Pitt’s spring practice starts on Wednesday, and all I can say is, “Man, that came up fast”.  Seems like just yesterday we were complaining about what went down in El Paso.

And yet here we are, just a few days out from fourteen closed practices and one glorified scrimmage that will tell us very little about how good this team actually is.  Nonetheless, all of the information that comes out of spring practice will be both controlled by Pitt’s  Coaching Staff and much discussed by the fans – thanks to Pat Narduzzi’s unpopular closed-practice policy.

In the meantime, we can speculate as to what will happen, and who will emerge, and how good the team will be, and speculate we shall.

But first, lets kick it off with a little rah-rah:

Many spring previews have already been published, and so my aim is not to rehash the same old material.  Nonetheless, many of the same conclusions will be drawn, because, well, there are only so many takes to go around.  Hopefully you at least find this an engaging read and as we step through what by now may be a stale discussion.

Also you will notice that I’ve included the players’ ages.  This is because I believe them to be relevant.  While talent cannot be taught, things like discipline, mental maturity, football intelligence and physical maturity can be developed over time, and in college football those things can give a team an edge, maybe not against top competition, but certainly against fair-to-middling teams.  If this staff is developing players the way that they should be, then a team laden with 21 year old starters will have a better chance of overall success, even if the starters don’t have a ton of game experience.

Note that the age stat is the player’s age at the start of the season.

With that being said, we’ll go ahead and get started with…

The Defensive Line

Projected Starters:

  • Rashad Weaver – DE – rJr
  • Keyshon Camp – DT – rJr
  • Rashad Wheeler – DT – rJr or Amir Watts – DT – Sr
  • Patrick Jones II – DE – r-Jr

Projected Backups:

  • John Morgan or David Green – DE – both rFr
  • Jaylen Twyman – DT – rSo
  • Rashad Wheeler – DT – rJr or Amir Watts – DT – Sr
  • Deslin Alexandre – DE – rSo

Age of Projected Starters (Avg):  21, 21, 21, 20, (21)

Age of Projected Backups (Avg): 19, 21, 20, 21 (20)

Player we can Least Afford to Lose:  Rashad Weaver, because he’s already the stud of the group and we are thinnest at DE.

Potential Breakouts:  Keyshon Camp, Patrick Jones, Jaylen Twyman

Wildcard:  rFr DE’s

Michaelangelo’s Take:  Defensive line coach Charlie Partridge has an experienced and talented front four returning in 2019, and they’ve appeared in 72 games combined.  Weaver was good last year (rSo year), and if he applies himself in the offseason he could be in line for double digit sacks as well as some potential all-ACC accolades.  Patrick Jones was productive as the top DE off the bench last season, and he plays with a nasty streak.  Suffice to say this is the best I’ve felt about Pitt’s starting DE’s in a long time, assuming they can stay healthy, and fresh.  And fresh is the key.  Pitt likes to rotate linemen, and they are going to need a redshirt freshman DE to step up to give Weaver and Jones a blow now and again.

The defensive tackles aren’t as dynamic, but they are stout, and Pitt has a solid 4-deep.  Twyman is the youngster of the group but he just might be the most disruptive.  He’s got a cat-quick first step and he seemed to consistently get good penetration in 2018.  Twyman also played well against good competition.  He had a season-high four tackles with a three-yard sack assist against Clemson in the ACC Championship.  It will also be nice to have Keyshon Camp healthy for a full season.  His projected 2018 full season stats (if he’d played 12 games) were 25 tackles, 5 TFL and 4 Sacks, which is not at all bad for a sophomore DT.  If he cap step that production up a notch in 2019 our D-line should finally be a team strength.

The Linebackers

Projected Starters:

  • Saleem Brightwell – Money – rSr
  • Chase Pine – MLB – rJr or Elias Reynolds -MLB – rJr
  • Cam Bright – Star – rSo or Phil Campbell – Star – rJr

Projected Backups:

  • Albert Tucker – Money – rSo
  • Chase Pine – MLB – rJr or Elias Reynolds – MLB – rJr
  • Phil Campbell – Star – rJr or Cam Bright – Star – rSo

Age of Projected Starters (Avg):  22, 21, 20 (21)

Age of Projected Backups (Avg):  20,  21, 21 (21)

Player we can Least Afford to Lose:  Brightwell, if only because he’s a senior.

Potential Breakouts:  Chase Pine, Saleem Brightwell

Wildcard:  Phil Campbell, Kyle Nunn

Michaelangelo’s Take:  I don’t think Pitt has had a difference maker at linebacker since Scott McKillop graduated in 2008, and I’m not sure there will be a difference maker this year.  If someone is going to break out, I’d hang my hat on Chase Pine, who seems to have all the physical tools and looked pretty good at times during the Sun Bowl.  Pine has never had more than two tackles per game in 2018 though, and the coaching staff’s decision to move him to DE last year and then back to MLB has me scratching my head.  Did they do that to sharpen Pine’s pass rushing skills, or did they do that because he’s dumb as a rock?  I am hoping it’s the former.  Assuming Elias Reynolds is out of Narduzzi’s doghouse (he was benched for the Sun Bowl for unspecified reasons), I’d expect he’d be a solid-if-unspectacular option in the middle (if Pine doesn’t win the job.) Reynolds, while a solid tackler and smart player, doesn’t seem twitchy enough to be a difference maker and his slow footspeed makes him a liability in pass coverage.  Maybe he’s worked on this in the offseason and will surprise us.

The Money Linebacker spot should be in good hands redshirt Senior Saleem Brightwell manning the position.  Brightwell is another player who has posted decent numbers during his career but just hasn’t seemed to break out.  He does seem to play well against Clemson though, with four tackles in the ACC championship and that unforgettable 70 yard interception in the 2016 upset down at Death Valley.

The Star linebacker is a different story.  Incumbent backup and presumed starter (and former Ed Conway Award winner) Anthony McKee announced this week that he was hanging up the spikes.  He had graduated and he had never really done a lot on the field, and the coaches probably told him that they were moving safety Phil Campbell into the linebacker room to provide additional competition, so you can understand why McKee decided to move on.  That leaves rSo Cam Bright to battle with the aforementioned Campbell.  I don’t love that, because Bright is a little bit young and Campbell is learning a new position.  Chances are both of them will see the field until one of them begins to separate, and because of that, the Star Linebacker could end up being the weak link in the defense, especially early in the season.

I also included Kyle Nunn in here as a wildcard, mostly because of this interview, and the quality nickname that came out of it, “The Sewer Rat”.

The bottom line is that no matter what they call these guys, if somebody doesn’t step up this unit probably isn’t going to be any better than average in 2019.

The Defensive Backs

Projected Starters:

  • Dane Jackson – CB – rSr
  • Paris Ford – FS – rSo or Jazzee Stocker – FS – rSr
  • Damar Hamlin – SS – Sr
  • Jason Pinnock – CB – Jr

Projected Backups:

  • Marquis Williams – CB – rFr
  • Therran Coleman – Fs – rJr
  • Bricen Garner – SS – rJr
  • Damarri Mathis – CB – Jr

Age of Projected Starters (Avg):  22, 21, 21, 20 (21)

Age of Projected Backups (Avg): 20, 21, 22, 20 (20)

Player we can Least Afford to Lose: Our depth is so good here that it kind of doesn’t matter, but I’ll say Dane Jackson, because there is slightly less depth at corner than at safety.

Potential Breakouts:  Paris Ford, Jazzee Stocker, Jason Pinnock

Wildcard:  Marquis Williams

Michaelangelo’s Take:  If Linebacker is Pitt’s version of the no-name defense, then Defensive Back is Pitt’s version of the Dream Team because there is both depth and talent throughout the defensive backfield.  Dane Jackson and Damar Hamlin each received All-ACC Honorable mention in 2018, and both are back for their senior year.  If they stay healthy, we should expect big things out of this duo.  There is speculation that Hamlin will slide over to Free Safety to allow Paris Ford to step in at Strong Safety (which I’m assuming is the less mentally taxing of the two safety positions).   Ford’s status with the team was touch-and-go for a minute during the Sun Bowl, but he appears to have gotten past whatever it was that kept him in Pittsburgh for the bowl game, and judging by his Twitter feed, Ford has rededicated himself to earning as starting job.  If he can manage to harness his own talent he could be in for a year similar to Hamlin’s 2018.  (76 tackles, 2 INT, 4 PBU).

Ford will probably be competing against Jazzee Stocker who seems like he’s been around forever.  Stocker will be a redshirt Senior and also the elder statesman of the group at 23 years old on opening day.  At the very least Stocker will provide quality depth for Ford if Ford manages to win the job.

The other corner spot (opposite Dane Jackson) will likely be manned by Jason Pinnock, who split time with Damarri Mathis last year.  Pinnock’s numbers appear to be slightly more dynamic than Mathis’, and Pinnock also had 3 PBU’s in the fourth quarter of the ACC championship vs Clemson, so I believe he may have the inside track to a starting role.  It’s likely there will be some form of platoon again in 2019, because Narduzzi and Co do like to get their talented backups on the field to build depth at a position.

The only real question mark in my opinion is what happens if the two starting corners go down with injuries?  Mathis will be able to step in without much of a dropoff, but the fourth corner is a bit of a crapshoot.  We do have the talented and pedigreed Marquis Williams who appeared in four games last year, so I will assume he’s the likely choice.   Williams’ uncle, Tyrone Carter won the Jim Thorpe Award in 1999 and played 11 seasons in the NFL.  You may remember him from the Steelers from 2004-2009.  The bad news is that Williams is both young – just a redshirt Freshman – and short – he’s just 5’8″ tall.  With that being said, both Pinnock and Mathis performed well as Frosh, and neither of them have the bloodlines of Williams.

Positional depth nonwithstanding, I’m hoping we can keep the foursome of Jackson, Hamlin, Ford/Stocker, and Pinnock intact this year, because if they play up to their potential our defensive backfield could be pretty darn good.

 

So a couple of takeaways.  First of all we have age on our side.  While we don’t have a lot of seniors, we do have a lot of 21 year olds.  If they’ve been applying themselves in the offseason, this is a very good thing.  Second, this piece pretty much sums up what a lot of you have been saying already.  The consensus is that Pitt’s D Line should be good, our Linebackers will probably okay just okay, and our Defensive Backs should be pretty good as well.  Of course, you never really know at this stage, and that’s why spring ball is important.  It’s a chance for players to learn and develop.  We won’t truly know until opening day who’s developed to the point of making an impact, but there is always someone who surprises.  I can’t wait to see who it is.

Hail to Pitt

Michaelangelo Monteleone

 

79 thoughts on “Pitt Football 2019 Spring Preview: The Defense

  1. Yay!!!! Football talk! Yay!!

    Excellent article, MM. My thoughts on the D pretty much line up with yours. As I read your article, anytime I had a thought to inject, you seemed to cover it in your next sentence. Go Twyman!

    Go Pitt.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Another comment — I found it interesting MM, that you included the ages of the players. I often find myself checking birthday dates and hoping that Pitt guys were held back earlier so that they are older players in college.

    Go Pitt.

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  3. Pitt might want to think of buying some kegs of beer as refreshment after practice since it looks like most of the D will be of legal drinking age.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jamal Davis II. The name should sound familiar.

    Recruited by Chryst in 2014, I remember Davis looking like an IMPACT Player at Linebacker based on his high school highlights.

    Watching him at the 2015 Spring Game at the Highmark confirmed that. Stood out athletically from the other Linebackers despite being only a Freshman.

    Ended up transferring from Pitt to Akron where he was able to make a bit of a name for himself as a D-End.

    Now 6-3 240. Just ran a 4.65 at the Combine.

    Projected as an EDGE Rusher in the NFL.

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      1. Duzz had Davis as a redshirt freshman, correct? The kid wasn’t physically ready to start and jumped ship immediately. I don’t blame coach one bit on this one. The kid wasn’t patient and jumped ship, which is the way of the world in athletics these days.

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            1. It’s not like Davis went up in competition. The young man made a nice career move and it worked out for him. Nothing to see here.

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            2. Davis’ mom did call the Cook and Poni show that 2015 season. She seemed all excited about her son so maybe she played a big role in him leaving. It wouldn’t be the first time a helicopter parent played the part in their son transferring. We’ll see what Davis’ 40 time translated to on draft day.

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              1. from Wiki
                A helicopter parent (also called a cosseting parent or simply a cosseter)[1] is a parent who pays extremely close attention to a child’s or children’s experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions. Helicopter parents are so named because, like helicopters, they “hover overhead”, overseeing every aspect of their child’s life constantly.

                NateB, I remember the phone call (I used to listen to The Fan on the computer when I was working). It was right after Davis recovered a blocked punt which set up a score vs UNC (I think). If memory serves, she thought it would open the door to him being a starter. And she meant right away.

                My guess is that she wanted him back home because get this … he redshirted in 2014, played special teams and a few plays at OLB in ’15, then sat out 2016 because of the transfer He did start the last 2 years at DE for Akron.

                Liked by 1 person

    1. Something that always amazes me about tackling stats is that so many of these players put in all this time training, practicing, and preparing, and they end up making one or two tackles per game.

      I realize that all eleven defensive guys have a job to do on each play, and you can make a great play and not make the tackle, but in such a stats-driven world, these stats are tough for these guys…

      Go Pitt.

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    1. Hey POD, didn’t Kyler Murray transfer from Texas, no question mark because he did. You act like kids don’t transfer from every program. The LOL was uncalled for imo. Oh wait a minute, Mayfield was a transfer as well (another Heisman award winner) but only Narduzzi can’t keep players on his roster?? Say something nice once in a while, it makes you feel good. ike

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  5. That’s a great article Michael, detailed, informative and best of all……… it’s about PITT football. Yeah! The effort is obvious and greatly appreciated.

    couple other notes I marked down: Younger players that could contribute, mostly wild guesses mixed with gut feelings.

    Guess I’ll start with Wendell Davis that wwb beat me to, I had him down as a possible young contributor, I know the coaches like this young man so chances are…. he will get a good chance.

    I’ve liked Albert Tucker since he came to PITT but I really haven’t got much to go on with this kid but I heard he’s a superior athlete.. we will see I suppose?

    An older player that I’ve liked for a long time. I watch him closely and he’s most always around the football. Any injuries and PITT will need a player like Bricen garner to come in and save the day. He will get his playing time and I’m guessing he will make the most of his opportunities.

    Devin Danielson, played last year and should fit into the rotation that the PITT coaches like to use. A real run stopper type.

    I really like David Green, yes, I’ve compared him in some ways to Aaron Donald although I know he’s no AD. Nobody is or will ever be.

    Tyler Bentley for two reasons. One, I think he could be very special and two, he could allow PITT to get Watts his red-shirt that he hasn’t used yet. There’s plenty of depth without Amir this coming season. Think about this, PITT will start only 3 seniors on defense this coming season and the defense is expected to be better than it has been in years. Dane Jackson, Damar Hamlin and Brightwell are the three. There is a good chance that Hamlin could get another year so stay tuned to that. << which means only 2 starters on D. Point is, The PITT defense should be loaded again next year. Fingers crossed.

    No, I’m not looking past this season one bit, not at all.

    Lastly, I’ll throw this out there. The next possible walk-on to earn a scholarship at PITT. Brian Burgess, we all love the underdog and I’ll throw my hat in this young man’s corner. Here’s his bio 6’2″ 290 lbs
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    2018: Did not play in any games.

    2017: Joined Pitt as a training camp walk-on…did not play in any games and redshirted.

    HIGH SCHOOL: A three-year, two-way starter on the offensive and defensive lines at Charleroi…also contributed as a long snapper…Pennsylvania Football News All-Class 2A (second team)…two-time first team All-Century Conference…as a senior offensive tackle, led team in pancake blocks…on defense, compiled 41 tackles, 28 TFLs and six sacks…played under Coach Donnie Militzer…selected to play in the Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association (PSFCA) East/West Game…recipient of the U.S. Army Reserve National Scholar Athlete Award.

    PERSONAL: Brian Josh Burgess, born 10/16/98, is the son of Roxanne Burgess…has one brother…enrolled in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences.

    ike H2P!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ike — my sleeper offensive lineman (guard) is Kenny Rainey III.
      Listed at 6-3 and 320#, – (would like to see him lose a few pounds 😊).

      He’s a walk-on from Aliquippa and will be a redshirt Soph.

      I remember Coach Borbely bragging about him – unsolicited- as looking pretty good…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. ^^ John, I thought of Rainey and I’ve mentioned his name a few times before but I know you like him so I left him for you to give the shout out. . .. 🙂 Hope all is well with you and your family friend. ike

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The LB group seems somewhat of a disappointment AGAIN based on this article. Pitt needs a player or two to step up as a 1st team all ACC stud. Feels Lyke some good players might be missing.

    Let’s hope so.

    I’m following the baseball team this afternoon who happen to be loosing in the 7th to Central Michigan 2-4.

    Another poor defensive effort with three errors early in the game.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It looks like Hendrix is a washout at DE. Such promise but no production. Not sure whatever held him back but Tennessee must have seen it early on.

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  9. Erie… I didn’t think much of Pine good or bad when he came out of High School. But seen enough of him to think he could eventually become a FORCE in the Middle.

    Big with enough NASTY to make up for any lack of athletic ability.

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  10. And as far as Hendrix… to read about him when he first came in via Tennessee, you would have thought he was a WORLD BEATER.

    He’s had his moments but without the kind of consistency that makes for a truly good Player.

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  11. BTW… M, gotta give you props for your take on the decision to move Pine to D-End and then back to Linebacker.

    “Did they do that to sharpen Pine’s pass rushing skills, or did they do that because he’s dumb as a rock? I am hoping it’s the former.”

    My only question is the “he.” Is that a reference to Pine or perhaps a certain Coach to remain nameless?

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  12. Agreed, PoD. Unfortunately transfers often fail to pan out. There is often a reason they don’t stick around with their original team. Pitt has actually been pretty successful with transfers with several paying off the past few years. Let’s see if Gregg makes a contribution this year at TE.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. QB transfers: Bama QB went to Okla and Okla’s QB went to WVU, who will be the 3rd straight transfer to QB for the Eers. OSU backup went to Miami, the same guy who flipped from PSU The 3-year starter at Wisc just entered the transfer portal, and Pitt will face an ND QB transfer when they play UCF this fall..

    What I’m saying is that this is the world in which we currently live

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  14. At LB, I wonder if we’ve seen enough of guys like Tucker and Bright to know if they can be any better than average…

    Same goes for Davis and Nunn. All these guys are young or are just getting to the point where could make a splash.

    We sure could use a big-splash guy at LB, though Reynolds, Brightwell, and Bright could turn out to be a decent trio — especially behind what should be our best DLine in a while.

    Go Pitt.

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    1. a definite concern since we open with UVa and 2 weeks later, it’s PSU and then UCF. I would think we can win the 1st two (UVa and Ohio) but you never know

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    2. Yes I think this maybe was more my point. We hope they can make a splash, but we just don’t know.

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  15. I think we are emphasizing the standard LB position too much. Against the run pass option (which we face a lot), there is a need for 5 defensive backs at most times and 6 in passing situations. It makes sense to move some of our Strong Safety or Free Safety candidates up into the LB/hybrid position. By doing this, the defense can capitalize on the additional speed instead of the normal linebacker 4.8- 5.0 speed. Replace that with 4.6 speed and we become more able to defend the RPO and faster overall.

    The player analysis is great MM, but the part of the defense that is missing in my opinion, is the defensive scheme to play to our strengths against the run pass option.

    I can smell the pigskin in the air……..

    Liked by 5 people

    1. That is a good point. I didn’t take nickel or dime packages into account at all and when defending the spread nickel is pretty much the base defense

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Yep, we haven’t seen enough of some the younger players to know how good or bad they may turn out to be and that may not be the worst thing. Chances are that players like Tucker and Bright needed time to grow which incidentally is part of the theme of Mike’s article. Maturity. Not knowing how the young players will mature is kind of like the proverbial box of chocolates. Look at Pine’s numbers as far as size goes. He’s packed on at least 30 lbs of muscle since high school. The time for Narduzzi’s players to step forward has come today!! Ku Kuu

    Liked by 2 people

  17. —Wonder if we see Marquis Williams used to cover slot receivers! MW is not tall but he’s super quick.

    —Whoever is on the field, we need Coach Bates to fix that problem where the corner hands off a WR and no one picks him up.

    We went from our biggest defensive problem being the corners on islands, to the biggest problem being the corners not being on islands…
    🤔

    Go Pitt.

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  18. I so admire all of your excitement in the most minute details. I remember when I had that excitement and couldn’t wait for the first Football mags to hit the shelves.

    Or when Pitt Blather started posting details of Spring Practice. Then Reed and POV came along…..

    No more for me. This will be my last football post. I just don’t believe Narduzzi is the answer and until a change is made I have better things to do with my time and money. The Penn State game, NC debacle and the last three losses plus a horrendous recruiting effort portend big trouble this Fall.

    I see a loss to UVA another Penn State blow out a rout by UCF and more dismal failure ahead in 2019.

    Blessings and a H2P to all who still care. C u at the golf event.

    H2P but not Narduzzi.

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    1. Dan — I understand completely — it is so frustrating to be a Pitt FB fan.

      Somehow, I still got enough joy out of the 6-2 conference record – and especially the play during Pitt’s 4 game win streak – to nose out the utter anguish over the ugly losses…

      Good luck at the golf outing.

      Go Pitt.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Well Dan, I hope your wrong but since I remember early this season you thought this Pitt BB team would be very competitive in most ACC games this year. Thus IMO there is every good reason to believe you may be wrong about Pitt FB and Narduzzi.

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    3. This is sad news Dan, but thanks for sharing. You certainly have the right to your own opinion about PN. I’ll leave you with this thought, which I was saving for a future article.

      There is every likelihood that you will be proven right and the team will implode this year.

      But…there is an equal likelihood that the staff changes that were made actually work.

      I’m saving this for a season preview but I think this season is make or break for PN and if he doesn’t win the coastal again (or win 9 and including a bowl) his seat is going to get pretty damn hot.

      Either way, thanks for your participation on the football posts, and look forward to seeing your input on the basketball side.

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  19. Sad but understand your feelings Dan. Was really looking forward to seeing you again this coming fall. Although I have season tickets again, I talked it over with my wife and we plan on attending only 2 games this season. UVA and UNC. Plans do change but for now that’s the plan. Not much doubt this will be my last season for PITT games.

    Question Dan, what if PITT beats UVA and gives psu a good run for their money, win or lose? << This is a catch 22 question. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Pitt’s biggest problem on defense was hardly mentioned yesterday and that IMO is our starting.safeties. Hamlin came on some late last year but was still very inconsistent with his play. And counting on Paris Ford to be a big contributor at the position is a real stretch. He may be athletic enough but I’m not sure he has what it takes between the ears in the Narduzzi defense to be a big contributor. The other names mentioned are at best average to below average power 5 safeties.

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  21. Sad news for me from Dan and Ike…but I understand.
    See you guys at the outing.

    I think many more are on the fence and I’m hoping this is the year some tangible gains are made so we don’t continue to be simply “hopeful”

    Not only is hope not a plan, it’s not a metric.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I believe this is the year the Pitt changes schemes to five DB’s. Jackson and Pinnock become dominate, shutdown corners with Mathis as the slot DB. Hamlin and Ford would roam freely depending on the game situations, with two LB-ers supporting a very good DL. Brightwell and Pine would be my choice as starters, with Reynolds and Cam Bright rotating in with fresh legs.

    The D will need to shutdown opponents in the early part of the season while our new OC finds the winning combos on the offensive side. We have many good WR’s, but all other position starters are unknown right now for various reasons, including QB.

    Dan and Ike – I’ll leave you with this thought – remember the season we beat the B1G champs (not our rival) and the ACC champs (eventual National Champs as well) and the Pitt HC was Pat Narduzzi?

    Liked by 3 people

  23. Sad news for me as well, Ike and Dan. Besides what is going on at Pitt, I’m hopeful that there is so much transition at many of the ACC FB programs that the stability at Pitt will keep us in the hunt for another Coastal Division title this coming season.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. PITT football is not the reason I will be limiting my games this year. BTW, my game schedule is tentative at this point. I have a much better feeling about this years team. I also agree that last year and now this year will let us all know what kind of all around coach Narduzzi is.

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      1. The funny thing is if you told a lot of people in 2014 that Pitt was going to hire “a coach” and he would go 20-12 in the acc for his first four years, beat Clemson at home in year 2 and win the coastal in year 4 you probably wouldn’t have believed it, and you certainly would have labeled it an upgrade over the previous four years.

        But the bowl losses. And the blowouts. And the personality issues. I guess style points do matter.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Those last three points are attributed to the fact that Duzz had ZERO head coaching experience, which does matter.

          Miami has a new HC with only assistant coaching experience and he is loading up on transfers.
          VT has lost half their team to suspensions and transfers.
          Duke lost a QB with NFL talent.
          Cuse and UVA are on the rise.
          GT has a new coach and new schemes to learn.

          I Lyke Pitt’s opportunities in 2019.

          H2P!

          Liked by 3 people

          1. BC and Miami look Lyke the toughest two ACC games on the schedule. The Coastal is in play again in 2019.

            A winning record in the OOC portion of the schedule will get this team ranked. A bowl win keeps them ranked at season’s end.

            Progress.

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  24. Once again the melodrama and cynicism of POV is palpable. Now we see someone quit the site a week BEFORE spring practice begins. He didn’t quit after the 5-7 season, or immediately after the bowl loss.

    But instead, he quits with a dramatic statement about the current coach who has done no better or worse than any other coach the past 3 decades. I’m sure this will send shock waves throughout the Pitt athletic office.

    Is Cynicism 101 a requirement at Pitt? If so, I’m glad I didn’t attend

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    1. It appears that many POVers decided to take the course.

      I welcome everyone here to go back to te archives of Pitt Blather and look at the comments back in 2010 when the most successful coach of the past 30 plus years was axed. A move that was fully endorsed by the blog owner at the time …. and this was before any knowledge of the Sports Illustrated. The comments were definitely in favor of the firing

      Go back to the beginning of 2009 when the Pitt QB was heavily booed despite a 38-3 win vs YSU (imagine that). Again, this was endorsed by the blog owner who made the case that the boos were directed to the HC and not the QB (as if that made a difference.)

      What’s the saying about those who do not learn from history …

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Great analysis MM. Largely agree. Should be best D-line in years. Think linebackers should be serviceable. D-backs are more talented and deep.

        Questions on who will step up, Pine or Reynolds? Will Ford finally live up to the hype?

        Who will be the break out guys?

        Overall think the defense will be good enough, if the offense can put up enough points.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I think part of the reason is that a large portion of the active fan base was complete spoiled by Pitt’s success in the 1970’s. Now with that being said, if you don’t set high standards you’ll never achieve them, so I appreciate that we as fans do have high standards. (And I would expect ya to!). I guess what perplexes me is why fans don’t stay with the team through the times when they aren’t living up to the standards they set. If you look at programs like Univ of of Tennessee they have been no better than Pitt during the last ten years and still draw 100k fans. And the fans do complain but they are still there to support the team. Now I know that Pitt will never be like that for a lot of reasons but it would be nice to see a cultural shift over time to a more consistently supportive fan base, in my opinion

        Like

        1. from reading Pitt blogs, local newspapers, working with Pitt alums, etc. .. I am convinced that the cynicism is largely just an excuse for Pitt fans not to support the program … and I have held that opinion for many years.

          An example is how many people complain about a noon or 12:30 start. Yet, go to the B12 or western half of the B10 and see how many 11 am local time starts there are … and they still draw large crowds.

          There are many things wrong with Pitt FB … but anyone who thinks that most of these wrongs are because of the current coach is a fool

          Like

          1. The “wrongs” are on the administration. The front porch looks better than a few years ago, but more is needed to make it more inviting to the fan base.

            Clemson is a great example of a school that had an administration get behind the athletic dept and commit to winning.

            Liked by 1 person

  25. I’ve read numerous comparisons of Duzz to Mark Dantonio, HC at Mich St and former boss of Pat Narduzzi over the years here on the POV.

    Most of the time I’d dismiss the comparison because Dantonio had HC-ing experience prior to taking the Mich St job and Duzz did not, prior to Pitt. Experience matters in my book.

    So, this morning, on a vacation day, I looked at Dantonio’s career record.

    He had a winning record in 2 of his only 3 years at Cincinnati. Same with Duzz at Pitt
    At Mich St, he had his first losing season with the Spartans in year 3. Same with Duzz
    He was 0-4 in bowl games in his first 4 years. Duzz is 0-3
    MD won his first division championship in year 4. Same with Duzz

    My optimism just rose a few notches.

    H2P!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In year 5 at Mich St, Dantonio had an overall record of 11-3, division title record of 7-1, won his 1st bowl game as the Mich St HC and finished the season with a team ranked #10.

      I’m ready for year 5 of the Duzz – my expectations are high too.

      H2P!

      Like

      1. that year 2011, the OOC for Mich St was YSU, Fl Atlantic, West Mich and Notre Dame .. and ND beat them 31-13. The next week, ND beat Pitt 15-12 (in the year of Fraud).

        Just sayin

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Pitt & Duzz will have a year 5 OOC of Ohio, PSUX, UCF and Marshall. Two of the four will be ranked in the pre-season polls.

          Like

    2. Don’t forget though that MSU has more support and money. The school also never looked too deep into rape by football and basketball players.

      The Spartans elevated to where I don’t think Pitt can reach due to the BoT and Gallagher.

      Like

      1. But the Duzz’s former boss for many years laid a blueprint as to what to do and when. Duzz seems on track to build something good at Pitt. That was all I was pointing out.

        Liked by 1 person

  26. At the risk of driving a few of you people crazy I repeat. PITT won the Coastal division last year. Yet some don’t want to see that as a step forward? << There, are you happy now, I’m driving myself crazy?

    Like

  27. Fans do support Pitt. There is an abundance of fans from the 70’s to the 90’s. Pitt probably has a top 10 loyal fan base given the repeated efforts of the administration to destroy the program whether intentional or incidental.

    But, Pitt hasnt done a good job creating new fans and creating a brand that is recognizable. Winning helps but its only one component. Its not just rooting for your team but its rooting for your school. And playing off campus in an NFL venue doesnt help with that.

    Pitt fans have a right to be cynical. They’ve earned that right. Until Pitt moves their home back to campus, I wont take this school seriously and few others outside the area do as well.

    When your coach makes a top 40 salary, I expect bowl wins and 9-10 win seasons
    When you play off campus, I expect other schools to use it against Pitt in recruiting
    When you have no consistent colors, I expect no identity
    When the administration dips their toe into the athletic waters, I expect nothing more than mediocrity

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good points, but I think having an on-campus stadium again would just change the excuses for staying home and watching the games on TV.

      Traffic is too heavy in Oakland; tough to find parking; no place to tail-gate; on and on…

      We’re just not a school where the vast majority of the students go ga-ga over their football team – which means the vast majority of alums don’t either.

      I kind of wish we were one of those schools. I remember going to all the home games in those long ago 1-9 seasons… It never occurred to me then whether or not the administration was providing enough support or whether we should have different color uniforms. I was just rooting for my team.

      Go Pitt.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. with staying at home, you miss the sights, sounds and smells that you can only get by attending a game
        build a domed venue with a retractable roof
        incorporate the latest wi-fi technology so you can can real time game info
        traffic and parking are issues at most on campus stadiums and schools have solutions to address them

        sports isnt part of the everyday fabric for Pitt
        sports doesnt influence Pitt’s brand and identity as much as other schools
        sports at Pitt isnt used extensively to generate school pride and spirit

        But its difficult to connect fans with the university when fans arent on campus gameday
        and making a connection is the key

        Like

    2. When TX Panther gets fired up, he sounds like Confucius

      Lol

      In fairness 9-10 wins a season is a top 20 finish, you are asking him and the program to overindex at a high level if he’s in the 40 range

      Like

      1. 9-10 wins should be top 30
        Stanford beat us to finish with 9 and they were ranked #28 in one poll
        so yes – I expect slightly better results for compensation…a higher ROI relative to the baseline

        Like

        1. Good numbers. I’ll agree to meet you in the middle on top 30 with a top 40 pay scale.

          Like

  28. Decades of being fed crap football will do that Tx. The reason why the older fans are still around, Dan excluded, is that we remember. We remember the winning, the home stadium, we remember the nice uniforms and we remember a college football game-day atmosphere no matter how crappy PITT stadium was. Having said that, I give the younger generation of fans that continue to follow PITT football, even after the lousy football they had to endure when they were in school, all the credit in the world. I cannot imagine what a college student has to go through to go and watch a PITT football game at Heinz Field? Get up early on a Saturday morning, get on a bus, watch a game, get on a bus again and go back to campus. That doesn’t sound like much fun to me. It’s just not a great game-day football experience imo.

    Now I say that as I grew up as a PITT football fan and low and behold, PITT got great in the mid 70’s. Who knows if Majors1 hadn’t turned things around? I may be a pedo fan right now. Gaad forbid!

    Liked by 1 person

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