POV’s View From the Endzone Podcast: 4/22/18

POV’s View From the Endzone Podcast: 4/22/18

Here are some thoughts on a Sunday morning –

Statistics and the fun you can have with them… All-Time Pitt players and why we think they way we do about them… All-ACC members and why we’ll miss them… How our four ‘best’ players in 2017 let us down… Why I’m right and Ike is wrong… and having to see Dorsett play to believe the stories we old-timers tell about him.

Here is my Aunt’s abbreviated obit – my mistake – her grad degree was from Carnegie Tech and she was a LCDR in the Navy (obit is wrong)…but this photo was taken last year when she was 101…

And here is some Veteran’s Benefits info…

smalldrc

If your service-connected condition has gotten worse and you’re planning to file an increased disability claim for that condition, there’s a better way to file. Get the fastest decision on your claim for an increase by filing it as a Decision Ready Claim (DRC). Filing as a DRC means you can get a decision within 30 days after your claim is submitted.

Work with an accredited Veterans Service Organization (VSO) or other accredited representative to determine if the DRC program is right for you and your claim for an increase. Your VSO can then help you gather and submit all relevant and required evidence so your claim is ready for VA to make a decision when you submit it.

Don’t need to file a claim for an increase? You can also file these other types of compensation claims through the DRC program:

  • Direct Service Connection Claims
  • Presumptive Service Connection Claims
  • Secondary Service Connection Claims
  • Dependency and Indemnity Compensation for surviving spouses

Learn more about the DRC program, including eligibility requirements, what medical evidence you need to submit, and how to find an accredited VSO at www.benefits.va.gov/drc.

Thank you for your service!

Veterans Benefits Administration 

Pitt’s All-Time Best Players Ever…Ever I Tell You!!

Pitt’s All-Time Best Players Ever…Ever I Tell You!!

I’m sticking with the SaturdaysAreBetter website for inspiration here.

John Baranowski has hit another home run article with his Feb 13th piece on Pitt’s All-Time Football Team.  I strongly suggest not only do you read this article but to also put John’s website in your morning “have to read” links to stay on top of the college football world.

John doesn’t just write about Pitt football but spreads his wings over the whole CFB landscape – for instance his latest article is about how many national titles might have Bear Bryant won if he was coaching under a college football playoff system.  Very interesting.

In his Pitt All-Timers piece he lists some of the players I wrote about yesterday when we discussed what makes a die-hard Pitt fan do what he does.  I said it couldn’t be the won-loss record as that has been pedestrian over the last 30 years, so the amount and quality of star players who have passed through the program has to have something to do with our love of Pitt football – and boy, we sure had a lot of them…

Of course all football team discussions start with the QB and John has this to say about Pitt’s best:

Back in 2011, after trying unsuccessfully to find a recent article regarding an All-Time Pitt Panthers football team, I wrote the following article that can be found at: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/789636-announcing-the-pittsburgh-panthers-all-time-football-team. The past six years has allowed us sufficient time to revisit the subject and to see what players may have earned their way on to Pitt’s all-time team.

Pitt’s all-time team would rank among the best that have ever played college football. Presenting the updated University of Pittsburgh’s All-Time team:

At quarterback, who else could it be but No. 13, Dan Marino? Marino will forever be the benchmark for future Pitt quarterbacks and what Sparky Anderson said about Johnny Bench can be applied to Dan Marino and to Pitt quarterbacks before and after Marino, “Don’t embarrass anyone by comparing them to Dan Marino.”

Image result for dan marino pittFunny but I both agree and disagree about this pick.  I am one who doesn’t think Marino was all that fantastic in college – mainly because of the horrendous amounts of interceptions he threw… and that fact that his surrounding cast, as you’ll read in John’s article populated by many other Pitt All-Timers off those teams, covered up so many of those errors.

I’ve a feeling that if Marino wasn’t surrounded by that team he had in 1979-1981 he’d have had more season like his SR year where he played rather poorly. Here are his Pitt stats:

DMQB

Don’t get me wrong Marino was a superb passer but I tend to think he was in the exact right place at the exact right time.  But if not Marino them whom?

Here is the latest Pitt rankings at QB. 

Pitt QBs

BTW – they transposed the Att/Comps in Van Pelt’s listing here – it was really 1503 Image result for alex van pelt pittattempts with 865 completions…which gives him almost the same career QB rating as Marino with 127.03.

So you can see that there is a case to be made for Alex Van Pelt to be sitting on the throne also. But his HC Paul Hackett was so inept that AVP’s great QB play didn’t translate into many wins – not like Marino’s did anyway.

Or maybe fan favorite Tyler Palko with his 66 TDs to only 25 INTs for a superb QB rating of 140.80.  He was certainly one of the most vocal and talented team leaders Pitt has had in our history.  Misused (IM think) by Wannstedt in a completely different offense from Walt Harris’ Palko’s numbers dropped but his efficiency went up.  Had Harris been his coach for a full four years Palko’s numbers would up with Marino and Alex Van Pelt I bet.

Personally I believe had Nate Peterman played a full four years at Pitt he’d sit on top of the leader board based on his excellent  career 151.1 QB rating and TD to INT ratio (which I think is very important).  From what I can figure Peterman’s single 2016 season was the best we have ever had as far as QB efficiency rating goes at 163.4 which is truly outstanding and 47 TDs in only 23 full games against only 15 TDs is a hell of a show.

NPQB

But I’ll capitulate and say let’s give it to Marino anyway because, well – a 42-6 W/L record is almost unbelievable in modern college ball. Plus he grew up on campus which makes for a great story.

This is fun.

One of the problems that John points out with this listing is that we have so many great football players that some very, very good ones have to be left of the list.  Case in point:

Some may want to list James Conner in Pitt’s all-time backfield to join Dorsett. Conner did finish with 3,733 yards rushing and 56 touchdowns in his college career. Pitt had quite a few other outstanding running backs over the years as well: Craig “Ironhead” Heyward, Randy McMillan, Curtis Martin, Curvin Richards, LeSean McCoy, and Dion Lewis, just to name a few, and some would argue that one of them should be Dorsett’s backfield mate on Pitt’s all-time team, but the choice here is Marshall Goldberg.  None of the others has their number retired nor led their team to two national championships like Goldberg did.Image result for marshall goldberg pitt

For that matter, how many players finish in the top three in Heisman Trophy voting two years in a row? Goldberg, a two-time All-American, finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1937, was the Heisman runner-up in 1938, and held the Pitt career rushing mark for nearly 40 years until Dorsett came along. When you finish in the top three for the Heisman Trophy twice and your jersey number is retired, there is no doubt you were a great player.

Isn’t that strange in a way – a guy that beats Dorsett’s almost untouchable TD record at Pitt can’t break into the Top Two RBs over our history of play.  Of course none of us watched Goldberg play but as I wrote before on here my parents, aunts and uncles all went to Pitt in the late ’30s and every friday night cocktail party in my youth I heard about Marshall Goldberg and how great those old Pitt teams were – and the were without a doubt the best in the country for many years.Image result for james conner pitt

So I agree with this choice – although with a caveat.  If you were to list either the “Most Loved Panther” or the “Most Inspirational Panther” who still kicked major ass on the football field then James Conner would win those awards hands-down.  So for just that reason let’s go to a three running back offense for the Pitt All-Time team, OK?

Read John’s piece and let us know if you agree, disagree or have some others you would put on the list… and how about this… are there any players on this roster today may be up with the greats when they are done here?

BTW – this website that Pitt put up, “Pitt Through The Years”,  is great for us fans – have fun reading it…

HTP!!

Another Voice…and What Makes Us Fans

Another Voice…and What Makes Us Fans

Yesterday we discussed optimism among the Pitt football writers and our friend & fellow blogger SaturdaysAreBetter (John Baranowski) wrote a great article last month which chronicled Pitt’s football modern history compared to other D1 schools.

To put things in context his piece was a response to the Panther’s Prey (Dokish) article “Why Pitt Football Recruits at the Level they do” when Dokish wrote:

 “In the second group we have very good programs that could flirt with top 10 status with the right coach. That group includes Louisville, Virginia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Stanford, Washington, Oregon, UCLA, Arizona State, Utah and Texas A&M. None of these programs are always excellent, but they’ve proven that they are good enough programs that with an excellent coach they can be among the elite.”

John’s piece isn’t for the faint of heart but I highlight it here because it tries to answer the question of “If Pitt has played so poorly over the past 30 years why are we still such intense Pitt fans?”

The upshot of the article, supported by facts and statistics, is that there really is no valid reason other than the fact we love Pitt and its football team.  Pitt has failed compared to even the other schools people throw in as peers to our program – and by that I mean this (remember we are talking about the last 30 years):

How close has Pitt come to flirting with top 10 status?  In that 30-year period, the highest Pitt has been ranked in the final AP Poll was 15th back in 2009. To put that in perspective, the following list of schools have finished 15th or higher in a final AP Poll within that same time frame: Air Force, Arizona (2x), Boston College (2x), California (3x), Central Florida, Colorado State, East Carolina, Houston (3x), Illinois (2x), Kansas (2x), Marshall, Maryland (2x), Miami of Ohio, Mississippi (3x), Mississippi State (3x), Nevada, North Carolina State, Oregon State, Purdue (2x), Rutgers, Southern Mississippi, Syracuse (5x), Tulane, Virginia, Washington State (5x) and Western Michigan. All those schools finished higher than Pitt ever did in the last 30 years but somehow Dokish omitted them from that second group just below the elite of college football.

What about winning percentage over the last 30 years? Care to guess which school Dokish listed has the lowest winning percentage?  If you guessed Pitt, you are correct!

That isn’t real easy to read is?  Yet it’s true and pretty scary.  But I’ll bet that if you look at attendance figures among all those schools mentioned Pitt would be up close to the top.

51 Pitt

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

Average

36295

46076

48150

41315

49741

44315.40

OK – well maybe not close to the top but in the 65th percentile of the 129 D1 schools – and that is indicative of how we care about Pitt football.  After all, just since June of 2016 since the POV was created I have read and heard at least 50% of our commenters state ‘That’s it – no more Pitt football for me.  It’s dead as far as I’m concerned’!’  but here you are reading about Pitt football again!

Look – we are nutcases, and let’s face it we kind of have to be. Pitt football isn’t for the faint hearted by any means.  Pitt is 65th of all FBS teams in winning percentage of .507 over those 30 years.  .507 my friends but who cares?  We love the Blue and Old Gold.

Hell, even the savior of Pitt football, Pat Narduzzi (and you know some of you were thinking that when he was hired) has only had a .550 win percentage and who knows what that may be like after this next season.

And honestly 55% isn’t anything to sneeze at when you are a Pitt fan. Not when you look at what other Pitt HCs have done over their careers here.  It is somewhat surprising in who leads in winning percentage over the last 30 here but maybe that’s because I was living in Guam and Alaska when it happened:

Mike Gottfried:  .600

Dave Wannstedt: .575

Pat Narduzzi:  .550

Walt Harris:  .542

Paul Chryst: .500 (We’ll overlook that pesky .829 he has at Wisky)

Johnny Majors:  .500 and

Paul Hackett:  .397

So, yeah – King Pat is right in the mix to be a wins leader if he can turn the team around in 2018.  Hell even a 6-6 season will keep him in good stead, but of course we fans want to get back up to eight wins.

I think part of the love we have for Pitt football is because we keep churning awesome players through the program.  Dorsett, Marino, Green, Jackson were some oldtimers.  Siragusa, Mark May, Stepanoski, Fralic, Heyward, Bryant, Fitzgerald and others up until McCoy, Sheard, Donald, Conner and Boyd are some of the kids we watched come in as recruits and blossom into superstar players.

But even that makes us sad to see that with all that talent – and those guys had some great supporting casts around them – we still played average football for the most part. That is frustrating as Hell isn’t it?

Ya just can’t win as a Pitt fan but that doesn’t stop us from hanging on every word written about the team and program, does it? Most Pitt fans I know understand what the score is with Pitt football – get your hopes up and then wonder what happened for the most part.

But then there are the grand surprises like we saw with Narduzzi’s first year when he came in and won eight games…then did it again in his second season.

So we don’t stop loving the team because we lose games or have problems in the program.  As even-keeled as I am looking at the Pitt program I always hope that my lukewarm predictions might be wrong and boy am I happy when they are.

But we each have different personalities as Pitt fans.  MajorMajors will predict 9 or 10 wins again this coming season and Ike will feel that nothing is at all that wrong anywhere and that’s what makes them great fans.  UPitt will zing the staff every chance he gets and that’s what makes him a great fan also.

I, as your humble servant, will keep calling them as I see them…but I’ll still keep my fingers crossed we win each game.

Hail to Pitt!!

Perceptions Are Funny Things…

Perceptions Are Funny Things…

I have a list of URLs and websites I look at every morning so I can stay on top of what is being discussed about Pitt football.  With that I read things I agree with, things I don’t and things that I learn anew… and sometimes things that make me sit up straight and scratch my head.

Yesterday I re-read a piece by Chris Dokish that he had published earlier on in March regarding the Pitt Offensive Line and its possibilities.  I like Dokish’s writing, especially when it comes to HS recruiting, but don’t agree with everything he writes.  I find that he is overly optimistic when it comes to Pitt football and, as other writers do, tends not to look back at his own predictions to see whether he was correct or not.

That’s fine – as I said, he’s not the only Pitt beat guy to not look back at himself.  But here is a squib he wrote in March that is truly puzzling… I emphasized what I thought was his crazy talk.

“Last season’s offensive line was mostly above average, even after losing all-conference players Adam Bisnowaty and Dorian Johnson the year before. And now with early NFL entrant Brian O’Neill, and long time veteran Alex Officer, moving on, every lineman from the very good offensive line of two years ago is now gone, except 6’6″ 315 pound redshirt senior Alex Bookser, who will return to start at guard.”

 Now I’m pretty good at taking an even look at what Pitt has today and what they have done in the past and when things turned out well I’ll certainly acknowledge that but I had to spit out my coffee when I read that Pitt had a mostly above average OL last season…

I guess we watched two different offenses out there.  Here are the three-year comparisons of key offensive indicators for Pitt since Narduzzi took over:

OL Comparision 15 - 16 - 17

Continue reading “Perceptions Are Funny Things…”

Some More ’18 Spring Game Bits

Some More ’18 Spring Game Bits

Here are some POV’ers photos and post-scrimmage quotes and interviews.  One category I forgot to  add to that table yesterday were 3rd down conversions where on Saturday we went 2 for 20 attempts.

Pitt just got a walk-on QB for the 2018 recruiting class.  Non-ranked 6’5″ & 233 QB Jake Cortes from Peters Township.  People are keeping their fingers crossed that Nick Patti can play well enough if needed in a back-up job this season.

TE Chris Clark is officially off the Pitt roster…Gee, never saw that coming did we??

BB tweet

I want to say something about Chris Clark and the coaching staff.  Last spring I watched Clark in drills before a spring practice then had a chance to have a short conversation with him afterward – I wrote that I thought he was too thin for a TE and that it looked like he couldn’t block all that well.

Soon after that Pat Narduzzi came out the next day and specifically stated in an interview that Clark was one of the better blockers on the offense front line… something that wasn’t really true and was proven not to be during the season.

I mention this not to call out Narduzzi – I knew exactly why he said what he did as a confidence builder, but to point out that when you hear effusive praise for any singled out players during spring drills (and sometimes in the fall camp) I advise you to take it with a huge grain of salt.

But this article last year from Batko of the P-G lays out exactly what went on with Clark before he got here and what happened since he arrived and is an indication of what type of person Clark was.  That why it was completely unsurprising when he took off.  The are warning flags waving when kids bounce around like that before they get to Pitt.

POSTGAME VIDEOS

 

Head Coach Pat Narduzzi

Spring Game Press Conference | April 14, 2018

 

Opening comments:

“Beautiful day of weather, that’s for sure. Not much offense but great defense. We came out really healthy. That is probably the most important thing. There was 2:35 on the scoreboard today, and I said, ‘just give us two and a half more minutes of health.’ We’ll go into summer conditioning as healthy as we have ever been. I know you guys didn’t see a whole lot of things together, but it is easier to play on defense in a scrimmage like that than it is to protect. Our depth is not as good on the O-line when it is scattered out like that and have one good player. I don’t think [Alex]Bookser played even the last quarter and a half. I took George [Aston] out as well just as precaution to make sure we were healthy. I don’t know if you remember, but Brian O’Neill hurt his shoulder in the fourth quarter last year. I wasn’t going to let that happen this year.”

 

On if consistency stood out with Connor Dintino this spring:

“Yeah, just talking to Coach [Dave] Borbely and the consistency he has put together. Coach Borbely really just got him to the next level. He was the guy that could get us out of the game a year ago. He can start at center, left or right guard, he is that smart and is fundamentally really good, and he has built himself that way.”

 

On if overtime was a possibility:

“Oh yeah, we were going into overtime. We have worked that drill in practice, and we were going into overtime. It would of have been interesting. I was hoping it would go that way; I didn’t want it to go pick six the other way.”

 

On if he was happy to avoid overtime to keep the team healthy:

“You like to compete and it would of have been fun to get into another situation. Situations are good for our kids. Kenny [Pickett] ends that scrimmage the opposite of what he did against Miami, being the hero. All of a sudden now, you are out there 55 plays in really moving the offense pretty well in the first quarter. He had some drops. On the other side, we had some late DQs out of Tre Tipton. Some kids were sacred that he wasn’t going to play, and Rafael Araujo-Lopes we thought would play and it was precautionary to get him out of there as well to make sure he was healthy. Ricky [Town] didn’t have much to throw at today either.”

 

On Pickett’s interception at the end was a bad thing:

“It is not a bad thing at all, sometimes it is good. Kenny ended so well and you have to learn to deal with that adversity. I think it will be great for him. I know how he will take that and it will motivate him in the summer; it will not happen again. He tried to make a play and push it in there and sometimes bad things can happen in a 3-3 ballgame.”

 

On if he thinks this is the best defense he’s had at Pitt through the spring:
“I do a little bit, but I am cautious saying anything because you will find out in September. That is when you really find out how good they are; you don’t win a championship in the middle of April. I think we have depth. Are we a championship caliber defense yet? I am not sure yet, we will find out, but I think we can be pretty good and I know that we will be deep. At every position, we are two deep back there and can line up with the twos and make things happen. Are we great? I don’t know. We will find out.”

 

On the goals for this spring:

“The number one goal was to be more knowledgeable about what we could do offensively and defensively. Defensively we got a ton of defense in, and offensively we got a lot in. To be better football players, be smarter, and understand the concepts of what were doing offensively and defensively, that was one of the goals. The other goal was just building team chemistry and playing together, working together as a team. I think if you watch the way we practice, the way we interact with each other that we got that goal as well.”

 TG4
 TG3
 TG2
 TG1

Continue reading “Some More ’18 Spring Game Bits”

2018 Pitt Spring Game Recap

2018 Pitt Spring Game Recap

I know fans always want to look at the Spring Drills and then the Spring Game and, say that it is only the spring and these things don’t matter, especially if things go sideways.  But I’m not sure that is exactly true.

So I decided to look at the box score stats of the last three Spring Games and see what sort of comparisons there were between them… and if there was any correlation between what we saw in the spring then again in the regular season.

Now – admittedly these are broad comparisons but I think there might be a little something peeking through here.

For the most part the 2016 and 2017 seasons, and to some extent now, are good periods to look at what we had as a team in the spring.  In 2016 we had a record-setting offense with a nice 8-5 record at the end of it to show some real football success over that year.

As we know last season was a different story because we dropped our offensive production drastically – from our great high of 2016’s 40.9 ppg (but giving up 35.2 ppg)  to ’17’s 23.9 ppg (and giving up a better 26.6).  That drop of 17 ppg was horrendous and put us in the 101st spot nationally in scoring offense.

So let’s look at the Spring Games comparisons in the major offensive categories from 2016 through today’s 2018’s games.

SG Combined

I have been writing since last season ended that we are going to have some major troubles on offense even with Kenny Pickett becoming a full-time starting QB because we are patch-working and cobbling together an Offensive Line that will not be as talented as our mediocre at best one last season.

Yes, it is spring and things do change over the summer then into the fall camps, but looking back over the last two seasons  and what we saw play out from the spring to the actual season I do wonder if today’s putrid effort by the combined offensive lines isn’t a harbinger of things to come.

Here are the last three Spring Game box scores. This one is today’s…

SG 18.1 stats

 

 

Now let’s look at what we did this time last year prior to our losing 5-7 season:

SG Stats 17

And because it costs nothing to post stuff on here let’s look at our Spring Game stats before our 8-5 2016 season:

SG Stats 16

Here is a review of the scrimmage by MajorMajors

Spring Game Thoughts…

I always get fired up for the Pitt Panther spring football game – until about 10 minutes into the game when I remember how boring they normally are. This year was no exception for me, but it’s still fun to get a glimpse of our Panthers.

Here are some disappointments and some positives that I took away.

Disappointments:

— The Oline. This was obvious to any observer. Our Olinemen look big, but not exactly fit, IMHO. They might be too big. Too big to move well. Once the game started, this became the reality. The defense was in the backfield all day long.

The young offensive tackles were beaten badly by the defensive ends. Houy, Warren, etc., they are young and inexperienced, and they looked it. Our new offensive line coach may be having nightmares for a while.

First thing I would do is have each offensive lineman lose 10 to 20 pounds. Think lean-and- mean versus large-and- slow.

— Charles Reeves. The guy sure looks impressive. Big butt and thighs – like if he gets rolling, who’s going to tackle this guy. But I just didn’t see much aggressiveness out of him. Made a couple of blocks and missed one that I saw. But when he went out for a pass, he looked kind of slow and just ran parallel to the line of scrimmage the couple of times I watched him. I had been hoping for much more. He is young, but I’m guessing he needs significantly more time before he’s going to contribute in any significance way.

— Wide receivers, in general. We need someone to step up and I have been hoping that guy would be Michael Smith. My take after today was that he may be good eventually, but not yet. Since I have high hopes for him I sought him out during warm-ups. When I watched him run down for his first pass, the ball clanged off his hands. Not the impression I was looking for. During the game he did catch one long, underthrown pass. But I watched him on a couple of plays and he just didn’t seem to have the “quicks” I was hoping for. Like Reeves, Smith seems to be a ways off from being a contributor, IMHO.

Maurice Ffrench didn’t have a very good game either. Caught some balls and made a couple of runs, but he dropped one pass that was right on the money and he muffed a punt. He’s another player I have high hopes for – hope he just had a bad day, because we’ve seen him make some plays.

It should be noted that we did have several wide receivers sitting out – like Ra Ra Lopes, Aaron Mathews, Tre Tipton and Dontavius Butler-Jenkins.

Running backs. My disappointment continues to be that they just aren’t elusive. In their “defense,” they had no room to run in the spring game.

Punter. Based on this game, our new punter is going to make us really miss our old punter. He was inconsistent. He hit a couple decent ones, but most had little hang time and not great distance. Lots of work to do over the summer.

Positives:

Well, the above is kind of depressing for Pitt fans, but there were some positives, IMHO.

— Kenny Pickett has a lot of mustard on his passes. The ball gets there in a hurry. So much so that on the first few passes of the game, he hit guys in the hands and the ball went right through their hands. Maybe Kenny had some adrenalin pumping.

And you could tell that Kenny was itching to run on some of the plays that were ruled as sacks, and it looked like he may well have eluded the rush on a couple of them.

— Rashad Weaver looks like a player. He was disruptive all day. After the game I stood next to him on the field. He definitely looks like a player.

— Q. Wirginis looks like a player. He played with great energy and was moving really well. Was in the backfield making plays, just like you want to see from your middle linebacker.

— The speed and aggressiveness of the defense. They were cranked up and brought big-time pressure on almost every play. The stats for the offense are poor because there was no room to run and there was no time to pass.

Spring Game Bits & Pieces

Spring Game Bits & Pieces

It’s that time of year again; time to get our hopes up and something to discuss until the football doldrums are passed and we are into fall camp – when the reports and such coming out matter so much more.

First off Fran will be the Tailgating Wizard yet again in either Gold Lot 1 or 2 and will be flying the POV flag proudly.  Here is the plan direct from LastRow’s mouth:

“Tailgate info: I will be at either Gold 1 or Gold 2 at 10:00. Will have the POV flag and script Pitt flags flying…black Toyota Tacoma pick-up. I have beer, liquor and snacks…Joe L is grilling sausage and PittPT is bringing wine. Bring your own sunscreen! – Fran”

Here are the rosters for the Blue and Gold teams if you want to print them out:

2018 Pitt Football Spring Game presented by PNC
Blue Team Roster (PDF) | Gold Team Roster (PDF) 

I truly wish I could attend guys – just too many other commitments on this particular day. But the Spring Game is all about the fellowship of Pitt fans so get over there and enjoy not only other POV’ers generosity before and after the scrimmage but take that chance to get in a good look at the 2018 team personnel.

So what are we looking to see?

I’ll throw my thoughts in first.  Prime importance to me is how does QB Ricky Town look as far as composure goes?  We already know what Pickett is like under Center but for me the key to the ’18 season is how the QBs will respond under what I think will be heavy pressure on them all season.

Secondly I want to see if the defense actually knows what they are doing out there with Wirginis as the MLB.  Now, I am assuming that the MLB will be calling the defenses on-field and handling the defensive audible which are so important in today’s’ college game as the offense shifts prior to the snap.  This is a real concern of mine because that was the reason Wirginis, who always was head and shoulders above LB Matt Galambos physically, couldn’t break into the starting lineup.

Here are some other’s thoughts on what to look for this afternoon;

The P-G’s Brian Batko has “10 Players to Watch…” and covers my two and more.

Batko has another piece on how Pickett views himself when out on the field… it’s also a great background piece.

My guy Jerry DiPaola over at the Trib has a “Look For” piece also. Is he super negative because he leads of with this bit or is he just writing facts about something that actually happened with 2017’s team?

If you’re expecting Pitt’s Blue-Gold game to be an accurate barometer of what you can expect in the fall, you might be looking under the wrong rock. You might remember last year’s game:

• Chawntez Moss, who averaged 7.1 yards per carry, but was suspended during the season, played only six games and was dismissed.

• Or, those two sacks by defensive end Rori Blair.

• Or, quarterback Thomas MacVittie’s touchdown run.

Blair was dismissed before the season. MacVittie got buried on the depth chart. Both are gone.

He also says this which is an interesting turn of phrase:

OFFENSIVE LINE

Center Jimmy Morrissey is the anchor, and seniors Connor Dintino and Mike Herndon are putting down roots at guard. They are inexperienced, which could be problematic, but no one is panicking in public.

Alex Bookser is moving from guard to tackle and might bookend with graduate transfer Stefano Millin when he arrives from Kent State this summer.

Well, not in public but when that door closes Narduzzi, Watson and Borbely are  surely having serious discussions between themselves about the OL talent level…

As always injuries will limit some kids also…

Will we actually see something different on defense this season?  Well, maybe not during the spring game but they’ll take more risks this season (let’s hope that doesn’t mean more big plays from opposing offenses which is often the case when you gamble and miss.  But we need sacks, TFLs and turnovers badly so here goes…

Pitt’s players and coaches always have preached discipline on defense.

Stay in your gap. Don’t try to do the other guy’s job. Taking risks can compromise the structure of the defense.

Sounds nice and safe, right?

But after last season when Pitt finished between 10th and 13th in the ACC in five important categories — interceptions, sacks, passing and total yards and tackles for a loss — new defensive coordinator Randy Bates and coach Pat Narduzzi decided a change was in order.

Taking an occasional risk in which every consequence is considered isn’t always a bad idea.

“It’s been a process because it’s a little different,” Bates said Thursday after the 14th practice of the spring. “But my mentality is if you go take a shot, you’ll make the play. And if you don’t, that’s what the other 10 guys are for.

“We don’t grade the guys on missed tackles. A lot of people do. We grade them on making plays and tackles for a loss and going and taking a shot.”

Alright folks – I’m off to do a Vet to Vet Pinning Ceremony early on then over to the Big Event of the Day…

PG Human

Speaking of which for all you Marylanders in our group I will again be a Human Library’s Human Book but today it will be in Prince George’s County.

Here is the advert…  If you remember this is where a bunch of people with unique aspects of their lives agree to be a “Human Book” to be checked out at 15 minute intervals so patrons can sit down and discuss issues and experiences which they themselves have no personal knowledge of or exposure to.

It is a fascinating afternoon and I urge you, if you have some of the day free, to bring your family down to partake in this – really teenagers and older though.  Today will be the third one I have been a “book” in and I absolutely value every minute I have done so far.

My issue is that I am a 100% P&T disabled veteran with a severe case of PTSD and other physical problems… and am definitely not the ‘face of’ what people think when they hear about someone with PTSD.

There are so many misconceptions about the illness and I try to help make it more understandable and less of a stigma to others diagnosed with it or living with someone diagnosed with it.  Obviously I openly share my experience with the illness with others and the give and take conversations, and learning experiences on both sides of the table, are amazing.

So – if you have the time it is Noon to 4:00 pm at the Bowie, MD branch of the P-G library system.  Hope to see you there.

Hail to Pitt!!

P/S: Send me photos of the tailgate please and if someone wants to do a write-up of what they saw during the scrimmage I’d really appreciate a first hand account of what struck you as good, bad, medium or sad…