Monthly Archives: August 2009

Top 5 Reasons

image from davidpietrusza.com

image from davidpietrusza.com

Well, it seems there’s a bit of pessimism going into the Pitt season with regards to the quarterback position.   It seems that a lot of that stems from the awful quarterback play (especially from one player) during last year’s bowl game.  So, to present an opposing view and hopefully bring some confidence to Pitt fans in the upcoming season, I’m ripping off a great ESPN show: ‘The Top 5 Reasons You Can’t Blame…’.  The show is pretty self-explanatory.  They pick someone who’s famous for an error, and give 5 reasons why they shouldn’t be solely to blame for the losses it caused their teams.  So, without further adieu, here is the top 5 reasons you can’t blame Bill Stull for the Sun Bowl disaster.

5. Injury

Bill Stull was carted off the field with a concussion during the Rutgers game, if you remember.  I’ve never had a concussion, but I can imagine that they’re probably very painful.  I’d also imagine that it may take some time to be able to recover and concentrate and play quarterback at the high collegiate level.  Bill wasn’t really the same after Rutgers.  Consider that his passer rating fell from an average of 87.34 per game before the injury to 70.02 after the injury.

4. The Playcalling

Bill wasn’t put into a position to succeed in the Sun Bowl.  The scouting report on him is pretty clear: he’s a pretty good decision maker, little mobile in the pocket but not great and certainly not a running threat, and NO ARM STRENGTH.  There were 5 games last season where Stull didn’t complete a pass over 30 yards.  Matt Cavenaugh had Bill Stull attempt 8 long passes to Jonathan Baldwin during the Sun Bowl (I looked up the play-by-play).  My guess would have been even more than that.  Oh, and by the way, we completed 0 of those 8 attempts.  If the well is dry, don’t keep going back to it!  Baldwin was able to run under some passes in the South Florida game, but that was because he wasn’t a known commodity and he just outran the coverage and waited under the ball until it got there.  Oregon State was prepared.

3. The Wind

I have no idea why people are always ignoring the fact that Oregon State only scored 3 points themselves.  I know I know, they were missing some key offensive weapons, but there was another reason: the wind.  Check out the Sun Bowl Stadium:

image from wunderground.com

image from wunderground.com

A couple of things to notice.  First of all, notice that the end zone stands are pretty low, and the stands rise up another level on the sidelines.  Nothing unusual.  Now, notice that the stadium is literally carved into a mountain range that accentuates that difference in level.  The other sideline stands are just like this (you have to trust me), and the open end you’re looking at is the edge of the mountain range that opened up clear into the city of El Paso (read: flat.  Look for more mountains on the horizon.  Can’t find any).  That means the stadium was a giant wind tunnel.  I was at the Sun Bowl that day (unfortunately).  Trust me, it was windy enough to make it difficult to throw.

2. OSU’s Defense

When there’s a shutout, it’s a combination of two things: the offense playing poorly and the defense playing great.  Well, why are people placing all the blame on the first option?  Oregon State’s defense was nothing to sneeze at.  They were the #3 defense in the Pac 10 in terms of yards per game (and only because USC and Cal had otherworldly defenses).  They were a top 25 defense in the country.  They were in the top half of the Pac 10 in every defensive category.  Both teams were very defensive oriented.  A 3-0 score is pathetic under any circumstances, but maybe it’s not as bad or unexpected as you might think.  I guess in short, you have to put this in prospective.  It was a bad performance to be sure, but it wasn’t against the Sisters of the Poor.  It was against a very quality D.

1. Where’s Jason?

I think the biggest factor in the Sun Bowl was probably the least talked about.  Left tackle Jason Pinkston was out with a shoulder injury.   Jason’s a preseason all-conference player this year, and is probably Pitt’s best offensive lineman.  OSU got 5 sacks in the game.  Guess how many came from the weak side?  Yup.  4 of those sacks came from Victor Butler, the man matched up against the left tackle.  Hmmmm…..I’m sensing a pattern here.  Even when Stull wasn’t taken to the ground, he was always under pressure.  Especially with the injury maybe making him a little gun shy, a constant jailbreak from his blind spot may not have been a welcomed thing.  Maybe he could have made some throws if he was given time.

So there you have it.  5 reasons that Bill Stull is not totally at fault for the Sun Bowl.  If you notice, all 5 are temporary things that can be fixed.  That means there’s still hope for this season, Pitt fans!  We’ll have to wait and see on Saturday whether the Sun Bowl was a bad game by a bad QB, or a bunch of bad luck listed above.  I can’t wait.


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Is The Little League World Series A Good Thing?

image from nj.com

image from nj.com

It’s the end of August which means that once again its Little League World Series time.  The time where ESPN can televise a couple of weeks of games between 12 year olds and remind us that this is the purest form of the game (sort of).  Now, I’m a big fan of the Series.  I’ve been up to Williamsport to take it in a few times.  I love that everyone there volunteers, and they don’t gouge you (parking is free if your smart, tickets are free, concessions are dirt cheap).  I think Little League in general teaches responsibility and sportsmanship and teamwork and those are all good things.  But is the huge event that the World Series has become bad for the kids?  Now, I know there are a lot of bad things that occur in Little League such as kids throwing out their arms before middle school and parents demanding their kids work at something they don’t want to do.  I think as a kid who played both organized sports and pickup games with the neighborhood kids, there’s merit to both things.  I’ve mentioned the benefits of organized sports, but pickup games force you to work out problems amongst yourselves.  No refs.  No parents.  If you handle a situation badly, you still have to see the same kids again next time you want to play.  It inspires a lot of leadership and an ability to work with others.  There’s something to be said for that, too.  I fear that parents who only let their kids play organized ball miss out on something.  But I’m not talking about any of that.  I’m talking about the spectacle that is the Little League World Series.

These kids are under a TON of pressure when they get to Williamsport.  I have to believe that they put a lot of that on themselves.  They and their teammates have had to win multiple tournaments and titles to get there.  To blow a summer of hard work by yourself and your teammates over a bad play is tough.  A lot of pressure comes from the parents.  Winning and losing in Williamsport brings the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.  Even a parent who doesn’t hover and push has got to feel a lot of nerves wanting the best for their kid, and kids can interpret that as pressure.  Towns these kids come from can exert a lot of pressure.  The star pitcher for the Massachusetts team already has an ice cream flavor named after him at the local dairy and the packaging even has his picture on it.  Think that isn’t a lot of hype to feel like you have to live up to?  And last but certainly not least is the pressure of national TV.  Making a bonehead play in front of your grandma is one thing.  Making it in front of the entire country is another.  I know for a fact I couldn’t handle that when I was their age.

All this pressure can make for great moments.  Overcoming it to accomplish something truly great is a moment they’ll never forget.  I love watching the reaction of the winning team every year.  Just look at the picture at the top of the post (little kids celebrating while a camera is right on top of them filming the whole thing.  That’s the LLWS in a nut shell).  If that picture doesn’t make you smile, something is wrong with you.  Losing  in Williamsport, whoever, can bring on some ugly scenes.  Contrast the top picture with this:

image from picturesofchildrencrying.com

image from picturesofchildrencrying.com

Not quite as uplifting.  But, things don’t always turn out your way, right?  The sooner these kids learn that the better, right?  Well, usually yes.  But considering the amount of expectations these kids had on them, the situation can turn ugly quick.  Case in point, this disturbing scene:

Yes, that’s a little league pitcher asking to hit the next batter.  To set the scene, the poor kid had just thrown two straight wild pitches to give up his team’s lead.  He reacted very poorly.  Mostly because, ummmm, he’s 12 and dealing with the most disappointing moment in his life while the country watches.  Besides, he’s just imitating how his favorite major leaguers would handle that situation.

I worry that the harm that’s done to some of these kids is more than the physical things like worn out arms.  I worry that some of these kids are going to have a hard time getting over letting so many people down.  These kids are having one of the biggest most stressful moments of their lives in front of millions when they might be too young to deal with it properly.  Just imagine trying to throw a strike on national TV, and failure means you let everyone you care about down.  I think most full grown adults would struggle with that.  Like I said, I’m a big fan of the Series.  I just worry that the more this gets hyped and the bigger deal this becomes, the more problems it may induce.

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Weekly Beer Recommendation 8/20/09

image from rvinz.com

image from rvinz.com

I thought I’d go with a nice wheat beer for the end of summer this week.  Training camp is winding down, and the Pirates are clinching another sub .500 season.  Yeah, it’s that time again.  And nothing goes better on a hot day than a nice cold wheat beer.  They’re nice and light so that it just cools you down and doesn’t sit in your stomach like lead.  If you’re turned off by the idea of wheat beers, its probably because you’ve had one (or many) of the hundred of American wheats out there that take advantage of one of the style’s biggest assets: it’s ability to absorb other flavors.  If you’ve ever tasted a beer that was more like a wine cooler, it was probably a wheat beer that had a bunch of fruit thrown in it.  I’ve seen wheat’s with standards such as strawberry, cherry, orange, lemon and raspberry.  I’ve also seen some oddballs such as pomegranate, beets and prunes.  Needless to say, a lot of breweries like to experiment (which I”m all for) and go way way way too far with their fun.

But I digress.  Wheat beer is generally a German/Belgan thing, and they usually do it right and let the wheat flavor stand on its own.  One brewery outside that area who also seems to have a firm grasp on this concept is Pivzavod Baltika in Russia.  They’re the second largest brewery in Europe (behind Heineken), but they don’t export much to the US.  Despite their tremendous size, they produce some quality stuff.  They have a weird way of naming, however.  Instead of making up a creative name, they just number their beers.  1 is their light beer, 2 is the lager, 6 is the porter and so on.  The wheat beer is number 8.  They like to be confusing over there (but they do give you huge oversized bottles that hold more than a pint to make up for it).

The #8 is a pretty standard wheat beer.  It’s nice and crisp and refreshing with the wheat as the main flavor and some other nodes to just hint and accent.  The one flavor that stands out is banana.  It’s actually a welcome addition and makes the beer a tiny bit sweeter.  Drinking this is not like biting a banana, however.  The Russian brewers know moderation (unlike their American brethren).  It is a bit heavy for a wheat beer, but I can live with that.  My only other complaint is that it might be a bit over-carbonated.  But that’s again a minor problem.  Overall, however, this is a nicely done wheat beer.  Nice and refreshing with a nice accent flavor that does just that: accent.  So tip one back and see what else Russia can export besides hockey players.

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NFL Crystal Ball

image from vias.org

image from vias.org

So I thought about doing a Steeler preview, but I wasn’t quite sure what kind of opinions needed to be shared about them.  They’re a good team.  Their offensive line is still a weakness.  The major position battles are for backup running backs.  In other words, no stories worth sharing (but no news is good news in the NFL).  So I decided to do something a bit more fun and try some predictive modeling.  I wanted to see if I could predict how many wins each NFL team will have this year.

So I went to ESPN.com and pulled down some stats inc data from 2003 to the present.  I pulled everything from percentage of plays that were runs to points per game.  I took the data from 2003-2007 and modeled it while holding 2008 out to verify the results.  Not surprisingly, the models I was trying did not have a big predicting power.  The final model I went with had an R-squared value of about .13.  That means I’m accounting for about 13% of the reasons why teams win as many games as they do with my model.  The other 87% comes from things that are almost impossible to measure (schedule, personnel changes, changes in strategy, home/away breaks, etc.).  With that pitiful R-squared, I tried to keep as many variables in the model as I could, but finally (after about 30 or 40 model iterations) relented to the fact that a simple model is best in this situation because it doesn’t get in its own way too much.  So, without further adieu, here is the model:

(# wins) = 6.57 + .203 (Previous year win total) + .126 (Previous year yards per game) – .051 (Previous year yards given up per game) – .017 (Previous year number of penalties)

That’s it.  Pretty simple, no?  A couple of observations.  You’ll notice that a team is rewarded more for gaining yards than they are penalized for giving up yards.  This goes against the old adage that defense wins championships.  I guess that means that a team that keeps its defense on the field the whole game because they can’t move the ball will eventually wear that defense out no matter how good they are.  Number of penalties is actually not a terribly significant variable, but I had to throw in another variable that would have a negative impact on wins, and it was the most significant variable out there (I had a terrible time trying to tease out any kind of defensive significance.  However, when I tried predicting within a year to see what made teams win, defensive stats jumped out.  I guess great defenses just don’t carry over from year to year).

So, as I mentioned, I used 2008 as a way to verify the formula.  Lets see how I did, shall we?

Team Predicted 2008 Wins Actual 2008 Wins

Arizona                        8                                                                    9

Atlanta                         6                                                                    11

Baltimore                    7                                                                    11

Buffalo                          8                                                                    7

Carolina                       7                                                                    12

Chicago                        8                                                                     9

Cincinnati                   8                                                                     4

Cleveland                    9                                                                     4

Dallas                            10                                                                  9

Denver                          8                                                                    8

Detroit                          8                                                                    0

Green Bay                    10                                                                 6

Houston                       9                                                                    8

Indianapolis               11                                                                  12

Jacksonville               10                                                                  5

Kansas City                 6                                                                     2

Miami                            6                                                                     11

Minnesota                    9                                                                    10

New England               12                                                                  11

New Orleans                9                                                                     8

NY Giants                     9                                                                     12

NY Jets                          7                                                                    9

Oakland                         6                                                                     5

Philadelphia                9                                                                     9

Pittsburgh                    10                                                                  12

San Diego                      10                                                                  8

San Francisco              7                                                                    7

Seattle                             10                                                                 4

St. Louis                          6                                                                   2

Tampa Bay                     9                                                                   9

Tennessee                      8                                                                   13

Washington                   9                                                                   8

That’s not great, but it could be worse.  As expected, I whiffed on a lot of teams (who saw Miami coming out of nowhere last year?), but for the most part I was within a game or two.  I’ll take that.  Especially since this model is so biased towards the center because of its simplicity.  You’ll notice most predictions are within 3 or 4 wins of a middle of the road 8-8 season.  That’s because there’s not enough variables with strength to pull the prediction too far away from that.  Detroit had no chance of 8 wins last year, but there wasn’t enough pull to get them away from the mean.  Anyway, the bottom line is the model is reasonable.  Not perfect, but reasonable.  So lets get to the moment you’ve all been waiting for: the 2009 predictions.  Drum roll please…..

Rank Team Pred. Wins (Rounded) Pred. Wins (Actual)

1             Indianapolis      10                                                      9.9173

2            Tennessee            10                                                      9.8806

3            Carolina                10                                                      9.7714

4            New England       10                                                      9.7130

5            NY Giants             10                                                      9.5993

6            Pittsburgh            10                                                      9.5311

7            Philadelphia        9                                                        9.4337

8            San Diego              9                                                        9.2573

9            New Orleans         9                                                       9.1990

10         Baltimore               9                                                       9.1744

11          Miami                      9                                                       9.0985

12          Atlanta                    9                                                       9.0418

13          NY Jets                   9                                                       8.9142

14          Arizona                   9                                                       8.7888

15          Tampa Bay             9                                                       8.7635

16          Minnesota              9                                                       8.7242

17          Dallas                       9                                                       8.6481

18          Chicago                   9                                                       8.5773

19          Houston                  8                                                       8.4911

20         Green Bay               8                                                       8.4073

21          Buffalo                     8                                                       8.3606

22          Denver                    8                                                       8.3101

23          Washington           8                                                       8.0220

24          San Francisco       8                                                       7.6111

25          Jacksonville          7                                                       7.4776

26          Oakland                   7                                                       7.1910

27          Seattle                      7                                                       7.1126

28          Kansas City             7                                                       6.5273

29          Cleveland                 7                                                      6.5177

30          Cincinnati                6                                                      6.1400

31           St. Louis                   6                                                       5.8446

32           Detroit                      6                                                       5.5315

There you have it.  As I said above, these rankings heavily bias towards good offensive teams.  That’s why Indy and New Orleans are a bit higher than they should be, and Baltimore and Pittsburgh are a bit lower than they should be.  But I think that’s a good starting point for some NFL rankings.  It at least passes the sniff test (does it seem plausible?).  So I guess that’s that.  Your division winners are Indianapolis, Carolina, New England, NY Giants, Pittsburgh, San Diego, Arizona and Minnesota.  Your wild card teams are Tennessee, Philadelphia, New Orleans and Baltimore.  The easiest division is the NFC North and the hardest division is the AFC South.  Or at least that’s the way I see it.  Lets see if I’m a genius or an idiot come February.

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Quick Programming Note

image from dontfireme.com

image from dontfireme.com

I’ve tried to get myself up to write about the Pirates again, and I just can’t do it.  I have zero motivation to watch/think about them.  That may be because I’m sick of watching this terrible bunch of AAA players since the trading deadline, and it may be because I finally have some football to pay attention to.  I think it’s mostly the latter.  So, for the time being, I’m stopping the Pirate series updates and concentrating on Pitt/Steeler football.  Judging by the page hits, no one that reads this site will care about the missed Pirate posts.  If you do, I’m sorry.

As a major intro to Steeler coverage, I’m going to tease you and say that I’ve been doing some analysis (another reason why I haven’t posted in a while).  I was hoping to get it up tonight, but tomorrow will have to do.  So stay tuned.  This one should be geekier, more complicated, and hopefully more interesting than any preceding analysis I’ve done.  So check back tomorrow evening to see it.

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Weekly Beer Recommendation 8/12/09

image from blogs.creativeloafing.com

image from blogs.creativeloafing.com

I’m going to do the weekly beer recommendation a day early this week since I’ll be busy tomorrow night (but NOT with the Steeler game unfortunately).  I’m going with a brewery this week that I’ve meant to give a nod to for a long time now, but haven’t gotten around to it yet: Brooklyn Brewing Co.  Guess you can’t tell where they’re located, eh?  For the most part, Brooklyn doesn’t really experiment too much.  They’ve got a lager, a wheat, a black stout, a brown ale, an IPA, etc.  Every standard beer type they can do, they’ve done.   Plus they have a Pennant Ale ’55 to commemorate the Dodgers championship (their only one in Brooklyn.  The Pirates finished last that year as a side note).  As a sports fan, I have to love that.  They’re not one to mix stuff with beer to see what sticks.  I once had Beets flavored beer to see what it tastes like (yes, it’s been done before.  Unfortunately, it tastes like vomit).  What Brooklyn DOES do very well, however, is quality.  A good example of this is their lager.

It’s got a decent copper color (as you can see from the picture), and just about the right amount of head for a good lager.  They really concentrated on the balance, and you can tell.  There’s a definite base of hops which are mixed well with just a touch of malts to take the bite out.  I wouldn’t call this a bitter hoppy beer at all.  There are some little nodes in the background to make things interesting, but not enough to get in the way.  I tasted some citrus and a hint of pine (not sure how they got that flavor in there, or why they thought to put it there, but it was a very good idea) that play very well off the floral hops.  Overall, however, the focus is definitely on the nice crisp clean taste of the grain base.  That seems to be a hallmark of Brooklyn Brewing Co. and I applaud them for it.  Job well done.  Cheers!

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Pitt Update 8/11/09

image from postgazette.com

image from postgazette.com

First and foremost, I’m sorry for failing to update in forever.  It’s been an extremely busy week for me, and I just couldn’t put in the time.  I’ll be better in the future.  As for the Buccos, I’ve missed two straight series recaps, but judging by the hits to the site when I put up Pirate posts, no one really cares about the Pirate recaps anyway.  The quick rundown of the Diamondbacks/Cardinals series are that we stunk.  A lot.  We were swept in both.  The offense stunk.  The pitching stunk.  Matt Capps plunked Albert Pujols out of what I’m sure was frustration.  It was bad.  So, now that that’s out of the way, I figured I’d put up a post about something else.  Usually Tuesday is the new ‘My Two Cents’ segment, but I felt like that was a rut.  I kept saying over and over again that if rules are set ahead of time, they have to be followed.  They can be changed, but they have to be lived with in the present.  People want to complain when the rules that are set up aren’t always ideal or fair.  Well, tough.  Learn from it.  Change them moving forward and live with what happened in the past.  Anyway, I figure I’ll take a week off to see if I can find a different tangent to take.  In the meantime, Pitt’s been in the news a lot lately, and I figured I’d give a quick update of their goings-on.  I’ll probably do likewise for the Steelers this week sometime.  I know that’s probably eagerly anticipated.  I’m pumped to write about something besides the Pirates.  So, without further adieu, here we go:

Uni Change

In case you haven’t heard, Pitt switched their sponsor from Adidas to Nike.  The new football uniforms are above.  They look pretty nice.  Classic and plain.  Just the way I like it.  I’m always in the camp that you can only do harm by putting a bunch of crap on a football uniform.  Isn’t that right, Oregon?

image from faniq.com

image from faniq.com

But, alas, I am no fashion expert.  You can make your own judgement.  Enjoy the future swoosh clothes, Panther fans.

Agnes Goes Overseas

Women’s basketball coach Agnes Berenato was selected to go overseas and speak to the troops with a few other college basketball coaches.  I’ve had the opportunity to speak with Coach B a few times, and I can say that she’s one of the most charismatic people I’ve ever met.  I always leave encounters with her more motivated than when I came.  I have no idea why.  But I know that hearing a personality like that can only do positive things for our men and women overseas.  Agnes is keeping a diary on the post gazette online if you want to keep up.

Couple of Basketball Commits

Chase Adams from Centenary College and Cameron Wright from outside Cleveland both committed to Pitt.  Adams will join the team this year as a point guard and be immediately able to start.  Centenary was a Division I school last year, but is dropping all the way to Division III.  That means all their kids can transfer penalty free.  The book on Adams is that he’s had decent production against good BCS teams (as he should being the centerpiece of the team) and he’s a defense first guy (defensive player of the year in the summit league last year).  He’s only available for one more season, so he better make the most of this year.  I’ve heard some rumblings that this is a sign that Coach Dixon is not impressed with his current stable of guards.  I disagree.  I think this is just a gamble free hedging of his bet.  Travon Woodall would be my next choice for starting PG (I know about Ashton Gibbs and how he’s been doing ok at the point, but he’s still a natural shooting guard).  Travon got hurt and sat out 90% of last year.  The plan was to have him play behind Levance last year and take over this year.  When that didn’t go as planned, Dixon brought in an insurance policy that doesn’t cost more than a one year scholarship we had in our back pocket anyway.  I think it’s brilliant and worked out quite nicely.  A team doesn’t move down in class with an experienced PG we can grab every year.

Wright is the more inconsequential of the two right now because he doesn’t come until next year.  He’s a solid recruit, but not outstanding.  Seems to be a typical Dixon guy.  Not a prolific scorer in high school.  Someone who will buy into the defense/unselfishness that Pitt preaches.  We’ll see how he  pans out next year.

Football Starts Practicing

The Pitt football team started practicing on the South Side again today.  It’s way too early to get a read on anything, but there are a few question marks that will be fun to watch.  Quarterback play first and foremost.  Pat Bostick, Tino Sunseri and Bill Stull will all compete for the job with it apparently being Stull’s to loose.  From what I’ve heard, Bostick had another terrific summer, so who knows what will happen with him.  Maybe this is the year he blossoms into a great QB.  I doubt it, though.  He’s not mobile enough to  be a star in the college game.  However, if there ever was a year for him, this is it.  He needs time to throw, and this is supposedly one of the best line’s Pitt’s seen in a while.  Sunseri is a wild card because he hasn’t played a down, and hasn’t really competed for a starting job yet.  Stull is the known entity.  Sorta.  He had a terrible second half to the season (which most Pitt fans remember and why this is even an issue).  But what most people fail to remember is that Stull had a concussion against Rutgers.  I noticed a drop in production after that.  Maybe a summer to (literally) clear his head will do him good.  Also, a change of system might help him as well.  Matt Cavanaugh’s offense was basically put the ball in Shady’s hands or wing it to Baldwin.  That meant most of Stull’s throws were screen passes or 40 yard bombs.  Well, Stull didn’t have much of an arm, so the over the top plays didn’t work so well unless Baldwin outran his opponent by so much he had time to run under the ball (which happened).  He also just couldn’t make a screen pass to save his life.  I have no idea why.  But he was pretty good on the few routes over the middle he threw.  His strength is definitely his decision making.  Frank Cignetti Jr. said he will open up the offense a little more.  That could mean asking Stull to make more passes that fit his skill set.  Just food for thought.

The other main concern is special teams.  We have to replace a kicker, a punter and a long snapper.  The long snapper is someone who no one will know once he starts playing, so why start now?  I know how important that job is (just ask the Steelers), but I think as long as you do it every day and with the same holder, you’ll be fine.  It’s a consistency issue.  I’m not worried.  The punter seems to be decided: Dan Hutchins.  The kicker will either be him or Kevin Harper.  Not sure about Hutchins’ kicking pedigree, but Harper was recruited as a kicker and had some impressive boots in high school.  We’ll have to just see if he can handle the pressure of NCAA football.

Pitt’s #1

Pitt was ranked as #1 in the Big East by the media.  Most people reacted to this with laughter.  Which I’m a little insulted by.  What’s wrong with us being #1?  We have some issues (see above), but we also have one of the best defenses in the country last year mostly in tact.  I don’t get it.  But I digress.  If you really want to laugh, you’re not looking at the total picture.  The first 5 teams were separated by only 35 points.  #6 was 52 points behind #5.  The #3 team had just as many first place votes as #1.  The voters are clearly telling us there’s 5 teams that could win and Pitt is one of them.  But, unfortunately, most people were too lazy to look at any number besides the one to the left of the team.

So that’s about it for Pitt about now.  I’ll keep you posted as we get closer to the first game.

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