Friday, February 3, 2017

A few updates

I am busy writing an article about how the football team is shaping up, but just a few notes since they are important:

Pat Narduzzi has finally named an offensive coordinator, and he has decided on Indiana QB coach Shawn Watson. The 57-year old Watson was once a very hot name. He was the Louisville OC when Charlie Strong had two very successful seasons, and it was Watson who developed Teddy Bridgewater.  He then followed Strong to Texas, where things did not go well for either. Strong was clearly a bad fit for Texas, and Watson's reputation took a hit in the wreckage that was left behind.

But Watson has been an offensive coordinator for a long time, and he's usually had good offenses. I'm not going to bore you with a long statistical analysis, so I will just say that Gary Barnett, Charlie Strong, Kevin Wilson, and now Narduzzi clearly think highly of him to hire him. And when Watson was at Nebraska, then AD Tom Osborne made Bo Pelini keep him as the OC when he became the head coach. Not only that, but Nick Saban tried to hire him away from Nebraska at one point.

Past, present, and future quarterbacks are also fans of Watson. Former Colorado quarterback Joel Klatt said this about Watson:

"That first thing that stands out is he was as good of a teacher of football as I've ever been around. He was sensational at getting kids prepared to run his system. It's a system that really crosses over, it can be watered down, it can be expanded, so I love the fact that it doesn't matter what the team is good at, Shawn's system is going to fit whatever your team's strengths are. If you want to run the football you can absolutely do that with power and authority, you can run the zone scheme, outside zone scheme, you can run the quarterback if he needs to, he can run play-action pass, run-action pass, it's a great down the field passing game. So he's got a great combination of weapons at his disposal with his offense."

Indiana starting quarterback, Richard Lagow, tweeted this yesterday:

"Just like that. Good luck to one of the best men and coaches I've ever come across, you changed my life forever. Y'all got a good one."

As far as the present and future, the word is that both Max Browne and Thomas MacVittie are very happy about the hire, and 2018 prospect Kevin Doyle, perhaps the top QB target in the current class, is also happy about the hire.

As for the system, when Watson started out at Colorado, he was using the West Coast system, as that was the hot thing at the time. But he has changed with the times. At Nebraska, he took over an offense that was previously an option offense, and transformed it into a high scoring offense that passed as well as it ran, despite not having a big time true quarterback. At Louisville, he was giving the only excellent quarterback of his career in Bridgewater, and he responded with a great offense. Then there was the disaster at Texas where the Longhorns had Tyrone Swoopes at quarterback, a great athlete that's more suited for fullback.

So the question still remains exactly who, and what, Watson is. He is beloved by the players he has coached, so that's a plus. But his offenses were sometimes very good, and sometimes not so good. Sometimes he ran a West Coast offense, and sometimes he ran a spread. He has been forced into some tough situations at every stop, but one, and that was at Louisville where he actually had a quarterback and was allowed to run a system that fit the personnel. And it was at Louisville where he was most successful.

Watson has stated in recent interviews that he will change his style as times change, and I think we will probably see his offense be more explosive than it's ever been because that's what Narduzzi wants. And because Watson is so experienced, he is capable of learning some things that Canada did well (jet sweeps and shovel passes, for example), and incorporating them into an offense that's already very adept at those things. Watson also spent a year at Indiana with Wilson, who is one of the great offensive minds of the game, and he said that he learned a lot.

Bottom line, don't worry about fans of his past teams say, because they don't mean anything. If they knew what they were talking about, they would be coaches and not fans. And the same goes for the media. Watson has been coveted by many great football coaches, and the players who actually played for him, or will play for him soon, really respect him. As for if he will succeed, I can't imagine that he won't. Pitt may not have the successful offense they had this past season, but Canada may not have had that success again either. Everything worked perfectly last season. But Watson is a good enough coordinator that he should do well with the amount of talent that the Panthers have.

On to basketball, and the Panthers picked up two more players this week. Shamiel Stevenson, is a 6'5" SF that is very athletic and can jump out of the gym. He's a good prospect that will probably be a future starter. Today, the Panthers landed 6'10" Nigerian Peace Ilegomah, who does not provide much offense, but he runs like a deer, he's a big time rebounder, and he's a shot blocking fiend. I will go into more detail with Pitt's class in a later post, but they have six new players coming in so far. It's pretty obvious that Stallings is trying to change the roster as quickly as possible. 


  1. stallings is getting players but can any of them play next year. Can any score. They all could be good players but stallings needs to show their is a future or fans are already done.

  2. On the basketball side change cannot come quick enough. Hopefully Stallings will be able to get some defense out of some of the incoming players. Seems as if Peace Ilegomah is mostly a defensive player that should protect the paint. Would like us to get back to out rebounding our opponents especially on the defensive end. I know Dixon had kind of stagnated at Pitt but this year's team would have played better under him than under Stallings.

    Watson seems like an acceptable choice and I agree with your comment that in the coming year our offense will tail off from last year's record setting performance even if Canada had stayed. Our defense needs to improve drastically over the horrible past year. Matt House would have been an improvement over what happened last year. Never thought I would be hoping for his return!

  3. Thus far, two years in, Narduzzi has earned my implicit trust. As such, I believe Watson to be a good hire. And, well, if I have nothing positive to say about Stallings then I'll say nothing at all. #H2P

  4. Anyone worried about the oline? Baker, reese, paulina, and grimm not coming back. I think we have some really good lineman but zero depth. Smith officer oneill bookser all very good but no one behind them except very young kids.

    1. There may be 10 teams in all of college football that has good depth. Hell, there's probably not even 10 in the NFL.

    2. Fair enough. Thanks for the assesement.

  5. Chris, were surprised when Sims was left go. Seemed like DL wasn't that bad. Was this about recruiting more than developing talent.

    1. I honestly don't know why. There has to be some reason beyond performance. There are better DL coaches, but I don't know if that's enough of a reason to get rid of an alum.

  6. Chris:

    What is your take on Simms being let go?

  7. Chris thanks again for another great analysis. This might seem a little far fetched but our offense may be even better this coming year. Think about it, the No.1 QB and the No.1 TE coming out of High School. Solid OL, depth and speed at both WR and RB and a great new OC. Even Nick Saban wanted Watson, who can argue against him. We're witnessing an amazing team being assembled! H2P!