PantherDigest Q&A: Week Two

Pitt targets at safety, how this class is shaping up right now, and questions about Pitt's passing game are addressed this week

rmf05:If this conference craziness shakes out in a way that places Pitt in a better conference, are there any recruits that are not considering Pitt today a possibility to reconsider us in February?
PantherDigest: Not any recruits that would change their minds considerably, but lets say the rumors (i.e. an ESPN report Thursday night that cited the Big East interested in adding Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri and possibly Baylor) about adding a few Big XII schools comes to fruition. It's going to open a whole new door. I think we saw a little of the TCU factor, where Pitt and West Virginia (combined with their respective head coaches' backgrounds and where their connections are in recruiting. If the addition TCU had in less than a year opened some new doors in Texas, imagine what the addition of any or all of those four schools would open? When those four joined with the Big XII, it opened some doors in Texas. They may not have been beating out Texas or Oklahoma for recruits, but they were at least able to get into more homes and sell the fact that a prospect could be playing in front of their hometown at least twice in their college career. That's where recruiting, in this case, will have an affect on Pitt the most. It won't hurt or help them for the forseeable future.

cabe23: Though it is obviously still pretty early, how do you see this class shaking out? Obviously we need a couple O lineman, hopefully Pankey and Bisnowaty. We will probably take two running backs. Shell and Mahone would be ideal, but one of those two and then a guy like Daniel Taylor or Durden would be good too. Who else am I missing as a realistic target? PantherDigest: If signing day was today, and the 15 commits Pitt had, it would be a decent class. Some needs have been addressed, but not all the way—specifically the offensive line. As it stands right now, Pitt, Cincinnati and West Virginia are all very close to cracking the Top 25 recruiting classes naturally. Pitt is still waiting on highly-regarded players such as Rushel Shell, Will Mahone, Demetrious Cox, Adam Bisnowaty and Bam Bradley—all five whom Pitt has a decent shot with. Even if Pitt got two of those—lets say even if it's Cox and Bisnowaty, those two alone should get Pitt into the Top 25. It's a decent class for now, and the staff has five months before signing day to add even a few more names that could take this class even higher into the rankings.

panthers2010: Damion Jones-Moore from Central.... why the lack of big offers for him? Watched his last game and he was really impressive. From Pitt's standpoint, obviously Shell and Mahone are the priorities but is he a fall back option for Pitt?
PantherDigest: This was a hot topic as I was watching Sunday's game between Central Catholic and Archbishop Wood. We tried to compare Desmon Peoples—a Rutgers commit who had a number of offers—to Damion Jones-Moore, to think about why Jones-Moore was ripping off touchdown runs of 51 and 70, had a couple MAC offers and Youngstown State on his plate. The answer is really his durability. He has missed chunks of his sophomore and junior season due to injury. If he can make runs like he had against Archbishop Wood, he should be able to rip off even bigger runs once conference play begins for him. If he blows up, like he should, AND stays healthy, expect to see the offers start rolling in. If Pitt were to offer, he'd commit in a heartbeat. His health, and if he can make it through a whole season without getting hurt, is his biggest question mark right now.

Jones-Moore is kind of a fall-back, but he's also behind Julian Durden too, since Durden has been offered. If Pitt gets Shell and/or Mahone, they'll have gotten their need at running back. If they lose out on several of the top 15 guys on their board, and have room in December, Jones-Moore is an excellent candidate for a last-minute offer. Another factor in this, is that Pitt knows they can have him if they wanted. Therefore, they'll wait and fill other needs before looking to offer Jones-Moore. There's a comfort level that they can wait on him, with their top two guys still out there and some promise from the current freshmen.

pitt75: funny how most complaints about sunseri, is that he can't hit the deep ball, and arm strength...was i hallucinating, or did he overthrow his deep balls? i think timing is the issue, vs. arm strength...maybe a little more air under, so receivers can adjust?...
PantherDigest: Todd Graham said last week that this year's Pitt offense was not going to be an exact replica of Tulsa's 2010 offense. It made sense, because last year's Tulsa offense was really his first team with all the players he recruited. His first Pitt team will be different in the sense that he didn't have any kind of running back close to what Ray Graham can do. Therefore, they tweak their system to allow such a case where Ray Graham carries the ball 29 times for 201 yards.

I'm getting a little sidetracked, but the coaches adapting to include Ray Graham as the centerpiece of their offense is similar to the passing game. They have to accommodate things to the quarterbacks—in this case a quarterback that was not recruited with their deep ball strategy in mind, and a receiving corps that isn't full of the type of receivers they'd like to bring in. They'll simply tweak their system.

However, we did see they are willing to take chances and try to get the ball deep. Though they didn't succeed, last week's game gave the players a taste of what the deep ball looks like in a game situation. It's also given them something to work with in practice this week. Sunseri might not be able to make as many deep throws as they might like to show three or four years from now. For now, they'll accommodate their system, or tone down their system, to be able to use the personnel they have now.

HailToPitt2006: tony, is there any reason for concern with voytik's apparent struggles early in the season. his team is 0-3 and from the box scores, it doesn't look like he's playing all that well... just wondering if you had any info
PantherDigest: Good question. I was wondering if someone would bring that up. Voytik's first two games were against schools in a higher classification than his. It was expected he'd take his lumps. However, it took him awhile to get the ball moving in this last game. That didn't happen, so it's safe to say he's off to a slow start. There's no reason for immediate concern. Though his numbers in week three weren't great, they were better than the first two games. However, with Trey Anderson off and running—and being somewhat of a surprise—with him having a year in the system, and possible a couple of relief appearances in 2011, he'll be a step ahead of Voytik in terms of familiarity. Voytik may have a challenge on his hands in holding off Anderson, if he continues to progress—regardless of if Voytik is able to shake off his slow start.

OnAltoomaGoPitt: Shane Johnson, how is he doing? I don't remember seeing much about him.
PantherDigest: I really expected Shane to make a move on the depth chart. Certainly, with Nix and Jacobson graduating after this year, there's going to be open competition for those two guard spots in 2012. Johnson hasn't made a move to push any of the guys ahead of him—Cory King, Matt Rotheram, Ryan Schlieper. He's battling to be that third guard, but the others are way ahead of him.

joek00: would we rather see Bam Bradley over Whittaker? is he a fall back recruit if we miss on Bam or do we look to take both?
PantherDigest: Yes, Pitt would rather have Bam Bradley and yes, Whittaker is a fall back type of recruit. He's similar in terms of status to Damion Jones-Moore, except that Whittaker has an offer. Whittaker could commit any day now, especially with the fact that his dream school—Maryland—is not interested in offering him. Whittaker is a fallback recruit, but the Panthers are in just as good a standing—possibly even more—with players like Demetrious Cox and Bam Bradley. Bradley is definitely at the top of the board.

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