Friday, October 30, 2015

Attendance of major programs in an NFL city

Average attendance this season- Metro population

Washington- 61,206- 3.5 million
Minnesota- 53,737- 3.5 million
California- 51,160- 4.5 million
Arizona State- 50,486- 4 million
Georgia Tech- 50,285- 5 million
Stanford- 49,474- 4.5 million
Miami- 48,261- 5.5 million
TCU- 47,139- 6.5 million
Pittsburgh- 46,085- 2.3 million
Maryland- 40,782- 8.5 million (in between Washington, DC and Baltimore)
Colorado- 39,571- 2.5 million
Cincinnati- 34,025- 2 million
Northwestern- 33,888- 9.5 million
Temple- 33,276- 6 million
Vanderbilt- 32,505- 1.7 million
Boston College- 31,382- 4.5 million
Houston- 30,313- 6 million
South Florida- 26,138- 2.8 million
San Diego State- 24,696- 3 million
SMU- 24,315- 6.5 million

One thing to note is that Pitt has hosted Youngstown State in 90 degree weather, Virginia, and North Carolina on a Thursday. After Notre Dame comes in, the average attendance will go up.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Pitt 23 Syracuse 20


1. It wasn't pretty but the Panthers are 6-1 on the season, and 4-0 in the ACC. And maybe even more amazing is that 5 of those 7 were on the road, and 3 of the 4 ACC games were on the road.

2.  Nathan Peterman continues to be efficient, and made his usual gutsy, accurate throws. For the game he was 19-25 for 189 yards. He didn't throw a TD but he also didn't thrown an interception. Since he took over full-time at Iowa he has not thrown an interception. That's been 4 and a half games.

3.  Qadree Ollison does one thing good, and that's running hard and straight. He did it for 103 yards on 22 carries. He also had 2 TDs. Chris James also played well running for 31 yards on 7 carries.

4.  Tyler Boyd had 12 catches for 93 yards, plus ran 6 more times for 34 yards. He also fumbled on a kickoff, and it was his fumbling that led him to lose the punt return job to Avonte Maddox in this game. Maddox didn't have any good returns, but at least he was very sure handed.

5.  Dontez Ford was going up against his former team, and he played well with 4 catches for 78 yards. He is plenty good enough to be a No. 2 WR. They just have to throw it to him.

6.  The play calling was frustrating at times mainly because of not throwing the ball down the field much, and because of the constant use of sweeps. Peterman has shown he can throw down the field so I have no idea why they don't do it more. The offensive line was struggling some in pass protection, but you still have to go down field sometimes. And Ollison runs best up the middle, but for some reason Jim Chaney kept calling for sweeps.

7.  The defense was not great, especially in the first half, but they did enough to win and even came up with two interceptions (Matt Galambos and Lafayette Pitts). It helped that Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey was probably concussed and shouldn't have been in the game.

8.  The last drive was a thing of beauty and it's what winning teams do to win. Taking the ball at their own 5 with 9:20 to go, the Panthers did whatever they had to do to get down the field, and things couldn't have worked out better. A gutsy, perfect fake punt continued the drive at midfield, and the Panthers took every second of the 9:20 to win the game on a Chris Blewitt 25-yard FG.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Top Pitt football targets to keep an eye on for '17

David Adams, Central Catholic HS, LB- Born to play middle linebacker, and the Panthers defense can't be great without one. For that reason the 6'1" 225 pound Adams is being pursued very heavily by the Panthers. He said on twitter a few months ago that there's a 100% chance that he would play where Paris Ford plays, and they are very close, but we'll see. Pitt, Penn State, and Notre Dame are the three favorites.

Jacobe Clement, South Mecklenburg HS (Charlotte, NC) CB- Excellent 6'1" 180 pound cornerback that is very high on Pitt early. Zack Gilbert is his teammate, and the Panthers have offered a lot of players on this loaded team. Plus, Sean Gilbert is on the staff. A lot of it may come down to how stocked the Pitt secondary is at the time.

Tyler Dunning, St. Thomas Aquinas HS (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) LB- The Miami commit is still looking, and that could be good news for Pitt.  The 6'1" 225 pound 4-star linebacker wants to visit Pitt and he has tweeted good things about the Panthers defense for the past month or two. Plus, ace recruiter Rob Harley knows that area well, and since he would be his actual position coach, the chances of a flip may be even better.

Tyjuan Garbutt, Riverbend HS (Fredericksburg, VA) DE- Big time pass rusher at 6'3" and 230 pounds. Very high on the Panthers right now, but they will have to battle Penn State, West Virginia, and Virginia Tech. It's well worth the battle because you can never have enough pass rushers, and he's an excellent one.

Fred Hansard, Hun School (Princeton, NJ) DT- A giant 6'3" 315 pound beast that has to have Pat Narduzzi and Tom Sims salivating.  A big time player that will be hard to get, but he has Pitt high on his list.

Connor Heyward, Peachtree Ridge HS (Suwanee, GA) WR- The Panthers need more wide receivers and adding the son of Ironhead, and brother of Cameron, would be a great addition. He's an excellent prospect and the Panthers are very high on his list.

Kurt Hinish, Central Catholic HS, DT- Doesn't have an offer from the Panthers yet, but they are interested. He does have offers from Virginia and Toledo early. At 6'3" and 270 pounds, he's a good prospect that will only get bigger. If the Panthers offer, they will be major contenders.

Gabe Houy, Upper St. Clair HS, OT- Has an early offer from Pitt, and has visited the Panthers often. He's also a teammate of Pitt commit Brandon Ford so the Panthers have a very good chance with him. At 6'6" and 270 pounds he has a ton of upside.

Donovan Jeter, Beaver Falls HS, DT- Originally he was looked at as a defensive end, and he still could play there, but he now claims to be up to 6'4" and 280 pounds so he could project as a devastating tackle. He tweets about Pitt constantly, and it seems like just a matter of time before he commits, but time will tell.

Jake Lawler, South Mecklenburg HS (Charlotte, NC) DE- Very talented at 6'3" and 225 pounds. Teammate of Zack Gilbert and Jacobe Clement. Major prospect that Pitt has gained ground on recently, but he just got offered by Georgia yesterday, and it really turned his head since that's where his dad went to school. Of course a lot can happen, including Georgia filling their needs with somebody else.

Ryan Lezzer, Clearfield (PA) HS) WR- Sleeper that is a big Pitt fan. Doesn't hold an offer yet, but Pitt likes him. Slot receiver type at 5'10" and 185 pounds. I think if the Panthers offer him he will commit, but it remains to be seen whether or not they will.

Alex Marshall, Proctor Academy (Andover, NH) TE- Originally was going to be in the '16 class, and Pitt was considered the leader before he changed to the '17 class. The Panthers are obviously in need of a few TEs and a 6'7" 230 pounder is a good one to have. It remains to be seen if he's the best option because there will be a lot of candidates.

Dewayne Murray, Steel Valley HS RB/WR- A dynamic runner but at only 5'8" and 180 pounds his size could be a problem. It certainly didn't hurt Dion Lewis, who was the same size when he entered college. He also could be turned into a slot receiver. This one will be interesting.

Kenny Robinson, University Prep (Pittsburgh) LB- One of the better prospects in the state, he could play wide receiver at 6'3" and 205 pounds, but the Panthers like him as a linebacker. And he could be a really good one. Pitt is considered the heavy favorite at this time.

Griffin Sestili, North Allegheny HS, TE- The Panthers need tight ends, as I said, but Sestili is 6'3" and 230 pounds so he may be a tad small for what the Panthers want. Virginia has offered so he's clearly a good player. His dad, Chris, was a center for Pitt in the late 80s.

Rick Squires, Penn Hills HS WR- Doesn't have a Pitt offer yet, but they are interested in the 6'1" 200 pound Squires. He does have an Akron offer. If he got a Pitt offer I think he'd be a Panther but it's still up in the air if he will.

Darian Street, Liberty HS (Bethlehem, PA) WR- Pitt was his first offer, and he's the brother of Devin Street, but the talented 6'1" 175 pound receiver says he would prefer to make his name somewhere else. That may change if he can't find anybody better than Pitt.

Ambry Thomas, Martin Luther King HS (Detroit) CB- One of the top cornerbacks in the country in this class, and the Panthers are among the top group for the 5'11" 165 pound star. The Panthers will be pretty loaded at cornerback, but so will anybody else that would be a contender for his services. He stopped in to visit Pitt unofficially in April, and he's former teammates and best friends with Avonte Maddox.

CJ Thorpe, Central Catholic HS, OG/DT- A ginormous young man already at 6'3" and 310 pounds. Most look at him on offense, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Panthers wanted him on defense. Even though his dad played at Penn State, Pitt is a major player. He likes Pat Narduzzi a lot and he has a lot of friends going to Pitt, including Paris Ford and Rashad Wheeler.

Lamont Wade, Clairton HS, CB- One of the best corners in the country in the class. Until I see otherwise, he seems like a player that has stars in his eyes, especially since his advisors seem to be the same way. If I had to guess I would say that he will go to Ohio State, but we'll see.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Top Pitt football targets to keep an eye on for '16

Aaron Mathews, Clairton, WR- At 6'4" and 185 pounds, Mathews is a tall drink of water. And despite the lack of elite speed, he still is a handful due to his long strides, frame, and hands. Despite rumors that he's waiting for Penn State (not true), he still hasn't committed to Pitt despite the Panthers being the obvious leader. You have to think it will happen eventually and that maybe he's simply a kid that does things on his own schedule.

Khaleke Hudson, McKeesport, S- At 5'11" and about 200 pounds, he's a little small for a linebacker, though he could maybe get about to about 220 and be a smaller linebacker. He could be a force if that would happen, despite his lack of size for the position. But strong safety seems to be his most ideal position. Wherever you put him, he will be good because he's tough, fast, and athletic. McKeesport kids don't go to Pitt as any Panthers fan knows but I heard through the grapevine that ace recruiter Rob Harley was offended by the thought when he heard this.  Whether Hudson goes to Pitt is still very much in the air. He's very secretive with his thoughts, and he takes great pride in that. Pitt is still very much in the mix, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if he chooses the Panthers. But for some reason I'm thinking Virginia Tech. 

Damar Hamlin, Central Catholic, CB- He doesn't have elite speed which makes some think he will be a safety, but he's fast enough for corner, especially since he also has length at 6'1" and 180 pounds, great quickness, and anticipation. His close friends are going to Pitt, and Pat Narduzzi defensive backs do well, to say the least. I think Notre Dame intrigues him, but I think he will choose Pitt eventually.

Miles Sanders, Woodland Hills, RB- I will make this short and sweet. Everybody I know in the recruiting business thinks he will flip to Pitt, or at the very least, thinks there's a very good chance. He would make an instant impact on next year's team, and the PR of flipping an elite recruit from Penn State would obviously send reverberations around the college football world. I am not saying for sure that it will happen but if it does nobody should really be surprised. 

Justin Morgan, Poly Prep HS (Brooklyn, NY) OT- Giant 6'6" and 330 pound pound lineman is already committed to Rutgers, but he has since visited the Panthers. For now he's still sticking with Rutgers, but Pitt keeps putting pressure on him to flip. He'd be a very nice pickup as his stock has been rising. Plus, the Panthers need to add another offensive lineman.

Zack Gilbert, South Mecklenburg HS (Charlotte) DE- The son of Sean Gilbert is a 6'1" 255 pound lineman with a very high ceiling. He moves extremely well and has great strength and explosiveness. He also is very mature and great character. He reminds me a lot of Ejuan Price. Pitt is considered the favorite, and the Panthers merely have to hold off Virginia Tech to get an excellent player. 

Quayshown Alexander, DePaul Catholic HS (Wayne, NJ) DE- The 6'2" 235 pound Nebraska commit is planning official visits, including Pitt. He is a big Steelers fan and was very interested in Pitt before somewhat surprisingly committing to the Cornhuskers. He's very good and you can never have too many big time athletes.

Jamal Smith, American HS (Hialeah, FL) DE- Northern schools like Pitt usually get under the radar Florida kids late in the recruiting cycle, and I expect the same this year. The 6'2" 248 pound Smith is one such possibility. Some may feel like Pitt is recruiting so well that getting perceived leftovers is not a good thing, but there are so many excellent players in Florida that it's impossible for the top programs in the region to have room for them all. Plus, Harley and defensive coordinator Josh Conklin knows the Florida players very well.  Smith wants to visit Pitt soon. Kentucky and Oregon State are his other top suitors.

George Hill, Hubbard (OH) HS, RB/WR/S- The Ohio State de-commit visited Pitt and even though almost everybody thinks he will end up at Michigan State, the Panthers are still right in there. An excellent athlete that can play multiple positions. If Pitt could technically flip a player from Penn State and Ohio State then things would get even more interesting. I see him probably ending up at Michigan State, but you never know.

Amir Watts, Phillips HS (Chicago, IL) DT- Previously committed to Western Michigan but then he got hot and he's now back on the market. Just 6'3" and 270 pounds but he's very quick. In fact, he even catches passes from the the wide receiver position at times. Minnesota may be the biggest obstacle. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Kaezon Pugh to Pitt

The Panthers storybook season continues as Aliquippa linebacker Kaezon Pugh has verbally committed to the Panthers. The 6'2" 210 pound Pugh is one of the best linebacker prospects in the east, and his commitment adds to a quickly improving linebacker corps.

Pugh's other finalist was West Virginia, and his other offers included Auburn, Mississippi State, Arkansas, Virginia Tech, Duke, Tennessee, Nebraska, Michigan State, Missouri, and Arizona.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Pitt 31 Georgia Tech 28

Wow. What can I say other than that? Just by the simple law of averages I thought Pitt would lose this game, and after the first quarter I was 100% convinced of it.  But what an amazing job by the coaches and the players. Some thoughts:

1.  The Pitt defense got absolutely shredded in the first half, and I thought Georgia Tech was going to score 60. But amazingly the Pitt defense held the Georgia Tech offense to just 7 points in the second half. That was the least amount of points that Georgia Tech has scored in a half all season. In the first half, Georgia Tech had 337 yards.  In the second half they had 145 yards. Just an amazing turnaround.

2.  On offense, Pitt has definitely found a quarterback. There's no going back now, and for good reason. Nathan Peterman completed 14-21 passes for 173 yards, but even more impressively he had 3 TDs and no interceptions. Since he took over permanently in the second half against Iowa, he has thrown for 7 TDs and no interceptions.

3.  The Pitt running game, with help from an excellent performance by the offensive line, ran for 200 yards. Qadree Ollison led the way with 22 carries for 83 yards, and a TD.  Darrin Hall added 38 yards on 8 carries, and Chris James added 22 yards on 3 carries. That's 143 yards on 33 carries, a 4.3 average. Peterman and Tyler Boyd also carried five times each, and they gained 31 yards and 26 yards respectively.

4.  Boyd became the top pass catcher in Pitt history after getting 8 catches for 68 yards. He also had 2 touchdowns, one of which was spectacular.  He also had a fantastic pass completed deep in Georgia Tech territory.  What a talent. But he dropped two punts, and to be honest, he has not had a good year as a return man.

5.  The kicking game finally came up, and did they ever. Ryan Winslow did a good job of pinning Georgia Tech deep and obviously Chris Blewitt's 56-yard game winning, and Pitt record FG, was everything.

6.  All in all, this was a great win. And Pitt has themselves some kind of coaching staff. Pat Narduzzi, defensive coordinate Josh Conklin, and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney all did a fantastic job.  Now the Panthers are 5-1 and 3-0 in the ACC.

7.  This is becoming quite a season.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Paris Ford is a Panther

The dam has broken and it has broken in a big way. One of the top prospects nationally, at any position, in the 2017 class, safety Paris Ford of Seton-LaSalle HS in Pittsburgh, has committed to the Panthers. The 6'1" 180 pound Ford is considered a top 100 prospect nationally. He has the length, speed, and athleticism of an elite defensive back. In the last fifteen years or so, safeties have become playmakers and they have become a highly coveted commodity.  Ford has amazing range and has All-American potential.  His other offers included Penn State, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Michigan, Michigan State, Auburn, UCLA, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, and Tennessee, among others.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Many thoughts on Pitt football and basketball

I just have some thoughts and info that has accumulated over the past week or so, so here it goes.

1.  The first thing I want to say is that PAT NARDUZZI IS HERE TO STAY!!!  I understand that Pitt fans always expect something bad to happen, but with all due respect, don't be so paranoid.  Only five head coaches in Pitt's modern history left for another school. Two of them (Johnny Majors and Paul Chryst) left to return to their alma mater, one of them (Ben Howland) returned home to coach the school he always grew up loving, one (Jackie Sherrill) left for a ton of money when Pitt had bad leadership, and one (Todd Graham) is a douchebag with no morals. Well, Narduzzi was born in Connecticut when his father was at Yale, and he spent his formative years in Youngstown before playing at Youngstown State. He's obviously not going to leave for Yale or Youngstown State. That means the only connection he is to Michigan State. First, Mark Dantonio is not returning to his alma mater, South Carolina. He's from Ohio and has spent his entire coaching career in the Midwest. Outside of the four years he spent in college four decades ago, he has no affiliation to the south at all. Not to mention that he'd be 60 next season, he has spent a lot of time getting Michigan State to where it is now, and he's treated like a god in East Lansing (including huge pay). Michigan State is also a better job. The legendary Steve Spurrier was only 44-40 in the SEC there, and it will always be an also ran in that highly competitive conference.

Also, Pitt is the closest major program to Youngstown at just over an hour. This is home for him. It's his area, it's his people, and he knows he can win here. Pitt is actually a better program than Michigan State, as Narduzzi would quickly tell you. It's very hard to recruit at Michigan State, whereas Pitt is surrounded by a very fertile recruiting area. Bottom line, coaching at a school doesn't give you some crazy, insatiable thirst to go back there as soon as you can. It's home that makes you want to go back, and home for Narduzzi is the Pittsburgh area. He really has no reason to go elsewhere. So relax and enjoy the man. As I said from the moment he was hired, he's the one you've been waiting for.

2.  A win over Georgia Tech would be huge for Pitt's eventual win total, but I'm actually pessimistic for this game. Of Georgia Tech's four losses, three were on the road against tough competition (Notre Dame, Duke, and Clemson), and they lost at home (North Carolina) late to another excellent team. Plus, the law of averages says they won't lose 5 in a row.

3.  The most encouraging thing about the fast start this season is that their actual on field talent is probably less than last year. The Panthers are without James Conner, Jared Jones-Smith, Rachad Ibrahim, Matt Rotheram, and TJ Clemmings. It's pretty obvious looking at that why the offense is struggling. Outside of Tyler Boyd there's simply no big time playmakers, and the offensive line has had two veterans replaced by the very mediocre Artie Rowell and the very raw Brian O'Neill.  The future is extremely bright for O'Neill, who I think could be a first round possibility in the future, but he's just learning the position.

4. Even though the on field talent this year may be less, the talent level is about to go up. Don't get me started on the ridiculous Rivals ratings system, which penalizes Pitt for not having 20 recruits yet. That's just one of the reasons why you have to take rankings system with a grain of salt. Another is the quota that Rivals use. They only have 50 five star prospects and 250 four star prospects. But what if there are more than 50 or 250 that are worthy? Too bad. That makes no sense.

I can settle this debate once at for all, to be honest. At the moment Texas has two 4-star recruits and seven 3-star recruits. Rivals has them ranked No. 57, behind schools like SMU, Washington State, Illinois, Minnesota, and Wake Forest. And listen to this. SMU has no 4-stars, four 3-stars, and seventeen 2-stars, yet they are ranked above Texas. In average per recruit, Texas is No. 14, which obviously makes much more sense. So, bottom line, Pitt is actually No. 41, not No. 71, as Rivals lists. When it's all said and done, Pitt should be around No. 30.

Thomas MacVittie and Chase Pine deserve to be 4-star prospects and Maurice Ffrench is obviously a 3-star, not the 2-star they have him listed at. Pine is having a great year on defense and even at quarterback. He's been a major force on the field. Ffrench has been unstoppable in New Jersey and had over 400 total yards this weekend. He runs, he catches, he returns. He can do it all. And MacVittie is now healthy after an early season injury and is playing very well despite playing in the ridiculously loaded Cincinnati Catholic league. J.J. Cosentino of Florida State was a 4-star prospect at Pittsburgh Central Catholic because he was big, athletic, and had a strong arm. What was overlooked was that he was such a bad passer (less than 50%) that Central Catholic rarely let him pass. MacVittie has been much better this season than Cosentino ever was. And, by the way, he and his father absolutely love Pitt, and they've pretty much shut down his recruiting. That's why there are no more offers. In fact, his father often messages me with pro-Pitt comments and he can't wait for his son to get to Pitt.

5.  As for recruiting, the first thing I want to say is that you shouldn't believe message board naysayers that Pitt has no chance for Miles Sanders, Kaezon Pugh, and Khaleke Hudson. Sanders has been secretly visiting Pitt for months and he's scheduled to have an official visit for the Notre Dame game. The Panthers could conceivably win that game and be 8-1. That's highly unlikely but let's say the Panthers are at least doing well at the time and Penn State is not. Both things are possible. It will cause a buzz at Pitt among the top local recruits if the Panthers have the look of a real winner. And Sanders could easily get swept up in that. In fact, what I've been told from those close to the situation, is that Sanders wanted nothing to do with Chryst so he committed to Penn State, but that if he still hasn't decided, he probably would have chosen Pitt. Basically, he got himself into a Penn State mindset, and he doesn't want to be disloyal. All along I said I would still take Penn State since he's already committed to them, but it would not surprise me for a second if he eventually flipped.

As for Pugh, he is not automatically targeted for West Virginia as many believe. He could absolutely end up going there, but Pitt was not happy about losing Aliquippa and they are all going all out to get them back in the fold. Both Chris LaSala and Rob Harley are on the case, and if they don't get him, it's simply because Pugh wants to play with Dravon Henry (for essentially one year since Henry will likely go to the NFL after his junior year).

Hudson may be a long shot for the reason that as a strong safety, he has no chance of playing over Jordan Whitehead. But Hudson takes great pride in keeping everybody in the dark, and that includes those closest to him. Nobody has any idea what he's thinking so anybody that says he's waiting for a Penn State offer or isn't interested in Pitt, is simply making it up.

6.  As far as the other recruiting, I think Damar Hamlin, Aaron Mathews, and Zack Gilbert will be Panthers, and they will join MacVittie, Pine, Ruben Flowers, Therran Coleman, and Rashad Wheeler as the cream of the crop. But that won't be all. I expect a flip or two to Pitt, as well as a probably a few late Florida signings. I think Juwann Winfree is a real possibility, too. The one I am a little worried about is UCLA transfer Chris Clark, who seems to really want to play with his friends at Syracuse.

7.  I expect the 2017 and 2018 classes to be even more impressive. I don't think Pitt will get Lamont Wade. He and his handlers are the type that loves the spotlight, and they find their value in where Lamont signs. I have a good feeling, however, with locals Paris Ford, Donovan Jeter, and Kenny Robinson. All three are big time talents. I also think there's a better chance than many think with LB David Adams and DT CJ Thorpe. Both would be crucial signings as they would make the middle of the Panthers defense very stout. A future DT combo of Jeter and Thorpe would make Pitt fans salivate. The Panthers will also be favorites for Brandon Ford's teammate at Upper St. Clair, Gabe Houy, and Devin Street's brother, Darian. Outside of PA, Ironhead's son, Connor Heyward, is a talented Georgia WR that the Panthers have a strong shot with, and elite Virginia DE Tyjuan Garbutt is another. Obviously there will be many more major targets as it's still relatively early for out of state targets. In 2018, it's all about Pine-Richland QB Phil Jurkovec. He will be a very highly rated national recruit his senior year. Trust me when I tell you that this is exactly the type of QB the Panthers need to make serious damage on a national level. And I like Pitt's chances- a lot. And he won't be the only really good WPIAL prospect in that class. I will have more in future posts, but let's just say that the WPIAL is strong again.

8.  If Pitt could land Sanders, Clark, and Winfree the offense will get better in a hurry. Clark would probably have to wait a year, but Sanders would start immediately, and Winfree would join with Flowers, Quadree Henderson, and probably Mathews in a suddenly deeper receiving corps. On the opposite end, if they don't land all three, their future RB, WR, and TE units will still need a lot of help. It's a very crucial time in the development of the program.

9.  Okay, this is when some people are going to lose their minds. The Pitt basketball team, and Jamie Dixon. Look, here is the way it is. Dixon is not doing everything right and he's in a very delicate spot at this point. His coaching is excellent. Trust me on this. You won't ever win an argument with any knowledgeable basketball person if you say otherwise. It's his recruiting that has been suspect. He doesn't have the perfect staff for him because while he's a great evaluator of talent, he does not close well. So basically he needs an ace recruiter, which he really doesn't have. But, Pitt will win this year, and they will win as long as Dixon is there. They will always win because Dixon is just that good of a coach. Now, he may not consistently win big like you got used to, but he will still win.

10.  This year's team should go to the NCAA tournament, in what I assume will be around a 7-9 seed. Not many teams have a duo like Jamel Artis and Mike Young on their frontline. And after a year with a lot of dead weight, there's none of that this season. Every single scholarship player on the roster can play. Depth, youth, rebounding, perimeter shooting, and defense were all problems last year. Every one of those problems have likely been solved. Rozelle Nix, Rafael Maia, and Alonzo Nelson-Odoba are a three headed monster that's obviously better than having Joseph Uchebo, Derrick Randall, and an undersized Mike Young. Nix, Maia, and Nelson-Odoba are big, strong, they rebound, and they play defense. Graduate transfer Sterling Smith adds more defense, and his perimeter shooting will combine with returning Cam Johnson and newcomer Damon Wilson. By the way, the word I've been getting out of Pitt is that Wilson has been very good.

11.  Assuming everybody that can come back, does come back, next season will still have a strong core of Artis, Young, Chris Jones, Sheldon Jeter, Ryan Luther, Johnson, Wilson, Nix, Jonathan Milligan, Justice Kithcart, and Corey Manigault. And there's two more to be added.

12.  The key is what Dixon does in recruiting in the next year. Not only does he have two more to add in the '16 class, but he could have as many as seven more to add in '17. Dixon better get the recruiting situation improved before then, needless to say.

13.  Speaking of recruiting, I talked to various coaches around the country that told me that Pitt completely mishandled the PG recruiting situation in the past few months. Kithcart was not even close to being the best of the bunch, yet that's the one they ended up with. In fact, one coach told me they could have had a better PG, Maliek White, had they waited. He called it "a colossal mistake" that Pitt had both visit at the same time. Another coach told me that it's unfathomable that Brandin Knight couldn't get fellow New Jersey native Myles Powell to even visit. White went to Providence, Powell went to Seton Hall, and former target Tone Carr went to Penn State. Not exactly inspiring to lose players to such programs.

14.  One of the biggest excuses that people use as to why Dixon doesn't recruit at an excellent level is because of the lack of local recruiting talent. That's somewhat true but he inexcusably lost Maverick Rowan, and now he has elite local '18 targets Robbie Carmody and Curtis Aiken, Jr. on the horizon. He wasn't the first to offer either, which is pretty telling. In fact, every time I complained about a lack of an offer for Carmody, he favored it on twitter.  So, basically, he wasn't thrilled about the lack of attention either. If he loses both, especially a legacy like Aiken, then he will forever be considered hopeless as a recruiter.

15.  Lastly, Dixon will never be fired. Pitt is not crazy. What he's done at Pitt is a minor miracle. It's not nearly as easy to win here as you think. And if Pitt got rid of him, they will not get a big name. Nobody worth a damn will want to work for a school that fired Dixon. Believe that. The best hope is that he gets his recruiting in order. If he does he will continue to win. If you just realize that Dixon will win but will probably never be in the Final Four then you can just sit back and enjoy the fact that Pitt is still better than most programs. Not everyplace is destined for a national championship. In fact, few are. It is what it is. Pitt won't cheat, and without cheating there's no way they will ever be good enough to win it all. And if you want to root for a cheating team, there's plenty out there to choose from.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Pitt 17 Virginia Tech 13

Well, well, well, Pitt has a team perhaps, mainly because they seem to have an excellent defense. Some thoughts:

1.  Defense, defense, defense.  Wow.  Virginia Tech isn't an offensive juggernaut, but Pitt held them to 100 total yards and had seven sacks. Just unreal.

2.  Juan Price was the player of the game and was an absolute demon on the pass rush. I keep forgetting that he could get a sixth year of eligibility next year. He's finally healthy, and if he stays healthy, and returns next year, Pitt's defensive ends will be ridiculous.

3.  The offense was not great, and there's a lot of criticism for Jim Chaney, but the truth is, outside of Tyler Boyd, the Panthers really don't have an exceptional skill player. And Boyd didn't have his best game. Virginia Tech goes all out on the pass rush, and the result was that Nathan Peterman spent most of the time running for his life. But when he had time he connected. Peterman ended up going 9-15 for 110 yards, a TD, and no interceptions. Truthfully, he did as well as he could, and at least didn't make any mistakes. When he had time he was also pretty accurate. Voytik came in and pretty much just ran every time he was in there. He ended up with 37 yards on 5 carries.

4.  Boyd ended up with 5 catches for 48 yards, and he also fumbled a punt that the Panthers recovered.

5.  Quadree Ollison ran hard and impressed with 122 yards on 19 carries, plus a TD. Pitt ran for 166 yards.

6.  Because of the sacks, Virginia Tech had 33 rushes for 9 yards. That's not a typo.

7.  The defense also had 7 sacks and help Virginia Tech to 100 total yards. No other way to say it other than dominating.

8.  Virginia Tech quarterback Brendon Motley was 9-20 for 91 yards, and a TD. He was also intercepted by Terrish Webb, Avonte Maddox, and Mike Caprara.

9.  With Virginia coming in next week, barring a letdown, Pitt should be 4-1, and has a real chance to be 6-2 when Notre Dame comes to town.