OK… I’ll say weep… or scratch your head maybe. There are some real surprises and concerns here and unless this is a some-what joking attempt to rile up Pitt fans I see some scary issues in front of the opening game.
First off I am actually not that surprised that SR Mike Flanagan is listed before rsSO Chris Clark at TE. Regardless of that 5* and #1 TE recruit ranking Clark was given years ago Narduzzi always goes with real game day experience if he has the opportunity to do so. We see that now at the TE position for the opener.
Most specifically it is because of Flanagan’s blocking abilities. He’s a big and proven guy and, again I don’t care what the Pitt people say, Chris Clark is on the thin side. Pitt needs bulk for that 6th offensive lineman this season.
Jim Morrissey over both Conner Dintino and Alex Officer (who played Center last year) is disturbing to me. I have said repeatedly that I have real concerns about the Offensive line. A rsFR with absolutely zero game experience beat out both of them… not good at all. Hey, you can believe Morrissey is some sort of Fall Camp superstar if you wish – but the real possibility is that the other two guys sucked at playing Center.
Here is the lineup as of Monday afternoon…
And what do the first two paragraphs of this article have to do with each other?
Hey, I’m back and would like to apologize to Reed, but especially the faithful readers of the POV over the last two weeks. There were legitimate reasons for my absence, such as classwork obligations as well as rebounding from a brief identity-theft crisis that erupted out of nowhere; but again, I am back and ready to keep this train rolling.
Now, to the important stuff…
Paris Ford is official. He is a Panther. He is finally a Panther. While that’s wonderful to read, there were so many flaws in the way Pat Narduzzi handled the “breaking of the news” to the reporters. To me, it’s a mystery as to why so many flaws were evident, and it doesn’t fit the past of how he has handled media, the celebrity status of players and their importance to the team.
This time around, he highly contradicted himself.
I took a look at Jerry DiPaola’s write–up on TribLive.com. When it comes to the Pittsburgh media covering what’s in front of them, no one does it better than Jerry, so in times of needing quotes and understanding the effectiveness in conveying the quotes, I go to his work.
Paris Ford is on the field and able to run around with his teammates. He appears to have put on some weight, based solely on photos, but that’s not necessarily a negative thing. After all, he has been working-out alongside a perennial All-NFL player in Aaron Donald in the meantime.
Ford missed all 17 of the camp practices so far, placing him behind fellow position-mates in development at this level of play and has only taken mental-reps since Saturday during the scrimmage. I can’t speak for everyone, but ‘mental reps’ are not worth a grain of salt unless you’re actually out on the field putting thought into action. Still, contact was open with the coaches for feedback and guidance.
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 lineup – Jordan 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.
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.
Here are Max Browne’s USC stats again, followed by Savage, Peterman and Stull’s also. Take a look at their years as a regular player at Pitt. For comparison in NP’s case that would be 2015 and Bill Stull’s 2009.
4. Pittsburgh Sept. 9 at Penn State, Sept. 16 vs. Oklahoma State, Sept. 23 at Georgia Tech
There won’t be any easing into the 2017 schedule for Pat Narduzzi and the Panthers. In Week 2, they hit the road to face No. 5 Penn State. You think the Nittany Lions will be motivated after losing at Pitt a year ago? Then comes a home game against No. 6 Oklahoma State, which throws the ball all over the park with the returning combo of quarterback Mason Rudolph and receiver James Washington, and the Panthers open ACC play a week later by going on the road and having to deal with Georgia Tech’s triple-option attack.
Steel Valley safety Paris Ford will not start classes on Monday with the rest of the incoming freshmen, multiple sources told Panther-Lair.com. Details of the situation are unclear, although it appears Ford could have an opportunity to qualify this summer and enroll closer to training camp.
If he doesn’t qualify this summer, Ford could spend one semester or a full school year at a prep institution like Milford Academy in New Berlin (NY) before enrolling at Pitt.
The NCAA Eligibility Center was created to bring academic and amateurism certifications together under one roof. Its purpose is to ensure that college-bound student-athletes, as well as coaches and administrators, understand the requirements to participate in NCAA Divisions I and II athletics.
All incoming freshman who plan on attending any NCAA Division I or II university MUST register with the NCAA Eligibility Center, meet all academic and amateur requirements and be certified by the NCAA Eligibility Center.
What are the NCAA Eligibility Center standards I must meet?
The standards issued by the NCAA Eligibility Center are slightly different for Division I and Division II but are based on the same four principles:
You must graduate from high school.
You must successfully complete all core courses.
You must have a minimum 2.000 GPA in core courses; and
You must have a minimum qualifying score on the ACT or SAT.
Military Bowl Presented By Northrup Grumman
Thursday, December 28th, 2017
Navy-Marine Corps. Stadium, Annapolis, MD
ESPN, 1:30 pm
Pitt vs. Navy
39. Pitt Panthers
Relative Strengths:Passing Game, Special Teams Relative Concerns:Pass Defense, Linebacker Why Are They Here?Will the Panthers ever stop a passing game? USC transfer Max Browne will keep the offense going, but against so many good ACC QBs, all that matters is the beleaguered secondary. 2016 Final Season Ranking:35 (8-5) 2016 CFN Preseason Ranking:32
This is the seventh of a longer POV series looking at the individual positions which need to be re-filled in 2017 and whether we will meet the PRODUCTION we had in those positions in ’16. We will not factor in true freshman at this point.
Wide Receiver will be a position of strength for us in this coming season almost surely. I say that because as we wrote about the QB position early in this series I think we’ll have a downgrade there – so the ripple effect may impact the overall production of our WR corps for ’17.
To start let’s look at who departed Pitt over the off-season. rsSR Dontez Ford and rsJR Zach Challingsworth. Well, that was pretty simple wasn’t it?
Of course our main WR coming back is the exciting and inconsistent – which is part of the excitement because we hold our breath hoping he’ll come down with the ball – rsSR Jester Weah.
Weah is a great example of kids who are just average in their recruitingrating (3*, 5.5) and don’t burst right out of the gate in college… but learn the new game and flourish in their upperclassmen years. And yes, that is what a good player will do.
Great players usually do make an impact earlier and Weah may have also if he hadn’t been stuck behind Tyler Boyd and Dontez Ford for his first few years. But for now he’s pretty darn good and may just be great this season.
Weah has had the catching yips and was publicly open and refreshingly honest about that which I like him even more for. He has great downfield speed and good moves – but his hands used to let him down when it came to gameday. More on that later…