Pitt Depth Chart

Here is the Depth Chart that Pitt Released today.  I pulled it from Pittsburgh Sports Now, but I’m assuming EJ sent out a press release.

My fast thoughts in italics.  Please feel free to discuss.

OFFENSE: 

QB: Kenny Pickett.   Backup- Nick Patti or Jeff George Jr.  Interesting that the backup situation is an “Or”

RB: AJ Davis or Todd Sibley  No surprises here.

WR: Taysir Mack, Tre Tipton, Maurice Ffrench.  Backups- Aaron Mathews, Dontavius Butler-Jenkins, John Vardzel.  John who?

TE: Will Gragg. Backups- Nakia Griffin-Stewart, Grant Carrigan  So Gragg beat out Griffin-Stewart.  Maybe that 20 lbs of muscle he put on in the offseason paid off.

LT: Carter Warren    Backup- Carson Van Lynn  And it’s official.

LG: Bryce Hargrove   Backup- Brandon Ford  Yep.

C- Jimmy Morrissey  Backup- Owen Drexel  Yep.

RG-Gabe Houy    Backup- Jake Kradel or Chase Brown  r-Frosh and local product Kradel cracks the two-deep.

RT- Nolan Ulizio   Backup- Jerry Drake Jr.

DEFENSE: 

DE: Patrick Jones    Backups- John Morgan or Kaymar Mimes  Mimes back to DE after TE last year speaks to a slight lack of depth at DE

DT: Jalen Twyman   Backups- David Green or Tyler Bentley Young guys making the two deep all over this line.

DT: Keyshon Camp or Amir Watts   Backup- Devin Danielson Nice to see another local guy make the two deep.

DE: Deslin Alexandre   Backup- Habbukkuk Baldonado Haba is going to have to grow up fast.  

Money Linebacker: Kylan Johnson  Backup- Chase Pine  Pine fails to grab the starting spot yet again.  When is the lightbulb going to go on for this guy?

Mike Linebacker: Elias Reynolds or Saleem Brightwell Solid and experienced MLB corps.

Star Linebacker: Cam Bright or Phil Campbell I still think this is going to be the weak link of the defense.

Strong Safety: Paris Ford   Backup- Jazzee Stocker  Ford locked down the starting spot.  Can he deliver?

Free Safety: Damar Hamlin  Backup- Therran Coleman  Coleman is a guy who has paid his dues for a while.  

Cornerback: Dane Jackson  Backup- Erick Hallett  Surprised to see Hallett here.  5’11”.  Redshirted last year.  

Cornerback: Jason Pinnock or Damarri Mathis.  As expected.

Narduzzi is Actually Better Than Dabo…Kind Of

Narduzzi is Actually Better Than Dabo…Kind Of

Signing day has come and gone, without the fanfare of yesteryear where expectant Pitt fans sat by the computer watching the commitments roll in.  The fan base has early signing day to thank for that, and this past Wednesday was a quiet one day because of it.

You could argue that the two biggest commits that Pitt trotted out for the media were new Offensive Coordinator Mark Whipple and new Wide Receivers Coach Chris Beatty. Both of the new coaches were at the LOI event on Wednesday, and both DiPaola and Batko have done a nice job of writing up the Whipple interview.

Screen Shot 2019-02-11 at 12.20.08 AM
A few POV’ers not interviewing Beatty or Whipple

One of the more interesting quotes to emerge Whipple was the “What’s it going to take to beat Clemson?” question that he asked the quarterbacks.  It is a question that is dripping with insinuation, especially during an offseason filled with so much angst and so much promise.

First, Whipple was insinuating that Narduzzi wants to beat Clemson.  Well the truth is that everybody wants to beat Clemson, but on the other hand, Pitt does not play Clemson in 2019.  So if we read between the lines, we can infer that Pat Narduzzi believes that the team can repeat as Coastal Division champions.   And why not?  The coastal is shaping up no better in 2019 than it was in 2018.  Here is a quick look at the teams: Continue reading “Narduzzi is Actually Better Than Dabo…Kind Of”

Lethal Offense 3?

Lethal Offense 3?

Well fans, we now have our Wide Receivers Coach officially in the fold, and by most accounts Chris Beatty is a good one.  He’s got a solid coaching resume and also boasts some very good recruiting credentials, which is exactly what this program needs.

Now we have three long months (until the spring game) to fantasize about what our offense will be. 

Rumor has it that Whipple likes to throw the ball.  Much has been made of that, but what should we expect really?  I went back to the well and asked Daily Hampton Gazette Umass Beat Writer Josh Walfish some in-depth questions about what we will probably see in 2019.  Josh was extremely gracious and gave me some great answers, so THANK YOU Josh.  Also I’d be remis not to credit Pittsburgh Sports Now’s Alan Saunders for the idea.  Saunders originally interviewed Walfish for one of the very first pieces published on Whipple, which I found to be excellent.

I’ve pasted the Josh Walfish interview below for your reading pleasure.  The “MM Notes” were added after the fact.  Enjoy…

Continue reading “Lethal Offense 3?”

WR Coach Search

WR Coach Search

It’s an in-between period for Pitt football right now.  We are over the euphoria of the Mark Whipple hire.  The schedule has been released and we’ve made our initial win-loss predictions and travel plans.  There are a couple of weeks until signing day.

Besides some recruiting and transfer cleanup, the biggest question is who will be our next Wide Receivers coach?

It’s an important role.  Whipple loves to throw the ball, and one could argue that our roster is chock full of talented-yet-underdeveloped Wide Receivers.

Or course there has been no news, and really no solid rumors in the public blogoshphere.  The most tangible conversation around the Pitt WR Coach is “Will Whipple hire Leonard Hankerson?”  For those that don’t know Hankerson, he’s the former Miami Hurricane / Former NFL WR / Current WR Coach for the Umass Minutemen (who of course were coached by Whipple).

As far as qualifications, Hankerson did have lights-out senior year at Miami (72 rec / 1156 yds / 13 TD), and he did manage to stick around for five years in the NFL, but his coaching experience is a bit light.  Per Wikipedia:  “Leonard Hankerson joined Mark Whipple’s UMass football staff as an offensive graduate assistant in July 2017 and earned a promotion into the role of wide receivers coach for the 2018-19 school year.[28]

So yeah.  I’m guessing they will be looking for someone a little more senior.

Continue reading “WR Coach Search”

The OC Search

The OC Search

I’ll start with this, not because I live in the South and it’s relevant to me, but because I think it nicely illustrates the point that no matter what happens with this OC search, and the Pitt team in general, there are going to be some fans that are unhappy.  That’s just a fact of life.

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Of course I’m pretty sure all of these tweets are in jest, but with Crimson Tide fans you just never know.  A six pack of Busch + a couple of generations of too-close cousins + a cut-rate Android phone can make just about any night of the week interesting on the Twitter.

Okay on to more relevant Pitt Business.  If you haven’t heard, Pitt is searching for a new Offensive Coordinator.  This is arguably the second-most important coaching position on the staff and it’s kind of a big deal.

So what do we know so far?

Continue reading “The OC Search”

Watson and Sherman Gone

Watson and Sherman Gone

The Pitt Fan base got their wish.

Offensive Coordinator Shawn Watson was let go earlier today, and seemingly as a bonus, Wide Receiver coach Kevin Sherman was let go with him.

The only surprise is that Narduzzi actually pulled the trigger.  Speculation was rampant that loyalty would outweigh performance, and Watson would get another year, but in the end Shawn Watson’s performance was just not good enough, if not for the coach, then certainly for the fans, who made a public spectacle of cancelling season tickets and sending direct feedback to Athletic Director Heather Lyke via email and social media.  Right, wrong or indifferent the people spoke, and Pitt listened.

And while College Football is not a democracy, it is in many ways a business, and the fans are the customers.  So two points to Pitt for listening to their customers, especially when the data supports it.

Watson’s undoing, of course, was his inability to move the ball and score, which are fairly basic requirements for an offense.  Watson presided over the lowest combined two-year yardage and scoring totals since 2011.  When you layer in his inability to use and recruit Tight Ends, his lack of Quarterback development, and the horrendous three-game stretch at the end of 2018 which resulted in three losses and 8.7 points per game, the writing was on the wall.

Here is a look at what Watson accomplished at Pitt:

2018, 7-7, 6-2 ACC, Won Coastal Division

  • Pitt ranked 98th out of 130 in yards per game (370)
  • Pitt ranked 94th out of 130 in points per game (25.6)

2017, 5-7, 3-5 ACC

  • Pitt ranked 97th out of 130 in yards per game (366)
  • Pitt ranked 101st out of 130 in points per game (23.9)

graph - university of pittsburgh yards per game 2011 - 2018

graph - university of pittsburgh points per game 2011 - 2018

And so the questions begin.

Will Pat Narduzzi fall into the same old trap?  (Hiring for relationships instead of track record)

Will Pitt go cheap?  (How much was Watson making?  Will they increase the salary pool?  Pitt has certainly gone cheap in the past, and it would hard to get somebody much worse than Watson)

The elephant in the room of course is “Can anybody work with Pat Narduzzi”?  He’s now gone through three coordinators in four years, and while not all of it can be attributed to Pat himself, that is not the kind of turnover that makes any boss look good.

But…lets assume the turnover wasn’t Pat’s fault.  Two of Pat’s lost OC’s were lured away by what is widely regarded as the best conference in College Football, and certainly the richest.  Jim Cheney (UGA) obviously upgraded his situation, and Matt Canada (LSU) was lured by a big payday and clearly didn’t consider the downstream consequences of chasing the money.

Let’s also assume Narduzzi doesn’t fall into the same old relationship trap, and lets assume Pitt decides to open up the pocketbook.  Now this is a fun game.

Who would they hire?  What system will that person bring?  What kind of an impact would they be able to make in 2019?  For the love of God can they please be an ace recruiter?

What I can say is that the rumblings on social media and the blogs have been positive.  Supposedly important people at Pitt wanting to get the right guy in place.  Are the rumblings real?  I certainly hope so.  We all saw what happened for Pitt Basketball when we cut Stallings and brought in Jeff Capel.  Making a similar move at Offensive Coordinator would add some momentum to a Pitt Football program that sorely needs it.

Hail to Pitt

Michaelangelo

 

 

All I Want for Christmas… + News and Notes

All I Want for Christmas… + News and Notes

Here is a bit of a two for-one-piece.  A “Make a Wish” Piece by POV poster Mark Kerestan and also some quick updates on the Pitt football program.

First, as we may have suspected, Alabama three-star DE recruit Brandon Mack has decommitted.  Additionally, per Reed’s prediction earlier this season, backup QB Ricky Town has left the program and Jeff George Jr. has stepped into Town’s position on the depth chart.  According to the Trib’s Jerry DiPaola, Town has finished up his degree (or is close to finishing it), so congratulations to him on achieving that milestone.

Pitt’s 2019 QB depth chart is now expected to look like this, unless Narduzzi and Watson go back on their statements made in support of Kenny Pickett after the ACC championship game:

  1. Kenny Pickett (JR)
  2. Jeff George JR (rs SR)
  3. Nick Patti (rs FR)
  4. Davis Beville (FR)

There is some hype around Beville due to his recent four-star Rivals ranking, and he is due to enroll in the spring, so it will be interesting to see how spring practice plays out.

Second, and also somewhat in-line with the quarterback conversation, here is Mark Kerestan’s “All I want for Christmas” Piece.

We are deep into the holiday season and are surrounded by constant reminders of the magic of the Holidays, and their ability to make our dreams come true.  Many Christmas songs revolve around wishes for the holidays, from “Two Front Teeth”, to a “White Christmas”, or the opportunity to be “Home for the Holidays”.  The really ambitious songs wish for “Peace on Earth”, (editor’s note:  I’d settle for upgraded ACC officiating) and if I am understanding Mariah Carey correctly, she wants me for Christmas!  

As Pitt fans we all have our hopes and dreams for the Pitt Panther Athletic programs. Some may have modest wishes like a win in the upcoming Sun Bowl, or more ambitious goals like landing a once in-a-generation player at the position of your choice in football, a 4 or 5 star center for the basketball team, or even a specific coach you would like to see on the Panther Side line (Head Coach or otherwise).  As such, this is your opportunity to make your one holiday wish for the Pittsburgh Panthers for this Christmas.  I’m into immediate gratification so I’ll start with my wish being a big decisive win for the Panther Football team to hopefully jump start recruiting and fuel our enthusiasm for this team heading into next year.

What would your ONE wish be for your Pitt Panthers this Holiday season?