Monday, December 24, 2007
~ The Cat Basket ~
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Our Panther's have given us something to cherish with the amazing come from behind win against Duke tonight. We try to keep this football based, but when your school does something amazing, then it deserves full recognition.
Congrats Panthers, December has been a great month.
The second player who is probably going to end up in Syracuse is Kevan Collier's younger brother Averin Collier. Collier was almost a Pitt lock from day one when his recruitment was opened. However, given last years recruiting class, a redshirt year for Kevan, and the emergence of Shady McCoy as the best running back in college, it really made Averin look else where. Clemson seemed to be high on his list but an offer never came putting the battle between Pitt and Cuse. Dave Wannstedt has been very open with Averin and told him that his future with the Panthers would be on the defensive side of the ball and not at running back. I'm not sure how much Kevan can do to sway his brother to Pitt, but if he wants to play running back and not defense, then I'm not sure how much convincing can be done.
While it looks like both of these talented players will be at Syracuse in the fall do not underestimate the power of Wannstedt when it comes to recruiting. If Collier, Sales, and even Alexander wanted to come to Pitt we would find room to bring those three in, as well as some other players we have our eyes on. So before we get all in a tizzy that we lost some players to Cuse (if it happens) just keep in mind that those players want to play in spots where we are extremely deep at. If in fact they do go to Cuse, do not hold it against them. They are 18 year old high school students that need to make the best choice to help further them in life. Whether it be in Syracuse or Pitt, I'm just glad they felt good enough about our University to consider it a place they would like to spend the next 4 or 5 years of their life.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Cross is a very interesting signing. He has amazing speed and a decent arm. He will be a true threat when running the wildcat. Instead of just having Shady run it or hand it off to TJ Porter, we can actually throw the ball now. As far as running our regular offense, Cross will be battling with Billy Stull and Pat Bostick. Bostick has the most D1 experience, however Stull was the starter heading into the season last year. Cross overall has more game experience than both of them plus he played in a very competitive JuCo conference. I would love to make an accurate prediction here, but this thing is wide open and I have no clue which direction the staff will go on this one.
With that out of the way, I am very torn on how I feel about Rich Rodriguez leaving WVU. Don't get me wrong, Rodriguez is an arrogant fool who left a great situation to go to a place where he will never be able to do enough. The way he sold his team out was unfair to the players and to the administration. I always disliked Rodriguez and even though he is no longer a Mountaineer, I will always cheer against UM (except against UPS).
The fans at WVU are some of the most classless, ruthless, and immature people I have ever met in my entire life. Some people have said that it is karma that brought WVU fans down from their high horse and provided some humility following the 13-9 upset. Even with that humility now slightly recognizable, for now, in their fan base I still feel like they deserve this and do not deserve this all at the same time.
I have not been treated well every time that I have ventured to WVU for a game. I still remember the WVU fans coming to the Pitt message boards during the game and trash talking like we shouldn't even show up to play the game. I remember their fans rejoicing in the fact that UCLA stole Ben Howland from us following the 2003 season. Even in 2006 when Jamie Dixon was heavily rumored to Arizona State, the WVU fans came to our message boards gloating that we were simply a "stepping stone" university. For those reasons, I am glad that WVU fans are suffering the way they are.
On the other hand, they had to deal with John Beiline leaving once Patty graduated. I actually felt bad then because I, along with all of the other Pitt faithful understood how hard it is to lose a coach. Nothing is more disrespectful that someone saying this job, where I am making millions of dollars, and this university is not worthy of my services any more. Prior to Beiline leaving WVU, Rodriguez was heavily rumored to Alabama. Reports were that it was a done deal and that RichRod was leaving a potential national championship caliber team to rebuild what was once a great program. In the end Richrod was able to get more money from the university as well as promises to improve the football team in many different areas. I was glad to see RichRod stay because the "Big" school wasn't able to steal a coach from the Big East. Finally it looked like we were going to be able to stand on our own ground.
Fast forward to 2007. UM isn't able to get their man Les Miles after Kirk Herbstreit leaks information that he will be the next coach of UM. After that, UM goes after Rutgers coach Greg Schiano. Schiano (who is probably holding out for JoePa to die) tells them no thank you. Then it was left to RichRod. After a recruiting trip, Rodriguez goes to Toledo and hammers out a deal to be the next coach of Michigan. After losing a basketball coach to UM and their womens soccer coach to UM, RichRod follows suit.
I can't imagine what it would be like to have to go through "possibly" losing your coach after each season. The only ones close to knowing what this would be like is Louisville fans having to deal with Bobby Petrino applying for every single NFL coaching vacancy until he was hired by Atlanta.
So this is where we stand, WVU has lost another coach. Whomever is brought in will most likely not be able to win immediately because Rodriguez usually got the guys who fit his system, and is a good enough coach to adapt his offensive and defensive philosophy based upon who he had on the roster. In the end Pitt will benefit because I HIGHLY doubt WVU will be able to bring in a coach better than Rodriguez. This will also help Pitt recruit better in the area without having to deal with a strong WVU team threatening us each year. Despite all of this, I do feel bad that a Big East school, even if it is WVU has to go through this again. No matter who WVU decides to replace RichRod with, hopefully he stays put for a while but manages to lose to Pitt each and every year.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Speaking of recruiting, Shayne Hale, Cameron Saddler, and Jonathan Baldwin were all in attendance at the Pitt/OSU bball game today. For a long time Hale did not even consider Pitt, however friend and teammate Cameron Saddler chose Pitt, and Hale then became interested. Many felt that Hale/Saddler were a package deal and if that is the case, then the sun is shining brightly on Pitt.
I didn't talk to Shayne at the game but I can tell you this about his visit. He came over to the Zoo with Cameron and watched the game for a few minutes with the Zoo. Not only that, but Shayne and Cameron were both wearing Oakland Zoo shirts. There were many signs and chants from the small Zoo crowd. At this point, I'm fairly confident that Wannstedt will be getting a silent verbal from Mr. Hale and we will continue to keep the Wannstache recruiting train rolling.
Stay tuned folks, this is just the beginning.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
While we admit that our fans are not always the best, you can always expect to find WVU fans embarrassing themselves with every given opportunity. From the rock throwing incident this year, to Gray's a Fa***t at last year's Backyard Brawl Basketball game. I really didn't expect the WVU band to get involved. Fans at games do not have anyone looking over them to make sure they aren't starting a bad chant (unless you are a zoo leader), but the bands always have the director as well as other assistants who are in the presence of the band for the entire game.
C'mon guys, if you were going to pull crap like that you should have known that 1. You're in the band and should act with more class than the rest of your fans, 2. Doing things like that in a large rivalry game will put extra attention on you so calm down and drop the inappropriate stuff.
While I do not trust most Pitt students to always behave accordingly (see the youtube videos), I know for a fact that our band will never do anything that would warrant an article in the Post Gazette about it.
Monday, December 10, 2007
There is more news!!
Jonathan Baldwin announced today that he is going to be a Panther. Now this is no surprise given that it was leaked he called Wanny after the brawl. He has family connections to Pitt and continues that great Alliquippa pipeline to Pitt. Baldwin is the #3 ranked tight end in the country and is almost as a sure shot for the NFL as any other recruit prospect this year. His height and speed will make matchups a nightmare for everyone else in the Big East.
While we, and others, have questioned Wanny's coaching ability, there is no doubt he is by far the best recruiter in the country. Look at what he has been able to do with 3 non-winning seasons. Next year is the bench mark year and with the talent we have, a 9-3 or 10-2 season could make Wanny UNSTOPPABLE on the recruiting front.
We also have to see if any 5th year seniors will be asked to leave. We have a great momentum going right now, and if it means asking someone not to comeback that really won't contribute to this team, well, at least that person is close to or maybe even has graduated by the end of this year. It will also be interesting to see what happens to recruits who aren't getting much interest from other teams. Taglienetti and Gardiner come to mind with this. Right now other than a Grayshirt opportunity at OSU, we are Gardiner's best choice. Tag's doesn't have many other offers and we are probably the biggest school he will get an offer from. It would be wise to take that offer while it is still on the table.
Lastly, for all of you Zoo members out there. Shayne Hale will be at the basketball game on saturday and we need to make sure we seal the deal with him. He is cousin's with Cameron Saddler, and less than a week ago we were eliminated from his list. Cameron commits and we are back in the mix. A checklist sign will probably make an appearance. So lets get creative and get Shayne to say Pitt is it!
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Some of the more popular recruiting websites have kept this information quiet which also makes me think that only a few people know the truth. Usually when someone commits the info is easily found across the internet. Right now all we have are a few people who claim to have the inside info as well as PSR saying the same.
If all goes as planned and Sunseri and Cross commit to Pitt we will have an interesting situation brewing. We will have a 6 man battle for the quarterback spot next year.
Billy Stull, Pat Bostick, Kevan Smith, Greg Cross, Tino Sunseri, and Zach Stoudt would all be in the race. Stull should be considered the front runner as the staff feels Bostick really needs to redshirt and work on some mechanics. Kevan Smith played poorly enough early in the season that it will take something amazing from him to win the job. Greg Cross is a dual threat qb with great speed. I would say he would be the logical #2 in this race based upon natural ability and the added dimension he could add to the offense. I also believe that Stoudt and Sunseri, if both become Panthers would redshirt. This situation is much like the Getsy/Palko situation we saw when they were freshmen. Palko saw some time while Getsy redshirted. The next season, the reverse happened. In the end Getsy was upset that he was not named the starter and had a great career with JD Brookhart in Akron. I really can't expect all 6 qb's to stay on the roster. Stull is old enough that he really shouldn't transfer because he would only have one year of eligibility left. Smith may leave, and as a poster said earlier on my previous post, an OSU offer could pull Stoudt away from us.
We will see what shall happen. This definitely will make for an interesting spring and fall battle in camp.
Friday, December 7, 2007
This commitment is huge not because he is a 4 star return specialist from what has been a PSU pipeline high school, it is important because Saddler is the type of player you want in your program. He is very well spoken, highly intelligent, and appears to be passionate about everything he engages in. The second biggest thing about this commitment will be the domino effect we see. Saddler has been open in admitting that he and Shayne Hale would like to go to the same college. Hale originally had crossed Pitt off his list, but all of a sudden in a recent interview Hale said that Pitt is back in the fold. Again, it will be hard to beat UVa, but if there is one thing Wanny has shown he can do better than anyone else in the Big East, it is recruit.
Speaking of linebackers, we just landed quarterback Zach Stoudt. I know you are wondering where this is going, but let me explain. Stoudt is a highly rated Qb from Dublin Oh (motherland of Adam Graessle). Not only is he the son of the man who replace Terry Bradshaw at quarterback in 1983, but he is also good friends with a linebacker from the Buckeye State. That linebacker would be Steve Gardiner. If we can land Gardiner (which is about 97%) and Hale, we would be in very good shape at linebacker with this year and last years class.
Still no work on Jonathan Baldwin. He will be a Panther, but the question is when will he announce? My best guess is that he will wait until late in the recruiting process to make an announcement. If you notice he also has Florida and Miami on his interest list. Pitt, Miami, and UF. It sounds like someone is going to have a couple of nice vacationing weekends in Florida before becoming a Panther.
Lastly, if you are worried about the number of scholarships this year, don't let it bug ya too much. Pestano will not be back on the team next year. On field performance as well as reported attitude issues have cost him his scholarship. Wanny has remained strong in his belief that he will hold up his end of the deal and if you do not hold up your end he will pull your scholarship. He has done this each and every season. I wouldn't be surprised to see a couple of more guys (think DL and DB) to be gone in the next few weeks.
As more news happens we will continue to let you know about it.
Monday, December 3, 2007
Despite all of our weaknesses and handicaps, we found a way. We showed the world how the spread could be defeated. We showed the world that anything can happen. We showed the world that our Panthers are not as far behind as people thought they were. This game should propel Pitt to a top 25 ranking next season. This game should give us reason to believe that the "benchmark" year that next season is, really can shape up to be a special one. Hardly any of the teams in the Big East will improve skill wise as we will. We get our 3 big games (wvu, louisville, and rutgers) at home. We have a chance to get redemption against Notre Dame for our embarrassing loss 2 years ago.
Our players did not quit. All season long there was reason to give up and pack it in, but we fought in each and every game. We saw the highs of upsetting Cincy. We were dejected after the rutgers and louisville games. Today, none of that matters. We are Backyard Brawl champions. While we do not have another game until opening night 2008, there are very few other ways that we as Panther fans can go into the offseason and feel great about where we are.
Thank you seniors, thank you coaches, thank you everyone else involved with this Panther team. Every year we could go 1-11 as long as we beat WVU. You have us on a great path and I can't wait to continue this ride.
All the credit in the world needs to go to Coach Wannstedt and Coach Rhoads. In one night Paul Rhoads may have destroyed the WVU Spread for good. His gameplan was perfect and played to every strength of our defense. For night we had the best defense in the entire country, WVU had no chance with the speed and physicality our guys brought to Morgantown. Coach Wannstedt exploded with enthusiasm and energy he looked like he wanted to jump on the field and make the tackles himself, I couldn't believe how ready our team came out looking.
Scott McKillop and Shady may have earned their place in the Panther Hall of Fame in one game. Shady has done everything he could possibly do in his first season as a Panther. On and off the field he is the perfect college player and we are in for two more years of greatness. He was a one man offense and it worked to perfection. Meanwhile, Scott McKillop has replaced an NFL player HB Blades and looks to be twice the player he was. I have never seen a college linebacker with his tackling ability, our defense was engineered to force WVU to go near McKillop because he would put them into the ground. I know everybody has crowned Dan Connor the Next Great Linebacker but McKillop needs to be considered for every post-season award.
Every member of our much-maligned Senior class played great and truly earned their spot. Jameel Brady and Mike Phillips made key players that I never thought either could make. Strong made the biggest catch of his entire life to save a drive. Mike McGlynn opened holes for Shady. I really don't know where these performances came from but if they were saving them up they picked the right time to unleash them.
I don't want to say anything about the officiating other than I hope those officials all lose their jobs. It was a disgrace to the conference the way they called the highest profile Big East game in years. Steve Pederson better have got on the horn to lodge an official complaint.
I don't know what else to say other than savor the moment Pitt fans. Our three years of mediocrity may finally be over and a new day has come. This one game I think has earned Wannstedt his contract extension and solidified Paul Rhoads' job. I still can't believe that it happened and the ramifications of this game will be felt for years.
I've never been more happy to be wrong about a game and a coaching staff. I already got what I want for Christmas!!!
Saturday, December 1, 2007
7:55 - Turner didn't turn around for the ball and it led to a bad INT. WVU gets the ball and of course we can't stop them on 3rd down. Hopefully this doesn't turn into 7.
8:00 - McAfee misses the FG. Good for us. The hoopie is pissed.
8:12 - A lot of punts going on. Jason and the hoopie are getting into some good debates. I feel another 3 and out is in order, but we will see.
8:21 - Nice to see Thatcher listened to my advice and hit the shit out of White. And McAFEE WITH A MISS! Time to score here Pitt. Hoopie anger level reaching new highs.
8:48 - Bostick with another pick. That was a hell of an interception though. No worries though, Bostick will get his chance. Is it too early to say wildcat with Mo Williams?
8:58 - White hurt with a thumb injury. I'm not too excited. Last big game I saw a qb get injured, Drew Bledsoe beat the Steelers in the AFC championship. I hope this doesn't happen again.
9:03 - Looked like a flop to me. Thats a bull shit call and then a TD. Fucking bullshit.
9:16 - Well this should be 3-3 at worst, but a crap call here and a crap call there and we are down by 4. I can live with that. I hope we can make the required adjustments and win this game.
9:46 - OH NOOOO!!!!!!!! PITT IN THE LEAD!!!! CAT BASKET HIMSELF!! Way to go Bostick. We are up 3. If we win, the hoopie may never talk to me again, but that's something that I'm ready to take. We need this. Lets keep going.
9:51 - Oh boy, 3 and out but a sideline warning. Oh my. Hoopie and Jones are getting in a fight. Interesting stuff at the 305 MIA. C'mon!!
10:04 - Bullshit holding call. This game should be 17-7 but the big east officials fuck it all up. I'll say this. The Big East officials have fucked more than any coach ever. And connor lee misses the field goal. This is bullshit. It is obvious who the refs want to win. BULLSHIT!
10:15 - Berry with a dumb penalty. It is ok though because this drive can take time off the clock. Lets see what we can do.
10:18 - Strong with the play of the game. Way to keep this drive alive. In case you want a hoopie update. Well this might be the end of the relationship despite me giving her free steeler sideline passes for tomorrow. Let's see what happens.
10:26 - First down McCoy following the crazy fumble. I think the hoopie may never talk to me again. I hope she realizes it is just football, but if Pitt can win this would be great C'mon Pitt! Time out Pitt. This is a good time out. Get that time out in and calm this team down. This could be the change in the Pitt program we have all wanted. The Defense has been great. Keep it up Rhoads. Like we said earlier in the week, your job is safe. Lets win this damn game!!
10:32 - Pitt up 13 to 7. I wish it were 20-7 but we do what we have to do. I just hope we can win this game.
10:36 - Mr. White back after a big Noel "Not your christmas" Devine return.
10:38 - SCOTT MCKILLOP FOR HEISMAN! HE SAVED THE GAME!
10:44 - MORE FUCKING HORSE SHIT!!! THAT IS A BULL SHIT FUCKING CALL! We have been critical against Turner, but he has been ripped off twice this game. This is fucking bullshit. C'mon refs. The refs didn't even call holding against the DB which was completely obvious.
10:51 - WE WIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THIS IS THE GREATEST THING EVER!!!!!!! LIFE TIME CONTRACT FOR WANNSTEDT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Paul Rhoads may have just got himself a head coaching position somewhere with that amazing performance.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
First off, on the recruiting front don't expect any type of flurry of activity for at least a couple of weeks. Right now we are in very good shape with Jonathan Baldwin which will help us out at the TE position to replace Strong.
Clemson is making a strong push for Averin Collier. Plans were for him to make an annoucement soon, but expect him to hold back to see if any major shake ups happen. If I were to bet, I'd still say that Averin is going to follow his brother to Pitt.
Pitt just offered Andrew Taglianetti. He doesn't have many "big" offers and really isn't rated high on any of the scouting services. He is considered to be a special teams demon though. He is the type of player that could make an impact for 4 years on special teams alone if he came to Pitt. Based upon the offer and the lack of others, there is a good chance he will take it and stay close to home.
The rumor mill is generating speculation that Dorin will be moving to tight end with a possible redshirt so that he can learn the position and not go through another wasteful year of learning on the go. I'd say right now that the chances of this happening are about 25%. It really depends on the development of our younger linebackers, how impressed the coaches are with the in coming linebacker recruits (Manny Williams and soon to be Steve Gardiner). Also the coaches are very happy with the running backs and want to make sure that whomever is quarterback next year has the best set of receiver options around him. So you can say it makes sense to put Dorin at TE to allow Nate to be used as a blocking TE when needed. It could also give Baldwin time to develop. If the younger/incoming linebackers struggle, don't expect to see Dorin moved.
Pitt is still looking for QB recruit for this class. Zach Stoudt and Tino Sunseri seem to be the most likely at this point. Sunseri has almost completely backed out of his Louisville commitment. Pitt wasn't involved early with Sunseri due to the Pryor situation, already having 4 qb's on the roster (Dexter Davidson included), and a false thought that he would be a Pitt lock if offered. One of the most likely situations to see Tino at Pitt is if John Fox and crew are fired from the Carolina Panthers. That would free up his father Sal Sunseri who is the DLine coach there. If for some reason Sal would come back to Pittsburgh (for employment or just to live) then I would expect Tino to be a Panther. One other prospect to keep your eye on is Josh Vick. He wasn't recruited too much at first, but interest started to pick up after our QB problems arose this season. If he gets an offer he will take it. If you remember the Luke Getsy recruiting situation from a few years back then this should remind you of the same thing.
Terrelle Pryor is still being heavily recruited by Pitt. Some say Pitt was really never eliminated while others say Pitt was never in it. He was quoted as saying he wants to play from day 1 and wants to play both sports at a big university. His future is at Qb and not in the NBA, and if he wants a team he could start at immediately then Pitt would be it. At WVU thoughts are Pat White will return next year which would leave Pryor on the bench, but they could use him in basketball. Texas and Ohio State are the other big 2 involved but they already have their quarterbacks of the future. While my bias says Pitt is the best fit, expect sweater-vest to shell out the money and land Pryor for OSU.
Next years camp will feature the current 3 quarterbacks plus which ever freshman we bring in a competition for the starting job. I really don't see the coaches picking anyone but Stull unless we get Pryor. In that case expect Bostick to redshirt and come back for the 2009 or 2010 season.
Kennard Cox will be starting at corner against WVU, but look for Pitt to pull him in favor of Jovanni and faster db's to try and offset the speed of WVU. As has been said here before, the coaches and the rest of us aren't too worried about getting beat through the air off of Pat White's arm.
Thats all for now.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Obviously, they are the main rivals that we have (actually the rival that we actually get to play). I think effects of WVU winning and getting the BCS National Title will be felt for years and years to come. WVU will get the boost in recruiting of being on TV and being in the discussion of the national sports media, something we never get in football other than to take swipes at our coaching staff or to laud the rare great player. Potential recruits are going to get to see pieces about Dick Rod turning around the WVU football program, making him look better in their eyes (many of whom we both go after). Wannstedt has done a terrific job of bringing in the top talent in the region but what happens if WVU gets even more of those kids? Wannstedt isn't Walt Harris he can't win games with second-rate recruits, in order to win games we need top recruits all over the field.
Do me a favor next time somebody tells you that WVU beating us is good for the Big East and therefore good for us, tell them to shut up. WVU winning and getting a shot at the National Title is going to be horrible for us and will continue to separate the two the programs. Right now WVU is light-years ahead of us in coaching. Position for position we probably have more talent but that means nothing to us because we don't have the expert coaching they have in Morgantown. I hate Dick Rod's arrogance but I really respect what he has done with what the reality is at WVU, he is a great college coach who is on the fast track to a marquee job.
If WVU dominates and puts a stamp on us to end their season I'm very concerned about what this means for WVU on signing day. Terrell Pryor is out there and he has WVU in the picture, if they can get him away from the bigger schools we are screwed. Pryor would basically be Pat White Version 2.0 and Noel Devine would be Steve Slaton 2.0. Do we get another win this decade against the Hoopies if they reload in such a big way?
So if you root for WVU on Saturday you might as well keep rooting for them over us for the foreseeable future. Screw the Big East we need to look out for Number 1.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Next year at DLine we are in the best shape I have ever seen in my 7 years at Pitt. Romeus, Duhart, Malecki, Mustakas, Tucker, and Sheard will all be returning and should make up the best front four in the Big East. Hopefully we get the right players in there from the start. This year there is no reason why Romeus and Duhart should not be on the field to start the game and for every play they can possibly be out there. Those two are HUGE impact players and can really make a difference in a game.
At linebacker we are in the worst shape we have ever been in. Scott McKillop is the only one who has shown he deserves a scholarship on this team. Brady, Gunn, Dell, and Murray are all awful. They have been given significant playing time and continue to embarrass themselves week after week. I was one of the many that felt Dorin would be an impact player on defense. During the pre-season practices he looked amazing. He made solid wrap up tackles, was in position, and never avoided contact. However, during games it appears he makes too many mistakes. It could have been that our offense was so bad during practice that it made Dorin look great, or it could have been that Dorin was given so few opportunities that he never had a chance to prove himself. To me, it always looked like he would be in for one play then go out and get yelled at on the sidelines. I hope Dorin continues to work hard in the offseason and improves to earn a starting spot. He is big enough and strong enough that just based upon ability he should be able to play well in his last two years here. Nate Nix and Dan Loheyde were two of our most highly regarded freshman linebacker recruits last year but both ended up redshirting this year. Add into the mix Tristian Roberts and Max Gruder, that gives us hope that one of those 4 can step up to earn a starting spot alongside Scott McKillop. It is unfortunate to know that this staff will only play the upperclassmen so get ready for another year of Gunn, McKillop, and Murray at linebacker. To be honest, I really would like to see McKillop (obviously), with Nix and Dickerson filling up the other two spots. That would allow us to rotate Loheyde and the others to find out who really are the best linebackers on this team.
At defensive back we have seen the biggest mismanagement of the year. Cox, Phillips and Thatcher have been god awful. I was very disappointed in the season that Thatcher has produced because in the short amount of time he played in the 06 season, he really dominated. It looks like he lost some intensity when he was injured last year and that really is a shame. Dom Dicicco is a heavy hitter and is arguably the 2nd best safety on this team behind Elijah Fields. If Elijah can get his off the field problems solved then there will be no excuse for both of them to be starters next season. I am willing to bet that next years starters will be Fields and Thatcher at the safety spots.
At the beginning of the season I was ready to anoint Aaron Berry the best defensive player on the team without actually playing one game yet. I was really disappointed to see him not see much action early in the season due to his ankle injury and I questioned why Ricky Gary was in the game. In the time that Gary was on the field all he did was cover his receivers and play good solid football. His reward was to never see the field and when Cox was yanked later in the season he was replaced by Jovanni Chappel. Don't get me wrong, I have a tremendous amount of respect for Jovanni, but I really feel that Ricky earned that spot based upon his play early in the season. For next year we know Berry will be our #1 corner. It will be interesting to see what happens with the other spot. Chappel is now the most seasoned corner of those remaining. Ricky Gary played well and should be given a shot. We also have the lightning fast Buddy Jackson, as well as the Chris Ball stolen from Alabama redshirt freshman Sherod Murdoch. I expect Berry and Chappel only based upon experience but I think this is the only defensive position battle that the staff will objectively look at and actually pick the best player to start.
Rhoads has his strengths and his weaknesses. I really hate our bend don't break defense. It has cost us in the past, and will most likely cost us in the future. Paul Rhoads should be ashamed of his work with the linebackers this year. Outside of McKillop they have been by far the worst performing position on the field (and thats saying a lot with how bad the O-line was). The corners improved throughout the season and the DLine is amazing. I don't expect one single change on defense. I really would like to see a linebackers coach brought in and let Rhoads call the plays if he is going to stay. Greg Gattuso is an amazing coach and should be considered a top candidate to become a defensive coordinator very soon. Chris Ball has taken some criticism from us, but to me, I think he is worth keeping around. I just really hope we can get someone from outside to teach these linebackers how to play smart, how to play physical, and how to be complete players.
Like I said, it will take a 60 point performance by WVU to raise questions of Rhoads getting fired. He may find a job as a head coach else where and if he does, we really need to consider making Gattuso our DC. Congrats Paul Rhoads, these last few games have saved your job when I once considered you to be the first casualty of Pitt football this season. If you are back, please just play the best players. Please be aggressive when the time calls for it. Please call for some nickel and dime packages on 3rd and longs. And to satisfy the yinzer in me, please let me see some blitzing.
BEAT THE HOOPIES!
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Shady McCoy was a very bright spot on this team. He, like Bostick, was allowed to play thanks to an injury to 2nd string running back Kevin Collier. Against MSU, Hot-Rod was hurt and Shady won the starting job. After some fumble-itis, a strong rumor went around that the coaching staff was going to bench him in favor of Hot-Rod. Next year will be interesting as all 3 running backs will return and all deserve some playing time. Along with the backs we will have an interesting situation with Conredge Collins and Henry Hynoski. Hynoski, as far as I know, should still be inline for a redshirt. Mix this in with Collins (hopefully) coming back for his senior season we may have a problem brewing. Collins should be seeing more time, but we go without a fullback on many plays. Next year we will have an outstanding core of running backs and fullbacks but who knows how it will be split up.
The wide receivers will get a major boost with Derek Kinder coming back for a senior season. TJ Porter will hopefully remain as the teams number 2 WR with Mo Williams and Aundre Wright battling it out for 3rd and 4th spots. Pestano and Turner have been major disappointments and I really can't see any reason that would justify either of them having a top spot on the team.
At TE, Nate Byham should be on the field for every play. This year he has had to take a backseat to lazy Darrell Strong. Strong has run poor routes, taken plays off, and been the reason why Nate was not allowed to go over the middle to catch passes since Strong's inadequate blocking made him very 1-dimensional. Nate, Pelusi, and hopefully a 3rd TE can be brought in (Mike Cruz, wanna come back?) to help the line with blocking as well as improving the offense with more passing options.
Our offensive line has killed us ever since I have been at Pitt. It seems like we always have one or two guys that are very good, but the other three just completely ruin the line. This year the combo of Otah, Davis, Vangas, Thomas/Bachman, and McGlynn have been awful. Otah is the only one with NFL hopes. Yes McGlynn, I am saying you will not be in the NFL, sorry. Next year, a healthy Jason Pinkston and Chris Jacobsen will return to help bolster the line. Lucas Nix should be a starter too, but I say SHOULD BE, not will be. We all know that Wannstedt loves to play the older, and in most cases, shittier players. Next year's line must be this going from left tackle to right tackle: Pinkston, Jacobsen, Davis, Thomas/Bachman, Nix.
If we go with that our offense should be good enough to win 6 games on talent alone regardless of poor play calling. Cavanaugh will most likely be in the NFL. If he can't find a job there, expect him to be back in the blue and gold calling more draws and bubble screens.
Hill, Walker, and Angelichio will all be fine and should keep their jobs. Paul Dunn is the only casualty that the offense will and needs to see. If Dunn is not fired at the end of this year then we have no one to blame other than Wanny himself. I do believe that Nordenberg will meet with Wanny to say something needs to happen, so Dunn will be what happens. We also need to have a quarterback coach that isn't also our offensive coordinator. If we keep Cavanaugh, bring in someone to work with Stull, Smith, and Bostick that way he can devote the required time to work with these guys and make the most prepared they can possibly be.
I will get to the defense and special teams later, as well as my thoughts for WVU.
BEAT THE HOOPIES!
Saturday, November 24, 2007
1. Pat Bostick wasn't ready to play quarterback this season. In a perfect world Bill Stull doesn't go down and Bostick can be given a redshirt but that didn't happen. Before you jump to criticize me about waffling on Bostick he is the best option we have at this point. Kevan Smith played himself out of a job, we had no chance to win with him as quarterback. This position and the turmoil it has caused to the team is the on-field reason for our losses. I think we have to give Bostick some time because he is a true freshman who has lead us to wins in the Big East. He may be a bust but we aren't anywhere close to the point where we can give up on him.
2. There are two legitimate game-changing players on defense in Scott McKillop and Greg Romeus. McKillop has quietly had a fantastic season. It seems like he makes every tackle for our defense and is always a threat to strip the ball. I think he has to be mentioned as an All-American candidate. Romeus has given us a defensive end that can get to the quarterback and create havoc. He is doing a great job and has earned his playing time.
3. The field at Heinz Field has gotten ridiculous, looking at the grass colored dirt that passes as a field is embarrassing. I know that the Steelers are priority number 1 but something has to be done about the field. It makes the program look bad when teams come in and they play on a strip of mud that goes up the length of the field.
Our season has been over for a while and today just kept piling on the garbage. Next week at WVU unless we pull a Miracle on Ice style performance we are going to lose and lose bad. I will say this right now if Wannstedt can go into Morgantown and deny them a BCS Championship bid I would give him a lifetime contract. That isn't going to happen but a man can dream can't he.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
At 4-6 we all know where this team stands. The last two games (USF and WVU) are what I consider to be our two toughest of the season. While USF doesn't have as great of a record as some other Big East schools, they are a team we match up very poorly against. WVU is also the same way. They have a dynamic offense and that crazy 3-3-5 defense that Wannstedt hasn't been able to figure out.
The good thing about the team is hardly anyone expects us to win either game which is taking away the false hope of going to a bowl game. Even if this team did beat USF and WVU, I highly doubt we would get a bowl game at 6-6.
Sadly, for most of the fans this season will start to get exciting at the end of the year with the recruiting battles as well as some personnel changes. The Panthers, somehow, are still in the running for many good prospects. Obviously for this class the team needs to sign a linebacker and an offensive lineman that can step up immediately. The Panthers could go the Jeff Otah route and sign a juco player, but when given the chance we have had some freshmen play well but lets not kid ourselves. Freshmen on this team will rarely see the field.
In terms of staffing changes this could be the make or break point for Wannstedt. We don't have a new AD in place yet so the main pressure he will be feeling is coming from Nordy and Cochran over at the Cathedral. The only guy who I feel for sure will be gone at the end of the season is Paul Dunn. I don't think that Wannstedt can keep him around under any circumstances. As for the big two, Matt Cavanaugh and Paul Rhoads, well............ Some of you may not like to hear this, but I would not be surprised to see them both back next year. Paul Rhoads has been here for a very long time but we continue to see the same story with him. We always let teams kill us on the ground and we can't figure out how to stop the spread offense. It's a shame we don't play teams like Syracuse every week because their offense plays perfectly into his scheme. On 3rd and long we never go into a nickel or dime package, we always stay in the base 4-3. We do have a top ranked defense this year, I will give him that. The stats, however, are an anomaly. In our two worst games of the season, UVa and UConn, they went up early on possessions where they had a short field to work with. Once they had such a commanding lead, they were able to run the ball and kill the clock. Our other games saw us keeping it closer which really helped us statistically. One of Paul Rhoads main down falls is that he can't stop a team when it matters. Against Louisville he let up a late touchdown drive which ultimately cost us the game. Against Syracuse the mighty Orange were setting the stage for a late comeback until Greg Romeus had seen enough and finished the game himself.
Do I think it's time for Rhoads to go? Yes I do, but I also feel that Wannstedt is very loyal and will have a hard time letting him go. That is why I believe there is a very good chance he will be back next year.
On to Matt Cavanaugh. Wanny and Cavvy are good friends, which never works out well when one is the boss and the other is the employee. Rumor is that Matt wants to go back to the NFL. The hard part about that is, there are only 32 teams in the league which means only 32 offensive coordinator jobs and 32 quarterback coaching jobs. After his performance here and with Baltimore, I highly doubt any team would be willing to hire him as offensive coordinator. Many people believe that Cavanaugh would be a great Qb coach in the NFL if he stuck with that full time. The question Cavanaugh has to ask himself is: Is it better to stay an offensive coordinator in college until something better pops up which isn't available right now, or is it better to leave now and take a chance somewhere else? Being a Pittsburgh guy, Cavanaugh is home right now. I could see him staying just out of the comfort of being here. It is nice to be able to get a job at home making 250k a year. I really don't see Wannstedt firing Cavanaugh if he was given the choice to do it or not do it.
If we are going to see changes in this staff, the University's higher ups will need to be the ones calling for it. Donna Sanft isn't in the position where she can tell Wanny what to do, and if the choice is left up to him, I think he will pick loyalty over necessary change.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
I think next year is going to be a disaster unless something changes big time in the culture of Pitt football. When watching the game on TV I really notice how clueless Wannstedt looks on the sideline. He does trick plays at odd times and they never work. He plays the wrong players time and time again. I don't even know if changing assistant coaches is going to help this team. Wannstedt projects an image of losing and failure onto this program and we continue to live up to it. Either he needs to magically gain coaching talent or he needs to release control of the team to a new batch of assistants. As long as he is in charge we are going to continue to have sub-par seasons and bad losses. You are who your coaches are and our coaches are a bunch of losers.
The powers that be that forced Wannstedt onto the Athletic Department need to take a look into what they have done to our football program. Every idea of what Pitt football should be and whats important in a face of the program you have is wrong. Our football program is basically ruined by tired thinking and uninspired hiring. I hope somebody in power here, perhaps a new AD, brings a new thinking and a new attitude to football.
It's only going to get much worse if Wannstedt and the program don't change. Color me completely disappointed and dissatisfied with this whole situation and this year.
Good McKillop is playing very well. However, the rest of the defense is playing too hit or miss. Williams and Bad McKillop should not be starting in favor of Romeus and Duhart. It just doesn't make any sense.
Kennard should never see the field again. He is awful.
Phillips is the worst safety in the big east. Give us Dicicco.
The pass interference call against Jovanni was bullshit. They should have never gotten that call and that would have stopped Rice's long TD run.
Bostick is not playing well. A lot of bad choices and problems with his mechanics are really hurting this team.
I love having false hope for this team only to have them break our heart each and every saturday. As Jones just said "Watching Pitt play is like getting raped".
Oh yeah, offensive line, way to keep sucking.
Ray Rice, enjoy your 2nd Paul Rhoads still running club award.
Paul Rhoads, i hope you get fired and never spend another day in football again.
Friday, November 16, 2007
BLITZ WHEN YOU HAVE TO .
PLAY YOUR BEST PLAYERS.
PLAY NICKEL ON 3rd AND LONG!
It's not that hard.
Cavanaugh, listen up.
LET BOSTICK THROW SOMETHING OTHER THAN A SCREEN.
GIVE SHADY SOMETHING TO WORK WITH, PUT COLLINS IN THERE WITH HIM!
We need a couple of wins to get to a bowl game. We can do this, we have the talent. Rutgers aren't all they are cracked up to be. USF is playing poorly. AND FOR GOD SAKES BEAT THE HOOPIES. I don't care what happens this season. The coaches are setting us up for more disappointment but c'mon, don't let the hoopies get a bcs game or god forbid, the national championship.
Dave, Matt, Paul. This game is on your shoulders. You have the players. You wanted time, you got your time. Put a W on the board. Enough screwing around.
WIN THIS F'N GAME!
Thursday, November 15, 2007
at Rutgers (35%): Rutgers is not good this year but we are just as bad if not worse. In the end I think the home field advantage leads Rutgers to a closer than expected win. On the other hand they could just completely blow us out but I don't think they are good enough.
vs South Florida (10%): I thought this game was a complete impossibility a couple weeks ago but guess what, South Florida isn't all that great either. I there are 58 WPIAL games at Heinz Field on Friday night, then it snows and hails Friday night, and then on Saturday the temperature is in the low teens. USF is definitely beatable now but I still don't think we get it done.
at West Virginia (1%): If Coach Wannstedt ever wanted to do something to make me a fan of his, he could win this game. How great would it be if we beat WVU with like two seconds on a fluke play and shut them out of the BCS? This football season has pretty much been a waste in terms of actual winning but if we could shut WVU out of a big time bowl its all been worth it. In the end though we will play to lose and guess what in the end we are going to lose.
I hope that we can get another win this season but it probably isn't going to happen. Just enjoy the last couple games of Shady's freshman season and more importantly Mike Phillips' illustrious career. Retire that mans number Athletic Department.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
1. Greg Romeus has really been the biggest shock on the team. You can look back into the archives we saw Shady coming, as did most of the informed fans of the Panthers. The way Romeus has rushed the passer and created turnovers is a great feat in a defense that doesn't create much pressure.
2. The right side of the line has finally stabilized itself after playing as badly as possible in the early weeks of the season. Bachman has proved to be a serviceable player and McGlynn has gone back to just being subpar and not outright terrible.
3. Aaron Berry is starting to show some of the signs of greatness that came along with his hype. The past three games he has looked like a different player, what has triggered this is a mystery to me. If next year the defense is going to improve Berry needs to develop into a steady number 1 corner. I don't think he needs to be Revis but he needs to be prepared to stop every teams best receiver.
4. If the rumors are true about the new AD being Georgia Tech AD Dan Radakovitch let's hope that the good old get a Pittsburgh guy system doesn't fail us again. I have no real knowledge of his work at Georgia Tech so I'll give him the benefit of a doubt. Whoever is the new AD is going to have some big decisions to make about the football program immediately. Here is a suggestion for free, FIRE PAUL RHOADS AND PAUL DUNN.
I'll be back tomorrow with my thoughts about our chances to win another game this season. Keep your eyes open for more activity on the site now that we are gearing to the end of another wonderful year under Coach Wannstedt. Your doing a great job Dave. Big thumbs up
Monday, November 12, 2007
Big freakin deal.
I don't get why people are so pissed off about Clint not saying how much he loves Pitt and instead honoring his high school. I think the players should say what college they are from, but they have a choice to pick what they want to say. When people ask me where I go/went to school I say Pitt. I don't think the Butler High alumni would be pissed if I refused to talk about Butler.
The best part is people find it completely reasonable for Willie Parker to say he's from Clinton instead of UNC only because his coach didn't play him. UNC is getting much more coverage about the announcers talking of how Willie never played and the Rooney's found him and helped him earn what he has today.
Maybe Clint hates Paul Rhoads and that is his way of getting back. Maybe Clint refuses to acknowledge he is from Pitt until we bring back the script.
Either way, it was a one second shot on NBC at 8:30 at night. I'm sure the rest of America doesn't care that Clint didn't say he was from Pitt. They're probably talking about Vinitieri missing the chip shot field goal.
It would have been nice if Clint said he was from Pitt, but he chose not to. We just need to man up and stop doing what we do best, bitching.
Friday, November 9, 2007
Pat Bostick - Right now, Pat is on the path to the NFL. If he remains the starter for the next 3 years then I think he will make it on to a roster. He may not start and he may even bounce back between an active roster and the practice squad. With the right coaching this summer and over the rest of his career, his throwing motion, footwork, and overall strength should be able to improve enough to match his natural football IQ.
Shady McCoy - NFL 1st round pick. Easy enough.
Conredge Collins - He will be the first fullback selected in the 2009 draft. He may not get used much as standard fullbacks like himself are not being featured as often, but he will still see significant playing time in the nfl.
Oderick Turner - Will not make the nfl.
TJ Porter - Still seems a bit too early too tell. He has NFL caliber potential, but at this juncture he hasn't shown enough yet to warrant being drafted.
Darrell Strong - He might not be able to block well and he may drop some passes you expect him to catch, but his athleticism will make him an early day 2 pick.
Jeff Otah - I'm saying right now he will be a 2nd round pick. He's a huge left tackle who has done everything expected of him from the moment he has stepped on Pitt's campus. He will be our biggest loss this year, but someone in the nfl is going to get a good player out of our loss.
CJ Davis - I don't think right now that he has played well enough to earn a spot in the draft. He still has another year to prove himself though.
Chris Vangas - He has a very small shot at making an nfl team. Most likely he will be an undrafted free agent. I just don't see him playing on sundays.
John Bachman - Nope
Mike McGlynn - Despite what his dad would have you think, he will not be in the nfl.
Joe Clermond - He really has had a strong season this year and is a huge part of why the defensive line is the best in the Big East. He's not going to be a guy that all teams fall in love with, but I could see him being a Sessions type of player where a team believes he has "it" and uses a later day 2 pick on him.
Mick Williams - The sophomore has a couple of years left to work his way into the NFL, but I would say right now the odds are stacked against him.
Chris McKillop - He will not be in the nfl. His primary back up, Greg Romeus though, is on pace to be a solid day 1 pick.
Rashad Duncan - Duncan is a solid player, but the problem is there are many players out there who are almost identical to him. He has to do something to set himself apart with his time left here at Pitt. If he doesn't, well, at least he will have a degree from Pitt.
Shane Murray and Adam Gunn will be lumped together - 0%
Scott McKillop - He has been having a very solid season and really deserves some recognition. If he keeps up this high level of play, someone will give him a chance.
Kennard Cox - Put that Pitt degree to good use because you sir are no Torri Cox.
Aaron Berry - Aaron has really stepped it up these last few games and is becoming the player we all expected him to be. With solid progression, someone will give a corner with decent size and speed from a big (albeit poor) major d1 school.
Mike Phillips - No
Eric Thatcher - Probably not
Conor Lee - He is a very good kicker, but his kickoff ability really needs to improve if he wants a shot. I am going to say no only because there are only 32 jobs available as place kickers in the NFL which really puts the odds against him.
Dave Brytus - He will be a professional. Except it will be in MMA or UFC, not as a punter.
Matt Cavanaugh - 100% Matt will be picked up by someone at the end of this year. I really think we should send him to Indy to be Peyton Manning's QB coach, agreed?
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
This season Shady McCoy is performing to his potential in the hardest situation he could be in. When looking at his numbers remember that he didn't get the job as the "starting" running back until the Michigan St. game. So thats one obstacle for him to overcome winning a starting job from an established starter who was certainly a favorite of the coaching staff.
After getting the starting job through injury Shady went to Michigan St. and recorded 172 yards off of 25 carries. Then the team goes on the game losing streak where two of the games Shady didn't get over 100 yards. The play-calling during those games was very basic while the coaching staff kept the handcuffs tight on Bostick. All of these things have kept Shady from having even more gaudy stats and as a result a diminished presence for him in the national media. Imagine the hype around him by EPSN if we were 7-2 instead of 4-5.
Another thing that Shady has had to deal with is having the hopes of an entire program on his back. The team while getting better has played poorly much of this season but Shady hasn't at all. Expectations from everyone are extremely high and perhaps unfair. Our offensive line has been ravaged by injuries and inexperience to say the least (a distinct lack of talent on one side to say the worst). No vertical passing game, no offensive line, no problem; Shady still goes out and makes big plays.
I don't think Shady at this point is better than Tony Dorsett but I think he is right there with him. Now can Shady come through the next year or two he will be at this university and play at the same level is unknown. If this team improves just a little bit Shady is going to become unstoppable.
A little something to think about before I finish this column. What happens if Kevin Collier stays healthy? That would have been another player on the depth chart in front of Shady in the camp; Shady was definitely listed at 3rd in all the reports I saw. It makes my head explode trying to think of the ways that Wannstedt would have botched this situation, remember it took about 4 weeks for them to figure out how to use LSH and Shady in the same series.
Wow I was trying to write a positive column about Shady and now I'm angry about the hoops he had to jump through this season just to play.
Pitt's McCoy deserves 'Tony' Award
Also, I will be back shortly with a post regarding our Panthers and the NFL. This week has been pretty hectic for both Jones and myself but we are here to get you through the bye week.
~ DPJ ~
Sunday, November 4, 2007
We'll start with the most current item, our 3 point win over perennial powerhouse Syracuse. Looking at 'Cuse, they are a lot like us in terms of coaching. On the field however, we are light years ahead of them in terms of talent. If you were at the game or watched the game on TV, i'm sure you agree that the game was a very boring one. Two similiar pro-style offenses with defenses that play to lose rather than playing to impact the game. The result of that was a big pile of garbage with one bad team with bad play calling philosophies losing to a team with above average talent and terrible play calling philosophies.
Shady didn't have any overly impressive game for his standards, but how nice is it to know that in every game he should be able to give you at least 100 yards and 1 td despite the fact that our OLine is awful. Speaking of which, I am glad Wannstedt chose to run the ball on 4th down both times. What I do not like is having Shady line up 7 yards deep. In a goal line/short yardage set, you need to get the ball to your player as soon as possible. You can not wait too long because the line will most likely break down. The second problem I have is running the ball to the right side on those plays. Why would you run the ball behind Bachman and McGlynn when you have NFL caliber Jeff Otah, and Pitt's second best offensive lineman C.J. Davis on the left side who can blow people off of the ball. Thirdly, I thought for sure we would see Bostick sneak the ball on one of those plays. It was such a short yardage play Vangas just needed to fall forward and let Bostick fall on top of him. Either way, it didn't pan out for us and hopefully (but not likely) a lesson learned.
The defensive line played great. Our down linemen where creating pressure and getting to the quarterback quite easily. However, late in the game when it mattered the most, we went into prevent style defense. If you're unaware of what a prevent defense does.........well, all it does is prevent you from winning.
Following this win many people believe we can take out a faltering USF team as well as a weaker than expected Rutgers team. I am not yet on board with that. One common theme for our Panthers is that we really play to the level of our competition. If we would have played Cuse the way we played Cincy we would have won by 3 touchdowns. Instead we played to the much lower level of Cuse. If you look at other examples, our loss to Ohio we played down, at MSU we played at higher level and going back even farther last year against Louisville and WVU we played to their level (until the 2nd half started). This team needs to create a new mentality if they want to be come a top tier program. They should expect to execute their game plan without any flaws and to expect that they will win every game by a significant margin.
So, is there hope? Sure there is. Rutgers is looking very average and we are going to get USF at the perfect time. The Bulls are not the same team that looked so impressive a few weeks ago against WVU. They are more like the Bulls that started off hot in 2004 but thanks to a hurricane pushed our game back to december when they started their slide allowing us to seal the deal on the Fiesta Bowl. That game was in Tampa, this time it will be in Pittsburgh on a cold November night. Because it is a home game against a struggling team, I think we have our greatest shot at our next win against USF. Rutgers still has a strong running game and the game is in Jersey which will make it tougher. Against WVU...........well, it will take a miracle but hopefully the team gets up for this rivalry game and brings us home a win.
This team will most likely end up 4-8 which is much better than the 2-10 we all thought might happen after the UConn and UVa games. If the play calling does not change we will not win the remaining games. We have the talent, we just don't have the coaching. I still hope that Rhoads and Cavanaugh are gone after this season. We need two guys to come in and tell Wanny that we are going to base our game designs on exploiting weaknesses and playing to our strengths. We can't have a cookie cutter nfl offense and defense in the college level. Spread the field, you may have let Bostick throw 30 times but 20 of those passes seemed like they were bubble screens and quick outs. That will also push the defense back allowing Shady to run. Greg Romeus is a best but as more people find out about him he's going to get double teamed. Williams, Duhart, and Clermond make great additions to that line. If we show some pressure like we did earlier in the game, we can have a solid rushing defense that gets a ton of pressure on the quarterback. We need to be more gutsy, but do it in the right situations. Don't do it just for the sake of doing it. Be strong, be confident, but in the end, be smart.
~ The One and Only ~
Friday, November 2, 2007
I planned on going in a different direction with this, but after reading the men's and women's media guide, there is only one choice for our next focus.
Ladies and Gentlemen, please give a loud round of applause for Greg Hotchkiss.
In case you do not know about Greg, here is his bio from pittsburghpanthers.com
"Greg Hotchkiss begins his sixth year at the University of Pittsburgh as its associate athletic media relations director and men's basketball contact. During that period, the Pitt men's basketball team has compiled a 133-35 record, earned national rankings in 90 of the 97 polls, appeared on television an average of 27 times per season (135 total and 71 national TV games) and opened the brand new sold-out Petersen Events Center.
Hotchkiss owns 11 years of athletic media relations experience including stints at the University of Florida (2000-02), Duke University (1999-00) and Texas Tech University (1997-99). Prior to Pittsburgh, Hotchkiss worked two years at Florida as an assistant SID where he served as contact for the nationally ranked Gator baseball team, assisted with publicity for the Gator football team and oversaw aspects of the office including UF's SID internship program. At Duke, he assisted with publicity for the No. 1 ranked and eventual 2001 national champion Blue Devil men's basketball team and handled SID duties for 10 sports and 250 student-athletes. At Texas Tech, Hotchkiss was responsible for the publicity and promotion of the nationally ranked baseball and volleyball teams and assisted with publicity for the Red Raider football team.
A Franklin College (Ind.) graduate, Hotchkiss worked the 1996-97 year in the Florida SID Office where he worked closely with the 1996 national champion/SEC champion Florida football squad and assisted in the day-to-day publicity of 1996 Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel. As an undergrad, he lettered four years in soccer, earned a National Pulliam Journalism Scholarship and completed internships with the Indianapolis Colts, Indiana Pacers and at the University of Michigan.
Hotchkiss has earned a total of 15 national publication awards at four different schools and has managed and hosted a variety of NCAA championship events."
I first met Greg a few years ago when I had the opportunity to become a leader of the Zoo. It is very easy to see who are the passionate workers in the athletics department and folks let me tell you, Greg Hotchkiss cares. Greg can talk to you about all of our sports and I guarantee you that he knows 10 times as much about you in any Pitt sport.
Greg was also in charge of creating the media guides for the men's and women's basketball teams. In case you have not seen them, invest the small amount of money. They are very informative and complete. I am a proud owner of both the men's and women's basketball media guides. Greg may be the best at his job compared to anyone else in the athletics department.
This sounds like a very kiss ass column, but it is supposed to be one. Greg really is one of the guys that is over-looked in this department because he is not the face off the program, he doesn't get a ton of phone calls. He just goes in to work every day doing what he is supposed to do and he does it well.
Greg, we here at the Cat Basket love you. We hope you are here for a very long time and we look forward to working (and drinking) with you well in to the future.
Keep up the great work and I hope we can continue to have this great working relationship.
~ The One and Only ~
On to the game! Gone are the days of our favorite Cuse player, Diamond Ferry. The man who singlehandedly got Pitt to the fiesta bowl isn't around to help Pitt anymore. Instead we have to rely upon ourselves which has gotten us to a solid 3-5 record. Don't think it's all that bad folks. Powerhouse Syracuse is 2-6 this year.
Looking at our team, you basically know who needs to be where and who needs to do what. However, the coaching staff won't let that happen. Cuse will put 8-9 guys in the box, and instead of lining up 4 wides to counteract that, we will see Shady and Hot-Rod running dives up the middle for a solid 1-2 yards. Nate Byham should be seeing the ball, instead he'll be picking up blitzing linebackers.
On defense, Ricky Gary should be starting over Kennard Cox, Dom DiCicco should be replacing Mike Phillips, and Greg Romeus should be in on every play. We know this won't happen because Wanny and Rhoads are trying to sabotage our chances of winning by not playing our best players and not calling effective defensive game plays.
The big thing about Syracuse is, they just don't have that WOW factor in any part of their game. We have a solid D-Line and Shady, but what does Cuse have? Otto the Orange? Syracuse's starting running back, Doug Hogue, is the backup for their currently injured starter, Curtis Brinkley. Hogue holds an impressive resume. He's a guy that was barely recruited. His best day ever in college was 24 carries for 84 yards. All of this leads me to believe that he is most likely the next inductee into the Paul Rhoads "Still Running Club". Now that's not really fair since we do still play USF, but WVU and Rutgers still have 2 current members in the "Still Running Club", so Hogue, get ready, tomorrow is your chance to shine.
Their defense is piss poor. They shut out the mighty Buffalo Bulls of the MAC. They held Louisville under 30 points, but other than that, they have nothing notable to talk about. Shady should be able to put up 150 and 2 tds easily. Bostick SHOULD be able to have a 300 yard passing day with 3 td's but won't since the coaches won't let him throw and mix in the fact his two starting receivers will be Turner and Pestano. Tell ya what Cavanaugh, we'll play a game. Let Bostick throw the ball down field (no screens included in this 20) but let Porter, Williams, Strong, Byham, and Shady be his targets. I know for a fact on those 20 passes he would get at least 200 yards passing and 2 tds. Realistically, Bostick will have about 10 passes in the first half and 8 of them will be screens/shovel passes to the running backs. I just don't see why we wouldn't take advantage of throwing against Donovan a.k.a. Joe Fields McNabb in the secondary.
I really can't see how this team can lost tomorrow based upon talent alone. You could let the players call the plays tomorrow and we would still win. Shady is your offensive MVP tomorrow, Bostick will be criticized for having poor mobility, we will scream about how Nate didn't get the ball enough, and our fans will say we still stand a chance since we beat Syracuse. I say, enjoy the game, this is our last win of the season. Pitt 31 (should be about 60) - Syracuse 10.
~ The One and Only ~
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Think about this folks, the best team on campus, is your 2007-2008 womens team. They are scary good, and yes I'm talking Final Four, fo sho'. The mens team has question marks but we also had question marks the year after Knight, Zavackas, and Lett graduated. All that team did was make a run at a Big East Championship and another Sweet 16.
I know this is a football blog so let me tell you how that all relates. It took Howland a few years to turn the team around, and Agnus has done an incredible job in her short time here. The football program is way behind where it should be right now. Not all of that falls on the coaches though. Injuries are a big key to it and we all know we have had too many injuries thus far. With a healthy Stull we win the MSU game. With cavanaugh taking the baby bottle out of Bostick's mouth, maybe we don't get housed at the UVA game. The key though is improvement. The play calling has been very questionable almost all season. The plays we are using in the 4th quarter should be used all game long. The defense has played better, but the defensive scheme didn't work when it mattered most against Louisville.
Think about this though. TJ Porter and Maurice Williams were very highly touted prospects. Porter had the costly fumble against MSU and Williams didn't see anything but the backside of the coaching staff as he was on the bench for far too long. Pitt started to give them more opportunities and they have responded very well. Pat Bostick, for some reason, has a large number of critics. Maybe it is because we hold white quarterbacks from rural areas to the highest level, but c'mon. How many other 18 year old true freshmen are out there starting for a (still) major D1 program? The answer is not many, and of those who are starting, none have the stats Pat "The Boss" Bostick does. People criticize his footwork and mobility, which are all valid complaints, but he is only a freshman and an offseason with a qb coach will help him tremendously. Pat has done everything asked of him and has made the plays when he has had to.
Our entire TE group has shown great improvement. All 3 are getting into the action every week. Last year Strong was out of shape and did not represent us well. This year he has busted his ass and has turned his game around enough that based upon performance and ability, he will be on someone's wish list during the NFL draft (even if it is on day 2).
Romeus, Duhart, Williams, and Malecki have all improved as a core unit. This gives us a tremendous problem. Add those guys in with the fact Mustakas, Tucker, and Sheard will all be fighting for playing time next year means that we will have the BEST defensive line in the Big East next year.
Aaron Berry really has turned it around these last few games. A report came out a little while ago that said the coaches told Berry to do what was natural to him and to play his game. Since then he has started running with his head up and has made several great plays. Maybe he decided to avoid the Ball school of cornerbacking and went back to what made him that highly sought after recruit in the first place.
All of the negative Nancy's out there will be upset that I said we should be happy with our progress. Listen, I don't see why you shouldn't be happy to see this team get better. Sure, the season is a waste, but we are still improving which is what you want. Cavanaugh and Rhoads will likely be else where next season. If we can provide the right coaches who bring in the right defensive schemes, then they can take these progressing players and start winning some games. The players getting better is only half of the equation, the rest falls on the shoulders of the coaching staff.
~ The One and Only ~
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
On November 7th at 8:30 at the Pete the 4th Annual Zoo event will be held.
We will be offering:
You can come on the court and meet the players and coaches
This is usually our biggest event of the year so make sure you stop by and get some food plus loyalty points. Lets start the 07-08 season out on the right foot!
~ The Cat Basket ~
Monday, October 29, 2007
Shady fumbling on the goal line after single-handedly driving us down the field was the worst possible way of losing the game but it happened and he will learn from it. He strikes me as the type of player who will make it his mission to never fumble like that again. The emotion that he showed on the sideline said it all about what type of person he is, he cares and wants to win football games. Next year he has to be in the running for the Heisman Trophy as a Sophomore. No matter what happens in the next couple of games we still have an amazing player that will be around for two more years, that is something great to build on.
I think the fate of Paul Rhoads has already been sealed and I agree with DPJ that Cavanaugh looks for a QB coach job in the NFL next year. When the new AD gets in here getting a new assistant staff for Coach Wannstedt has to be priority number 1. 2008 and 2009 appear to be our big chance to make a run at the Big East title and these appointments need to be innovative and ambitious.
For the rest of season I think we have to just look for more improvement from all our young players. Perhaps, we can still pull a big upset if everything comes together for one game. I'm not really happy about some of the early season play but at least we are competitive again and not getting blown out. I guess I'm just trying to justify this season as building towards the run starting next year. Lets hope for the best.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Shady, we understand how heart-breaking it must have been to fumble. Don't worry, this is a season that doesn't mean much and is nothing more than rebuilding. We here at Cat Basket should be known as Bostick homers, but I'll tell you what. Shady, you are the heart and soul of this team. Until you leave as a junior, this team will be riding on your back. 2 years from now, this game will be a highlight of how you remember how the fumble really impacted your career. I am glad that this highlight will be available because it will be shown next year and two years from now as we are fighting for a big east championship as well as a BCS bowl.
Moe Williams, thank you for playing a great game and having drive saving plays. Conredge, you played a great game and deserve credit that people are not willing to give you. Hot-Rod, despite what readers want you to believe, we love you here and know that you definitely have a strong role on this team.
At 3:15 p.m. today, I was saddened by this loss. Jason Jones fell to the floor and I could only stare at the tv with my mouth open. As we look at this game from a past perspective, I can only say that we performed better than anyone could have expected. This was one of the games I expected we would lose this season, however I didn't think we would keep the score as close as we did.
I still expect Rhoads to be fired after the season, especially after the late drive we gave up to allow them to take the lead. Matt Cavanaugh will probably try to take a position in the nfl. All of that is ok. Our talent is set up for 2008 and 2009 to be HUGE years. I really think we have a bcs caliber team starting next year and the year after. We just need to deliver with the right coaches.
Don't fear Panther nation, we are much better off now than we have seen in a long time.
~ The One and Only ~
Friday, October 26, 2007
Like Jason Jones said, this game is winnable, but it is also very losable. The key is to this game like almost every other is controlling the ball. Bostick should be given his chance to throw the ball and I believe he will be given that chance. However, we need to be smart with him. We can't depend on him to be going shot for shot with Brian Brohm. Best case scenerio for Pitt is that we get the ball first and get a touchdown on the first drive. After that, we need to force a turnover or punt. Basically we need to get out to an early 10 point lead and then run the ball and control the clock. The best way to play defense in this game is by keeping Louisville's offense on the bench.
If we give Brian Brohm the chance to beat us he will. Our defense is not built to stop a passing team like this. Add in the fact that Wanny said that we will not be bringing pressure on Brohm, and our chances are dimished. I really don't believe Wanny and think that he is trying to trick Cards into thinking they will have extra time to pass. This is a double edge sword though. Mauk wasn't able to handle our pressure because he wasn't expecting it. Brohm is 10x the qb that Mauk is and now he has reason to expect the blitz. Add all of this up and it could mean a disasterous game for Pitt.
Don't get me wrong, I still think we have a chance to win the game. We hung with MSU and I really believe MSU is a better team than Louisville. Our team is a different team now than we were in week 2, but we are now better off at qb.
Sorry for the short preview, but it's halloween time and Mr. Clean needs to get ready.
My prediction. If our blitz is effective then we will win 31-20. If it isn't, take Louisville by at least 10.
~ The One and Only ~
1. Let's start with the man of moment Shady McCoy. I was extremely wrong last week about his output due to the fact that we weren't blown out. This week Shady is going up a defense that is outright bad. Outside of Navy this is the worst defense he will have seen once the real schedule started at Michigan St. Also he is getting another shot to put up numbers inside the Big East. Now that Coach Cavanaugh understands how to use him and LSH together I think that he is on the verge of having a couple of really great games. Starting against the Cardinals I see Shady putting an exclamation point on an already amazing freshman season.
Stat Line 31 carries 202 yards 3 TD's
2. Brian Brohm is going to completely pick apart our defense. He has done it every time he has played against Pitt in his career and I don't see this game being any different. What the defense needs to do is somehow try to create turnovers between the huge gains in the passing game. Last week for the first time since what felt like the Jock Sutherland era the team we created 3 turnovers. I'm really concerned about the play of the secondary and I think Brohm will expose a couple large weaknesses, Mike Phillips I'm looking in your direction.
3. Pat Bostick is going to continue to get better and keep his completion percentage high. Every game is more experience for a guy who has proven that he is a legitimate D1 quarterback. If our receivers play like last game Bostick has a chance to put up some big yardage numbers. I'm going to start the call for much more Mo Williams in the passing game, our starters have been underwhelming and TJ Porter has shown up in his extra playing time. Hopefully, the tight ends can get more balls thrown to them as well.
4. Our fan base is going to go crazy either way win or lose. I hope that people put this game into perspective for what it is. A game which we have a chance to win against an down Big East program. Don't get too crazy everybody.
Well that's it for this week I'm off to enjoy Halloween weekend and get ready for the game tomorrow. As for my predicted score I have absolutely no idea how this game will go, this is a big guess.
Pitt 35 Louisville 38
Now, I have never been to the Backyard Brawl when the Hoopies are at home. I only have been to the games hosted by the Panthers. In fact, I have never and will never, barring extraordinary circumstances go to WVU unless it is for a Pitt basketball game. I have been to the awful Hoopie coliseum every year for the basketball version of the Backyard Brawl for the last 3 seasons. Judging from what I have seen from a smaller and more tame crowd, I can't ever imagine any reason why a Pitt fan would want to go to Morganhole for the game.
The easiest way I can say it is, I will never go to a Backyard Brawl game when held by West Virginia and I hope that none of the hoopies ever come to Pitt when we host the game. Sure we may chant Go Home Mountainqueers, but is that really bad when you compare it to what Pitt fans must go through when we go to West Virgina? (NIT reference).
I can't speak from experience, but the thought is WVU fans are among the nation's worst. The stories I have heard, although most likely embellished, were still vile enough for me to have lost any respect I may have ever had for them, which now stands for none. I could see if it were only the Pitt game where these stories have occurred, but ECU, Marshall, Rutgers, and even as recent as Louisville have reported these so called fans treating them worse than the typical opposing fan usually gets.
Basically, the point I'm trying to establish is that while Pitt's tradition and fan base gets knocked a lot, I'm not too disappointed by the actions of our fans at football games. The students do have vulgar chants from time to time, but it's nothing people haven't heard before. It's usually the same bland curse word chants that the uncreative people in the crowd start just to laugh and make themselves feel better.
I hope that WVU fans, Pitt fans, and everyone else can take this to heart. When you go to the games, you shouldn't care about trying to treat the other team and their fans as terribly as you can. Why not just show up to the game and support your team from start to finish. We support our teams because we are fans of those teams. We don't become die hard fans of one team just because we hate another. You cheer for your team because you love your team. So the next time you go to a game and see opposing fans, let them be. Invest your energy into supporting your team and representing your university as best as possible.
~ The One and Only ~