Saturday, December 28, 2013

Final Season Grades for Pitt Football

Quarterback:  Tom Savage started out having fans thinking he was going to be a star, then struggled some, before finally winning most over with his toughness.  After slumping in the middle of the season Savage rallied and had a significantly better second half of the season.

In the first half, Savage was 4-2 because of an easier schedule overall, but still connected on 88 of 155 passes, a 56.8%, for 11 TDs, 6 interceptions, and 1,383 yards.  He was also sacked 23 times.  In the second half of the season he threw the ball more often and completed 142 of 221 passes, a 64.3%, 10 TDs, 3 interceptions, and 1,451 yards.  He was sacked 18 times in the last six games.

Not only did Savage get better, but he impressed with his leadership and toughness, even winning over the fans along the way.

In the bowl game, Savage made some beautiful throws but left the game at halftime because of an injury.  Redshirt freshman Chad Voytik, who rarely saw the field all season, entered the game and led the Panthers to the victory.

Bottom line- Even though Savage's numbers weren't as good as Tino Sunseri's numbers, he was a better passer and a better leader.  If he had one more season he really could have been special, but now it's Voytik's time.


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



Running Back:  When Rushel Shell unexpectedly transferred at the beginning of the season, many thought the Pitt running game was doomed. While they running back was not great this season at least they weren't doomed either.  Isaac Bennett was the second leading rusher with 797 yards, a 4.7 avg., and 7 touchdowns.  Most of that yardage (240), however, was against Old Dominion, and 101 more came against a bad New Mexico team.  He also ended the season with 141 against Miami, but for the other ten games he averaged just 31.5 yards a game.

True freshman James Conner was a big surprise as he came up with 799 yards, a 5.5 avg., and 8 touchdowns.  At times he looked like a future star, like when he rumbled for 173 yards against Duke or 102 in just 19 carries against North Carolina.  He also ran for 119 yards against New Mexico in just 12 carries.  But it was in the bowl game that Conner showed he may be on the verge of stardom as he rumbled for 229 yards and became the talk of the college football world for a few days.

Rachid Ibrahim only carried 27 times but he had a 5.0 yard avg., and showed he was a nice scatback option to the more between the tackles style of Bennett and Conner.

Ultimately the running attack actually got worse as the season went along with the running backs running for 784 yards in the first six games of the season and 625 yards in the second six games. But Conner's performance in the thirteenth game showed that the future is bright.

Bottom line- While the future may be bright, a poor offensive line and inconsistency from Conner and Bennett, especially early, has Pitt currently with the No. 103 rushing offense in the country. If you take away the sacks from Savage, the Panthers would currently be No.77 so obviously that makes a difference.


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



Wide Receiver:  After Michael Shanahan left to graduation there was worry that the receiving corps may not be as good.  Then came a freshman superstar named Tyler Boyd.  The sensational former Clairton Bear led the Panthers with 85 catches, 1,174 yards, and 7 touchdowns.  Unfortunately, though, after averaging over 20 yards a catch at the beginning of the season he ultimately averaged 13.6 yards a catch.  Needless to say, somebody with his ability should be given the opportunity to have bigger gains.

In the first six games of the season Boyd had 31 catches for 491 yards, a 15.8 avg., and 4 TDs.  In the second six games, he caught 46 balls, but only for 510 yards, an 11.1 avg.  He also added 3 TDs.  Clearly the staff's desire to get the ball out of Savage's hands quicker meant lesser big plays for Boyd. In the bowl game, with Devin Street out, Boyd came up huge with 8 catches for 173 yards.

Injuries cost Street a great season and in the second half of the season his production plummeted in a startling fashion.  He caught 26 passes in the first five games, and 25 passes in the second five games (one game was lost due to injury in each half), but his yardage total dropped from 549 yards to 305 yards, and his average per reception dropped from 21.1 to 12.2.

After Boyd and Street the production dropped off a cliff.  No. 3 receiver Kevin Weatherspoon was hit or miss.  He only had 14 catches for 155 yards, an 11.1 avg., and no touchdowns.  But he did have some big, important catches at times.  The only other receivers who caught a pass were Chris Wuenster and Ed Tinker who each literally caught just one pass.

Bottom line- Despite have a quarterback and two wide receivers with NFL ability, the Panthers are currently No.60 nationally in passing offense. Ultimately, that has to be somewhat disappointing even with Boyd becoming a star.


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



Tight End:  For the first year and a half that Chryst and Joe Rudolph were at Pitt there was big disappointment when it came to this unit since while at Wisconsin their tight ends were such a big part of the offense. But finally in the second half of this season the tight ends started to get the ball more.  A lot of that was because the staff finally figured out that Savage has to get the ball out much faster.

The starter, J.P. Holtz, was as tough as ever while blocking or running after the catch but unfortunately he still only caught 23 passes for 209 yards, a 9.1 avg., and no touchdowns. But the good news is, Holtz had 19 of his 23 catches in the second half of the season.

Manasseh Garner actually led all tight ends with 33 catches for 391 yards, an 11.8 avg., and 3 touchdowns. Like Holtz he did much better in the second half of the season as he caught 24 of his 33 passes after the midway point.

Big true freshman Scott Orndoff missed the last four games because of an injury, but contributed 6 catches, 2 for touchdowns, and 50 yards.  His future is bright.

Bottom line-  A lot of talent with this trio but they still seem underutilized.


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



Offensive Line:  Pitt's old nemesis strikes yet again.  Eventually, maybe soon, this will be a team strength, but right now it's killing the offense and the team as a whole.

At tackle, redshirt freshman Adam Bisnowaty had a lot of problems on the left side before his season ended with an injury.  True freshman Dorian Johnson tried to take over but he wasn't ready and it showed.  Eventually the staff moved previously exiled senior Juantez Hollins back into the starting unit and he actually helped stabilized the unit some.  On the other side, redshirt junior T.J. Clemmings moved over from the defensive line and showed some promise.

At guard, Cory King was the starter until he was injured. Then Ryan Schlieper took over. Both are average, at best.

Center continued to be a problem.  Redshirt freshman Gabe Roberts looked to be the starter for much of the preseason but eventually was overtaken by Artie Rowell.  Neither distinguished themselves and Roberts eventually was lost for the season with a back injury.

Bottom line-  Despite having some good skill position players the Panthers are currently No. 97 in total offense and the main reason is a poor offensive line.  It took the coaches half the year to help the line by changing the offense but when they did it did help.


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



Defensive Line:  Without Aaron Donald it was a below average line but Donald was arguably the best defensive player the Panthers have had in over 30 years.  I won't go into how great he was because if you are interested in Pitt enough to have read this far you already know how great he was.

Outside of Donald, things were very different.  Senior tackle Tyrone Ezell played very well in the bowl game but otherwise didn't do much.  What made that especially troubling was that Donald was double and triple teamed all year.  For the season Ezell had 34 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks.  The top reserve, sophomore Daryl Render, showed some flashes and came away with 25 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, a half of a sack, and 3 pass breakups.

The ends were equally disappointing. Bryan Murphy missed three games due to injury but even in 10 games he still managed just 15 tackles. Amazingly, though, 6.5 were tackles for loss and 4 were for sacks, but almost all of his production came in the first half of the season.  When he was out, true freshman Shakir Soto came in and showed a lot of promise. In 12 games he had 20 tackles, including 4 tackles for loss and a sack.  At the other end, new starter, junior David Durham was virtually non-existent with 21 tackles, no sacks, and just a half of a tackle for loss. Ejuan Price only played seven games, starting four, before his season was lost to injury. He played well when he was in there, though, with 23 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, a sack, and a pass breakup.

Bottom line- Due to injuries and lack of quality play, this unit would probably have a D grade if it wasn't for Donald. He was that good.

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


Linebackers:  This is another unit that has been a thorn in the program's side for years but they actually got some decent play out of some players, especially Anthony Gonzalez.  The junior was the Panthers No. 3 tackler with 79.  He also had 3.5 tackles for loss, 5 pass breakups, and an interception returned for a touchdown.  He wasn't great but he definitely got better and is now a plus player at the position.  Todd Thomas didn't begin as a starter but ended up playing in all 13 games and started 10. He responded with another good season. He was the No. 4 tackler with 72, including 6 for loss.  However, he still should be better because he has a lot of talent.  In the middle Shane Gordon started 9 games and came up with 56 tackles, 3.5 tackles, a pass breakup, and an interception. The senior never really got over the hump to be anything more than just an okay player.

In reserve, true freshman Matt Galombos hit everything that move.  He started 2 games and came up with 38 tackles. Not bad for such a young player.  Reserve outside linebacker Nicholas Grigsby also showed some flashes as the redshirt sophomore started twice and came up with 23 tackles, including 4 tackles for loss, and 3 sacks.

Bottom line-  Still not great but at least none of the five players who played the most were horrible and that has to be seen as progress.


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



Defensive Backs:  This was by far the most disappointing unit of the season.  The safeties, senior Jason Hendricks and junior Ray Vinopal, played well, which is amazing to say considering the latter was a train wreck during the first half of the season.  But he did end up with 83 tackles, second only to Hendricks, including 3.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 6 pass breakups, 3 interceptions, and 2 forced fumbles. The fact that he came back and played so well was a miracle and he deserves praise.  Hendricks ended up with 85 tackles, including 4 for loss, 6 pass breakups, a sack, and a forced fumble.

The cornerback spot was a different story, though.  Both Lafayette Pitts and K'Waun Williams entered the season with a lot of buzz but both played poorly.  Pitts, who looked like a possible future All-American someday even lost his starting job once.  Williams played much better in the second of the season and came up with 36 tackles, including 4 for loss, 7 pass breakups, and 2 interceptions. Pitts did start 12 of the 13 games and came away with 44 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, just 4 pass breakups, and no interceptions.

In reserve, it was pretty much all Clairton underclassmen.  True freshman Titus Howard played a lot, which was a huge surprise. He started two games and totaled 21 tackles and 2 pass breakups.  Also at corner was redshirt freshman Trent Coles who came up with 9 tackles in 13 games.  At safety yet another Clairton freshman, Terrish Webb, played in all 13 games, starting one, and came away with 18 tackles.

Overall, the pass defense is No. 40 nationally, but they were also No. 50 in 3rd down efficiency, No. 97 in interceptions, and No. 81 in pass efficiency defense.

Bottom line-  With Williams, and especially Pitts, flopping, and so many young players playing, this could have been a total disaster.  However, Hendricks and Vinopal played well enough in the second half of the season to salvage some of the unit's reputation.

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


Special Teams:  This was a mixed bag all season.  True freshman kicker Chris Blewitt was mostly good making 14 of 18 field goals.  Senior Matt Yoklic was No. 29 nationally with a 43.0 yard average but he was inconsistent all season, and sometimes awful.

As a unit, the punt return offense was No. 35 nationally thanks by a big return each by Weatherspoon and Boyd, but if Boyd was returning punts all season the unit, and the team, would have been much better off.  The kick return offense was led by Pitts and Boyd, and the two did all they could do to make Pitt No. 57 nationally because the blocking was mediocre at best.

Return defense is another matter all together.  The kickoff return defense is No. 67 while the punt return defense was an abysmal 117th out of 123 teams.

Bottom line- Simply put some of the special teams were good and some were bad.  That's how you get a mediocre grade.


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



Coaching:  Paul Chryst still makes some curious decisions.  His staff is a mishmash, especially on defense, but it's the offense that he runs that's been worse than the defense.  Special teams was a disaster at times and there's no coach on the staff that concentrates on that unit.  The recruiting is also still suspect. Chryst is proving that he can find some diamonds in the rough but his style is not working with the elite prospects.  He lost almost every top WPIAL prospect and for a month the top local prospect, Dravon Henry, wasn't even sure if Pitt was still recruiting him.  The most frustrating part of Chryst's weaknesses is that they are all correctable, but one wonders if he even has the desire to do that or if he's going to stubbornly stay the course.

On the other hand, he seems to be slowly building an offensive line to go with some potentially excellent skill position players and despite not getting elite recruits on defense he has found some promising players, and developed others.  And at the end of the day he went 7-6 with a team that has a big gap between some talented seniors and an awful lot of freshman and sophomores.


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







Thursday, December 26, 2013

Pittsburgh 30 Bowling Green 27

Yeah, Pitt was a touchdown underdog over a MAC team, and yeah, Pitt is only 7-6, but somehow this seems like a big win.  Thoughts:

1. Devin Street, Matt Rotheram, Kevin Weatherspoon, and Bryan Murphy did not play, the latter two for undisclosed personal reasons but it didn't matter because...

2.  Pitt has some very good young players.  Leading the way is James Conner and Tyler Boyd.  Both broke Pitt bowl records today that lasted for 35 years.  Conner I've said all season that I loved and hopefully for once and all people will stop with those silly "move Conner to defense" statements.  He proved today that he was good enough to play defense but he proved he was a star running back today.  Boyd merely reminded us all that he's been a star all season.

3.  Conner ran for 229 yards on 26 carries, an 8.8 avg., and a touchdown.  To put it mildly, he was a beast.

4.  Boyd had 8 catches for 173 yards and a 54-yard punt return for a TD.

5.  Speaking of which, it's inexcusable that Boyd hasn't been the punt returner all season.

6.  Tom Savage made some beautiful throws and completed 8 of 13 passes for 124 yards in the first half.  But an injury forced him from the game at halftime.  Next year's starting quarterback, Chad Voytik, was clearly nervous at first, and wasn't sharp, but once he got confidence he showed he can play.  For the half he was 5 for 9 for 109 yards. He threw no interceptions.  He also ran twice for 24 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown.

7.  Aaron Donald again stood out on defense, as did Jason Hendricks, Ray Vinopal, and Tyrone Ezell.

8.  Pitt had 487 total yards while Bowling Green had 289 yards.

9.  The Panthers ended the season at 7-6 overall and will go into the offseason on a high.  An even bigger high is knowing that Voytik, Conner, and Boyd will be around for at least two more seasons.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The WPIAL talent since 2007 is not as bad as many believe

2007:


Rob Gronkowski, Arizona- Obviously he's a superstar. Only in WPIAL for one year, but still.

Chris Jacobson, Pittsburgh- Started three seasons.

Toney Clemons, Colorado- Transferred from Michigan and started for two seasons.

Nick Sukay, Penn State- Three year starter. All-Big 10.

Gino Gradkowsi, Delaware- Transferred from WVU and became a two year starter. Currently a starter for the Baltimore Ravens.

Myles Caragein, Pittsburgh- Four year letterman and three year starter.

Chris Drager, Virginia Tech- Lettered every year and started at defensive end as a junior and tight end as a senior.

Don Barclay, West Virginia- Three year starter, two time all-Big East, All-American recognition, and now starts for the Green Bay Packers.

Max Suter, Syracuse- Four year letterman, two year starter, All-Big East. Excellent kick returner.

Derek Moye, Penn State- Three year started and left as the school's third most prolific pass catcher in their history.

Dom DeCicco, Pittsburgh- Four year letterman, three year starter, All-Big East.

Tom Keiser, Stanford- Three year letterman and two year starter that left after junior season to enter NFL draft. Had 19.5 sacks in his three seasons.



2008:


Mike Hull, Penn State- 58 tackles as a junior, 73 tackles in last 8 games of senior season after recovering from injury. Included in that was a 13 tackle game and two 10 tackle games.

Miles Dieffenbach, Penn State- Will be a three year starter next season.

Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State- Finished 2nd for Big 10 MVP as a junior and would have been one of the Heisman favorites for senior season if he had not been suspended.

Jonathan Baldwin, Pittsburgh- Averaged roughly 55 catches and 900 yards in his two starting seasons then left early to be first round draft pick.

Lucas Nix, Pittsburgh- Three year starter and current starting OG for the Oakland Raiders.

Andrew Sweat, Ohio State- Two years as a special teams ace then started two years at linebacker. Four year letterman. Second team All-Big 10 as senior.

Tino Sunseri, Pittsburgh- Yes, I went there. He threw for over 2,500 yards three times and has 49 TDs to 23 interceptions in his career.

Kaleb Ramsey, Boston College- Two year starter whose promising career was hurt by injuries. In fact, his injuries were so bad that he was given six years.

Quentin Williams, Northwestern- High school tight end that moved to defensive end where he lettered all four years and started two years.

Tyler Urban, West Virginia- Was a starter as a sophomore but a severe knee injury and Dana Holgerson's offense prevented him from huge numbers.  Ended with 37 career catches.

Antwuan Reed, Pittsburgh- Four year letterman and two year starter. Second team All-Big East as a senior.

Mike Shanahan, Pittsburgh- Four year letterman and three year starter. 159 career catches for over 2,200 yards. Second team All-Big East as a senior.

Mike Farrell, Penn State- Four year letterman. Started as senior and was named Honorable Mention All-Big 10.

Ryan Turnley, Pittsburgh- Four year starter and two year starter. Second team All-Big East as a senior.

Rontez Miles, California (PA)- One of my top prospects this year but grades kept him out of major college football.  Went on to be a small school All-American and is now playing for the NY Jets.

Jermaine Robinson, Toledo- Four year starter and two time All-Mac.



2009:


Dorian Bell, Duquesne- Two year letterman at Ohio State before getting tossed. Ended up being a small school All-American.

Corey Brown, Ohio State- Four year letterman and started his senior season at safety.

C.J. Brown, Maryland- Will be the starting quarterback for 2 and a half years after next season, assuming he stays healthy. Threw for over 2,000 yards this year while running for over 500 more yards.

Dan Mason, Pittsburgh- A sure star if it wasn't for a devastating leg injury. Miraculously came back but then off the field issues cost him the rest of his career.

Jordan Hall, Jeannette- Played in all five of his seasons and contributed with running, receiving, and in the return game. Has over 3,000 all purpose yards in his career.

Tyrone Ezell, Pittsburgh- Three year letterman and two year starter.

Pat Eger, West Virginia- Three year starter.

Will Clarke, West Virginia- Three year starter and two time all-conference in Big 12. Potentially high NFL draft pick.

John Wetzel, Boston College- Four year letterman and two year starter at offensive tackle. Helped Andre Williams run for over 2,000 yards this season.


2010


Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh- probably the second best player Pitt ever had and one of the most decorated defensive players in college football history. Enough said.

Ty-Meer Brown, UConn- Three year letterman and two year starter with one more year to go.

Kevin Weatherspoon, Pittsburgh- Two year letterman with one more season of eligibility.

Manasseh Garner, Pittsburgh-  Led Pitt's tight end in catches with 32 catches. Should have an excellent senior season.

Todd Thomas, Pittsburgh-  Hasn't broke out with a big season yet but has had a better than average career thus far. Originally part of the 2009 class.


2011


Delvon Simmons, USC- Two year letterman at Texas Tech before transferring to the Trojans. Has the potential to be a big time star there.

Lafayette Pitts, Pittsburgh- Two year starter with two ore years to go.

Mike Caputo, Wisconsin- Two year letterman and one year starter with two more years to go. Honorable mention All-Big 10 as a sophomore.

Devin Cook, Pittsburgh- Was sometimes a force in reserve as a redshirt freshman, then was injured this season. Remains to be seen how he ends up.

Quinton Jefferson, Maryland- Started as a redshirt sophomore this season so he could be a three year starter.

Tim Cwalina, Maryland- Was expected to letter as a redshirt freshman but a heart condition cost him the rest of his career.

Desimon Green, California (PA)- Originally committed to Pitt, then Texas Tech, but failed to get the grades. Currently the starting tight end as a redshirt freshman and he has the ability to dominate that level.

Ejuan Price, Woodland Hills- Lettered in his only year but injuries cost him his entire second season. Has three years left and has shown flashes.

Nick Kwiatkowski, West Virginia- Lettered as a redshirt freshman this season.

Robert Kugler, Purdue- Two year letterman who started at center this season as a redshirt sophomore.


2012

Rushel Shell, West Virginia- I think we know all about this one. The truth is, he still may be an excellent college player.

Demetrious Cox, Michigan State- Played five games this year as a redshirt freshman but many think he is on the verge of stardom.

Adam Bisnowaty, Pittsburgh- Started as a redshirt freshman. Should have good career.

T.J. Neal, Illinois- Lettered as a redshirt freshman this year and had 38 tackles.

Anthony Nixon, Maryland- Two year letterman already in his first two years and has already started since midway through his freshman year. Very good player.

Perry Hills, Maryland- Started and did well as a true freshman before blowing out his knee. He's been redshirted this season to recover.

Trenton Coles, Pittsburgh- Lettered as a redshirt freshman this year and may be a starter next year as a sophomore.

Reggie Mitchell, Pittsburgh- Has yet to play after redshirting at Wisconsin and sitting out due to transfer, but he was the projected starting safety at Wisconsin and will probably be the same at Pitt.

Dakota Conwell, Arizona- Played in 10 games as a true freshman and had a bright future but multiple concussions ended his career.

J.P. Holtz, Pittsburgh- Has started both years so far.

Jesse James, Penn State- Two year letterman and started this season. Has the NFL salivating.

Ian Park, Northwestern- Started this year as a redshirt freshman.


2013


Dorian Johnson, Pittsburgh- Lettered as a true freshman. Has the potential to be a star.

Tyler Boyd, Pittsburgh- Already a star as a true freshman.

Robert Foster, Alabama- Redshirted but many in Alabama expect him to make a major impact as soon as next year.

Patrick Kugler, Michigan- Redshirted this season but is expected to compete for the starting center job as a redshirt freshman next year.

Scott Orndoff, Pittsburgh- Lettered as true freshman. It's no secret that I think he can be a star.

Mack Leftwich, UTEP- Has already started as a true freshman and don't be surprised if he ends up a star there.

Jaymar Parrish, Pittsburgh- Has lettered as a true freshman.

Terrish Webb, Pittsburgh- Has lettered as a true freshman.


Some thoughts:

1. There are some real stars in Donald, Boyd, Pryor, Baldwin, and Gronkowski, as well some very good college players like Barclay, Moye, Keiser, Nix, DeCicco, Shanahan, and Clarke.

2.  If grades, discipline problems, and injuries didn't effect some of the better talent, there would be much less consternation about the WPIAL.  Pryor could have won the Heisman and Bell, Miles, Conwell, and Mason had the potential to be stars.  Green may still be a star but he will do it at California (PA) so nobody will know about it, just like Bell.

3.  Some younger guys have the potential to be stars, or at least very productive. Those include Garner, Simmons, Caputo, Jefferson, Shell, Cox, Bisnowaty, Neal, Nixon, Coles, Mitchell, Holtz, James, Park, Johnson, Foster, Ordnoff, Leftwich, Webb, Price, and both Kuglers.  All have proven already that they will not be flops.

4. The 2010 recruiting cycle was the only one that was loaded with flops. Some of the more well known ones are Cullen Christian (Michigan, Pittsburgh), Ken Wilkins (Michigan), Luke Graham (Penn State), Tom Ricketts (Penn State), Jordan Paskorz (Michigan), Brandon Felder (North Carolina, Pittsburgh), Andrew Carswell (Pittsburgh), Chad Hagan (Ohio State), and Brandon Ifill (Pittsburgh).












Friday, December 20, 2013

Shai McKenzie to Virginia Tech

Pitt lost another local prospect today, making it 8 of the top 10 if you look at Rivals ratings, as Washington, PA RB Shai McKenzie chose Virginia Tech over Pitt.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Montae Nicholson to Michigan State

Bad news again for Pitt as Gateway S/WR Montae Nicholson chose the Spartans.  Nicholson has good size at 6'2" and 200 pounds. He also has very good speed and athleticism. His highly impressive offer list included Penn State, West Virginia, Ohio State, Florida State, Michigan, Oregon, Virginia Tech, Miami, Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Stanford.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Alex Bookser to Pitt

Well this takes some sting away from the Panthers losing Dravon Henry to West Virginia.  Alex Bookser, a 6'6" 300 pound offensive tackle from Mt. Lebanon HS, has committed to the Panthers.  Bookser can move very well for his size and because of his quick size he may project at left tackle.  Other offers came from the likes of Penn State, West Virginia, Ohio State, Alabama, Florida State, USC, Michigan State, Georgia, and Nebraska.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Aaron Donald wins Lombardi Award

Pitt senior defensive tackle Aaron Donald won his second major award of the week winning the Lombardi Award given to the best defensive lineman or linebacker in the country. Previously he won the Bronco Nagurski Trophy given to the best defensive player in the nation. Hugh Green, in 1980, was the only other Panther to win the award.  Only Tony Dorsett and Hugh Green, each with three, have more major awards for the program, but Donald could surpass that since he is a finalist for the Bednarik Award and the Outland Trophy.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Aaron Donald wins Bronco Nagurski Trophy

The great Aaron Donald won his first of maybe a few major awards tonight as the senior defensive tackle won the Bronco Nagurski Trophy. The award is given by the Football Writers Association of America, and the trophy goes to the best defensive player in the country.

Dravon Henry to West Virginia

Not only did Pitt fail to land the top player in the state to a reeling program, and from a pipeline school, but it was clear from listening to Henry's mother that she was not impressed with Matt House's recruiting or his defense.  In fact, she said she talked to some Pitt defensive players and they didn't like how the defense was set up.  I didn't like the hiring of House as the defensive coordinator from the beginning, but more and more it's looking like a bad hire.  If Pitt decides to keep him in the position one has to wonder if they have any idea what they're doing.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Pitt vs. Bowling Green in Little Caesars Bowl

According to Brett McMurphy of ESPN Pitt barely squeaked in and got a bowl game, and they will play MAC champion Bowling Green in Detroit on December 26th.  The Falcons are 10-3 on the season and recently beat previously undefeated Northern Illinois in the MAC championship game, 47-27.  Their three losses came at Indiana in the first game of the season, 42-20, at Mississippi State 21-20, and at home to Toledo 28-25.  They've won their last five games.

The Falcons are led by former Bishop McDevitt quarterback Matt Johnson, who has already gone to twitter seeking revenge for Pitt not taking him because of his height. Johnson threw for 393 yards and 5 touchdowns against then No. 14 Northern Illinois.  On the season he has thrown for 3,195 yards and 23 touchdowns.  Running back Travis Greene ran for 133 yards against Northern Illinois to give him 1,555 yards on the season.

Bowling Green is also No. 23 in total offense, No.1 in time of possession, No. 8 in total defense, No. 5 in scoring defense, No. 2 in red zone defense, No.4 in pass defense, and No. 9 in punt returns.