Again – here is a follow up on what we projected for last season’s unit productions compared to 2016’s play.  As stated later on we’ll do one for 2017 – 2018 during fall camp when we have a better idea of the starting lineup.

Here is a bit I wrote last June about these positions:

Then again – it all goes back to how well our running backs are handling their end of the offensive equation. Last season our WRs had 89 carries from scrimmage and that worked well but who knows what OC Sean Watson really envisions of his offensive players.

In his last work as an OC Watson in Louisville he didn’t use his WRs to carry the ball hardly at all. In 2011 they had zero carries by a WR, in 2012 one and in 2013 three. Three years running an offense and a total of four WR carries.  Are we sure he’s going to replicate Canada’s offense coming into his first year at Pitt or is he going to do what almost every new OC does when they piss around the perimeter of the practice field to announce it is now theirs to run?

We saw that writ large with Chaney then with Canada… I’ll wait to see what Watson does.

Even so with the returning WRs we have on roster and the fact that we have five with game experience – including the gazelle SR Jester Weah coming back I’ll say it is a …

WRs – UPGRADE

For the TEs:

Now let’s jump on over to the TEs and there we see it is a completely different story and it is a unit I have major concerns with.  Departed SR Scotty Orndoff was a great all-around TE for us. He could block well in pass protection; get to the 2nd level and take out LBs for Conner and Henderson to romp downfield and also he was quick enough to get deeper down the field and block for other ball catchers to help extend their yards after the catch.

Top that off with a sterling reception showing himself and that is one big set of shoes to fill.  Orndoff had 35 receptions for 579 at a 16.5 ypc clip with five TDs last year.  You have to go decades back to find a Pitt TE not named Dorin Dickerson to match what Orndoff did in passing game production.

And really – he did better than All-American Dickerson in some ways in that Dickerson had 49 catches for only 529 yards  at a lesser 10.8 ypc to go with his 10 TDs.  J. P. Holtz didn’t come that close to Orndoff really, nor did Nate Byham…Darrel Strong came nearest with his 2007 year of 29 catches for 338 yards (11.3 ypc) and three TDs.

We also have a transfer TE coming on board in rsSR Mike Flanagan.  He’s been a walk-on then a scholarship player at Rutgers but truth be told – and this is a great thing – his most notable collegiate achievements have been on the academic side.  A three-year Academic All-Big Ten is nothing to sneeze at.  But he has game experience and has caught passes – some for TDs…

We have rsSO Christopher Golightly Clark coming to the town nearest you to play the game of Football – and that spelled with a capital F and that stands for… 

I know I shouldn’t make too much fun of this young man, after all he did get off the train at Penn Station. Whether he knew exactly where he was is another story…

TE – DOWNGRADE

Well, I think I missed on the WRs and was correct on the TEs.  Weah’s regression was unexpected and the lack of consistent QB play hurt all the WRs ability to contribute.  Here are our receiving stats comparison between the two seasons:

2016

Rk Player Rec
Yds Avg TD
1 Jester Weah 36 870 24.2 10
2 Scott Orndoff 35 579 16.5 5
3 Quadree Henderson 26 286 11.0 1
6 Dontez Ford 17 288 16.9 2
7 Tre Tripton 12 142 11.8 1
8 Aaron Mathews 6 51 8.5 0
9 Jaymar Parrish 4 78 19.5 0
10 Rafael Araujo-Lopes 3 36 12.0 0

2017

Rk Player Rec
Yds Avg TD
1 Rafael Araujo-Lopes 43 531 12.3 2
2 Jester Weah 41 698 17.0 4
3 Maurice Ffrench 25 272 10.9 0
5 Quadree Henderson 17 186 10.9 0
6 Matt Flanagan 17 160 9.4 0
8 Aaron Mathews 16 189 11.8 0
9 Chris Clark 16 122 7.6 1
13 Nathan Bossory 1 15 15.0 1
14 Tyler Sear 1 10 10.0 0

So you can see Lopes make a huge jump and Weah, even with five more receptions, pulls in 172 less yards… but more importantly six less TDs.

Again this is the difference between having a QB of Peterman’s quality play a full season and taking almost every snap opposed to the mish-mash QBs and their unconvincing (save for Pickett) play over the 2017 season.

Even though I labelled the 2017 WRs an “Upgrade” and the didn’t produce that way I do believe the talent on the WR unit was better than 2016’s with Lopes replacing Ford and Mathews getting more passes his way – but not as many as perhaps he should have.

our TE corps was a mess last season. An interesting note was that Clark was thrown to twice on third down plays and caught both balls but didn’t make 1st downs.  One was on a 3rd and between 4-6 to go (he made one yard) and the other a 3rd and 10+ yards where he made five yards.

As a matter of fact Flanagan replicated that poor production failing to get 1st downs on three pass completions.

Look back at Orndoff alone in ’16 and he had 12 receptions on 3rd down eight of which he converted to 1st downs along with 2 TDs – and a 13.9 ypc on each reception.

Stat!  The do tell a story don’t they.

2017’s TE class was a major downgrade even, I believe, with the lesser QBs.

41 thoughts on “Win, Lose or Draw – 2107’s WRs & TEs

  1. Lack of consistent QB play hurt both WR’s and TE’s all last year. This year shall be different if Pickett remains upright all year long. Thus I’ll upgrade the possibilities for both out TE and WR play for the coming season.

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  2. personally – I remember being excited about Reeves coming out of high school. Great multi-sport athlete. Let’s hope he makes a good, athletic tackle.

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  3. Reed,
    Really appreciate and am enjoying your article!!!!! Thank you.
    I also agree with jrnpitt in that our QB position was sooooooo lame last year starting with Bad Max, our WR and TE were not used normally. Interstingly, after you took a lot of time personally talking to the people “in the know” at USC, you tried to prepare us that Max wouldn’t be the answer to our QB problems. Well, once again you were right on the money Commander. We should of listened!!!
    Anyway, as Kenny is running for his life this year I think he will still do much better at the position than the play of 2017.

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  4. jrn, that was my thought exactly. Looking for upgrades at both positions (although not substantial) and still waiting for Aaron Mathews to be the impact received that I think he can be.

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  5. You know how the POV will throw out long runs and such… Well maybe we should throw out the whole season from last year. The poor play at the QB position really askew-ed the entire season statistically and record wise. By that I mean the starting QB down the depth chart. Again, I have it on very good authority that KP could not be relied upon early in the season for a couple reasons. When MB faltered and then got hurt the season essentially was over.

    So Reed was right on with his tight end downgrade mark and he was actually not that far off in his WR prediction. Last years receivers had 142 catches compared to the previous season’s receptions at 100. Were they as productive? Probably not but it’s more of a wash then a drop-off.

    What makes this interesting to me with KP starting behind center is that PITT will have back Lopes, Ffrench and Matthews who combined for 84 catches last year and hopefully a healthy Tipton to add some more punch. I’m already leaning towards a wide receiver upgrade evaluation for this coming season when the time rolls around in the fall… ike

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    1. The one thing the QBs did was have a good completion rate of 62% but they really shortened the passing game:

      in 2017 & 2016 our ypc and ypa were this:

      2016: YPA = 8.9 YPC = 15.2 This is the biggee – not sure we’ll see that again anytime soon.

      2017: YPA = 7.2 YPC = 11.6 – these numbers are below Pitt’s norm over the years and that is what hurt us in the passing game and why we had only 12 TD passes last season compared to 28 in ’16.

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  6. I blame last year’s line almost as much as inconsistent/bad qb play for low wr production. They were a colossal disappointment and if they played as expected going into the season we probably win 2-3 more games.

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  7. I think he’ll move a bit from Canada’s offense this season. I’m hoping we see some packages from Indiana’s (his last stop). Explosive, run oriented but wide receiver friendly.

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    1. I think he moved a lot from Canada’s offense last season – just the fact that we had 50% less rushes by WRs and DBs (from over 100 to around 50) is a huge change in approach to the run game at least.

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  8. Face it …. one can make a case that 2016 was the best all-around offensive team ever at Pitt. There were no apparent weaknesses …. the WRs, TE, OL, QB and RBs all meshed together and the synthesis made them even better. (and before another person mentions Conklin, one can also make the case that the talent on defense was the antithesis of the offense) To show how the lack of a talented QB and OL can affect production, one only has to look at the WRs performed perform last year vs 2016 …. especially Weah and Henderson. .

    Last summer, I along with a handful of others opined that the 2017 defense would take its lumps in September but then improve as the year went on …. and that came to fruition (except of course for the UNC hiccup). This coming year may be just be the opposite, where the offense will be poor early but then come around (hopefully).

    The difference from this year vs last year is that last year’s team started out with both a poor offense and defense. This coming year, at least we will start out with a pretty decent defense which should continue to improve. We can only hope the offense improves.

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  9. I’m not as high on Aaron Mathews as some at WR1. I thought coming out of high school his athleticism at QB could translate, but would have preferred to have him pack on the pounds and play as a lean pass catching TE that could put stress on a defense.

    I’m hoping he proves me wrong. Tre Tipton’s injuries have certainly put a damper on my expectations, but I still think he can be a sizable contributor this year. It’s also hard to find a better leader than Tre. The guy I’m really excited about is Michael Smith and watching his progression with experience. Wouldn’t expect much early, but think we’ll see him come on late and wow some people.

    More excited about his potential next season paired up with Taysir Mack. Lopes will be Lopes and Ffrench will be Ffrench. I expect a similar years for both. DBJ showed out a bit in camp last year before an injury. He’s a wild card in my opinion. I’m not slotting him for more than 12 receptions for 100yds. Flowers in another one that I have very tempered expectations for as he’s probably not quite lived up to his billing out of high school. However for those that watch film I’d say he’s right were one would expect.

    I did like a lot of what I saw in the spring game. Definitely synced well with KP. Not sure if that’s because that was KPs only option in spring game or if there really is something there. Hoping he takes a step forward. Jaques-Louis is my final wild card. I don’t usually expect anything from a freshman, but his that name…common he’s got to do something. A

    ny ways I’m a little higher on this group than I was over winter if they can stay healthy. If Tasir Mack finds out in June he can play that is an obvious HUGE upgrade. Taking them from a C- to a solid B.

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  10. Yea but Ordoff didn’t catch the very catchible pass in the Bowl Movement(Northwestern) and only 2 catches for 21 yards.
    So when we needed him to come up big…..he didn’t,

    The passing game was off last year, obviously because Mini Max got sat against GT until the game was over, and he still almost threw for as many yards in less than 1 quarter than the Nooch did in 3. And then his season ended in Syracuse and that was that… and for any big passing games for Pitt QB’s for the year.

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  11. We better hope that Shocky’s Machine comes in with a bang. I don’t see any deep threats and WR’s currently that are game changers. More of the dink and dank variety. Perhaps Frenchy could be that guy since he did get 10 carries or so from the WR spot.

    Perhaps if the offense is punch less, they might try to add some pop, with Paris. French Connection rules !

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  12. If this program continues it’s slide, we’re going to look back at those 2 bowl losses as the turning points.
    Especially losing to a 6-6 Northwestern squad that finished 4th in the BigJoke West. And Pitt having it’s highest scoring team ever. If ever there was a recent game, where you could tell the Deep State Football gods were against us….that was it.

    While Pitt plunged to 5-7, that win helped catapult Northwestern to a 10-3 season and a final ranking of #17

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    1. don’t you schedule had something to do with both programs? Remember, one of Northwestern’s 3 losses last year was to Duke, 41-17. … who of course we beat. In fairness, NU got better as the year went on, but being they lost all 3 games in the 1st half of the season< I doubt very much the bowl win was a springboard.

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    2. Pitt almost always stinks up Bowl games. They barely beat MAC teams when they do win. The SOP that’s hard to shake for these guys. It has to be lousy coaching.

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      1. I didn’t see any SOP in their “self proclaimed” bowl game against Miami. Funny how some posters have memories that tend to select for their narrative.

        SOP was personified in our total collapse against Houston. Never forget that! The NW loss, by comparision, was just a bunch of bad luck & injuries that amounted to the Pinstripe Bowl loss.

        Narduzzi witnessed SOP in person during that Houston meltdown. Since that debacle, I’ve not seen a “vintage” SOP moment since (although the VT game last season came close).

        The kids on this team now, believe that they can beat anybody. They’ve experienced it 1st hand with signature wins against the likes of penn state, Clemson & Miami.

        This squad doesn’t carry the huge amount of baggage that us SOP fans do. So don’t label these Narduzzi kids with the SOP Monicker. I expect to see this “we can beat these guys” in action again this season. Somebody like psu, ND & or Miami is in for a loss against Pitt. Remember I stated this when they prove it come Fall.

        The problem with the coaching is getting the mindset instilled in this team that the energy put forth before & during those games that produce signature wins against superior opponents needs to be evident every single day if you expect to compete for championships.

        The Miami game was an indication that better times for this team are just around the corner. Believe it.

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        1. Miami wasn’t a bowl game. The problem with bowl games for Pitt I think is the time off after the season and the lack of getting up for the game after the fun of the pre-game experience. In other words, coaching. I’m not talking about SOP in general, but only their abismal bowl preparation.

          This has to change. They are on national TV and it’s the last thing people remember until the next season starts. It’s also the last thing the poolsters see.

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  13. The girls softball team came out strong today and dominated a good louisville team 10-2.

    The baseball team collapsed in a similar fashion to last night. They jumped out to a 5-0lead over a mediocre nd and was no-hit over the next 4 innings and surrendered 7 runs to the irish.

    I’m a coach Jordano supporter, but I’d Lyke to see Heather call the coach in to her office and tell him if you don’t make the ACC tournament, you will not return next season.

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    1. Erie – Look at the complete lack of competitiveness over his career specifically in ACC.

      At what point is enough enough? He has more excuses than Narduzzi in an interview. If they lose tomorrow, they could conceivable only win 2 of 4 against L’Ville and Clemson. Thank God UVA is atrocious this year as is VT.

      Hire a stud Assistant in the South and get him in there ASAP. Was at UF last night and I’m not opposed to an SEC Asst. If she is serious about winning (Looks that way) it is time to upgrade and actually pay a Baseball coach.

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  14. The guys that learn to come back to him when he is flushed from the pocket will be most valuable. Probably Lopes and Tipton.

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  15. Reed – Agreed. By the end of the season they were running less motion and Jet sweeps. The base offense was still Canada’s, however. I think they’ll keep some Canada packages but this year’s offense will be more Watson. I liked the idea of continuity by keeping the offense last season but I think it was better in theory than execution. I hope Watson just runs his offense this season. Canada was so effective because he ran his offense with limited interference from Duzz. We all saw what happened when LSU’s HC tinkered with Canada’s play calling this season. Watson’s best years as OC came under similar circumstances. Freedom to run his offense uninhibited. Whenever Watson had to conform, like last season or at TX when it was mandated that he run a spread even tho he had no experience in the spread, he struggled.

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  16. What some tend to forget is when PITT is reduced to mostly 3* players and recruits, a couple of things matter. One they have to get the better 3* (5.7) Getting 3* players that produce can indicate how good a recruiting team is as much as how many 4 star players they can bring in. I say that knowing some teams (PITT) will have more of an uphill climb in the recruiting wars and more of a difficulty luring big time out of the area players to commit to PITT.

    One other thing is when a team like PITT has to rely mostly on the leftovers and I hate to say that but it can be a way of life for teams like PITT…. We have to understand that patience with these players is in order. They will take more time to develop simply because their maturity and other factors and not necessarily their athleticism may be lagging.

    Ceteris paribus is not the mantra in the PITT football world.

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  17. POVers are too high on this WR group. Other than Lopes, there is no reliable sure thing receiver there, although there is skill on paper from players such as Tipton. Matthews has not performed when given the opportunity, and I’m not convinced that he can suddenly turn it on with another year of maturity. But we can all hope from the number of players in this group that someone will emerge.

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  18. Its very possible that the OL, WR, TE and RB’s struggle. Add in Watson who is a liability and lack luster recruiting on offense, its cause for concern.

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    1. Agree that big questions surround the WR, TE & OL positions. But mark my words, this year the Pitt running game will be more than adequate to get the job done.

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  19. Last season pitt didn’t have a guy capable of playing QB, Browne and DiNucci essentially one read guys and they both had issues getting the ball down field.

    This season they have a guy who is going to be good, real good at QB and can read defensive fronts and coverages.

    As mentioned earlier KP will make the receivers and offense better and allow them to do more because of his playmaking abilities with his arm and legs.

    It’s going to be a majestic season.

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  20. Predicting that our defense would get better as the season went on (after playing OSU and PSU/Dairy early) is like saying Stallingswood would be shown the door after last bball season.

    I don’t think Max Browne was terrible. He drew the short straw to play against OSU and PSU with a weak offensive line and no rb threat, sorry. At that point the team had no confidence and no 1 qb. At hat point, I believe Coach Narduzzi made a mistake by putting in Dinucci. Dinucci was not the answer last year and not the answer going forward (as it turned out), so he missed an opportunity to give Pickett meaningful snaps.

    As far as TE’s go, the number of TE catches was nearly the same. The yardage was for a lot less but if you take out Orndorff 130 yard anomaly against Clempson and a 100 yard anomaly against vtech, the numbers are actually much closer. Orndoff had many pedestrian games that year, sorry. That’s just the statistics talking. I didn’t agree with bringing in Flanagan either. Tyler Sear had a catch or two and I think Flanagan took critically important snaps away from Sear.

    Grad transfers have to fit your plan. If they are taking snaps away from someone you are committed to developing and the talent is evenish, you don’t take the grad transfer.

    I would really have liked to see Pitt go after Joe Burrow from OSU. Kid can ball and I think he just graduated and would have 2 years to play.

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  21. VOR – I don’t recall any POVers comments being “too high on the WRs”, not sure where that is coming from, maybe I missed something?

    Anyway, once again I agree with GC’s concise comments, I suspect Lopes & Tipton will be our 2 best WR’s this year, because as I’ve said in the past, they both appear to run good routes and have good hands. Of course Lopes has a lot more experience, and we only saw a glimmer out of Tipton due to the injury, but that’s what I’d expect next year. I also agree with Emel, we could really use a more explosive guy to stretch the defenses, and if it’s not Shocky or another newcomer, this looks to be an area of weakness. Matthews hasn’t shown anything yet, which leads me to believe we are playing him in the wrong position, because he seems to be a good overall football player.

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  22. When he started and was asked about recruited talent, Narduzzie said he would have to do what they did at MSU, hire the 3* ” and coach em up”.Unfortunately it takes time to coach em up and I am not sure if we have been forced to play kids too soon or if all the coaching musical chairs has retarded the coach em up efforts. We do seem to be on an OJT program at a lot of positions. Do not know the facts but some ??? seem to linger about this in my mind. Maybe we also need enough $$$$ to keep stability with good coordinators and Assts. Looked at 1990 Pitt Press Guide and and looked at Assts. which included among other current FB coaching notables, Mike McCarthy(Green Bay) and Marvin Lewis (Cincinnatti).Pitt has had Jimmy Johnson. Sherrill and Wannstadt among other top assts. We have to hang on to the good ones longer.H2P

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