Mike’s Take on the Spring Game

Spring Game Optimism

Michaelangelo Monteleone

You know it only takes a few months away from Pitt football for that old optimism to come creeping back in.  And all through spring camp I’ve been observing things from the casual fan’s perspective, which I’ll admit has been pretty damn nice, compared to the day-in-and-day-out grind of running the POV.  It all culminated yesterday when I found myself listening to Chris Peak’s “What did we learn from the spring game” podcast, because hey, I wanted to learn what he learned from the spring game.  (Link to Podcast here – worth a listen, even if the content is a tad bit optimistic). 

Peak spends most of his time talking about the offense.  Because lets admit it, that’s what we all care about.  (And lets also admit that’s where Pitt’s problems have been.)  And then he gets into the quarterbacks, Patti 7-for-10 and a couple of TD’s.  Beville 6-for-6 and a TD strike.  Yellen and The New Guy…well, not so good.

And it got me to thinking, hey the two backup QB’s who have spent two years (plus a spring) in Whipple’s system played pretty damn well.  The two guys who have spent a year or less played pretty damn poorly.  And it got me to thinking, maybe it just takes a few years for a QB to really learn Whip’s offense.

And so, the analyst in me decided to look at UMass to see if I could ferret out a trend.

Oh the optimism…

Here’s what Sports-Reference.com had to say about all the UMass QB’s who played under Whipple (2014 – 2018).

First, Marshall transfer Blake Frohnapfel:

So….transfer QB comes in with limited snaps at his prior stop, and his QB rating goes down significantly.  Sound familiar? 

Now, here are Pitt’s Joey Yellen’s stats:

Now Yellen played against two of Pitt’s tougher opponents last year (Miami and Notre Dame), so there is that.  But…the spring game.  He’s slow of foot, and his arm doesn’t seem all that strong.  He’s also just one year into Whipple’s system.  What does he look like after two?  After three?  Time shall tell.  Frohnapfel only had two years, so who knows what he could have done.

Meanwhile, Andrew Ford was a Whipple recruit who clearly progressed in year three. Here are his stats while at UMASS:

Andrew Ford

Case in point – Ford posted a very Kenny Pickett-esque 138 rating in 2016 (his second year under Whipple as a Sophomore).  In his third year?  Well that rating jumped up to 151.  It looks like Ford got hurt in year four, and his numbers regressed a bit, so maybe the theory doesn’t exactly hold.  Or does it?  Was Ford playing hurt before he went out after game 7?

Ford’s replacement was Senior Ross Comis, who incidentally was in his fourth year under Whipple, and looked to be in time share situation with Ford throughout the season, based on number of games played.  Comis’ 2018 QB rating?  A gaudy 161.5.

So look, there are a LOT of factors that go into QB rating.  Receivers and Tight Ends catching the ball is a big one.  Andrew Ford and Ross Comis enjoyed the services of ex-PSU Tight End Adam Breneman and 4th round NFL draft pick, WR Andy Isabella.  Kenny Pickett and company enjoy the services of no Tight End in particular and a ragtag bunch of three-star WR’s, the best of whom was a true freshman last season.  Perhaps that will change this year.  (Optimism?) 

Offensive line is another factor.  I corresponded with a UMASS sports journalist back when Whipple was hired, and the word on the street was that Whipple never had a good O Line.  Well guess what?  Until we see evidence to the contrary, neither does Pitt.  And as we all know, it all starts with those Big Palookas Up front.  So, here’s to optimism around that too.  May your summer be filled with visions of upright Pitt quarterbacks completing passes.  Preferably in the endzone.  At least until Reed writes his next article. 

Hail to Pitt

Pitt’s 2021 Spring Game Recap

Good afternoon,

See attached for stats from today’s Pitt Blue-Gold Spring Game presented by PNC Bank that finished Gold 30, Blue 0 at Heinz Field.

Photos for media from the game can be accessed and downloaded at this link:


Video of the postgame press conference is available at this link:


The postgame press conference included sessions with the following members of the Pitt football program:

·        Head Coach Pat Narduzzi

·        LB #24 Phil Campbell II (Gold Team captain)

·        TE #7 Lucas Krull (Gold Team Captain)

·        LB #0 John Petrishen (Blue Team, Conway Award winner)

·        RB #2 Israel Abanikanda (Blue Team, Conway Award winner)



Trib: Not Spring Game but interesting:


PGH Sports Now website:



Pitt’s Sports Page:


PITTSBURGH – The University of Pittsburgh football program hosted 5,000 fans on Saturday at Heinz Field for the 2021 Pitt Blue-Gold Spring Game presented by PNC Bank – and spectators witnessed a dominating performance by the Gold Team.

Gold shut out Blue, 30-0, with a comprehensive performance on both sides of the ball. The teams were selected by team captains earlier in the week in a draft-by-position format.

Gold Team captain Lucas Krull scored the first touchdown of the game on a 26-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Nick Patti, and they never looked back.

Also scoring for Gold, Jared Wayne caught a 25-yard TD from Davis Beville, who scored on a 1-yard rush as well. Todd Sibley Jr. completed the scoring for the victors.

Gold’s defense preserved the shutout thanks to two turnovers, with Dayon Hayes recovering a fumble and A.J. Woods hauling in a diving interception.

Pitt’s returning starting quarterback Kenny Pickett, one of the Blue Team captains, played just three snaps before exiting the game in a planned move.

Blue Team was sparked by running back Israel Abanikanda, who produced a game-high 77 rushing yards, including an electric 42-yard burst around the outside.

After the game, head coach Pat Narduzzi, the Gold Team’s winning captains – tight end Lucas Krull and linebacker Phil Campbell III – and Pitt’s Ed Conway Award winners as the most improved players of spring drills – running back Israel Abanikanda and linebacker John Petrishen – each met with the media.

Pitt begins its 2021 regular season at home against Massachusetts on Saturday, Sept. 4 at Heinz Field.”

POV Bits and Pieces; 4/22/21

Discuss please...

Trib: Pitt holds annual draft for Saturday’s Blue-Gold spring game (Greg Macafee)

“The teams have been chosen for Pitt’s Blue-Gold spring game, which is set to take place at 1 p.m. Saturday at Heinz Field.

Defensive coordinator Randy Bates will head the Blue team, which will be captained by quarterback Kenny Pickett and cornerback Damarri Mathis. Tight ends coach Tim Salem will lead the Gold team, with tight end Lucas Krull and linebacker Phil Campbell as captains. Etc

Pitt volleyball players make program history with All-America selections (Macafee)

“Pitt volleyball’s historic season reached another milestone moment Wednesday when two players were named to the All-America second team for the first time in program history.

Senior outside hitter Kayla Lund was named to the All-America second team for the second straight season and became the first player in Pitt history to receive the honor twice in a collegiate career. She was joined on the All-America second team by senior right-side hitter Chinaza Ndee, who earned her first selection after earning an honorable mention nod in 2019. Etc

This is a great piece from The Pitt News and it’s subject matter isn’t all that unique at Pitt but Idoko is a shining example of success:

Ron Idoko: Lifting Up Those Around Him

Pitt football taught Ron Idoko lessons that still impact him long after he’s finished playing.

Idoko played for the Panthers at defensive tackle from 2002-05, walking on in his first semester at Pitt and eventually earning an athletic scholarship.

“I really understood the value of teamwork and dedication … as a walk-on, you really have to scrap,” Idoko said. “You know you’ve gotta grind a lot to get results.”

Idoko obtained both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Pitt, graduating with a degree in communication in 2005, before earning a master’s in public administration, regional and urban affairs two years later.

Idoko emphasized the importance of work ethic frequently, as did Penny Semaia, his former teammate turned professional colleague. Semaia, Pitt’s senior associate athletic director for student life, knows how hard Idoko works firsthand, both in their work with the University and as workout partners. Etc. (Please keep reading this article...)

Staff Q&A: Pitt football prepares for 2021 Spring Game:

“By Dalton CoppolaKyle Saxon, and Eddie Lasker
APRIL 21, 2021

As this semester winds down, the Pitt community looks toward the future.

For Pitt football, that means preparing for the annual Spring Game at Heinz Field this Saturday. In anticipation of the coming exhibition, TPN senior staff writers Dalton Coppola and Kyle Saxon, alongside staff writer Eddie Lasker, give their answers to the most pressing questions facing the Panthers as they conclude spring practices.

What Pitt football storyline most intrigues you entering this year’s Spring Game? (Player, position group, area of interest, etc):

Dalton Coppola: Pitt will have senior Kenny Pickett under center for at least one more season, but the question of who will succeed him lingers. Redshirt sophomore Joey Yellen filled in for an injured Pickett in two games last year and his performance was underwhelming, to say the least — it seems Pickett’s heir apparent was not rostered at the time.

Pitt fans can look to early enrollee Nate Yarnell, a three-star recruit out of Texas, as one potential replacement. The Spring Game will give Panther fans an early glimpse of what life after Pickett may hold.

Kyle Saxon: The loss of multiple starters will put an enhanced amount of pressure on the 2021 Panther offensive line. Redshirt senior Owen Drexel appears to be former star Jimmy Morrissey’s successor at center, and junior Jake Kradel is solidified as a starting guard, but the remaining starters are not finalized. Etc. Etc… Etc…!

More great Pitt News writing:

Column | Final year with Pickett provides chance to return to former glory

By Dalton Coppola , Senior Staff Writer
APRIL 21, 2021

“Spring sports wrapping up, Pitt students moving back home for the summer and the weather warming up all mean one thing — college football is back on the horizon. The Panthers are preparing to conclude their spring practices with a final scrimmage in their annual spring game at Heinz Field on Saturday.

Pitt is coming off of a 6-5 season that was the embodiment of average — there wasn’t much to get excited about. The Panthers rattled off three eye-opening wins to start the season, earning the No. 21 ranking in the country before losing four straight games and falling into a tailspin back toward college football mediocrity — a state Panther fans have become well accustomed to in recent decades, as the program has reached the 10 win threshold just once this century.”


Here are some past headlines from The Pitt News that we all probably missed and the full page of their sports pieces:

Pitt’s men’s soccer earns a #2 seed in NCAA Tournament

Panthers fans share drinking traditions before games at Heinz Field

Final NFL Draft prediction of Pitt Stars

Pitt fans must embrace Notre Dame rivalry

…And my favorite from The Pitt News

The love/hate relationship between Pitt fans and Pat Narduzzi

Here is the Pitt News newsletter subscription site – free and fantastic sports coverage (it is at the bottom of this page.)



Reed Says: The Periodic Table Restaurant

Folks – I’ve never done this on The POV before, and you know my attitude towards advertising on here, but a good friend of mine, Lance Cook, has opened up a fantastic restaurant here in Columbia, MD and I’d like to share about it.

It is called The Periodic Table, and Lance opened it pretty boldly right during last summer’s C-19 time, and it is just now really getting it’s feet under itself. You’ll see by the photos that this isn’t a “seen and be seen” type fakery place – but where you will find great food, good service and great conversations.

Some info:

If you live in the eastern part of Maryland, or if you are staying here while doing business in DC or Baltimore I cannot recommend a meal there more highly. Here are some specifics:

The lunch menu (and all meals) are no-frills, no-foufou food well conceived and at a great price, especially here in Columbia, MD which tends to have rather high prices on things overall. I truly love meatloaf and Lance has the best I have had in years…but all the items are worthwhile. Our family will be regulars there.

The dinner menu follows along those lines and both lunch and dinner servings are a good sized meal – my wife and I always carry some home with us.

For drinks they serve thoughtful and varied choices; Here are the Ale list, the Bottled Beer list and Wines…

I just ate dinner at a nice place in Pittsburgh, Pointe Brugge in Highland Park (very good) and while Pointe Brugge is more internationally flavored than The Periodic Table I’d say the two place were equal in quality and atmosphere – both really fine.

The Periodic Table also has good music and other events going on so it’s not just food and drink but a bunch of fun also. Please do try this place – the owner has a huge hit in his first eatery, Tino’s Italian Bistro, also in Columbia and which has been around for a years (and always crowded – if possible try the homemade lemon oil salad dressing!), so I wasn’t surprised one bit at his new venture being the top shelf place it is.

If you all remember when Pitt played Navy in Annapolis in the bowl game a bunch of fans stayed here in Columbia, MD and close by. If we do that again – maybe we win this time – we’ll eat here and drinks on me. Yes, all evening.

Thanks my POV friends, as I said – I haven’t done this before but this is a special place run by a special guy and his staff.