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”

POV Sunday Podcast; August 27, 2017

http://triblive.com/sports/college/pitt/12663774-74/quicker-defense-offers-pitt-football-hope

“I’ll just reference one of our ACC officials that comes out and works our practices every day. I didn’t ask for it; he just said, ‘Hey, that Maddox is different than he was last year.’ So for whatever that is – maybe you guys can find him somewhere; I’m not going to give you his name. But it was good to hear that from somebody else that watches every day.”

That’s a big question for me, too. So much of this defensive scheme is geared toward stopping the run, but the DTs are a big part of it; are these young guys up to the task? Charlie Partridge says they’ve done a good job learning their assignments and filling the right gaps and all of that, but I think that area is where Pitt has taken the biggest hit with all the departures on defense. Shakir Soto and Tyrique Jarrett were really good against the run.

https://pittsburgh.rivals.com/news/over-under-freshmen-who-will-play

The Pitt football program added its second recruit of the week Thursday, as local product David Green committed to head coach Pat Narduzzi.

A 6-foot-1 defensive lineman from Pittsburgh Central Catholic High School, Green chose the Panthers over Virginia Tech, Minnesota and Rutgers, among others.

He is rated a 3-star player by 247Sports and is the fourth defensive lineman in the 2018 class, joining fellow WPIAL products Noah Palmer and Devin Danielson and Maryland native John Morgan.

In total, the class of 2018 now has 14 players, with all 14 ranked as 3-star recruits by 247Sports. The website currently has the group ranked No. 53 in the country and No. 12 in the ACC

Redshirt SRs for 2018… Drop Herndon and LB Jaylen Williams?

https://pittsburgh.forums.rivals.com/threads/the-2017-scholarship-board.112979/

http://triblive.com/sports/college/pitt/12663774-74/quicker-defense-offers-pitt-football-hope

Losses on the defensive line have forced shuffling and resulted in the emergence of junior defensive tackle Shane Roy, who was repeatedly recognized by coaches for his efforts in camp. Roy also needs seasoning, but he may start next to redshirt freshman Keyshon Camp.

Pitt needs a pass rush to offset deficiencies in its secondary, but not even Ejuan Price’s 13 sacks could help last year. With Price in the NFL, that task is passed on to Dewayne Hendrix and Edwards. Hendrix is another of those players whose potential — due to injury — has been talked about more than put on display.

Both players are transfers, which says something about Pitt’s recruitment of defensive linemen before Narduzzi arrived in 2015.

Team Rankings Website

More detailed info on the GT vs Pitt game…

http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/Pitt/2017/08/26/pitt-football-heinz-field-atmosphere-improvements-college-football-2017/stories/201708260045

https://pittnews.com/article/121426/sports/pitt-alters-sweet-caroline-tradition/

Here is that blue shirt I mentioned…

POV Shirt Blue

Here is the pinned Tailgating Info article – please visit and let us know if you’ll be there….

 

 

 

POV Roundtable Call-in Tonight; 7/19/17

POV Roundtable Call-in Tonight; 7/19/17

We’ll have our weekly Roundtable Discussion again this evening starting at 8:00 pm.  I’ll be in the meeting around 7:45 or so if you want to join in a bit early…

Here is how to get in via internet:

Meeting ID

303520973

 Meeting URL

https://bluejeans.com/303520973

Just want to dial in on your phone?

1) +1.408.740.7256   (United States)
2) Enter Meeting ID: 303520973
3) Press #
4) Enter Moderator Passcode: 2615#   (Remember the # sign at the end of the number)

******************************************************************************

Possible Topics for tonight:

* Replacement starters on O and D? Discuss article choices

* Henderson’s 2017 role… What if he goes down early?

*QB2 battle? Do you believe there actually is a QB1 battle?

http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/Pitt/2017/07/18/ben-dinucci-max-browne-pitt-qb-race-pat-narduzzi-acc-media-days/stories/201707180117

* Our record after three games?  Do the non-conference games matter?

* Which positions do we switch players if the season starters fail in the first three games?

* Discuss ACC Channel required infrastructure changes… Such as Pitt radio shows, radio booth, Pitt TV channel and new studio.

http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/Pitt/2017/07/14/acc-network-media-days-pitt-ad-heather-lyke/stories/201707140178

*Pitt picked 4th in Coastal division.

http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/Pitt/2017/07/17/acc-preseason-football-rankings-2017-pitt-football-miami-coastal-florida-state-seminoles/stories/201707170095

Pitt’s National Perception – good PSN article:

http://pittsburghsportsnow.com/2017/07/19/benz-overlooked-pitt-can-change-media-perception-one-big-season

Pre-Season Awards Lists:

Posted Headline Category
7/19/2017 O’Neill, Henderson Represent Pitt on All-ACC Preseason Team Football
7/19/2017 Pitt’s Max Browne Named to Unitas Golden Arm Watch List Football
7/18/2017 Weah, O’Neill Named Candidates for Biletnikoff, Wuerffel Honors Football
7/17/2017 Henderson, Whitehead Selected to Hornung Award Watch List Football
7/14/2017 Pitt Highlights at #ACCKickoff Football
7/14/2017 Jordan Whitehead Named to Jim Thorpe Award Watch List Football

 

Where There Are No Question Marks

Where There Are No Question Marks

Last week I wrote a lengthy article titled “Here’s Hoping For the Best” where I listed the positions where we would have to be replacing departed starters and how well I though we’d do in that regard – which was on the negative side. This article will be about our returning starters who will almost assuredly do well.

If you remember for going into the 2017 season we have only six returning starters on offense and just four on defense.  That is a hell of a lot of ground to make up to equal or better the quality of play we had last season.  The real rub is that we are going to rely pretty heavily on youth (rsFR and SOs) if the fan’s belief that Narduzzi will play better talent over experience.

I wonder about that last point and have a feeling we’ll see some old familiar faces in places we really don’t want to meaning the defensive backfield.  Narduzzi has talked numerous time in the off-season about Maddox SR) , Briggs (JR) and Phillipie Motley (JR) in addition to the one kid everyone wants to see in the lineupJordan Whitehead (JR).

So let’s talk about the ’17 players who we know are going to be returning starters and how well we think they will play.

Since we have already mentioned Whitehead let’s start with him. As far as any competition in his new position, Free Safety as opposed to the Strong Safety position he played his first two seasons, I don’t think there will be any worry with him as his talent is about as top end as it gets.  Add to that his two solid years starting in our defensive backfield experience and he’s a lock.

Continue reading “Where There Are No Question Marks”

Here’s Hoping for the Best…

Here’s Hoping for the Best…

This is the season which we all believe will start to show Narduzzi’s worth as a recruiter but there is something other than that being overlooked there – this is also the year we are going to see just how well Narduzzi’s position coaches and coordinators have done at teaching our young players they inherited to become full-time starters.

We fans tend to look back at recruit rankings and forget that they don’t mean squat unless there is a staff in place to take that raw talent and make it really work at the D1 & Power Five level.  This is especially true at the OL positions. 

Pitt’s history (and every other D1 program’s) is lettered with recruits that came onboard with high potential and great expectations only to become backups, bench warmers or kids that didn’t make it a full four year’s in the program. Some just didn’t have what it takes, some didn’t care to work hard and some may not have had good enough position coaches to teach them how to play at this level.

As far as Pitt 2017 playing time experience goes when you look at the two-deep on the chart below you’ll see that 15 of the starting 22 positions are still manned by Paul Chryst recruits, and I don’t care what this list says Wirginis will start the YSU game at MLB – how long he stays there is another question.  So we will see some of Narduzzi’s new recruits get playing time – mostly on defense where we need the most help.

HCPN’s position coaches have now had three years to work with those PC recruits to fit smoothly into his offensive and defensive philosophies and it will be interesting to see how well they will fair as full-time starters this season. Those now-starters would be MLB Wirginis, C Dintino, RT Jared Jones-Smith, DE Allen Edwards,  Money LB Ziese, S Briggs and CB Motley.

Pittsburgh Sports Now reported that Pitt has released the pre-Fall Camp depth chart. Hmmm, more like “These are the only viable players who can play this position” chart.  When you have only 10 of 22 starting positions returning there has to be a heavy dose of wishful think on fan’s (and the staff’s) parts to get back up to the level of play of the year before. We’ll see that writ large in trying to match the record breaking offense we had in 2016.

Continue reading “Here’s Hoping for the Best…”

Hot Off the Press; POV Roundtable for 7/12/17

Hot Off the Press; POV Roundtable for 7/12/17

 

We had a blast with the call-in show last night and again we proved that no matter who shows up at the Roundtable we are the most knowledgeable Pitt fans in existence.  Of course that is facetious as I’ve met many fans through other venues who know a ton about Pitt football also.

The civil tone was lowered just a smidgen from last week with both Ike and the infamous Dr. Tom coming onboard.  I’m ordering a cut-off button today for future short-story answers to pretty simple and plain questions.

Some items discussed were:

The role of Pitt’s AD and how we feel Heather Lyke is doing… and what she needs to do.

Did Scott Barnes leave the department in good shape?

How we would feel if we had a third consecutive season with 8-5 including a bowl loss.

The D1 Learfield Directors Cup standings; this lists the comparisons of all D1 schools in all sports (not just the 128 in football). 

Cup 2

Pitt finished an abysmal 92nd place over all (above) and next to last in the ACC conference (below).  Thus the questions above of what AD Lykes has ahead of her.

Cup 1

Continue reading “Hot Off the Press; POV Roundtable for 7/12/17”

POV: Sunday Podcast; July 2nd, 2017

POV: Sunday Podcast; July 2nd, 2017

(Sorry about the audio – I forgot to use my professional microphone so the audio is recorded through my laptop’s mic…)

Hello all, enjoy the above Podcast and here is some supporting text to mull over while you listen:

Recruiting vs Attracting

USC coach Clay Helton said Wednesday he had not been contacted by any coaches interested in Browne, but would do whatever he could to help him during the process.

Browne graduated from USC prior to this season and is two semesters short of an MBA. He said he plans to finish that program eventually.

Recruit Flipping – Here is an interesting article by Brian Batko of the P-G regarding recruits changing their minds after verbally committing to one school – note that in the class of 2017 we had six players who committed elsewhere sign LOIs with us:

The marquee college program in this town won its share of other schools’ losses. Of Pitt’s 22 committed or already-enrolled players in the 2017 recruiting class entering signing day, eight were originally pledged to another school, including three of its most highly regarded.

Two of those eight picked the Panthers in mid-December, then arrived on campus less than a month later. Defensive end Deslin Alexandre was a true “flip,” announcing that he was decommitting from North Carolina State and committing to Pitt at the same time. It wasn’t something he took lightly but felt it was better late than never to get it right.

Pitt placed 10 players on Athlon Magazine’s All-ACC four (!) deep listing. 

Here is the article:

PITTSBURGH—The Pitt football team received 10 selections to the recently released Athlon Sports’ 2017 All-ACC Team as the widely recognized college sports magazine published its predictions for the first team through fourth team performers in the ACC this upcoming season.
 
Returning consensus All-American Quadree Henderson led the way with three total selections. After Henderson joined Tony Dorsett in 2016 as the only players in Pitt football history to top 2,000 all-purpose yards in a season, Athlon touted the junior wide receiver as a preseason first team kick returner, second team offensive all-purpose player and second team punt returner for 2017.
 
After Pitt had its most potent offense in school history in 2016, Athlon expects the Panthers to be talented and explosive again on the offensive side of the ball, naming six Panthers to its preseason All-ACC Team for 2017.
Continue reading “POV: Sunday Podcast; July 2nd, 2017”