Thursday, August 14, 2008

Finally Back

OK it has been a while since I have posted, but now that classes are over and a trip to Chicago is done I can help Jones keep this train rolling.

The MRI results of Cam Saddlers knee were not good. Cam has an ACL injury that will require surgery and put him out for the year. This makes player #2 that we have lost for the season. Hopefully this year does not follow in the same steps as last year with multiple players at key positions being hurt. I never want to say an injury is not a big deal, but luckily Pitt will be able to survive with our great depth at defensive line (Fulmer) and our kick return game should be in relatively good shape as Hot-Rod, Aundre Wright, and others are all capable returners.

Speaking of returners, I am very uncertain how Derek Kinder will fare this season. He seems to be struggling with not being able to run and make cuts the way he wants too. Derek could end up having a very productive season, but coming back from such a major injury makes me believe that he won't be able to replicate what he did his junior season.

Keeping on the junior theme, I find it odd that despite being the projected starter Bill Stull isn't taking many reps with the first team. Most of the time it has been Pat Bostick practicing on the first unit. I'm fine with that as I feel Bostick still has his best days ahead of him. With the weight loss, added arm strength, plus being the most experienced qb on our roster he could be the right guy to lead the team.

I understand that Stull has been suffering from bruised ribs after Jabaal Sheard manhandled Joe Thomas into Stull. I know you're probably tired of hearing me say this, but really, why can't we let the best players play? Joe Thomas has gotten worse each season and is making the right side of the line a huge liability. I just find it hard to believe that a team with so many offensive linemen don't have anyone better than Joe Thomas. People always tell me that Lucas Nix can't play because he's only a freshman, but I don't buy into that. Sure offensive linemen take a while to grow into, but we're not asking him to be an all-american here. Before I'm criticized for wanting the highly touted freshmen to play without proving anything, let me say that I am for the best players playing. I don't care if they are a freshman or a senior. As long as we have the best players playing, then I can live with that. So by the end of camp if Joe Thomas is really the best right tackle we have, then play him. I just feel that Wannstedt has his starters penciled in and Joe Thomas won't see his name coming off of that list anytime soon.

Before I conclude here, I want to bring up Jonathan Baldwin. Just like we heard last year with Shady, Jonathan is dominating practice. Our defense ranked in the top 10 last season and should only grow stronger with the departures of Kennard Cox, Jameel Brady, and others. The fact that Baldwin is making life miserable for our defense should warrant time for him to play. I really worry that Kinder isn't ready and that he won't be the same player. I also worry that we will see more of the same lack of concentration from Oderick Turner. I really hope that Baldwin is an opening day starter. I am setting myself up for disappointment here, but just lining Baldwin up at wr makes match up problem #1, having Dorin covered by a linebacker is match up problem #2, and lastly we have Shady which is going to be hell for any defense.

Our offense can be special, but it is all going to come down to the right tackle and quarterback. Like Jason said earlier, I believe this team could be a national championship team if we had Tyler Palko.


johnny said...

I agree with the majority of your observations as usual and want to make a parallel with Baldwin's situation and one that occurred a year or two before you and Jones got to Pitt. In '99 and '00, Latif Grim was the known commodity at WR and teams would play the cover 2 by shading the safety more towards him. This opened up some extra space for Antonio Bryant, especially by his sophomore year.

I am not predicting a Biletnikoff Award for Baldwin this year, but even despite his freakish speed and size (the mathup problem you mentioned), I still think that due to his inexperience, Kinder, Turner, and even Porter would be drawing more of the attention, especially early in the season.

Regardless, it seems obvious that he needs to see some immediate playing time since Mo Williams is gone, and Gorman was sugar coating that Turner has been having mental lapses and Kinder's not totally comfortable and maybe playing a little hesitant. It also seems that Aaron Smith and Aundre Wright have been mentioned as a little inconsistent.

Joe Thomas is simply puzzling me right now, but I don't know enough about rating or understanding the o-line to say where he should be projecting.

The other story that I find compelling is Jared Holley working his way into the two-deep. I remember reading on one of TOS how the coaches were really high on him, but I did not think that he would have developed so much so quickly.

Finally, best of luck to Cam Saddler. From the little I've seen of his interviews, he has the charisma and optimism to get through this rehab process and come out stronger in the end.

Michael said...

As of now, we have two options at TE that are good ones: nasty nate and baldwin.
what scares me is the special teams depth. i know cam was a freshman but he was supposed to return like revis. we need another guy like that.
we also need a guy like lucas to get a chance to play.
if your worst fears are realized and kinder isnt the same player, then there goes our depth WR. you want to rely on tj porter and turner? God i wish i knew more about william's situation. now we lose the WR big play down the field potential. we lose that constant threat. fortunately for us, we have shady, collins, and hot rod to fill the gap with running game. good to know one thing is still rock solid.

QB woes, Oline woes, now WR woes. the night is darkest just before dawn, and i promise you the dawn is coming...

J Jones said...

I have a feeling that we could see a breakout season from Ced McGhee. He has been a solid player in his limited time at Pitt and I could see him having a productive season. The whole Kinder situation scares the crap out of me but there is depth and different types of options. We really need to hope that Baldwin can overtake a spot or we will get to see the Oderick Turner we saw two years ago.