What a weekend. It all started on Friday when Pitt announced that Aaron Donald was giving a seven-figure donation to the program. Then, for the first time in a long time, the spring game actually produced some offense. Paris Ford culminated the afternoon with an INT and then Pat Narduzzi anointed him the starter. To top it all off Pitt got their second commit of 2020, an offensive tackle no less. And to top that all off, Tiger Woods won the Masters. Continue reading “Pitt Spring Game Weekend Wrap Up”
Practice #4 is in the books. The interview focus was Defensive Line. Here’s 10 things I took away.
- Pat Narduzzi is underselling Patrick Jones. So is DL Coach Charlie Partridge. “Is he ready to be an everyday starter?” was the question. The unanimous answer was “Not yet”
- Devin Danielson, David Greene and Tyler Bentley were three young guys mentioned by Partridge, when asked who might be able to contribute.
- Rashad Weaver’s pass russ got “more appropriate” as the season went on, per Partridge. To extrapolate, he explained that young DL often only have one move, and when other teams figure it out, they tend to shut him down. Players that can change it up as the season goes on see more consistent success. Weaver was able to do just that.
- According to Partridge, “We are a vertical attack defense”. That means they want to see all four linemen in the backfield. If Pitt can get that to happen consistently this defense could be fun to watch.
- Deslin Alexandre is being played exclusively at end, and Chris Maloney was mentioned as a walk on that bears some watching. Partridge also mentioned that some DT’s were being cross trained at end. No names were mentioned. My guess is Jaylen Tywman is one of them.
- rsFr QB Nick Patti made his debut on the interview circuit, and he’s a pretty good interview.
- According to Patti, all the QB’s are getting more reps at practice. Whipple mentioned something to this effect when he was interviewed during the offseason. It’s one of the main reasons why most of his quarterbacks tend to develop, especially after a few years in the system. If we can keep Whip around for more than a year or two, this will really pay dividends down the road.
- According to Patti, Whipple “puts the quarterback in better situations”. Not sure what this means exactly, but reading between the lines I would think it means that Whipple’s play design is better than his predecessor.
- rsSo Jaylen Twyman will be wearing #97 this season. The Duzz said it’s okay as long as his work ethic matches that other guy… BTW, Twyman is listed at 300 but said he’s down to 285.
- 3 out of 3 Pitt players picked Duke to win it all.
Hail to Pitt
- Both Pat Narduzzi and Randy Bates see us as having three starting corners.
- Chase Pine is playing both the Mike and the Money position. There is a good chance he’ll see time at Money, because Wendell Davis is backing up Elias Reynolds at Mike
- They guy who best learns the position at Star will probably get the start. “I like the talent, but they’ve got to know what to do” – Narduzzi
- Narduzzi has no idea who will start at RB. “We’ll continue to get better”. “It’s Long time to August 31st”. “We’re going to find someone to carry the ball”
- Sounds like the staff is lobbying the NCAA for another year of eligibility for Damar Hamlin
- Jason Pinnock never played press-man in high school
- Jason Pinnock and Dane Jackson both believe that the D will pick up where it left off. “It’s way more comfortable for the defense this year with the second year of Randy Bates” – Pinnock. “This is the best we’ve ever felt since we’ve been here” – Jackson
- Phil Campbell may not be the starter at Star LB, but he is certainly in the mix. “He’s spending a lot of time off the filed watching tape.” “His weight is good. He’s farther along than you might think.” – Randy Bates
- Rashad Weaver is a leader, and a character guy.
- The 1920 Pitt Football Squad (undefeated, 6-0-2) were all about the size of Major Majors and Fran, and Pop Warner was recruiting Kiski Academy hard.
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:
Here is a well-researched article by Brian Ferrari, aka “notrocketscience”, and it should give some good food for thought as we head into spring ball in the next couple of weeks.
We have much discussion about Pitt recruiting on the POV. This year’s class is considered too low in rank by almost everyone. Some believe all of Narduzzi’s classes were ranked too low. I am not one of those people. I feel all of the classes, with the exception of this year, were on par for what Pitt can accomplish with their football budget. I also feel Pitt football can reach a level of success we all expect with those classes. For me, that is eight to nine wins per year with occasional ten win seasons. Top 25 rankings should happen.
Let’s forget where Pitt’s classes have been ranked by Rivals. After all, it has zero impact on how the players are ultimately developed by the coaches. An eighteen year old kid changes a lot in four to five years. Instead, let’s look at the players on the current roster that contributed last year and are poised to contribute more this coming year. How good are they? Has Pitt developed them? Do we see potential NFL draft picks?
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:
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.
(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”