Know The Enemy – Penn State

Byline: Chris Logue and it is a good one…

It’s go time for another week, another opponent and worst of all, a whole new slew of athletic receivers, running backs, most of which I am sure can run the wheel-route, and a quarterback that can beat you in a myriad of ways. This could just as easily be time-stamped in 2016 heading into Death Valley and Clemson, but this year’s edition of that is in Happy Valley to take on the Nittany Lions.

While I would love to be the sole interpreter of Penn State this week, I also felt that it would be doing our readers an injustice. This edition of “Know Your Enemy” comes with a guest, Centre Daily Times Penn State beat writer, John McGonigal. John pulls no punches and lets it all fly which is why he fits the bill to be our guest this week.

John provided incredible feedback and you’ll notice it throughout our inside look at what our Panthers face this week in Centre County.

Last week, Penn State drubbed Akron 52-0 and did it in a multitude of ways. Whether it was breaking a long, very strong, streak of not having a return for a touchdown, intercepting Akron quarterback, Thomas Woodson or if it was quarterback Trace McSorley and his trusted back, Saquon Barkley, Penn State looked good. Very, very good at that. It’s no mystery that McSorley and Barkley will be the key drivers for PSU on offense, it goes back to the basics, deep in the trenches who kick-starts this offense.

“Outside of Barkley and McSorley, I think an underrated guy on this offense is center Connor McGovern. I could’ve gone with flashier picks like breakout wide receiver Juwan Johnson or tight end Mike Gesicki — who I think will lead the Nittany Lions in all receiving categories this year — but McGovern is a guy who guides the offense,” says McGonigal.

Like Pitt who has shifted and mixed the offensive line over the past two seasons, McGovern is amid transition himself, “The Penn State staff moved him to center in the offseason after the departure of senior Brian Gaia — the Nittany Lions’ lone loss from the o-line — and McGovern has lived up to all expectations so far, being more vocal and impressing against Akron.”

Reed and I exchanged emails and we both had the same feel that a lot of what Penn State wants to do and should succeed in doing is planting roots in the trenches and making it their own, and it seems as though McGovern is sturdy in that task where “[McGovern] had a lot to do with that, and the lineman will play a key role in the Pitt game.”

How big of a task do the Panthers have this week on the defense? Look for yourself at PSU’s last game’s offensive stats:

PSU Game 1

Continue reading “Know The Enemy – Penn State”

How National Media Think About Pitt

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:

abab

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.

Continue reading “How National Media Think About Pitt”

Hot Off the Press; POV Roundtable for 7/12/17

 

We had a blast with the call-in show last night and again we proved that no matter who shows up at the Roundtable we are the most knowledgeable Pitt fans in existence.  Of course that is facetious as I’ve met many fans through other venues who know a ton about Pitt football also.

The civil tone was lowered just a smidgen from last week with both Ike and the infamous Dr. Tom coming onboard.  I’m ordering a cut-off button today for future short-story answers to pretty simple and plain questions.

Some items discussed were:

The role of Pitt’s AD and how we feel Heather Lyke is doing… and what she needs to do.

Did Scott Barnes leave the department in good shape?

How we would feel if we had a third consecutive season with 8-5 including a bowl loss.

The D1 Learfield Directors Cup standings; this lists the comparisons of all D1 schools in all sports (not just the 128 in football). 

Cup 2

Pitt finished an abysmal 92nd place over all (above) and next to last in the ACC conference (below).  Thus the questions above of what AD Lykes has ahead of her.

Cup 1

Continue reading “Hot Off the Press; POV Roundtable for 7/12/17”

Happy 4th of July! Hail to Pitt!

A day for celebration and remembrance of what hard work and sacrifices both our  Citizens and Citizen-Soldiers have made to make and keep the United States of America a free and vibrant democracy.  I appreciate what has taken place before us and before today and with my circle of  family, friends and acquaintances  – including each and every one of you readers – I know we’ll keep the USA on an even keel for centuries to come.

So… If we are remembering stuff,  then take a break from the scrambled eggs, grilled bratwurst and mashed potatoes I know every red-blooded American is eating for their 4th of July meal  (at least that’s what we did at our German Grandma’s house when I was a kid) and take a minute to review some of the past and glorious Big Game victories Pitt has had in the last 19 years…

Let’s time travel back to Walt Harris’s tenure at Pitt and see what he, and our following HCs, have done when faced with Big Games on a national stage.  Here are the matches as determined by me to have the label “Big Games ” which were mostly when our opponents had Top 25 rankings either on the day of the game or at the end of the season (as in lats year’s PSU win).

For a holiday treat and because you are great Pitt fans I linked a ton of info in the chart below.  The actual scores of the games are linked to the box score and the “Opponent’s Gameday Rank” column has either articles about the game or some videos I thought were fun to watch…  Grab a beer and Enjoy!!

Year Head Coach Opp. Gameday Rank Final Score Opp. Final Ranking Record vs Ranked teams
1997 Walt Harris #22 Miami 21-17 NR
WH #19   VT 30-23 NR 2-3
2001 WH #12   VT 38-7 #18 1-1
2002 WH #3     VT 28-21 #18 1-3
2003 WH #5     VT 31-28 NR 1-1
2004 WH #24 ND 41-38 #17
WH #21 WVU 16-13 NR 2-0
2007 Dave Wannstedt #23 Cincy 24-17 #17
DW #2 WVU * 13-9 #6 2-0
2008 DW #10 USF 26-21 NR 1-2
2011 Graham #16 USF 44-17 NR 1-1
2012 Paul Chryst #13 VT 35-17 NR
PC #21 RU 27-6 NR 2-2
2013 PC #24 ND 28-21 #21 1-1
2016 Pat Narduzzi NR PSU * 42-39 #7
PN #3 Clemson * 43-42 #1 1-1

I’ll pick my three favorites (highlighted in bold) and then you all can chip in with yours in the comments section. 

Continue reading “Happy 4th of July! Hail to Pitt!”

POV: Sunday Podcast; July 2nd, 2017

POV: Sunday Podcast; July 2nd, 2017

(Sorry about the audio – I forgot to use my professional microphone so the audio is recorded through my laptop’s mic…)

Hello all, enjoy the above Podcast and here is some supporting text to mull over while you listen:

Recruiting vs Attracting

USC coach Clay Helton said Wednesday he had not been contacted by any coaches interested in Browne, but would do whatever he could to help him during the process.

Browne graduated from USC prior to this season and is two semesters short of an MBA. He said he plans to finish that program eventually.

Recruit Flipping – Here is an interesting article by Brian Batko of the P-G regarding recruits changing their minds after verbally committing to one school – note that in the class of 2017 we had six players who committed elsewhere sign LOIs with us:

The marquee college program in this town won its share of other schools’ losses. Of Pitt’s 22 committed or already-enrolled players in the 2017 recruiting class entering signing day, eight were originally pledged to another school, including three of its most highly regarded.

Two of those eight picked the Panthers in mid-December, then arrived on campus less than a month later. Defensive end Deslin Alexandre was a true “flip,” announcing that he was decommitting from North Carolina State and committing to Pitt at the same time. It wasn’t something he took lightly but felt it was better late than never to get it right.

Pitt placed 10 players on Athlon Magazine’s All-ACC four (!) deep listing. 

Here is the article:

PITTSBURGH—The Pitt football team received 10 selections to the recently released Athlon Sports’ 2017 All-ACC Team as the widely recognized college sports magazine published its predictions for the first team through fourth team performers in the ACC this upcoming season.
 
Returning consensus All-American Quadree Henderson led the way with three total selections. After Henderson joined Tony Dorsett in 2016 as the only players in Pitt football history to top 2,000 all-purpose yards in a season, Athlon touted the junior wide receiver as a preseason first team kick returner, second team offensive all-purpose player and second team punt returner for 2017.
 
After Pitt had its most potent offense in school history in 2016, Athlon expects the Panthers to be talented and explosive again on the offensive side of the ball, naming six Panthers to its preseason All-ACC Team for 2017.
Continue reading “POV: Sunday Podcast; July 2nd, 2017”

POV Sunday Podcast; June 18, 2017

 

Correction: Galambos and Caprara had five sacks in 2015, not last season.

Chris Peak has a truly excellent series on Pat Narduzzi’s defense he’s playing at Pitt (or Josh Conklin is).

Here is the DBs section:

https://pittsburgh.rivals.com/news/narduzzi-s-defense-the-secondary

Here is the link for those Rivals’ mailbag discussions I referenced…

https://pittsburgh.rivals.com/news/mailbag-6-16-2017-positions-of-concern-rb-wr-recruiting-and-more

And as a blast from the past…

aboutus44

….. remember her?

 

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”