What Really Matters to Pitt in 2017

What Really Matters to Pitt in 2017

A voice from the past, Kevin Gorman of the Tribune Review, used to be the Pitt football beat writer and a reporter who I always made sure to read every word he put out because I thought he was that good and very detailed.

He’s back with a piece looking at our 2017 season’s ultimate goal.

In this Trib article Gorman makes a point that The POV has been singing all along since Pat Narduzzi became the head coach of Pitt, and that was the main goal of any season is to win the ACC Coastal and then the ACC Championship. That is the only way we have a chance to be in the football playoffs at the end of the season. Anything else is nice but an unfulfilled season.

I love that 2016 Penn State win I love our Clemson upset also, but the bald fact is that if we don’t get it done in the ACC matches we’re not fulfilling the mandate that Pat Narduzzi has been given as a head coach at Pitt…play championship football.

The question going into Year Three of Narduzzi’s tenure is if he can pull that off. To which I say “sure he can” – if he’s what we think he is as a head coach.

There is a big disconnect from how the Pitt fans view the football program and how the coaches, staff and players view the football program. We fans love those emotional wins, and those two great OOC wins last year were certainly emotional and  were great to watch.  But, and there is always a “but” involved when comes to Pitt football, in the long run they didn’t really advance the program as much as a championship would.  Any type of championship.

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Here’s the Latest POV Roundtable…

Here’s the Latest POV Roundtable…

We went back to the regular Wednesday night Round Table show last night and Richman, Pitt-Cocks and I conducted a lengthy psychological assessment of Dr. Tom’s conversion to objectivity and deemed it appropiate as based on reality and honesty.

All kidding aside it is refreshing to me to carry on a call-in show with Tom under any circumstances of course and last night was no different.  Some topics we discussed:

Aston injury; suspensions, QB depth, most important game of the year, better or worse on offense and defense and anything else that popped in mind.

Enjoy!

Some other Pitt news – Mike Vukovcan wrote an optimistic piece about Ford’s  academic status then deleted it and put this in its place.

UPDATE (7:01 AM)

**Forget my previous post, I’m being told Paris Ford won’t be on the field today but the target for his much anticipated debut is next week. His grades are being submitted to the NCAA tomorrow.

Which means two things;   1) Whitehead isn’t cleared to play by the NCAA yet and with that three different high schools journey he made he might not end up being eligible and 2) the does NCAA takes some time, even a long time actually,  reviewing these submitted cases. Remember the NCAA has to look at every athlete in D1 and D2 in every sport who is submitting to the academic clearing house. From what I read they take the individual cases as date stamped and not by school urgency.

I still have a gut feeling he’ll miss part or all of the year. If it gets too long into the season for the NCAA to decide his status he’ll probably get a redshirt.

Here is a good “Five Takaways from PSN’s Alan Saunders…

Here are some tidbits from the Trib this morning…

Sorry guys but this cracks me up:

Increased swagger

Narduzzi sounds cautiously optimistic his secondary will be better.

“I like the swagger I see out of the secondary,” he said. “I don’t know what it is. Is it more confidence, more knowledge? Are they stronger, faster? Even if a ball goes over their head, I see them come back the next play and make another play. I see a swagger I didn’t see a year ago.”

Huh! Someone needs to tell the HC that it is his and his staff’s job to have gotten get those 2016 DB’s swagger going.  it sounds like he just stood back and watched them mail it in last season.

Last thing – here is a bit on the injuries…

Pitt fullback George Aston and cornerback Phillipie Motley — both atop the pre-camp depth chart at their positions — have not practiced and were on crutches this week.

Coach Pat Narduzzi offered little insight into the players’ injuries.

“It’s still being evaluated right now,” he said. “I’m not going to comment on something that’s not a fact yet. It’s way too early.

We fans have forgotten JR DB Phillipe Motley has been out of action also – he’s a returning starter at the CB position opposite Maddox – and another we can’t really afford to lose even for depth purposes should he not be the starter.

How National Media Think About Pitt

How National Media Think About Pitt

We have a continuing argument on here about the impact of last year’s 31-26 bowl loss on Pitt’s national reputation after the 2016 season’s dust had settled.  More importantly perhaps is what impact all of last season’s games, won and lost, had on the national media’s perception of our program going into this 2017 season. 

But wait – let me backtrack a bit here.  This isn’t about Pitt’s football program per se – but is about how the national media viewed the Pitt football team at the end of 2016, then again now and how the team might be gauged going into battle in September.

The people on the Southside I had conversations with when attending spring practices three months ago sure felt… no, they sure knew… that the bowl loss cost us dearly in perceptions and in the actual standings.   By that I mean not only the final 2016 standings but our 2017 preseason rank (or lack thereof).

Here is the AP Final Top 25 list for last year:

abab

I believe that had we won the bowl game combined with our big PSU rivalry win (which is a match-up of historical importance to the national media) and win over #3 ranked Clemson; both games nationally televised and both teams finishing high in the final rankings with one as champs, we would have been ranked between #13 and #17 at the end of the season.

Continue reading “How National Media Think About Pitt”

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”

Happy 4th of July! Hail to Pitt!

Happy 4th of July!  Hail to Pitt!

A day for celebration and remembrance of what hard work and sacrifices both our  Citizens and Citizen-Soldiers have made to make and keep the United States of America a free and vibrant democracy.  I appreciate what has taken place before us and before today and with my circle of  family, friends and acquaintances  – including each and every one of you readers – I know we’ll keep the USA on an even keel for centuries to come.

So… If we are remembering stuff,  then take a break from the scrambled eggs, grilled bratwurst and mashed potatoes I know every red-blooded American is eating for their 4th of July meal  (at least that’s what we did at our German Grandma’s house when I was a kid) and take a minute to review some of the past and glorious Big Game victories Pitt has had in the last 19 years…

Let’s time travel back to Walt Harris’s tenure at Pitt and see what he, and our following HCs, have done when faced with Big Games on a national stage.  Here are the matches as determined by me to have the label “Big Games ” which were mostly when our opponents had Top 25 rankings either on the day of the game or at the end of the season (as in lats year’s PSU win).

For a holiday treat and because you are great Pitt fans I linked a ton of info in the chart below.  The actual scores of the games are linked to the box score and the “Opponent’s Gameday Rank” column has either articles about the game or some videos I thought were fun to watch…  Grab a beer and Enjoy!!

Year Head Coach Opp. Gameday Rank Final Score Opp. Final Ranking Record vs Ranked teams
1997 Walt Harris #22 Miami 21-17 NR
WH #19   VT 30-23 NR 2-3
2001 WH #12   VT 38-7 #18 1-1
2002 WH #3     VT 28-21 #18 1-3
2003 WH #5     VT 31-28 NR 1-1
2004 WH #24 ND 41-38 #17
WH #21 WVU 16-13 NR 2-0
2007 Dave Wannstedt #23 Cincy 24-17 #17
DW #2 WVU * 13-9 #6 2-0
2008 DW #10 USF 26-21 NR 1-2
2011 Graham #16 USF 44-17 NR 1-1
2012 Paul Chryst #13 VT 35-17 NR
PC #21 RU 27-6 NR 2-2
2013 PC #24 ND 28-21 #21 1-1
2016 Pat Narduzzi NR PSU * 42-39 #7
PN #3 Clemson * 43-42 #1 1-1

I’ll pick my three favorites (highlighted in bold) and then you all can chip in with yours in the comments section. 

Continue reading “Happy 4th of July! Hail to Pitt!”

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”