Monday, December 31, 2012

Cincinnati 70 Pittsburgh 61

1.  We are starting to find the level of Pitt basketball this season and may not be much more than mediocre.  After leading by 8 at the half, the Panthers were outscored 44-27 in the second half.  The lack of a go to scorer was never more obvious.

2.  Talib Zanna led Pitt with 16 points and pitched in with 5 rebounds, but despite those numbers I wouldn't really call him a major factor.  And he had trouble holding on to balls all day.

3.  Lamar Patterson had 13 points, thanks to 5-5 from the line, but he was also 4-12 from the field and 0-5 from the line.  He looked afraid to shoot many open shots and it's becoming a real problem.  He did his usual stat stuffing with 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and a block, but he was not effective.

4.  Steven Adams played against two good teams in Michigan and Cincinnati and didn't score against either.  At least he had 9 rebounds in this game and has averaged 9.2 rebounds over his last 6 games, but he seems way too overpowered, which shouldn't be happening.

5.  Trey Woodall is never going to be the top player that many Pitt fans wanted.  It's just not going to happen.  In this game he was mostly nonexistent and came away with 9 points, though he was just 3-9 from the field and 0-3 from three.  He also had 2 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals.

6.  James Robinson was forced to do way too much, both from Jamie Dixon and from the Panthers veterans who decided to stand around.  He ended up with 7 points, 2 assists, a rebound, a block, and a turnover.

7.  Cameron Wright played well with 10 points in 24 minutes.

8.  Trey Zeigler was a disaster with 3 turnovers in just 9 minutes.

9.  The Panthers shot 44.2% from the field, 0-10 from three, and 60% from the line.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Malcolm Gilbert transferring

Pitt's 7'0" sophomore center Malcolm Gilbert is transferring to Fairfield so that he can play with his brother.  Gilbert is the second Panther to transfer during the season.  Sophomore guard John Johnson transferred to Penn State a few games into the season.  J.J. Richardson, Khem Birch, and Isaiah Epps have also transferred from the program in the last two years.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Robert Foster chooses Alabama

A very tough loss for Pitt to lose local superstar Robert Foster, but if they can still manage to land Tyler Boyd this season and Troy Apke next season, then the receiving corps will still be excellent going into the future.  But good luck to Robert and I hope all Pitt fans also wish him luck.  He's a good kid and you can't fault him for wanting to play for the best program in the country.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Pitt loses defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable

Former Pitt defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable has taken the job as the defensive coordinator for NC State.  There he will work under new Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren.  Both coached at Wisconsin previously.

Look for the possibility of Charlie Partridge to come back to Pitt.  Partridge was a former linebackers coach for the Panthers.  An excellent Florida recruiter, Partridge was the co-defensive coordinator and the associate head coach for Wisconsin this season.  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Final Top 25 of PA

1.  Robert Foster, Central Valley HS (Monaca) WR- For some reason, recruiting services try to get cute and name everybody but him as the best prospect in the state, and that's their mistake.  No offense to the other elite prospects because all have an equal chance to be great college players, and maybe even NFL players, but Foster has no questions in his game at all, and should be ranked No.1 in the state.

He needs to fill in a little, and is around 180 now, but he has the excellent 6'3" height.  He also has long arms, great hands, superb speed, and off the chart quickness.  He is not just an athlete who is playing wide receiver.  He's a legit receiver who knows how to play the position and runs good routes.  He is also tough as hell and is not afraid of contact in the least.  He is a threat to go all the way every time he touches the ball, and is excellent on reverses and punt and kick returns.

Chose ALABAMA over Pittsburgh,  but had offers from just about everybody including Penn State, West Virginia, Notre Dame, Michigan, Florida, LSU, Oregon, USC, and Ohio State.

Bottom line-  Everybody knows he can be a superstar, yet amazingly he is still a little underrated.  Has the potential to reach just about any level, including NFL stardom.

2.  Alex Anzalone, Wyomissing Area HS (Wyomissing) LB-  Even in the NFL, it's hard to find true linebackers who are the total package.  And in college most linebackers are either big, slower kids or small, fast kids who could just as easily be safeties.  That's why Anzalone (pronounced Ann-zuh-loney) is so highly covered.

He already has good 6'3" 230 pound size, and has the frame to add a lot more muscle.  He is long, has very good speed, and excellent quickness.  He is along strider who just seems to blow by past people.  Also an excellent kid who is mature and soft spoken.

Originally committed to Ohio State, then switched to Notre Dame, before ultimately committing to FLORIDA.  Other offers included Pittsburgh, Penn State, West Virginia, Florida State, Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Oklahoma, USC, and Stanford.

Bottom line-  Excellent all around linebacker.  When one thinks of the typical tough PA linebacker, they should think of this kid.

3.  Adam Breneman Cedar Cliff HS (Camp Hill) TE- It's rare to find kids with tight end size who can also run, so when one is found the offers just pour in.  When they are as productive and as mature as this young man, well, he becomes one of the more recruited players in the country.

He decided to stay home and play for PENN STATE, and he's already starting to become a legend even though he hasn't even signed yet.  And that's because he is very proud of being a Nittany Lion, and he is very vocal in recruiting and giving the university a lot of good publicity.  He's already a great leader and very mature.

On the field he is 6'4" and 230 pounds, with good speed and great hands.  He needs to get bigger and stronger, and he's coming off a major knee injury that cost him his entire senior season, but it looks like nothing can stop this young man from being a star at Penn State.

It may be easier to say who didn't offer Adam, but some of the big ones who did offer include Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Ohio State, and Nebraska.

Bottom line-  Excellent prospect on the field and a mature team leader off the field.  The sky is the limit.

4.  Dorian Johnson, Belle Vernon Area HS (Belle Vernon) OT-  When I first saw tape on this kid back in January, my jaw dropped.  It's not too often that you see a 6'6" 270 pound kid move like this.  His quickness at the snap is phenomenal, as his habit of pushing unmatched opponents ten yards down the field.  His arms are extremely long, his feet are quick, and his frame can easily put on another 50 or 60 pounds if he wants.

He originally surprised many by committing to Penn State, but after the Nittany Lions were slapped with a four year bowl ban, Johnson changed his commitment to PITTSBURGH.  The fact that he handled the switch with both class and maturity showed what kind of young man he is.

Other offers included Ohio State, Alabama, Notre Dame, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Tennessee.

Bottom line-  Once he adds the weight, he will have everything it takes to be a big time left tackle at the college level, and perhaps beyond.

5.  Tyler Boyd, Clairton Area HS (Clairton) WR-  If you ever needed proof that superstars can be found at small schools, look no further than this young man.  A WPIAL legend and one of the most productive players the state has ever seen.  And make no mistake about it, he still would have been a huge star if he was in Quad A.

He needs to add weight to his 6'1" 170 pound frame, but he has great length, speed, quickness, and hands.  He has not spent much time as a traditional receiver for the Bears, taking most snaps as a running back, but he should have no problem at all learning the position.  He could just as easily be an All-American caliber safety at the next level and has excellent return skills as well.

Committed to PITTSBURGH over West Virginia, Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Arizona, Rutgers, Georgia Tech, and others.

Bottom line- Smooth, impressive athlete and a really good football player. Reminiscent of former Woodland Hills, and Michigan star, Steve Breaston.  Could definitely be a star in college.

6.  Patrick Kugler, North Allegheny HS (Wexford) OG/C- An excellent all around interior offensive lineman with toughness, quickness, and a real nastiness.  At 6'4" and 275 pounds, he needs to add at least 25 pounds, but after a redshirt season he should be ready to compete for playing time.  His dad, Sean, was the Steelers offensive line coach this season, and has recently been named as the head coach at UTEP.

Committed to MICHIGAN over the likes of Pittsburgh, Penn State, West Virginia, Notre Dame, Florida State, Oklahoma, Florida, Virginia Tech, Michigan State, Miami, Washington, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

Bottom line-  Very advanced with his technique because of his father, and once he gets bigger he could be a Big Ten star because he has everything else it takes to reach that level.

7.  David Williams, Imhotep Institute Charter School (Philadelphia) RB-  The state hasn't consistently put out a lot of nationally recruited running backs for awhile, but not many are the full package like Williams.  A little tall for running backs these days at 6'1", and needs to add some size to his 192 pound frame, but he has speed to burn, great quickness and agility, and elite level vision.  He also can run inside and outside, he can return kicks and punts, and he has very good hands.

Needless to say, with all of those attributes Williams has had an impressive offer list.  At the moment, South Carolina seems to be the favorite, but other offers have come from Pittsburgh, Penn State, West Virginia, Ohio State, Arizona State, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Virginia, Tennessee, and Rutgers.

Bottom line-  Big time back with the all around skills to be a major success at the college level.

8.  Mike McGlinchey, William Penn Charter School (Philadelphia) OT- If size is what you want in your offensive tackles, you can't do much better than the 6'8" McGlinchey.  Needs to add much more weight to his 280 pounds, but he has frame to easily put on another 50 pounds.  Obviously he has the long reach that comes from being 6'8", but he also plays tough and just as impressively, he runs amazingly well for his size.  On some running plays, he's still out in front of the running back 30 yards down the field.  Also a good basketball player.

Committed to NOTRE DAME over offers from Pittsburgh, Penn State, Michigan, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Wisconsin, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Bottom line-  Once he adds some weight he could be a big time player because the wingspan, feet, and toughness are topnotch.

9.  Scott Orndoff, Seton-LaSalle HS (Pittsburgh) TE-  The full package athletically with great 6'6" 245 pound size already with the frame to get bigger.  He is fantastic after the catch and has excellent hands.  Maybe the most impressive thing is that he has run a 11.6 100m, a ridiculous number for a player that size.

Originally committed to Wisconsin, but changed to PITTSBURGH.  Also had offers from the likes of West Virginia, Michigan, and Michigan State.

Bottom line-  Like Breneman, he is the new bread of freakishly athletic tight end, and his size/speed combination is pretty crazy.  In Paul Chryst's tight end heavy offense, he should be a star eventually.

10.  Zayd Issah, Central Dauphin HS (Harrisburg) LB-  Very good athlete with straight line speed, toughness, and athleticism.  Lean, but muscular at 6'3" and 210 pounds with the frame to easily add 30 pounds if he wants. Very productive football player who lead his team to the state Quad A championship last season.  Name is pronounced as "Zade Eee-saw".

Committed to PENN STATE over the likes of Pittsburgh, Oregon, Arizona State, Virginia, Maryland, NC State, Iowa, and Rutgers.

Bottom line-  Really good football player, strong and athletic, and a quality young man.  Could really help keep the Nittany Lions during their penalized years.

11.  Damion Terry, Cathedral Preparatory School (Erie) QB-  Has the good 6'4" 210 pound size, a strong arm, and very good athleticism.  Very good speed and has the ability to get a big gain when running out of the pocket.  Had an excellent senior season and has improved a lot.

MICHIGAN STATE came into the state early and got a steal with this young man. He committed way back in April so his only other offers were Illinois, Duke, and Boston College, but if he waited he could have more.  Not that he needed that since the Spartans are one of the better programs in the country.

Bottom line-  Very good quarterback prospect who is capable of starting in the Big 10 in a few years.

12.  Will Fuller, Roman Catholic HS (Philadelphia) WR- Every year there is a player that people wonder why he isn't recruited heavier and this is this year's player.  Way too thin at 6'1" and 160 pounds, but he has good speed, excellent quickness, and some of the best hands in the country.  His ball skills are so smooth that he wowed observers over the summer at camps and combines.  He just catches everything in sight and does it effortlessly.

Initially chose Penn State but then changed his commitment to NOTRE DAME.  Other offers included  Boston College, Rutgers, and Temple.

Bottom line-  Won't dazzle with his size or speed, but he has all the nuances to be a quality college receiver.

13.  Chavas Rawlins, Monessen Area HS (Monessen) QB/DB-  Excellent athlete with very good speed and a solid 6'2" 190 pound frame.  He doesn't have a cannon but he does have the arm to make all of the throws.  His technique is very raw, however, and it's still an unknown if he could ever develop his passing enough to be a major college passer.  He's such a good athlete, though, that he could easily switch to wide receiver or safety, and if he puts on enough weight, he could even be a linebacker.

Chose WEST VIRGINIA over offers that included Pittsburgh, Nebraska, Northwestern, Georgia Tech,  North Carolina, Rutgers, Virginia, South Florida, and Tennessee.

Bottom line-  If he makes it as quarterback, great, but if he doesn't he has all the physical attributes to be a success at a different position.

14.  Delton Williams, Cathedral Preparatory School (Erie) LB/S- The full package with 6'2" 205 pound size, and a high degree of speed, athleticism, and strength.  He's also very productive, starring at one of the top Quad A schools in the state.  He has played mostly at running back in high school, and he could project at that position at the next level, too, but initially he is expected to be on defense.  Also an excellent return man.

He was arrested earlier in the year for being in a car that marijuana in it, but the charges were dropped. Some schools stopped recruiting him for that reason, but MICHIGAN STATE stuck with him and got his commitment.  Others who offered at one time included Penn State, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Rutgers, Cincinnati, and Nebraska.

Bottom line-  No clue where he will eventually end up on the field, but he is an excellent physical specimen and a really good football player.

15.  Andrew Nelson, Hershey HS (Hershey) OL-  At 6'5" and 265 pounds, he obviously has to get much bigger, but he has the frame to put on good weight, plus long arms, quick feet, and a nasty disposition.  But the thing that stands out the most with him is how fast he is.  On his tape, he snaps for a punt then beats everybody down the field to make the tackle.  Rarely have I seen an offensive line prospect move as fast as him.  

Chose PENN STATE early or he would have had a lot more offers.  Still he had some offers from Pittsburgh, Northwestern, Maryland, and Missouri.

Bottom line-  If he puts on the weight and stays healthy, he could really be special for the Nittany Lions in a few years.

16.  DeShawn Coleman, Hickory HS (Hermitage) RB-  Fast, electrifying back with off the charts quickness.  He doesn't play against top competition, but he still often embarrasses the hell out of defenders who try to stop him.   Also has good return skills.  He hasn't been asked to catch much, but he appears to have no problems with his hands. 

At 5'11" and 170 pounds, he's a little light so he's a better fit in an offense where he has room to run.  Luckily for him, he chose the school to do that with WEST VIRGINIA.  Penn State and Purdue offered but there would have been more had he not committed back in April.

Bottom line-  A threat to go the distance every time he touches the ball so he will fit in nicely with the Mountaineers offense.

17. Jaryd Jones-Smith, West Catholic HS (Philadelphia)-  Giant 6'7" 320 pound tackle with very good feet and a great wingspan.  Needs a lot of work in the weight room, especially his lower body.  Had an excellent senior season and excelled on defensive just as much as offense.  Chose PITTSBURGH over Michigan, Wisconsin, Virginia, NC State, Arizona, and Vanderbilt.

Bottom line-  Has everything it takes to be a left tackle at the college level, except for strength, and that that can be improved.

18.  Brian Lemelle, Bishop McDevitt HS (Harrisburg) WR-  On the smallish size at 5'11" and 170 pounds, but he is a solid all around prospect with good speed, hands, and athleticism.  Doesn't stand out in any one area but at the end of the day he knows how to be a receiver.  All the evidence you need is that he is Pennsylvania's all-time career leader in receptions and yards.

His offers include Pittsburgh, Penn State, West Virginia, Nebraska, Iowa, Cincinnati, Rutgers, Virginia,  and Purdue.

Bottom line-  Not big or really fast, but he's so productive and solid at the little things that he should help whichever school he goes to.

19.  James Conner, McDowell HS (Erie) RB/DE-  A sleeper over the summer but that was before he showed his athleticism, speed, and strength in camps and combines.  He followed that up with a big senior season.  At 6'3" 230 pounds, he is a runaway train as a running back, and he may get the chance to play that on the college level.  If not, he could always move to defense.

Chose PITTSBURGH over a handful of MAC schools.  Needless to say, he is highly under recruited.

Bottom line-  Intriguing player because of his excellent athleticism at that size.

20.  Justin Moody, George Washington HS (Philadelphia) DT-  He had some good showings at some Philadelphia combines earlier in the year and it caused him to be overrated by scouting services.  But even though he was overrated then he's still pretty good.  He has a solid 6'3" and 265 pound frame, and he's athletic and quick.  His main problem is that he plays chaotically with little consistent technique.  Once he gets that under control, he could reach his ceiling.

Chose PITTSBURGH over Purdue, Syracuse, Rutgers, Syracuse, Central Florida, and Temple.

Bottom line-  He needs a lot of coaching but the natural skills are all present.

21.  Hodari Christian, McKeesport Area HS (McKeesport) LB/S-  Lean, but solidly built at 6'1" and 210 pounds, with the ability to add good weight if it's needed.  Good speed, athleticism, toughness, and strength.  Also a good tackler.

Chose WEST VIRGINIA over Pittsburgh, Northwestern, Rutgers, Temple, Illinois, and Purdue;

Bottom line-  Good all around player who got lost in the shuffle because he committed early. If he was still out there, many teams would be on him.

22.  Daryl Worley, William Penn Charter School (Philadelphia) WR/S-  A late bloomer on the recruiting front, but when you are 6'0" and 180 pounds, and you are one of the faster players in the state you can't hide for long.  Won conference titles with a 11.14 100m and a 22.27 200m.  Can project equally as a receiver or a safety at the college level, but most schools wanted him as a safety.

He's been told that he will get to choose at WEST VIRGINIA, where he committed to over the summer.  Others offering included Pittsburgh, Penn State, Syracuse, Iowa, Tennessee, Northwestern, Rugers, Boston College, Temple, and UConn.

Bottom line-  Any time a player has this kind of speed, he has a chance to make an impression at the college level.

23.  Shakir Soto, GAR Memorial HS (Wilkes-Barre) DE-  Already has excellent size at 6'4" and 250 pounds, to go with good athleticism and speed.  Has always been an excellent run defender, but he has the tools to rush the passer at the college level and came on to have 13.5 sacks this season.  Against the run, he uses his strength, size, long arms, and aggressiveness to make it very difficult for any running back to get around him.

Chose PITTSBURGH way back in April so many schools never got a look at him before he committed, but he still had offers from schools like Virginia, Maryland, and Boston College.

Bottom line-  The type of player that many schools may look back on and wonder how they missed on him.

24.  Zach Challingsworth, South Fayette HS (McDonald) WR-  Good size at 6'2" and 180 pounds, but he will need to add more mass.  Quicker and faster than he gets credit for and has more than enough speed for the college level.  Great hands and he seems to catch everything in sight, sometimes in an acrobatic fashion.  Highly productive.

Chose PITTSBURGH over Temple and a handful of MAC schools.

Bottom line-  A big star in the WPIAL and has what it takes to be a quality player in college.  He's definitely under recruited.

25.  Matt Galambos, Haverford School (Haverford) LB- Solid 6'2" and 225 pounds with good speed.  Aggressive and excellent tackler who flies around the field like a maniac.  Came from a bad childhood to become a great student with a 4.1 GPA.  Can play on the outside or in the middle.  Had a great year and proved that he was a top prospect.

Chose PITTSBURGH over Rutgers, Syracuse, Temple, Harvard, and Yale.

Bottom line- A big sleeper who is known by many in that area as the best defensive player in southeastern PA.  

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Visitors this week

As of now, there are ten 2013 prospects visiting this weekend, with four of them already committed.  Those four are Shakir Soto, Tra'von Chapman, Tyrique Jarrett, and Scott Orndoff.  Here are capsules of the six non-committed prospects, in the order of how good they are and how important it is to land them.

1.  Jaryd Jones-Smith, West Catholic HS (Philadelphia, PA) OT-  Because there are no big time programs in the Philadelphia area, kids there get overlooked often, but that's good news for Pitt because it may enable them to steal this kid.  He already has size at 6'7" and 315 pounds, and he is naturally big.  He has a frame that can get him to 340 and I wouldn't be surprised if he reached that level if he signed with Pitt.  

He's still raw and needs to get in the weight room, but his natural size, quick feet, and enormous wingspan is something the Pitt staff can really work with.  He's also young for his class so that's another plus. He may be a few years away from making an impact but an offensive line class that has Dorian Johnson and Jones-Smith at the top is a great sign for the future.

"Burger", as he's known, also has offers from NC State, Virginia, Temple, Central Florida, and Arizona.  Virginia and NC State are the biggest obstacles for the Panthers.

2.  JoJo Kemp, Deland HS (Deland, FL), RB-  He's not the prospect that the de-committed Corey Clement was, but that doesn't mean that Kemp won't be a better college player.  He's not big at 5'10" and 190, and he's not a speed demon, but he's quick, he has good hands, and he runs hard.  He's very similar in style to former Pitt star Dion Lewis in that he's small, but he's tough between the tackles, and he is a much better football player than his size and speed would indicate. 

Bottom line, Clement had the makings of a future stud, but Kemp is the kind of all around back that could contribute in many ways over four years.

Nebraska, West Virginia, and Kentucky are his top four, and South Florida, Mississippi State, Iowa State, Rutgers, Purdue, and Wake Forest are some of his other offers.  

3.  Jaleel Hytchye, LaSalle HS (Cincinnati, OH) CB-  Even for a cover corner, he needs to add strength as he looks even lighter than his listed 5'11" and 170 pounds.  He has topnotch speed however, and is a slick cover corner with long arms.  He reminds me of a faster K'Waun Williams, which is a nice thing to be.

I wouldn't be surprised if the Panthers get a commitment form him this weekend or not long after, but Northwestern is also in the mix and he's scheduled to visit there in January.  Other offers have come from Arizona State, Cincinnati, Kentucky, Louisville, Boston College, Purdue, and Penn State.

4.  Justin Moody, George Washington HS (Philadelphia) DT-  He had some nice showings this summer at individual camps which resulted in some recruiting services overrating him somewhat.  The result of that is now he may actually be a little underrated now.

At 6'3" and 270 pounds, he will project to the inside where he can use his good quickness and tenacity.  He is a little raw and needs to get a little stronger, but he could turn out to be a good player down the road.  Pretty much the same level of Panthers freshman Darryl Render, who saw some playing time this season.  As an added bonus, if he does decide to sign with Pitt, it will be good publicity as he has been selected to play in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl on January 4th.

Besides Pitt, Syracuse is also expected to get a visit, and Rutgers, Temple, Purdue, and Central Florida have offered.

5.  Blake McClain, Winter Park HS (Winter Park, FL) CB- Currently a Kentucky commit, but he's been looking around.  To show you how much talent there is in Florida, he's considered borderline top 100 in the state and he still has offers from Pitt, Kentucky, West Virginia, Rutgers, Cincinnati, South Florida, Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Boston College, Wake Forest, and more.

He's 5'11" and 180, and he has good speed.  Basically he has good everything, but he doesn't stand out as excellent at any one facet.  But he plays tough against the run and he's a good athlete.  The type who could be develop and be a good starter in the defensive backfield down the road.

6.  Alex Officer, Eastside HS (Rochester, NY) C/OG- Alex was offered by the previous staff and after a few months of looking elsewhere, the current staff came back to the lineman.  He's not the size that this Pitt staff likes, believe it or not, though he's 6'4" and 315 pounds.  At Wisconsin, the linemen were at least 6'5" and even their centers have been known to go to 6'6".  He's a little thick around the middle, his competition was weak, and he's raw.

But on the plus side, he's got very good feet, he's has good strength already, and he plays with a bit of a mean streak.  Bottom line, he's a good development prospect that at the very least will add good depth down the road.

Louisville is his co-favorite and he also has offers from Boston College, UConn, Syracuse, Rutgers, Old Dominion, Western Kentucky, UMass, and Buffalo. He also recently visited Penn State but left without an offer.

Chryst to stay at Pitt

As I predicted, Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez will not pursue Paul Chryst to be the next head coach for the Badgers because he called in favors at Pitt to get Chryst hired as the Panthers coach.  There is some morality left in college football.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Pittsburgh 66 Duquesne 45

It wasn't always pretty, but at least the result was never in question as the Panthers improve to 8-1.

1.  Tray Woodall was the player of the game with 24 points, including 5-8 from three and 5-5 from the line.  He also had 5 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal, and even a block.  If he could play more like that then Pitt could be a Sweet 16 team.

2.  Another player needed to get to that level is freshman Steven Adams who may finally be getting it.  Yes, his hands still betray him sometimes, and he was brutal in his put back attempts in the first half, but he ended up with 8 points, 14 rebounds, 2 blocks, and a steal. 

3.  Lamar Patterson again had a nice all around game with 13 points, including 5-8 from the field and 3-4 from three, as well as 3 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists, and a block.

4.  James Robinson was once again solid with 9 points, 3 rebounds, 7 assists, and a steal.  He also only had 2 turnovers.

5.  Talib Zanna had a low key game with 4 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 turnovers.

6.  On the downside, the bench, normally a strength, was brutal.  They ended up with just 8 points and they shot 3-19 from the field.  J.J. Moore was 1-9, but he did have 6 rebounds and the bench chipped in with 15 rebounds altogether. They also had 1 assist to go with 6 turnovers.  To make matters worse, they shot 2-5 from the line.  

7.  Duquesne had a terrible shooting night, going for 31.6% from the field, 23.8% from three, and with no inside game, they only attempted 6 free throws, making four.  But Pitt wasn't much better, shooting 38.7% from the field and 56.3% from the line.  The saving grace, however, came from three, thanks mostly to Woodall, as the Panthers made 9-16, good for 56.3%.  

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Paul Chryst statement- What does is mean?

“I understand the speculation surrounding my name given today’s developments. I am committed to the Pitt football program and the University of Pittsburgh. I am focusing all my time and energy on our team’s bowl game preparation and recruiting a great group of young men to join our program and this outstanding university. We are working hard every day to re-establish this program and I am excited about the future of Pitt football.”

Final Grades for Pitt Football- Defense and Coaching

Defensive Line:  This unit was not good for the first half of the season, but just like last season they came on strong at the end of the year.  The main reason for that is junior Aaron Donald, who was back to his dominant self in the second half of the season.  In the first half of the season, Donald had just 18 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, and one sack.  In the second half, he had 45 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks.  That's some difference.  His sack total is down from last season, but his tackles and tackles for loss are up.  Bottom line, the guy is a star who right now is one of the best defensive linemen in the country.

Beside Donald inside is Tyrone Ezell, who was solid with 34 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, and 3.5 sacks.  In reserve, Khaynin Mosley-Smith was a disappointment with just 8 tackles.

The ends supplied little for the first part of the season, and while there are no stars in the bunch, they at least performed better in the second half of the season. Bryan Murphy was below average at the beginning of the year but once he shook the rust off he ended up with 25 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, and 6 hurries. Those aren't elite numbers but it's much better than what was expected after the first few games.

Maybe the most impressive development on the line was senior Shayne Hale, who finally lived up to at least some of his potential.  He has 23 tackles on the season, along with an impressive 7.5 tackles for loss.  He also ended up with two sacks.  On the other side, T.J. Clemmings was a big disappointment with just 20 tackles, and 8 of those came against Buffalo.

One intriguing player was redshirt freshman Devin Cook, who only ended up with 12 tackles on the season, but amazingly 8 of them were a loss.  He also had a sack, 3 hurries, and 2 forced fumbles.  With that kind of big play ability, he's clearly somebody to keep an eye on in the future.

In the first half of the season, the Panthers gave up an average of 138.3 yards a game on the ground.  In the second half of the season, the average dropped to 119.8 yards a game.  And this was with the No.1 team in the nation, Notre Dame, going for 231 yards.  On the season, the Panthers rushing defense is at 129.1 yards a game, good for No.24 in the country.

Last Season's Final Grade:  A-
This Season's Preseason Grade: B-
Midseason Grade:  D
Final Grade:  B-

Linebackers:  Like the entire defense, this unit made good strides in the second half of the season, thanks mostly to Dan Mason and Todd Thomas.

Mason amazed everybody but himself apparently, when he amassed 21 total tackles against Buffalo and Temple.  But he lacerated his liver and was lost again for the rest of the season.  But he was excellent in those two games, as well as the Louisville game proceeding those two.

Meanwhile, Thomas looks like he's on a one way street to stardom.  After injuries kept him out of almost the entire first half of the season, in the second half he totaled 49 tackles, a 33-yard interception, 4 pass breakups, and even a blocked punt.  His 8.2 tackles a game average in the second half was very close to the 8.6 tackles a game that Notre Dame superstar Manti Te'o amassed on the season.  I'm not saying that Thomas is at that level, but he's proving to be one of the better linebackers in the country against the pass.

Eric Williams was also solid on the season with 48 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, a sack, 2 pass breakups, and 5 hurries.  None of those numbers are special but there's enough there to see that the sophomore should only get better.

When Mason wasn't in the middle, Shane Gordon usually was, but the junior didn't come up as big as was hoped for when the season started.  He ended the season with 48 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, and 6 pass breakups.  Those numbers aren't horrible but the middle linebacker in a 4-3 defense usually has much more tackles. In the second half of the season he only had 14 tackles and 9 of those came against Rutgers.

Redshirt freshman Nicholas Grigsby had 27 tackles, but only 3 of those came in the second half of the season after Thomas came back into the lineup.  Manny Williams had 24 tackles but was injured in the second half of the season and was lost for the season.  Joe Trebitz filled in when Mason and Gordon were injured, and he came up big with 13 tackles against Notre Dame and 9 against UConn.  But then he also got injured and saw little time afterward.

Last Season's Final Grade:  C-
This Season's Preseason Grade:  B-
Midseason Grade:  D
Final Grade:  C

Defensive Backs:  It took some time but eventually the secondary lived up to their lofty expectations.  K'Waun Williams had one bad half against Louisville, when he was battling a leg injury, and he missed some snaps early in the season because of a preseason injury, but usually when he was in there, he was an excellent cover corner.  He had 44 tackles on the season, 2.5 sacks, and 3 interceptions.

Williams had to come through because as the season went on, it became apparent that opponents were not going to throw at Lafayette Pitts anymore.  Just a redshirt freshman, Pitts was excellent with 32 tackles, an interception, a forced fumble, and a team high 9 pass breakups. Pitts was so good that he had better stats in the second half of the season even though he was getting less action his way.

Cullen Christian was the top cornerback reserve, and only came up with 14 tackles on the season, but the fact that he's never been singled out is proof that he did his job well.

At safety, it took awhile for Paul Chryst and Dave Huxtable to figure out who got how many snaps, but eventually Jason Hendricks and Jared Holley rose to the top.  Hendricks had a breakout year with a team high 73 tackles and a Big East high 5 interceptions.  Needless to say he played at an all-conference level.  Not far behind was Holley, who started slow, but came on strong with 70 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 4 pass breakups.  Andrew Taglianetti added 34 tackles as a solid reserve, and Ray Vinopal who began the season as a starter, ended up with 13 tackles.

In the first half of the season, the defense gave up 205.2 yards a game through the air, but it improved to 188.3 yards a game over the last six games.  The Panthers also had 8 of their 13 interceptions in the second half of the season.

For the season, the pass defense ranked No.24 in the nation with 196.8 yards a game and the pass efficiency defense ended up No.22 nationally.  One stat that lowers the grade of the unit, however, is third down defense, which is No.97 nationally.

Last Season's Final Grade:  B-
This Season's Preseason Grade:  B+
Midseason Grade:  C
Final Grade: B

Coaching:  Pitt fans want to believe that Chryst will bring them back to at least respectability, if not excellence.  For that reason, many get very defensive when you bring up the truth, which is that it's still impossible to say how well Chryst will do.  He started off with an inexperienced, questionable staff, and then started very slowly in recruiting.  He also made some poor very poor on the field decisions.

While he still makes some bad game decisions, the program is light years ahead of where they were just a few months ago.  The recruiting for 2013 could have a great close, and they are working the 2014 class hard.  Also, the team in the second half got better, especially on defense.  And let's never forget that Chryst turned Tino Sunseri into a highly productive quarterback, something that was previously considered impossible.

But at the end of the day, the team went 6-6, and finished near the bottom nationally in more than a few  categories.  For that reason, I think the grade I give is the only one I can give since this is isn't where I think Chryst will eventually have the program, but rather what the team has done this season.

This Season's Preseason Grade: C
This Season's Midseason Grade:  D
Final Grade:  C+

Monday, December 3, 2012

My Own All-Big East Team


Quarterback: Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville- 2nd in completions, 1st in passing efficiency, and 1st in completion percentage, but most importantly he has been the top player on the conference's best team.  For the season he has completed 69% of his passes for 3,452 yards, 25 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions.

Running Back: George Winn, Cincinnati-  Leading rusher in the conference with 1,204 yards and tied for league lead with 12 rushing touchdowns.  Has an excellent 5.3 avg.

Running Back:  Montel Harris, Temple- Has 1,054 yards on the season, along with 12 touchdowns, and a 5.7 avg.  Against Army he ran for 351 yards and 7 touchdowns.

Wide Receiver:  Alec Lemon, Syracuse- At the midway point, it was teammate Marcus Sales who was the favorite for this slot, but while Sales also had an excellent season it was Lemon who came on like gangbusters as the season went on. His 70 catches and 1,063 yards are both tops in the league, and his 7 touchdowns and 15.2 avg. are also near the top.

Wide Receiver:  Michael Shanahan, Pittsburgh-  Toss up with Sales and Pitt teammate Devin Street, but Shanahan is No.4 in catches and  No. 2 in yards. On the season, he has 58 catches for 926 yards, a 16.0 avg., and 5 touchdowns.

Tight End:  Travis Kelce, Cincinnati-  No.1 for tight ends in the three big categories with 40 catches, 599 yards, and 7 touchdowns.

Offensive Tackle:  Justin Pugh, Syracuse

Offensive Tackle: Kaleb Johnson, Rutgers

Offensive Guard:  Austen Bujnoch, Cincinnati

Offensive Guard: Zack Chibane, Syracuse

Center: Mario Benavides, Louisville


Defensive Line:  Brandon Sharpe, Syracuse-  Tied for fourth with 13.5 tackles for loss, 6 sacks (4 against Pitt), and 35 tackles.

Defensive Line:  Trevardo Williams, UConn- A league high 11.5 sacks, along with 13.5 tackles for loss, and 42 tackles.

Defensive Line:  Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh- What a great second half of the season the junior had, and he ended the season as the No.1 tackler for linemen, 1st in tackles for loss (6th nationally), and 3rd in sacks.  For the season he had 63 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 18.5 tackles for loss, 2 pass breakups, a forced fumble, and 11 hurries.

Defensive Line:  Dan Giordano, Cincinnati-  51 tackles, 5 sacks, 6 tackles for loss, a forced fumble, and 12 hurries.

Linebacker:  Yawin Smallwood, UConn-  3rd in tackles with 120, 3rd in tackles for loss with 15, plus 4 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles.

Linebacker:  Khaseem Greene, Rutgers-  His 125 tackles lead the league, and also has 10.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, 5 pass breakups, 8 hurries, and an incredible 6 forced fumbles.

Linebacker:  Sio Moore, UConn-  72 tackles, along with 15.5 tackles for loss (2nd), 8 sacks (2nd), and 11 passes defensed (4th).

Cornerback:  Logan Ryan, Rutgers-  1st with 18 passes defensed, 2nd in interceptions with 4, and his 87 tackles are second best for defensive backs.

Cornerback:  Dwayne Gratz, UConn-  second in the conference with 14 pass breakups, and also had 3 interceptions, 3.5 tackles for loss, and 53 tackles.

Safety:  Calvin Pryor, Louisville- His 94 tackles are the best in the league and his 4 forced fumbles are 2nd.  He also had 5 pass breakups.

Safety:  Jason Hendricks, Pittsburgh- A league leading 5 interceptions along with 8 passes defensed and 73 tackles.


Kicker-  Brandon McManus, Temple-  The all time leader in Temple history, he was 14-17 this season.

Punter-  Brandon McManus, Temple- His 45.1 avg. is tops in the league and 10th nationally.

Return Specialist-  Matt Brown, Temple- first in the conference, and 4th nationally, in punt returns with a 14.2 avg., and 3rd in the conference in kick returns with 25.5 avg.


Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville


Khaseem Greene, Rutgers


Matt Brown, Temple


Tyler Matakevich, Temple


Butch Jones, Cincinnati 

Final Grades for Pitt Football- Offense and Special Teams

Quarterbacks:  The Tino Sunseri era is only one game away from being over for good, and for many Panthers fans it can't come soon enough.  To say that Sunseri is a polarizing figure may be the biggest understatement ever.  But to his credit, he reached his maximum talent.  That his maximum talent may not be what a lot of fans wanted is something that he can't control.

For the season, Sunseri finished No.19 nationally in passing efficiency with a QB rating of 154.95. He also completed 66.5% of his passes for 3,103 yards, 19 touchdowns, and incredibly just 2 interceptions.   His interception percentage is by far the best in the nation.  Thanks to being a three year starter at this time in history, he's also near the top of many school career passing lists.

But as anybody who actually watched Sunseri play could see, the senior never really made big, game changing plays.  At the end of the day, he had his stats, he made some bad decisions that don't show up in the box score, and he never moved the team to the higher level that top quarterbacks must do.  He was just kind of there, an instrument of Paul Chryst's offensive mind, a vessel designed to make the average, safe play, but without the talent to go beyond that.

Last Season's Final Grade: D
Preseason Grade:  C-
Midseason Grade:  C
Final Season Grade:  C

Running Backs:  With Ray Graham, Rushel Shell, and Isaac Bennett, there were great hopes for this unit.  A poor offensive line and Graham working himself back into top form prevented the running game from reaching the heights expected when looking at the individual talent involved, but the backs were still very good despite their obstacles.

Graham finally got his 1,000 yard season on his last try and now has 1,042 yards, with a 4.7 avg., and 11 touchdowns.  Graham also got better in the second half of the season and had three of his four 100 yard games in the last five games.  Graham once again showed his great pass receiving skills with 36 catches, 340 yards, a 9.4 avg., and 2 more touchdowns.

Rushel Shell showed that he is ready for big things and even though he only got more than 20 carries in a game just once (in which he ran for 157 yards on 23 carries against Virginia Tech), he still ended up with 562 yards, a 4.8 avg., and 4 touchdowns.  He also showed nice hands when called upon, with 9 catches, including 5 against Louisville.

Isaac Bennett was the odd man out, which is too bad because he's a good player.  He played well on special teams, however, and had 29 carries for 141 yards, a 4.9 avg., and 3 rushing touchdowns.  Unfortunately for him, he had just three carries in the second half of the season.

Statistically, the Panthers are No.89 nationally in rushing offense but that's because in college football sacks are counted as rushing yards and the Panthers are No.101 in sacks allowed.

Last Season's Final Grade: A
Preseason Grade:  B+
Midseason Grade: B-
Final Season Grade:  B+

Wide Receivers:  At midseason, both Mike Shanahan and Devin Street were on pace for 1,000 yards in the regular season, and while they didn't quite get there, they have been consistently effective all season.

Shanahan has 58 catches, 926 yards, a 16.0 avg., and 5 touchdowns on the season and had his only three 100+ games of his career. He also only had one bad game, against Buffalo, when the entire offense was terrible.  Street was just as good with 66 catches, for 892 yards, a 13.5 avg., and 4 touchdowns.  He also had three 100+ games.

After that, the pickings were slim.  Cam Saddler was the No.3 receiver but he only had 16 catches for 229 yards, a 14.3 avg., and a single touchdown.

When all was said and done, this unit was solid and productive, but they weren't really game changers. However they were clearly much more suited to Chryst's offense, and came up big as veterans.

Last Season's Final Grade: D
Preseason Grade:  C-
Midseason Grade:  B
Final Season Grade: B

Tight Ends:  This was one of the most disappointing units on the team.  Senior Hubie Graham was somebody I named as having a breakout season, but an injury plagued season cost him any chance of that. He missed just three games but his injuries prevented him from becoming a factor in the passing game. He only had 7 catches on the season, and just one came in the last seven games. He did provide some solid blocking however.

Drew Carswell got the call when Graham went down and ended up with 13 catches, including 5 against UConn late in the season. He also had two touchdowns.  But he had some awful drops during the season and is not a blocker.

True freshman J.P. Holtz was called on as the season progressed and already is the best tight end  on the roster.  He ended the season with 12 catches, and 9 came in the last four games.  He also had 3 touchdowns, all in the last half of the season.

The future is bright for this position, but there's no denying that it was a disappointment this season.  The final grade was salvaged by the emergence of Holtz, who is a future star.

Last Season's Final Grade:  B
Preseason Grade:  A
Midseason Grade:  D-
Final Season Grade:  C-

Offensive Line:  Along with the quarterback position, this unit has been the most discussed, analyzed, and argued over.  As I see it, no newcomers saw time, so it's basically the same unit that underperformed last season.  It's a veteran unit, especially with center Ryan Turnley and sixth year guard Chris Jacobson, yet the unit still struggled mightily.  The Panthers finished No. 76 nationally in tackles for loss allowed and No.101 in sacks allowed.  Yes, Sunseri's slow reactions have led to that, but anybody who watched Pitt this year could also see many times where Sunseri had little chance. Against the more talented teams, the line's lack of talent was even more apparent.  Cincinnati had 6 sacks, while Louisville, Syracuse, and Notre Dame all had 5 sacks. The line also committed a lot of procedure and holding penalties this season, and the team finished No. 90 in penalty yards.

There was an occasional bright spot, like Arthur Doakes playing surprisingly well at the end of the season, but for the most part this unit just isn't very good despite some people trying to convince themselves that it is.  If it wasn't for Chryst's offensive mind and the talents of Graham and Shell, the line's lack of ability would be even more apparent.

Last Season's Final Grade:  C-
Preseason Grade: C-
Midseason Grade:  F
Final Season Grade: D

Special Teams:  This has been a mixed bag all season, with some of the units performing well and some performing horribly.  Punter Matt Yoklic had an average 41.1 yards a punt, but he was much more consistent this season and did a much better job of kicking inside the 20-yard line.  Kicker Kevin Harper was sometimes disastrous but in the second half of the season he went 13-15 after making 6-11 in the first half of the season.  However, he showed little as a pressure kicker and his miss against Notre Dame will go down in infamy.

In the return game, Cam Saddler had a mediocre 7.4 avg., but as a team the Panthers ended No.23 nationally.  The Panthers also ended up No.29 nationally as a team in kick returns, and Lafayette Pitts also finished No. 29 nationally with a 25.8 avg.

The kick return defense ended up No. 38 nationally but the punt return defense was an atrocious No.119 nationally, second worst in the country.

The unit clearly needs some help, and it's inexcusable not to place a bigger coaching emphasis on something that is 1/3 of the team.

Last Season's Final Grade:  C-
Preseason Grade:  C
Midseason Grade: C-
Final Season Grade:  C

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Pittsburgh 27 South Florida 3

1.  The good news is that Pitt has made a bowl game, which is obviously good for many reasons.  It will be the Pinstripe Bowl, the Beef O'Brady Bowl, or the BBVA Compass Bowl (for the third year in the the row).  If I had to guess, I think it will be the Beef O'Brady Bowl.

2.  Tough to gauge the Panthers in this game because South Florida was so atrocious, but it obviously sets a good tone for the bowl game, and for next season if the Panthers can pull off a win in that bowl game.

3.  The Panthers defense held the Bulls to 115 yards including 6 rushing yards on 20 carries.  The Panthers also had 3 interceptions and forced a fumble.

4.  Ray Graham ran for 93 yards on 26 carries, a 3.6 avg., and 2 touchdowns.  Rushel Shell chipped in with 9 carries for 46 yards, a 5.1 avg.

5.  Tino Sunseri had his normal mostly good, but sometimes infuriating game, and ended up completing  19 of 25 passes for 211 yards, and a touchdown.  Once again he had no interceptions.

6.  Mike Shanahan had his third 100-yard game of the season as he led all Panthers with 9 catches and 116 yards.

7.  Devin Street added 6 catches for 72 yards, and J.P. Holtz added 18 yards on 3 catches, along with a 2-yard touchdown catch.

8.  Ronald Jones had a very nice 38-yard punt return.  Hopefully there will be more of that in the future.  He got the call because Cam Saddler was suspended for the game because of an undisclosed disciplinary incident.

9.  Matt Yoklic has a great game punting with a 44.6 avg. and two kicks inside the 5-yard line.

Pittsburgh 74 Detroit 61

I have to admit that I was getting worried in the first half when the Panthers were down by double digits, and 8 at the half.  But the second half was a different story thanks to Tray Woodall, James Robinson, J.J. Moore, Lamar Patterson, and Talib Zanna.

1.  Zanna was the player of the game and he's turning himself into a possible all-conference player.  For the game, he led the Panthers with 16 points, thanks to a great 10-11 from the line.  He also aded 5 rebounds and 2 blocks.

2.  Woodall's threes were essential in getting Pitt back into the game and he ended up with 14 points on 4 of 5 three point shooters, and 2 steals.

3.  Robinson did most of his scoring at the end of the game and ended up with 11 points and 6 assists.  He uncharacteristically had 3 turnovers and 4 fouls, however.

4.  Moore ended up with 7 points and 5 rebounds, and was an 5-6 from the line.

5.  Patterson continues to play better and contributed his usual good all around game of 12 points, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists.

6.  Cameron Wright and Durand Johnson came off the bench to score 6 points each with Wright also adding 4 rebounds.

7.  The Panthers shot horribly in the first half but ended up shooting 48% from the field, 47.1% from three, and 78.3% from the line.

8.  On the down side, Steven Adams once again looked lost.  He ended up with 2 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 turnovers.