POV’s Win, Lose or Draw for 2018’s LBs

POV’s Win, Lose or Draw for 2018’s LBs

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, “Downgrade’ if I see a downgrade or “Draw” if I think we’ll match last year’s player(s) in the position or unit. 

Last season Pitt fans had great hopes for our linebackers mainly because we were doing away with the “old” (Mike Caprara and Matt Galambos”) and ushering in “new” LBs, some of whom Narduzzi recruited.  How did that turn out for us? Pretty much with a resounding thud.  That thud started rumbling in the preseason when the heir apparent to the Middle Linebacker spot, SR Quentin Wirginis, was suspended for three games.

Then, pretty conveniently, Wirginis had a phantom ‘non-football’ (water skiing) accident which kept him out of the whole 2017 season.  Funny how that works, huh? His family owns the Gateway Clipper Fleet and he might not have been situationally aware enough to stay out-of-the-way of that big freakin’ paddle wheel when competing in the Greater Mon Slalom Course on his skis.

Either that or he was shrinking his nuts on a regular basis, but that would be covered by student privacy acts so who really knows?  Too bad the NCAA is looking at teams having to disclose injuries next season – I’d love to hear what actually went down.

Anyway, he was grounded all season so along with returner JR Sean Idowu and new starter JR Elijah Ziese we saw SO Saleem Brightwell fleet up to take Wirginis’ assumed place.

In essence we went from a LB corps who had followed the Narduzzi mandate of getting pressure on the QB in 2016 when our LBs were effective at doing just that. Galambos had 10.0 TFLs (-53 yds) and 5.0 Sacks (-42 yds)  and Caprara had 10.5. TFLs (-40 yds) and 5.0 sacks (-29 yds).  That was some of the best pressure play we have seen from out LBs in some time.

Our ’17 guys who replaced them fell off of that pace very dramatically with Brightwell having only 5.0 TFLs and 1.0 Sack and Ziese having 5.0 TFLs and zero Sacks.  The lone bright spot was Idowu getting 11.5 TFLs and 5.0 sacks to make up the deficit. So on the face of it you’d think that we’d just have to field a better LB corps for 2018, wouldn’t you?

Maybe we will but three out of our Top Four LBs (Wirginis, Idowu, Ziese and Brightwell) are still Chryst’s recruits with an average-playing Brightwell representing Narduzzi’s contribution.  Where was/is all the LB talent Pitt fans were so excited about when they were being recruited?  We’ve seen underclassmen play LB at Pitt in their first two years and do a great job but to date only Brightwell has cracked Pitt’s starting lineup.

What is the definition of insanity again?  Oh, right – doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  I’ve always wondered why, since Narduzzi has been so transfer happy, he didn’t try to get a stud upperclassman or two to plug into our LBs but he seems to have been, and still is, satisfied with the talent on hand. I dislike his transfer policy anyway but hell, if he’s going to do it…

Well, the talent on hand is rather …how do you say this in English? -“Average” all around with the exception of Idowu who has gotten better in each his years of play.  He’ll again be the best of the existing and returning bunch I think.

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