Friday, December 19, 2008


Can everyone please stop complaining about Tyrell Biggs shooting the ball? Seriously. I have been very critical of Biggs over the last several years and have always been underwhelmed by his play. I always felt like he could be more physical, be a tougher defender and do a better job rebounding. This year, however, he looks to be improving and gaining confidence in himself. But to complain about him shooting the ball is ridiculous. Complain about his rebounding or maybe his lack of intensity, but not his shot selection. He is currently 8-15 from three-point land. Two things: first, he has only attempted 15 three-pointers this season. That isn't that many through 11 games for a guy who is playing the minutes he does. Second, the guy is shooting over 50%. Not only is that a simply outstanding percentage (I know he doesn't have that many attempts) but he leads the team in percentage right now. We should be thanking Biggs for boosting our putrid three-point shooting percentage. Additionally, if he can consistently be somewhat of a threat to shoot that shot not only does it make for a tough matchup, but it will pull defenders out and open up lanes for Young and the others. Your stroke looks great so far, keep shooting it, Tyrell.

And just saw that Fittipaldo agrees.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Pitt out on Cheek Sweepstakes

I think everyone knew this was going to come. Cheek is down to Kansas and Nova. O well, good luck to Cheek. I really think coming to a school like Pitt would be a great choice for any wing player. Sam Young is going to depart freeing up many shots. There is no real go to player on the outside and that role could be filled by a freshman. The shots will be open and the lanes will as well because I see a lot of teams focusing on defending Blair and Taylor next year. Another thought: It seems Pitt has this stigma that it can't get guys to the NBA. High School kids seem to be caught up in this. The truth is, NBA scouts will see you wherever you go. Especially at Pitt, which is constantly in the media and has been the top program in the best league in the country. Pitt has 5 out of the last 9 players named most-improved by the Big East. That means they are developing talent. Once Young and Blair are in the league I think this stigma will start to disappear. The reason Pitt hasn't gotten guys to NBA is they haven't had NBA talent. But they do a great job of developing players and their skills. Look for Pitt to put the full court press on DeAndre Kane to lock up a shooting guard to complete the class. This could be more difficult now that Connecticut is involved. Hopefully, Blair can swing his old teammate to the Panthers.

All Big East announced

It went kind of as I thought it would go. Brown is the offensive MVP, and McKillop the defensive. CJ Davis, Mccoy (unanimous), and Lee join Mckillop on the first team.
- second team surprise: Aaron Berry at DB? interesting. I think AB can be a good player if he gets his head on, but this year he did struggle many times. I guess the coaches saw differently. Maybe he is a better player than people have been thinking.
- Romeus also a second team guy.

- I really was hoping McCoy would win the Offensive MVP. Yes, Brown is a good player, but UCONN was not a very good team. Every other award in America your team needs to win for you to win. Example (Larry Fitzgerald losing the Heisman to Jason White). But Brown is a heck of a runner and props to him for what he did with that horrendous quarterbacking.
- I am surprised that Mick Williams and Jabal Sheard did not receive any mention. The havoc that both of these guys created week in week out was impressive. Especially Williams, as a DT you usually don't see guys making as many plays as him. I think both of these guys have potential to be 1st teamers next year. I also think Greg Williams if he progresses more could be an all league player. I love his speed and the way he flies to the ball.
- Overall the awards mean nothing but they are nice. It is good for Scott to go out as the D player of the year. Shady is clearly the most talented player in the league at this point, I believe that will be justified whenever he decides to go on to the NFL.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Texas QB has Pitt on top of his list

Kolby Gray a 6 foot 2 inch 182 lb. Quaterback from Cypress Falls High School of Houston Texas has put Pitt on the top of his list. I don't have a rivals password but from what I can see in the little info they give, Gray has Pitt at number one after a visit from Phil Bennet. Gray apparently is going to choose overall between Pitt and Utah but right now says Pitt is number one. If anyone has more info that'd be great to hear.

Thoughts: Gray seems to fill a void that many Panther fans have had an issue with. That issue is that our QB's that can throw the ball lack mobility, and those that can run, lack a passing attack. Gray looks like a kid that could grow into an excellent QB, that can buy time in the pocket and make throws. Check out his youtube highlights, just search his name. He looks pretty darn athletic and looks to be a tough physical kid. Also ESPN has evaluated Kolby: You can find there evaluation here: along with highlights.
Basically, they seem to think the kid looks better every time they watch him. They say he can really develop into a special player, even though he is a little raw right now. Rivals lists him as a 4.48 40 yard dash. I know high schoolers often exaggerate their times, but if a QB lists that high, he must at least be mobile enough to escape a rush. Also, on his video he looks plain fast. I'm excited about this kid and hope the Panthers can lock him up.

Some other important thoughts:
- Phil Bennett is recruiting him. Pitt has long had a hand in Florida. Under Harris they recruited heavily there, and under Wanny they are continuiung that trend. Bennett really gives them another fertile recruiting area to exploit. This is huge because Texas, much like Florida, has so much talent that it can't all be taken by the large schools. Many times, diamonds in the rough type players can be found in these states. See Antonio Bryant. Hopefulyl Bennett can stay around and open a solid pipeline in Texas. (The Panthers have also recently pulled 2 hoops recruits from Texas, so hopefully Pitt is becoming better known in the state. Playing a bowl game there can't hurt either).
- Second: This kid also had offers from Utah, Boise St., and Vanderbilt. When I think of these three programs I typically think of strong QB play. These schools seem to be good evaluators of talent in that area. So again, I really hope that Pitt can lock this kid up.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

What to watch: Pitt vs. UCONN

3. Brown and McCoy
A lot has been made about these to backs going head to head. Even though they are on opposite sides of the ball, you can bet they both want to stake their claim as the best RB in the BE. They should be fun to watch considering these may be the two best backs in the nation (although both were snubbed from the Doak Walker award final list).

2. Can Bennett exorcise another team that haunted Rhodes:
Phil Bennett has proved that he could do something Paul Rhodes couldn't: His defense shut down navy. Bennett's group also put together a great showing vs. WVU, which Rhodes finally did in his last year as well. UCONN has haunted the panthers the past fewyears. I think Bennett will have the guys ready to go today.

1. Bill Stull
For Panther fans all eyes will be on Stull. He has been under heat recently, however, I think most people believe he is the only option right now. One thing that we know is Stull is a tough kid. I think he'll bounce back today, but it will be interesting to watch.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sun Bowl Bound?

So with the Gator Bowl inviting Clemson, it pretty much looks like Pitt will be headed to the Sun Bowl to face a Pac 10 foe. With Clemson in the Gator, North Carolina will most likely be playing in teh Meineke Car Care Bowl, this should send Rutgers to the bowl. I suppose the Sun Bowl could take WVU, but this seems unlikely.

VOTE for Pitt to go to the Sun Bowl. The poll is on the left side. Not sure it means anything, but let's let the Sun Bowl folks know we want Pitt to be there.

Stull WILL be the guy

The Stull to play or not to play question seemed to fire up quite a few readers, so I wanted to continue the discussion. In short, Bill Stull will be the guy going into the next two games and next season. To everyone who is so upset with his play: I'm not sure what your expectations were of him. Does this team need better play from the quarterback position if its going to be a contender nationally and within the Big East? You bet. But mark my words, Stull gives them the best chance and he is going to be the starting quarterback the remainder of this season and next.

Some things to keep in mind:

There is nobody else to play. Remove Kevin Smith from the discussion completely. He has demonstrated that he is completely inept. Pat Bostick is horrible. He can't run and he can't throw. Yes, he was the starting quarterback in some big wins, but the offense certainly didn't shine in any of those wins. I'm not sure how you can call for Stull to be benched when Bostick is the next guy in line. Last year when he was the starting quarterback he threw 8 touchdowns vs. 13 interceptions. So far this year Stull has thrown 7 touchdowns to 8 interceptions. Bostick had a passer rating of 111 (last in the Big East), and while Stull's is nothing to gloat about, he does hold a 124 which is good for 5th in the conference. Last season, Bostick threw for 1500 yards on 252 attempts. Stull has thrown for 2163 yards on 288 attempts this season with one game remaining.

Also, let's try to keep in mind that Stull is still adjusting to the position. I would hope that he improves as he'll have several weeks of practice and an extra game with the bowl and then continue to mature through spring ball.

In 2003 Rod Rutherford led the conference in pretty much every statistic related to quarterbacking. He finished first in completelions (247), yards (3679) and touchdowns (37) to interceptions (14). In his first season as a starter, however, Rutherford's statistics were comparable to Stull's. 129 passer rating, 2783 passing yards and a completion percentage of 52.3 (Stull's is slightly better at 59.4%). Also, in their first season's under center Rutherford and Palko took 44 and 38 sacks, respectively. Stull has been sacked only 22 times to date. Part of this is due to a stronger offensive line, but Stull may actually be better at getting rid of the ball. If you look at sacks per attempt Rutherford was sacked 38/409 (9.3%) and Palko was sacked 44/367 (1.20%) while Stull was sacked only 22/288(7.6%). I'm not claiming that Stull will be better than Rutherford or Palko, he probably won't. But I think we need to keep in mind that he is young and still developing as a quarterback and decision maker and that there is room for improvement. One needs to look no further than the drastic improvement Rutherford made between his first and second seasons under center.

Someone made the comment:

Why do we have to be happy with "good enough"? Why can't we want good? Especially since there's lots of "good" around on the offense.

Well, we have to be happy with "good enough" for now because he's literally all we have. There is no doubt we need to recruit talent at the QB position, but that isn't going to help us this year or next.

So let's all temper our expectations and try to be a little more patient with this kid's development.

Hail to Pitt!

Enough is Enough Already!

In today's Post-Gazette Pitt football Q&A with beat writer Paul Zeise nearly every questions pertained to Bill Stull and whether or not he should still be quarterbacking this team (most were negative). My question to the Pitt fans out there is this: Who the hell do we think we are? Do you think a Sam Bradford or Colt McCoy is sitting somewhere on the bench buried in the depth chart below the likes of Pat Bostick and Kevin Smith. Did you watch the Notre Dame game? Smith was a deer in headlights and Bostick (yes I know we won the game) was horrible. He is incredibly unathletic and slow and makes far worse decisions than even Stull has. Gimme a break! Its getting ridiculous.

Disgruntled Panther fans, please wake up, you need a reality check. I was at the Brawl this past weekend. It was a great game to be at, but I was absolutely sick to my stomach as Panther fans actually had the nerve to boo Stull and the Panthers as they came of the field before half time. Yes, the last offensive play of the half was horrendous. It was an awful call by Cavanaugh and a terrible throw by Stull. But booing the team (a team that went into halftime with a lead mind you) that had completely manhandled the Mountaineers for 30 minutes of play was shameful. And I know the scoreboard didn't indicate it, but Pitt had just played a tremendous half of football aside from 2 key mistakes (the missed Lee field goal and the Stull interception). And yes, both of them were costly, but these kids certainly did not deserve to be booed coming off the field. It made me sick to my stomach. Think of what the players thought or prospective recruits for that matter. Who wants to go to a school where the fans boo the home team when they are up going into half time. What a joke.

Pitt fans need to step back and re-evaluate. This is not the 1976 team. Nobody expected them to be. This IS, however, a good football team. A team that has come from behind to win no less than five times this season. This season is a stepping stone. We have a young team that is going to make mistakes, but you cannot argue that this team isn't talented and doesn't have heart. They have accomplished a great deal this season. Their record stands at 8-3 and they have a chance to lock up a 10-win season with a win over Connecticut and a subsquent bowl victory.

As for Stull (I know I got a little sidetracked)he is hands down the best we have right now. He isn't the best QB in the conference, but he is more than serviceable. He is not all that experienced, but he has done a decent job when he has time to sit back and throw the ball and is put in a position to succeed. By position to succeed I mean in manageable down and distances (not asking him to throw a fade ball to score a TD before the half from the 1yd line). He hasn't played well the last two games, but at Cincinnati protection was mediocre at best and there were several drops by our receiving corps. In the brawl he made some ill-timed bad decisions. I'm sure he knows it though, and will improve. It was infuriating to me to hear the guys sitting behind me calling for Stull's head and referring to him as a "piece of shit". That kind of commentary is despicable, especially when Stull is the best option we have. The bottom line is that he is a relatively inexperienced quarterback. He has played well at times and made mistakes at others. He WILL continue to improve as he gains more confidence in his reads and gets more help from his line and wide receivers. But he is our best quarterback and those questioning his position in the starting lineup need to take a seat.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I'll be back! Shady to return for 2009 season!

Paul Zeise reports Shady to RETURN for his junior season. We couldn't be more thrilled to hear this news. What a great kid and tremendous player. EVERYONE involved with Pitt is thrilled and relieved that LeSean McCoy will be on campus next season.

This news obviously puts Pitt at the top of most peoples' lists to win the Big East next year and McCoy will undoubtedly be on the short list of Heisman favorites for 2009.

This is great for the University of Pittsburgh. To have a great kid like LeSean who says all the right things and works so hard means a lot to this program. With a healthy and more experienced Bill Stull, standout WR Jonathan Baldwin, a more mature defense, and the surprise return of McCoy 2009 should be looking up for the Panthers.

Let's GO PITT!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Easy Corrections

There are some things I noticed in the Panther game that can be easily corrected and I believe need to be corrected rather quickly for the Panthers.

1) Problem: Austin Ransom taking on a power or any lead block. I have commended Ransom for his effort and play at times throughout the year, however Ransom is just not big enough and explosive enough to take on a pulling guard or leading fullback.

Quick Fix: Having been an undersized linebacker myself what I had to realize was that I wasn't going to blow up a FB or Guard and most likely wouldn't even break even. So, Ransom needs to cut the pulling guard or fullback. The reasons for this are as follows. Number 1: Ransom won't get blow three yards out of the play which has been happening. Number 2: If Ransom catches the play deep enough, he can create a pile and cause havoc in the backfield. Even if not, it at least will shut down his hole, which he is responsible for playing. Ransom needs to realize cut or no cut, he won't make the play, so he might as well give himself up for the team. Plus, guards and FB's hate this. Also, if you go low enough, you can mix it in with a high hit and it will give you a shot at a big hit.

2) Problem: Lack of pressure on opposing safeties to play the pass.

Solution: I think Pitt figured this out late on Saturday. Yes, throwing deep to Baldwin opens things up a little bit. But, lets stretch the field down the middle some with the tight end and see how much things open up. Dickerson is ideal for this, the guy can really run and he showed it at the end of the game. Pitt needs to run more four verticals, because this assures Dickerson will be matched up with a Strong Safety or a LB who most likely can't run with him. I can't figure out why this hasn't been used more this year. It puts so much pressure on the LB's and Safeties.

3) Problem: Too many sacks

Solution: Get rid of the ball. The coaches really need to work with Bill Stull to get him to throw the ball away sometimes. I realize he is trying to make plays, but the number one thing a QB needs to learn, is when to throw the ball away. If Stull does this, the sacks will go down.

4) Problem: Not enough sacks

Solution: The Panthers just need to break down when they get to the QB. I love the guys efforts but they need to choke it down as they get to the QB. You can't always look for the big hit. If you do that, you'll often miss tackles as happened Saturday.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Pitt-Cinci Wrap Up

Well yesterday's loss to the Bearcats of Cincinnati was incredibly disappointing. I'm not sure what really went wrong, its hard to point at one thing. Give Cinci credit. They are a talented team that is playing with an unbelievably high level of confidence right now and playing at home was a huge boost.

The Panthers just seemed off all night, with the exception of their opening drive. Penalties, dropped balls, overthrown receivers, defensive miscues and some bad luck plagued Pitt and they were never really able to recover.

Anyway, this is no time for Pitt to hang its head. We have a huge game coming up this Friday against the Mountaineers and a win would mean a lot to the fans and to this team. Hope to see everyone there next Friday.

Hail to Pitt!

Friday, November 21, 2008

What a shame

Well, it looks like that Duke, UCLA final game in the Coaches vs. Cancer classic isn't going to happen. So, they should have included Pitt in the field as I said in a post yesterday morning. That would have made a much better final matchup because the Panthers, and not the Michigan Wolverines would be in the final game. Michigan upset UCLA to advance to the championship. I watched the entire game and can say that even if UCLA would have won, a Duke UCLA final would not have been great. UCLA looked awful in the game. Collison and Holliday are good players, but the inside presence is completely lacking. UCLA is not even close to a top 10 team and tonight didn't even look like they deserved a spot in the top 25. So far, Pitt looks really good in comparison to some of the other top teams I have seen play. They have a pretty complete team.
In other news: Seton Hall, picked to finish 13th or 14th in the Big East this year, upset number 20 USC. The Big East is looking good.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pitt loses out on Durand Scott

Durand Scott, the shooting guard from Rice in Manhattan announced this afternoon on SNY that he will be attending the University of Miami. Too bad for the Panthers, but we've still got a shot with Cheek.

If this is true it's a shame.

Eric Devendorf is being investigated for allegedly hitting a woman. The woman claims that Devendorf hit her in the face with a closed fist. This means a punch so I am not sure why it doesn't say this. The report says that people were kicking her car and yelling at her. The victim claims to have recognized 5 SU hoops players involved. Now, the woman claims to have been Devendorf's Myspace friend, which seems kind of strange. It will be interesting how this plays out.

- If this is true, it is kind of disheartening that this is the kind of kid the NCAA decides to dish out an extra year to. Mike Cook was denied a year based on 'strictly numbers'. I don't know the specifics but Devendorf was granted an extra year with something like one less game than Cook. I also believe that Devendorf had played too many games based on the number but was granted eligibility anyways. It's sad that the NCAA would screw a good kid like Cook and give Devendorf another year.

Cheek down to four: Pitt is in. & Scott to decide today

Dominick Cheek, a 5-star shooting guard and highly coveted recruit from St. Anthony's has narrowed his list to four. Pitt is in the final four. Xavier Henry, the number one recruit by has committed to Memphis which X's the Tigers of Cheek's list. Cheek plans to visit Pitt Tuesday. The Panthers play Belmont that night. Hopefully, the crowd will be rocking for his arrival. Although Cheek will not sign until spring, a decision could come at any time. LETS GO PITT.

Durand Scott, the number 9 shooting guard in the class of 2009 will also make his decision today. He will decide between Pitt, Uconn, and Miami. Check out around 4pm for an update. It is great to see Pitt being involved with 2 high profile guys along with those they have already brought in. Scoring any of these to guys would be great! HAIL TO PITT!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Come on Kieran!

On Page 2 of, Kieran Darcy writes an article "Sixty-five reasons why this college hoops season will rock". Darcy has an entertaining post stating some of the more obvious reasons (that have been stated 5,000 times) this season should be fun, and some other reasons (such as the competitiveness of the Ivy League race, between last years champ Cornell, an up and coming Harvard squad led by Tommy Amaker, and an improved Penn squad). Although, he should have cut out the 30 some odd statements that everyone has been making (such as the Big East is the best conference this year). For the most part I thought Darcy put together a good list. One enormous exception Kieran: Numero 17. on the list. It reads as follows:

17. Once again, Pitt has no superstars.
Yet once again, the Panthers are one
of the top teams in the country.

Yes, the people of Pittsburgh appreciate how their blue-collar Panthers, make the most of their talents and outwork, outhustle, and weardown their opponents. But this year the no-superstar label doesn't fit. Yes, Sam Young is a gym-rat, a relentless worker, whom Jamie Dixon said has slept nights in the gym so that he could maximize workout time. Young is a guy who used to have bad knee problems because he worked so much on his game he was wearing his joints down. The soft spoken Young doesn't get enough credit for what he does. He may not be the media darling that Tyler Hansborough is, and he certainly won't cry because he gets a bloody nose. But the passion is there, the work ethic is there, and the talent is there. Young possesses the explosiveness and athleticism to become a lottery pick. So, Kieran Darcy, Sam Young is a superstar and deserves some credit. The reigning BE tournament MVP is looking to take his game to another level this year after another grinding offseason. I look for Young to overtake Harangody as the player of the year in the league. But, even if Kieran forgot Young for some unknown reason, the Panthers are eqiupped with other stars. Enter Dejuan Blair and Levance Fields. Fields's performance in the NCAA tournament alone merits superstar status (21 pt average), throw in a season 3.0 assist to turnover ratio (this would be good for fourth nationally had Fields played enough games) and clutch 3 point winner vs. Duke at the Garden and I think its fair to call Fields a superstar in the college game. Lastly, Dejuan Blair is the reigning Big East Rookie of the Year. Given that the 6'7" manchild has had an offseason in a college strength and conditioning program he will be primed for a huge season. So Kieran, yes, the Panthers will grind it out, they will dive for the loose balls, they will out work other teams. However, this year should be different for the Panthers. This year they have superstars, in fact they have 3 of them. Their stats may vary at times and some may shine brighter at times. That is only because the ball will have to spread around. But don't be fooled, Kieran. The rest of the country is referring to them as Pitt's BIG THREE because they are in fact superstars.

Addition to the above:
I wrote Kieran an email explaining why I disagreed with his comment and outlined reasons as to why Young is a superstar. I received the following reply "You’re right, Sam Young’s a very good player – just don’t see him as a superstar. But I could be wrong. I meant it as a compliment – Pitt never seems to bring in the huge-name recruit, yet they’re consistently top 10 it seems year after year."
I acknowledge it was meant as a compliment, but I believe Young deserves more credit. He is a superstar and just because he isn't in the media eye constantly doesn't mean he isn't. Being a high profile recruit doesn't merit superstar status. I hope Kieran keeps an eye on Young this year because he is as big of a star as you'll find in the Big East.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Pitt Not Out says Scott's Coach

It has been rumored that Kemba Walker, a high school teammate and has stated that Scott's decision has come down to uconn and miami. However, Zagsblog reports today that Pitt is still in the picture. According to Scott's coach, everyone is still involved. That everyone is Pitt, uconn, and miami. This is good news for the Panthers. Hopefully Scott is still considering the Panthers and could top off a nice class. I don't really see any reason for those speaking on Scott' s behalf to make a point to say Pitt is still in the picture if they are not. Hopefully Pitt will make a good push on Scott over the next week. He could be an excellent addition to an already great class. GO PITT!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Hoops Recruit Durand Scott X's out Pitt

Apparently Durand Scott has narrowed his list to two team. Those teams do not include Pitt. UCONN and Miami seem to be Scott's top two and he should decide soon. I understand UCONN. It is a perennial power, with a great fan base, playing in the best league in the nation, with a good coach. But Miami, I'm not sure what these players are looking at. Pitt is head and shoulders above Miami when considering facilities, fan base, coaches, and I believe talent at this point. People in Miami couldn't care less about their college basketball team. Half of them probably don't even know one exists. I remember times in the past when they had ranked teams and couldn't even fill half of the stadium. I believe Miami is a decent team this year, but they are not on the level of Pitt. Also, Pitt plays in the best league in the country. Hopefully, this report is false, but all signs point to no.

Pitt Lands RB from FL

Paul Zeise reports thats Jason Douglas (5'6", 174) from Cypress Bay High School made a verbal commitment to Pitt.
ESPN's analysis on Douglas:
Reaches top-speed very quickly and utilizes his shorter stature to pick and slide through the hole and knife through the small run creases. Follows his blocks well through traffic. Runs with great body control, vision and balance. Shows great initial burst and acceleration through the hole when he spots a seam. Very decisive and shows excellent suddenness when he finds the small cutback crease. Lacks great yards after contact production but for a smaller back he does not waste much time squaring up his shoulder pads and running north-south; not a lot of wasted movements in this kid's game as a runner. Very elusive with his loose hips and excellent stop-start and jump-cut skills when he gets in space. Slippery to wrap up with his low center of gravity, quick-twitch burst and constant leg churning on contact. Durability is a concern but he does not give defenders a clean shot on him. Quicker than fast but displays an extra gear and great top-end speed when he reaches the second the level. Overall, Douglas is the real threat with the ball in his hands and can turn a short run into a big gain. Size could deter some programs but he does a great job masking it and also using it to his advantage as runner. Great change of pace back if finds an open spread offense. Potential to contribute at corner and in the return game as well.

I just watched some highlight tape of this kid and he is pretty impressive. I'm guessing his size deterred the big time Florida programs from offering him a scholarship. He's slightly smaller than Stephens-Howling, but man can he move. He's incredibly shifty and seems to hit the line of scrimmage with incredible burst. From the short video clip I watched he has outstanding feet and doesn't really shy away from hitting holes quickly. It's going to be great to see this guy returning kicks and giving a change of pace in the backfield.

Pitt/Cincinnati Game Time Set

The Panther's game in 2 weeks against the #22 ranked Bearcats of Cincinnati will be televised on ESPN2. Game time is set for 7:15pm.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Hoops Recruiting

Amongst the great FB games this weekend (the demolishing of Louisville, the PSU loss, and the WVU loss) it was hard to focus on anything but football. However, there has been some recruiting news in basketball to report. Apparently, 5-star recruit Dominic Cheek skipped out on his visit to Pitt this weekend. This is really unfortunate because it was a great weekend to be a Panther fan with all that went on. I know the Oakland Zoo had something special planned for Mr. Cheek and hoped to pull off some magic (a la LeSean McCoy checking his name off the box). The good news is that according to his associate head coach Cheek still plans to visit Pitt. The bad news: the coach says it may not be until spring, making this visit seem much less likely. Cheek already moved the visit once and now canceled it. It seems that someone may be whispering in his ear as he has recently added a Rutgers visit, and backed out twice on Pitt. This really is a shame because Cheek would fit in great at Pitt. Hopefully Cheek keeps his word and gives the Panthers a fair shot, because he would be a great addition to an already outstanding class.

In other hoops recruiting news Durand Scott is still deciding between Pitt, UCONN, and Miami. He could decide very soon although Chris Dokish believes Scott is leaning toward Miami. Hopeuflly the Panthers can swing one of these players to complete a tremendous class.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Pitt wins; Penn State loses, does it get any better!

Penn State just lost to Iowa on a last second field goal. I can't make up my mind if I'm happy this overrated team from the Happy Valley lost or if I would have rather seen them finish the regular season undefeated and either a. get shut out of the BCS and hear every PSU fan whine about it for the next decade or b. actually play for a BCS title and get completely outclassed and embarrassed by a superior team from the Big 12 or SEC.

Papa Bear had the answer to my dilemma though: "Nothing is sweeter than Penn State losing to a team that Pitt already beat." Wise words from a wise man.

A great day to be a Pitt fan!

41-7 Pitt, Final Score

Its a great feeling to be able to end the game in the "Victory" formation by taking a knee. After playing a stellar first half and looking a little bit shaky early on in the second half Pitt finally got it together and closed out the game in dominant fashion. Thanks to a couple of big plays by Baldwin and McCoy, the emergence of the defensive line in the early 4th quarter and a couple Louisville turnovers, Pitt ran away with the Big East matchup late to defeat the Cardinals for the first time since 1983.

The Pitt running game never really got any traction. McCoy scored out of the wildcat and had a couple of 10yd runs on toss plays but only ran for a total of 39 yards. The being said, he was still a major factor in the win as he drew the attention of 8 Louisville players on nearly every down. This really opened up the field for Stull who hit 9 different receivers and threw for 210 yds. and a touchdown. He did a great job of spreading the ball around.

Special teams were a huge factor in the win. Taglianetti made another tremendous play as he recovered a fumble on a punt, he also made a couple of tackles on kickoff. Connor Lee was 2-2 for field goals also.

The defense is really what turned this from a game to a route in the 4th quarter. They had a huge stop on a 4th down., Ricky Gary picked up a lateral and took it in for an easy score, McKillop came up with an interception and returned it for a touchdown. I also believe the Panthers came up with 3 sacks and 3 turnovers on defense.

Great win and it was nice to see Pitt absolutely dominate the game late, especially after it looked like it might be in question after Louisville scored easily to cut the lead to 20-7.

Cincinnati is up next. Going to need to play a tremendous game again on the road. Hail to Pitt!

A look at the final stats:
Team Stat Comparison
1st Downs1714
Total Yards299320
3rd Down Conversions7-173-15
4th Down Conversions0-22-2

41-7 Pitt Late 4th

Scott McKillop score on an interception return. After things looked shaky for a while the Pitt defensive line stepped up and got some pressure, we got a few lucky bounces and really closed out this game like a good team does. This type of win is exactly what this team needed.

34-7 Pitt, 8:18 remaining

Let's go Pitt! Not bad to get a friendly bounce every now and then. I think we were actually due for one of those. Cantwell threw a lateral from his own 6 yd. line and Ricky Gary picked it up for the easy Pitt score.

27-7 Pitt

Huge possession and big time play by McCoy to extend the lead. I wish Wanny was better at math though, I think we should have gone for 2 there to make it a 3 touchdown lead. Stull looks a little jittery in the pocket, but he came back after a mis-fire to hit Baldwin for a huge play down the sideline on third down. From there McCoy took it in for the score out of the wildcat.

20-7 Pitt

L'ville scored on a 30 yard pass on their first possession of the 2nd half. Looked like the safety got sucked down by the play-action fake and the middle of the field was wide open.

20-0 Pitt 6:25 left in 3rd

Would have been nice to get the TD there, but we converted two 4th downs and ate up 8:35 on our first second half possession. Porter made a big play on 3rd and long and Shady was finally able to get outside and break off a 13 yard run.

17-0 Pitt at the Half

Not a bad first half. Huge plays on special teams as Pitt has recovered two muffed punts by L'ville. McCoy and Howlings are having a tough time finding holes and the offensive line needs to make some adjustments and step up in the second half. Looks like Louisville is going to let us throw the football, and several different receivers have already touched the football with big plays coming from Baldwin and Turner. We threw the ball well in the first half, but can still improve by making some big plays over the middle of the field.

The defense has been stellar and the defensive line has come up with a sack and batted down several balls already. We've also done a good job defending L'ville's wide receivers for the most part.

We get the ball coming out in the second half and it would be great to see the Panthers sustain a long drive and open up a 24 point lead.

Let's go Pitt!

Also, the commentators on the half-time show are wondering the same thing most of you are on the Aundre Wright run: Where exactly was the hold????

...Still 10-0 Pitt

The O-Line has go to step up and give McCoy a chance to pick up some positive yards. They are getting dominated by Louisville's front four right now and they really need to pick it up.

Also, someone at WR or TE needs to step up and make a big play over the middle. There is a lot of open space since the Cards are just jamming the box with 8 defenders.

On the bright side, the Cards can't seem to field a punt.

End of 1st Qtr.

10-0 Pitt at the end of the first. We've got the ball coming out to start the 2nd Qtr. Finally got some pressure from the big guys up front on our last defensive series. Mick Williams came up with a sack, but Sheard was in the backfield too.

Offense looks good so far. Now we need to get Shady involved.

10-0 Pitt

After a questionable holding penalty that negated a 76 yd. touchdown run by Aundre Wright, the Panthers responded on the next play with a huge pass play to Jonathan Baldwin down the middle to the L'ville 30. After a few hard runs by Stephens-Howling, Wright finally got in the end-zone on another end around. Great series and great to see them bounce back after what could have been a disastrous penalty.

3-0 Pitt

Pitt converts the Louisville turnover into 3 points. Would have liked to see a TD obviously. The Cards have been dominating the line of scrimmage. There's gotta be some open space in the middle of the field to throw the football.

In-Game Updates

3 and out on....hold on a minute....Louisville muffs the punt. Pitt Ball! Like the aggressiveness as we went downfield twice on the first series. Now we gotta convert the Louisville TO.

In-Game Updates

Not a bad first defensive series for Pitt. Great job on the kickoff coverage. Gave up the 1 big pass play and that was it. We need to get more pressure on Cantwell.

Friday, November 7, 2008

5 things to watch; Louisville Edition

5. The Panthers secondary vs. the Louisville pass game:

This is again a concern going into the game. Last week the Panthers did enough to get the win. However, they looked shaky at times throughout the game. I do expect the Panthers to play a little better in this area. They look to be gaining a little swagger back, which is important for a secondary. Berry made a nice play at the end of the ND game and hopefully he can build on this. Hunter Cantwell can throw the ball and is averaging nearly 200 yds/game passing, but I expect Pitt to come out with a chip on their shoulder and play well at home on D.

4. Louisville playing good sound gap defense

Louisville defense coordinator Ron English knows his team has struggled against the run for one reason. The guys aren't playing their assigned gaps and are getting selfish.
"We don't trust each other, and everybody wants to make the play instead of making their play," English said. "Trust is an action word."
The Cards are hoping to correct this especially because LeSean McCoy has excellent vision and can exploit these weaknesses. I expect the Cards have hammered this point home this week and will do a better job early in the game. If Pitt gets up early though watch out. If the Lousville players get behind they may feel the pressure to make a play, get selfish and get out of position. This can lead to big plays for Shady. I wouldn't expect it, a good way to see if the Cards are disciplined to play assignment football would be to use a little bit of option with Greg Cross. If the running game is working early, this won't be an issue.

3. Bill Stull's comfort in the pocket

It will be interesting to see how Stull bounces back from such a scary injury. I think most fans are excited to have him back running the offense. The Panthers need to do a great job of protecting the QB. It will be interesting to see if he has a little bit of happy feet or is in full comfort mode in the pocket. I expect Stull to sit in and make his reads, he seems to be a real tough kid.

2. The Panthers punt return game

This has been the scariest plays of the game over the past few weeks. First Aaron Berry had trouble and then TJ Porter made a bad decision last week on not coming up on a ball that he fumbled as well. This is an area that Pitt can't afford to make a mistake in because it is typically a 50+ yard swing.

1. The Student Section

Pittsburgh has one of the biggest hoops recruits in the nation visiting this weekend, Dominic Cheek. Cheek is a 5-star stud and would be a great addition to a class that already has one 5star in Dante Taylor. The Panthers look to be on the outside at this point but hopefully the student section can pull a little magic (a la LeSean McCoy checking his name off at the bball game) and sway the stud guard here.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Morr-is More

Over the past week a lot of credit has gone to the toughness of this Pitt team. I think a lot of that credit needs to be directed to Pitt's strength and conditioning coach Buddy Morris. I believe that Morris is one of the reasons that Pitt teams are started to be labeled as tough under Wanny. Forget the 5-star and 4-star recruits, Wanny's biggest get for the program is the Panther's strength coach.
Think back to the first couple of teams under Wannstedt. They seemed to play with a lack of grit aside from a few players, and often looked tired and not physical in games. I can specifically remember sitting at a game and watching Tommie Campbell from Aliquippa playing LB. Campbell had a clear angle to make a tackle on the sideline for a 5 yard gain. Instead Campbell choked it down, looking too tired, and too afriad to attack the ball carrier. Bam, 15 yard run. And I don't mean to single Tommie out, there were many other examples, but this was one that has clearly stuck in my head. I turned to the people next to be and said, "This team has no heart, don't they ever get pissed off." See, Wanny has always been known as a players coach. Guys love him because he treats them well. Often the wrap on his team was that they were too soft. Wanny was a good cop, but needed someone to play the bad cop role.
Enter Buddy Morris.
Morris was hired, I believe in the offseason following that 2006 season that I mentioned above. Check out some of the quotes from when Morris first arrived at Pitt in an article by Kevin Gorman from winter of 2007:

"We," Morris said, "were fat."
Several Panthers body fat measure 30 percent or higher, which Morris found "embarrassing."

My personal favorite about Morris:

Those who don't meet Morris' standards
are subjected to wearing pink shirts that read,
"I work out at Curves," the women's fitness center.

Morris tried to instill the following attitude:

"Training is about an attitude," Morris said.
"Don't show me a sign of weakness.
Don't show me that you're tired."

Even Scott McKillop one of the hardest workers on the team seemed to be surprised by what Morris brought:

"It's definitely a shock to me," redshirt
junior linebacker Scott McKillop said. "You have
two different personalities. Coach Kent was more
of a laid-back person; Buddy is more in your face.
He's basically breaking us down and starting us from scratch."

I have to say that starting form scratch was exactly what those Panthers needed. It takes some time to buy into an attitude like the one Morris employs. But, once it happens, watch out, ordinary teams can do extraordinary things. I'm not sure that when Gorman printed this article in '07 many people thought it a big deal. New strength and conditioning coach, big whoop. Don't be fooled, Morris has had a tremendous impact on the program. Looking back I believe this is the most important move Wanny has made (that and locking up LeSean McCoy). The team never ever looks tired, the lineman look fit, and they fight four full quarters, and overtimes if necessary. As long as Wanny can keep Morris, the bad cop at his side, this team will continue to work and grow in toughness. Attitudes are contagious on a football team, and on this team toughness seems to be spreading like the black plague. Where many teams wear out as the season goes on I look for this team to continue to get better. They know when the circumstances are tough that they have been through worse. Look for the Panthers to play their best football in the next four games.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day Special

AP, PITTSBURGH: Dave Wannstedt has officially announced his run at the Presidency. At his press conference Wanny was asked why he decided to run.
He responded,
"When I heard a lot of the country wanted a change, I decided
what a better change than a football coach running for president.
I figured I'm really not doing anything that could lose me a race.
I don't have any ties to the Ayers guy, and I don't have any ties
to the Bush guy. Therefore, there isn't really anything I'm doing to
lose the race. So I think I have a shot."
The reporter then questioned,
"Isn't that what got you into trouble coaching this year.
Against Bolwing Green you didn't really do anything to
risk losing, but you didn't do anything to win. And
you lost."

I do have to say I think the Stache has done a excellent job of adjusting his coaching style since that game and has done a great job of trying to attack the other team.

We also got a hold of some of the positions on Wanny's staff and who he has chosen to fill them with if he wins the Presidency:

LeSean McCoy- Does this guy ever not say the right things. He constantly has taken blame on himself following losses and poor games. After great games he credits the coaching, and says how much he loves playing for the Stache. And the thing about Shady is, he really means it. Those who are against the Stache presidency have been trying to dig dirt on the meaning behind the nickname of this key cabinet member.


Phil Bennett- This guy figured out how to control the Navy, something which his predecessor Paul Rhodes failed miserably at.

Scott McKillop: Obvious choice, this guy knows what the other side is doing before they do it. He is active and ready to strike when he needs to strike. He is patient and plays it slow when the situation dictates that. He just plain gets the job done.

Nobody: Wanny says he still hasn't found anyone that he can successfully count on to defend the Home Turf.

Dave Brytus: The senior spent a few years at Purdue so he has to have learned a little bit about farming. Even if not, he could serve as a valuable body guard with his mixed martial arts skills.

Austin Ransom: If you want energy, look to the 5th year senior and special teams captain. Forget offshore drilling, forget nuclear power, forget windmills, forget alternative forms of energy. Ransom seems to already found an endless supply of it.

Rashaad Duncan: The big man owns the interior...nuff said.

Connor Lee: Currently enrolled in KATZ business school getting his MBA. Plus, all of his kicks are money.

Eric Thacther: It seems like this guy has been here for forever. Let's face it, he just looks old too.

Maurice Evans: Penn State University, maybe not a great choice here by the Stache.

Winning the Turnover Battle

The Panthers head into Saturday's game against Louisville(4-2) with a 6-2 record (2-1 conference) coming off a stunning comeback victory in South Bend against Notre Dame. If Pitt is to keep winning and is eying a spot in a BCS game and Big East conference championship, it is imperative that it improves its turnover margin in the final four games of the season. Pitt's opponents over the coming four game stretch have compiled a respectable 23-10 record. And everyone can agree that Louisville, Cinicinnatti, West Virginia and UConn are among the better teams in the league, especially the latter three.

Chas over at Pitt Blather made an interesting observation:

"Pitt is -9 in turnovers this year. They only “won” the turnover battle against Syracuse. Otherwise it was even with Buffalo, and “lost” in the other 6 games."

Not only that, but the Panthers have turned the ball over an astounding 17 times this season, and they've turned it over three or more times three times this season. The fact of the matter is, when you turn the ball over like that you are not going to be able to win many football games. Pitt has been lucky in that respect. They turned the ball over three times against Notre Dame. The interception before halftime led to a quick score that put the Panthers in a 17-3 hole by half time. The other interception, in the waning seconds of regulation could have very well cost them the game were it not for a holding penalty on Notre Dame's first play of the ensuing possession. Luckily for Pitt the Irish decided to take a knee and go with their chances in overtime after that.

Louisville, surprisingly, has actually turned the ball over 19 times this season, two more than the Panthers. Their turnover margin, however, is only -1 as they have forced 18 turnovers this season. Their pass-happy offense is prone to turning the ball over though, and it would bode well for Pitt if they were able to not only take care of the football themselves but force the Cardinals to be a little careless with the pigskin. Louisville turned the ball over a stunning five times in their season opener against Kentucky and also turned it over three times against both Kansas State and Connecticut.

As Pitt heads into the home stretch of the season, improving their turnover margin will hold the key to their success. I do expect them to make improvements. LeSean McCoy has done a better job of holding onto the football in recent weeks and with Bill Stull healthy and returning to the starting lineup I am much more comfortable with their ability to throw the football to the right team. If the Panthers can rectify their turnover problem in the coming weeks there is really no telling how far this young, talented team might go this season.

Let's go PITT.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Final Notes

  • There were plenty of Panther faithful at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday afternoon. While we had little to root for in the first half, the Pitt fans came to life in the second half and overtimes as they cheered their team on to victory. Cheers of "Let's Go Pitt!" were so loud exiting the stadium that I had to hang up on Yinzer during our celabratory phone call because we couldn't hear one another.
  • Bon Jovi is a's been said. Now I know how much every yinzer out there loves fist-pumping to living on a prayer while drinking an IC Light, but I urge you to boycott this guy. He was fraternizing with Chuckles Weiss and Jeff Samardzija on the ND sideline during warm ups. Stick with Guns n Roses or Styxx or whatever for the time being. ND gives Bon Jovi a bad name.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I just got back from South Bend late last night and boy was the trip worth every penny of it. Wannstedt said it best (as shocking as that may be):

"I really can't describe the heart our football team has. We got incredible kids, I thought they never really came unglued and as many adverse things that happened in the game, turnovers, so forth. Nobody every folded, nobody ever lost their poise, nobody ever lost their confidence."

This is a tremendous win for the program, for the season and for Wanny himself. I can tell you one thing, walking around the stadium at half time, there wasn't a soul in the crowd of nearly 81,000 who thought that the Panthers had a chance to come back and win the game. Fortunately, this team and the coaching staff had different ideas. And why should they not? They had already come from behind to win games against Syracuse, Iowa, and South Florida. And two of those games were on the road! Make no mistake about it, this team has something special. They stick together and play hard to the end. Perhaps more importantly, they believe in their coaches and trust in the schemes and game plan:

"This team, we go out and play for him (referring to Wannstedt). We play for ourselves, but more for him," McCoy said. "At the end of the day, football or no football, he's always going to be a great guy. That's the biggest thing about him."

You simply can't overstate how important it is for the kids to complely buy into the coaches system. Wannstedt has apparently been able to win the trust of his team and consequently the Panthers played inspired football in the second half of Saturday's game. I'm sure some of you will disagree, but after Pitt forced overtime I truly believed there was no way we were going to lose that game. Even when the Irish drove inside the Panther 5 yard line, I couldn't help feeling that our defense was going to stop them.

I'm about to ramble on a bit here, so heads up, but you also cannot overstate how important the attitude exhibited by McCoy and many of the other plays is with regards to recruiting. When players are being quoted in the newspaper saying how much they admire, love and respect their coach and how he takes a lot of heat for their mistakes, prospective recruits are going to be impressed and excited about coming to Pitt and playing for Wanny. This, of course, goes back to the character of this team though. You see it in how they play on the field and how they handle themselves with the media. These guys do and say all the right things.

Don't get me wrong, this team is young and still has a lot to improve on, but Wannstedt has quite possibly laid the groundwork by building a team with great toughness and character.

Let's go PITT!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Comeback Kids!

How bout them Panthers!!!
Suggestion for the rest of the season for Steve Pederson. Mr. Pederson please call all of the teams on the remainder of the schedule and move the games to their stadiums. This team is tough on the road.

I am very proud to be a fan of this team because of how they fight. They have some serious character. I was worried at the end of the half but they just made it happen when they had to. It wasn't always pretty, but good teams find ways to win games.

Examples of character:
- Aaron Berry, who struggled last game, and many times in this game, came up with a huge 3rd down pass breakup forcing the last series.
- Pat Bostick, although Bostick struggled and made several devastating pics. He made the huge fourth down fade pass to Baldwin.
- The defensive line- Last week, they didn't really cause much havoc in the backfield. Today, they pressured Clausen the entire day. It was more impressive that this was with only three and four man rushes. They have some non-stop motors.

That was a great win to get while giving Billy Stull a week of rest. Like they said he was cleared to play but it was good to give him a week without hitting. He will be ready to go for Louisville I am sure. It is obvious that this team will need him to win against some of the better teams on the remainder of the schedule. With him running the show I think the Panthers would have beat ND by at least 20, the offense is a different monster when he is in there. Congrats, to all of the guys, they played a great game, great D in the overtime, and they deserved the win.

Oh ya, McCoy is incredible, but we already knew that. Before the game the NBC announcers said that he was not known by many around the country. Well, I am sure that the Irish fans all know who he is.

First half update

Wow...tough first half.
As we've said before Pitt's success this year depends on Billy Stull.
The good thing is it is still a game.
Although, with the offensive state right now, unless they'd decide to play Stull I don't know that Pitt can score two TD's.
For anyone who has questioned Stull this year, I hope you now realize that he is a good player and good manager of the offense.
Bostick and Smith have not progressed much and both look like Division III quarterbacks.
Pitt would be in much better shape had it not been for "luck" as Charlie Weis said at halftime. The tip play simply was luck going the Irish's way.
I believe Malecki went down as well, or one of the lineman on the last Bostick pick. Pitt needs to make better decisions with the ball because these picks are costing them linemen.

Stull still in question

From what it sounds like, Bill Stull's status is still unknown. It sounds to me like he is cleared to play but if he will is unclear. I would be fine with either decision and trust their medical staff. The radio show said he went through warmups. I just got off the phone with TJ who is on the sidelines. He said he asked Connor Lee if Stull will be playing, and Lee said that they still did not know. Who knows what will happen. I expect to see at least 2 QB's in the game.

5 Things to Watch For This Afternoon

5. Notre Dame's Passing Attack vs. The Panther's Secondary:

This is stating the obvious but we would appear insane if we didn't write about it. The Panthers are still licking their wounds from last week's debacle vs. Rutgers. Can they put it together against the Irish and Jimmy Clausen this week? Where a lot appears to be riding on the secondary, I would say that the front 7 are the key to this matchup. The main question being: Can the Panther's get pressure? Pitt is 12th in the country in sacks, yet last week were bottled up by the Rutgers defense most of the day. Look for Coach Bennet to turn up the pressure and blitz more this week forcing Clausen into quick decisions and throwing when he isn't comfortable. It will be interesting to see how the Panthers respond, and how short their memories are.

4. The Panther's reshuffled O-Line vs the Irish Rush Defense:

It's no secret the Irish have been absolutely shredded by some teams this year on the ground (see Javon Ringer). McCoy is the most dyanmic back they have faced this year and if the Panthers can open up some holes, look for a big day. McCoy doesn't need the Red Seas to be parted, he just needs a crack of daylight. The main question here will be how well does the retooled Panthers line gel and how quickly do they gel. Pitt has been one of the top 5 teams when it comes to penalty yards and penalties this year. With a new center and new guard I would expect a few more flags thrown their way today (especially playing in South Bend).

3. The Panther's reshuffled O-Line vs. the Blitz Happy Irish:

Notre Dame is not shy when it comes to attacking the QB. I would look for the heat to be turned up another notch today, especially if Bostick is at QB. A lot of this matchup will depend upon the meshing of the Offensive line once again. If the pass protection is not there, today may be a chance to see Greg Cross running some series to help liven up and diversify an offense that could rely heavily on the run. If Billy Stull is at QB I would look for a lot of quick reads and short passes to neutralize the rush.

2. The Panther's screen game vs. the Blitz Happy Irish:

The way to offset the aggressive schemes of the Irish is to run a fair share of screens to keep the defense honest. Screen passes are a pain to any blitzing defense because it slows players down. McCoy has proven to be flat out scary when catching the ball in the open field. I would expect a good dose of screens today to help get McCoy the ball in space. If the Irish can't play their responsibilities this could be a favorable matchup.

1. The Pitt Players Post game interviews:

Will anyone go Tyler Palko on NBC and drop the big "F" Bomb? We can only hope because that would mean a victory!