Trojan’d

Jordan Addison is gone – we think. Bought for two million dollars, maybe three. There were also rumors of a house. Well USC can have him. He won us a Billitnekoff. He won us a coastal, and (with Kenny), helped us secure an ACC Championship. My beef is not with Jordan, because while three Million dollars isn’t all that much in the grand scheme of things, it still changes the life of 95% of families in this country.

My beef is with USC. Lincoln Riley. Oh yeah, it’s the wild wild west out there, and USC has walked into the saloon with the six-guns blazing. Well let me say this to you, Lincoln Riely. You’re in year one of a rebuild. Pitt’s in year eight of a Program. So go ahead, shoot up the place. Then amble up the the bar and twirl that shiny pearl-handled revolver (snicker) around that tiny finger (yeah that’s a small hand reference), and blow smoke off the barrel. You still wouldn’t be man enough to play Pitt. Even if you did steal their best player. You know why? Because they’d beat you. Our rag-tag bunch of three-star recruits would take your gang of four-and-five star prima-donnas, and punch them in the jaw, boat race them up and down the field and leave them lying on the turf, bruised and bleeding. Because you know why? Hard work. Dedication. Principles. You think your west-coast finesse can beat Pittsburgh Physicality? You think your locker room is tight? You think 4-8 USC (one year removed) is better than 10-3 Clemson was last year? Better think again homey.

You see, money makes you soft. And sunshine makes you easy. It’s rain and hills and hard work makes you a Man. And you ain’t that. You’re just a cheating riverboat gambler who’s moved onto the next hustle. So take your one year three-million-dollar rental. Take him. Put him up in that million dollar house and let him soak up that So-Cal sunshine. You’ll get what you pay for. No more, no less. But you won’t get heart, or soul. or anything that resembles culture. Because you can’t buy that. For any price.

Oh, and Heather Lyke, I know you’re reading this. Even if Addison doesn’t go west, I think it’s time to get USC on the schedule. Because this one’s personal. For the fans. For the team. For the future of College Football.

#wenotme

Michaelangelo Monteleone

Pitt QB Kenny Pickett’s a Steeler!!

Chosen in the 1st round of the NFL draft Pickett will train and practice in the same building where the did the same as a Pitt Panther.  From ESPN:

“PITTSBURGH — For months, the Pittsburgh Steelers searched across the country for Ben Roethlisberger’s successor. It turns out he was right in front of them all along.

With the No. 20 pick in the NFL draft, the Steelers selected Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett on Thursday night, making him Roethlisberger’s heir apparent and the only quarterback selected in the first round.

“We circled the globe — or at least the United States — here the last several months, man, just exploring and researching,” coach Mike Tomlin said. “And it’s funny, we ended up with a guy from next door.”

Discuss…

 

Pitt’s Passing Defense

Editor’s Note: Here is a well researched and thought out article from Jay Kaplan that hits the mark…and will generate good back and forth on the subject.

Question: Why did Pitt’s defense give up so many passing yards last season in the three games it lost?

(A question from 6&34 that is intended to elicit interactive responses from the POV community.)

Five teams threw for over 350 yards against Pitt this past year (two threw for over 425 yards). And they did that despite Pitt having more sacks than every other FCS team but one. I know these two facts by themselves don’t make the yardage allowed impossible. How could it be when the yardage allowed happened. (That’s what in philosophy should be called a true rhetorical question.)

It would be inaccurate to describe what I witnessed this past year with Pitt’s defense (the “Narduzzi defense”) to be inexplicable. I only know it is inexplicable to me. And the primary reason why it may be inexplicable to me is because I don’t regularly go to games. I watch every game on a large screen TV which means that I am limited in what I can observe by the limitations of modern television sportscasting productions.

The most glaring limitation factor is that college football television broadcasts limit what a viewer is able to observe occurring behind the defensive line. I am of the opinion that this limitation makes it impossible for a viewer to sufficiently evaluate a defensive scheme or a defensive player’s performance.

Of course, there are some things that may be observed with a degree of sufficiency that allows for intelligent contextual evaluation of a defensive player’s abilities. For example, we can for the most part observe how fast a corner back is in relation to the receiver’s speed or how skillful that corner back’s pass defense technique is.

What we can’t observe is the dynamic relationship between the moving parts, i.e. the various players’ involved in the receiver’s route running (other offensive players assigned tasks associated with the play)  or the other defensive players who have a role in defending against that particular pass play other than the primary defender.

Yes, sometimes the broadcast attempts to show parts of that dynamic relationship but even those efforts are mostly significantly limited.  

Someone watching the game from the stands, gets to see the entire field of play. Because my experience does not include a lot of those experiences, I can only surmise that such experiences provide a richer framework to evaluate what happened on a particular pass play. On the other hand, all of the many moving parts are moving rather fast. Pat Narduzzi’s “we’ll look at the tapes” to some extent constitute a rhetorical device to avoid answering a reporter’s question but there is a great deal of truth to the necessity of studying what occurred on the play using video tools not available to outsiders.

So let me get to the point of this article. I don’t understand why Pitt’s pass defense especially in games it lost so frequently appears so hapless and ineffective. I consider myself the proverbial blindman because I believe that the inability to observe the full picture is virtual blindness.

We hear over and over again that the weakness of the Narduzzi defense is that its structure leaves its pass defenders on an “island”.  This is not really disputed even by Narduzzi. The structure of the defense accepts that result, recognizes it as a weakness but argues that the weakness is manageable and provides critical benefits to other aspects of the defense, e.g. stopping the run or to a lesser extent strengthening the pass rush, i.e. blitzing.

This is all well and good but WTF, Pitt’s defense gets chewed up often and that includes the job Western Michigan did against Pitt which arguably resulted in Pitt not being considered for the College Playoff Series.

 And for me, here’s the rub: the pass defense to my limited and already aditted limited understanding gets beaten not so much on long passes where defenders are on an island, its on the shorter passes where Pit’s defense seems to get ass-kicked. You know perfectly well what I am referring to – those 3rd and 8 passes (or even 3rd and 12) and many other comparable infuriating situations. Those situations have nothing to do with a defender being on an island.

I admit it. I don’t understand how or why this happens. And I’m asking the POV community to engage with me in an interactive dialectic to help me (and any other POVer who admits to similar ignorance) understand why Pitt it so many critical situations Pitt was not able to stop the winning teams passing plays.

One last comment, blaming Pitt for allowing so many 350 plus yard pass defense games on the “smurfs” isn’t going to cut it anymore (and admittedly we don’t hear that species of criticism much these days).  But the fact of the matter is that even in the incipient years of blaming the “smurfs”, a few of those guys managed to emerge as NFL defenders which to my mind pretty much says that those casting blame so cavalierly did not know what they were talking about (and that includes me).  Then again, how would I know that Avonte Maddox would at the NFL Combine run a sub 4.4 40-yard dash or rank in the 97th and 99th percentiles on the 3-cone and 60-yard shuffle drills, respectively (yikes).*

I mention this because I am asking for POVers to really put their thinking caps on and use their best communication skills to answer my question. Any contribution will be appreciated especially from those POVers who regularly attend games. Comments that integrate the elements of Pitt’s defense components will be most welcome and receive extra credit. Please be prepared to defend your position because it is my hope that responses to comments be critical while at the same time respectful.

By the way, the reason the question is limited to the games Pitt lost is because if the question was not so limited there would be an easy answer to the question (glib as it might be), i.e. opponents were forced to pass against Pitt because they could not run against Pitt’s defense that ranked #3 in rushing yards per play allowed.

Also, by focusing on the games Pitt lost, we can engage in a more qualitative discussion which my instincts tell me is where the answer lies. I say this because whatever HC Narduzzi may have been thinking before the game, the actual game revealed in real time that stopping the run would not be enough to heighten the likelihood of a Pitt victory. In other words, at some point in each of those games the concern was winning the game which is not a statistic but a qualitative outcome. And yes, this does cause the question “Does Pat Narduzzi know what he is doing?” to pop up once again despite how anachronistic the question may seem.

* Statistics courteous of Bet IQ website (https://www.teamrankings.com/college-football/team/pittsburgh-panthers/stats)

** Statistics courteous of Section215.com (https://section215.com/2021/10/27/philadelphia-eagles-avonte-maddox-home/)

2021 Production Lost – Clemson

I am doing the non-ACC Pitt opponents in alphabetical order. That means Clemson

Dabo Swinney enters his 14’th season leading the Clemson Tigers, Since Pitt joined the ACC Conference in 2013, Dabo’s record against ACC foes (excluding Notre Dame) is 71 – 7. Those seven losses were to Georgia Tech (2014), Syracuse (2017) , NC State (2021) Florida State (2013,2014) and Pitt (2016. 2021). Pitt’s overall record against Clemson is 2 – 2.

2021 schedule and results and upcoming 2022 schedule.

Here are the Rivals 5.7 and above 2022 signees. Also included is the lone Transfer Portal (TP) addition.

2022 recruit QB Cade Klubnik was not only a 5-star but was ranked by Rivals as the overall number three recruit in the 2022 class.

Hunter Johnson was the first TP addition Clemson has ever signed. Originally, Johnson was a 5-star Clemson recruit in the 2017 class. He transferred to Northwestern for the 2019 season. He has not lived up to his 5-star ranking. After graduating, he wanted to move south for a postgraduate degree. To pay for it, he wanted a graduate assistant job. He talked to Clemson. He was asked if he still had college football eligibility. He did and Dabo gave him a scholarship for QB depth.

For color coding, a light blue color indicates a player who is leaving the team due to eligibility or the NFL. A reddish pink color indicates the player left via the TP. A bright green color are for those with medical, grades or disciplinary reasons. There are very, very few of the “bright green” and only one on Clemson.

Clemson currently has 11 players who entered  the TP – four defensive players and seven offensive players. All eleven had either an offensive or defensive stat.

On to the stars identified as NCAA team leaders in selected stats or    members of the All ACC teams.

I was planning to add some 2021 team season ending statistics to these articles. After further thought I decided they would not add any illuminations.

The  offense revolves around QB play.

D.J. Ulagalelei had a horrid 2021 season. His 108.7 rating was 108’th of 111 NCAA ranked QB’s. If he starts the 2022 season with the same type of QB play, it will not surprise me to see the Cade Clubnik era start at Clemson. BTW, Ulagalelei was also a Rivals 5-star and the third ranked player in the 2020 recruiting class.

Clemson running backs and receivers 2021 activity. Also returning production for the first three teams reviewed.

That is a lot of names and a lot of returning production. Thirteen different players had a rushing attempt. A whopping 26 had a reception. Dabo likes to get players (including walk-ons) into all games. (He played 90+ in the 2018 championship game against Pitt.)

Clemson’s offensive line may be a slight matter of concern.

A bright green sighting. Rayburn has a neck injury and will help the team as a student assistance this year. In articles I have read, Dabo may be on the look out for a TP OLinemen with starting experience. This ESPN article makes that claim. Slovis and Narduzzi are also mentioned and quoted.

How college football’s transfer portal is changing spring practice (espn.com)

Only one chart for the defense. There were a total of 48 players who made a least one defensive stat. Of those 48, three were offensive players and an additional two where a long snapper and kicker. Forty three defensive players had a stat. All four of the defensive players who entered the TP made a defensive play.

Instead of a chart with 48 names, I will be cutting the list down to those players who had at least double-digit tackles. Instead of 48, only 24 will be shown. At the end, there is the summary data by position. The summary in the chart below only includes defensive players. I have stripped out the stats for offensive and special team players.

That ends the review of 2021 Production Lost for Clemson. The media likes Clemson to win the Atlantic division and the ACC. Pitt can meet them again in Charlotte.