Friday, August 23, 2013

Travon Chapman dismissed from the team

Tavon Chapman has been dismissed from the team after spending a few days in jail for assaulting a woman.  To me, this is the right call.  You can't have different rules for a promising quarterback.  If this is the road that Pitt wants to go down then they have to go all the way.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

2013-14 Pittsburgh Basketball Schedule

Fri. Oct. 25        UC-San Diego (Exhibition)
Fri. Nov. 1         Slippery Rock (Exhibition)
Fri. Nov. 8         Savannah State
Tue. Nov. 12     Fresno State
Sun. Nov. 17     Howard
Wed. Nov. 20    Lehigh (ESPNU)

Legend's Classic (Barclay's Center, Brooklyn, NY)

Mon. Nov. 25     Texas Tech  (ESPN2)
Tue. Nov. 26      Champ. or Consolation Game vs. Stanford or Houston (ESPN2)

Sat. Nov. 30       Duquesne (Consol Energy Center)

ACC/Big 10 Challenge

Tue. Dec. 3         Penn State (ESPNU)

Fri. Dec. 6           Loyola Marymount
Sat. Dec 14          Youngstown State

Jimmy V Classic (Madison Square Garden, New York, NY)

Tue. Dec. 17       Cincinnati

Sat. Dec. 21         Cal-Poly
Tue. Dec. 31       Albany
Sat. Jan. 4            at NC State (ACCN)
Mon. Jan. 6         Maryland (ESPN2)
Sat. Jan. 11         Wake Forest (ACCN)
Tue. Jan 14         at Georgia Tech (ESPNU)
Sat. Jan. 18         at Syracuse (ESPN/ESPN2)
Tue. Jan. 21         Clemson (ACCN)
Sat. Jan. 25         at Maryland (ESPN2)
Mon. Jan. 27       Duke (ESPN)
Sun. Feb. 2         Virginia (ESPNU)
Wed. Feb. 5        at Miami (ESPN Regional)
Sat. Feb. 8           Virginia Tech (ESPN Regional)
Wed. Feb. 12       Syracuse (ESPN/ESPN2)
Sat. Feb. 15         at North Carolina (CBS)
Sun. Feb. 23       Florida State (ESPNU)
Wed. Feb. 26      at Boston College (ACCN)
Sat. Mar. 1          at Notre Dame (ESPN/ESPN2)
Mon. Mar. 3        NC State (ESPNU)
Sat. Mar. 8          at Clemson (ACCN)

Mar. 12-16  ACC Tournament

Friday, August 16, 2013

The most important additions to the 2013-2014 season

Tom Savage, QB-  This is the most obvious, needless to say.  The rest of your team has to be amazingly talented to be able to win with a mediocre quarterback, and an excellent quarterback can make an otherwise ordinary team successful.  A lot has been said about Savage's vagabond college career, and there is a lot of apprehension because people fear he will be rusty after not playing for years.

But on the bright side, Savage is a full blown adult at 23-years old, and his body and mind should be further along than most college quarterbacks. And while it's true that he hasn't played a meaningful game in years, it's also true that he's at least been practicing the entire time.

His strong arm and big body, along with his maturity and Paul Chryst's great offensive mind, could mean that Savage may have a big year.  If he plays well and leads Pitt to a nice season he will have the added bonus of becoming a genuine NFL prospect.  Bottom line, while his career has been spotty, he can end it on a very high note.

James Conner, RB-  Just a true freshman, and not a highly recruited one at that, but the Erie native has tantalized with his straight line speed and 6'2" 230 pound frame.  He also has soft hands which helps in the passing game.

After Rushel Shell left, and tried to come back before being told no, the job became veteran Isaac Bennett's job to lose.  Bennett is solid, but it remains to be seen if he can be the main man. The fact that Bennett is also injury prone doesn't help much.

Big, between the tackle backs like Conner can do damage once they get past the line of scrimmage but if they can't make defenders miss then they are going to need a hole.  It remains to be seen whether or not Conner will need a lot of room to run, and with an offensive line that isn't expected to reach a high level yet that could prove to be a problem.

Bottom line, Conner has the highest upside of any back in the program so his development this season and beyond could go a long way in predicting Pitt's fortunes.

Tyler Boyd, WR-  I don't have to spend too much time on Boyd since every Pitt fan, especially those in the Pittsburgh area, knows all about one of the best WPIAL players to ever play.

There were reasons why some would think Boyd would start slowly in his college career. He didn't play much receiver at Clairton, he played against little competition in high school, and he's a skinny 6'2" 180 pounds.  But none of that has mattered.

Boyd will probably start at some point this season, maybe from the first game, and he could easily be a high impact player in the passing game, on sweeps, and in the return game.

Manasseh Garner, TE-  Sophomore J.P. Holtz will be the starter, but the redshirt junior who transferred back home after two seasons at Wisconsin may end up with more catches at the position.  Fast and built like a bull at 6'2" and 230 pounds, Garner can stretch the field like a receiver, but runs like a bruising running back.  Expect to see him catch a lot of passes and be on the field early and often.

Adam Bisnowaty, OT-  The program has clearly been desperate for talented offensive linemen for a few years now so the redshirt freshman from Fox Chapel HS couldn't arrive soon enough. He came to the program a little underweight and even more raw, but a year in the program has now done wonders. He's now a rock solid 6'6" 300 pounds and will utilize his good feet and agility at the crucial left tackle position.

The offensive line talent keeps getting better every year now that Chryst has arrived so he will have to perform well in the future to keep that left tackle spot, but he has the ability to play inside also in the future. Nobody how you look at it, he has the makings of a future all-conference performer.

David Durham, DE-  The high school defensive end was moved to fullback when he went to Ohio State, but after new coach Urban Meyer brought a new system in Durham decided to transfer to the Panthers.  After sitting out a year the redshirt junior has now moved back to where he fits best and he has quickly brought stability to the position.

Last year the end position was not playing at a high level and while it remains to be seen if the 6'1" 255 pound Durham can be a force, he has at least shown that he is solid, smart, and dependable. His presence already has made a difference.

Ejuan Price, DE-  After playing all 13 games as a true freshman, the 6'0" 230 pound redshirt sophomore missed all of last season because of an injury.  The Woodland Hills alum hasn't been able to find a position at the college level.  He's generally too small for end and his skills haven't been able to translate to linebacker.

Enter new defensive assistant John Palermo who brought his massive experience to the South Side this season.  Palermo has moved Price back to end where he can use his pass rushing skills, something the defense needs with neither Durham or the other defensive end starter Bryan Murphy showing elite pass rushing skills yet.

Tweeners like Price can go either way.  If he ends up overcoming his lack of size for the position and uses his speed and natural pass rushing skills to become an elite pass rusher, the defense will be significantly better.

Mike Caprara, LB-  Another Woodland Hills alum, the redshirt freshman was only wanted by the Panthers when he came out of high school, despite being an excellent high school player.  Size was the issue as Caprara was only 6'0" and just shy of 200 pounds.  But after one season he is now up to 220 pounds.  While he probably can't get too much bigger than that, middle linebackers in a 4-3 can play at that size in college.  With his good speed, athleticism, toughness, and natural football skills he has already become a fan favorite before even taking a snap.  Time will tell if he deserves that love.

Bam Bradley, LB- A big star in Ohio as a safety, but he never really had the speed or athleticism for the position in college.  That's not a bad thing, though, because the 6'0" 230 pound Bradley added some weight and now has the chance to be a major contributor at linebacker, a position that the Panthers are desperate to upgrade and where his speed and athleticism fits much better.

It was rumored that Bradley would transfer prior to this season, but if he can continue to improve he would make for a great comeback story.

Trenton Coles, CB-  A devastating leg injury ended his high school career, and combining with his rawness and lack of size, it was believed that it may take a few years of college before he could contribute at all. He's still only 175 pounds at the most, but he has great 6'3" length for the position and blazing speed.  Now the redshirt freshman is the top cornerback reserve behind Lafayette Pitts and K'Waun Williams. Expect him to see the field a lot this season and the defense will be helped greatly if he can contribute.

Chris Blewitt, PK-  Because of the high pressure of the position, you wouldn't expect a true freshman kicker to do well, but the truth is, there are a long line of excellent freshmen kickers in college football history.  That bodes well for the Panthers since Blewitt will get the call this season.  He has the ability to be a good one and for a team that probably won't be blowing people out, his ability to be successful is extremely crucial.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Todd Thomas back at practice

According to Jerry DiPaola of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, wayward Pitt linebacker Todd Thomas has returned to the flock.  He is at the morning practice for the Panthers.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

I've deleted most of today's posts

Just so people know, I'm now blocking any mentions of Joe D. or any comments by Joe D. that aren't productive or monotonous.  I've already blocked at least 50% of those kinds of comments but now it's going to be 90%. That may mean a lot less posts here but to be honest I don't care because I stand all of this Joe D. talk every day.

Friday, August 9, 2013

The NCAA rules for the Quiet Period

Okay I have to change this because the rules are different for football and Henry is considered a junior and not a senior.  But, Henry can call Pitt at any time, and according to the 247Sports report, Pitt reached out to people close to Henry three times and asked that he call Pitt.  He did three times and nobody answered.  No matter how you look at it, it's incompetence.  That's if the report is accurate.  But it came from two different sources and I don't think anybody would be surprised considering Pitt's recruiting over the last two seasons.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Todd Thomas leaving the football team

The hits keep coming for a reeling program as star linebacker Todd Thomas has informed head coach Paul Chryst today that he is leaving the team.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Odds of getting the best remaining recruits

50% or better:

Alex Bookser, Mt. Lebanon HS (Mt. Lebanon, PA)- The 6'6" 300 pound offensive tackle hasn't always endeared himself to Panthers fans thanks to his fake verbal commitment. He didn't help when he followed it up by saying that Pitt fans overreact to things that are said.  But he would be a great fit for a program that desperately needs elite talent.

The usual rule for WPIAL recruits is that if they aren't in love with a specific program, outside of the local school, they usually end up at Pitt.  I don't see him in love with Ohio State or Penn State, the two most obvious programs that could nab him, and I don't see him in love with anybody else either.  Of course that can always change so that's why I wouldn't actually predict him to Pitt as so many have.  But I do think that unless something changes Pitt has a good shot.

Shai McKenzie, Washington HS (Washington, PA)-  The Panthers are desperate for a big time running back and McKenzie fits the bill.  He's a perfect fit for the program because he is a workhorse who can grind down defenses with a lot of carries.

He also has been at odds with Panthers fans, many of whom see him as an attention seeking drama queen.  This is despite declaring that the Panthers were his second top choice.  The first choice, Florida State, has signed a running back that McKenzie publicly questioned (there's the attitude in question), but the Seminoles are still involved heavily.  McKenzie is close with Pittsburgh Central Catholic quarterback J.J. Cosentino, mainly because of their mutual love of Florida State, and he is close to the Seminoles' ace recruiter Sal Sunseri, but he has a fondness for the Pitt coaches as well.

Georgia, a one time possibility, is no longer a real option, though Georgia Tech could be an outside possibility.  At the end of the day, however, I think his desire to go to Florida State will fall down a little which leaves Pitt as a very possible destination.

Dravon Henry, Aliquippa HS (Aliquippa, PA)-  The Aliquippa pipeline is well known, but that may be the thing that most hurts Pitt's chances.  Many schools, especially Penn State, have been telling the big time athlete that he has to plug the pipeline and instead be his own man.  Unfortunately he seems to be listening.

I still think Henry stays close to home, but that could also mean Penn State or West Virginia.  At the end of the day I don't see the Mountaineers being the choice, which means it could come down to Pitt and Penn State.  If he chooses the Nittany Lions it would take a lot of guts to go against all of the closely knit Aliquippa Pitt players of the past, but it wouldn't be shocking.

Juwann Winfree, Dwight Morrow HS (Englewood, NJ)-  The 6'2" 180 pound elite receiver would really fill a desperate need for receiving talent.  Right now it appears to be between Pitt and West Virginia, but he plans to visit more schools.  Bottom line, Pitt is looking strong at the moment but this one will still be a battle.

Marquese Dudley-Gordon, Cypress Bay HS (Fort Lauderdale, FL)-  I first reported his interest in Pitt many months ago, but most Florida kids don't get serious with recruiting until well into summer.

The Panthers rarely seem to get legacies with top talent, but in this case Dudley-Gordon is the younger brother of Pitt starting middle linebacker Shane Gordon. The 6'0" 190 pound safety has some nice offers, including Wisconsin, Arkansas, Louisville, and Michigan State, but he has made no qualms about saying that the Panthers are his current heavy favorite.

Less than 50%:

Qadree Ollison, Canisuis HS (Buffalo, NY)- Another perfect fit for the Panthers system thanks to his 6'1" 225 pound size.  He's not in McKenzie's league because he doesn't have the same kind of speed, but he would be a helluva consolation prize if they miss out on McKenzie.

It's looking like a three team race between Pitt, Wisconsin, and Penn State.  Many feel like the Badgers are the team to beat but he has yet to visit them.  He will be at Pitt on a long Labor Day weekend. The Panthers performance, and the game atmosphere, may go a long way in helping him determine if Pitt is it for him.  And if Pitt can get him I don't believe they will wait to see what McKenzie does. And if they do get him I think there's a good chance that McKenzie goes elsewhere.  But Pitt can't take a chance and miss out on Ollison if the opportunity presents itself.

Montae Nicholson, Gateway HS (Monroeville, PA)- The kind of big, fast, long NFL talent that the program desperately needs but rarely seems to get.  Unfortunately they probably won't get this one either, though I think there is at least a small chance.  Nicholson loves the Pitt coaches, especially Paul Chryst and Matt House, but when push comes to shove I suspect that he will probably end up at Michigan.

Little or No chance:

Chris James, Notre Dame (Niles, IL)-  Excellent midwestern running back who would do well for Pitt, but unless something completely unexpected happens he will probably end up at Michigan State.

Jamil Kamara, Bishop Sullivan Catholic HS (Virginia Beach, VA)-  The Panthers desperately need a big time receiver like this, but the chances are excellent that he will go elsewhere, probably Virginia.

Frank Ragnow, Chanhassen HS (Chanhassen, MN)- If the Panthers land Bookser they won't worry about losing the big offensive tackle, and that's a good thing because he's not going to Pitt.

Ricky Walker, Bethel HS (Hampton, VA)-  The program could use an elite defensive tackle like Walker, but even though Pitt is in his top five the Panthers have no chance.