Not the Ticket

About a month ago Athlon Sports published a piece called “ACC Coaches Talk Anonymously About Conference Foes for 2019

Here is what they said about Pitt:

“Year in and year out you always see the same thing from these guys — they reflect Narduzzi in how they’re physical and disciplined and really mean working against you, but it’s always a question of how far their talent can take them. It’s not about a limitation of their culture or their play calling. It’s really all about what kind of talent they can get.” Continue reading “Not the Ticket”

Song of the Southside

Song of the Southside

Pitt opens against Virginia on Saturday, and I approach the game with a mixture of anticipation and trepidation.  On one hand, there is a nearly palpable sense of confidence radiating from the Southside, and if you quiet your mind and turn your ear towards the Mon you can nearly make out the faintest of whispers saying, this year is different.  It is a siren song that Pitt fans yearn to believe.  One that is backed by the steely gazes of the upperclassman, and heard in the timbre of their voices.  It is projected through the stolid words of center Jimmy Morrissey, inferred by body language of the wide receivers licking their chops as they talk about the the passing game, and made that much more audible by grim determination of quarterback Kenny Pickett.

And yet for every reason to believe, there are a dozen reasons not to.  Jimmy Morrissey’s confidence?  There are four first-year starters surrounding him.  Those wide receivers?  Useless if they can’t get the ball.  And Kenny Pickett?  The last time we saw him, he was  nothing more than a shell-shocked sophomore, gritting his way through the last three games of the season.  Oh and don’t even get me started on the running backs and tight ends. Continue reading “Song of the Southside”

On Kenny Pickett

On Kenny Pickett

I was recently interviewed for a podcast (season preview for Pitt football, will be published around July 4th and I’ll post the link when it goes up).  One of the questions was, “Do you guys have a quarterback?”  My answer was, “Well…no”.

Now that is not entirely true.  And when you listen the podcast you’ll understand why I said what I said.  It has to do with history versus potential, and right now, history shows we “kind of” don’t have a quarterback.

In fact, every first year quarterback since Bill Stull has – for the most part – has posted better stats than Kenny Pickett. Continue reading “On Kenny Pickett”

Pitt Football 2019 Spring Preview: The Offense – Part 1

Pitt Football 2019 Spring Preview:  The Offense – Part 1

IMG_1006First if all, my son, Raphael (no turtle jokes, please), celebrated his one-month birthday this past Saturday, and what better way to commemorate the occasion than to suit him up for spring ball.  As you can see young Raphael is expecting big things from the offense this season, because he is already working on his “touchdown” gesture.  (The actual truth is this one of the few shots I could get where he wasn’t crying, so one way or the other, I suppose he’s preparing for the season…)

And the other truth is that we might all be crying, because there are so many question marks on offense. Although with OC Mark Whipple at the helm, this is less likely than it was with Shawn Watson.  Nonetheless, there are many questions to be answered.  And so…where to begin?  In my opinion (as well as the opinion of Barry Alvarez, from whom I stole this quote) “It all starts with those big palookas up front”. Continue reading “Pitt Football 2019 Spring Preview: The Offense – Part 1”

Pitt Football 2019 Spring Preview: The Defense

Pitt Football 2019 Spring Preview: The Defense

Pitt’s spring practice starts on Wednesday, and all I can say is, “Man, that came up fast”.  Seems like just yesterday we were complaining about what went down in El Paso.

And yet here we are, just a few days out from fourteen closed practices and one glorified scrimmage that will tell us very little about how good this team actually is.  Nonetheless, all of the information that comes out of spring practice will be both controlled by Pitt’s  Coaching Staff and much discussed by the fans – thanks to Pat Narduzzi’s unpopular closed-practice policy.

In the meantime, we can speculate as to what will happen, and who will emerge, and how good the team will be, and speculate we shall.

But first, lets kick it off with a little rah-rah:

Continue reading “Pitt Football 2019 Spring Preview: The Defense”

Six ways to Saturday – Analyzing the 2019 Early Signing Class

Six ways to Saturday – Analyzing the 2019 Early Signing Class

Editor’s Note:  I had originally planned to do a more in-depth analysis on the class, but I have an 18 month old and a job and so this will have to wait.  I’ll plan on publishing it sometime between Christmas and New Years when there is some down time.  In the meantime have a look at Pat Narduzzi’s presser and feel free to weigh in.

There isn’t much that hasn’t been said about this class already.  Narduzzi, as he is known to do, said a lot in his press conference yesterday afternoon.  He said they are building depth.  He said they are bringing in better athletes.  He said some guys could probably switch position.

Something interesting that I don’t think we’ve heard from him before, is that there are three different groups that work with strength coach Dave Andrews.

There is the “Power” group, and that is the big linemen, both offensive and defensive.  Pitt brought in seven of those.

There is the “Big Skill” group, which includes Quarterback (and what else?).  Narduzzi said Pitt brought in five of those.

There is also the “Skill” Group, which Narduzzi mentions includes Tight Ends and Linebackers.  Bigger guys who can run.  Pitt signed six of those.

Narduzzi mentioned the geographical breakdown.  Four from PA, Five from Florida.  A couple of kids from Canada.

He mentioned that 17 of the 18 signees were team captains.  Six were state champions.

He gave props to the recruiting office.  He gave props to the academic staff.  He gave props to Andre Powell for being from South Carolina and opening up that state.  He gave props to Shawn Watson for recruiting (four star QB) Davis Beville.

He talked about each one of the recruits.

He took a veiled shot at Penn State (ostensibly), and covered his hind-end on the whole Nick Malone thing.

“I consider the whole state of Pennsylvania is my message out there is we go slow. I am not going to offer guys early in this area and try to pull out on them. I just don’t want to do it.   So we’re always going to take our time in this area because too often people offer kids and then they back up and you never hear from them again. That’s not going to happen here. At least we sure hope it’s not going to happen. Sometimes things happen, but we want to offer those guys and we want them.”

He answered questions.  He acknowledged that Pitt is not Clemson, and threw out the obligatory remark about five stars.

“But we’re going to recruit the guys we’re capable of recruiting. We’re not going to whine if we don’t get a five-star. There are a lot of five stars that we love. There are a lot of five stars that we don’t love, and we’re like see you later, not good enough and there are a lot of things you don’t like about them. I like those hungry guys.”

All in all we’ve learned that you have to take everything that Pat Narduzzi says with a grain a salt.  And yet, he’s also shown that in many cases there is a grain of truth buried in all that hyperbole.  (See you in Charlotte anyone?)   And while I am guarding my expectations, it’s hard not to be a little bit excited.

Hail2Pitt!

Michaelangelo

 

 

ACC Accolades

ACC Accolades

Say what you want about our team’s performance against superior talent, but Pitt has performed admirably against like-and-inferior foes. We’ve exceeded many fans’ expectations this year, and these individual honors are well-earned.

Six Panthers Named to All-ACC Football Team

An additional six Pitt players received Honorable Mention recognition

 

PITTSBURGH—Six Pitt players were named to the All-Atlantic Coast Conference Football Team announced today by the league office, while an additional six received Honorable Mention All-ACC.

Senior tailback Qadree Ollison and senior offensive tackle Stefano Millin were second-team All-ACC honorees. The Panthers had four third-team selections: senior tailbackDarrin Hall, senior guard Mike Herndon, sophomore center Jimmy Morrissey and sophomore placekicker Alex Kessman.

Receiving Honorable Mention recognition were junior Maurice Ffrench (as both an all-purpose player and return specialist), senior fullback George Aston, senior offensive tackle Alex Bookser, senior guard Connor Dintino, junior cornerback Dane Jackson and junior safety Damar Hamlin.

The official All-ACC Team is voted on by conference head coaches, a representative from each of the 14 schools’ radio broadcast teams and select media members who cover the league on a daily basis.

Ollison and Hall were arguably the top tailback tandem in the ACC this past season. The Panthers have never had a 1,000-yard rushing duo but are on the cusp of that historic first.

Ollison (Niagara Falls, N.Y./Canisius) has rushed for 1,134 yards and 10 touchdowns on 176 carries (6.44 avg.). He is only the sixth player in Pitt history to achieve multiple 1,000-yard rushing seasons. Ollison had 1,121 in 2015 when he also was a second-team All-ACC pick.

Hall (Youngstown, Ohio/Austintown Fitch) has rushed for 935 yards and nine touchdowns on 123 carries (7.60 avg.). His yards-per-carry average ranks sixth nationally and second in the ACC.

The Panthers’ offensive front has paved the way for a ground game that ranks 18th nationally (232.7 avg.). Millin (Massillon, Ohio/Perry) was a key addition for the unit this past offseason, joining the Panthers as a graduate transfer from Kent State. He has started all 12 games at left tackle.

On the interior, Herndon (Greenville, Va./Riverheads) has started every game at right guard. Morrissey (Huntingdon Valley, Pa./La Salle College H.S.), who maned Pitt’s center position for 23 consecutive starts, had his all-star season cut short due to an injury sustained late in the Nov. 17 Wake Forest victory.

Kessman (Clarkston, Mich./Clarkston) leads the Panthers in scoring with 68 points on 10-of-13 field goals and 38-of-40 PATs. He has displayed one of the strongest legs in college football, kicking six field goals of more than 50 yards over the past two years. This season, he has a 55-yard kick, two 54-yarders and a 53-yarder.

As champions of the Coastal Division, the Panthers (7-5, 6-2) will face Atlantic Division winner Clemson (12-0, 8-0) in the Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship Game this Saturday, Dec. 1. The game, played in Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium, will kick off at 8 p.m., and be nationally televised by ABC (WTAE-TV, Channel 4, in Pittsburgh).