POV Sunday Podcast; June 18, 2017

POV Sunday Podcast; June 18, 2017

 

Correction: Galambos and Caprara had five sacks in 2015, not last season.

Chris Peak has a truly excellent series on Pat Narduzzi’s defense he’s playing at Pitt (or Josh Conklin is).

Here is the DBs section:

https://pittsburgh.rivals.com/news/narduzzi-s-defense-the-secondary

Here is the link for those Rivals’ mailbag discussions I referenced…

https://pittsburgh.rivals.com/news/mailbag-6-16-2017-positions-of-concern-rb-wr-recruiting-and-more

And as a blast from the past…

aboutus44

….. remember her?

 

2017’s WRs; Upgrade, Downgrade or Draw

2017’s WRs; Upgrade, Downgrade or Draw

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 recruiting rating (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…

Continue reading “2017’s WRs; Upgrade, Downgrade or Draw”

2017’s DEs; Upgrade, Downgrade or Draw

2017’s DEs; Upgrade, Downgrade or Draw

This is the fifth 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. We will not factor in true freshman at this point.

DE 17.pngWe have been blessed as a team to have had Ejuan Price at the defensive end position on our defense these last six years… that’s not a typo as two of those years were injury redshirts seasons.  His constant and stalwart play masked some other problems we had on defense last season;  mainly pressure on the QB from his fellow defenders.

Wait! you may say we had a ton of sacks and we sure did with 43 which was good for 6th nationally.  But what is hidden there is that translates to only 8% of the times 592 times the opposing QBs dropped back to pass.  As we know those same QBs ripped us apart on the other 92% of those pass plays.

So – as we know and are reminded all the time, stats can be deceiving. Here we see 43 sacks and think that is fantastic and it pretty much is, but is was the lack of constant pressure from the other DE position and the LBs that fell by the wayside… and helped to account for those 331 yards passing per game against us.

But that is the heart and soul of a Narduzzi defense.  Stop the run and put strong pressure on the quarterback.

That worked out pretty well in 2015; 2016 was a completely different story however as the other team’s passer had more than enough time to throw those intermediate and deep route completions for a substantial 12.4 ypc rate and 28 TDs.  You may think 12.4 ypc given up isn’t so bad but let’s remember that it happened 350 times to our defense.

That is a recap of what happened.  Here are who helped it to come about from the DE position. First, as mentioned, we had Price who was just plain fantastic from that spot. 13 sacks for losses of 92 yards and 23 tackles for loss (TFL) for a total 123 yards…  ‘Nuff said. He was great for us.

Continue reading “2017’s DEs; Upgrade, Downgrade or Draw”

2017’s RBs; Upgrade, Downgrade or Draw

2017’s RBs; Upgrade, Downgrade or Draw

(This is the second of a longer series looking at our individual positions that need to be re-filled in 2017 and whether we will meet the PRODUCTION we had in those positions. We will not factor in true freshman at this point as we have no idea what they can and cannot do).

Much like in 2016 when we were faced with the prospect of having to put out a passing game without Tyler Boyd, we are revisiting that situation with this season’s loss of James Conner at running back.

At the risk of being unpopular (again) I’ll say this.  As I wrote many times during last year’s offseason that we wouldn’t miss Boyd much at all – and I took major heat, some of it from the more mainstream media, for saying that I’ll repeat that thought for this year’s running backs.

We won’t miss James Conner’s 2016 production as much as fans think. I love Conner, have had great personal conversations with him and feel that as a human being he’s one of the finest men I have ever met – and that is saying a lot given my professional career. Pitt and his peer players will miss his wonderful human traits and his friendship no doubt. Those are the intangibles James Conner brought to the Pitt football program and will continue to bring to any organization he is affiliated with for the rest of his life.

Unlike Tyler Boyd’s leaving, Conner’s departure is going to cost us big time in the leadership and role model areas. 

I truly wish he’d have stayed at Pitt for his 4th year of eligibility but understand completely why he declared – and what a grand decision that was given the relatively high round in which he was picked and by the Steelers to boot. Pittsburgh fans will have a lot more time to watch Conner play football I’m sure, just not in a Panther uniform.

But as a running back on our team last year, and the production he had out on the field, he’s replaceable and it will most likely be by committee.  Again I’m speaking of what he did out on the field production wise.

We’ll make up for Conner’s statistical production, especially rushing yards and TDs by this year’s batch of RBs, although his 20 TDs all told last season won’t be met by one player, that’s (maybe) for sure. Continue reading “2017’s RBs; Upgrade, Downgrade or Draw”

From the Vault: Why Pitt Is the Way it Is

From the Vault: Why Pitt Is the Way it Is

This is an article which entails some heavy lifting in the reading department so it may be best taken in chunks rather than sitting down for the whole shebang at one time. But do take a very close look at the Title Photo (Oakland in the 1930s) before you get into the linked articles.

For a weekend’s reading I have included two excellent and well-written Saturday Evening Post articles about the University of Pittsburgh and our football program’s history back in the 1930s and 1940s.  Before you click on those let me add a few things about why I did this and why I did it today.

I truly feel like Pitt is on the cusp of having to make some pretty hard and maybe unpopular decisions about just where the Football program fits in with the rest of the Athletic Department and even more importantly where it fits in relation to the rest of the University.

Why now you may ask?  Because this is the season where our won/loss record will determine if Pat Narduzzi restructures his contract to be Pitt’s HC for the long run or not. His existing contract is low for a continually winning Power Five school and can easily be bought out by any other program who wants him badly enough.

If he wins big this season, and by that I mean 9 or 10 wins including that elusive bowl win, then the rest of the nation is going to really sit up and take notice of what he and Pitt have done over the last three years.

I’ve written many times that last season’s bowl loss really hurt us in a lot of ways – mainly because it kept us from being listed in 2016’s  post-season Top 20. That would have been a real solid achievement for him on the national stage and made him more valuable to others than he actually might be to Pitt.

Instead the bold truth is that even as excited as Pitt fans are about the program and Narduzzi we are one win better that his predecessor’s best season – Paul Chryst’s 2013 year when he beat Notre Dame at home and won his bowl game.

Before you jump up and down in indignation please understand that I wholeheartedly believe Narduzzi’s 2016 season, with the wonderful wins over PSU and Clemson, was way better than 2013. It certainly was for us fans. But with only eight wins per year and no bowl game wins he hasn’t put all that much concrete distance between the program now and then.

Continue reading “From the Vault: Why Pitt Is the Way it Is”

Historical Pitt 4* & 5* Recruits’ Careers

Historical Pitt  4* &  5* Recruits’ Careers

We have talked many times about the need for highly rated recruits to build a high-quality nucleus for a successful team.  There is no doubt that the longer a HC stays at a school, especially during his first contract, he gets better recruiting opportunities.  We saw that with Dave Wannstedt when his recruiting took off after the 13-9 win in Morgantown during the 2007 season.

But recruiting young players isn’t enough and is truly just the beginning.  With all the standards, rules and regulations, both internal of the university and external of the NCAA and ACC, it makes a college career into a minefield for a lot of student/athletes.  Some thrive at Pitt to become the star players they were projected to be and some fall by the wayside due to either inattention to responsibilities, bad actions, injuries or by just plain being recruited over so they feel they must look for playing time elsewhere.

Just to show how this player attrition works let’s look at who of the 4* and 5* blue-chip players Pitt has landed over the years either left on their own accord or were forced out before their eligibility expired (those who departed the program are in bold): 

Continue reading “Historical Pitt 4* & 5* Recruits’ Careers”