Friday Predictions Thread – Virginia

Sorry for the very short piece today.  I’m doing a  WWII Service Veterans Gratitude Pinning Ceremony with keynote address today for 17 95+-year-old Veterans and that’s a full day (of standing on my feet and a rubber chicken lunch) of ceremonies… so little time to write this morning.

But it is your words that are important in the prediction pieces.  How say you with this one?

I think we’ll win two more games this season so this pretty much has to be one of them – if our run game can produce again.  I doubt we’ll see lightning strike twice like Hall’s performance last week – but if the OL can bring the thunder for a good regular grind-it-out rushing attack.then we’ll be OK.

Pitt 28 – VA 21

PITTVA.png

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 Sunday Podcast; August 13th 2017

Qadree Ollison’s 2015 season (212 for 1121 yards @ 5.3 ypc and 11 TDs) extrapolated to Conner’s 298 carries of 2014 = 298 carries for 1516 yards (5.3 ypc), 16 TDs and 121 ypg. 

If he grabs the starting RB role this year and is the workhorse like Conner was in 2014 I have no doubt we can see the numbers above from him this season… and that would go a long way to helping Max Browne settle in at QB.

Peak’s Mailbox:  Fears…lack of experience at a lot of spots, lack of depth on the offensive line, a whole new situation for Max Browne, an unforgiving September schedule, unknown/unproven talent at running back. The offensive line is a big one.

https://pittsburgh.rivals.com/news/mailbag-8-12-2017-hopes-fears-hot-dogs-and-more

http://www.theacc.com/news/2017-all-acc-preseason-football-team-announced-07-19-2017

http://www.sportingnews.com/ncaa-football/news/preseason-college-football-rankings-2017-top-25-championship-teams-alabama-usc-michigan-ohio-state/psln63tvfekn1qoi05ayqy1j9

24. Pittsburgh Panthers 

Pittsburgh had an up-and-down season in 2016, but keep in mind they beat Penn State and Clemson. Pat Narduzzi’s third season should bring better results, and the addition of USC transfer Max Browne at quarterback is exciting. The Panthers must be more consistent to stay on here. 

  •  Sporting News – Browne as a ‘special mention” QB.
  •  Pitt picked 3rd in Coastal

X-Factor: Transfer QBs 

Former USC quarterback Max Browne is at Pitt, and former LSU quarterback Brandon Harris is at North Carolina. Can both of those highly-touted recruits energize their offenses enough to make it interesting? 

Sleeper: Pittsburgh 

Georgia Tech also is a possibility here, but we like what Browne could do for Pitt’s straightforward attack in Pat Narduzzi’s third season. Remember, Pitt beat Penn State and Clemson last season, but the Panthers also were wildly inconsistent. A bonus on the schedule is no Florida State, Clemson or Louisville.

CHRIS CLARK

 

Former five-star tight end Chris Clark, who is no longer transferring to Syracuse, told The Daily Orange Monday night that SU pulled his offer and that he wanted to join the team.

“Like it makes no sense to me whatsoever … that they pulled my offer,” Clark said via Twitter direct message.

He said that Scott Shafer had the discussion with him and the head coach said, “(Syracuse) wasn’t the best fit.” Clark also added that the offer was pulled before Syracuse played Pittsburgh on Saturday, a game he was planning to attend.

And now…

“I don’t really think I was mature enough to handle all the expectations that come with college football,” Clark said. “I was making some bonehead decisions out there and not really following the way that it goes. I was just kind of being a headache.

“Over the last couple years, I’ve matured so much. I don’t even remember that guy I was. A lot has changed. Not to mention it was also so far from home. It was a lot to deal with. Getting to a school closer to home seemed like it made the most sense to me.”

Good – we need him to be mature and effective. He’s one I think could live to billing on offense.

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

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

(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”