Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Where to turn?

I will be completely honest here. When I first hear of CatBasket friend E.J. Borghetti announcing that Mo Williams had some academic issues, I did not think it was serious enough to have him miss an entire season. Usually when you hear of some academic issues, a couple of summer courses can fix that problem right away. The NCAA rules state that a player must complete 12 credits per year (6 a semester) and meet specific GPA's (1.8 for freshmen I believe). For those of you who never attended Pitt, the University requires a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or else you will be placed on academic probation. Jason Jones and I usually joke that if Pitt really wants you, they will find a way to make you eligible. Unfortunately this will not be the case for Mo Williams. I'm sure you are all tired of reading about rules and regulations, so here are some of my OPINIONS of how this will impact the team.

Firstly, we are lucky to be deep at WR. Kinder, Turner, Porter, McGee, Wright and Jonathan Baldwin are all capable players. I was really hoping that Kinder/Williams would be the starting wr's as I feel that Turner lacks concentration and isn't the most motivated of receivers. Despite my feelings on that, Turner has shown that when the effort is there, he can be an effective player. I believe that Oderick is the type of player that needs some type of inspiration to get the full potential from him. His freshman year he had to earn his playing time and he did well. Last year after the Kinder injury, I believe that he felt his job was safe and he did not try as hard as he did before. I am also aware that being the #1 receiver on the team meant he had to face the opponents #1 cornerback, but when you have responsibility like he had last year, you need to show up.

Since Williams is now in this situation I think this will also teach him a valuable lesson that just because you have earned a scholarship does not mean that you are untouchable. I think it would be easy for a college freshman to get wrapped up in the hype of the college sports experience and let it go to his or her head that academics are second. After a good freshman year, Pitt women's player Jania Sims missed time due to academic issues. Hopefully he can continue taking courses this summer and use the fall and spring to boost the GPA. I also hope that Wanny uses this to motivate the players and let them know that performance on and off the field counts. As much as we love our football team, Pitt is an outstanding academic institution. Just having a degree from here is more valuable than 95% of all other colleges.

Having this redshirt year will also help Mo improve. It will give him an extra year to develop, an extra year in the system, and an extra year to improve his rapport with the quarterbacks of the future Pat Bostick and Tino Sunseri. I don't think anyone expect Mo to be a guy who left early, and now he can use his last 3 years to earn a spot next to Jonathan Baldwin and hopefully make up the most dangerous WR duo in the Big East.

Jonathan Baldwin. The biggest outcome of this whole debacle may just be that Jonathan Baldwin can raise himself up from what I felt would have been a redshirt season into a significant contributor. Lets face it folks, Wanny does not play freshmen unless he HAS to. Bostick, Joe Thomas, and Shady all saw their playing time because of issues at their respective positions. I do not believe for one second that despite his amazing talent, that Baldwin would have ever gotten above 5th on the overall WR depth chart. With Kinder's post-injury ability unknown, Turner's struggles last season, and not knowing McGee and Wright's true ability, Jonathan Baldwin could force himself into the game based upon his amazing potential alone.

This is a big loss for Pitt, don't look at it any other way. Before you get too down about it though just remember that while it does hurt that we are losing him, Pitt is doing the right thing. We're not going to make exceptions, we're not bending the rules, we have and will continue to run a respectable program and one that we should all feel proud to be associated with.

Mo, I can't wait to see you on the field in 2009, but take this year and get everything set straight.


Brian Ising said...

Relax, this is not a big loss. I am a big Mo Williams fan and expected him to start, but we will be fine this season without him. Consider this: last season, we lost Kinder, Stull, Pinkston, Mustakas, and Fields to season-ending injuries or suspensions. Is the loss of the Mo Williams a bigger loss than any one of the guys? I don't think so. As long as we don't lose any other key contributors to injury or suspension, we'll be fine. This is going to be a fun season with or without Mo.

I expect that Kinder and Turner will start at WR, with Porter as the 3rd WR. I think Turner will have a very good year. He is very talented and led the BE in receiving TD's as a true freshman. Yes, his numbers dropped last year, but that was due to poor QB play. He frustrated us fans with a couple key drops and seemed to lack concentration and effort. It looked to me that he was very frustrated by the QB situation and it adversely affected his play. Now that he will have a real QB (Billy Stull) to throw him the ball, I expect that his effort and concentration will improve and he will have a very good year for us.

Also, Turner and Porter are better deep threats than possession receivers. Last year, our downfield passing game was non-existent, which hurt these 2 guys especially. I look for them to get many more opportunties to catch the ball downfield this season, which will play right into their strengths.

As for Baldwin, I'm still not sure that he'll see much time this year. He'll still be behind Kinder, Turner, and Porter to start the year. Plus, he'll be competing with some other pretty talented guys like Ced McGee, Aundre Wright, and Aaron Smith.

I don't buy into the "Wanny does not play freshmen unless he HAS to" argument. You cited Bostick, Thomas, and Shady. Who should Bostick and Thomas started over? They didn't start until there were injuries because they weren't good enough. As for Shady, HotRod started ahead of him until he got hurt, but Shady was playing a bunch anyways, so it wasn't a big deal who started. I have no doubt that if Baldwin is good enough, he will play. I just doubt that, as talented as he is, he will be able to pick up the playbook and make the adjustment to college football and pass the quality players that we already have at WR.

DPJ said...

I'm saying he only plays freshmen when he has to. Shady started getting the bulk of the carries when Hot Rod went down.

Joe Thomas got the starting nod because at that point we had a garbage line and injuries.

Bostick would have never seen the field without the injury to Stull. Bostick should have been the starter in the MSU game.

Wanny's track record at Pitt shows that he will always pick the upperclassman over the underclassman regardless of talent

I still believe Dicicco should have gotten more PT last year because our safety's were a pretty big weak spot on the team and having him get some experience would have been very beneficial.

Michael said...
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