Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sun Bowl Info

For all of those who are interested in some info about the Sun Bowl and what is going on, I'd thought I'd share some of the info with you.

First off, their fan guide says that no signs, banners, or flags are allowed into the stadium. Well that is too bad because I will be bringing my Pitt flag into the stadium as well as carry it with me through out the rest of the day as we celebrate a Pitt win.

One thing different from the Sun Bowl compared to Heinz Field is that their gates will open 2.5 hours before kick off. That won't be a problem for most of Pitt's traveling fans as we usually show up well after kick off. For people like Brian (my traveling buddy) and myself we'll probably end up in line at 8 a.m. like we do for every home game.

There is a bunch of stuff going on Dec 30th. The sun bowl luncheon (50$), The Sun Bowl 5k Run and 1 Mile Fun Walk will be preceding the Sun Bowl Fan Fiesta. I have 0 desire to go to the luncheon or the run but I expect to be at the Fan Fiesta. For all of you Pittsburghers going, they will be doing a fire works show. So I expect to see every Pitt fan in attendance for that (especially the fireworks).

On game day, there will be a fun zone for the kids starting at 10:30 until kickoff. The big thing is that we need to be in our seats around 11:30. That is when they will introduce the 2008 Legends of the Sun Bowl, Introduce the 2008 Sun Court (WTF IS THAT?), Introduce the 75th all time anniversary team (including a few Panthers), Performances by our band and the beaver band. Lastly they'll conclude with the Golden Nights Army Parachute Team. I think we were supposed to have this at Pitt a few years back but due to windy conditions they had to cancel it.

Following the game, Miss Thea (a Sun Bowl rep) told me that Cincinnati Ave is the place to go. The biggest yinzer thing about me is I really really hate change. So following the game and probably all the way through new years, you'll probably find Brian and I at Hemingway's. Now it's not the same Hemingway's as in Oakland, but the name is close enough to get me to go. Thea recommends it, so I'll give it a check out and hope that it is worth staying at. For those wondering the location of the joint is 214 Cincinnati Ave.

If you were going to ask if I am planning on traveling to Juarez...........HAHAHAHA NO! I don't want to die just yet. I'll try to be safe in El Paso and then take my chances mouthing off to Georgetown fans in D.C.

The one death defying thing I did want to check out was the Wyler Aerial Tramway. Sadly it looks like it is closed on Tuesday which is the only day we would be able to go since we have the game stuff on Wednesday and fly to D.C. on Thursday.

Other than that we don't have too much planned right now. We're gonna take a relax and enjoy approach to this little trip.

If you are around, we will be staying at the La Quinta west and will probably be taking the Sun Bowl shuttle to get around. We'll probably hang up a sign or a roll-a-banna to paint El Paso blue and gold.

Anyway, Jason Jones will be leading you through the Sun Bowl coverage from here on out.

Lets Go Pitt!

(also, if you're going to the Pitt / Georgetown game, stop by Bar Louie for a pregame drink with the Cat Basket/Oakland Zoo)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

On behalf of Jason Jones, I just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

~ The Cat Basket ~

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Add Tinker to the list

Most of us were surprised to see Ed Tinker in the crowd at the basketball game on Saturday night. I had thought that he would end up in Colorado as that was his favorite school last year. Well, after spending a year in prep school, he and his mom decided that it would be best to stay local. Today Ed Tinker made it official that he will be joining the Pittsburgh Panthers next season.

Tinker is an interesting prospect. We have plenty of depth at WR right now so there remains the option that we can move him to DB. While I wouldn't oppose it, I wouldn't be 100% behind it as he has had decent success at WR and that is his better position right now.

Hopefully this starts the domino effect on recruiting. Jordan Hill, Dan Mason, Kolby Gray, and some of the others who were in town over the weekend.

Monday, December 15, 2008

My Regular Season Review

So now that the 12 games have played out I thought I would give my thoughts and opinions on this season as a whole. This has been quite the roller coaster ride of emotion and success. My prediction on the podcast at the beginning of the season was 11-1 but that didn't come to be.

The first three weeks of the season absolutely broke me as a Pitt fan. I've never been a fan of Wannstedt and I couldn't believe that this season was going to be any different than the past 3. Losing to Bowling Green opening week just reinforced my pessimistic view of the staff. We came back week 2 and barely squeaked out a win against Buffalo, who over the course of the season has proven to be a decent team. Then we played Iowa when they were starting the wrong quarterback and having much of the same problems that we did, we some how squeaked out another win. 

After an extremely shaky first half we found a way to get past Syracuse then game the South Florida game. Beating USF, while USF was still ranked nationally, felt like the turning point of the entire program on that night. Next week at Navy we had our first dominant performance of the Wannstedt era. Then came the big loss at home against Rutgers and we were back to square 1, another terrible home loss for a coach who has had his fair share. At Notre Dame we squeaked out another one and it there were back at weeks 2-4, barely beating teams who we should have arguably blown out. 

Then came the big win against Louisville and we were staring down the Big East title. The Cincinatti game was another spirit breaker and another step back from the ultimate goal of a Big East title. An emotional win at the Backyard Brawl helped put the season back on track. Finishing out at UConn with a big win gave us the reward of the Sun Bowl. What a confusing narrative of a season and what is the final story?

Things I have taken from this season:
  • Shady is an all-time great player and next year for him has the potential for ultimate greatness. He will be a Heisman contender.
  • Our QB situation is much worse than it was at the start of the year. We now have statistical and video proof of the lack of talent we have at the position. Something needs to change here in the off-season. 
  • If we can find a replacement for Scott McKillop the defense could be great next year. I thought by the end of the season we had a legitimately good defense.
  • This team is incredibly resilient and that trait makes them extremely dangerous. I'm in awe of the leadership to keep fighting through bad losses to salvage this season into something positive.
  • The offensive line has become a real unit under Tony Wise and I'm interested to see what the line will look like next season.
  • Speaking of needing change the offensive play calling needs to be revamped. Whatever we are doing isn't working and bad play calling in key situations has cost us games. If that means a new staff on that side of the ball so be it.
Finally, I would like to say that this season has been a wash for me. We are exactly were I thought we would be and I'm excited to see us in a postseason bowl. All the positives of the postseason bowl are slightly negated with the obvious problems that still exist on the offensive side of the ball. This season feels like the start of the ascension of the program to its place as the power in the Big East but let's not get ahead of ourselves and forget the problems of the season.

All in all a very enthusiastic thumbs in middle (but that is a fairly good thing considering how the season started)

Recruiting update

This weekend was a big weekend for recruiting. We had about 10 visitors come to the Pitt vs UMBC game and all of the guys are either committed or considering Pitt.

The big story from the weekend is that it is now about a 99.9% chance that Jordan Hill will officially decommit from Rutgers and make the wise life choice and join the Panthers.

He engaged in some fun interactions with the Oakland Zoo who were holding up some signs on their white boards for him.

Also of note is that Ed Tinker was in the crowd. Last year it looked as if Tinker had eliminated Pitt and was headed to Colorado. Ed ended up never making it there and has been somewhat in hiding since then. Don't worry too much, it was all helped set up by the Pitt coaches so that he could go to prep school for a year and get everything lined up to become eligible for next season. Ed and his mom both want to stay local and that is great news for Pitt.

The Merrill twins, Dan Mason, and some other guys were in attendance. All of the players had guys currently on the staff show them around all weekend like we usually see. One difference between visits you see most often and this trip is that all of the guys that were in town raved about how much they enjoyed the visit. I wouldn't be shocked if every single one ended up as a Panther because they were raving about Pitt that much.

I was able to get 2 big pieces of info out of the coaches that should put some of this years recruiting into perspective. Many people were wondering why we were going so hard on trying to get guys despite only having between 14-17 ships available. The staff now believes that through academic ineligibility, off the field problems, and transfers that we will be able to take 20 - 22 guys this year. So there maybe some issues that have been down played during the season that will be resolved once we finish up after the Sun Bowl.

I was asking the staff about Kolby Gray because I'm all for big quarterbacks that can throw the ball well and are mobile. Kolby will be visiting Pitt on the weekend of January 9th. Pretty much the only thing holding us back from a commitment here is a campus visit. So I'm pretty sure after he comes here to check things out, gets to meet a few Steelers, and has a fun time on the visit he will be announcing his choice to come here.

It's pretty interesting how we got involved with him. One of the assistants who was instrumental in recruiting Shady was the purpose for finding him. Due to the poor qb play this year, the staff went on a hunt for quarterbacks that they felt could fit our system and could be ready to play sooner rather than later. So, after doing some investigating, the assistant coach came across footage of Kolby and was blown away. He took what he found to Coach Wannstedt. Since he is a Texas guy, Phil Bennett called in a few favors to get more information about him. We were very lucky to have Phil on the staff because through his contacts, we found out that Kolby was on the short list for schools like Texas and Oklahoma but they did not recruit him hard since they already had quarterbacks who committed. This is a lucky find for us and I hope we're able to get him to stick around as I'm ready to anoint him as the #1 qb on the roster after signing day.

The last piece of news is that it looks like junior day will be on February 14th for the Pitt/Cincy basketball game.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Cat Basket Challenge

This bowl season it will be DPJ vs Jones vs Johnny in a 3 way battle to see who the bowl picking champion is.

Eaglebank Bowl (Dec 20): Navy vs Wake Forest

DPJ: Navy
Jones: Navy
Johnny: Navy

New Mexico (Dec 20): Fresno State vs Colorado State

DPJ: Fresno State
Jones: Colorado St
Johnny: Colorado St

St. Petersburg (Dec 20): Memphis vs USF

Jones: USF
Johnny: USF

Las Vegas (Dec 20): BYU vs Arizona

Jones: BYU
Johnny: BYU

New Orleans (Dec 21): Southern Miss vs Troy

DPJ: Southern Miss
Jones: Southern Miss
Johnny: Troy

Pointsettia (Dec 23): TCU vs Boise State

DPJ: Boise State
Jones: Boise State
Johnny: TCU

Honolulu (Dec 24): Hawaii vs Notre Dame

DPJ: Hawaii
Jones: Notre Dame
Johnny: Hawaii

Motor City (Dec 26): Central Michigan vs Florida Atlantic

DPJ: Central Michigan
Jones: Central Michigan
Johnny: Central Michigan

Car Care (Dec 27): North Carolina vs West Virginia

DPJ: West Virginia
Jones: North Carolina
Johnny: West Virginia

Champ Sports (Dec 27): Florida State vs Wisconsin

DPJ: Florida State
Jones: Florida State
Johnny: Florida State

Emerald (Dec 27): Miami vs Cal

DPJ: Cal
Jones: Miami
Johnny: Cal

Independence (Dec 28): Northern Illinois vs Louisiana Tech

Jones: NIU
Johnny: Louisiana Tech

Papa Johns (Dec 29): NC State vs Rutgers

DPJ: Rutgers
Jones: NC State
Johnny: Rutgers

Alamo (Dec 29): Northwestern vs Missouri

DPJ: Missouri
Jones: Northwestern
Johnny: Missouri

Humanitarian (Dec 30): Maryland vs Nevada

DPJ: Maryland
Jones: Maryland
Johnny: Nevada

Holiday (Dec 30): Oklahoma State vs Oregon

DPJ: Oklahoma State
Jones: Oklahoma State
Johnny: Oklahoma State

Texas (Dec 30): Rice vs Western Michigan

DPJ: Rice
Jones: Western Michigan
Johnny: Rice

Armed Forces (Dec 31): Houston vs Air Force

DPJ: Houston
Jones: Houston
Johnny: Houston

Music City (Dec 31): Boston College vs Vanderbilt

DPJ: Boston College
Jones: Vanderbilt
Johnny: Vanderbilt

Insight (Dec 31): Kansas vs Minnesota

DPJ: Kansas
Jones: Kansas
Johnny: Kansas

Chik-Fil-A (Dec 31): Georgia Tech vs LSU

DPJ: Georgia Tech
Jones: LSU
Johnny: Georgia Tech

Outback (Jan 1): Iowa vs South Carolina

DPJ: South Carolina
Jones: South Carolina
Johnny: Iowa

Gator (Jan 1): Clemson vs Nebraska

DPJ: Clemson
Jones: Nebraska
Johnny: Nebraska

Capital One (Jan 1): Michigan State vs Georgia

DPJ: Michigan State
Jones: Georgia
Johnny: Georgia

Cotton (Jan 2): Ole Miss vs Texas Tech

DPJ: Texas Tech
Jones: Texas Tech
Johnny: Texas Tech

Liberty (Jan 2): Kentucky vs East Carolina

DPJ: Kentucky
Jones: Kentucky
Johnny: Kentucky

International (Jan 3): Buffalo vs Uconn

DPJ: UConn
Jones: Buffalo
Johnny: Buffalo

GMAC (Jan 6): Tulsa vs Ball State

DPJ: Ball State
Jones: Tulsa
Johnny: Ball State


Rose: (Jan 1): USC vs Penn State

Jones: USC
Johnny: USC

Orange (Jan 1): Virginia Tech vs Cincinnati

DPJ: Virginia Tech
Jones: Cincinnati
Johnny: Cincinnati

Sugar (Jan 2): Utah vs Alabama

DPJ: Alabama
Jones: Alabama
Johnny: Alabama

Fiesta (Jan 5): Ohio State vs Texas

DPJ: Texas
Jones: Texas
Johnny: Texas

BCS Championship (Jan 8): Florida vs Oklahoma

DPJ: Oklahoma
Jones: Florida
Johnny: Oklahoma

Sun Bowl (Dec 31): Pitt vs Oregon State

DPJ: Pitt
DPJ (total points scored): 44

Jones: Pitt
Jones (total points scored): 51

Johnny: Pitt
Johnny (total points scored): 48 (Pitt 31-OSU1 17)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Cat Basket Bowl Challenge

So this bowl season, Jones and I will be having a little competition. We will be picking the bowl winners. The person with the lower score will have to tell a very embarrasing story about themself on the next podcast.

We will have the post up in the next couple of days with our picks.

Also if you're interested, you can challenge us and email your picks to and we get it posted on here.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Cat Basket at the Sun Bowl

The reservations have been made and the Cat Basket will be making our first appearance at a Pitt bowl game. The reason for this is since the inception of the Cat Basket, we haven't made a bowl.

Instead of spending an arm and a leg, I was able to find a good deal by flying out of Washington D.C. on December 30th and returning on January 1.

I wasn't too keen on flying out of Washington as the weather will be a question mark and also because it is crappy driving 4 hours to get to the airport. Despite this, there is a great reason to go through D.C.

On January 3rd, the Panthers hoops team will be taking on Georgetown at the Verizon center. So I get to make my first ever road trip to Georgetown as well. Tickets from this game are as cheap as 10 bucks, so it will be worth the trip.

Also if you are interested to know, the Cat Basket will be staying at the Laquinta West. According to the posters on Pantherlair, it is close to the Sun Bowl and a nice hotel.

If you are planning on going and want to share your travel plans feel free to do so on the comments section. Also I'll be posting information about Pitt events in El Paso as I hear about it.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Sun Bowl Pluses and Minuses

The entire bowl picture played out very well for the Big East. We were able to fill all of our slots thanks to a late push by Rutgers. The Gator Bowl took Nebraska which means that next year they'll be forced to take a Big East/Notre Dame team. Luckily for us ND will be worse off than last year and probably won't be able to supplant a Big East team from the Gator Bowl. Speaking of Notre Dame, they'll be going down to the Hawaii bowl to get slaughtered. Hawaii handled Cincy pretty well until the 4th quarter and I'm pretty sure that Cincy would dominate Notre Dame if they played right now.

Moving on to Pitt, there are some things I like and some things I dislike about our bowl.

The Pros:

We're playing on a New Years Eve bowl. It is always great the later you play your bowl game (except maybe the international bowl) because usually then that bowl has more coverage, more prestige, and more $$$. The Sun Bowl is obviously no exception to this. It is highly regarded as one of the top non-BCS bowls available.

Another great thing about this bowl is that it has a great base of fans in El Paso. This is perfect for a team like Pitt that doesn't travel as well as other schools. Since we're more of a watch it at home fan base, we will be able to provide big TV ratings for the bowl which is what they are looking for.

Another benefit is that we're going to be playing an opponent from one of the BCS conferences. I don't think many people would have cared to see us play a non-BCS type of opponent unless it was a Boise State or BYU type of team and frankly, there aren't too many of those teams out there.

The last great thing about this is that for the first time in the Wannstedt Era, the team will be able to continue to practice all throughout December. We've lost out on valuable practice time the last 3 years by not being able to practice due to not getting a bowl. Now we are able to get the extra practice time which will be extremely valuable for our younger guys who will need to be ready for next year.

The Cons:

I'm going to be a bit selfish on this one. The mens bball team plays on the same exact day and the same exact time. While I am just a Pitt fan (I like football and bball equally) I hate having to miss the game. Pitt has already announced that they will not try and get the game time changed so for the people at home, I hope you have 2 tv's ready to go. To the fans who are going to either game, well, I guess that we're going to be the ones losing out.

Oregon State. After they beat USC they looked like a dominant team that everyone in the country should be scared of. That faded quickly and we saw that the PAC-10 is basically a 1 team conference in USC. Oregon spanked Oregon State at State and really showed that the Beavers are no where close to being that team that upset the Trojans (nice catch) just a few months ago. Another problem with OSU is that we've already played them in a Bowl game not too long ago. One of the great things about bowl games is that you get a chance to play teams you normally don't play. I wish we would have been picked with another team that we haven't played yet this decade. I love playing different teams so going up against OSU is really just a bit of a disappointment for me.

El Paso. Before you get mad at me on this one, I'm not knocking the city (although I should bash Juarez, Mexico). The reason I dislike El Paso is that it is almost virtually impossible for the students to get to the game. Train and bus tickets are outrageous and it would be a terribly long and uncomfortable trip. So the only real option is flying. If there is one thing I know about students, it is that we have hundreds of dollars just sitting around waiting to be spent. It is great that the Athletics Department is making tickets for students free. What is not great is that there aren't any decent travel packages available for students.

The alumni association has put together a package for the small price of $1500. Really? Who can afford to pay for that? I will find a way to this game whether it's begging my parents and family or through little odd jobs to pay the nice chunk of change that it takes to get a round trip flight with 16 layovers and 4 red eyes to get to the game but I will be there. I just really wish we would have had better travel options that weren't so expensive for our fans. This is just like the Fiesta Bowl. There are tons of students who want to go desperately, however the fact remains that they just don't have the money to go which is never good for our school.

Again, don't forget to stop by the Oakland Zoo's website and help them raise money for needy families this holiday season.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Pitt/Uconn Gameday Thoughts

Well I'll be at the Pete all day for a marathon of Pittsburgh sports (bball, football, and a hockey game) so I'm giving you my thoughts and predictions for what I believe will happen today.

Today will be the end of our drought in Connecticut. This is a year that we should be able to beat them on the road. They have some injuries as well as some issues off the field that should play nicely into the hands of our offense. On the defensive side of the ball we should dominate as we are a great run stopping team. UConn won't be able to see what Brown can do you for you as he should struggle to find running room all day long.

On the offensive side of the ball for the Panthers I think that we will see a heavy dose of Shady. Cavanaugh will keep things mild in what just might be his last regular season game as our offensive coordinator. Halftime of the WVU game was a turning point for this offense much like the Bowling Green game was. Stull will have limited amounts of pass attempts so expect lower than usual numbers from him. This will be offset by the increased number of carries for Shady and Hot Rod. This is a game where I can see them both going over 100 yards rushing each as both guy should have the opportunity to run the ball quite often.

On defense our 3 main guys will be Sheard, Romeus, and McKillop. Having the D-Ends seal off the outside and force the rush up the middle plays directly to our strengths. Scott is a tackling machine and will be able to grab anyone around him. If we can contain Brown, we are in great shape. One area we could be in trouble is if UConn decides to go Rutgers on us and throws it deep all day long. UConn has had some quarterback issues this season due to injury but it looks like everything is settling down for them now.

At the end of the day I expect a solid clock controlled game from the Panthers and a nice 24-14 victory for our Panthers. I also hope I never have to see DJ Hernandez in my life again as that guy has been a Panther killer.

So Lets Go Pitt (football)
Lets Go Pitt (basketball)
Lets Go Pens
and don't forget to donate to the Oakland Zoo's adopt-a-family.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Helping During the Holidays

This is the season for giving and we hope you have it in your hearts to help out those in need this holiday season.

The Oakland Zoo is doing a fundraiser to purchase gift cards for a family they are sponsoring this season as well as trying to raise money to purchase Giant Eagle gift cards so that families can have a Christmas dinner.

For more information visit this site:

or email the Zoo at: or

Thursday, December 4, 2008

All quiet on the coaching front

With all of these coaching rumors going around, it's amazing we haven't heard too much about our own staff. There were some rumblings early last week that Phil Bennett would be heading back to K-State to take over as the D-Coordinator and assistant head coach, however we haven't heard much on that front since then.

Another major story that hasn't gotten much play is the fact that Wanny was so upset at Cavanaugh's play calling in the 2nd quarter that he had to be restrained at halftime.

I certainly expect there to be some coaching changes at the end of the year as there typically are with every team, but this year could be very different. It isn't often that you see both head coordinators replaced, but this year could be it. Wannstedt may have had enough of Cavanaugh (see BG/WVU) and could go in a different direction.

I have always felt that Cavanaugh was an awful coordinator. He was awful in Baltimore and he has been awful here. Being a former quarterback you would expect more from that position, but comparing Baltimore and Pitt we have seen Trent Dilfer, Bill Stull, and Pat Bostick all remain stagnant. I won't say that Cavanaugh has had a hand in Stull's regression because I feel that the injury he suffered is what set him back. If Cavanaugh goes, we really need someone with some innovative ideas on how to run the offense because we're going to have a ton of weapons in the immediate future. It shouldn't be hard for someone to be successful with the offense as Shady, Baldwin, Byham, Dickerson, Harris, Burns, and Shanahan all can be amazing weapons for someone. Whoever we hire needs to have proven experience developing quarterbacks as this is the greatest weakness on the team.

On the defensive side of the ball, if Bennett leaves many people think Gattuso will be the successor to take over the defense. This wouldn't be a bad move for Pitt has Gattuso has been getting interest from some smaller schools for a head coaching position. Moving him up to D-Coordinator would allow us to hold on to him for a little while longer while keeping the crucial recruiting ties. Also if he is promoted, we won't need to hire a new D-Line coach which would allow us to hire a position coach for somewhere else (quarterback perhaps).

I'm interested to see what happens over the off season. If in fact someone does leave will we promote from within? Will we hire one of Wannstedt's old friends? Will the person be an up and comer or another re-tread?

Final thoughts on WVU

When we took the field against WVU last Friday, the start to the game was almost perfect. It seems as if when the team can script out the series and practice it all week we seem unstoppable. Our first drive ended with Bill Stull throwing probably the best pass he has as a Panther. The touchdown wasn't a long bomb, but it was long enough for those of us who have watched Stull enough to think that it was a great pass and one that we really haven't seen him complete before. He hit Kinder right in stride and put it in a spot that even if it wasn't caught, you knew it wouldn't be intercepted.

Following this series we saw some strange play calling. I must say that our offense was puzzling after the first drive. I don't know if we were trying to remain unpredictable or what, but it seemed that we were doing everything we could to not get the ball in Shady's hands. The most obvious being the goal line play where we attempted a pass to Baldwin that was intercepted. With a player like Shady and with the continually improving play of our offensive line, anytime we have a goal to go situation inside the 3 yard line, the ball needs to be in Shady's hands every single play.

The sad part about the game was that in the 3rd quarter we should have been up, at most, 28-3. I understand the ruling about Ransom's phantom fumble recovery as White's progress was stopped. I do not understand how WVU got away with the blatant block in the back on that run.

Despite those mistakes, we used the end of the fourth quarter to make it the Shady show. WVU knew each time the ball was going to him but they couldn't stop him. The only time they really did stop us is when we called that awful quarterback draw on the 2 point attempt. I really think that the quarterback draw was the worst call Cavanaugh has ever used in his career.

On that cold Friday afternoon, our Panthers were the better team. We overcame our own mistakes, we overcame some questionable calls by the refs, and we overcame some questionable play calling.

Everyone should now know, the only way to stop us is to stop Shady. Hopefully on Saturday the Huskies aren't able to do that and we can win against a team that for some reason has given us major trouble these last few years.

Monday, December 1, 2008

A moment of silence.

If you're reading this, I want you to stop whatever you are doing and just relax for a minute.

Think back to exactly one year ago when we were heading into Morgantown as 28 point underdogs getting ready to see WVU head to the national championship.

Take a minute to think back and enjoy what a defensive gem we witnessed that night as we went on to a 13-9 victory and shattered the hopes and dreams of all WVU fans, players, and coaches.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

How the game played out

This was a great win and while I will be writing about it much more during the week, I will give a brief summary right here.

It was just like when we sang Sweet Caroline.

We started off strong, then WVU rallied in the middle, but at the end Pitt was louder and we took it over.

If you don't believe me just watch the Sweet Caroline video from the game.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Very Quick Brawl Recap

Just like last year!!!!! At the end of the game the entire student section chanted this at the WVU players leaving the field. It was a fantastic day to be a Panther fan and that game felt like the biggest relief of a disappointing in some ways season. This is the first time I have ever been to a brawl win and I was extremely impressed with the turnout of Pitt fans. WVU traveled well and they made a bunch of noise but we shouted them down at every turn.

As for on the field I think yesterday was day Shady earned his number retired. This game was all about him and his other worldly like ability to make something out of nothing. He is best player in the Big East by a long shot and is probably the best back in the nation. The fact that he is staying can give us all hope that maybe this whole thing can be turned around. I have nothing to say about Stull because we all saw what happened and this is a happy column. 

The defense kept us in the game no matter what the offense did and it was an amazing way to go for the seniors. I have complained for at least two years about Thatcher's poor play but today he was an absolute beast. He looked like the guy he was before the injury and what a way to go out. McKillop had an awesome game and further cemented his place as a Panther legend. The defensive speed did a great job shutting down the WVU offense. 

All in all it was an amazing experience and one I will never forget. This season certainly hasn't gone our way but this team never gave up and they got a reward for their hard work. At least for this week we are on top of the world and we beat our rival again.

As an aside I just wanted to say that the way the security staff at Heinz Field treats the fans is ridiculous. They over compensate with security in a place where crowd trouble is rarely a problem. The way they police the fans is a reason that some people would call the atmosphere lacking. 

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

We are about 24 hours from kickoff before tomorrows game, but I just wanted to wish everyone out there a Happy Thanksgiving.

Here are some things that I am thankful for this year.

- All of my friends and family who were here last year are here this year.

- Pitt bball being # 4.

- A bowl game on the horizon.

- One more year of superman.

- Little Julia Paige (My niece, not to be confused with Julius Page)

- One more game with my friends in the Cat Basket

and lastly

- All of the loyal readers and Panther fans who make doing this website worthwhile for Jones and I. You all are the reason why we keep going and we hope that we continue to have your support over a very very long time.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

~ DPJ ~

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

He's not going anywhere!!!

Paul Ziese has just made every Panther fan's day by reporting that Shady will be back for his junior year.

You can read the full article here.

I had already set it in my head that Friday would be the last time that I would ever get to see him play a game at home. It wasn't because I had any information about it, I'm just used to being a Pitt fan and typically we tend to be on the negative side of the thought spectrum.

While he could change his mind and end up going pro, it is great that we will have a few days of happiness to know that our superman isn't going any where for one more year.

The man who should be happiest about this is Bill Stull. This just took away almost all of the pressure he would have been seeing next year as teams would have completely changed defenses against us without Shady. Now we can let teams try to stop our running game and let Bill (hopefully) work over the off season and come back next year with a great passing attack.

Hopefully Shady uses the Cincy game as motivation and gets the team fired up for the rest of the season and for next year. I couldn't imagine anything greater than graduating from Pitt the same year we win the Big East.

Monday, November 24, 2008

It's Brawl Week!

The title pretty much says it all. I have nothing to say about Saturday's game that will be constructive or popular so I will focus my attention to Friday vs the Hoopies.

Let me throw this out there. I hate west virginia more than anything else in the world. I hope all of the bad things in life happen to them and only them. This is what a rivalry is about. Anytime I see that garbage flying WV logo I get angry and sick to my stomach.

This is Pittsburgh, Pitt is our hometown team. There is no reason for anyone within 20 miles of Pittsburgh to cover WVU. In their 4 glory years they were a solid 2-2 against Pitt. They may have 52ed us, but we gave them 13-9 and showed that they will never ever get a chance for the national title as long as we get to play them.

I've been to WVU for sporting events, I've gambled in west virginia, I've even dated a hoopie. All of which have been terrible experiences. The best thing that ever happened for the state of virginia is that west virginia decided to leave.

It takes a special state to have the worst dental hygiene, one of the greatest obesity rates, and one of the lowest education rates. Their out of state tuition is super cheap so that they can try to trick stupid Pittsburghers into coming to west virginia.

I hope we blow them out of the water. I hope that old Ned Stewart is left with his jaw on the new sod at Heinz field not knowing how this major raping came about.

We need to win and win big. I want every hoopie to be depressed during Christmas knowing that we owned them and kept them out of the Gator and CarCare bowl. Let's beat these guys and make it one to remember.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I'm sorry

Before this game began I felt that we were in control 100% of the way.

I could never have imagined it would have ended up the way it did. This was our time. We were supposed to carry the torch for the Big East. Not the Bearcats, the Panthers.

Instead now we look for answers. All of us.

It is hard to imagine that after being 7-0 against Cincy we now struggle to come up for reasons as to why we are where we are. Sure we should have beat BG and Rutgers. However, Cincy is a team we have owned during the bad times and the good. Except now Cincy has the River City Rivalry trophy on their shelf for 1 whole year.

I just can't believe folks........ There are not any words to describe the emptiness that I am feeling right now. I was prematurely thinking about Miami and Phoenix. Now it is back to the reality of Toronto and Birmingham.

I am sorry Cat Basket readers, I am sorry that this has to be such a negative post on what could have been such a beautiful day.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Live Blog of the River City Rivalry

6:52- Ugh what a boring day for sports this turned out to be, the Pens game was crazy boring and I had to listen to the Pitt blowout of IUP on the radio. It's just going to be me tonight and I'm not looking forward to this at all. I have no idea how this is going to turn out.

7:29- Thank you ESPN Classic for finally putting the game on. Nippert Stadium looks to be rocking.

7:31- I like this early playcalling

7:35- I had a bit of a heart attack with that fumble but other than that it is a fantastic drive. This is as good as the offense has looked all season. Absoultely fantastic playcalling and execution.

7:38- That was amazing. I'm excited now and Shady is showing how much ahead he is of the rest of the Big East.

7:43- Wow. Fantastic special teams play by I think Hobby on the tackle. Lets get another score.

7:46- Not so good but still no turnover and that is something good. Great punt from Brytus there.

7:55- The Bearcats keep coming up with these big conversions but the defense is playing solid. This drive has felt like 4 hours long.

7:59- Do yourself a favor and buy a case of Labatt Blue to get the free Pens hat they are putting in the cases of bottles. The beer is very good times and the hats are extremely warm. Also they have the blue alternate Pens colors so I'm always a fan of that.

8:02- Badly blown coverage on that play but not a horrible defensive drive. Cinci is playing well this is going to be a close game.

8:08- Not a good drive at all. Pinkston flat out blew it on that sack. Terrible punt too to cap it off. Shady needs to take the game over and dominate like he can.

8:15- Fantastic defensive stand and what was the deal with that guy getting hit in the ass. The offense needs to get it back in gear this drive. I would love to see some Wildcat.

8:21- That drive was a microcasm of what the problem on offense is, the QB can't make all the throws. Baldwin was 2 steps past his corner and Stull floated a punt to him and the pass on the sideline had nothing on it so the receiver drifted out. Ugh we need a couple big runs on offense.

8:30- Terrible play by Thatcher right there. He jumped a route he couldn't possibly have stopped. When you have safeties that have no idea where to be in the passing game its going to be problems. 

8:33- Just horrible coverage and the problem is the safeties. Thatcher is playing the worst game of his career and that is saying something. The offense needs to get this score back.

8:39- No good at all. Stull is off on every single pass and that is whats to be expected I guess. Wildcat Wildcat Wildcat.

8:49- Good job on the defensive end. I'm getting more and more impressed with Romeus.

8:51- Oklahoma's D looks absolutely amazing. Back to back sacks on Harrell, that is probably the only time that sentence will ever be written.

9:13- Bob Davey is amazing as a color guy. He explains the most obvious things in long form poetry style. Atrocious defensive gameplan coming out in the second half. The secondary and everybodies favorite walk-on Austin Ransom caused this touchdown.

9:21- Bob Davey and me need to hangout. He speaks english like it is translated english to spanish then back to french. I always assumed he was a bad coach because of how awful ND was under him but he is very dumb.

9:28- A little sidebar here, I'm trying to ignore the game, I watched the jersey retiremnet ceremony of Patrick Roy tonight and if you were a hockey fan in the 90s watch it. The best goaltender of all time getting his recognition. Look it up on youtube tomorrow it is fantastic.

9:35- This is going to be the biggest series of Wanny's time at Pitt. Points are needed badly here.

9:38- Stull really needs to understand that throwing the ball crazy high isn't advisable.

9:45- Pike has been great as a shout out to Johnny but this game is a referendum on the problems our coaching staff has. We still live in this world that teams can only play a certain way. Ugh, I'm trying not to be to negative but this game is killing me.

9:49- Hey have you heard about this awesome basketball team we have. This game makes me want to murder myself. Thank you Wanny for showing up when it matters. Such a joke when the games really matter. We are sitting on an International Bowl bid right now.

9:56- Shady is a fantastic player. Again Bob Davey is blowing my mind at his crap announcing

10:06- I understand Erin Andrews is extremely hot and I completely agree but she makes some of most odd points a sideline reporter could. I imagine it is quiet at Nippart Stadium right now because it is crazy cold and they have dominated us. Who could possibly make noise in this cold, the SEC and Big 12 rarely have a game under 45.

10:10- Good defensive stand and special teams. I love Davey's pronunciation of Tag's last name, you are from Western PA you didn't like the Pens in the early 90s Davey?

10:15- Stull has the worst arm I have ever seen. No good and this game is over. Rule number 1 never run with your head down. 

10:20- This is such an embarassment for the program because of how bad this game has played out. Bob Davey needs to be put on Monday Night Football though, I enjoy his mistakes. They make the games more fun.

10:27- Fantastic Dorin but this game is well lost.

10:31- It is over and now we sit with marquee wins over South Florida and Notre Dame, that is why Wanny makes the big bucks. This season has been exactly what I thought the bare minimum could have been. We all could have coached us to 7-3 with our talent disparity but whatever this is what we will have. A bowl apparently is an accomplishment when we had a coach who got us to a bunch of bowls but he was ran out of town on a rail.

10:41- This is my last comment they are rushing the field because they beat us. A program that has been lead into the ground by a coach who lives in a fantasy world. This whole thing blows my mind that they would be impressed at beating us. Wanny is the biggest dinosaur in FBS right now and that is saying something.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Following Jason

I thought what Jason did in his last post was very interesting so I will be stealing his idea and modifying it just a bit.

My question to the readers is this:

What do you think of the River City, River Phoenix, Rivers Cuomo, Three Rivers rivalry trophy?

No Predictions Just Questions

Well tomorrow is the game that will decide the Big East title but the bigger story is the amazing rivalry. The way I see it Pitt's main rival is Cincinnati because of that beautiful trophy that was created as a marketing tool by two athletic departments. A season of ups and downs is about to be decided on Saturday night and I'm nothing but worried. This team has sucked any confidence I have in being able to predict game that we are involved in. One thing I do know about this team is that they didn't quit on this season when it would have been easy too and they have continued to play each game without thinking about the last. Well let us get to some questions I have about the marquee game of the Big East football season.

Will we be able to stop the big plays in the passing game? I would love to say yes but the secondary has been the worst unit on the team this year. The communication between the safeties and the corners has seemingly gotten worse game by game. That being said we have some talent in the secondary and if they can get their game turned around we can eliminate the Bearcats passing game. 

Will Shady have another massive game? Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes. Shady is the premier player in the conference and is perhaps the best running back in the nation. 

Can the defensive line get pressure? Yes, and I'm fairly confident in saying this. Sheard has become a leading candidate for All Big East and Romeus has improved vastly from his slow start this season. Up the middle we have been dominate and I'm really enjoying the level of play from the defensive line.

Will Stull do enough to win the game for us? This is the biggest question mark I have about the game. Cincinnati has an extremely good secondary and I wonder if Stull will be able to sling the ball around. Baldwin needs to keep showing up and making big plays. 

Can Pitt win this game? I don't know. I think that we are more talented and have been playing very good football since the second half of the Notre Dame game. It is nearly impossible to judge what the playcalling and coaching is going to be like so that is the main variable. 

The way I see it winning out is the only option, we need a Big East title and a good showing in the BCS for the health of this program. Coming close and then missing has really done some damage to the psyche of the entire program. This season is completely ours and has unfolded perfectly to cover for our slip ups. I'll be watching this game on the edge of my seat pulling my hair out.

2, 4, and 7

If you're a Pittsburgh fan, then those numbers represent a full day of action for you tomorrow. The Penguins will start their game at 2 p.m. The basketball team tips off against Joe Lombardi, Reese Polen, and IUP at 4 p.m. Lastly, the battle for the top spot in the Big East kicks off at 7 when the Panthers take on the Cincy Bearcats.

Last week Cincinnati jumped over the Panthers to take the #19 ranking after barely getting by Louisville. I always find it funny that teams can be punished for having a bye week. It makes sense that it happens to Pitt though as we always are on the short end of the stick when it comes to rankings. It happened a few years ago when Florida lost and Pitt bball should have been ranked #1, but Benedict Howland and co. at UCLA took over the top spot. It happens all the time on recruiting websites when you see the bias kick in against the Big East (Hey Rivals, Lamar Patterson is much better than a 3 star and DeJuan should have been a 5 star). This time we see it after Pitt crushed Louisville and Cincy was rewarded for playing last week and barely getting by the Cards.

That shouldn't matter though. In fact, the perception might be better since you'll see the #19 team at home take on the #20 team instead of seeing the #20 team on the road play the #21 team.

The only numbers that matter right now are the stats that teams have compiled and what it means for me making my predictions.

Cincy comes in with only two losses this season, one to Oklahoma and the other to UConn. While some Pitt fans may feel differently, we are much more on the level of UConn than we are with Oklahoma. The way UConn won was by running it down the throat of Cincy. It also didn't help that Cincy had 6 turnovers, but running the ball did the trick. As much as I disagree with Wannstedt on several items, I do believe that a strong running game is the best philosophy to win the game. With this game having major bowl implications, it is time for our offensive star to shine.

Last year against WVU, Shady was huge in prime time and was one of the biggest reasons we were able to win the game. If we should expect to win tomorrow, we will need to have another Superman type performance from Shady. If Cincy is able to contain Shady the way Louisville was, then we might be in for a long day. We can get by the Louisville's of the world without a great performance from our running game, but against the better teams in the Big East, running the ball is essential.

I don't expect us to win the game through passing the ball and I don't think that Cincy expects us to pass either. I can only hope though that we do not go back into a conservative style of football. If we see a coaching performance by Wanny and Cavvy like we did against Bowling Green, we will not win this game.

On the defensive side of the ball, our front 7 should be able to stop the run without much of a problem. I don't see any reason why our defense should give up more than 150 total yards of rushing even if it is a worst case scenario. The problem we have to worry about is the passing attack.

All season long our secondary has been a major problem. We have seen Berry, Jovanni, Ricky Gary, and Eric Thatcher make major blunders that have really cost us. Elijah Fields and Dom Dicicco have been splitting time and I feel that the inconsistency of playing has not fostered their development well and they are behind where they should be at this point in the season.

The one good thing we can consider is that Cincy has had major quarterback problems this year. They've struggled to find someone to take control of the offense. Senior QB Dustin Grutza was the starter to begin the season, but was sidelined due to a broken leg. After some searching, Tony Pike took over the starting job. Last week against Louisville, Pike was injured late in the game and Grutza made his return. This is not good news for the Panthers as Grutza played well in his limited time. This also adds a question mark to the game over who will start and how we spend our time preparing for the game.

I see this game coming down to who can pass the ball more effectively. If Cincy can throw on us they way they want to, then we will most likely lose this game. If we are able to move the ball through the air well (especially on 3rd down), then we will win the game easily.

My greatest fear is that this game turns into a shootout because I don't know if our offense could compete with that. I would consider starting the game in a 4-2-5 set on defense so that Cincy gets the message that we are daring them to run on us. Containing the pass will be our greatest challenge, but I believe we can do that.

All of these factors mixed in with Cincy winning the Keg of Nails (WTF?) last week against UofL should set them up for an emotional let down. We have never lost to Cincy and I don't see it happening this year. We are far more talented and Cincy won't be able to pass on us the way Rutgers did.

My prediction: Pitt 27 - Cincy 24 (Shady with 140 and 2 tds).

Hold your breath folks, I think this one's going to be a close one.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

ESPN Gets The BCS Rights

This is hopefully extremely Pitt-centric as I'm hoping that multiple trips to the BCS over the next couple of years are possible. ESPN outbid FOX for the rights to start airing the BCS starting in 2011 which gives ESPN the rights to basically every meaningful bowl out there. If anyone ever wanted to know why there still isn't a playoff in college football this is it. There is so much money to be made off the bowl system that until a tournament that can be beneficial to all the hands in the pocket of the NCAA we will continue to have controversy.

I'm starting to get used to the idea that this bowl system will never change. As a Pitt fan I see the one benefit to us from this system, an undeserved automatic place in the BCS. Don't take this as a shot at the Big East I think the Pac-10 and the ACC don't deserve an auto spot in the BCS either. I would prefer not to even talk about the comical deal that the BCS signed with Notre Dame. This system is beneficial to conferences, like the Big East, that perpetually consist of mediocrity and one or two good teams. 

The power in college football is confined to the south, especially this year. SEC and Big 12 football is on another level that renders the BCS National Championship as almost a consolation prize to their respective conference titles. Somebody, ME!, can make a case that the real national title game will be played in Georgia disguised as the SEC Title Game between Alabama and Florida. The defacto play in game to the championship game is now going to be disguised as the OU-Texas Tech game in Norman on Saturday. Texas may be the odd team out in this equation with an OU win on Saturday which shows the glaring flaw in the BCS.

Then you have the non-BCS conferences that have undefeated teams. Ball St. is a great story but they seemingly won't get a shot in the big bowl, while teams like Oregon St. still control their BCS destiny. I'm assuming that Utah can get into the BCS with a win over BYU but will Boise St. who has been arguably as good as Utah get in. These teams most definitely deserve a chance to pocket the big money and national attention that comes along with these games but in this system fair is never the deciding factor in picking the games. 

So Big East fan please understand what the BCS means to our conference, New Year's Day bowl games. With an even playing field in college football would it be possible for us to compete with the upper echelon??? Just something to think about.

Monday, November 17, 2008

What a feeling

I have to admit, I'm pretty excited about where can go the rest of this season. Like Jason Jones, I'm very cautious about letting my expectations get out of hand, but just think about this. It is the 3rd week of November and we are talking about playing for the Big East Championship.

After the first week of the season, there is no way that I could have ever believed we would put ourselves in a situation like this. Even after the Rutgers game, I felt that our chances were lost. Luckily some other teams have stumbled and we have done what was needed to be in a position to win.

This Saturday is the first huge test that Wannstedt and company will face. We haven't really played a meaningful game this late in the season for a very long time. The pressure is on us to win and now we'll see if the coaching staff really has changed or if we will revert back to old tactics.

We need to play aggressive, but more importantly we need to play smart. All year long I have been saying that we have the talent, we have the potential, but there is still some hesitancy to go for the kill from this team. I really hope that after the Louisville game we found it. How great was it to be up by more than 20 points late in the game?

At this point in the season, with a BCS berth possibly on the line, we need to be padding our resume. We need to win these last 3 crucial games and we need to do it impressively. Fortunately for us, these are all games the team can be very motivated for.

We all know that Cincy is the fake rivalry with the 90 million river titles in it as Jones likes to say. Cincy has never beaten us for the trophy and I hope they never do. As ugly as that trophy is, it is nice to say that we have never lost control of the titanic control deck (I hope we don't break it again this year).

WVU is our bitter rival. They hate us and we hate them. I hope all the bad things in the world happen to them and only them (ok, also to that team in central Pa). This is a game that I want us to completely murder them in. A 100-0 final would be fine with me. Pat White needs to be hit every play, Noel Devine needs to be shown he was nothing but a hype machine, and WVU needs to know that they are missing a defense. This game is at home, it's after Thanksgiving, and I hate them with all of my heart.

Lastly this UConn game is huge. UConn has had our number for the past few years. Minus the one year where we smoked them and shut them out at home, they've been a nuisance for the Panthers. We've never won there, but this is the year to do it. I hope this team is as angry as I am that they've beaten us (badly) over the last few years.

Like I said folks, this could be a special year, I just hope that the players and coaches rise to the occasion, and make this a season worth remembering.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Pitt fans should root for Louisville

Just like you shouldn't be surprised that more WVU players are in trouble, you shouldn't be surprised that I'm rooting for the Ville to win out. Let me explain this to you. I am always in favor of my team having the easiest path to the championship. Maybe it's because I'm lazy, maybe it's because I hate worrying about games, but if it means less chance for Pitt to screw it up, mark me down as a fan.

Louisville gets to play Cincy, WVU, and Rutgers in their last three games. A win in each would be huge for Pitt. Right now Louisville is 1-3 in the big east and is not a threat to compete for anything major in the conference. Beating Cincy and WVU would put Pitt in a great position to win the Big East.

There are still many scenarios as to how the Big East will play out, but Louisville winning out would give 2 losses in conference to the hoopies and Cincy. If we were to do our job and beat both teams then they would have 3 losses. With us having 5 wins and 1 loss at that point combined with the 3 losses for WVU, Cincy, and Rutgers we would be in a great position to win the Big East. Uconn right now is 2-2 in the Big East but I don't see them beating USF on the road which would put them at their 3rd conference loss.

The last thing I want to see is the Big East Championship coming down to how we perform at UConn. For some reason they have our number and we just can't seem to handle them. Outside of the blow out win at home against them in 2006, they have embarrassed us each time we have played them. I don't want to take things for granted, I just want us to win in the least stressful manner.

Typically we have played very well against Cincy, but a win over Louisville for the Bearcats puts all of the focus on the Pitt/Cincy game as what will be the Big East Championship match up.

It's not that I don't like good competition, I just don't want to have a heart attack over the next few weeks constantly worrying about these games. Even worse, I don't want to go through the holidays dejected thinking about what might have been.

So please Louisville, please win out.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Pitt game time moved

According to sources in the athletic department and in the Oakland Zoo. The Pitt basketball game vs IUP on Saturday November 22 will be played at 4 p.m.

There is still no word on whether or not there will be a game watch, but it's very good news that we will have a chance to watch our mens basketball team play and not have to miss the football team later on.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pitt Football vs Pitt Basketball

It seems that right now we have a little bit of a problem on our hands.

Saturday November 22 has long been scheduled as the date the football team would play against Cincy at a time "TBA" and the basketball team would be facing off against former Panthers Joe Lombardi and Reese Polen at 7 p.m.

Whether it is bad luck or good fortune, the football game will be shown nationally at 7 p.m. on ESPN 2. That is what happens when your team is successful and will have the opportunity to play in what may be the game for the Big East Championship.

It also hurts though that we have the #5 ranked basketball team who was planning a 7 p.m. game vs. a local school that is part of a bigger tournament. Luckily though, there seems to be a very easy answer to this situation. Friday November 21, the basketball game vs. Akron will be televised on FSN starting at 7 p.m.

The game vs IUP does not have a television carrier yet, and it is unlikely that we will get one being that it is on a day of college football and really isn't a premiere match up.

I bet we will see the men's basketball game moved to a 4 p.m. tip off that way the game will be over by 6 and we will all have a solid 75 minutes to get from the Pete to where ever we may watch the game.

Or, if Pitt wants to be really fan friendly, maybe we will see the basketball game at 4:30 and then a live broadcast of the football game on the jumbotron immediately following.

I hope they are able to move the game for my own selfish reasons, but if they are unable to do so, I will be at the Pete with 1,000 of my closest Zoo friends cheering on the Panthers vs IUP. Then I'll run home to catch the rest of the football game. In my opinion home games take precedence over the road ones.

Jason Douglas is #14

Even though he wears #15, he is the 14th Panther to join this years recruiting class. I really didn't know much about him before the committment and didn't realize we were pushing him hard. I personally had felt that with a few backs coming in this year that we were pretty much set. That was until I watched this clip of him here on YouTube and it is pretty clear that he is going to be quite a force on special teams. Maybe it is because Dave Wannstedt is the special teams coach that he is loading up on major talent there (Tags, Cam, Aundre, and others).

The one major bright spot of this team thus far has been our special teams. We have played very well in all aspects there. Adding Jason Douglas is going to be a major benefit to the Panthers. Having him and Cam back there returning kicks will be deadly because of their size and speed. Before you go bashing me because I mentioned their size being a major advantage, think about this. Almost every guy infront of them on the kicks will be over 6' tall. It will be very easy for them to disappear from the opponents.

Being able to hide behind the blockers, having tremendous, speed, and providing another option for our special teams and our offense is only a positive. I hope he turns out to be another quality Panther from florida like we have seen in the past.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Pitt-Louisville Thoughts

Well we are going to a bowl feels very good to finally write that phrase. Going into the season I saw no way that we would have less than 8 wins. Currently we sit on 7 with 3 games left on the schedule and a BCS bid is solidly in reach. Yesterday, it all came together and we finally got a dominant home performance(with the exception of the insanely boring 3rd quarter). Louisville had been another team we have found ways to lose to under Wanny but this time everything went according to plan. Plus, as an added bonus we got to watch some rivals lose heart breakers.

On the offensive side of the ball we did what we needed to, namely putting up points when the opportunity was there. Louisville based their entire defensive gameplan on stopping Shady and it worked for them. The obvious limitations of our offense become apparent when Shady can't get it going on the ground but Stull continues not to turn the ball over. He isn't going to make every pass and truthfully he is going to miss an open receiver or two but he keeps the game under control. Jonathan Baldwin is continuing to show how great he is going to be. I think every Big East team should be thankful that we can't throw the ball down the field with any consistency and that our offensive coordinator runs an antiquated offense, under a different system Baldwin could be the best player in the country. One of the problems I could see rearing its head over the next 3 games is the poor play of Dom Williams at guard, he was consistently missing his blocks and getting moved off the ball. I think we need to try to get Shady outside of the tackles because the interior of the line is currently a problem. 

Defensively I feel like there are two different teams playing at the same time. The front seven continues to improve and is really finding a groove in the pass rush. Since we don't blitz the more pressure we can get from the defensive line the better we will play. Sheard is going to be an All Big East player by the time he is a senior and Romeus has finally found a balance between his pass rush and his run responsibilities. Scott McKillop has continued to make his case for the Butkus Award and for my money he is best linebacker in the nation. Greg Williams seems to be playing much looser and is getting used to his role in the defense. Our secondary on the other hand is a real weakness. In pass coverage there is consistent blown coverages and miscommunication between the safeties and corners. I think every player in the secondary this season has been a disappointment. Overall the defense is much improved and hopefully in the last three games we can see an improvement in the secondary.

So the story of the season will be written in the next 3 games. 7 wins and a winning season is something we haven't had in a while but a much bigger prize is within reach. We can win out and I think we will be favorites in every game but I've learned this season not to take anything for granted. Enjoy the big win because at Cincinnati we will find out where this roller coaster is going.

Friday, November 7, 2008

DPJ's thoughts pre-Louisville

Well with Jason Jones, Studzy, and myself here discussing some Louisville items I thought I would try to summarize them before the game for you Cat Basket faithful.

Has there ever been a team more surprising than Pitt? Maybe surprising isn't the best word, but I like it because this season every game we have been surprised in the team we saw. We were surprised against BG and Rutgers. We were surprised with USF and with ND. Personally I was surprised with the Navy performance as I did not seeing it play out the way it did.

So what does this all mean for the Ville? Well I think it means that we can see what we aren't expecting to see. My predictions will be based on this.

I think that you will see Louisville, despite a bad passing attack, go after our secondary all game long. I do believe that we will see a better performance though. With Ricky Gary and Buddy Jackson ready to step in at any moment, the pressure is on Jovanni and Aaron Berry to play better. Also with Fields seeing more time, we can do more and give some different looks to Louisville.

Shady is starting to come into his own. I do believe that he will have a great game tomorrow, but it won't be the way you expect it to be. He will get his yards and perhaps a few td's on the ground, but I believe he will have a greater impact catching the ball. Louisville is suspect against the pass and even though they will be keying on Shady, rb screens and play action will be the remedy for that situation. Shady will break the century mark rushing, but he may get close to that through the air as well.

Keeping with the passing game, I think we may see the "use your best wr as a decoy" plan put back into action. We saw this against Miami with Larry back under WaHa, and we may see this again tomorrow. That is why it will be our possession guys (Kinder and Porter) being the ones that have to keep the passing game effective. Since Stull will be back, he will have the opportunity to win the game with his arm.

Don't take this game lightly. We are coming off an emotional win against the hated Fighting Irish and Louisville is coming off a 2nd consecutive loss to Syracuse. They will have something to prove and we may be facing an emotional let down.

Despite my negativity, we still win this game. They don't have the personnel on offense to beat us through the air and our run defense is too good to let any type of Michael Bush type big run games happen again.

I'm not sure if we will see the original Cat Basket (Pat Bostick) in the game, but I wouldn't be shocked if he took a few meaningful snaps. I would like to see Nate and Dorin get a few more passes their way, but that probably won't happen either.

DPJ's prediction for tomorrows nooner: Pitt 24 - Louisville 18.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Weekend College Football

Well sorry this is so late I got caught up in the election on Tuesday then just completely zoned out yesterday. There are a few games this weekend that will decide how the BCS shakes out and who will get to play in Miami on January 8th. Let's get to some of my thoughts:
  1. #11 TCU vs #10 Utah- Which of these two teams is going to keep the BCS buster dream going? Unfortunately, for people like me who love teams from non-BCS conferences going undefeated and knocking out an undeserving BCS conference team I see TCU winning this game. TCU has a very good defense and they have bounced back well from the blowout against Oklahoma. TCU
  2. #1 Alabama vs #15 LSU- This game would be completely different if it was a night game in Baton-Rouge. LSU has been smashed by Georgia and Florida, Alabama is better than Georgia and probably a little worse than Florida. John Parker Wilson of Alabama has flown under the radar a little as an elite QB and I see this as a chance for him to put up big points. I don't expect a close game at all and Alabama will continue their march towards inevitable doom against the Gators. Alabama
  3. #3 Penn St. vs Iowa- An easy win for PSU no matter what the media hype on Greene has been. We all saw Iowa at Heinz Field and they are a poor team. To keep pace with the other undefeated in the BCS Penn St. is going to need to destroy a poor Iowa team. This game is why the Big 10 is such a joke this year, people are trying to pass this off as a marquee game when it is nothing more than a gimme win for Penn St. Penn St.
  4. #8 Oklahoma St. vs #2 Texas Tech- I'm extremely impressed with Texas Tech, they finally installed a running attack to go along with the futuristic passing attack. Against Texas they played enough defense to slow down the Longhorns and I see them doing it again. Oklahoma St. is a fantastic team and would be conference champions anywhere else in the nation except the Big 12 and SEC. Another great prime time game on ABC. Texas Tech
Another great week of football is in the cards and the BCS is going to look exactly the same coming out of it. Next week is where we start to see the shakeups because of the OU-Texas Tech game. As Panther fans we all want Penn State to be denied the BCS title game but I can't see Tech and Alabama remaining undefeated for the rest of the season. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It is Wednesday and I'm tired

Hey everyone, it's the one and only DPJ here.

We have an exciting sports weekend ahead as saturday features us vs. the Ville and sunday brings us another mens Bball game along with the Stillers.

In case you missed the Pitt women's game tonight, you missed 2 important things. 1st we beat the Ohio Legends. Secondly Tommie Duhart was there and was visibly limping. I was sitting with a friend of his (J.F.) and we found out that Tommie will be out again this weekend and probably won't be back until the Cincy game.

Another big thing for Saturday's game is that 5 star basketball recruit Dom Cheek will be there. So all of you students sitting in the Cat Basket should bring your signs and get ready to do some cheering for him when he walks by so that we help show him that Pitt should be his choice.

Lastly, while browsing collegehumor, I came across this gem about joepa.

Enjoy Panther Nation.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Really Late ND Thoughts

Sorry I haven't been putting out as many columns as I was early in the season but I've been getting burnt out by the way this season has played out. I've gotten tired of my own continued pessimistic view of the coaching staff and the way things have played out. So I'm trying to ratchet back on my opinion columns and just talk about the good stuff. My expectations have been sufficiently lowered by the Rutgers loss and I'm just along for the ride now.

So about that ND game it was certainly exciting and it was a win on national tv, which is always good. I'm impressed at the way the team can bounce back from bad performances. Bostick won the game and that is really all that matters. I'm certainly hoping for Stull to play against Louisville if he is completely healed from the concussion. Baldwin is continuing to show how much of a playmaker he is and what he can do with the football. Shady needs to stay another year in college because he would be a sure-fire Heisman contender next season. I've never seen a back who is better in confined spaces than him and nobody is playing better football at the moment.

Defensively I think the big story is the emergence of the defensive line. There was a good deal of hype on this unit in the preseason and it seems as though they have figured out their game. Sheard is an absolute beast as a pass rusher and Mick Williams is fantastic at DT for a player his size. The problems are still really big problems in the secondary. Scott McKillop could win the Butkus Award and is going to go down as an all time great Panther. 

So we are 6-2 and bowl eligible, that is something. I have absolutely no idea how the rest of the season is going to play out but I still think 8-4 is the minimum acceptable finish. Hopefully, winning another big road game can turn our fortunes around at home. For whatever reason and I think blaming the home fans is ridiculous this team plays poorly at home. Louisville is certainly not a gimme win and they could be better than ND.

I may be back tomorrow with a general college football column, if not I will be back with a Pitt-centric column.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Notre Dame Live Blog

Hey there everybody. Jones and I will be here all day providing updates and our thoughts about today's game against the Irish. I apologize for not being able to get the podcast with the Notre Dame fan done yesterday, he had to leave early to get to Indiana with his brother.

Also I'll be joining Chas over at Pittblather for their liveblog/chat, so be sure to stop by and see what is going on over there.

2:00 - Reports are that Billy Stull will be starting at qb today.

2:43 - Nice kick off by the Panthers

3:01 - 3 to nothing Notre Dame

3:12 - Kevan Smith?????? Why?

3:18 - Smith throws the ball 10 yards out of bounds when Baldwin is wide open.

3:20 - We still have about negative 2 yards after 9 offensive plays.

3:21 - End of the first and we are tied up at 3.

3:33 - Bostick is back in the game.

3:35 - Baldwin with the catch of the game.....Amazing

3:44 - Notre Dame just may have upstaged the Baldwin catch. That was incredible.

3:48 - Notre Dame td it's now 10-3.

3:59 - Dorin gets mugged on his route and the ball is picked. Let the Bostick bashing begin.

4:03 - Pitt stops ND on 3rd and long but a roughing the passer call pulls it back.

4:06 - Touchdown ND, this is not good.

4:38 - Bomb to Baldwin goes incomplete.

4:39 - Big pass from Bostick to Turner, down inside the 5.

4:41 - Hot Rod with the TD, XP is good, 17-10 ND still leads.

4:45 - We held ND to a 3 and out.

4:49 - Pass to Baldwin is tipped by JB and then picked off.

4:54 - Pitt holds ND to a 4 and out. Our ball.

5:06 - Bostick has the team driving nicely. End of the 3rd quarter.

5:12 - Pitt is moving the ball very well

5:14 - 2nd and goal on the 3, but held up on a false start

5:15 - Bostick to McCoy takes it to the 2.

5:15 - Touchdown McCoy, the game is tied at 17.

5:25 - We are playing a read and react and it is killing us.

5:27 - 30 yard pass to Tate, not good.

5:30 - Td notre dame, 24-17.

5:34 - Bostick with a big pass to Porter.

5: 37 - Shady is out of control, he is playing possessed right now.


5:46 - Bad PI call against Berry, he needs to play smarter.

5:54 - big play here, 4th and 1 with 40 seconds left.


5:58 - Int on a bomb, not a bad play, they are out of TO's. The ND safety looks to be hurt here.

6:00 - ND takes a knee and that is it. Overtime.

6:05 - We will start on O for the OT period.

6:09 - FG by lee. Now it is ND's turn.

6:14 - ND has it deep. 2nd and goal from the 2

6:15 - Big tackle by McKillop 3rd and goal from the 4

6:16 - Sheard with great pressure, incomplete pass.

6:17 - FG by ND. Time for OT #2.

6:18 - Berry was beat deep, but luckily it was incomplete.

6:19 - First down ND. Bad coverage again.

6:28 - Lee's FG ties it up at 30. Our ball to start the 3rd OT.

6:32 - Another FG by Lee. This is the Shady and Lee show. Pitt 33 ND 30.

6:36 - ND with a prayer FG. C'mon, this is getting crazy.


6:42 - Long run by Shady. Ball on the 5!

6:44 - Field Goal by Lee is good!!!!!!!! PITT WINS PITT WINS PITT WINS!

What a game, it took 4 over times, but we beat a bad ND team at ND. Bostick notches a win in a tough stadium, Shady played great, McKillop is a machine, and Conor is Money.

Thats all folks!