Friday, August 31, 2007

Lead Up To The Kickoff: Day 6

Well its finally here the last of my preview columns for the upcoming season. DPJ did a great job in describing how ridiculous the bonfire was last night. I had trouble sleeping last night because of how scary Conridge Collins is. Today is the final group the special teams.

The kicker will be the returning Conor Lee. He has been nominated for the Lou Groza Award, for the nations best kicker. Field goal wise Lee is a really solid player but kicking at Heinz Field is such a crap shoot. All the wind blowing off the lake makes kicking a son of a bitch. Lee needs to have another great season.

Punting will be a transfer player from Purdue, Dave Brytus. He is a preseason All Big East selection which shows the promise this kid has. Also he is a huge guy at 6'4 and weighs 230 pounds. Pitt has a replica of Daniel Sepulveda in terms of body, hopefully he can punt like Sepulveda. Brytus will also handle the kickoff duties which has been a problem getting touchbacks.

Returner is a position where the we have a ton of talent. Guys like Aundre Wright, Lowell Robinson, Aaron Berry, and TJ Porter are speed demons who can put the ball in the endzone. Our return teams will be much more dangerous of putting points up than last year. I think Aaron Berry will be the punt returner, while TJ Porter and Lowell Robinson will handle the kickoff duties.

Special teams are a tough thing to predict and I really need to see what we do tommorrow to really evalute what we have. Well there you go my completely biased and optimistic expectations of the entire Panthers. This year is going to be certainl a ride. Our schedule can be anything 5-7 to 9-3. Stick with these guys this team is on the precipe of something great.

My prediction for the season 10-2 with our only losses away to Louisville and West Virginia.

Well I'm just like Aaron Berry and I want to know "Where Da Hoes At".

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Pep rally and bonfire

So this is the first pep rally we have had since Wanny's first year. Being a 7th year student and this being my 6th rally, it's nice to see that nothing has changed. The cheerleaders lead everyone through the quad, we all wait for the band to show up, the band comes and plays for an hour, then the team comes. But right before the team comes out, the most exciting 15 minutes of the school year happens. 37 people who we don't give a (bad word) about come and give speeches (poorly). There is nothing I like seeing more than supposed "Campus leaders" who never even go to football games get up on stage and tell us we should be better fans. I think there were actually 7 student speakers, who all gave very poor speeches. Props to the guy from the greeks who didn't prepare anything and froze like a deer in headlights. Of everyone who spoke tonight, the only ones who were actually involved with Pitt athletics were Wanny and our 2 star defensive seniors Kennard Cox (who should never be able to speak publicly again) and Scott McKillop, who is crazier than I expected him to be.

Listen "leaders" we appreciate everything you pretend you do for us but I don't want to hear you say, "Yeah, this 1-11 EMU team is tough, we can't over look them". Listen, just get up there say go Pitt and stop wasting my time. Pitt Program Council, you suck, get over yourself, I hope Tom Miseraca gets fired.

On the important side I can give you some important observations. Here they are listed numerically.

1. Don't ever mess with Conredge Collins, he will kill you........seriously.
2. Aaron Berry screaming into the mic "where the hoes at?" was the highlight of the night.
3. Our secondary is the scariest group of players at Pitt.
4. Where was Pat Bostick. We saw Billy Stull looking like he needs to shave, but no Cat Basket.
5. Gus Mustakas looks like Ba Ba Booey.
6. Fire that guy from ESPN radio and bring back Andrew Stockey.
7. To the dance team and Cheerleaders......thanks for never changing, except you P10 (a.k.a. P9.5).

Thats all I got for now. JJones, keep the position break downs coming. We'll see you on Saturday.

Lead Up To The Kickoff: Day 5 (Part Shady)

Don't start to read this article until you watch that video. It's only a little over two minutes and please take the time to see what I'm about to be talking about. Ok are you ready? Let's get into this discussion of Shady *wait* I mean our running backs.

LeSean "Shady" McCoy is the best thing to happen to this school since Larry Fitzgerald fell into WaHa's arms. Shady blows away every recruit in terms of their projected level of talent. We have never had a five-star recruit since the proliferation of the in-depth scouting of high school recruits. If he wouldn't have blown out his knee his senior year of high school Shady would have been the top recruit in the entire nation a year ago. He decided to go to prep school after the injury and picked up where he left off, basically being an unstoppable running back.

What does this mean for the Panthers this season? Well, it means that we have a legitimate game changer on offense. Shady has the level of talent of all the top backs in the nation. He has blistering speed, some coaches have said he is the fastest guy on the team, great field vison and moves on top of moves. I know what your thinking Shady is a speed back, not quite, he weighs 210 pounds and runs with power. The guy is a complete package who has confidence to burn. Get ready to be amazed the first time he touches the ball at Heinz Field. If Shady gets over 15 carries a game thats a guarenteed 100 yard game with at least one touchdown. He is currently listed as the back up of Larod Stephens-Howling but don't let that fool you. Our running game and our season hinges on how Wannstedt uses Shady.

So the plan as of now is for Hot Rod and Shady to share the load at running back, which is fine by me. Stephens-Howling is not a bad back and has been our leading rusher for two years. Hopefully, he takes the slight demotion in terms of carries well. Shady can't run the ball every single down so Hot Rod will be able to get his carries in spots.

The problem in camp at the running back position has been injuries. Promising sophomore Kevin Collier breaks his hand, so we lose one running back. That then causes a chain of events where great Freshman recruit full back Henry Hynoski loses the chance to redshirt due to a lack of depth. Hopefully the backfield can stay injury free because this unit doesn't have a whole lot of depth.

I want to put into context what Shady means to use here at The Cat Basket, and to the Pitt football community as a whole. DPJ has been here for 7 years (or 15 I have no idea) and I've been here for 5. Pitt football has taken up a huge part fall Saturdays here at school. From my perspective I'll never forget the first game I saw at Heinz Field ,Larry Fitzgerald as a sophmore put up 3 TD's and 210 yards off of 7 catches. He was the most amazing receiever I've ever seen play live, he was untouchable. Now this is my last semester of going to games at Heinz Field as an undergrad and Pitt hasn't been to a bowl since we got destroyed by Utah 3 years ago. I've sat through games where it was raining so hard I was standing in shin deep water to watch us play a horrible teams like Syracuse. I see the promise of Shady as the light at the end of the tunnel for all of us diehard Pitt fans. He is a level of running back we haven't had in 30 years. Last time we had a running back with this much talent he won the Heisman and we won the National Title. I'm not saying we will win the National Title or that Shady will win the Heisman here but at least it seems like a possibility now.

Lead Up To The Kickoff: Day 5 (Part 1)

I would like to address DPJ's column today and just want to add that if we got AC/DC to play at Heinz Field we would have 300% capacity. AC/DC could sell about 180,000 tickets in this city, every Yinzer wearing sweatpants loves them. For my first column today I'm going to take a look at the linebackers corps, who are getting special attention from the Defensive Coordinator and overall genius Paul Rhoads. Aren't you excited guys? No, well lets take a more in-depth look and maybe I can change your mind.

The story at linebacker is the transformation of four star wide receiver recruit Dorin Dickerson to linebacker. Before you start to worry he had offers on the table from every school that recruited him to play linebacker, so this isn't his first time at the position. Dorin is looking absolutely jacked at 220 pounds, thanks Buddy Morris. In camp he still shows the same speed and footwork that he showed scoring touchdowns basically everytime he touched the ball last year. I haven't seen many instances in camp reports of linemen being able to overpower him. Tackling-wise Dorin is a big hitter due to his speed but is also fundamentally sound. Just imagine him blitzing from the outside or covering a running back in the flat. Everytime he touches the ball he is damn near a lock to put it in the endzone. Dorin has the potential to be an All American this year. That's right not just All Big East but an All American. In one more year when he gets an extra 10 or 15 pounds of muscle you are looking at the Bednarik Trophy winner. He is an amazing talent that will be our secret weapon in stopping the best running backs in the Big East. Steve Slaton watch your ass because you won't be able to outrun Dorin like you did Tommie Campbell. He's coming for you brother.

At middle linebacker Scott McKillop brings a high level of talent and leadership. McKillop was a preseason All Big East selection by several publications. He has some awfully big shoes to fill in the departure of H.B. Blades but he appears to be ready. In our defense we need the middle linebacker to make tackles at the line and to shade off blockers. McKillop will get plenty of opportunity to make tackles with the inmprovement on the defensive line this year. Look for McKillop to have a big year and be on the All Big East Team.

At the other outside spot look to see a couple of differnt guys. Shane Murray appears to be the front runner at the position. He is a sophmore but played as a reserve defensive back and on special teams last year. His competition is Nate Nix who is a redshirt freshman, so nobody has seen what he can do. My prediction is despite what the released depth chart says that Adam Gunn will take over on the side opposite of Dorin. Logically you would put the smaller Dickerson on the weak side and put the larger Gunn on the other side. I don't think the coaching staff will leave a playmaker like Dorin on the bench and Gunn has more experience than Murray and Nix.

So my predicted linebacking core for the opener is going to be Dorin on the weakside, McKillop up the middle, and Gunn on the strong side. I'm probably going to be wrong and Murray will be out there instead of Gunn but who knows what the coaching staff is going to do in this situation. Despite the inexperience there is a two top-level talents in this group, McKillop and Dorin. What more can you ask for out of a group that lost all three starters from last year.

Here comes the boom guys, here comes the boom.

Gameday Experience 2007

With start of the season only being 2 days, 3 hours and 20 some odd minutes away, I bring to you what I hope will be the pre-game experience.

Gone are the days of what was once a great intro. Nothing like a football dropping in from outer space headed directly towards the U.S. It fell from the skies and reached the Allegheny river where it cruised by the bridges towards Heinz Field. On it's way to the stadium the classic bronze panther statue changed to magnificient gold, turned to the camera and ROARED like no other. In addition to that we saw Roc extinguish the torch of our opponent Survivor style. Outrun, Outtackle, Outplay: Survivor: Pittsburgh.

Over the last couple of years since the Wanny era began, we have seen a change in the pre-game both years. Last year was the highlight package showing our "Tradition" and a Panther in the Cathedral. While I thought it was cool to see the Panther in the Cathedral, I don't think it really got anyone pumped up. Granted I doubt we will ever be able to catch the magic of a highlight video showing current and the last season's highlights while playing "Hangman" in the background like the other team that shares Heinz field, but we can do better.

So here is what I will give you today. This folks, is what I hope to see from the Panther Pre-game this season, and as a bonus, the 5 most likely songs the team will come out to.

Now call me a sucker, but I really liked getting Roc involved with a pregame package before the team comes out. They probably wont do that again for a long time, but it's wishful thinking that they might bring something like that back again. Also, last year, at a meeting with the powers that be at the Pitt Athletics Dept. we suggested having people wear the opposing teams gear and be near the river walk. As they are walking along, Roc comes out of nowhere and spears them into the river. We thought it was great, Jeff Long apparently did not. So here is my suggestion, while lighting the opposing team's jersey on fire would be best suited for WVU, why not get a football with the opposing teams logo on it or something, and have Roc punt it into the river. Its cheap, its easy, and it's fun. The only negative I could see from this would be a possible little citation from Little Luke Ravenstahl, but here at Pitt, we're mad rich and can afford that. Other than that, bring back the old stuff (just not script).

Now I bring to you my suggested 5 songs for the team intro. The last on I really liked was called Sirius and it's the same one the Chicago Bulls enter to. We used it when WaHa (walt harris) was here and showed him leading the team to the field. So without further delay here are my 5 suggested intro songs.

1. Crazy (as performed by Seal) - Well the new logo looks like an otter which is a partially aquatic animal like a seal, so it fits that Seal would be the new intro. Probably not the most inspiring song, but hey lets have a commonality among things here people.

2. Thunderstruck (as performed by AC/DC) - Jason Jones and I talk about this all the time. Yinzer nation loves AC/DC and Styx. So since the steelers use Styx as their intro, Pitt can claim dibbs on Thunderstruck. Steeler fans would come to the game to hear the song and the Pitt students from Pittsburgh should like it as well. Also, if we're worried about selling tickets to games like EMU, Grambling, and Navy, then why not have AC/DC do a post-game concert. Guaranteed standing room only crowd.

3. Rock You Like a Hurricane (as performed by the Berlin Sympharmonic Orchestra featuring the Scorpions) - We used it last year, and it was ok. It just wasn't loud enough. I think it can stay for another year, just crack that s*** up!!!

4. Hustlin (as performed by Rick Ross) - Ok I know, this song is way outdated in terms of hip hop standards, and I thought it should have been used for basketball last year (not the other rick ross song about selling illegal substances). Since the arrival of Buddy Morris our team has been Hustlin and would fit perfectly.

5. Boom (as performed by POD) - The used to play this song to introduce the Panther Pitt (I dont even know if it still exists or was replaced by code blue?). The song was so bad it became funny. After many discussions with the Queen of Pitt Athletics (miss Nora D. herself) we decided to embrace the song. To our surprise, it actually grew on us. Jason Jones and I would provide the music at a social function each and every friday night at his old house and Boom was always on the playlist, even 4 or 5 times. Picture this, a good highlight video package from last season (especially the Kinder block) while BOOM HERE COMES THE BOOM is playing in the back. Sends chills down my back, I dont know about you.

So basically if you skipped to this part of the article here is what you missed. Bring back some of the old intro stuff from the days of WaHa. Involve Roc more. Have AC/DC play a show at Heinz Field following the game, and play more POD!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Lead Up To The Kickoff: Day 4

The marathon of content continues here at The Cat Basket because thats how we roll. To stay on pace with Joe Paterno I'm going to teach DPJ how to play Quarterback on a Playstation, the PSOne. Two questions; how does Paterno know about Playstation and what game did he use to train Morelli on, NFL Gameday 97? Luckily Coach Wannstedt has followed suit and is training Kevan Smith on Guitar Hero II to play Psychobilly Freakout.

Today we are going to take a look at the secondary. Overall this group will need to rebound from the loss of first round pick Darrell Revis. Last year, Revis was a force that shut the opposition's passing game down. You could count on your hands the number of balls thrown at Revis that were caught. Outside of Revis the secondary has deal with another hit in the loss of promising safety Elijah Fields. Without Fields the secondary loses a bit of the edge and physicality.

At cornerback the guy that has been tipped to replace Revis, sophomore Aaron Berry has looked great in camp. He is a quick corner that can make plays on the ball, whether or not he can come close to replacing Revis remains to be seen. Opposite Berry is Kenard Cox who needs to get a quick start to the season. Cox hasn't been impressive in his time here, he certainly isn't Torrie. If Cox has problems he is backed up by speedster Lowell Robinson, again another guy who has to prove himself at the cornerback position. Redshirt freshman Ricky Gary should see some time in the dime package. Overall the cornerback position is one of uncertainty but look out for Berry this year, the guy has all the tools to be another great Pitt corner.

Safety is a position that has a little more certainty in the level of performance. Free Safety Eric Thatcher is the star of this group. Thatcher is the biggest hitter on the team and is a flat out ballhawk. Any receiver who touches the ball across the middle is going to pay a big price to Thatcher. He looks like a guy who could be All Big East if he stays outta injury trouble. At Strong Safety Mike Phillips is a solid, if unspectacular player. Phillips will always be in position to make plays and brings a senior presence to the secondary. On the bench is impact freshman Dom Decicco who looks like a star in the making. Hopefully, he gets on the special teams from game one and is worked into the secondary throughout the year. Jovani Chappel is an athletic kid who will continue to contribute on special teams.

I think the play of the secondary really hinges on one guy, Aaron Berry, he has to be able to lockdown every teams best reciever. Thatcher will be out there trying to prove something after the injury and that should scare everyone in the Big East. Overall I'm not as excited about this group as I am about other positions but if Berry lives up to his promise and Thatcher kills someone we could have something here.

Tommorrow I'll do two articles, linebackers and running backs, then special teams on Friday. Everybody go out to the bonfire tommorrow and show these guys your support, don't wait until week 4 to jump on the bandwagon. Mobb Deep said there ain't such things as halfway crooks and at The Cat Basket there ain't such thing as halfway fans.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Pitt vs EMU Preview

Ok, while the preview for this game should only entail my prediction of Pitt by at least 17 points, I'll throw some information for all of you junkies out there. So before we do some comparisons, let me tell you a little more about the Fighting Charlie Batchs. Last season one one of the most...well, not exciting, not rewarding, not even mention-worthy season for the Fighting C.B.'s. They were 1-11 in the powerful MAC conference. We understand how hard it is to win in the MAC when they have to face powerhouses such as Ohio and Toledo who have given Pitt more than they can handle. We also realize that Garrett Wolfe didn't make life easier, but c'mon 1-11? I really didn't spend much time on their schedule from last year because I already fell asleep once in class today and don't want to fall asleep in front of the computer right now. I'm just guessing that they didn't play in too many games that came down to the wire. So with all of that said, lets take a look.

Jason Jones is breaking down the Panthers as we speak, so I will try to avoid stealing his thunder and will try to focus as much as possible on the Fighting C.B.'S.

The EMU offense is very confusing. Not from a design perspective, but from a personnel perspective. Their leading rusher last season was QB Andy Schmitt who threw for 2 tds and 6 ints....(WTF???) Their two top receivers are gone and the running back situation is in shambles. Returning from injury for the Fighting C.B.'S to play running back is a guy named Pierre.....yes Pierre Walker. The guy challenging him for the starting job is QB Tyler Jones (who?) Tyler Jones. That is always funny to me when you see small schools switching RB's to QB's and vice versa. Their line is small and should get pushed around easily. So judging from the info at hand we can safely say, Pitt D, we expect you to have atleast 6 sacks, 3 turnovers, and hold them to under 100 yards.

The EMU defense: Last year they gave up 26.8 points per game....not exactly the best stat when you consider they only averaged 14 points on offense. However they do have something to look forward to. They return most of their starters and have a very solid DLineman in Jason Jones (not our Jason Jones here at catbasket, but i'm sure our JJones could earn a starting spot somewhere on the EMU roster). Other than Jason Jones, there are not any notable players on the roster. The Pitt offense should be able to roll over their undersized and slow defense very easily. If shady gets 20+ carries I predict he will have over 200 yards rushing and atleast 3 TD's.

Special teams: I really hate special teams, they have given me some of the most frustrating memories of my life (swinging-gate, and the troy brown punt return td). The EMU special teams department did something pretty smart. In order to cut down on scholarships and wasting time on recruiting players who probably don't care too much about EMU, they have one player who does the Kickoffs, Field goals, and punting. Zach Johnson, rest your leg up because I see alot of 3 and outs in the future for your offense.

Basically Pitt will use this game as a tune up game to fix any problems. There is no reason to expect Pitt not to score at least 40 points and to hold EMU under 10. If we do not score on our first two possessions, I think it should be Cat Basket (pat bostick) time. Although, you could line me up at QB and i'll gladly hand the ball off to Shady and Hot-Rod which would be enough to sustain a long scoring drive.

I have a wedding to go to on saturday but I will make it down for the game, keep an eye out for the Cat Basket sign in the student section. Pitt, don't embarrass us, open the season firing on all cylinders and lets get a double digit win season.

DPJ's final prediction: Pitt 45 The Fighting Charlie Batch's 6.

Lead Up To The Kickoff: Day 3

You know what is a fun way to spend an afternoon, walking to Shadyside from Oakland then home to Bloomfield. Yes, I realize I could have took the bus but I didn't feel like waiting. Plus it was such a nice day.....I'm an idiot but all you already knew that. Today's column is going to be about the wideouts.

This story can't be written without mentioning the loss of "Donkey Kong" Derek Kinder. He played great last year and was the continuation of Pitt's reputation as "Wide Receiver U". I can't sugar coat this, we lost of impact receiver, Kinder would have been a lock for All Big East. Let's have a moment of silence for DK......see ya in 2008 buddy.

Well back to the good news, this wide receiving core will be good. Crazy 8's Oderick Turner will now be the number 1 receiver. Turner had a great season as a true freshman. He is a preseason second team All Big East by various talking heads in the media. Opposite Turner is going to be Marcel Pestano, the third leading receiver on the team last year. Pestano is a guy with some speed, it is going to be interesting to see how he performs in the number two role. Before I talk about our third receiver, Cedric McGee, I would just like to say out of all our receivers I'm extremely jealous of him. I would cut one of my arms off to be Ced, one person reading this blog got that, but I just thought I would say that. McGee really is untested in any role outside of a 4th or 5th wideout I'm interested to see what he has. The guy I hope gets on the field is Aundre Wright, the true Freshman from Shady's prep school Milford Academy. In camp the guy has been described as having game changing speed. Most likely Wright will be a kickoff and punt guy but I hope he gets plays as a fourth wide receiver.

Tight End is a position I'm extremely excited about...well I'm excited about Nate Byham. Byham was the top TE recruit last year but got few snaps as a Freshman. I expect him to come out on a mission this year to show his incredible talent. Dare I say the next Kris Wilson, big enough to handle himself in the blocking game but agile enough to be a high-flyer in the middle of the field. If Stull is to be successful he has to throw to Byham early and often, especially on short third downs and around the goal line. I think Byham will be the missing playmaker at TE we have waited for. John Pelusi will be a good back-up to Byham and will add to the running game as a second blocker. Darrell Strong is a big body full of potential that hasn't been reached. I can hope but I don't see him as a factor on this year's team.

So there it is this is what we have in the passing game. Not quite what we had three weeks ago but still really good on paper. Another set of positions I'm incredibly optomistic about, see the trend. It's all sunshine and rainbows here at the Cat Basket.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Lead Up To The Kickoff: Day 2

First day of classes and I have a six hour break, welcome to the world of being a lazy super senior. So I thought I would focus our next preview for Saturday on the trenches, offensive and defensive line. This has been an area of concern for Panther fans over the past few years. News coming out of camp has led most to some optimism of the much maligned line play of the Wannstedt era.

Starting on the offensive line this group is going to have to improve from last year. Palko isn't under center anymore its going to be an untested upper-classmen in Stull or a true freshman in Bostick(*fingers crossed*). Protecting the quarterback has to be the number one priority. The lynchpin of this offensive is going to be Jeff Otah. Otah has an NFL body and by NFL body I mean is built similar to a brick wall but don't let his size fool you the guy can move a little. He showed flashes of greatness last year while starting every single game. His counterpart on the other side is Jason Pinkston. Got a ton of playing time as a true freshman and really played consistent football. The tackle position is really a strength of the line, which hopefully means something for our pass protection.

The interior of the line is going to be CJ Davis at one guard and at the other Joe Thomas. Both of these guys got a lot of playing time last year and played well. Thomas is the guy to look for out of the two. He played extremely well as a true freshman and will need to continue this year. Shady in camp has looked very good running the ball inside the tackles and I have to think they will continue to push the ball up the middle. Chris Vangas is the starter at center, he played all 12 games last year. What really jumps out about this offensive line is the experience and size. No player is under 300 pounds and all have played this level of football. Depth is a concern with the loss of freshman Chris Jacobsen, not a ton of experience so the first team is going to need to stay healthy.

Now to the real exciting development in camp..FOLKS WE HAVE A DEFENSIVE LINE THAT WILL GET PENETRATION. Our offensive as stated above is not bad and all reports are that the defensive line is blowing them up. The star of this year's camp on the line has been defensive tackle Gus Mustakas. What the means for the pass rush is the quarterback is going to get a hand in his face. At the other defensive tackle spot its still up for grabs with Rashad Duncan and John Malecki. Great to see competition for the spot and Wannstedt looking for reliable performance. On the outside I'm looking for senior Joe Clermond to come out with something to prove. The other end is going probably be Chris McKillop. Perhaps, we will see some contributions from highly rated freshman Tommie Duhart later in the series. Speed is something that this defensive line possesses that we are going to need against the big guns of the Big East. Hopefully the can hold up to big offensive lines.

I'm wildly optimistic about the line on both sides of the ball. I see this as an asset and I think with the weapons we have behind the lines on both sides, the line play is crucial to success. For the offense open the holes and for the love of god give the quarterback time. On defense, pressure and keep blockers off our playmaking linebackers and secondary.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Lead Up To The Kickoff: Day 1

Well look what has finally started....The Cat Basket will be taking over like DJ Khaled or for you pro wrestling fans, the NWO. I thought for the first game of the season against Eastern Michigan I would give some thoughts on various positions for the Panthers. Today's first edition will be what we have and where we are going at the Quarterback position.

First off, Bill Stull is the starter for the first game and this was somewhat to be expected. Stull is the most experienced player at the position and has been in the offense the longest. What this tells me is that Pat Bostick leaving camp for a couple of days put him too far behind in terms of time with the team. Against Eastern Michigan the QB situation won't even come into focus.

What Stull is going to need to do in order to get into a position where he is the definitive starter is manage the game. On offense we have some absolutely huge weapons; Turner, Wright, Byham, and Shady (who I will withold all comment until I can give him the huge column he deserves). Turnovers have been a problem for Stull in camp, this can't happen when the big lights go on. He has to find the open guy or get the ball out of his hands.

With the improvements on the offensive line, despite our depth problems, Stull should get more time to throw than Palko did last year. Also the running game will be light years ahead of what we had last year. Everything sets up for the quarterback to have a good year. Will that quarterback be Bill Stull? No not at all.

That quarterback will be Pat Bostick. Other than Shady McCoy, Bostick is the most highly prized recruit we have had in recent times. The freshman has all the tools, a big 6'3 frame, a cannon arm, and a high level of understanding of reading defenses. All the coaches have praised his work ethic in the short time he has been a panther. At camp Bostick has shown a great understanding and command of the offense, plus the ability to make every throw. The only thing Bostick hasn't had going for him is time with the team. Practice to practice he is only going to get better. This kid has everything it takes to be a high level quarterback, one who can lead us to big things in the conference and perhaps even farther.

I've excluded Kevan Smith because I really see this as a two man race for the position. Smith will really only factor into the position if there is an injury to Stull or Bostick.

Finally, here is my predcition Stull won't last through the first game. His inconsistent arm and propensity to turn the ball over will make the decision easy for Coach Wannstedt. Bostick is the only man to lead this team to the potential that they have shown in camp. Who knows though, perhaps Stull can take the first two games to get rolling and get us through Michigan State. To me this is the most interesting storyline going into this Saturday.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Pre-Season Awards

OK, so we have to deal with this B.S. preseason rankings. And let us just say that I speak for everyone here at Cat Basket that we are firmly against the BCS. So, since we have to deal with pre-season rankings and all of that other b.s. I think it's time we give away the 2007 season awards before the season begins. So, let's get this awards ceremony underway.

Most Improved Player:

Nate Byham. Okay, it's not that hard to imagine that last year's #1 ranked tight end recruit can go from barely playing to winning the job over a guy who really likes to salute the hometown crowd. As high flyer can attest, Big Nate Byham can perform up to the standards we all expected him to. Yeah yeah yeah, like every other WR/TE he will drop a pass now and again, but the dude can block and play physical. This guy will help ease the loss of Donkey Kong (a.k.a. Derek Kinder), and help provide a nice option to our favorite true freshman QB Pat Bostick.

Special Teams Player of the Year: Dom DiCicco.

Ok, I'm not even sure if Dom will step foot on the field this season as a special teams player. Hell, he could even end up starting at safety at some point. However, how many times to do you come across a 6'3 safety who likes to knock people off the ball like they said something bad against their momma. Dom is a player and while I don't think he will crack the lineup at safety behind Thatcher, the dude can flat out play and deserves a shot to prove himself.

Pitt Outland Trophy Winner: Jeff Otah.

Everyone was upset he had a few holding penalties early on in the season, but guess what? He is by far our best offensive lineman. The guy is huge and it is a shame he will only get to spend 2 seasons in a Panther uniform, but he will make life miserable for the DE's who have to go against him. Keep up the good work Jeff, Cat Basket loves you.

Most Beautiful Player Award: Dorin Dickerson.

Ok, we can admit it, we have a man crush on Dorin. He is a stacked, smooth, beautiful man who will strike fear into opposing players. Hey Steve Slaton, Tommie Campbell is gone and now Dorin is gonna be taking you down for a loss. If I had a most improved defensive player it would be Dorin as well. Thats pretty obvious given that the man almost scored on every possession he had last season. I am really looking forward to him lighting people up. Hey Ray Rice, watch out cuz #2 is gonna put you down.

Player to most likely injure an opponent: Eric Thatcher.

The guy just looks like someone I would never ever mess with. If you missed the 2006 season here is what happened. During the games Thatcher was healthy this was his philosophy: If you get near me you can catch the ball, but I do reserve the right to F you up once you plant your feet on the ground. I wouldn't want to be on the same bus, let alone the same field as this man. He is very tough and i'm glad he is a Panther.

Freshman of the Year: Shady McCoy.

If you disagree with me you are an idiot and should go root for WVU.

Player who won't start yet deserves to: Pat Bostick.

Wanny loves to play the guys who have experience.......Fine.....I understand that school of thought. However, Pat Bostick, despite his problems may be the finest QB to wear the Panther Uniform since *cough* #13 *cough*. Imagine this, 2008 Bostick being able to throw to Kinder, Turner, Wright, Byham, Shady, and even Henry.

Most likely to hurt someone on or off the field: Chris "Lumpy" Jacobsen.

I stood next to Lumpy last year at a basketball game. It is not normal for a 23 year old man to be physically afraid of a 17 year old. Lumpy is huge. Picture this scenario, late one night outside of Antoons, some drunk kid decides it would be a good idea to make fun of the size of Chris. Well, lets just say that we here at Cat Basket warned you. Be nice to Chris, he is a panther and reserves the right to mess you up. If you doubt this award, watch his video highlights of him destroying defensive linemen and taunting them........Chris, we have nothing but respect for you here at Cat Basket.

Offensive MVP: LeSean McCoy.

I know, its a homer pick. Too bad, Shady is the greatest player we have landed in quite a long time. He can hit the hole, he can break tackles, and he has that breakaway speed. It's a shame but the most famous #25 at pitt will be Shady. Mr. Revis, we will never for get you here at the Cat Basket, but Shady, this is your time.

Defensive MVP: Aaron Berry.

I was thinking of everyone on the team who should be considered for this. I could consider Gus given his success at the line. I could think of Dorin because I really think he will have a great season. Aaron gets the nod though because despite replacing Dorin, he is one hell of a CB and when teams think they can pass on him.....well have you ever heard the term Pick 6?

Lastly....TEAM MVP! Not exactly what you are expecting but it has to go to Buddy Morris.

He will have this team in shape. It is more than just having this team in shape, they will be faster and more motivated. If I ever got inspired to become more athletic I would have buddy make me run laps while wearing a pink shirt that said "I Work Out at Curves". The guy is jacked and expects his players to be. I have only met Buddy once, but the guy scares me. He will have this team whipped into shape and will be one of the reasons for the 2007 turn around.

My season predictions:

Record: 9-4 (8-4 regular season with a bowl win)

Defense: We finally will have a solid pass rush and the rushing D will improve.

Offense: WR U become RB U. McCoy, LSH, Collier, Brooks, and Hynosky is a great set of RBs to have and we may not have Donkey Kong but teams will get a healthy dose of the run game that they haven't seen since the Curtis Martin days here at pitt.

Hope you enjoyed it, if not.......oh well too bad.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Welcome to the Cat Basket!

I know what you are thinking. What the hell is the Cat Basket? Basically I could say anything I wanted and you would be like, oh...okay. But here is the deal. Walt Harris has a funny lisp and we like to mock him. It's kind of random but it all connects. Last year at the gameday event (when Shady was here), the Zoo leaders wrote thank you letters to people for helping them out with their student event. One of the cards that was not used was a card featuring a cat laying in a basket. So our hero and best writer ever Jason Jones simply wrote Cat Basket on the inside of the card. We started saying Cat Basket with the Walt Harris (a.k.a. WaHa) lisp. We figured out once you said Cat Basket with the WaHa lisp, it sure sounded alot like our great QB Pat Bostick. It then evolved to Pat Bostick's Cat Basket. Then eventually we dropped the Pat Bostick's and it remained Cat Basket. We decided, what the hell we can make this something for football games and gave the original card to the Princess of Pitt Athletics Ms. Nora Duncan (we love you Nora).

It was at that point that I, yes I, decided, F it, we need Cat Basket shirts. So guess what, I BOUGHT THEM!!!!! That my friends is how the Cat Basket came to fruition. Thank you dance team, thank you Jason Jones, thank you Nora, thank you College Game Day, thank you girl that inspired Cat Basket author Jason Jones to have superb writing ability, and lastly thank you Derek T. Mason (T stands for triumphant).