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”

POV Bits & Pieces & Polls; 6/14/17

POV Bits & Pieces & Polls; 6/14/17

A few off the top – no Roundtable Call-in this week as today is my son’s birthday and we are celebrating at our house.  We’ll do it again next week…

Addressing those great comments on the last “upgrade, downgrade or draw” articles about the interior DL…  we may be forgetting that these are a  ‘first run’ series of articles looking at the individual units… and that I have said in each of them we will re-visit the units after the fall camp is closed (the week of opener).  Thus now we are only addressing the current roster.

But again – the way we all look at these players – both already on roster and in-coming is interesting I think.  It is apparent that some fans and commenters are always optimistic regarding Pitt players and that is fine.  But I don’t really hear anything when those same players fail to live up to those high expectations.  It does happen sometimes guys – as much as we pull for the young men not all deliver the goods.


As to our discussions of the drop in rankings both 2016’s post-season and now this year’s preseason; first off that Orlando Sentinel prediction is ridiculous and I think somewhat lazy journalism.  I get that we are replacing more players this season than we have in many years (see chart at end) but it just is skewed way downward in my opinion.

For those readers who didn’t see before it here are the opening paragraphs:

The Pittsburgh Panthers are No. 82 in the Orlando Sentinel 2017 preseason college football rankings. Pitt loses some elite talent on offense and have problems to address on defense, but the Panthers are heading in a promising direction.

Our ranking: No. 82

Coach: Pat Narduzzi (8-5, entering third season; 16-10 overall)

2016 record: 8-5, 5-3 in Atlantic Coast Conference, finished fourth in Coastal Division

Look back: Behind star RB James Conner and QB Nathan Peterman, who were both selected in the 2017 NFL draft, Pitt set new school records with 532 total points, 40.9 points per game, and 5,808 yards of total offense in 2016.

The offensive outburst turned Pitt into one of the scariest opponents in the country.  Just ask national champion Clemson, which suffered its only loss of the season — at home in Death Valley — to the Panthers.

Unfortunately for Pitt, its defense often fell short at the most inopportune times. Of the five defeats suffered last season, the Panthers lost by 7 points or fewer in four of those games.

Pitt will have to replace its starting quarterback, running back and offensive coordinator Matt Canada, who left for the same post at LSU. But the Panthers are encouraged about building on their success heading into 2017.

Well, read the rest as it is very informative actually but I can’t for the life of me figure out how the number 82 came about.  The author must have thrown a dart at a number line.

Continue reading “POV Bits & Pieces & Polls; 6/14/17”

2017’s DTs; Upgrade, Downgrade or Draw

2017’s DTs; Upgrade, Downgrade or Draw

This is the sixth 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.

First off we all better take a minute to read digest the following chart – the key info is in red:

Year GP/Starts
10 Keyshon Camp 6-4/285 DL RS FR 0/0
34 Amir Watts 6-3/285 DL SO 7/1
66 Mike Herndon 6-4/315 DL RS JR 6/0
90 Rashad Wheeler 6-3/290 DL RS FR 0/0
93 Shane Roy 6-4/280 DL RS JR 10/0
95 Zack Gilbert 6-1/240 DL RS FR 0/0

OK – got that? We have a single interior lineman returning who started a game as a Pitt Panther and him with only one start at that. 

Gentleman, start your wishful thinking engines… and keep your fingers crossed while doing so.

But this scenario that is exactly what hard, tough practices are for… and spring camps and fall camps and scrimmages also… to get these younger kids ready to ascend into the two-deep ranks and start playing the type of football they were recruited to do.

And we do have younger kids on the current roster – at least the ones I feel will get20160824pppittdefense1spt the  most playing time are still mostly virginal, save SO Amir Watts who got the whole way around the bases once.

Also, and let’s not kid anyone here, we were depending very heavily on dismissed rsSR Jeremiah Taleni to return in that Nose Tackle position and, as a senior, guide these younger kids in practices and then games.  He had only three starts last season but he played in a total of 21 games over the three years after his redshirt season and was effective in those times he played:

Played in seven games, starting three…starting assignments came in the final three regular-season contests…totaled 24 tackles, 5.5 TFLs and three sacks…had a career-high eight stops at Miami…in a start at Clemson, had four tackles and a personal best 1.5 sacks…had five tackles and a sack against Northwestern in the Pinstripe Bowl.

He had the 2nd most tackles for loss (5.5) and the 2nd most sacks (3.0) of the interior linemen behind the leader Shakir Soto (10 TFLs & 4.5 sacks).  If we want to play with stats and we tend to do – extrapolate his tackles and TFLs over ’16’s last four games, when he played the most, and he would have had 45 tackles and 16.0 TFLs over the full season.

Just for fun that would have put him up with Soto at 46 tackles and 10.0 TFLs and Price with 45 tackles and 23.0 TFLs. Not too shabby for a guy who had very limited playing time. That is what I expected him to do this season and we will be the worse for him not being in the lineup.  

Continue reading “2017’s DTs; Upgrade, Downgrade or Draw”

POV Sunday Podcast; June 11th, 2017

POV Sunday Podcast; June 11th, 2017

Al Pacino as Joe Paterno

Stat Rank Value
Total Offense 38 446.8
Rushing Offense 28 225.1
Passing Offense 76 221.7
Team Passing Efficiency 15 156.01
Scoring Offense 10 40.9
Total Defense 101 452.8
Rushing Defense 16 119.6
Passing Yards Allowed 127 333.2
Team Passing Efficiency Defense 106 143.57
Scoring Defense 106 35.2
Turnover Margin T-58 0.08
3rd Down Conversion Pct T-22 0.454
4th Down Conversion Pct T-51 0.538
3rd Down Conversion Pct Defense 76 0.406
4th Down Conversion Pct Defense 125 0.750
Red Zone Offense 44 0.864
Red Zone Defense 119 0.914
Net Punting 90 36.23
Punt Returns 7 14.88
Kickoff Returns 4 26.59
First Downs Offense T-67 266
First Downs Defense 117 303
Fewest Penalties Per Game T-50 5.69
Fewest Penalty Yards Per Game 48 49.77
Time of Possession 47    30:53
View Complete Ranking Summary


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”

POV Roundtable Call-In; June 7th

POV Roundtable Call-In; June 7th

No Pens game tonight so let’s do another episode of our Wednesday night call-in show.  The more the merrier so get your thinking caps on and chip in.

Here is the info to get into the Bluejeans Roundtable meeting  for 6/7/17; 07:50 pm – 09:00 pm…

Meeting ID


Phone Call-in:

Dial one of the following numbers:
  • +1.408.740.7256  then;
Enter the meeting ID and passcode followed by #  (303520973     2615#)
Moderator Passcode


Some Round Table Questions

  1. Where did you grow up and what HS did you attend?
  2. How did you first become interested in Pitt Football?
  3. What is your strongest Pitt football memory – positive and negative.
  4. To me, I am Pitt’s target market…, those that did not attend the university, but reside in Pittsburgh. I think attendance would improve if they could reel in others like me. So how is this best done?   Well ,winning is one thing and possibly the only thing. What else?
  5. If the defense gets off to a real bad start, would you fire Conklin mid-season or before?
  6. How much do uniforms matter to you?
  7. Do you visit the Oakland campus at all and what changes would you make there?
  8. Do you miss PITT stadium at all?
  9. How would you improve the student participation?
  10. Who are your 5 or 3 all-time PITT favorite players?
  11. What three (3) BIG items of discussion will we be having after the season ends about what transpired during the 2017 season?
  12. Ask Callers to show off their best Pitt souvenirs and memorabilia…
  13. Why is what Reed says will happen usually happens?

The Three Star Offer Myth, and Why Do We Believe It?

The Three Star Offer Myth, and Why Do We Believe It?

Can we just drop the pretense that all of a sudden we are getting great 3* recruits who have fantastically better offers than those young men whom Paul Chryst, Todd Graham and Dave Wannstedt recruited?  It isn’t true.  Yes, some of those past 3* kids had more minor offers but we have seen that in the last two years also.

That said, I do like these recruits Narduzzi is bringing in – I just don’t think a roster with a large majority of these 3* players are going to make a huge difference in the future (regardless of where their offers come from)…  But we’ll how that comes out later as the games are played, right?

Here are some recruits listings I went through from Rivals.com which showed the Power 5 schools (and BE schools in the earlier years) from the players’ offer sheets.  These individually listed recruits are from 2012 and 2013… with the 2014 Chryst recruits at the end of the article.  I got tired of cutting and pasting by then.

Remember, the below names are only the 2* and 3* recruits who had these ‘Power Five school offers.  if there were less than two of those  offers I didn’t list them (but almost every player had one or two besides Pitt).

It isn’t any coincidence that Wannstedt started winning more games when his recruiting in 2006 and onward started being populated by more 4* and 5* players… even in the lesser quality BE conference. 

Continue reading “The Three Star Offer Myth, and Why Do We Believe It?”