Sam Werner's Pitt football chat transcript: 9.19.13

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Poll Question:

Prediction for this week?

Answer #1:

Big Pitt win (65%)

Answer #2:

Close Pitt win (35%)

Answer #3:

Close Duke win (0%)

Answer #4:

Big Duke win (0%)

Jeff: How much of a challenge will Duke's offense pose to Pitt? How different is it from FSU and New Mexico's?

Sam Werner: Well it's definitely very different from the option attack Pitt saw against New Mexico last week. Duke is a more traditional offense, but is at heart a zone-read team. Quarterback Brandon Connette is a big, physical runner who doesn't shy away from contact, but is pretty untested and started the spring third on their depth chart.
Ultimately, this is yet another game where Pitt will have to show that it can stop a mobile quarterback. They've struggled against that going back to last year. It'll be up to the ends Bryan Murphy and David Durham to keep contain and not bite on option fakes. If Connette shows any skill at all throwing the ball, it could make things tough for the defense.

Marcus: How many carries do you think each RB will get?

Sam Werner: If the game goes as the Pitt coaches plan, it'll probably be similar to last week, where both guys get equal reps (ultimately, I think they would be fine with even more work for both guys and maybe even mixing in a little bit more Rachid Ibrahim, if the game's a blowout).
Unless Bennett or Conner really seizes the job and shows that they shouldn't be taken off the field, a two-man split is probably the way it'll go for the rest of the season. That's great when things are going well like they were against New Mexico, both guys had enough work to get in a rhythm and both got over 100 yards. But in closer games where the Panthers don't get as many carries, the split could prevent one guy from getting in that zone and churning out consistent yards.

Patrick: Is anyone happier about Boyd's early success than Street? It could save him from a lot of double/triple coverage moving forward.

Sam Werner: Man, it's almost like you read my story in today's Post-Gazette (http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/sports/pitt-big-east/boyd-takes-some-heat-off-street-703902/) which is about that very topic.
Street and Chryst actually both said this week that it's a little too soon to definitively notice any difference, but, ultimately, you are right. Boyd's emergence as a legitimate threat means opponents can't roll the coverage over to Street as much (like we saw especially early against Florida State). Street said he still faced a ton of double coverage against New Mexico, and was good enough to beat it. I think even if Boyd hadn't lit the world on fire in his first two games, someone would've stepped up to fill that void, but his emergence really is a best case scenario for Pitt. At the end of the day, more offensive weapons is a good thing.

Nick: What is K'Waun Williams' future? Is the NFL a possibility? Has there ever been a less talked about 4 year starter in the history of the program?

Sam Werner: I don't know about the history of the program, because that goes back a long way. Some of those guys in the 1910s and '20s probably never got their due.
That said, I think Williams definitely has a chance to go in next year's draft. He's not the biggest guy in the world at 5-10, 195, but has really good ball skills and is probably Pitt's second-best guy on defense (behind Aaron Donald) in terms of his soundness defensively. Very rarely do you see him get beat in coverage. In fact, there were a couple of times against Florida State where he looked out of position, but that was only because he was trying to cover someone that one of his teammates missed.
I think Williams probably gets lost a little bit in the secondary because Jason Hendricks got most of the interceptions last year and Lafayette Pitts probably has a slightly higher upside (he's a little more of a naturally gifted athlete than Williams). But, no doubt, K'Waun Williams is a very good cornerback and I have to think Pitt's secondary will re-impose itself as a strength soon.

Mike Burk, Sarasota, FL: Can't complain about the exposure the program is getting with the move to the ACC...National broadcast on ESPN and featured the past 2 weeks as the ACC Game of The Week. Any feedback from the staff as to how this might translate to recruiting and the Administrations perspective on pulling students from a more southern geographic area?

Sam Werner: This is one of those questions that will probably take a few years before we get a definitive answer. The staff has started reaching down south a little bit in recruiting, but I don't think we're going to see a wholesale change in the guys they're going after. WPIAL players are still going to be key, they'll keep trying to get Philadelphia guys and the staff will continue to use its midwest connections to try and pull guys out of Ohio and Wisconsin. I think the only real difference, and this is probably more because of the staff than the ACC move, is that there's slightly less of a focus on the New York/Northern New Jersey area.

Guest: What happened to Devin Cook? Everytime he was in last year he made plays. This year he isn't even in the rotation at D End. Pitt's starting D Ends Bryan Murphy and David Durbin seem overmatched and don't make many plays if any. D End seems a definite weakness for Pitt if they are the starting D Ends.

Sam Werner: I would agree that defensive end is a concern for Pitt right now. Bryan Murphy and David Durham are nice players, but they just aren't productive enough to be game-changers on defense. Thankfully for Pitt, a guy in the middle like Aaron Donald makes their jobs easier.
On Cook, you hear the coaches talk all the time about consistency. He did make some nice plays last year, but wasn't reliable enough on a down-to-down basis for the coaches to feel comfortable putting him on the field regularly. I think it says something that freshman Shakir Soto (who I'm pretty high on) has passed him on the depth chart. Cook may pop up as a situational player, but I don't see him winning a job as a regular in the rotation.

Guest: Is Pitt game against Duke this week being broadcast until Wtae? I saw that the Virginia game was going to be broadcast on Root Sports. I didn't know Root sports covered Pitt football as it was mostly about WVU

Sam Werner: Yep, WTAE this week, ROOT next week. It all depends on what local network picks up the ACC broadcast.

Ron: What are your early impressions of Savage? Some questionable passes across the middle, but it seems like he's got the arm to make some big throws.

Sam Werner: I think you hit it on the nose. Savage is still getting back in the rhythm in terms of making reads and looking off defenders (something that was never particularly his strong suit anyways, even at Rutgers). But he does have a big-time arm to make long throws.
Ultimately, that's the tradeoff the Panthers have to make this year. Last year, they minimized mistakes with Tino because he didn't really have game-changing ability with his arm. Savage does, but that involves taking some more risks that could turn into interceptions.

Guest: Did Dan Mason leave program on his own and out of football for good or did he get kicked off the team?

Sam Werner: I would say his football career is over at this point. As for his departure from Pitt, my understanding is that there were some off-field standards that were set for Mason that he did not reach, and thus there was a "mutual" parting of the ways.

Wanny: What is your prediction for this week's game and has your opinion of how Pitt's season will go after the first two games?

Sam Werner: I still think Pitt's looking at somewhere between 5-7 wins this year, though through two games I think I'd err a little bit more on the side of 7 than 5. For as bad as they were against Florida State, they looked really good (especially on offense) against a bad-but-not-terrible New Mexico team. If I had to make a guess now, I'd say 7-5 is most likely. These next two games, though, are absolutely critical if Pitt wants to make a bowl game. If they go to Virginia Tech at 3-1, they'll end up all right.

Alex in Shadyside: Sam, how do you think the Panther ground attack is going to work now that Riggins is replacing Smash Williams at tailback?

Sam Werner: Riggins is definitely more of a downhill runner, so I would expect more runs up the middle

Eric Taylor: Isn't Matt Saracen underrated? All he did was win a state title for me and he lost his job. Someone on the team should have stood up for him.

Sam Werner: JD McCoy is the worst. That is all.

Sam Werner: And with that, we're going to wrap up this week's Pitt football chat. Panthers at Duke kick off Saturday at 12:30 p.m. on WTAE in Pittsburgh.

mobilehome - pittsports


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