First off I’d like to post a link to POV reader and commenter Russ Broman’s Post-Gazette Obituary. As many of you know, he posted on the POV as “RKB”, and passed away from COVID-19 last week.
While I did not personally know Russ, he was clearly devoted to public service, and to the people and causes that he held dear. That is the recipe for a full and happy life, and I sincerely hope that Russ passed his days surrounded by the people whom he loved and who loved him. Again, I would like to express my condolences to his family and friends.
Here is a picture of Russ at the very first POV Golf outing (which was held several years ago, when Reed Kohberger ran the POV). As you can see, Russ was a Pitt man through and through, and he cut quite a figure on the links.
And here is a picture of Russ with the group. He will certainly be missed.
For those interested in memorial services and contributions:
Viewing and Interment in Mt. Lebanon Cemetery will be private for the family only. A public memorial service will be announced sometime in the fall. The family requests NO FLOWERS, PLEASE. If desired, contributions may be made in his memory to The American Battlefield Trust, 1156 15th Street NW, Suite 900, Washington, D.C. 20005 or to Animal Friends, 562 Camp Horne Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15237. laughlinfuneralhome.com
Lets all take a minute to honor Russ’ memory before moving on with our regular POV content.
I saw a user post a “early depth chart” comment today and it got me to thinking, “hey what’s that depth chart going to look like anyway?” In many places the ones are locked in, and in year six (of the Narduzzi regime) that’s what you’d like to see.
On defense for example, there is literally one open spot and two “question marks”, and this is after Jaylen Twyman opted out.
Case in point
- DE – Patrick Jones
- DT – OPEN
- DT – Keyshon Camp
- DE – Rashad Weaver
- Star LB – Cam Bright
- Mike LB – Question Mark but assumed Chase Pine
- Money LB – Question Mark but assumed Phil Campbell
- CB – Jason Pinnock
- S – Damar Hamlin
- S – Paris Ford
- CB – Damarri Mathis
Of course as more than one poster has pointed out, rumors are “hot and heavy” that there will be more opt-outs this season. So any real depth chart converstaion has to revolve around the twos and threes. Because if this season even gets played, there’s going to be a lot of backups in starting roles, all across the ACC.
So lets have a look at those twos and threes shall we? Today we’ll start it off with the defensive line.
After Weaver and Jones there are three guys who logged meaningful snaps last year.
- Deslin Alexandre – rJr – 6’4″, 270
- John Morgan – rSo – 6’2″, 250
- Habakkuk Baldonaldo – rSo – 6’5″, 250
Alexandre is the clear cut #2, any may even get listed as one of Pat Narduzzi’s infamous “or’s” on the depth chart. You’ll remember he stepped in for Weaver last year as an unknown and had himself a nice little season, posting 38 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 10.5 TFL and a fumble recovery. He’d start for a lot of other teams.
Baldonaldo was almost as good, even though he was just a redshirt freshman and hadn’t even played much football in highs school. He totaled 30 tackles, 5.5 TFLs, four sacks and a fumble recovery.
So you’d have to think they’d both lock down the #2 slots, and that Pitt would be in pretty decent shape should either Jones or Weaver opt out.
Barring major developments, Morgan probably gets slotted as the #3 guy and sees at least as much playing time as he did last season, when he totaled 14 tackles, four TFLs and two sacks.
So your DE depth chart now look like this:
Jones / Baldonaldo / Morgan
Weaver / Alexandre / ????
Literally no one else notched any playing time or statistics of note last season at DE, so it could be anybody’s guess for the 3rd and final spot behind Alexandre. Looking at the guys who redshirted, there are four options:
- Bam Brima “One of the top defensive end prospects in Pennsylvania…totaled 71 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and seven sacks as a senior at Loyalsock”
- Nate Temple “Collected 12.5 sacks with an additional 11 tackles for loss as a senior” (although I suspect he was part of a package deal to get Beville signed so probably not).
- Kaymar Mimes (who I believe switched back to DE from TE during spring) “One of New Jersey’s top defensive end prospects…compiled 87 tackles, 10 sacks, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries as a senior”
- DeAndre Jules “The top defensive end prospect in Maryland according to Rivals and 247Sports…four-year varsity contributor at Northwest…collected 59 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one blocked kick as a senior”
Flipping inside to Defensive Tackle, All-American Jaylen Twyman’s opt-out has left a 6’2″, 290 pound hole in Pitt’s depth chart. Technically this is an “undersized” hole for a Defensive Tackle but for the style of defense that Pitt plays it’s actually the right sized hole, as long as the guy filling that hose has get-off, because you know, in the Nard-Dawg defense, one gap penetrators are a highly valued commodity.
Yoy I’m not even sure what I’m talking about anymore.
Anyhoo….options to replace Twyman are as follows:
- David Green rSo – 6’0″, 280. “Played in 12 games as a reserve defensive tackle…had two tackles on the season, logging one each against Duke and Eastern Michigan (Quick Lane Bowl).” Well he fits the “undersized” mold. In fact, it’s pretty safe to say he’s built like a bowling ball. Given the COVID offseason i wouldn’t be surprised if he’s currently in camp at 290. To put things in perspective I am 1 inch shorter than this man and I weight 155 lbs. It’s hard to imagine a human that is twice as wide as me, and yet, here he is. But the bigger question is, is he fast and does he have technique? Because if he’s that size and he has get-off, well then he’s got a chance? If he’s got get-off and can use his hands, well then he just might turn into something.
- Calijah Kancey rFr – 6’0″, 270. “Made his lone appearance in the Quick Lane Bowl victory over Eastern Michigan, preserving a redshirt.” Kancey seems to be a trendy pick to step in for Twyman. Maybe it’s because he played his high school ball for powerhouse Miami Northwestern and had over 100 tackles from the DT spot his senior year. But if you look at what he did last year and compare it to Green, you’d conclude that Green was slightly ahead of Kancey. And given that Green is a year older than Kancy, well that would be a logical conclusion indeed.
- Bryce Nelms rFr – Did not see action last season. I saw a lot of this guy on the twitter (his own posts), which led me to believe he put in some work in the offseason. Twitter posts are one thing, production on the field is another. A wait and see guy if you ask me. (Not that I hope he doesn’t succeed.) He’s listed at 6’2″, 285, FWIW.
- Tyler Bentley rSo – “Played in all 13 games as a reserve defensive tackle…totaled seven stops and two TFLs on the year…twice had a season-high two tackles (Duke and Virginia Tech)…had a three-yard TFL against North Carolina.” Pitt beat out Kentucky for this kid and these days that actually means something, because Kentucky has done a nice job putting together an SEC-caliber defense with mostly three-star recruits. Given that’s Bently has played arguably the most snaps of anybody on this list not named Danielson, he’s certainly got an inside track towards the starting job. Can he transform his body the way Twyman did? Here’s a tantalizing bit of trivia for you. Bentley, in his redshirt Freshman year had two TFL in just five games. Twyman had only 1.5 in eight. Discuss.
- Devin Danielson r-So – “Played in all 13 games, making one start at defensive tackle (Ohio)…had 12 tackles and one TFL on the year…had a season-high two stops in four separate contests (Penn State, Duke, Virginia Tech and Boston College)…had a two-yard TFL against Boston College.” Danielson is the other trendy pick to replace Tywman, and based on stats he probably should be the odds-on favorite. But the stats (and probably the film although I haven’t looked at it) would seem to indicate that Bentley might be more explosive, while Danielson is more of the reliable run-stuffer. There is a place and time for both if you ask me, and I’ll say that the words reliable run-stuffer didn’t exactly spring to mind when I watched Twyman last season, as good as we was. At 6’1 – 300 Danielson certainly has the size to plug the middle on a regular basis. After an offseason of conditioning he probably now also has the strength.
And so there you have it, all the viable options to fill in for those D linemen who have opted out, or those who may still opt out. This is one position where Pitt is well stocked and the coaching staff has a track record of success. So yes, while it would have been nice to have Twyman, I’m not terribly worried about a Danielson / Bentley platoon, as long as Camp can stay healthy…
And I’m certainly not worried about defensive end.
Hail to Pitt.