If you all remember I did a series of articles in June of 2017 that looked at the departing starters from the 2016 season and who I thought would be replacing them for 2017. With that I assigned a grade of “Upgrade“, “Downgrade” or “Draw‘.
What I’ll do first is look at each position, or unit, along the offense as of today and write down who I think will be the starter and why it will be that guy. Then I’ll assign a ranking of “Upgrade” if I see an upgrade in player quality, “Downgrade’ if I see a lessening of talent or “Draw” if I think we’ll match last year’s player(s) in the position or unit.
This particular article is written by our fellow reader and commenter Ike… I’ll throw in the POV’s point of view (funny that, huh?) in my comment.
This looks like another unit that may be hard to judge by a few of the commenters on the POV but not so much for me. The changes for 2018 are the departures of Allen Edwards and Reed’s favorite whipping boy our old Defensive Coordinator Josh Conklin. He, as you all know, has been replaced by DC Randy Bates, the longtime linebackers coach at NW.
We really don’t know what type of defense Bates will employ. What will be interesting to try to figure out is whether Narduzzi is the one running the defense (which means more of the same emphasis on strong and constant pressure on the opposing QBs by the defensive front seven) and remain in charge there or will Bates have some room to do his thing?
Above are the changes, so who is returning at the ends and who are the newbies?
James Folston Jr
Patrick Jones II
First thing I notice are the small numbers and I went back to check the best my brain allows me to find if I missed a bunch of players and I didn’t find any.
I’ll start with the “old guys” and with returnee rsSR Dewayne Hendrix; I’m not saying he played great last season but I did not see the failure that others saw. I thought he put pressure on the QB at times and I noticed his hustle. This is his last chance and because of limited talent back-ups, I expect him to play a lot and his production to go up pretty significantly.
rsSR James Folston Jr has been around for a while and has done some nice things but he really hasn’t separated himself, yet I feel he’s a valuable backup and a luxury to have.
rsSO Patrick Jones II is interesting. It looks like he will be Weaver’s wing-man this year and has shown some flashes. He’s got nice size and quickness with speed. He will bring a lot of energy when he comes in against a tired defense. He could have a good year.
rsSO Rashad Weaver… I love this young man. He plays all over the D-Line and we watched him standing up last year. There is no doubting his athleticism but I think it was his brain that got him onto the field last year. This DE has a very bright future and PITT cannot afford to lose him this year.
Two players; freshman David Green, who is only 6’0″ 260 lbs and Deslin Alexandre 6’4″ 270 lbs have been moved to the interior of the line but could be used at the DE position if the two-deep fails.
Alexandre was an early enrollee last January and still took a redshirt but I did hear some good things about him. Green impressed me the couple of times I watched him play on TV in high school but he reminded me of Aaron Donald back when he was in high school. Because of his smaller size I wouldn’t be surprised if PITT slid him outside to take advantage of his quickness and speed.
It looks like Alexandre put on some weight but I’m not sure why they moved him to the interior of the line because it looks like they have enough bodies at the DT spot. Which makes me think he’ll end up back on the edge
To be fair, I can’t talk much about the incoming freshmen players as I know very little about them and I don’t expect any of them to get much playing time although the new redshirt rule will allow them to play four games so maybe we will see them at different times. I’ll throw true freshman John Morgan’s name out there as the one who may get quality time if any of them do. I believe he comes from a big-time high school program and his father is a coach.
So what’s all the rumpus? Well, some may say this group sucked last year so they will suck this year too. Not me. I’ve said in a hundred times, PITT recruits 3* players and it takes these type of players time to grow in maturity and physicality. I expect the whole PITT defense to put a smile on many PITT faces this coming season.