MPM: Is Myles Caragein getting more reps at nose tackle? He seemed to play quite a bit against Buffalo, and played well in my estimation.
Paul Zeise: He's the third tackle and the rotation is basically three guys. Chas Alecxih gets in some here and there, but for the most part it is Caragein, Mustakas and Mick Williams. Mustakas can bounce back and forth between the two spots so they really try to keep their first three guys on the field as much as possible. Myles is one of those guys who doesn't start but coaches refer to as "a starter". So yes, he is on the field a lot and I think they trying to bring him along as a swing tackle who can play both tackle spots and spot both of the starters.
Pitt_s_It: Would you please comment on why Pitt is a favorite in this Navy game for reasons other than they are the home team.So far Pitt has play two relatively weak teams and the defense has given up a huge amount of yards to these teams that are not nearly as good as Navy. I'll be rooting for the Panthers but frankly I think they are very over rated
Paul Zeise: They could be overrated but betting lines are based on what bookmakers think bettors are going to do and have nothing to do with the relative strength of the team -- and frankly most people around the country still believe Navy is a weak team. A great example is the line on the FSU-BYU game. Last I checked, BYU is favored by only like 6 even though they are the home team. Why? Because there are still too many people out there who bet on FSU as if this is the 1990's. BYU SHOULD be about a two touchdown favorite. But so many people will look at FSU and bet on them as an underdog just because. But beyond that, Pitt should beat Navy at home or on the road nine times out of ten. The Panthers have better athletes and are bigger and stronger up front.
RB_U: Prior to this season, I thought Gunn would be solid - he's been spectacular. Prior to McKillop 1st season as a starter, I thought he would be very good - turned out to be great. This staff has done a great job of developing MLBs. Couple things: (1) Does Gunn keep this pace going, (2) How much credit should go to Coach Tumpkin - what makes him special in your eyes?
Paul Zeise: Adam Gunn will continue to do this well as long as the guys in front of him continue to do their jobs. The front four occupies a lot of people and a lot of attention and that enabled Scott McKillop and now Adam Gunn to thrive in the role of the middle linebacker. That's not to say you can plug anyone in there, but those two are excellent players who fit perfectly in a system. I think that Joe Tumpkin has been an excellent addition to the staff -- what he did last year with the linebackers, considering the injuries, and the way he's brought along guys like Max Gruder and Manny Williams has been impressive.
NCPantherFan: Can you explain chop blocks? I keep hearing about how Pitt has to prepare for chop blocks. But I thought they were illegal? What is and isn't legal in college?
Paul Zeise: They are only illegal in two cases (1) if a defensive player is engaged in being blocked, a second offensive player cannot come in and chop the guys legs and (2) you can't chop a guy from behind. But if the offensive player is in front of the man and within a short distance (I think like five yards) of the line of scrimmage, he can chop, or more accurately, it is called a cut block. The Broncos use this technique and it enables smaller but more agile linemen to be extremely effective run blockers.
Zeise_Is_Nice: Paul, great chat. Just wanted to let you know that I looked out my window a minute ago and Buffalo WR Naaman Roosevelt was still running. FYI
Paul Zeise: Really? Was the with the first screen pass he caught or the second? I will say that at least that dude, unlike some of the stiffs who had burnt Pitt in the recent past, has some legitimate NFL talent. And the second play he made was a ridiculous catch and Pitt's safety Dom DeCicco went for the interception rather than the tackle. Hopefully for Pitt's sake, the tackling is better this week.
Zeise_Is_Nice: Paul, great chat. Why hasn't Pitt gotten into the top 25 poll yet? I mean, they knocked off the reigning MAC champs, right?
Paul Zeise: Yes. It was impressive wins over an underwhelming Division I-AA opponent and a MAC opponent with a quarterback making his second career start ... I think if they beat Navy they would legitimately deserve to inch in to the top 25 because I expect Navy to be an eight-win team and they showed in Columbus that they can play with the big boys.
Fear_the_Mustache: Will we be seeing more of Ray Graham or maybe even Shariff Harris instead of the Dion Lewis Show on repeat (not that I'm complaining).
Paul Zeise: I'm not sure why you need to see those guys right now. I think Shariff Harris might be the one who gets to play a little bit just because he is a little different back than Lewis. But right now, the Dion Lewis show is a lot of fun too watch and it is very effective so why change it?
Fear_the_Mustache: Any chance Mike Shannahan plays this week?
Paul Zeise: Not sure. Dave Wannstedt hinted that he might be ready to go this week but considering he hasn't played in a few weeks I'd be surprised to see him out there in much more than a limited capacity.
Pitt_Is_It: Why is Pitt making Fields off limits to the media this week? I saw that they were talking about simplifying their defensive packages for him. Is part of the reason for his lack of playing time until Taglianetti got hurt his lack of understanding the defenses that are called?
Paul Zeise: He is off limits because they don't want him to lose focus and lord knows, the three minutes he would spend speaking to the media on a Tuesday afternoon would no doubt cause him to meltdown and not be able to play ever again because he'd be thinking so much about answering the questions, he'd forget his playbook or something because lord knows, talking to the media for three minutes on a Tuesday afternoon is the reason guys fail to perform on Saturdays......And I'd say a lack of focus and sometimes effort not too mention a lack of maturity all contribute more to his continued dance in and out of the lineup than any lack of understanding. I think he understands the defenses fine. But he would probably forget them all and not understand them if he spent three minutes on a Tuesday talking to the media.
Pitt_Is_It: I saw that Pitt received a VERBAL committment from a somewhat highly rated dual threat QB from Liberty. However, will Pitt use him correctly considering Pitt has a dual threat QB in Greg Cross who now plays receiver except for running the scout team at QB this week.
Paul Zeise: What do you think based on what you know about this offensive philosophy currently in place? I'm going to be very interested in watching how this offense develops around his talents if he should ever win the starting quarterback job during his career at Pitt.
Fear_the_Mustache: Is Pitt going a different direction in terms of QB recruiting? With Kolby and another Gonzalez it sounds like the Mustache might be going with dual threat QBs now.
Paul Zeise: I don't know, it doesn't make a lot of sense right now but who knows, maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks. I will say the book on quarterback recruiting for this season is not over yet and it wouldn't surprise me if they bring in a more traditional dropback passer before it is all said and done.
Fear_the_Mustache: Think the crowd will be booing Stull again this week?
Paul Zeise: Not unless he doesn't play well. I don't expect it after his second incompletion, that's for sure. But if he doesn't play well, I would expect at some point the boo birds would return. Of course, a better question is -- how many missed tackles will it take before the defense starts to hear some boos?
Fear_the_Mustache: Do you think Cincy will beat Oregon State this week?
Paul Zeise: Yes. Unless I am missing something, Oregon State isn't that good and the Bearcats offense has been unstoppable. I will say it is very tough for road teams to win at Oregon State but I think Cinncy wins a high-scoring contest
Fear_the_Mustache: Let's cut to the chase...score prediction?
Paul Zeise: 49-48
Fear_the_Mustache: What is your take on Baldwin's route running? He is clearly bigger and usually faster than everyone he plays against but he still looks a bit sloppy making cuts over the middle. Remind me of Plaxico a bit.
Paul Zeise: I think that is a tough one because we haven't seen him run many different routes yet. The best two routes he ran on Saturday were both clear-outs for Dorin Dickerson. I think he is clearly much, much better than where he was last year at all of those aspects of the game but he is young so he still has a ways to go.
Ponko_sTurfToe: What is all this message board nonsense about Dion Lewis getting overworked?
Paul Zeise: It is exactly that - message board nonsense. I mean the people who frequent those things need something to talk about, argue about, whine about, complain about, etc., etc. and this is the newest thing I suppose. The guy has averaged 22 carries a game, that's not exactly being overworked by any measure. He'll be fine and frankly if he weren't getting that many carries they'd be whining about Dave Wannstedt using a running-back-by-committee and not settling on one guy.
Zeise_Is_Nice: Paul, great chat. Is it true that Aundre Wright didn't play last week because he was prepping for his role as a delegate to the G-20 summit?
Paul Zeise: While I am sure Aundre Wright was on Obama's short list of delegates for this thing, I am also fairly certain he was sick and didn't make the trip to Buffalo.
Fear_the_Mustache: Does Greg Cross ever have a chance of being a QB again besides running scout teams?
Paul Zeise: No, not at this point. I hate to say this and maybe someone will be able to give me an answer -- e-mail me if you can -- but has there ever been a more egregious example of wasting a scholarship as well as a kid's eligibility than this one? I mean, I'm not saying he should be the starting quarterback but you brought him here for a very specific role and never seriously even tried to develop it.
Zeise_Is_Nice: Paul, great chat. Why don't you tweet? That would make the Pitt fan experience better.
Paul Zeise: Well, I feel like I provide plenty of information and all of my stories and whatnot get sent out via the P-G twitter so there is no need for me to stand on the sidelines at practice and send out deep, probing things like "Oderick Turner caught a touchdown pass from Bill Stull over the middle." And there are plenty of other people who are twittering away on these things so I'll leave nitwits to tweet or twitters to tweet or tweeters to twit or whatever the hip way to say it is ...
RB_U: Never want to see anyone get hurt, but could Tags injury be positive considering the following: (1) Tags gets an extra year to put on a few more pounds, (2) Fields is forced onto the field full-time which provides an opportunity to adjust to the college game and start making great plays like the late INT at Buffalo. If Fields is hitting on all cylinders by the time the WVU and Cincy games are played, that could put up in a nice position ...
Paul Zeise: An extra year in the weight room is never bad and hopefully you are right and Elijah Fields responds the right way and takes this opportunity and runs with it. I would say based on track record that remains to be seen.
Pitt_Is_It: Is Dom DeCicco really that bad in coverage? He seems like he gets burned a good amount when having to cover a receiver.
Paul Zeise: No, he usually is pretty good. He had a bad day on Saturday, nothing more, nothing less. He missed some tackles but I don't recall him being burned per se. He is a pretty good safety because he knows how to play the position and he understands the coverages and where he needs to be and he is physical enough to make tackles.
Pitt_Is_It: When is Pitt going to get Nate Byham and Jonathan Baldwin involved in the offense?
Paul Zeise: That's what they keep saying. But like everything else we've learned around here - we'll believe it when we see it.
Zeise_Is_Nice: Paul, great chat. Any motivational tactics going on at Pitt this week to get the players pumped up for the Navy game?
Paul Zeise: There is no truth to the rumor that a few of the student managers were walking around discuised as Bob Denver's character from that silly show Gilligans Island. No truth at all......
Jack: Any chance the Gonzalez verbal hurts our chances with Jones from Sto-Rox? I heard Jones was reopening his commitment.
Paul Zeise: He's not re-opening his commitment from what I understand. That ship has sailed, time to move on.
Pitt_Is_It: Is the Pitt game on CSTV this week?? I thought the only coverage was supposed to be ESPN360 online, but now I see CSTV.
Paul Zeise: No it is not. It is only on ESPN360
Big_John: What is CSTV, is that online broadcast that the Pitt site has? This appears the only way to watch the game this week for us out-of-towners.
Paul Zeise: Again, the only way to watch the game is ESPN360.
Homey: Is it possible the injury to Taglianetti could end up as a blessing in disguise, if Fields takes hold of this opportunity?
Paul Zeise: Well I answered this one -- yes but only IF (emphasis on a big IF) he takes this opportunity and runs with it. Thankfully someone had the insight and intelligence to make sure he didn't spend three minutes of his time talking to the media this week and thus he will be 100 percent focused on the game. I expect him to have no missed tackles or assignments. Now, had he spent those three minutes on a Tuesday talking to the media, he'd have missed every tackle and every assignment, so the Pitt defense should be in great shape.
Big_John: Question about the secondary problems, I keep reading that they are correctable? Aren't all problems correctable, if we look back at the team 2 years ago (2007) they had the same problem missing tackles, it took all season to correc the problem before beating WVU. Can you give me an example of incorrectable problem?
Paul Zeise: No. Not all problems are correctable. Some are a result of players not being good enough. Some are a result of players not being fast enough. Some are a result of players not being physical enough to make the plays. Like in 2003, the defensive line -- it simply wasn't good enough and was overmatched almost every week. Those problems are not correctable. Players missing tackles because they took a bad angle -- those problems are correctable.
Pitt_Is_It: Even though the O-Coord has changed, Pitt rarely throws the ball in the middle of the field about 10-20 yds downfield. When they do, it is usually open. Pitt is infatuated with the long throws to the sidelines.
Paul Zeise: I can't argue with that. The deep sideline pass is viewed as safer because it is usually either a catch -- or in Pitt's case either over or underthrown and incomplete. Down the middle of the field there is at least some chance it can be intercepted by a safety playing centerfield or whatever.
Ponko_sTurfToe: They did let Greg Cross do what he was brought here for. Once. And he scored a TD against Iowa.
Paul Zeise: Yeah, go figure that one out. Apparently he was too good at what he was asked to do so they put him back on the shelf. We hate them guys who score touchdowns on broken plays ...
hbk1313: Who has a better day tossing the ball on Saturday - Stull or Ohlendorf?
Paul Zeise: I think Bill Stull, by a lot.
Pitt_Is_It: Isnt it a shame that Pitt wasted Dickerson's talents for 3 years. Imagine how good he could have been if they hadn't changed his positions year after year ...
Paul Zeise: As much as Pitt can be criticized for a lot of things, this is a tough one. For one thing, Dave Wannstedt didn't want to burn his redshirt as a freshman. So that year was wasted by Dickerson. Then his second year, Wannstedt was just trying to find a spot to get him on the field and linebacker was a need area. So while in hind sight, you can say he has been wasted for three years, I don't know that is all the coaching staff and in fact, I think you are fair would probably agree they deserve a pass on this one.
Paul Zeise: Ok folks, I have to run. It was fun and we will do it again next week at the same time!