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.

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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?

No More Excuses

Enough is enough.  Let’s have no more excuses for this horrid Pitt football team…not from HC Pat Narduzzi,  not from DC Josh Conklin, not from OC Shawn Watson, not from AD Heather Lyke, and please… not from us POVers or any other Pitt fans.

What we watched last night was the result of inept and running-scared coaching from the position coaches on up to the head coach himself.  For all his bluster and posturing Pat Narduzzi coaches in fear.  He is so risk-adverse that he purposely makes our offense one-sided and so maddeningly inconsistent that it can’t be relied on to get points when needed.

When your approach to an offensive game plan – that he himself approves every week mind you – is to do anything humanly possible to avoid interceptions you get what we have seen since Max Brown went down with an injury.  That is Pitt starting, and sticking with come hell or high water, an untalented less-than-average QB in Ben DiNucci.  We’ll discuss him in detail later.

What we watched unfold last night came as no shock to me.  In this week’s Roundtable I said that a loss to North Carolina wouldn’t shock or surprise me and it doesn’t.  Why?  Because even with every excuse made by others about this 2017 team I have completely understood just how poor at playing football this team is.

How many times have we read on here “But look at our Strength of Schedule” or “We have played superb quarterbacks…WRs… RBs… . or “We have injuries...’, whatever.  It doesn’t matter and is all excuse making. NC had 16 starters out and just gave us our 6th loss.

Allow me to take an editor’s prerogative of swearing on here and call total bullshit on each and every one of those excuses said then, now and in the future.

Let’s try to be as honest as possible in looking at what the Pitt team has been this season shall we?  The unvarnished truth is that we have a bumbling coaching staff who have done an average at best job both in training and in recruiting so that now we are fielding players out there who just aren’t all that talented.  Certainly not talented enough to win more games than we lose and not talented enough for consistently good play.

And youth is no excuse either.  Unless you watch only Pitt football and pay zero attention to the 127 other FBS teams you’ll see that a lot of schools have numerous young players also and many of those teams do just fine. Yes we are young, but not six and counting losses young.

C’mon – we just watched a rsSO QB in his first ever start rip our pass defense apart by completing 70% of his passes (12 for 30) for 235 yards and 2 TDs.  Guys – the only other passing action this kid has seen in his career was as a back-up against The Citadel and James Madison last season and last night he owned our DBs.  The total passing stats for NC were 22/31 for 270 and 3 TDs and they got screwed on a deep no-call pass interference also.

Continue reading “No More Excuses”

POV: Pre-NC Game Bits & Pieces

Here are some pieces of info and links to prep you all for the game on Thursday night… one thing to remember, I think, is that NC’s record of 1-8 is valid, but that doesn’t matter when the whistle blows.  At this point Pitt is giving away 9.5 points to the Tarheels.

PITT (4-5, 2-3 ACC) vs. NORTH CAROLINA (1-8, 0-6 ACC)

November 9, 2017 • 7:30 p.m., ET

LINK (PDF): Pitt Game Notes (vs. North Carolina)

GAME STORYLINES
• Pitt looks to continue its recent momentum when it hosts Coastal Division foe North Carolina for a Thursday night ESPN national telecast. This will be the Panthers’ 23rd all-time appearance on ESPN’s Thursday package.

• The Panthers are coming off a pair of impressive wins, 24-17 at Duke and 31-14 against Virginia. A victory over North Carolina would extend Pitt’s winning streak to three games and even its record at 5-5 on the season.  

• Narrow margins have been the rule during recent Pitt-UNC series history. The past six meetings have been decided by a combined 25 points, an average of 4.2 points per game. The Tar Heels slipped past the Panthers in Chapel Hill last year, 37-36.

• Since 2013, North Carolina is the only team in the Coastal that Pitt has not beaten. The Panthers are 0-4 against the Tar Heels in ACC play. North Carolina also leads the overall series, 8-3.|

• Pitt’s last victory in the series occurred in the 2009 Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte. Coach Dave Wannstedt’s Panthers edged the Tar Heels (coached by Butch Davis), 19-17, on a field goal with 52 seconds left. 

• Junior tailback Darrin Hall has reignited the Panthers’ rushing attack by averaging 182.5 yards over his past two contests. Hall had 254 yards at Duke, followed by a 111-yard effort against Virginia. 

• Junior all-purpose player Quadree Henderson had a 75-yard punt return touchdown in Pitt’s last game against Virginia. Henderson has seven career kick return TDs, two shy of the national record. 

• Quadree Henderson leads the ACC and ranks seventh nationally in punt returns with a robust 16.1-yard average. North Carolina, in contrast, is 112th in punt return defense, surrendering 12.4 yards per return.

(MORE INFO AND VIDEOS AFTER THE PAGE BREAK)

 

Continue reading “POV: Pre-NC Game Bits & Pieces”

Know The Enemy – Penn State

Byline: Chris Logue and it is a good one…

It’s go time for another week, another opponent and worst of all, a whole new slew of athletic receivers, running backs, most of which I am sure can run the wheel-route, and a quarterback that can beat you in a myriad of ways. This could just as easily be time-stamped in 2016 heading into Death Valley and Clemson, but this year’s edition of that is in Happy Valley to take on the Nittany Lions.

While I would love to be the sole interpreter of Penn State this week, I also felt that it would be doing our readers an injustice. This edition of “Know Your Enemy” comes with a guest, Centre Daily Times Penn State beat writer, John McGonigal. John pulls no punches and lets it all fly which is why he fits the bill to be our guest this week.

John provided incredible feedback and you’ll notice it throughout our inside look at what our Panthers face this week in Centre County.

Last week, Penn State drubbed Akron 52-0 and did it in a multitude of ways. Whether it was breaking a long, very strong, streak of not having a return for a touchdown, intercepting Akron quarterback, Thomas Woodson or if it was quarterback Trace McSorley and his trusted back, Saquon Barkley, Penn State looked good. Very, very good at that. It’s no mystery that McSorley and Barkley will be the key drivers for PSU on offense, it goes back to the basics, deep in the trenches who kick-starts this offense.

“Outside of Barkley and McSorley, I think an underrated guy on this offense is center Connor McGovern. I could’ve gone with flashier picks like breakout wide receiver Juwan Johnson or tight end Mike Gesicki — who I think will lead the Nittany Lions in all receiving categories this year — but McGovern is a guy who guides the offense,” says McGonigal.

Like Pitt who has shifted and mixed the offensive line over the past two seasons, McGovern is amid transition himself, “The Penn State staff moved him to center in the offseason after the departure of senior Brian Gaia — the Nittany Lions’ lone loss from the o-line — and McGovern has lived up to all expectations so far, being more vocal and impressing against Akron.”

Reed and I exchanged emails and we both had the same feel that a lot of what Penn State wants to do and should succeed in doing is planting roots in the trenches and making it their own, and it seems as though McGovern is sturdy in that task where “[McGovern] had a lot to do with that, and the lineman will play a key role in the Pitt game.”

How big of a task do the Panthers have this week on the defense? Look for yourself at PSU’s last game’s offensive stats:

PSU Game 1

Continue reading “Know The Enemy – Penn State”