Pitt-Miami Thoughts + Bits and Pieces

Pitt-Miami Thoughts + Bits and Pieces
Here is an informative post by longtime Pitt POV user Joe Lawerence (aka JoeL), complete with comparative stats and Joe’s Keys to the Game.  Based on what you see below, what do you think Pitt needs to do to bring home a victory?  Also I’ve added some bits and pieces that have come across the wire this morning. 

Ladies and Gents,

I played around with some stats today and compared Pitt’s offense to Miami’s defense, Pitt’s defense to Miami’s offense and also includes some other stats.  I also gave my own thoughts about who has the advantage.  (editor’s note:  It appears Joe is largely assigning advantage based on national rank.  That is why Pitt has the advantage vs what appears to be a very stingy Miami run defense.  However, please feel free to discuss.)

Pitt Miami Advantage
When Pitt has the ball:
    Run – Yds/game 247.5 132.9 Pitt
           rank 13 34
    Pass – Yds/game 155.5 141.7 Miami
           rank 118 3
    Total – Yds/game 403 274.6 Miami
           rank 66 5
    Pts per game 30.1 19.5 Miami
           rank 62 19
When Miami has the ball:
    Run – Yds/game 163.5 188.6 draw
           rank 65 49
    Pass – Yds/game 241.4 188.6 Miami
           rank 87 103
    Total – Yds/game 404.9 377.2 draw
           rank 79 91
    Pts per game 28.1 31.5 draw
           rank 75 48
Other stats:
Sacks allowed 22 24 draw
INTs thrown 5 10 Pitt
Sacks made 27 31 draw
INTs made 9 15 Miami
Penalties 77 69 slight edge to Miami
QB rating 132.9 122.9 slight edge to Pitt
Ranking in Special Teams areas:
Punting – Net Yds 100 127 Pitt
Punt returns 71 3 Miami
FG% 52 80 Pitt
KO returns – Yds 7 6 draw
Joe’s Keys to the Game
  •   Start strong – establish an early lead
  •   Run the ball effectively
  •   Use high percentage passes
  •   Avoid turnovers

Bits and Pieces

The Good:  Pitt’s Kenny Pickett Named ACC Quarterback of the Week

Pickett was additionally honored as a Manning Award “Star of the Week”

PITTSBURGH—Pitt sophomore quarterback Kenny Pickett was named the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Quarterback of the Week for his performance in the Panthers’ 34-13 win at Wake Forest this past weekend. He additionally was recognized by the Manning Award as one of eight “Stars of the Week” at the quarterback position.

Pickett completed 23-of-30 passes (77%) for 316 yards and three touchdowns to lead Pitt past the Demon Deacons and clinch the ACC Coastal Division championship. His yardage, completions and TD total were all personal bests.

Each of Pickett’s touchdown passes came in the second half to help Pitt erase a 10-6 halftime deficit. Two of his scoring tosses came less than three minutes apart: a four-yarder to Rafael Araujo-Lopes and a 63-yard strike to Taysir Mack that put Pitt up 20-10 at the end of the third period.

After Wake Forest kicked a field goal to make it 20-13 early in the fourth, Pickett responded with a 23-yard TD pass to Maurice Ffrench, boosting the lead to 27-13 with 7:27 to play and essentially sealing the result.

In his first season as Pitt’s full-time starting quarterback, Pickett (Oakhurst, N.J./Ocean Township) has completed 151-of-243 passes (62%) for 1,695 yards with 12 touchdowns and five interceptions.

 

Winners of four consecutive games, Pitt owns a 7-4 overall record and 6-1 mark in ACC play. The Panthers entered both Top 25 polls this week, placing No. 24 in the Associated Press rankings and No. 25 in the Amway Coaches Poll.

The Bad :  Pitt Center Jimmy Morrissey Has Season-Ending Surgery

PITTSBURGH—Pitt sophomore center Jimmy Morrissey underwent ankle surgery on Monday and will miss the balance of the season, Coach Pat Narduzzi announced today.

The Panthers’ starting center in 23 consecutive games, Morrissey was injured in the waning moments of Saturday’s 34-13 win at Wake Forest.

“Jimmy has been tremendous for us this year, both as a player and a leader,” Narduzzi said. “We all share his disappointment, but I know this will only be a temporary setback for him. Jimmy will be back next year better than ever. In the meantime, I know he will continue to do all he can to help our offensive line perform at the same high level. That’s the type of person and teammate he is.”

The Ugly:  Pat Narduzzi Press Conference (Editor’s Note:  This is not actually ugly.  I am taking some poetic licence here)

Miami Week

 

PRESS CONFERENCE VIDEO

HTML TRANSCRIPT LINK

PAT NARDUZZI: Well, it was a fun weekend. Weekend is over. Back to Monday. It’s a workday, as was yesterday.

But something I failed to do on Saturday really after the game and after you sit back and you think about how things like that happen, how things like that come to fruition, you think about just what you were brought here for, and just growing up with my dad, you never — he’s always taught you, just never forget where you came from and how you got where you are.

But I want to thank obviously the Chancellor for obviously giving me the opportunity and all the support Heather Lyke has given us. Even going back to Jerry Cochran and Randy Juhl and Donna Sanft. When I first got here, I talked about just if we all go in the same direction, we’ll be fine. But if someone is going this way, we want to go this way, that’s when you run into some road blocks, but obviously things have gone in the right direction.

It’s never as smooth as you’d like it to be, which is life, but — there’s bumps in the road as you go. Obviously it was a big day for our football team and for the university, and happy we could be a part of it and happy I could be a part of it, so I thank them.

But when you look at the tape, you kind of see on tape what you saw really during the game. It’s a tale of two halves, which we’ve been involved in a couple of those through this season. Just didn’t play very good football in the first half, way too many mistakes. I think of the 10 penalties, I think eight of them were in the first half. That goes on me obviously not having them ready to go and locked in and focused.

Then we go and make some minor adjustments, more of a mental adjustment more than anything, maybe a wake-up call in the second half to get it cranked up, and then we come out and play football in the second half like you’re supposed to. Those three three-and-outs were huge defensively, and I thought defensively overall we played pretty sound.

Just not as clean and you want to, and it’s nice to come out of a football game and not play your best football and still come away with a ‘W.’ But we can’t do that this week against a great Miami team. I mean, I feel like Warren Sapp came back, and he’s played in all four of those down four positions for Miami.

They’re aggressive up front, third ranked defense in the country. Mark Richt has done a tremendous job of building the talent level at that place, and obviously Manny Diaz running the show on defense, I mean, Shaq Quarterman is the guy over there, and he runs the show, and they’re legit. They’re as good a defense as you’re going to find. They press you and play man free, play whatever they want to play, and they lock you down. He does a great job.

And then offensively, they’ve gone through two quarterbacks and they’re still trying to find out who it is, and obviously Perry seems to be the guy, but we’re ready to see anybody, but he seems smooth. Their offensive line is athletic. They’re big, physical. And Homer at tailback, and they’ve got speed at receiver. So they’re dangerous. Coming off a great win, and we’re going to have to be ready to go down to Miami.

Questions?

Q. Over the past we’ve asked you about first place in the Coastal, if you guys think you can do it, and of course now you finally did it. When along the way did you guys realize it could be done?
PAT NARDUZZI: You know, you guys crack me up. There’s not a point, a day, a month, a week that you go, “Oh, we’re knocking on the door here.” It’s been back in August. It’s been back in winter conditioning. And that sounds cliché, but like I told our guys last night, there’s nobody outside this room — we’ve got trainers in here, equipment guys, everybody here, there’s nobody outside this room that gave us a chance. You guys all talked them bad, and then all of a sudden you think that one day we wake up and say, “Hey, let’s try to do something.”

We never lost faith. Somebody else may have, okay, and I don’t point any fingers, but we never lost faith. So there’s never a point. That’s the God’s honest truth right there. We never lost faith. There’s going to be ups and downs. You can’t beat everybody. You can’t be perfect. But there’s — I don’t think anybody lost faith in this room, and we kept them together, and that’s how you have success.

Q. How do you do that? How do you keep the faith up when things aren’t going well?
PAT NARDUZZI: It’s everything. I mean, and obviously it starts with me making sure that the same message is being relayed throughout the building. But the weight room, Dave Andrews, our strength staff, spends a ton of time, obviously our assistant coaches. Those kids can’t leave a team meeting, go down to the training room, and then the trainers are like, “Man, tough year, man. Well, maybe next year it’ll be better.” If they got that message down, then we’ve got problems because they’re hearing different mixed messages.

So it’s everybody. It’s Chad in video, Chad Bogard — he got a shout-out. I don’t know where Chad is, but he’s always asking for shout-outs. It’s everybody in the program, so it’s just being positive and coaching and playing the next play.

I mean, our kids wouldn’t be very good if they looked back at the first half and said, “Oh, God, we stink today, we might as well just stink it up in the second half.” We just keep moving on and go further.

Q. I’m going to assume you’re not going to play this game like an NFL team that’s clinched a playoff spot, backups all over the place?
PAT NARDUZZI: Big Ben is playing this week, yes, he’s playing. We’re playing. There’s nobody not playing.

Q. Does anything change with preparation, like how much you guys spend this week, looking at Clemson, knowing what that game means or anything like that?
PAT NARDUZZI: No, no. I mean, we’re putting all our effort, I guarantee you, into this week, into this Miami Hurricane football team. I’ve already spent more time than normal on Mondays, period. I’m way ahead of where I am — we’ve got plenty of time for that next one. It doesn’t matter. You guys keep relaying that stuff around, I’ll have to brainwash our kids in this meeting room.

We’re not talking about it. It won’t be mentioned in here. We talked last night, and I said it’s about the last time we’re going to talk about it. You guys have just lengthened your season. A week ago you win a game, and you add a bowl game. This week, now there’s — now there’s nothing. It’s like, let’s go have fun, let’s go play football. We get Miami and it’s a great football team, and if we aren’t focused, we’ll get smacked in the mouth real hard, and the next week won’t matter. It won’t even matter. I hate to tell you that, but it’s all about this week. This football team doesn’t like to lose. Nobody likes to lose. It gives you a bad taste in your mouth, and we don’t want that.

Q. You thanked the Chancellor and Heather Lyke when you came in today. What did it mean to you to get a contract extension in the off-season? How much did that maybe increase your motivation, that they have faith in you?
PAT NARDUZZI: Not really. I didn’t need that. I already had enough years on my contract. I wasn’t worried about it. That didn’t fuel anything. That didn’t make me go, “Oh, thanks.” I already knew the support was there. You don’t have to give it to me in the years. It doesn’t really matter. We’re going to go coach and do our job, and that’s what we do. There’s no slacking down here.

But no, that had nothing to do with it. Obviously very appreciative of that opportunity and the trust and the faith that they had in this program and what we’re doing down here, but you know, it felt pretty good — I know where the Chancellor stands. I know where Heather stands. I didn’t need any gifts.

Q. Do you feel that the ACC title game this year is the step you needed to take as a program?
PAT NARDUZZI: You know what, I think every step you take forward — I think getting more than eight wins is a step forward. I think getting a bowl win would be a step forward. I don’t care what it is, beating someone you’ve never beaten before. We’re always going to look forward and try to make a positive out of maybe a negative. It doesn’t matter. But of course it’s a big thing. Did we need it? It could have happened in three more years and we’d all be happy, as well. Maybe you guys wouldn’t be as happy. Jerry would be grumpy, but we’d all be happy in three years, too.

You never put a date on when something like this is going to happen. They’re hard to get. There’s a lot of good football teams, a lot of good coaches out there. This is hard to get. It’s not easy to be one of these two teams getting to go play the championship game.

Q. Do you think Kenny Pickett was capable of having the kind of game he had Saturday earlier in the year? Did we see sort of a culmination of his development?
PAT NARDUZZI: No question about it. Like I said, I think we’ve done some things in practice that have helped make him just kind of throw in the pocket and just — I guess keep focused on the little details he needs to do in the game, and I won’t get into that, but yeah, he’s capable. I mean, we know how capable he is. He’s accurate. He’s smooth. He’s still young. I think everybody wants instant gratification, and he’s a great football player. We’ve never lost faith in him.

He’s probably going to have to do it again this week because this front four and front seven, really Quarterman and those D-linemen, we’re going to have to be able to throw the ball effectively, we’re going to have to be able to protect him, and Kenny got protected Saturday. Even though we gave up two sacks, he was protected, had time in the pocket to make some shots and some great shots.

Q. Do you have more confidence in the passing game now than you did, say, early September?
PAT NARDUZZI: I would say anytime you throw for 300 and you’re protecting the football, that you do [have confidence], but I never had a lack of faith in what we could do in the passing game. I’ve always had faith in Kenny and what he could do with his arm and those receivers. But that was last week, and two weeks ago we rushed for 500 yards, or just about 500 yards, so what are we going to do this week? We need to have some consistency, so a 300 game, can we back-to-back that? Can we have another 300-yard rushing game? We need to do those things to have success, and you can’t be one-dimensional all the time. I think I talked last Thursday about we’d better be able to throw the football. There’s going to be a time when we’re going to have to throw it, and our receivers did a heck of a job getting open and making plays for Kenny, as well.

Q. Did you hear from anybody outside the people you’ve mentioned that sort of makes it resonate with you how this connected people and the university outside the football program?
PAT NARDUZZI: I mean, yeah. Your phone kind of goes a little berserk. I even returned some text messages this morning at 5:40, just to find the time to return some of those saying, “Hey, sorry.” And I got back to [athletic department staffer] Celeste really early. But you’re getting it from everywhere, which is what happens.

Q. Anything surprising? Anything, “Oh, I wasn’t expecting that?”
PAT NARDUZZI: No. Same stuff as usual.

Q. People from your past call you, congratulate you?
PAT NARDUZZI: No. Nobody is from your past. They’re all in the present. Joe Novak, from — your old ball coaches, those are the guys that — Floyd Keith and Joe Novak and Mark Dantonio, guys that are — that reach out to you, but that’s not —

Q. Going back to the Syracuse game, I know you don’t like to look in the past, but that last two-minute drive that forced overtime, and obviously you guys ended up winning that game, do you think that was one of those turning points of the season type of deals for your team in terms of confidence?
PAT NARDUZZI: You know what, I don’t even remember that. Who caught the ball? Was it Ffrenchy in the end zone there?

Q. I’m talking about when you forced overtime with them, you guys ran, I think, 11 of 12 —
PAT NARDUZZI: See, I told you I didn’t remember. I don’t know. How about that? We’ll look at it after the season. We’re on to the next — you guys got any questions about Miami?

Q. Is Quarterman the “Where’s Waldo” on that Miami defense?
PAT NARDUZZI: No, he ain’t Waldo. Waldo, when I look at Waldo, he’s a squirrelly little dude that’s hiding in a picture book. This guy is a scary dude that goes sideline to sideline, and he’s been playing for three years and playing at a high level. That guy is an NFL linebacker if I’ve ever seen one.

Q. You talked in your opening about winning the division is what you were brought here to do. What else is on that list?
PAT NARDUZZI: Beat Miami this week. How about that? Start right there. Just keep doing what we do. I mean, there’s no goals where we say, “Hey, we want to do this.” We’ve just got to go. Just keep winning one game at a time.

Q. Can you take anything from last year’s Miami game, kind of see what they did and see how you guys had some success and put it into Saturday’s game plan?
PAT NARDUZZI: No doubt about it. We’re going to look at that, and so are they. They’re going to go, “Gosh, we should have done this and done that.” So it’s going to be a chess match as far as who’s doing what, and then they’ve got a different football team this year. They do different things. They have more tools.

So I think regardless of what it is, you’re looking at last year’s game, and we’re trying to get better from it. So are they, though, so it’s a — does it help you? I don’t know. But we’ll look at the last two years. I’ll look at — it doesn’t matter what we did at home last year. I had to look at more of the last time I was at Miami. That’s the last time I remember. I don’t even remember the last Miami game here. I remember Tre Tipton staying in the hospital overnight [in 2016]. That’s my memory of going down there. I remember not playing very good down there, and that’s what’s stuck in my head.

Q. How did you think your ends played?
PAT NARDUZZI: You know, all three of them played good. Weaver had a really good game, Folston played really good and Patrick Jones was really, really productive.

Q. You had a two-touchdown lead, three minutes to go, on the 6-yard line. With the throwback to Millin, did you need to show that? Did that tip your hand for future opponents?
PAT NARDUZZI: Tip my hand? I don’t know if it’s a tip your hand. Slow down that backside pass rush. But you know what, it’s scary, we could have thrown the twos in. It’s like I was telling somebody else. I don’t take anything for granted. We’re playing to win, and I’m not going to have any regrets. Could we have run it in? Maybe. Could we have thrown it in? I don’t know. Could we have dropped back? But when you look at it, we turn the ball over, we don’t score there. We turn it over, they scoop and score, interception for a touchdown, whatever it may be, and we’re playing to win and clinch, and that was the goal. The goal was not to worry about next week or save it for next week. The goal was to win that football game, and whatever it takes.

But anything can happen. That game wasn’t over at that point. I guarantee you that. They weren’t going to quit, and we weren’t going to — three-touchdown lead you feel pretty confident, but two touchdowns, I mean, it’s a score a touchdown, kick an onside kick, get it, go down the field, score, and we’re into overtime.

Yeah, we needed that.

Q. Did you hear from a lot of former players here, guys who helped with the foundation of —
PAT NARDUZZI: Of course, no doubt about it.

Miami questions? Anybody?

Q. What has been Miami’s problem? Did they make any change this past Saturday?
PAT NARDUZZI: I think there’s a lot of things that goes on with teams. Coaching 115 guys — Mark Richt is a super coach. He’s done it for many years, and you’ve got a big roomful of personalities, they are talented, let me tell you that. But the ACC conference is talented. There’s no gimmes. He’s playing Boston College, and Duke is pretty darned good. They lost to Georgia Tech, that option. It’s a tough conference. It’s a tough division, and anybody can beat anybody. That’s what I said, what we did is not easy. Anybody can beat anybody. North Carolina beat us, okay. They won one ACC game, so anybody can beat anybody. That’s the problem, is — it’s very, very competitive, and that’s the way you want it. But it’s a great conference, and it’s a great division from top to bottom. I think it is. I don’t look and say –

I’d take a lot of their players.

Q. How is their secondary compared to last year when they had the chain going around and they were undefeated at this time?
PAT NARDUZZI: They’re good. They’ve got three guys that I think both have three interceptions apart. I mean, they’ve got that chain still. I think it’s an upgraded version. But they’re still creating turnovers, and they’re just not winning as many games so nobody hears about it as much. But I think they must have — I know they’ve got three guys that got three interceptions a pop, and I bet you they’ve forced at least eight or nine fumbles, and they’re forced, not people just dropping them. You’ll see. You’ll see. They’ve got some guys.

 

 

MMQB: Demons Exorcised; Pitt wins ACC Coastal Division Title

MMQB:  Demons Exorcised; Pitt wins ACC Coastal Division Title

Same Old Pitt died on Saturday, just as Kenny Pickett came of age.  Pitt’s defense held the #32 offense in the country to 206 yards passing and 79 yards rushing.  They did it on the road, and in the face of questionable officiating.  Make no mistake Pitt fans, this is what we signed up for.   My good, bad and ugly are below.  Sound off and post yours!

The Good:  

  1. The team’s response in the second half.  How many times have we seen Pitt come out flat in the first half and stay flat for the rest of the game?   Not this time.  Whatever Narduzzi said to them in the locker room stuck.

    Kenny Pickett - University of Pittsburgh
    Eye of the Panther
  2. The Defense.  Yes, Wake missed some throws, but by and large, this is the defense that was advertised in camp.
  3. Kenny Pickett.  23/30-316-3.  At least two of his touchdowns came on third down.  Ladies and Gentlemen, we have our quarterback.

The Bad:

  1.  I think the offense in the first half had every fan in Pitt Nation feeling the same way.  “Oh no, not again”.
  2. Jimmy Morrissey’s injury.  We can afford to lose him for Miami, but we will need every hand on deck for the Championship.  PGH Sports Now has the only update at the time of writing.  “Sources” say it’s an ankle injury.  Stefano Millin says this:  “he’s good”

The Ugly:

  1. I was going to make a comment about the white uniforms, but daggone it we just won the first ACC Coastal Football Championship in Pitt History.  If the uniforms were the worst part of the day, I’ll take it.  Turn on those Victory Lights and keep ’em on all week.  #Hail2Pitt!

 

Coastal Clinched

Pitt vs Wake Forest Predictions Thread

Pitt vs Wake Forest Predictions Thread

What would have been a small game has now turned into a big game due to Pitt’s ACC winning streak which now stands at three and counting.  Pitt’s Panthers (6-4) will be travelling to North Carolina to play the Demon Deacons (5-5).

Now we are playing for  a conference championship and what might be the best bowl offer we have had in ages…

I can’t see Pitt losing this game to Wake Forest after the way we have won the last three games with our strong run game and a defense that has really solidified.

I’ll call this one:

Pitt 35

WF 21 

What do you think?

Scouting Wake Forest

Scouting Wake Forest

I’m not convinced Wake Forest is our true opponent this Saturday.

Yes they have the #32 ranked offense in the country, and yes, they have an all-ACC caliber receiver who is 79 yards shy of 1000, and yes they have a quarterback that threw for 372 yards against NC State, and yes they beat then-14th-ranked NC State last week on the Road.  And yes it’s Senior day.

And so you’d think Wake Forest is set up to exploit our less-than-stellar pass defense which is ranked #82.

But the reality is that Wake’s quarterback, Jamie Newman, is their backup, and the defense that surrendered those 372 passing yards is ranked 128th in the FBS.  Yes folks, 128th.  Kind of makes you proud to be a Pitt fan doesn’t it?  128th is the second worst in the entire FBS.  Right behind Texas Tech and right in Front of Houston.

Thats not to say that Wake Forest isn’t dangerous.  Sophomore WR Greg Dortch, is a 5’9″ speedster, and he’s just the kind of player that could give our defense fits.  He’s fast, he’s shifty, and I’m sure they will move him all over the field.  I fully expect him to have a big day.  He also returns punts and kicks, so keep an eye on special teams, especially if the game is close.

Screen Shot 2018-11-15 at 10.06.24 PM.pngWake’s Running game is no slouch either.  They have two backs that can gash you, and a seasoned offensive line that specializes in run blocking.  (Sound familiar?)   Senior Matt Cobern at 5’10”, 200 lbs ran for 243 yards vs Louisville (yes I know… Louisville is bad, but 243 is 243).  Cobern has run for 698 yards on the year with a 4.8 yd average.  He is physical and has good speed.  Cobern is a “little banged up” according to Blogger So Dear, but he’s listed as the starter this week, perhaps because it is Senior Day.

Junior Cade Carney (Cade…you don’t hear that game up north) is a little bigger at 5’11” 215 and has run for 629 yards on the season, with a 5.2 average. Oddly enough he seems to show up in big games.  With the exception of Syracuse game, his rushing average is higher against the better teams he’s faced this year.

Wake’s offensive line features three RS seniors in in the middle and two redshirt Junior tackles.  They are experienced, and they are pretty darn good at run blocking.  They rank 27th in “line yards” which is a measure of run blocking effectiveness.  (For the record Pitt is 10th).  However they rank 85th in sack rate, which tells me we should have a chance to get to the quarterback.  (Pitt is  92nd).  I believe I heard Narduzzi mentioned the Deacs runs some of the same zone schemes as us, so I suppose the silver lining here is that our front seven should at least have an idea of what to expect.

Wake Forest Achilles heel is their defense.  They are 102nd in rushing defense, 123rd in passing yards allowed, and 120th in overall yards allowed.  You have to think Watson and Borbley are licking their chops over this matchup.

Which brings me to my original point.  Wake forest is not the real opponent on Saturday.  The real opponent is ourselves.  If we go down there and execute, we should win this game handily.  We are statistically equal or better in nearly every category (except passing, except passing…), and we’ve played a tougher schedule by half.  (Ours is ranked 27th, Wake’s 59th).

But…Pitt.

You would like to believe that after a statement win last Saturday, the 19 seniors on this team are focused 100% on the task at hand, and they’ve got everybody else focused on it too.  With nothing other than my gut to guide me, I’d say there is about an 80% chance of that being true.  And while I do not want to sit here and be the naysayer while we we have so much positive momentum, I have been a Pitt fan too long to put blind faith in any Pitt football team.  So for me, last week is over (and yes it was a great week).   For me, this is a “Prove It” game, just like every game left on the schedule.  I’ve had my heart ripped out too many times to go all-in.

Hail to Pitt

Michaelangelo

 

 

 

 

 

Accepting the Torch

Accepting the Torch

Here is a personal intro from our soon to be Blog Master Michaelangelo Monteleone.

They say you should avoid stepping into a great man’s shoes…

I’ve decided to ignore that advice.

Make no mistake Reed is a Legend. One does not create the pre-eminent football blog for a power five college program by accident or by chance. It takes talent, passion, perseverance, hard work, a steady hand on the tiller, and an ability to relate to (and tolerate) a multitude of personalities. I think we can all agree that Reed has these qualities in spades.

The result is that Reed has built what is arguably the #1 Pitt football blog in the country, and by extension the world. Per Reed’s post last week, the site has over 186,000 unique visitors and has had nearly two million page views in the last three years. Those are phenomenal numbers.

And so when Reed announced he was looking for someone to take over the POV, I was intrigued. After all, I have a writing degree from Pitt. Heck, I was even a journalist once upon a time. I’ve also run a WordPress blog in the past (the now defunct Pittboss BBQ Blog. You can check out pictures of our product here). I’m passionate about Pitt Football. Lastly, I’ve always wanted to publish a Pitt Football blog, but of course I saw no reason to go head-to-head with the POV. So suffice to say, this felt like a golden opportunity. And when I spoke with Reed about it, we both agreed I could be a good fit.

So what’s the POV going to look like in the Michaelangelo era? For starters, I don’t plan on changing much. What Reed has built is working, and my goal is to keep it working. During the season you should expect to see everything you see now: Game notes, Predictions threads, Game threads, MMQB etc. During recruiting season you’ll see a post after every commit. The goal is to sustain the success Reed’s built and keep our community intact. I think we can all agree that is a very good thing.

As you might expect, you are going to see some new wrinkles as far as content, and I hope you enjoy them. Also, I want to be clear that I will not shy away from calling a spade a spade. Good will be called good. Bad will be called bad. Ugly will be called ugly. That, as a fan and publisher of this blog is my right. As a fan base, it is our collective right, and I think it’s a big part of what has made this blog so successful.

Which brings me to a very important thing. I do intend to leave Reed’s Rules of Order in place.

As a refresher the rules are as follows:

  1. There will be no profanity on this blog. Comments with profanity will automatically filtered by WordPress and will not posted. I understand that we are all passionate Pitt fans, but we are also all college graduates (or at least smart enough to type). Use your vocabulary people. If you simply cannot contain yourself, then you can do it like this: A–. S—. F—. We’ll know what you mean. Please do not complain if you put a swear word in a post and it does not get posted.
  2. Political commentary will not be tolerated. This is a sports blog not a political blog. End of discussion.
  3. Personal attacks, public or private, will not be tolerated. Again, I get that we are passionate Pitt fans. Everyone is entitled to express their opinion about the football program, game, players, etc. Everyone is entitled to disagree. However NO ONE is entitled to call someone names or verbally abuse someone because their opinion is different. Feel free to forcefully disagree with an opinion, but do not attack the person who wrote it.

This seems to be relevant topic recently so I will give an example of what is okay and what is not okay.

Example 1: Acceptable Exchange

i. Pitt Fan #1: Man Pat Narudzzi really is an arrogant prick and I hate him. He also sucks at coaching and has no plan for this team. We need to fire his A–, and I’m no longer donating to Pitt Athletics until we do.

ii. Pitt Fan #2: Wow I really disagree with your opinion PF#1. Look, we are on a three game winning streak. Sure Tyler Sear left the team and all that but we may not know all the facts. I’m sorry you feel that way.

iii. Pitt Fan #1: Yea well I have some inside info on Tyler sear that says Nardo totally punked him. Same thing happened with Ox. I think you’re wrong and i think you are way too optimistic PF#2.

iv. Pitt Fan #2: Frankly PF#1I think that your opinion is garbage. No evidence whatsoever of that. But hey man, you are entitled to it. I think we should agree to disagree. Have a good day.

Example #2: NOT Acceptable:

v. Pitt Fan #1: Man Pat Narudzzi really is an arrogant prick and I hate him. He also sucks at coaching and has no plan for this team. We need to fire his A–, and I’m no longer donating to Pitt Athletics until we do.

vi. Pitt Fan #2: You F—ing jagoff. You are so f—ing dumb how can you even think that. You’re the biggest moron there is and you don’t know anything about Pitt Sports. Narduzzi clearly has us on a roll. Why don’t you stop posting this garbage. You are the prick here not Pat.

As you can see in the first example Pitt Fan both fans are disagreeing, but they are attacking each other’s opinions, not the person.

In example #2 each poster is attacking the other person. As college graduates we should be able to understand the difference here.

When in doubt take the high road folks. I will maintain a two-strike rule with this policy. You will get one warning and after that you are out. I reserve the right to change this to a one-strike rule if things get out of hand.

With that being said, once Reed hands me the keys to the blog, I am willing to grant an amnesty for anyone who was previously banned as long as they create a WordPress Account and agree to abide by the rules posted above. Again, the two-strike rule applies.

Lastly, one other thing that has made POV great is the contributions from the user base. Please keep these coming! User generated content is a big part of what we do and I will continue to welcome it. I can’t guarantee that I will be able to edit it as timely as Reed does, because unlike Reed I’m not retired, but I can promise you that it will get read, edited and posted, as long as it has merit and does not insult anyone.

Okay so that is a lot. Just a few final things while I’m on the keyboard… First, I would be extremely remiss if I did not thank Reed for for the opportunity. It’s truly an honor and I am clearly excited about it. Reed, I hope that once you are back in the saddle you’ll be a regular reader and guest poster. You’ll always hold the title of Founder and Blogger Emeritus for life!

I also would like to thank everyone in the community that I met at the POV tailgate during the VT game. Too many names to name but Ike, BIg B, Major Majors, LastRowofSection4, Erie Express, The ORIGINAL Atlanta Panther, Annie and so many others, have offered so much support already that I feel like there is no option but to be successful. Please feel free to let me know if you have suggestions and I’ll be reaching out when and if I need some help.

And with that I’ll close by saying that I’m looking forward to a great post-season and offseason.

Let’s Go Pitt!
-Michaelangelo

Note to All: Michelangelo’s take will be a younger and fresher view on Pitt football and if we remember each of his previous submitted articles were very informative and really well written. Couldn’t have a better person to take the helm.

Don’t Call It a Comeback…

Don’t Call It a Comeback…

 

Don’t Call it a Comeback – Thoughts on the Running Game and the Offensive Line
Michaelangelo Monteleone

Let’s talk about Pitt’s running game. It has not just been good this year; It has been historically good.

Here are the game average stats through 10 games:
2018
Yds: 256.9
YPC: 6.5
TD’s: 2.6

Pitt Hasn’t managed that kind of production since 2014, during James Connor’s sophomore season.
2014 Per game Avg
Yds: 249.4
YPC: 5.3
TD’s: 2.7

And to put this in perspective Pitt has NEVER averaged 6.5 yards per carry, and there are only two years where yards per game were higher. Some of you may remember these years. They involved nothing less than a Heisman trophy winner, running behind an All-American offensive line.

1975 Per game Avg
Yds: 300.5
YPC: 5.0
TD’s: 2.5

1976 Per game Avg
Yds: 316.9
YPC: 5.1
TD’s: 3.1

As you can see, we are in elite company.

Much of the credit goes the Quadree Ollison and Darrin Hall who comprise the best Thunder and Lightning duo Pittsburgh has seen since James Conner and Issac Bennet or Tony Dorsett and Elliott Walker

And by extension, much of the credit goes to Running Backs Coach Andre Powell. Quadree’s Hokie-breaking, record-setting 97 yard rampage doesn’t happen if Andre is not coaching him to break tackles and run violent. Remember, we didn’t see a whole lot of that during Q’s freshman year.

And indeed much of the credit does to George Aston, a preferred walk-on Linebacker from The Paul Chryst era who would likely be an all-American fullback … if there was such an award these days.

But a the biggest share of the credit goes to the Offensive Line, and their run blocking has been the surprise of the season.

Just to remind you, nobody was optimistic going in. The back-channel reports out of training camp were something along the lines of “major concern” and “historically bad”. They had little experience and even less perceived talent. It was going to be a very rough year.

To top it all off, our new o-line coach, Dave Borbley, was so bad that Maryland kicked him upstairs for the entire 2017 season. Yes, he’d always had a history of coaching up a strong running game, but this was his first year with Pitt, and he didn’t exactly have a ton of talent to work with.

A castoff leading castoffs. Let’s think about that for a minute.

Our starting left tackle was a two-star recruit and transfer from a tier-2 MAC program
Our starting right tackle was a slow-footed guard who was forced to play out of position.
Both of our starting guards spent most of their college careers switching positions.
Our center was a redshirt sophomore walk-on.
The line’s average recruiting stars: 2.4
And on top of that we were coached by a washed-up veteran that Shawn Watson picked off the scrap heap.

It’s easy to see why the fan base was not exactly optimistic.

And yet somehow this group of lineman has defied expectations.

After ten games:

We have an o-line that grades out top-11 in run blocking (“Line yards” on this page)
We have a rushing attack that is top 10 in the country (two spots ahead of Clemson I might add)

We have set yardage records on offense. Twice.

Our team is within spitting distance of an ACC Coastal division championship.

Not bad for a bunch of guys that nobody believed in.

Look, we all know that things aren’t perfect. Pass Protection continues to be an issue. Our offense is still fairly one-dimensional. If an opponent manages to stop the run we are going to find points hard to come by. And yes, next year could be a complete disaster, because we are losing just about everybody.

But now is not the time to worry about that. Now is not the time to focus on our shortcomings. Now is not the time to focus on next year. Now is not the time the be the Same Old Pitt Fan. You know what I am talking about.

Now is the time to live in the moment. Now is the time to savor a dominant win in a big game at home. Now is the time to enjoy this offense, one beautifully-blocked running play at a time. Because right now we have something special.

At least until the next game.

Hail To Pitt,

Michaelangelo