First of all…if you want some insight into how the Pitt Football press corps rolls watch the entire video. Chris Peak captured the pre-interview banter and it’s fabulous that he did.
“It’s a beautiful day in Pittsburgh” – Pat Narduzzi. Ostensibly he said this as a follow up to Lucas Krull’s inadvertant shade-throw towards Pittsburgh’s weather in yesterday’s interview. Pat also went so far as to take is computer to the window to show off the practice fields and the lovely sunny day on the Southside. Well played Pat, because Summer in Pittsburgh is indeed very nice. Take it from a guy who now lives in the South where it is HOTTT.
On the offensive line and Running Backs: “We’re so much deeeper on the O line”
Gabe Houey coming off postseason surgery. Shoulder issue.
Goncalves has done a nice job
Owen Drexel “has really really stepped up”
Keldrick Wislon continues to progress – a different deal those ends rushing off the edge
Blake Zubovic – been playing a little right tackle. He’s really getting better.
There’s the normal guys, you know Carter Warren’s doing great.
MM Commentary. Okay so lets talk about the offensive line. If you haven’t been following along at home I recently subscribed to Pro Football Focus College, and let me tell you the stats they provide are eye opening. They grade Every Single Play – and have multiple people looking at the film. While it’s not going to be perfect, it’s perhaps the best representation of how players perform relative to expectation. Each player is then assigned a ranking based on their body of work from 1 – 100. Generally speaking anything over 80 is Very Good. (Patrick Jones Graded out at 82 for the season last year). From what I’ve seen mid 60’s is about average. 70’s is above average, 50’s is below, and well 40’s is Very Bad. 90+ of course is lights-out.
This data will bring a new level of analysis and perspective to the POV…and a level of cynicism not seen since the Reed Kohberger heyday. Are you ready? I’ll spoon feed you, but lets start with the offensive line.
“We’re so much deeeper on the O line” – Pat Narduzzi.
Michaelangelo’s take: I don’t think that matters becasue most of your starters aren’t very good.
The analysis: On the surface Pitt’s offensive line was middling as a pass blocking unit. They graded out at 58th out of 130 FBS teams in pass blocking, with a grade of 69.3. The optimist will point out that they finished ahead of such notable programs as LSU (68.7), Wisconsin (68.3) and Penn State (63.7) but the realist will point out that Kenny Pickett’s scrambling ability was the difference maker here.
Meanwhile Pitt’s run blocking graded out at 52.1. That was good for 117th in the country. Right behind Texas State and right ahead of Old Dominion.
Of course we need to double click into that. We all know that the strength of Pitt’s OL is the Center, and things gets worse as you go outside. And so lets have a look shall we? Here are the grades for last year (Again 80-89 considered VERY GOOD, 70-79 Above Average, 60 -69 Average, and so on… :
Player |Total | Pass Block | Run Block
Morrisey (C)| 71.4 | 80.7 | 67.1
Kradel (OG)| 65.0 | 61.8 | 68.5
Hargrove (OG)| 63.8 | 69.1 | 59.9
Ulizio (OT)| 58.3 | 74.8 | 51.0
Houy (OG/OT)| 57.9 | 68.6 | 55.1
Van Lynn (OT)| 46.2 | 53.2 | 45.4
Warren (OT)| 42.3 | 44.8 | 41.5
No wonder they brought in a grad transfer to compete at tackle. By the way he’s not doing very well. “Keldrick Wislon continues to progress – It’s a different deal those ends rushing off the edge” Translation – he’s getting his a$$ kicked in practice every single day. It’s ain’t D3 on the Southside.
So yea we’ve got more depth. Does that mean we have three more guys that will grade out at a 55 when it’s all said and done? By the definition, that’s “more depth”.
No matter what happens, our tackles are going to be no better than average. Even if Houy comes back healthy and holds down the Right Tackle job… and improves by +6 points…he’s still mediocre. He would grade out at 63. Whoop-de-freakin’ do. For the record there were 59 offensive linemen who played at least 50% of the snaps last year in the ACC. The 30th ranked guy? Bryce Hargrove – with a 63 grade. Our 2nd best full time starter was the definition of mediocre last year. Literally…he finished in the middle.
What should be even more concerning is the left tackle position. Yes Carter Warren won the Ed Conway, “most improved” award last year, and yes he plays a tough position, but gosh how bad we he prior to last season? And look I don’t want to diminish the work or effort Warren may have put in, but from a cold, hard performance grade standpoint, Warren was literally the worst offensive lineman in the ACC last season (min 50% of snaps). The next two worst played for GA Tech. Think about this. Two guys who were recruited to play the option, and were converted to a non-option offense graded out better than Pitt’s starting left tackle. Is that good? Because I feel like that’s not good. By the way, yes one of those Georgia Tech guys was a tackle.
Yes… but what if Warren develops???? (Will plead the optimists)
Okay, great. What if he does. He certainly can’t go downhill… Okay so lets say Warren works his tail off and gets 30% better. That sounds good doesn’t it? Well let me tell you 30% of 42 is 13. So he grades out at 55 next year? NO THANKS. Lets say he gets 50% better. That would be great. So 50% of 42 is 21. Now he’s a 63. Well that average…which at this point I guess I would take and be grateful for it.
Okay great, well what about Carson Van Lynn? Carson Van Lynn! We don’t see enough of Carson Van Lynn!!! Gosh I had quarter for every time I heard that last year. Heck, I probably even said it a few times.
Um…there was a reason for we didn’t see him, and its because he wasn’t very good. Lets recap the grades shall we? Van Lynn (OT)| 46.2 | 53.2 | 45.4
Not much better than Warren. BTW, Van Lynn earned these grades playing only 205 snaps last year, compared to Warren’s 865.
So yea, maybe Houy slides over? He won’t be any better than Ulizio was. And yea, Warren will develop? But how far can he realistically go? Same with Van Lynn. Oh and if you are pinning your hopes on the transfer, Keldrick Wilson, he graded out at a solid 38 against Liberty University (FCS Players are only graded when they play FBS schools). 38. Against Liberty. Don’t hold your breath people.
Any way you slice it, Pitt is woefully thin at tackle. And that’s going to limit our offensive upside in 2020.
Oh I haven’t even done a deep dive on the run blocking yet….but hey, we’ve got plenty of time before the season. Also more to come on if Borbley is up to the task of developing his self-styled “hogs”. I’ve got data back to 2014 and I intend to use it.
Anyway, back to your regularly scheduled Pat Narduzzi Zoom conference…..
On the Running Backs: “AJ got banged up. Obviously Izzy. Sibley’s had a great spring, he’s our best pass protector by far. Daniel Carter has gotten some meaningful reps with ones.”
He mentioned short yardage with D. Carter.
Then Duzz made a non-RB comment, but relevant. If only because it illustrates how thin we are at TE: “Who’s the darkhorse?” Who’s the guy that’s going to surprise you? Jake Zilinksaks (TE). “You’re going to see him play football. He’s done a great job. He’s already gotten job offers, he could have left already”
On Daniel Carter FB/TB: He’s doing both. “20 personel” 2 backs zero, TE. That’s Daniel Carter. He could be a fullback ’cause he’s tough enough. He’s a hybrid, he can do it all. Might move him over to linebacker he can do it all. Nah he isn’t tough enough” (MM note: kidding, kidding – rompicoglioni!)
On new eligibility rule: “When i first heard about it i said, I think it’s a heck of an idea.
On COVID and players staying safe: “I was driving around campus looking for a party I couldn’t find one in Oakland – Jerry i’m kidding”
“Money doesn’t matter when it comes to student athletes, it’s all about the student atheletes”
On COVID management and not locking down players: “We gotta treat em like adults, we gotta train em, gotta teach em, gotta show em how it’s done. And that’s what UPMC recommends. [says stuff] and if we can’t do this, we can’t have a season”
On grad transfer: “We’ve always got our ears open”
Jaylen Twyman is no longer in school. He went to go home. This opens up a scholarship.
On LB’s: “First of all Phil Campbell has been like a beast lately. I think we have two of the nicest outside linebackers in the country.”
“I’ll be honest Wendell Davis looks like the real deal, with Chase being the senior you’d like to see him crank it up and be the starter but Wendell Davis is giving him a run.”
Thanks for not lying to us Pat. Translation: Chase Pine is not where we want him to be as a senior.
“Sirvocea Dennis – might be our smartest linebacker – had two plays on the goal line where he just flashed. Is he sophomore? Who knows what he is? He might be a sophomore last year.”
John Petrishen – has moved to OLB “I think has found a nice little home there”. Bradon Hill playhing really well
Translation – John Petrishen is not fast enough to play safety, and our depth at outside linebacker sucks. Also MM note – I’m having fun lampooning Narduzzi here but by all accounts he shoots pretty damn straight with recruits. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had recruied Petrishen as a Linebacker, while Penn State sold Johnny P the Bill of Goods as a Safety, and now the wheel has come full circle. Of course this is entirely speculation, but when it comes to trolling Penn State, I’ll speculate all day.
“Judson Talliender has really shown a lot of things at safety. Maybe we should have moved him a damn year ago. After one day of practice you’re like ‘I think that’s where he belongs'”
On how Phil Campbell has grown: He’s more pyhsical than Cam is. That’s no disrespect to Cam. He’s taken the change well. But it’s so similar – he moved from one side of the field to the other. He’s got more opportunity to blitz. He plays with his pads down. I’ve been really, really impressed with what he’s done so far.
MM Note: Pat and Co are doing the right thing here. Bright’s coverage grade is better than Campbell’s, and Campbell’s run stopping grade is higher than Bright’s.
On corner: AJ Woods has really played well. “Quezz”…Marquise Williams has really played well. They were starting to move ahead of Judson, and lo and behold we found another player. It’s like Christmas. ”
Pat then had an awkward moment trying to bust [ESPN reporter] Andrea Adelson’s chops. Yes it was all in good fun in your mind, but c’mon Pat. National media reporter and you’re busting chops. What, are you trying to show her “she’s one of the guys”? She is, but she’s not, and that’s not the way you do it. You’re better than that.
Andrea Says: Do you have a good idea of what you have as a team?
Pat Says: “You don’t have to watch them play to know what you have.” Then he goes into a soliloquy on the defense. Then he waxed philosophical on QB. “We’ve got a good football team. It’s going to be the chemistry and how we stick together and play as a team”
Well hey Pat for the record the team graded out right smack-dab in the middle of the ACC last year. (7th of 14). Grade of 79.2, and yet we finished 3rd in record (tied with two other teams, so you can argue 5th) at 8-5. Still, you get props for punching above your weight. Are you going to improve this year? Virgina (beat you), Lousville (we play them…and they have a lot of returning starters), Wake, UNC (some how we beat them) and Clemson all graded higher last year.
On chemistry (another Andrea Adelson Question): “That’s the thing i don’t know. It’s so hard for them to get locked in and focus.”
On kickoff returns: Right now Jordan Addison is playing really well. THAT GUY, people need to watch out for him early. Izzy and Jordan Addison have the inside track. Great speed. Great ball skills.
On Jaylen’s Twman’s spot: Devin Danielson’s really got the hold on it right now. With Tyler Bentley. I really don’t know who it is. David Green. Kalijah Kancey going to play a lot of football for us. He’s got a little different gear.
“We’ve all got to believe there is going to be a season on the 12th”
MM Note: That’s three weeks away people.
“We’ve got to find a team that we trust based on ACC protocols”
“We can’t go on practicing every day wondering…[if we aren’t going to play]. I truly believe we are going to play. I told our guys have one girl friend, dont’ have two or three.”
Andrea presses – “Lets say all campuses are shut down”
Pat says – “I don’t have an answer, i’m just looking at we are full steam ahead, we’re preparing for a football season.”
Hail to Pitt