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

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

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 or defense 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 is a unit that I feel is severely overlooked by both the coaching staffs in college and by the fans. There are really seven different components to Special Teams; Punting, Punt coverage and Punt Returns.  Also Kickoffs, Kick coverage and Kick returns.  Then there is the ever-important Field Goal kicking.

In the 2017 season in some of those we excelled and in some we didn’t – and in some we pretty much just sucked doing. Let’s look at the positive aspects of our special teams play first.

We always talk about good defenses that can hold opposing offenses to short gains – but we tend to overlook the punter who can make the opponents  start 40+ yards down the field or inside their own 20 yards line on a regular basis.

Punters who can do that on a regular basis are worth their weight in gold and we had one of the best in the nation last season in four-year starter SR Ryan Winslow.  Here is his game log from 2017.  Note what he did in pushing backward the starting points of our opposition.  Without his great punting, and it truly was, we’d have given up a hell of a lot more points.

Winslow 17

And here is what he did punting seen broken down:

Winslow total

That made him a first team All-ACC selection and 11th nationally in the Punting category.  The tops in the nation averaged 47.5 so you can see Winslow’s 44.5 ypp is right there up with the best.  He’ll be hard to replace.

That is the good news about our punt game.  Where we fell down was in our punt return coverage game.  Nationally we were 113th (10th in the ACC) in allowing 12.55 yards per return.  In addition our kick return coverage exceeded that in ineptitude as we sat at 121st nationally (14th in the ACC) by allowing opposing teams 25.21 yards per kick return.  Throw in giving up three blocked punts and it paints a not-so-pretty picture

Seriously, if you want to start figuring why we were not very good on defense last season, and overall we weren’t at 69th nationally, that is your jumping off point.

Continue reading “POV’s Win, Lose or Draw for 2018’s STs”

Pitt Fall Camp: Day 18

Pitt Fall Camp: Day 18

Link: Panthers Continue Preparations for 2018 Season

 Pitt Football Camp: Media Recap, Day 18

Videos, Quotes and Photos from Pitt Training Camp


Head Coach Pat Narduzzi

Offensive Coordinator Shawn Watson

Offensive Line Coach Dave Borbely

Offensive Lineman Gabe Houy

Offensive Lineman Jimmy Morrissey

 PITTSBURGH—The Pitt football program practiced for the 18th time of its 2018 training camp during a Thursday morning session at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the South Side of Pittsburgh.

Head coach Pat Narduzzi met with reporters prior to the session, while offensive coordinator Shawn Watson, offensive line coach Dave Borbely and offensive linemen Gabe Houy andJimmy Morrissey answered questions from the assembled media after the workout.

Videos from each media session are available above, while a transcript of Coach Narduzzi’s media availability can be found below.

Head Coach Pat Narduzzi

 Opening statement:

“Good morning guys. Wonderful day. Got the sunshine out today. Forgot my hat; I’m going to have to run up and get it… rushed out of the office. A lot of great things going on right now. We’ve got to get a good day’s work in. Yesterday was a solid day; can’t say it was a great day. Our guys are pushing. It’s the grind that we’re in right now. That’s kind of where we are. I feel like we’re fresher than we were a year ago after practice 17. We still have legs, which is a positive thing as far as conditioning. Maurice Ffrench, for example, took the corner on a sweep play yesterday at tailback and took the corner on everybody. Most of the time, practice 17, your legs are shot anywhere I’ve ever been. I think we’ve done a great job keeping our guys as fresh as we can with recovery… really just trying to be a maintenance guy as far as not having them out here too long, so I think that’s a positive.”

On if off days during camp have helped:

“We’ve always given them an off day. Sundays always been our off day, so that new NCAA rule two years ago didn’t bother me. I think you have to do that; that’s part of the process. Maybe a little less hitting, shortening the practices a little bit has helped. I would say it’s more that than the day off.”

On picking captains:

“I thought about that; that’s coming tonight. I have thought about this like, ‘wow, you can only have four walk out there.’ It’s not going to be an easy decision because there are some good leaders—older guys and younger guys. I think we’ve done a good job developing leadership. It always can be better, everything can be better. But it’s not going to be an easy chore, that’s for sure.”

On if the two-deep depth chart has a lot of “and”s and “or”s in it:

“There is. You find out on gameday who some of those guys are. We talked about who some of the sure-shot position guys. Some of those other positions, we’re going to find out ongameday who’s making the plays and who isn’t. ‘Or’s are there.”

On differences that fans will notice about offense and defense:

“I don’t know. It’s a hard question. We’ll find out.”

On new or different approaches:

“No different approaches. Hopefully you see a fun team playing. I want this football team to be exciting—offensively and defensively. When we’re on the field, we’re out there to make plays. We’re out there to enjoy ourselves and have fun. It better be fun. If it’s just a grind of, ‘aw man, I got to go out on this first down…’ We want to have fun. It should be an exciting football team to watch. We’ve got a lot of speed, got a lot of physical players on both sides of the football as well as special teams. I want them to go out and have fun. It better be a fun team to watch. Period. Fun.”

On creating more big plays on offense:

“We talk about explosive gains all the time. We want to eliminate them and we want to have them. I see a more explosive offense with some of our weapons outside. When the quarterback puts the ball where it needs to be, I think that helps you. Like I said, you can do it in practice all you want. Maurice Ffrench yesterday, I don’t think we had a ton of those a year ago, even in practice. This is a pretty good defense they’re going against. We want to have more, for sure. Everyone wants to see that. That’s exciting. I don’t want so many so fast like we had against Syracuse two years ago that the defense is back out there for 129 plays, but I guess I’ll deal with that too.”

On having fresher legs and a deeper team:

“Me saying they have legs and them saying they have legs are probably two different things. I bet you they could give you a different description on how their legs feel right now. But I can see it as a coach. I’ve gone 17 days and we looked at them like, ‘man, they are shot.’ They aren’t shot right now. Maurice Ffrench is proof of that. Shocky [Jacques-Louis] caught a ball yesterday and turned it up north. He still got some in him, so that’s a positive as we go into game week next week.”

On if there is a position he feels better about than before camp:

“I still say that offensive line. I still feel it starts up front. I felt good about the defensive line, but I feel better about the offensive line as a whole, just with what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. We’ll find out on gameday. It may be disappointing, but right now I’m excited with where we are.”

On if he’s excited about the starting offensive line or the depth:

“More of the first guys in some of those key (roles), that sixth man and seventh man in, that first guard or center-type guy and that tackle coming in. So it’s the first seven guys. We talk everyday about getting three percent better. Everybody is making the jumps, so in the long run it’s going to help us, whether it’s in week two, week five or week eight. It’s going to help us continue to get better.”

On health of the team:

“Generally, I’d give us a B+, which is better than it was last year.”

On his calf workouts:

“I don’t do calf raises.”

On if the team jokes about his calves:

“Every once in a while, you hear a remark. Do you joke about it? [Reporter: Not at all.] Good, thank you. [Reporter: It’s just admiration.]”

On Tre Tipton’s program LOVE and how much he’s changed since injury:

“Tre [Tipton] is a remarkable young man—both on the field and off the field. He cares about the other students. He’s got a great heart. I wish we could get in and measure some hearts sometimes when you’re on the road recruiting or at a team meeting, but that guy has a big, big heart. He’s not like the Grinch. He’s got this gigantic thing inside his chest cavity; he cares about other people. It’s the truth. It’s not going to help us win or lose, but it’s an important factor for our kids to have out there. It’s something you’re proud of as a head coach.”

On helping the players with mental health:

“Kristen Mackel is the psychologist on campus. Really I should call her a counselor on campus that Heather Lyke just hire probably about four months ago. She actually talked to our team Tuesday night just to say, ‘hey, we’re here for you, whatever you need.’ She did a tremendous job at the meeting. Again, it’s just if it’s something to talk about. If it’s to talk about, ‘my calves are too small,’ they’ve got someone to talk to about their calves. It doesn’t matter what it is. If you’ve got girl problems… But just having someone outside of football that they can go to. We do have two (counselors) over there. They’re brand new. We’ve never had them in the past, so we’re getting better. It’s another benefit to these gentlemen.”

Editor’s Note:  Here is the article about Tipton’s LOVE Program by DiPaola of the Trib…