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”

POV Sunday Podcast; April 30, 2017

POV Sunday Podcast; April 30, 2017

I have a few Pitt POV car magnets left – the big ones like this:

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Let me know if you are interested – send an email to me with your contact info (address & phone) and I’ll get one out to you if I have enough.  Please put “Car Magnet” in the subject line.

Don’t forget Tuesday night’s POV Roundtable Call-In show. It has been a resounding success and growing by leaps and bounds.  Here is last’s weeks recording if anyone missed it – we cracked ourselves up until Ike peed his pants.

I’ll post up the participant particulars in Tuesday’s article. I start a meet around 7:45 or so then start recording when everyone is set and ready around 8:00.

News for the uncaring: Rushel Shell was chosen by the Steelers as an undrafted Free Agent… now it gets even more interesting.on the Southside in May – July before they leave for training camp.  BTW – Shell and Conner didn’t overlap on the Pitt roster.

RS:  Hi, I’m running back Rushel Shell. I went to Pitt too.

JC:  Hey, I’m James Conner – you know, the guy who made you an answer to a trivia question.

Also – The Doctors and I are talking about back surgery, up until now they have been giving me the 50/50 walk again line, which I told them to cram where the sun don’t shine.  I kind of hope we can do it but if so I’ll be calling for more donations for booze and earplug money if I’m to be trapped in the house for weeks with my wife.

Correction: Staunton, VA to Blacksburg, VA is actually 117 miles so it would be a ‘going to or from’ stop.

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POV Sunday Podcast; April 23rd

POV Sunday Podcast; April 23rd

Because I felt left out and had to hold down the Quicksilver bar all by myself when others were out having fun golfing, I went out yesterday and bought myself a complete set (used of course) of Jack Nicklaus’ Golden Bear Tranzition clubs.

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So, after this podcast I’m off to a driving range to see if my lower back will actually explode  if I hit a bucket or two.  Get this – I bought them used at a local Play It Again store and they asked $90 as is.  The bag was crappy and the club’s grips were in bad shape also.  I told them I’d come back last evening to pick them up.  They re-gripped all the clubs and gave me a very nice new (used) bag… and gave me 20% off for a military discount.

My daughter had said she’d pay half as a small present and so Ta Da! – These clubs cost me $39 total.

Pitt BB:

Not even a transfer; Aaron Thomas is refusing to board the sinking ship.

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Here is the competition RB Dion Lewis faced in his freshman year at Pitt.  If you remember LeSean McCoy had declared early for the NFL draft after only two years at Pitt (2007-08) so he was gone by Lewis and Graham’s first year.

Dion Lewis

Not a whole lot to worry about there but the other, more highly ranked, Ray Graham.  Lewis was a 3*, Graham was a 4* and returning RB Chris Burns was a 4* also.  Lewis blew their socks off that year.

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Pitt Football’s Glory Days; Part 3

Pitt Football’s Glory Days; Part 3

(This is Part 3 of a three-part series looking back at Pitt’s best decades of football)

Yesterday we discussed that last set of Glory Days from 1974 to 1983. Now let us skip another 33 years from 1984 to the nearer history of Pitt football in 2007. Remember that number because from 1938 to 1974 was a 36 year stretch.  It seems to me that we take around  35 years to ramp up to have another good run of Pitt football. Way too long but it is what it is – at least so far.

Now are talking about this last decade, from 2007 until last season’s end. I think it’s interesting that we look at these last 10 years and think the program has been rather average or even mediocre at times, especially the four years under Todd Graham and Paul Chryst. But if you put these ten years up against our whole history of play you’ll find that we really been above and beyond what the vast majority of other years’ stretches had done.

Here are the years in discussion:

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Continue reading “Pitt Football’s Glory Days; Part 3”

Predictions are Funny Things…

Predictions are Funny Things…

A commenter posted a link to The Panthers Prey – Chris Dokish’s blog about Pitt football and Dokish’s take on our 2017 defense.  Dokish specializes in recruiting stuff mostly but also tends to get way into the weeds about individual player’s abilities and talents.

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Chris Dokish’s Website

People love reading that and I do also.  It is apparent he puts a lot of research into his writing. However, I believe about half of it.

That’s no slur on Dokish’s work,  but when you are in the business of offering predictions regarding how well players will do in the future, as he is, then you basically have a 50/50 chance of getting your predictions into the “correct” ballpark.  I know this to be true – after all I predicted that Jack Lippert would be a three-year starter and that Chris Wuestner would be the next Mike Shanahan.

The thing is that fans read Dokish’s stuff but never go back to see how good he is at doing this.  Let’s remember to do that after the 2017 season and compare Pitt’s real results to his current predictions.

Well it is too much to cut and paste but I suggest you take a reading of the whole piece – I do like to read his work – and pay close attention to his “DBs” section toward the bottom of the article.  This is what he said for the upcoming 2017 season:

Bottom line- It’s going to be hard to convince some people that the secondary could be a lot better, but I have to say anyway that there’s a real possibility that the secondary could be a lot better. If Whitehead returns to form, and Hamlin and Ford live up to their potential, there will be an enormous improvement. And these are three elite talents so it’s not unimaginable.

Also, last year’s underclassmen, like Jackson, Motley, and Stocker, should get better now that last year’s shell shocked season is over. Throw in some very talented redshirt freshmen like Coleman, Miller, Campbell, and Garner, and you can see that there may be light at the end of the tunnel sooner than people think.

Continue reading “Predictions are Funny Things…”