Thursday, February 19, 2009

New OC Thoughts

So what DPJ and the overwhelming majority of Pitt fans hoped was going to happened did, Frank Cignetti Jr. was hired as the Offensive Coordinator. Everything about this hire seems progressive and inspired from the program. DPJ listed all the advantages of Cignetti in an earlier column and I definitely agree with everything he said. Cignetti is an up and comer in the college game and gives us a boost of enthusiasm on the offensive side of the ball. Another benefit to this hire is that Cignetti brings along a cache of offensive success and innovation to the program. 

As of right now the offense in a bit of a state of flux in terms of personnel and identity. Last year, the offense was one player and that player will be playing his ball on Sundays now. We have a returning starter at QB but Stull's death grip on the job seemingly goes out the window with a new set of eyes looking at him. Cignetti has plenty of QB's to choose from but he is going to need to work diligently with the new starter or Stull seeing as developing a QB was non-existent under Cavanaugh

If you look at the other skill positions raw talent is stockpiled everywhere. At running back we have plenty of bodies to compete with the presumed frontrunners Chris Burns and Shareef Harris. Tight End is locked down with Nate Byham who could be a star in the making in a new offense. Wide Receiver is loaded and I can only assume that Jonathan Baldwin will become an even bigger part. We even have unique talents that haven't found their niche yet in Dorin Dickerson and Greg Cross. If you look at the personnel it appears as though we can run any type of system Cignetti wants.

Spring football this year needs to be all about figuring out who will lead this offense onto the field against Youngstown State in the opener, is it Stull or is it somebody else. Cignetti's success as a QB coach can remedy the biggest the problem in program currently. After we figure out who will run the offense then we can see what changes the scheme will implement. It is a very exciting time to be a Panther fan.


johnny said...

Nicely stated Jones and it's good to hear from you after your hiatus.

Since we are running fundamentally the same offense next season, albeit with hopefully some more creative play calling, I do not feel that having a new OC is a persuasive argument for underperformance.

Considering the attrition that our competitors faced as well as our schedule, anything less than 9 wins is unacceptable.

I look forward to some important position battles this spring.


rkohberger said...

Well Johnny - the argument I put forth (if you are referring to previous posts) wasn't centered at all on having a new OC. It was more a cautionary post regarding the fact that this new OC is walking into a situation that isn't changing much from last season at the integral position (QB) but is changing profoundly at some other key positions - namely RB.

So - I do feel that unless Cignetti can somehow come up with playcalling that magically erases our QB weaknesses (and that has been tried mightily over the last two seasons) then I think PITT fans need to be realistic in their expectations for this coming year's offense.

Honestly - I believe PITT fans put way too much emphasis on playcalling anyway. If you go back and look at how a team's offensive play calling is after the game - you'll see that the vast majority of offensive plays are standard runs or passes - it's the proper execution of those bread and butter plays that allow for the 'creative play' to work.

It does no good to be a creative play caller (targeting open space, creating mismatches, etc.) if you don't have the delivery system in place to advance the ball. 90% of Cav's playcalling was fine. Unfortunately almost the same amount of Stull's passing game was poor.

DPJ said...

RKO, you're very right about the play calling.

The issue I have had (and i'm not sure if it was Wanny or MC) was with the selection of the personnel. It was baffling to me why we stuck with Joe Thomas early on when he was struggling, why we played Clowser over Nix (I don't buy Wanny's if the injury happened earlier Nix would have played excuse), Pelusi over Dorin in passing situations, Williams over Lumpy, and Turner over Porter.

I hope that Cignetti has a better eye for the talent he has. If he does, that along with his ability to develop quarterbacks (something Cav could not do at this level), we may see some strides made this year. The real success will be seen in 2010 and 2011 as most of our expected big play makers will still be around.

johnny said...


Good stuff as always, and I was speaking more off the top of my head than answering your other posts. Clearly if I were to say something like "anything less than a national championship is unacceptable" then it be unrealistic.

However, let's consider all the starters that we are bringing back for a minute. Essentially we have our entire 3-deep at d-line as well as Greg Williams and DeCicco.

Our O-line, returns very much intact as well as the tight end and WR positions. Between Collier, Burns, Harris, and Hyno, I don't think we will have much of a drop off in terms of running production.

For as great a loss as Shady will be, we still finished 6th in the conference in rushing, which may be attributed to coaches gameplanning on stuffing 10 men in the box.

What about our opponenets? Cincy loses 10 starters of defense. WVU loses Pat White and a bunch of starters on defense. Notre Dame is comprised of overhyped jokes that we play at home. USF and Goatse show people how much they suck by week 6. Rutgers loses Teel, Brit, & Underwood. UClown loses Donald Brown.

Thus, while we still have holes in the lineup and some uncertainty, I argue that every game is winnable and that there is no team on the schedule with more talent from top to bottom, despite what Scout tells you about all the stars that the Fighting Jokes have.

Therefore, anything less than the win total from last season is underperformance, especially since Cignetti isn't bringing in a radically different offense.