Print

Narduzzi comments on early enrollees

Written by Sam Werner on .

Pat Narduzzi welcomed them via Twitter last month, but Pitt just released an official welcome to the Panthers' three mid-year enrollees: defensive end Patrick Jones, running back Chawntez Moss and tight end Chris Clark.

Jones, listed at 6-foot-5, 235 pounds, had 83 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks as a senior at Grassfield High School (Chesapeake, Va.). He's listed as a two-star recruit on Rivals, and his primary recruiter, per the release, was linebackers coach Rob Harley. It'll be interesting to see how he works into the rotation this spring, as Pitt was very thin at defensive end this season, but stands to gain a lot of depth as Dewayne Hendrix and Allen Edwards join the mix.

"Patrick is a big and athletic defensive end who runs very well," Narduzzi said in the statement. "He adds depth and competition to a position of need. Patrick is from a military family and that is reflected in his disciplined play as well as his character."

Here are his junior year highlights:

Moss (5-11, 195 lbs) rushed for nearly 3,000 yards over his career at Bedford (Ohio) High School. Rivals has him as a three-star recruit, and his primary recruiter was running backs coach/special teams coordinator Andre Powell. Moss also steps into an interesting position this spring. Pitt lost Chris James to a transfer, but returns Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall. You have to figure Rachid Ibrahim will be back in the mix, and while James Conner won't be a factor this spring as he undergoes chemotherapy, he could be back by next fall. I think a redshirt is probably likely, but you really never know with running backs. I would've said the same thing about Hall a year ago.

"Chawntez is an athletic back who we really liked when we initially watched him on tape," Narduzzi said. "We offered him a scholarship once we saw him in our camp. He was very impressive, not only in his testing and drill work but also his work ethic."

Here are some highlights from his senior season:

Clark, meanwhile, is joining Pitt as a transfer from UCLA. He played in the season-opener for the Bruins this year, but decided to transfer soon after. Pitt is still trying to apply for a waiver to get him eligible for this season, but the feeling inside the program is that it's a real long-shot and Clark will not play until 2017, according to a source. Listed at 6-foot-6, 245 pounds, Clark was a four-star recruit for Rivals in the class of 2015 out of Avon Old Farms (Conn.), and had a litany of high-level scholarship offers. Assuming he can't play until 2017, he'll actually fit in pretty well as a replacement for Scott Orndoff in an offense that figures to use the tight ends pretty heavily.

"I've known Chris for nearly three years, dating back to when I was at Michigan State and recruiting the northeast," Narduzzi said. "He is a very gifted athlete who we believe can make an immediate impact when he steps on the field. It is a real benefit that his position coach, Tim Salem, was also his primary recruiter."

Here are Clark's junior-year highlights from high school:

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Print

Empty Netter Assists - Fehr adjusting to fourth line - 01-12-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-“He’s playing critical minutes. That’s the way I look at it.” - Head coach Mike Sullivan on center Eric Fehr (above) playing on the fourth line.

-Welcome back defenseman Adam Clendening.

-Left winger Tom Kuhnhackl has developed his net-front game over time.

-The Penguins were unable to re-schedule Sunday's game against the Hurricanes in order to avoid overlapping with the Steelers-Broncos NFL playoff game.

-Sullivan speaks:

-Captain/center Sidney Crosby speaks:

-“It was probably in the works for four months. I was aware [former general manager Ray Shero] wanted to re-sign [center Jordan Staal], wanted to keep him, but about two hours before the draft Ray called, said he wouldn’t re-sign him and asked if we were still interested. He said he had talked to one other team and my understanding is it was the Rangers. We both understood the guidelines of the deal and talked for a few months about what each of us was willing to give up. It came together in a few hours.” - General manager Jim Rutherford on the 2012 draft day trade of Staal to the Hurricanes. At that time, Rutherford was the general manager of the Hurricanes.

-Happy 41st birthday to former Penguins goaltender Jocelyn Thibault (right). Acquired in the 2005 offseason in a deal which sent a draft pick to the Blackhawks, Thibault spent parts of two seasons with the Penguins. In 2005-06, he saw action in 16 games and went 1-9-3 with a 4.46 goals against average and .876 save percentage. During that season, Thibault was in for a 3-2 defeat of the Canadiens, Nov. 10, 2005, the first shootout victory in franchise history. He rebounded from injuries in 2006-07. While serving as Marc-Andre Fleury's backup, Thibault appeared in 22 games, went 7-8-2, had a 2.83 goals against average, a .909 save percentage and one shutout. He saw action in one playoff game that spring and made one save on one shot. During the 2007 postseason, Thibault joined the the Sabres as a free agent. In 38 career regular season games with the Penguins, Thibault had an 8-17-5 record with a 3.52 goals against average and .894 save percentage.

-Happy 43rd  birthday to former Penguins goaltender Rich Parent. A free agent in the 2000 offseason, Parent's Penguins career amounted to seven games, a 1-1-3 record, a 3.07 goals against average and .887 save percentage in 2000-01. He was released in the 2001 offseason.

-Today would've been the 86th birthday of former Pittsburgh Hornets and Penguins defenseman Tim Horton (right). An all-star with the Maple Leafs, Horton came to the Penguins in the 1971 offseason when he was claimed from the Rangers in an intra-league draft. His only season with the Penguins was 1971-72. He appeared in 44 games and scored 11 points. During that spring's playoffs, he appeared in four games and recorded one point. During the 1972 offseason, he was claimed by the expansion Sabres in an intra-league draft. Midway through the 1973-74 season with Buffalo, Horton was killed in an automobile crash Feb. 21, 1974. In 1977, Horton was the first Penguins player to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Horton was a founder of the doughnut and coffee chain which bears his name.

-Happy 37th birthday to former Penguins right winger Marian Hossa. Acquired at the 2008 trade deadline along with right winger Pascal Dupuis in one of the biggest deals in franchise history which sent centers Erik Christensen, Angelo Esposito, right winger Colby Armstrong and a first-round pick to the Thrashers, Hossa's Penguin's career amounted to 10 points in 12 games during the rest of the 2007-08 regular season. In the playoffs, Hossa was one of the team's top players appearing in 20 games and scoring 26 points including a series clinching overtime goal in Game 5 of an Eastern Conference semifinal round series against the Rangers (below). After helping the Penguins reach the Stanley Cup final for the first time in 16 years, Hossa stunned the hockey world by joining the team which beat the Penguins in the final, the Red Wings as a free agent. He is currently a member of the Blackhawks.

-After the Jump: Things get ugly between the Panthers and Canucks.

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Print

How Jeremiah Jones' injury has affected Duquesne's minutes distribution

Written by Craig Meyer on .

Duquesne's offense has struggled mightily in its past five games, a difficult stretch that has seen it lose four times. The Dukes, who finished last season ranked 72nd nationally in offensive efficiency, are now 200th in that category, an unexpected and sharp turn of events for a squad that came into the season with its defense as its biggest concern.

Many of those recent struggles have had to do with the strength of their opponents -- Georgia Tech (55th in KenPom rankings), Dayton (47), Davidson (107) and George Washington (70) -- but these shortcomings can also tie back to the absence of Jeremiah Jones, who went down with a season-ending injury in the first game of this dry spell (Dec. 19 against Robert Morris).

I'll have a story in tomorrow's paper that delves more into the numbers and looks at what areas Duquesne has been so dreadful in the past few weeks. But, for the sake of this blog, I just wanted to provide a quick look at how playing time has changed for the 11 players that make up Duquesne's rotation since Jones' injury.

Duquesne minutes change

A few things to note from this:

** Eric James is obviously the person who has experienced the biggest spike in minutes. The sophomore replaced Jones in the starting lineup and has done pretty well, even if his shot has fallen flat in the past three games (he has made only nine of his past 28 shots). This has been a change, but one that many of us expected after Jones' diagnosis was finalized.

** Josh Steel's minutes have risen quite a bit, too, but that leap is partially attributable to the 37 minutes he played against Dayton when Micah Mason was sidelined with an ankle injury. Otherwise, he's averaging 11.5 minutes per game, which is about half of his current difference.

** Mar'Qywell Jackson has seen some increased run, but that's largely due to the 14 minutes he got in garbage time against George Washington. Still, he's an intriguing person to keep an eye on in a backcourt that's looking for people to step up.

** Rene Castro seeing a decrease in minutes is, to me, the most interesting thing I found when crunching these numbers. Though we viewed it as a strength entering the season, Duquesne's backcourt has proven to be quite thin and while Jones' injury opened up minutes for James, it also created an opportunity for players like Steel and Castro to vacate that prominent role off the bench that James previously occupied. While Steel has made progress in filling that spot, Castro's role has somehow shrunk on an undermanned team.

And there's little reason to play him much. While I could easily see him get going with one pretty strong performance, Castro hasn't proven he's capable of even that much so far. He has more turnovers (12) than assists (nine). His offensive rating of 71.9 is easily the lowest on the team. While he's on the court, he uses 24.6 percent of the team's possessions -- second only to Derrick Colter -- but he's incredibly inefficient, and downright detrimental, with those touches.

** The drop in minutes for Nakye Sanders is also a little confusing, especially since I didn't include games missed due to injury in the minutes-per-game numbers. But he's also a freshman getting his first taste of Atlantic 10 play. I'd expect to see an increase in those numbers as the season moves along.

 

Craig Meyer: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Print

My 2015 AP Top 25 ballot: Jan. 12

Written by Sam Werner on .

And so we've reached the end of the 2015 college football season. It was a fun ride, with plenty of memorable moments along the way. Before we hit the offseason, here's my final AP Top 25 ballot of the season — here's a link to the full poll — along with a few thoughts...

  1. Alabama4102c7372d484d028d0f6a706700a124
  2. Clemson
  3. Stanford
  4. Ohio State
  5. Oklahoma
  6. Michigan State
  7. Ole Miss
  8. Houston
  9. Notre Dame
  10. Iowa
  11. TCU
  12. Baylor
  13. Florida State
  14. Michigan
  15. North Carolina
  16. Navy
  17. Oklahoma State
  18. LSU
  19. Wisconsin
  20. Florida
  21. Utah
  22. Oregon
  23. Western Kentucky
  24. San Diego State
  25. Appalachian State

- I don't think there's any doubt after last night's game that Alabama and Clemson are the top two teams in the country. That was a competitive and entertaining championship game, and I think if those two teams played 10 times, neither one would win more than five or six. Ultimately, it was pretty easy to slot those two teams in and No. 1 and No. 2.

- I really thought about keeping the Playoff teams in the top four spots. Is it fair to punish Michigan State, for instance, because they had to play Alabama. If the Spartans hadn't made the Playoff and got to play Notre Dame, who's to say they wouldn't have done just as well as Ohio State did. In the end, it came down to how great Stanford and Ohio State looked against pretty good competition in their respective bowl games. Both the Cardinal and Buckeyes comfortably beat top-10 opponents, and showed that they probably could've been competitive in the Playoff. The problem, though, is that while those are two teams that — right now — could play with anyone in the country, they both lacked the consistency that Clemson and Alabama had week in and week out. At their best, Stanford and Ohio State are right there, but slip-ups to Northwestern and Michigan State, respectively, demonstrate how important (and difficult) it is to show up every week.

- My ranking of Houston at No. 8 falls in line with the full poll, but it's worth just taking a second to marvel at what Tom Herman did in his first season with the Cougars. Perhaps most impressively, with Herman and quarterback Greg Ward coming back next season, the Cougars shouldn't take too much of a step back in 2016. With a (likely) high preseason ranking, plus a season-opener against Oklahoma, an undefeated season next year could be the perfect storm of factors that it would take to get a Group of Five team into the Playoff.

- Notre Dame and Iowa round out the top 10 as two teams that sort of had their luck catch up to them (in different ways) against better opponents in their respective New Years Six games. For the Irish, it was the rash of injuries — especially on the defense — capped off by Jaylon Smith in the Fiesta Bowl. For the Hawkeyes, they sort of overachieved all season, and Stanford clearly had a point to make in the Rose Bowl.

- Perhaps the most surprising ranking ended up being Baylor at No. 12. The Bears looked done and dusted after Seth Russell and Jarrett Stidham went down with injuries, but Art Briles' total reinvention of the offense leading into the Russell Athletic Bowl was one of the most interesting storylines of bowl season. It's almost like Briles is a chef on "Chopped." Give him some pieces, and he'll figure out how to make it work if you give him enough time.

- The middle of the poll is a bit mushy, and I couldn't really argue if you have a different preference for the order of teams in that range. I think Oregon is getting a bit of a brand bump in the overall poll at No. 19. I wouldn't (and, well, didn't) put the Ducks ahead of teams like Oklahoma State and Wisconsin. I guess it's a question of how much you factor in Vernon Adams' various injuries over the course of the season. To me, the Ducks' inability to develop a competent backup quarterback is just as much a part of their profile as how good they look when Adams is playing.

- I gave the bottom three spots to Group of Five teams that had excellent seasons. The competition there was with teams like Georgia, Northwestern and Tennessee. Western Kentucky was a no-brainer (the Hilltoppers might have one of the best offenses in FBS). San Diego State and Appalachian State were a bit closer but, ultimately, I'll take a top-flight Group of Five team over a good-not-great Power Five team.

 

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Print

Armed Militia

Written by Rob Rogers on .

Gun control opponents and the gun lobby make it seem like the U.S. Constitution was written for gun zealots only. That is not true. Wasn't the Constitution written to protect those of us who want to live free and without fear that we will be gunned down by a military assault weapon purchased at a gun show without a background check? There are plenty of government regulations and restrictions placed on risky endeavors (like driving a car or performing brain surgery) and I don't hear any drivers or surgeons complaining that their Constitutional rights are being violated. 

20160112 Armed Militia

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.