adjustment to cut back inside the DB and make the reception.

    –I went down on the field after the game and it was nice to see the players being so friendly with the fans — and especially the kids — as they signed autographs and posed for photos…

    –Coach Duzz was signing autographs too. He looks like he’s lost some weight – face looks thinner. I suspect it’s because he’s been worrying so much about the offensive line… 😉

    –Cool to see Avonte Maddox back. He was interviewed on the sideline; later he interviewed a couple of other players, maybe Whitehead and Jared Jones-Smith… Also great to see Walt Harris and Johnny Majors interviewed on the big board. Johnny was fired up and it sounded to me like he threw in an “Alleghenee genac genac!”

    Go Pitt.

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  3. Nice summary Major…you and Erie (previous thread) provided many good points. Coach Majors was indeed fired up. Remember his catchphrase was “Pride and Enthusiasm”…My positive was hanging out with the POV gang and a special thanks to Joel for taking the time to prepare and grill for the group. Don’t forget to send Reed photos that were taken. Cant recall who took the “team photo” but please pass along. I golfed with a few guys the day before and would like to travel around the area and continue to do the same with anyone that wants to play. Let me know…Erie, you listening? haha.

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    1. Played golf today in Central PA (pedo land) – 44 degrees, windy and a cool drizzle.

      PSUx will have to cancel their Spring Game if the weather doesn’t improve.

      Lastrow – Jay91 and I will search for a forth unless you have one to bring with you. I can play most anytime – let me know when you are up for a road trip.

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  4. Thanks Reed for the podcast and thank you M&M for the report from the spring game. As you know I wasn’t there.

    I agree that spring football is very important as it gives the coaches an updated barometer of just where and how the players have progressed over the off season. It also can tell the coaches how to move forward and what are the biggest needs to improve. … but the spring game yesterday did not tell us all that much as the game was tilted too far in one direction. The defense has a lot of depth going into next year that could be spread out to make two teams but the offensive line can hardly constitute a starting lineup.

    Which circle’s us back around to the O-Line. They obviously had a very poor day yesterday as they are not that strong of a unit to begin with. I wasn’t concerned about the format of drafting players beforehand but now it looks like that may have not been HCPN’s greatest brainchild. The O-Line being depleted in the first place and then splitting them up turned out to be disastrous.

    However, would it be to over the top positive to say that at least the defense may have gained some confidence? I guess I’ll just keep that to myself.

    Totally agree with Reed and Narduzzi that the possible transfer rule change will bite PITT in the butt more than it will end up helping them.

    Also the kickoff change? It sucks like the two O-Lines did yesterday. It sounds borderline paranoia and silly at the same time. I don’t like the idea one bit.

    Reed, you should never feel the need to say something you don’t mean, not on your blog or anywhere and you don’t. Straight up is the kind of man you are and why you are appreciated and the POV so popular.

    Maybe the reason Idowu is slightly underestimated by some is that he is a lowly walk-on? sorry, I had that marked down and had to get it in.

    Had a few other thoughts on the spring game but since I wasn’t there I’ll refrain from any conjecturing. ike

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  5. Ming better be….Ming the Miracle Worker. And Houdini ……better be….well Houdini.

    When you O-line is over matched, there is no way you can play straight up pro-set.

    The Spread O is the great equalizer in college football. You don’t need to have a great or even
    good offensive line. Watson should take a visit down to Lubbock and learn it from TT.

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  6. It’s a shame pitt can’t put it all together on both sides of the ball. Generally every yeay it seems we have one side lacking. Last year it was both sides and we saw how that went. Have to just hope the offense gels and stays healthy. I could see them being serviceable by midyear.

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  7. And we finally have a QB who throws the ball with enough zip on it, that he could be quite devastating as a dual threat QB in the Spread.

    If nothing else we will find out, how smart or not Doc Watson is this season.

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  8. I am hopeful the Ol can be OK. Pitt has enough talent to compete in the other areas. TE will be blockers and limited pass receivers. Now the D will be the strength of the team. But with Pickett at QB the offense will not be limited in adjustments each game day. Hall, Ollison and others are good RB’s who year aren’t game breakers but consider both have long runs for TD’s so they can offer some doubles and triples. Lopes, Tipton will provide some solid play at WR. In short the OL is the concern and Narduzzi has his guy to fix what he can this year. ,

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    1. Watson did pretty well when he had Teddy Bridgewater for his QB at Louisville. But my guess is that he may have had a better offensive line to work with when he coached Bridgewater.—–Pitt may be in dire need for another walk on this season to compete with our punter. It appears our Austrailian recruit is very inconsistent with his punts.

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  9. Good podcast as usual Reed…love the Allmans intro also. If you have Large Blue POV shirt I will take one and settle up for the postage when I see you. If not the spread as Emel suggests at least a hybrid with hurry up components. Keep the D off balance, guessing an winded. Of course the big slow O-line I saw yesterday doesn’t fit the bill.

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  10. Quick baseball game at Cost Field in Pittsburgh today. UPitt’s favorite manager won the series rubber match 6-5 over GT.

    The team moves to 19-14 on the season and 8-10 in the ACC. Both records are ahead of six other ACC teams so far this season.

    H2P!

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  11. Reed – enjoyed your podcast today and also MM’s review write-up.

    Pickett did have one long pass attempt yesterday that was intercepted by Dane Jackson and returned for a pick six.

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  12. As someone who generally really likes Narduzzi, something he does that bothers me is falsely buildup players. We saw this with MacVittie after the Pinstripe bowl. He said recently the current Oline is better now in pass protection than last year’s OLine. While that would be amazing, it just doesn’t seem remotely possible after yesterday. He loses credibility with these comments.

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  13. What’s next? I guess the recruiting trail will have the keen eye focused squarely on it. Each day from here on out will only add to more pressure until PITT gets that first verbal.

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  14. Pitt men’s soccer beat the pedos yesterday afternoon 3-2 in the Pitt campus.

    Imagine if we had an on campus stadium – we could have watched a football doubleheader.

    H2P!

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    1. Pitt really should start showcasing this soccer team. Would have been great if they played at Heinz before the Spring game. This soccer team has a legit chance to win the ACC and go far in the playoffs. And Pitt really needs to start raising funds for a lacrosse and hockey team. Pitt could be a dominant player in both.

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  15. Emel,
    You are right about the advantages of the Spread Offense. Unfortunately, the chance of us switching to it I fear are zero to none!

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      1. I’m reading between the lines on that one…

        Reeves has speed from what I saw – he did drop a pass. He was also on the KO team.

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    1. lacrosse is a no brainer for me. Can play on the soccer field. Is a popular sport in the East (and getting more popular each day) and is a good fit for the ACC. Is relatively low cost. Exciting to watch. And women can play it as well.

      If we wait until other sports become good, we’ll never have a team.

      Soccer is trending up fast
      Volleyball and softball are solid and good
      Baseball…needs plenty of work
      Wrestling should be good given the talent in area
      Football may forever be mediocre with the once in a decade 10 win season
      Basketball may never get close to the early Dixon years

      I would agree that Pitt needs a track before a lacrosse team. And when was the last time Pitt put any money into swimming and diving?
      Hockey would do well and act as a counter to the Pedos

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  16. Reed – on the spring-game stats, they didn’t do kickoff or punt returns – they just caught the ball and then whistled it dead.

    Also, if you are thinking that Reeves is the next Brian O’Neil, I think that’s wishful dreamin’. Reeves doesn’t seem to have the nastiness you need on the OLine, and I doubt the foot quickness, but what do I know. I’d just be shocked to see that happen. Carrigan might be a better candidate to move to the OL, IMHO. Carrigan is one big dude at 6’7″ and 285# — spoke to him on the field after the game and that size is not exaggerated. I guess with his height, he might be able to catch some short passes if you get someone 6-feet tall covering him…

    Reeves has potential written all over him – just take a look at the body he has – but from watching him actually play, I suspect he’s going to need another year or two to put it together. Seemed like he wasn’t cutting anything loose on the field. Wouldn’t surprise me if he was rated highly more because of his body than his skill level. There was a play late in the game where Pickett scrambled and rolled out and found Reeves on target near the sideline, and Reese couldn’t hold onto the ball… Drops happen, but I just don’t think we can rely on Reeves to be a contributor this season.

    What puzzles me is why we have two TEs in Reeves and Carrigan who are as big, or bigger, than any of our defensive tackles, except for Jaylen Twyman, who is listed as 6-2 and 310#…

    Looks to me that Tyler Sear will need to be our TE receiving-threat this season. TS looked bigger than he was last season — he’s now listed at 6-4 and 250. In other words, a reasonable size for a TE. 😉

    Go Pitt.

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  17. Spring game is to NCAA football what the preseason is to NFL football…Last season the Cleveland Browns were undefeated in the preseason, how did that project for their season?

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  18. Another thought – maybe we end up seeing George Aston play some TE this season… He can block and he can catch.

    Go Pitt.

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  19. Using the spread in the NFL would bring injuries galore because of the speed. You would need 10 QBs. Less injuries in college.

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  20. Maybe we can think of it this way Frank? … The spring games should be mealiness to us fans,obviously it isn’t but there is always something the coaches can glean from having an almost full contact scrimmage.

    The more I think of the way the two teams were split up the more I feel like the offense was severely handicapped with the lack of quality depth on that side of the ball. I don’t just mean the o-line, who were the WR’s yesterday? Flowers, Mack, Ffrench and Smith were the only ones to catch a pass.

    I think Narduzzi was holding back players and plays for the psu game. What say you? 🙂

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    1. Ike – it was done the exact same way over the last two spring games also and you saw the tabulated results…this years squad was way worse that in Narduzzi’s other years. The fact that is it a scattered OL is one thing yes, but the overall play by the OL this spring – in the other scrimmages also- is sending panic signals out.

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  21. Ffrench is never going to be a consistent receiver. He just doesn’t have the hands. Speed guy on reverses, but he’ll break our hearts relying on him to catch passes. His drop versus Miami was deflating and you can’t have players who deflate the team and the crowd.

    Like what other posters have said: the final scrimmage is the game in the spring and we didn’t hear much except Narduzzi praising the offensive line. Likely just coach speak, but all yesterday told us was having a draft is stupid, but it is exciting for the players.

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    1. On the other hand, I can remember an outstanding catch Ffrench made that reminded me of a Tyler Boyd catch. It was one of those along the sideline where the ball was maybe 4 feet out of bounds when he caught it, but Ffrench kept his feet in as he leaned out and caught the ball before going to the ground.

      Just one catch, but shows the potential. Though I agree that a couple drops are troubling…

      Go Pitt.

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  22. Exactly Ike. If Narduzzi wanted this to be a test of his offense and defense, it would not have been a pickup game. It was a fun practice for the players.

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  23. Players can learn to consistently catch. That takes a lot of practice and then some more practice.

    Hoping these guys get together all summer with the qbs. Would go a long way.

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  24. Attended the Spring Game. Not just the Offensive Line, but the OVERALL Talent Level of Players has noticeably declined compared to recent years.

    Pitt Football Faithful… close your eyes! The Narduzzi Trainwreck is coming right around the corner.

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  25. No doubt the conversion from an offensive team to a defensive team is complete.
    Will be interesting how it plays out in wins and losses.

    Still waiting to see if Capel can land a couple of ACC ready guys.

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  26. Viewing from the stands, Reeves is 300 pounds of muscle, reminded me of Larry Brown of the Steelers.
    Aston lined up at H-back sometimes.
    Deslin Alexander looks big at DE. passes the eye test.
    The punter has adequate leg strength, Adomitis did well as the LS, he and the punter had plenty of attempts.
    Ricky throws a nice pass, his receivers dropped nearly every one he threw.
    Paris Ford looked eager to return a punt but the rules stopped him.
    Anytime a defensive player laid a finger on the QB’s it was called a sack.

    Grizz

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  27. Reed I understand they drafted the same way but with that already weak o-line so depleted it made for bad viewing. Something I’m not so sure Narduzzi cared about Sat? Last year I did think the older o-lineman would have been much better but this year I am in agreement with you that this line is very suspect. I think there is a chance they could come together by Sept but it’s going to take some small miracle to do so.

    Reed did you see my joke comment about Narduzzi holding back the offense and plays for the psu game?

    Larry Brown, former TE moved to tackle. Had something like a 32 inch waist?

    Desline Alexander was an early last year so he should know what he’s doing.

    I realy thought Kirk Chuchumama was going to come in here to PITT and be special.

    ….. but… still think the defense should be much improved. ike

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  28. In case anyone missed it, the “most improved player” awards went to:

    Offense — Guard Conner Dintino

    Defense — Linebacker McKee.

    Go Pitt.

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