Watson and the Tight End

Watson and the Tight End

The University of Pittsburgh fanbase loves a good Tight End.  Maybe it’s because Mike Ditka helped to define the position in the late 50’s when he played at Pitt (’58-’60) and in the 60’s when he played for Bears, Eagles and Cowboys.   Maybe it’s because we were spoiled by Paul Chryst’s fine recruiting of the position and Matt Canada’s outstanding usage of it.  Maybe it’s because we just love power football.

Either way, Offensive Coordinator Shawn Watson’s usage of the Tight End position has been a sore topic for Pitt fans since Watson took the controls in 2017.  The fanbase’s disgust seemingly manifested itself over the off-season when four-star Tight End Charles Reeves transferred, and then again mid-season in 2018 when starting Tight End Tyler Sear had a supposed disagreement with head coach Pat Narduzzi, which ended with Sear leaving the team for “personal reasons”.

When you combine Sear and Reeves’ departures with the fact that Watson & Narduzzi had three tight ends de-commit from the 2018 recruiting class (and one from 2019), you can see why the fan base is concerned.

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A Recruiting Update

A Recruiting Update

Little bit of a dead period with three weeks until the Bowl Game, and it looks like the coaches have hit the road to see if they can round out Pitt’s recruiting class.

As of writing this, the 2019 class is ranked a respectable 32nd on Rivals.com (which I consider to the be the authority on such matters).  It comprises 20 commits and averages exactly three stars (cue loud yelling and catcalls from half of the Pitt fanbase…right about now.)

There is one four star recruit, the recently added Florida RB Daniel Carter.

Editor’s note: Pitt QB Davis Beville was upgraded to four stars after I wrote this.  H2P!

And there is one two star recruit, the recently added South Carolina DE  Nate Temple.

The rest of the recruits have three stars, and will be looked at to fill the roster spots vacated by 19 departing seniors, and probably also a couple of transfers out of the program.

So let’s start there. We are losing the following seniors:

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MMQB: Pitt Loses ACC Championship, Secures Four Star, and Finds Themselves in the Sun Bowl

MMQB:  Pitt Loses ACC Championship, Secures Four Star, and Finds Themselves in the Sun Bowl

This won’t be a long one folks, because I may have found msyelf ahem a little bit overserved after a double-shot of Woodford appeared in front of me at a certain Charlotte rooftop bar late Saturday night.  Names will not be named, but responsible parties know who they are.   Suffice to say I’m not exactly at full strength at time of writing.

With that being said, the ACC championship is in the books.  While we were all hoping for more, I don’t think anyone is surprised.  If we had played a perfect game we might have kept it close, but we were clearly outclassed in all phases.

Some goods:

  1.  We ran for more yards that anyone else that played Clemson
  2. The punting game seemed solid
  3. We *for the most part* played pretty good defense.  We held Clemson to one of their lowest yardage totals all season, and forced them to punt a lot, compared to their season average.
  4. Darrin Hall ran well at 6.1 YPC.  He was making people miss and playing fast.
  5. We landed a four star recruit, Daniel Carter, from Florida and beat out a host of SEC schools for his services.
  6. We received a bid to play in the Sun Bowl – a top tier ACC bowl

Some bads:

  1.  We missed some key tackles and they made us pay
  2.  Darrin Hall ran well at 6.1 YPC, and yet they only gave him the ball 14 times.
  3.  On that note, the game planning and play calling was still subpar.  A couple of people who were neither Pitt nor Clemson fans came up to me and told me flat out that our OC has to go.  I don’t share that sentiment outright, but I do think that if we are having the same problems by midseason next year, then 2019 should be Watson’s last season with Pitt.
  4. Complete and utter misuse of the Jet Sweep (except for the first one by Maurice Ffrench which went for 16 yards.  It was was Ffrenchy’s only carry of the game.  See comment #3 about playcalling / gameplanning.)
  5. We received a bid to play in the Sun Bowl – it’s just tough to get to El Paso

Some uglies:

  1. Eight yards passing.
  2. 75 yard TD on opening play
  3.  Inability to defend QB run option in 2nd half

There of course is a lot more to expand upon here so have it it Pitt Fans.

Flipped Another Recruit: Win One for the Gipper

Flipped Another Recruit:  Win One for the Gipper

Say what you want about Pat Narduzzi’s recruiting, but the man has a knack for flipping recruits.  I haven’t kept count but it seems like he flips at least two a year, which feels like more than any coach since I’ve been following Pitt Football (dating myself here, but that would be 1997).

Well folks, he’s flipped another one, at least in my book.  Rivals Three-Star Recruit Will Gipson had committed to Ball State until earlier this month, when he re-opened his recruitment.

Notably, Gipson did have one other P5 offer, which was from Rutgers.    Howard, Ball State, Toledo and Miami (OH) round out his offer sheet.

Sounds like Pat helped Gipson, who is from nearby Aliquippa, get a firm handle on the benefits of staying home.

“Honestly, I felt like this was the best choice for me,” Gipson said. “I didn’t want to go too far from home.

“Coach Narduzzi was the one there that really recruited me,” said Gipson. “I know a lot of the players there.”

The word on the street is the Gipson has good speed, running a 4.5 forty and is a playmaker for the Quips.  He did catch 51 balls for nearly 1500 yards and 20 TD’s his senior year, so he can clearly break the game at the Triple A level in Pennsylvania.

I haven’t had a chance to watch Gipson’s film yet, and I can’t stream it as I am on a plane right now, but I’ll add some analysis on that later.

We’ve had two other successful WR’s that were former WPIAL players:  Downfield blocker extraordinaire Aaron Mathews and of course Tyler Boyd.  If Gipson lands somewhere between those two, that would be a solid addition to our team.  Welcome to the Panthers Will!

 

 

 

ACC Championship Game Prediction Thread

ACC Championship Game Prediction Thread

Well, here we are.  It’s the eve the ACC championship game, against the mighty Clemson Tigers, right in their own backyard (or close enough too it).

You would have to be delusional to think we have a snowball’s chance to win this one, and Las Vegas agrees.

Pitt is  26.5 point underdogs according to at least one source, and Clemson outclasses us in every position (except fullback!)

But this is college football folks.  And while ESPN gives Clemson a 95.7% chance of victory, that leaves a 4.3% chance for us.

350Of course it means that 30 young Pitt men will have to play an absolutely perfect game.

And Clemson would have to play their worst game of the season.

But stranger things have happened.

Like the time Appalachian State beat Michigan in 2007 (App State was 33 point dogs)

Or the time Temple beat Virginia Tech in 1998.  (The Owls were 35 point dogs)

Or who could forget the time when lowly Stanford, coming off a 1-11 season took down #2 USC.  (This was also in 2007.  Stanford was 40 point dogs, and that game is commonly listed as the second biggest upset in the last 25 years.)

But these were not championship games.  They were September and October games, when anything can happen and teams are frequently overrated.

It is unlikely that Clemson is overrated.

Still, there may be some magic in the air on Saturday night.  Or maybe in the rain, if the weather forecast holds true.

At -26.5 a Pitt win would be the second biggest upset of the year from a point-spread standpoint, and certainly the biggest upset in ACC championship history (or any Conference championship history for that matter).

So go ahead, predict a win you Pitt optimists.   Just know that by doing so you are probably locking in a jinx.

Personally I’d rather be proven right and pleasantly surprised, and most predictions are going to have Clemson scoring a lot of points in a revenge scenario.

In that light, I originally posed the prediction that realistic side of me believed to be right.  Then I read my post and was immediately depressed.  I am spending too much money and traveling too far to not be able to cling to a shred of hope, no matter how small.  Nobody is giving us a chance and there is nowhere to go but up, and if there  is one thing Pat can do on gameday it’s get the guys fired up for the big one.  Lets see if we can’t make some history on Saturday because our fan base certainly deserves it.

Hail to Pitt and I’ll see you in Charlotte.

Michaelangelo