2010 Backyard Brawl chat transcript

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Colin Dunlap: Hello folks, welcome to the chat. This should be good -- so go ahead and fire away.

Also, if you have a specific question for one of us, make it simple: Say: "Colin..." or "Paul..."

If not, that's fine, not a bad thing at all. We will both just attempt to answer the question.

JAL: Other than the two QBs, single player for each team who has to play well or the team is in big trouble?

Colin Dunlap: I am thinking it is the West Virginia offensive line -- which hasn't been all that great all season. They better show up, they better play at least average, if they want to move the football. If not, the Pitt defensive front could eat them up. But, it seems all the way back to preseason camp, we have been talking about the struggles w/ the WVU o-line.

JAL: Bad field to begin withy and now possible bad weather--what are the odds this game goes into OT 0-0?

Colin Dunlap: The more I think about it, the more I am starting to think -- for some reason -- that there might be a little more scoring than some people think. I think Zeise might think that way, also.

Just seems to me that when everyone thinks something is a certainty, it never turns out that way. So, I'm thinking there could be some more scoring than anticipated.

Haydesc: Who will have the better day, Devine or Lewis?

Colin Dunlap: There is absolutely, positively, zero doubt in my mind that Noel Devine is less than 100 percent. Heck, he might be less than 80 percent. Even, all things equal (say he's healthy) Lewis still might be the better back -- especially on that field. I had one Pitt player tell me privately the other day, "Noel just isn't right, he's hurt, you can see that he doesn't jump cut anymore. I kind of feel a little bad for him because you can tell he's hurt."

So, to answer your question, I'd say Lewis because of Devine's injury. But, staying healthy is part of football. Just a shame for WVU that the Devine injury came via a cheap, out-of-bounds shot at LSU.

KMS: One of the articles that I read last week said that Barclay was playing with an injury. How is he this week?

Colin Dunlap: He has a shoulder injury. To what degree, I don't know. It isn't tremendously serious, but it impacted him last week. Kid is as tough as they come, though.

Pitts It: Can the Pitt linebackers and defensive backs keep up with WVU speed ?

Colin Dunlap: Don't you think the field conditions could neutralize that speed somewhat?

CRB: Which coach is on the hotter seat?

Pitts It: Is the field really that bad ?

Colin Dunlap: Did you not watch the Steelers' games the past few weeks?

Paul Zeise: The hotter seat? I think that is mostly a fan thing - I can't imagine that either guy will be fired if they lose this game, strictly because they will lose this game. But I do know this - both were charged with winning the Big East and neither has done it and that could be a problem for both. My guess is that Wannstedt would survive 7-5 (say they beat Cincy and lose to WVU) and a minor bowl but he'd be on an extremely hot seat for next year. I can't speak specifically to Stewart's situation but I'm sure Colin can.

Otto Graf - Highland Park: With Pitt rarely(if ever) able to sell out a home game unless the competition is a "name" team, what do you guys think the attendance split will be Friday?...I'm thinking 65-35 at best for Pitt fans.

Colin Dunlap: As per the "hot seat" question. This game --- after also considering the body of work --- is tremendously important to Bill Stewart's future.

BigJimSlade: If you and Casazza had tailgates at opposite ends of the blue lot before the rutgers game...serving the same food and beverage, which one would have more WVU fans in attendance and which one would Hertzel attend?

Paul Zeise: I don't think it - the attendance is relevant. Fan bases that talk about and brag about fans are generally fan bases who are frustrated by their team's performance on the field. The students won't be in town, the fan base is disenfranchised with this team and the weather will be crappy so I wouldn't expect a big turnout of Pitt fans.

Colin Dunlap: Hertzel would be where the Cutty was. And the women would be where Hertzel wasn't.

LuckyOliver: Paul - Is Pitt administration frustrated with the field condition at Heinz Field? Have they tried to exert any influence to change things?

Coley White: Will I get in the game this week and have an impact on the outcome?

Colin Dunlap: The Backyard Brawl?

I'd put those odds at +1200

Kenny Powers: Most important player for each side of this game is?

Colin Dunlap: For me: Chris Neild and Mike Shanahan.

Paul Zeise: Frustrated is not the right word. I think they view Heinz Field as a good partner and friend of the university and understand that there are some challenges. I think everyone involved with the process, except the Rooneys, who make the call, would like to see this ridiculous nightmare end with this horrible field but until the Rooneys change their tune, it will continue to be the same thing every year and frankly people are tired of complaining about it. It is what it is and that is not going to change any time soon according to the Rooneys.

Palko2Kinder: What BCS bowl is the Big East Champ likely to attend. Any chance it depends on which team makes it?

Paul Zeise: I'd say Dan Hutchins is the most important player for Pitt - the field position is key and Pitt's ability to score points when they get inside the 30 - not always a given with Hutch - could determine the outcome of the game.

PantherRob: A little off topic, but when can we expect to hear an announcement on expansion invites and who will it be?

Colin Dunlap: Fiesta. Either way....you agree Paul?

Jim: Colin West Virginia's offense has struggled all year, if you were Bill Stewart what type of changes would you make for the Pitt game and furthermore what type needs to be done going forward next year if he survives the season?

Colin Dunlap: Shawne Alston would touch the football....a whole lot more than normal. He's a "mudder" of sorts and a guy who could make an impact on this game.

Paul Zeise: Yes, Fiesta Bowl for the winner. WVU has a lot of options if they lose - Meineke, Champs Sports or whatever -- Pitt is likely headed to Birmingham if they lose. As for the expansion question - the Big East people seem to feel like it is going to happen sooner rather than later, as in, they want to get this done in time for next season. I'd expect to hear something in the next few months. Central Florida seems to be the team which is a definite addition.

Coley White: Which bar should I go to on the North Shore after the game to celebrate the WVU win?

Pitts It: Other than home field, is there anything that gives Pitt an edge in this game ?

Paul Zeise: Which bar in the North Side to celebrate a WVU win? If WVU wins you should go to Elmer's Suds in the North Side of Waynesburg

Colin Dunlap: When on the North Side (never the North SHORE), it will always be North SIDE, go to Finnegan's and see my friend Paul Hogan --- great Irishman, tell him I sent you and he might even spot you a drink. He's a bartender, fireman; does it get more Irish?

I79 Coaching Fan: Colin, tell me the truth. You have to hope Coach Stew keeps his job. I have no idea what in the heck he is talking about (take the Mountains comments after the L'ville game) but he must be hilarious to cover in an otherwise boring world of cliched coaches.

Paul Zeise: As for advantages for either team? I'd say this - QB is even, RB is even, O-line is even, receivers are adv. to Pitt, d-line is even, linebackers are big edge to WVU, secondary advantage WVU, punter/kicker even, head coaching even. defensive coaching even, offensive coaching advantage Pitt
So I'd say if there is any edge in this game, it isn't much. This will really come down to which team plays better.

Clemente21: Paul, Do you believe that we will see a more aggressive play calling in the first half from Pitt OC? Maybe, some play-action passing calls from Cignetti if the Panthers run effectively as they did in the first drive against USF last Saturday.

Colin Dunlap: In terms of covering the head coach of a team, I will say this: There is a not more of a gentleman I have ever encountered. And Paul could probably attest to this, too -- as he has interacted with Bill Stewart. When I need something, I text/call him and he gets right back to me. When I ask him a question, he answers it. Believe me, you do not always get that with a Division I coach. Also, there have been quiet times, behind the scenes moments where he's asked me about things that have had nothing to do about football (family, life, etc.) and genuinely cared. The man is a gentleman. I had surgery earlier this year and he contacted me, concerned how it went. Again, regardless of how he is as a coach, the man's integrity and sense of caring for fellow mankind cannot ever be question. True gentleman.

Paul Zeise: Will Pitt come out more aggressively on offense? I'd say yes but that is a very relative concept considering the way they came out against South Florida was so conservative it would made Christine O'Donnell's supporters seem moderate........I mean, the only way they could be less aggressive is if they came out in the single wing. I'd expect to see a little more mixing it up and trying to keep WVU's defense a little bit off balance.

Jeff_MullenS: Everyone seemed to like the wheel route. Now, I'm thinking about calling a pass to the TE dragging across the middle. What do you think?

Colin Dunlap: That call worked against Marshall in crunch time. I'd like to see it, too.

PantherRob: What will be an early sign that things aren't going Pitts way?

Pitts It: Colin : I suspect that Paul would say similar nice things about Coach Wannstedt. Maybe they are both too nice to be good coaches ?

Colin Dunlap: Ditto on Dave Wannstedt. Gentleman. Fabulous man in every single interaction I have had with him.

LuckyOliver: Colin - Lots of talk in Pittsburgh about WVU's defense. What about Pitt is getting airplay in Morgantown?

Paul Zeise: Dave Wannstedt rubbing his hands through his hair would be a good sign that things are going south for Pitt.......No, actually I'd say the biggest bad sign for Pitt is if WVU's front six or seven or eight or whatever the number is spends the entire first quarter in the Panthers backfield. If that happens, it means Pitt can't block them and if Pitt can't block them, well, turn out the lights, the party is over.

Colin Dunlap: Well, I live in Pittsburgh and don't listen much to the radio stations out of town. But, from what I have heard, the WVU faction (and Bill Stewart most important) has been really hammering the impact the Pitt d-line can have on this game.

KMS: Why on earth do they seem to put the ball in the hands of the injured player more times than not? It's not like he's the only weapon on this team? The media can see that he is hurt, other teams can see that he's hurt, even fans can see that he's hurt. At least if you're going to give him the ball, maybe put a fullback in to help create something.

Colin Dunlap: All good points.

Paul Zeise: As for Dave Wannstedt - you are correct, he is a tremendous guy. He really is, he is a great role model for the kids, he is a great family man and he loves Pitt. He really just wants this thing to work so badly because he feels so passionate about this university. But beyond that he is a just a good guy, he is easy to deal with, he understands and respects what we do for a living and he tries to be as accessible as he can. And he really truly cares about his players as well and that is a huge factor in why he is such a good recruiter.

Jared: What kind of defense do you expect from Pitt? Will they keep the 3 LB's on the field or maybe use more of the nickel with Tags or another DB?

Haydesc: Do you guys have a bet with each other on this game?

Colin Dunlap: Neither one of us know anything about wagering.

Paul Zeise: On Pitt's defense -- I'd say we will see a lot of the look with Dom DeCicco and Jason Hendricks, particularly if the linebackers play as poorly as they did last week. I've said it before, obviously losing Mason hurt but if there isn't an open competition at all three of the linebackers spots in the spring -- even though all three are coming back -- then there needs to be a congressional hearing and investigation on the matter because it would be criminal.

Kenny Powers: Is this the last home game for Jonathan Baldwin in a Pitt uniform?

PCW: CD- Any truth to the rumors that Bill McKenzie left WVU with a year of eligibility remaining and will be wheeled out for the game winning FG if the opportunity arises?

Paul Zeise: I would think that it is. All indications are that he is going to try the NFL draft and why wouldn't he. Even if the knock of "he doesn't run good routes" sticks with him, he'll tear the combine up and still likely be a second rounder. If he comes back, this offense could be very, very good next year.

Paul Zeise: My answer there was obviously about Baldwin

Pitts It: Paul: Are there any good or highly touted linebackers to compete with the current 3 in the spring

Colin Dunlap: Are you forgetting Bitancurt kicked one w/ no time on the clock last season? Great kick by McKenzie --- all time WVU great moment. Charlie Baumann might have been a better "mudder" though...drag him out for this one.

SVPanther: Brandon Lindsey, Panthers MVP this year?

Colin Dunlap: He gets my vote, considering what role they thought he was going to play before the season and then what he actually did.

Haydesc: No, we do not see the Steeler games in Texas. Please tell us about the field, and which team the field's condition favors.

Paul Zeise: Great question about linebacker depth - in the spring, you figure Dan Mason will return to the mix. He will reclaim the middle spot. I think Shane Gordon has made some strides this year. Kevin Adams could be a part of things but these young guys really need to get going at this position because it really is what is holding this defense back.

Colin Dunlap: OK....take your lawn, pull it up, put it in a blender and then throw it back down --- that's about what it looks like in some spots. As for an advantage...I can't call it. Maybe we are all making too much out of this, don't know.

Paul Zeise: As for who is Pitt's MVP this year - you could make a strong case for Dom DeCicco actually because had he not adapted to the role of whatever-the-hell-he-is-right-now, this defense would have been in big, big trouble. He started slow because of the hamstring injury but he has had a very, very good season.

free lilly: Colin, Clarke may be a bruiser at Fullback, but do you think Matt Lindamood is a better blocker? You very rarely see him line up to block for anyone but Ryan Clark in the jumbo package?

Colin Dunlap: Yes. But Lindamood had that enormous hold at UConn. That hurt the number of snaps he gets.

Paul Zeise: To answer the field - James Harrison compared running around the middle of the field to running on the beach because it is basically just sand now. To which I say to all of them - put on better cleats and stop whining.

pgheer: Charlie or his brother Randy of WDVE fame. I' take Charlie in the quagmire at Heinz.

Ron Mexicos Fire: Paul, I would say the Pitt O will be very good next year even w/o Baldwin. The O-line should be better, Tino will be a year older and they have a lot of depth at WR and RB for that matter.

Colin Dunlap: Charlie --- plus he has that wind stuff down, growing up in Erie.

Jon Q Ritchie: Do you think Phil Bennett will have any surprises for WVU? What has been successful defensively for other schools playing WVU?

Paul Zeise: The O-line will look something like this - Lucas Nix, Jordan Gibbs at tackle, Chris Jacobson and Jack Lippert at guard and Brandon Sacco at center. That is, well it is something, but I am not convinced it is definitely an upgrade. And without Baldwin, there is nobody who will stretch the field.

Pitt>WVU: why does WVU continue to have Country Roads as there "theme" song when everyone knows he wasn't refering to West Virgina. It would be lke Pittsburgh adopting "Allentown" because its a similar story.

Colin Dunlap: Fire blitzes. But Wannstedt/Bennett are not blitzing kind of guys. Never have been.

Colin Dunlap: As per "Country Roads," what you are getting at is only a half-truth. The original concept was about Maryland, written by a friend of Denver...then with Denver, he changed the story to fit that of an artist friend, who used to write to him about the splendors of the West Virginia countryside.

It was a collaboration that, indeed, had some reference to the state of West Virginia in its construction.

Paul Zeise: On the John Denver song - nobody ever accused West Virginians of being, you know, overly bright. I mean, statistics on the education in that state, the percentage of people with Bachelor's Degrees - they don't lie now do they? Hey while we are making fun of West Virginia - Why can't they have CSI-Morgantown? Well nobody has any dental records and they all have the same DNA..........Relax, I'm just having some fun on the day before Thanksgiving. I'm just warming up see as my Sister lives in Morgantown so I'll be headed there tomorrow for Thanksgiving dinner.

Colin Dunlap: See above, though, for the real story about "Country Roads"....that is the story w/ the song.

Paul Zeise: C'mon Colin, it was inspired by a road in Maryland and references a valley that is almost 100 percent in Western Virginia. It would be like people in Pennsylvania singing songs written about Youngstown......

free lilly: Lindamood may have held on a crucial occasion. But he never fumbles and doesnt whiff on blocks like ive seen clarke do.

Ron Mexicos Fire: Aw, Zeise, that's brilliant! Where is your next stand up set? I want to be there.

Paul Zeise: I think I was just uninvited to Thanksgiving Dinner, let me check my text messages to be sure.

Colin Dunlap: Clarke has more experience. I agree that Lindamood will be very good. Right now, if Clarke doesn't put it on the ground anymore, I think he has to stay ahead of Lindamood.

JH: team injury reports and bold predictions for the final score?

free lilly: Will Dave Johnson and Jeff Mullen still be on the staff next year even if the Eers run the table and win a BCS bowl? You have to admit the D is whats carrying this team and it wont be as good next year due to the loss of a bunch of seniors

Paul Zeise: Injury reports, Pitt is healthy. I don't know that they will be without anyone.

Bold prediction, 24-20.

Sofa Boy: what sofa material burns better....microfiber or velour?

Colin Dunlap: I think I have admitted the defense has carried the squad this year --- on a few occasions. One would think Mullen, and probably more so Johnson, will be looked at after this season. There will be some important meetings about their futures.

Haydesc: Paul - will we ever see the script Pitt back on the helmets?

Colin Dunlap: I know this is for Paul, but I want the script.....badly. Used to be some of the best uniforms in college football.

Paul Zeise: West Virginia fans aren't sure - weren't all of the burnable couches repossessed a few years ago?

Again, relax, I'm just having some fun. It is the Holiday Season, loosen up and laugh.

PiratePaul: Wannstedt continues to secure a fair amount blue chip recruits, should we be expecting more at this point?

Colin Dunlap: Does it ever occur to you that the people on the web sites rating these recruits (not just the ones Pitt or WVU get, but all across college football) might not be the best people to rate recruits?

JH: Colin, thoughts on Jeff Mullen's reaction to your question the other day about their D carrying the O?

Colin Dunlap: He handled it like a professional, as expected and how he handles everything. I could have probably asked it a little better. When I said "you" I meant the offense, not him personally. We talked the other day about it. Jeff and I have a great relationship.

Paul Zeise: Oh lord Colin, you just made the day of a very small, yet vocal segment of the Pitt fan base with that. In fact, I think they are all right now wearing their old Script stuff and having a rally at Panther Hollow and demanding Steve Pederson change the uniform back to the script and put the on-campus stadium on the site with which they stand......Now, I will say this -- I love the idea that the Script is Pitt's tradition considering that they won eight of their so-called nine national titles wearing something else before the Script ever came to town.......It is a nice look though, I'll grant you that and far nicer than these hideous things they will wear Friday.

Colin Dunlap: Paul- I think they should go back to the Script and also should never have torn down Pitt Stadium.

There!

Paul Zeise: On recruiting rankings - the one major flaw in them is this - they don't take into account balance of class, filling needs, what positions are filled. That means that you could sign 25 five star quarterbacks and have the No. 1 rated class, but is it really the best class?

Paul Zeise: Yes, I enjoyed Pitt Stadium, too, especially when it rained and you had two choices - go home or get the flu because you had nowhere to go to escape it. Or better yet, I loved having to walk up 90 flights of stairs to go to the bathroom or get something to eat.......

Palko2Kinder: Do you forsee a conservative offensive game plan for both teams? More of a... "playing not to lose" mentality?

Colin Dunlap: Yes. To a point.

JH: Tino vs Geno? who has the bigger day?

Paul Zeise: Well Tino faces the better defense but has better receivers and neither has what I would consider an elite offensive line to block for him. I'd say this - if Antwuan Reed and Ricky Gary repeat their festival of penalty flags from last week it will be a long, long day for the Panthers.

Sofa Boy: You should have been in condition after walking up cardiac hill.

Paul Zeise: Yes, I always enjoyed parking all the way near Dan Marino park in South Oakland since there was no parking anywhere closer unless you got there five hours before kickoff, then walking three miles to get to the stadium, getting into my seats then remembering I wanted to get some nachos, so I had to walk all the way up the stairs........That was a great set up.

Colin Dunlap: Walking up Cardiac Hill was one of the best traditions in college football for a fan. I heard one time from Beano Cook that Navy's mids took a train here, got dropped off at the train station and marched all the way to Oakland, marching up Cardiac Hill and into the stadium. I would have liked to have seen that --- you cannot get that on Sundays.

pgheer: Turnovers will be the SINGLE most important factor that determines the out come of this game. True or False?

Colin Dunlap: True.

AnxiousEER97: Zeise - drop the hillbilly crap. That's fine for fans - pretty lame for a reporter from a respectable newspaper.

Killa C: Do you guys think WVU will attempt to go down the field more instead of their usual slipscreen passing game after watching Reed and Gary continuously get burned last week?

Paul Zeise: Hey Anxious, just relax, I'm having some fun, my man, don't get yourself so angry that you forget to take your couch outside your double wide before you burn in it ...

Again, just having some fun.

Colin Dunlap: Maybe. But I think we will see a lot of the tunnel screen game (gasp, WVU fans) and also, I honestly think Shawne Alston will touch it 10-13 times.

JH: Colin - how much run vs pass do we see from WVU because of the field conditions? 70/30?

Colin Dunlap: I think WVU will attempt to run it early. The ratio will be predicated on that success/failure rate.

Paul Zeise: I would hope that Bill Stewart and Mullen, after watching that game, would have Geno Smith throw the ball down the field, why not? My goodness, neither one of those guys - Gary or Reed - has seemingly turned his head to look at a ball in the air all year. I'm not sure why more teams haven't tried to exploit that against Pitt.

AnxiousEER97: Colin - I think it's kind of strange (sad?) that we have two games left in the season and the coaching staff is still trying to figure out how to get the ball to reliable playmakers. Goes to offensive identity - been searching for it all season.

Paul Zeise: This could be said for Pitt as well.

Otto Graf - Highland Park: I'm thinking I need to leave my apartment at 4AM to make it to the game on time; shopping, pens, brawl...thoughts?

Colin Dunlap: Something that was brought up in Week 5 or 6.

I agree that an offensive identity was never established this season. But, a portion of that was because of Devine's injury at LSU.

Paul Zeise: Otto - Yes, there is going to be a lot going on around town and with all the construction, it could be tricky getting through traffic to get to the game. Now once you get on the North Shore, I guess it all depends on the crowd size.

bobbymo: paul, will we see Rhino get some touches this week,?

Paul Zeise: I think Henry Hynoski will get a few touches but again - do you want to give him the ball or do you want to give the ball to Lewis or Graham with him blocking? It makes no sense to take away carries from the other two to get Hynoski the ball.

Geno Smith: Paul - QB isn't even. I'm better than Tino. Don't you agree Colin?

Sofa Boy: When Pitt shows blitz(whether they Blitz or not) it seems like they get better pressure and they do not allow the other team to make proper adjustments. Why do we not see more movement from the "D" before the ball is snapped. They could still be in there base package after the snap.

Colin Dunlap: One would think, all things equal (dry field, same receivers, all variables the same) a coach would select Geno Smith over Tino Sunseri if they needed a guy to lead a team on one scoring drive to win a game. That's how I measure it.

Paul Zeise: Geno - You have more ability than Tino but you haven't always shown it and that inconsistency is why it is even.

Sofa Boy - Dave Wannstedt has a defensive philosophy. He believes in it. It is very vanilla and based on winning one-on-one matchups up front. It isn't going to change any time soon. I agree I'd love to see more movement, more blitzing, different personnel groups from Pitt's defense but it is just isn't going to happen.

Pitts It: If Mason is back, can he learn pass defense ? I think the linebacker problem continues and we need to quit praising Wanny for "great" recruiting. There are simply too many weak spots--LB, CB O Line

Jared: Do you guys think Pitt needs to blitz to get pressure on Smith and is that the way to go?

Colin Dunlap: Yes, yes and yes.

Colin Dunlap: Even though that isn't Pitt's usual M.O.

Paul Zeise: That is a good point about Dan Mason- this was the year he was supposed to learn the pass defense and become better at that aspect so he will obviously be starting back at square one so to speak. He definitely needs to improve in that area.

Colin Dunlap: Zeise, I've got time for just about one or two more ... you?

Sofa Boy: What are the chances that DW will role Sunseri out of the pocket to give him more time to throw?

Otto Graf - Highland Park: CD/PZ - Anyone know who the game announcers are for this on TV?

Colin Dunlap: Um ... Beth Mowins and Ray Bentley. Quint Kessenich on the sideline.

I don't think that's ABC's No. 1 crew.

Paul Zeise: This is it for me - Sunseri has rolled out some this year but again - the philosophy is for the QB to drop back and throw and read progressions in the pro-style offense so we see a lot of three, five and seven step drops. They have done some playaction rollouts though and I'd expect to see more of that the rest of the season but it hasn't been a big, big part of what they do.

fireman: Colin I know this isnt a Pitt/WVU question but any idea on kickoff time for Rutgers game

Colin Dunlap: Will know Sunday. Depends on this result.

Paul Zeise: Thanks for participating, it was fun, it is always fun and have a safe, Happy Holiday, eat lots of turkey and we will see you Friday at high noon for what should be a very competitive and entertaining game.



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