Day three is in the books, and it was the first day in pads.  Predictably, Pat Narduzzi said very little of substance. Dave Borbley’s interview said more. Tre Tipton got some airtime and it seemed like EJ Borgetti trotted our just about every offensive lineman we have on the roster.

After all of that here are today’s ten things:

1.  The offensive line has a long way to go. (This was the first thing out of Dave Borbley’s mouth)

2.  If you believe Borbley and also some of the o-linemen (Hargrove and Morissey to be exact) the line actually has more athletic talent then last year. Whether or not that is true is  up for debate. If it is true (and realistically one should hold out hope that it is… unless they are a retired Coast Guard Shakespearean actor, or unless they currently reside in the state of Texas…) then the question is whether or not that talent can be harnessed. Which leads us to…

3.  Borbley professes that “mentally” the line is further along than last year. This actually kind of makes sense, given that …

4.  Whipple hasn’t changed much of the run plays.  The line are just kids but it’s their second year under Borbley, so you’d think they know what he expects.

5.  Narduzzi expects Grad transfer Nolan Ulizio to plug in at left tackle. He didn’t rule out Gabe Houy though.

6.  Coach Whip appears to be installing the offense at this point…and not trying to beat the defense, and if you watch the PSN 11 on 11 footage you need to hope this is true…

7.  This year is Tre Tipton’s fourth playbook (he thinks)

8.  Bryce Hargrove plays both guard positions and right tackle, but he feels like he’s “locked in” at right guard

9.  Bryce Hargrove and Rashad Wheeler are roommates

10.  Pitt’s pro day is tomorrow.  Hargrove predicted Bookser would get the most bench press reps at 34.  Narduzzi gave him 36.

Bonus:  That’s Beville about to get sacked in the image at the top of the page.  Linebacker came clean on the rollout…





50 thoughts on “Spring Practice 2019: Ten things we learned on day 3

  1. Good article MM.

    Given all the Oline emphasis, I thought I’d bump up my late comment from the previous article…

    —Be interesting to follow what develops with the OL.

    —We could have a very local left side of the OL if RSo Gabe Houy plays tackle and RJr Ford plays guard. Both are from Upper St. Clair. But they will have lots of competition.

    —Other local offensive linemen include RFr Kradel (Butler), RJr Wheeler (CC), RFr Zubovic (Belle Vernon), and my man RSo Kenny Rainey from Aliquippa.

    —I think the success or failure of the season will largely depend on whether we can find two solid offensive tackles, especially with the ability to pass protect. I feel good about finding two guards to play alongside Morrissey, it’s those pesky OT spots…

    Go Pitt.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t care where they come from as long as they play well. But it would be cool if we had a predominately local line that also played well

      Liked by 1 person

    1. and both are 3* recruits who have not signed yet…

      Back to FB – Borbs better earn his pay this year for both pass & run blocking schemes.

      H2P, Caesar and the state of Texas!


    2. soccergramps, it may be that Champagnie has not officially been reclassified.

      I believe the next BB signing period begins in April (not sure)


      1. Soccergramps – We have 3 nice commits, and I wouldn’t trust the sites to be updated with commitments any more than I would trust their star ratings. In fact, I wouldn’t say our 3rd commit, the 4 star, is any better than our 2 “3 stars”, and that’s not a slight on our 4/Champagnie, but I’d be willing to bet that the other 2 are as good and are more critical to our team next year due to their skill sets imho.


  2. If it is true (and realistically one should hold out hope that it is… unless they are a retired Coast Guard Shakespearean actor, or unless they currently reside in the state of Texas…)

    Those two images and that verbiage has probably never been used in the same sentence in the history of mankind. Well done Michaelangelo!!! Loved it!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I don’t understand what this is referring to…obviously others do as it has 2 likes already.
      What 2 images and what exact verbiage?


  3. Note that the only Pitt OL with senior status listed as possible starters is the Michigan transfer. I see this as a positive as hopefully the OL can get back to being where it should.

    Many of Pitt’s OL starters have been 5th year starters (this year Bookser, Dintino, Herndon, etc). And the current roster has no OLs from the 2015 recruiting class.

    Ford, Hargraves and Morrisey (Junior status in 2019)
    Houy, Drake, Warren, Van Lynn and Owen (Soph)
    Kradel and Zubovik (Frosh)

    Of course, we have no idea how these guys will work out. I do expect that a more pass-oriented offense will take some of the pressure off of them …. I would love to see a balanced attack this year — (just hope Mr Toilet Paper doesn’t abandon the runs)


  4. Well, I was half wrong on the OL last year as I thought they would suck across the board…although I did write that the OL would be stronger in run blocking as that is Borbly’s forte.

    But none of PN’s OLs have been that great with the exception of 2016 when the kids were inherited and O’Neill was moved to the line. Borbly’s lines have always had pass blocking issues and I don’t see that changing.


    1. starting OL are usually 3. 4 and 5 year guys. With few exceptions, they redshirt and get stronger and learn technique, and then finally make an impact. Thus, for the past two season, Pitt was dependent on the 2014 / 2015 recruiting classes … yet only Bookser, and Herndon & Dintino In their senior seasons panned out.

      Sadly, Grimm, Hayes, Paulno and Pilato never made it past their 3rd years,


  5. The O-line is definitely the teams biggest challenge. Having four new guys come in to start is really tough on an individual level, but more than any other unit the O-line needs to function as a unit.There is not much time to get the cohesiveness needed. Since most will have eligibility left, we shouldn’t have the problem next year.
    The question is can they execute their individual assignments well enough to keep drives going?

    Unfortunately, like last year the most important guy, the one that will protect Pickett’s backside, isn’t here yet.

    Also like last year the team will only be as good as the O-line so we don’t know don’t know if we will be able to score. Unlike last year we won’t have fifth year seniors who are bruisers across the line, but we will have younger guys that have been in the system and have played the same positions for the most part.

    The biggest unknown is how well they will pass block which is the most important improvement that needs to be made. The more time they give Kenny the better he will be.

    Another big loss is Aston who helped open many holes for the runners and was a key to the success of the running game.

    Two good things the coach said were that they are ahead of where they were last year and that individually they are more athletic. Another good thing is that Borbs is in his second year and knows what he is working with and is using the same terminology and system he implemented last year.

    We will find out if the individual players are good enough, because an O-line is only as good as its weakest link.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. One more thing, this is the first year for players exclusively recruited by Narduzzi, no more Chryst recruits, so we will find out if Narduzzi’s O-line recruits pass the test.


  7. Well the O-line was critiqued for having journeymen players that hadn’t played much and/or they had never played much O-line until last year which was very true. Now, I don’t know this as fact but I would venture a guess that pass blocking is a much harder than run blocking?? Which makes sense to why they may have struggled with pass blocking last year.

    Having said that, Most of this years O-line have been playing this position most of their lives. So possibly technique has already been semi installed in them somewhere along the way. Instead of starting from scratch maybe Borb’s just needs to fine tune this group. Another note, Morrissey coming back as the returning starter is really important. Remember what we all thought last year? 4 seniors and a walk-on center. Turns out Morrissey was the best of the bunch last year and is heralded as the best this year, keeping in mind just how important the center is to the entire O-line.

    Bottom line for me? I’m not going to lose any sleep over what I think will be an improved pass blocking O-line and yes, I really have no proof of this … . … ike

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ike – what worries me is that the “technique” can be awesome, but if the guy can’t move those feet fast enough laterally, then the technique doesn’t matter. Hopefully these guys truly are “more athletic” than last year’s group. Though we did have to play three guards on the line last year (Bookser, Dintino, Herndon)…

      Go Pitt.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. There are plenty of examples of teams having more difficulty getting the running game going than the passing game. I think it depends more on the individual skill sets of the players and also the QB and the running backs skill levels.

    Again, it doesn’t matter how long a guy has been practicing at a position if he just isn’t good enough to beat his man. This is what we will find out in the fall.


  9. Maryland football has always been a disaster and they have no history there for FB, it would be silly to judge Borbs on his tenure there, and I think most of us know that. That said, he seemed to do a much better than expected job with our OL last year, which gives me hope that the needle may be moving in the right direction. The interesting thing to me is, most everyone was pleased with the Whipple hire, but since this move was done to bolster our passing game, how well will things mesh if in fact Borbs’ weakness is coaching pass blocking? I for one will be interested to see how that chemistry plays out, and although I don’t buy the argument that CB is a bad pass blocking coach, I do think we’ll find out a lot more about that in the next 1-2 years, if he is here that long.

    Good article above, and yes I do believe this year’s OL will be more athletic, and if they do come together this year and improve as the year goes along, then we will have a nice foundation due to our youth. If they do not perform, then I could see KP’s starting role being curtailed one way or the other.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Speaking of Paul Chryst’s OL recruits:

    2012 – Gabe Roberts, Adam Bisnowaty
    2013 – Jones-Smith; Officer; Dorian Johnson; Carson Baker
    2014 – Bookser; Mike Grimm; Connor Hayes; (Dintino and Herndon were DT recruits)

    So PC did bring in some good Olinemen, especially Bisnowaty, Johnson Jones-Smith, Officer and Bookser, but he wasn’t immune to clunkers.

    BTW, in 2011, Graham only brought in Artie Rowell and Zenel Demhasaj. Yes, Zenel Demhasaj! What ever happened to him?

    2015 – Then Dooz struck out in his first recruiting class with Paulino and Pilato.
    2016 – Dooz continued to struggle with Zack Williams, Justin Morgan and Brandon Ford.
    2017 – Things seem to improve with Jerry Drake, Carter Warren, Gabe Houy, Carson Van Lynn, Owen Drexel
    2018 – Again, not bad with Zubovic, Chase Brown, Kradel; + Grad Transfer
    2019 – Liam Dick, Goncalves; + Grad Transfer

    I may have missed a few. Morrisey walked on at some point… I forget who switched O’Neil from TE to OT…

    What is evident to me is that we have not kept up the numbers in our OL recruiting. We seem to bring in way more DLmen than OLmen, but that may just be a perception I have…

    The 2017 – 2018 combo of OL classes will be the key going forward. Some decent looking players there who have now been around a while. But it seems that we need to start bringing in 5 Olinemen every class, which gives you a chance to get maybe 2 who actually contribute.

    I think OL is a tough position to evaluate because the big guys in HS can just dominate because they’re, well, the big guys in high school…

    When you see how many poor OL classes we have had, it’s no wonder we have struggled, and it’s easy to see why the Grad Transfers have been necessary…

    Go Pitt.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. It seems like they’ve recruited well enough over the past few years that they ought to be able to cobble together a half decent offensive line from all those guys. It’s not like last year’s line was really all that great, anyway. As good as they were against Wake Forest, they were basically overwhelmed against Miami and Clemson. Plenty of room for improvement there, even with all the turnover.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. If I have one big concern it would be the combination of both, an inexperienced O-line and the running back unit and how they will feed off each other. I think there is plenty of individual talent across the board there yet there is plenty of cohesiveness to work on. I really like Powell and hopefully coach Borb can round out this more athletic O-line into a better all around unit.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. No depth on the OL will be the problem going forward IMO. If losing Morrissey last year hurt the line so badly late last season what will happen if we have two or three of those named sidelined by injury?


    1. If 2 or 3 starting Olinemen go down, all but the elite teams are in trouble, and they might be too.

      Only so many 6’5” and 300 pound guys in the country who are athletic and have quick feet! 😊

      Go Pitt.


  14. You may be right MM but until we lost Morrissey late last season Pitt was fortunate to have little to no OL injuries to have to deal with. OLmen getting rolled up on from behind(as Morrissey was) often from their own RB’s is a common occurrence.


  15. Bad news, ike.

    Skippy narrowed his schools to six and we didn’t make the cut. Looks like Dayton is his close to home finalist… WVU is still in the hunt too.

    WVU going to be very tough next year with Culver returning and that excellent big man coming in — the one we also missed out on. ..

    ike – now you need to find another Skippy! Skippy II?

    Go Pitt.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ike, and your buddy Diallo is also hot on Ohio St, and your other buddy Si is a remote possibility for Pitt. Btw, Diallo is a project — last time I looked, he was non-rated on both 247 and Rivals.

      I don’t mean to pile on … but the fact is that I have read on PSN WAY too many FB and BB recruits who speak the world about Pitt, Narduzzi and/or Capel, but don’t end up coming here.

      I suspect Caple will get a transfer and maybe another 3-star from HS, but I’ll be pleasantly surprised if it’s anything more


  16. off topic but a big pet peeve of mine. Once again the BB state championships are loaded with Catholic and magnet schools

    1A boys: Sankofa Freedom vs. Vincentian Academy, 2 p.m.
    3A girls: Dunmore vs. Delone Catholic, 6 p.m.
    4A boys: Bonner-Prendergast vs. Imhotep Charter, 8 p.m.
    1A girls: Lourdes Regional vs. Berlin, noon
    2A boys: Math, Civics & Sciences vs. Bishop Guilfoyle, 2 p.m.
    6A girls: Garnet Valley vs. Peters Township, 6 p.m.
    5A boys: Archbishop Wood vs. Moon, 8 p.m.
    4A girls: Bethlehem Catholic vs. North Catholic, noon
    3A boys: Trinity vs. Lincoln Park, 2 p.m.
    5A girls: Archbishop Carroll vs. Chartiers Valley, 6 p.m.
    6A boys: Pennridge vs. Kennedy Catholic, 8 p.m.

    BTW. Moon is lead by Donovan Johnson, Cam’s younger brother. PItt has yet to offer. (He is a 247 4-star)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Makes no sense that Pitt has not offered – his dad and brother played for Pitt. Unless Donovan told Capel privately that he would not come to Pitt.


      1. Maybe they don’t want Donovan Johnson to come to PITT, RS one year, only play two years, get a free education and leave for a National championship contender in the same league as PITT?


    2. Whether it’s here in MD or back in the Burgh, Catholic schools lead the pack in sports. They offer scholies and plenty of guarantees to get into great colleges. It’s rare that I’ve seen any public school beat at Catholic School at anything.


    3. Odd there has been no offer, but I suspect one is coming. I hope Gordon and Johnson get offers and come to Pitt as it’s already looking like it will be tough for this staff to bring in highly ranked recruits. Obviously there is more time to see what impact this staff can make, but with McNeil definitely out and your info on Sy makes me wonder.

      I wish Capel would have offered Brandon Stone and redshirted him, but oh well.

      Landing Timberlake and a grad-transfer big would be a terrific way to close the class.


  17. I’ll pile on myself wwb, Skippy seems to have skipped on PITT altogether. Don’t forget about a player who’s name is Earl.


  18. Oh, I thought I was missing a PICTURE somewhere. DOH.

    What is Imagery?
    Imagery is language used by poets, novelists and other writers to create images in the mind of the reader. Imagery includes figurative and metaphorical language to improve the reader’s experience through their senses.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I get that Tvax, whenever I Google anything, I always add those two combined words at the end. Youtube. I absolutely need visual aid whenever possible.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. while the numbers are interesting, the numbers for Johnson and McGowens have to be higher since this team was more dependent on them than the previous teams. With the exception of JWF, they had no one else to rely on. This is why that while the numbers are attractive, the W/L isn’t


  20. looks like Darrin Hall had a good pro day today. Had a good 40 time, tied The Legend in number bench press reps, etc. Still a late rounder … at best though


    1. Heard on radio Hall ran a 4.4.

      And I think he had 27 reps, where Bookser and Aston May have had 29 reps…

      Hall = “Ferocious Physicality”. 😊

      Go Pitt.


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