Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Looking Ahead to 2010

With the 2009 season behind us, it's not too early to look to it? Of course it actually is, but the recaps of 2009 have been plentiful. Time to look ahead, even if it's only briefly.

The 2010 schedule will include home games against New Hampshire, Miami (FL), Florida International, Louisville, Rutgers, and West Virginia.

Road games will include Notre Dame, Utah, Cincinnati, UCONN, South Florida, and Syracuse.

Pitt loses key players Bill Stull, Dorin Dickerson, Adam Gunn, Aaron Berry, Joe Thomas, Robb Houser, Nate Byham, and Mick Williams to graduation. The team may also lose Greg Romeus to early entry into the NFL Draft.

But look at what returns:

Impact players Dion Lewis, Jonathan Baldwin, and Jabaal Sheard. Guys who should play much bigger roles like Mike Shanahan, Dan Mason, Jarred Holley, and Henry Hynoski, plus a host of others. And not to mention the freshmen class with guys like Aaron Donald of Penn Hills who may get some playing time right away.

The kicking game should again be solid with Dan Hutchins and the weakest link in 2009, the secondary, can only get better.

Dion Lewis should have another good year, but could be in for a bit of a dropoff. First off, 1,800 yards is no easy feat. Second, the passing game may struggle a bit and that should lead to more men in the box to protect against the run. Lastly, the offensive line is losing a few players and could be in for a minor transition. On the flipside, he'll be a year wiser and should be even stronger. So it could be a wash.

And, yes, there's a big hole at QB to fill. But Tino Sunseri saw some very limited action this year and will have two camps under his belt. And Pat Bostick (in my opinion, he is the slight favorite heading into 2010) has now had three years in the system. The QB play might not match what Bill Stull did this year, but if one of those two can be somewhat of a game manager and keep the turnover bug away, the team should be solid. With a run-first approach, that should make the QB's job an easier one.

Schedule-wise, it's not all that bad. Yes, there are the Utah and Cincy games on the road, which could be tough. But neither appears to be utterly unwinnable. Notre Dame should be manageable as they're losing some big-time players to the draft and West Virginia and Miami are at home. Looking at the schedule, along with looking at what Pitt has coming back, and it's hard not to envision them as a Big East contender. I fully expect them to again be in every game once again.

I'll take a split of home games Miami and WVU as well as a split of road games Cincy and Utah. I'll throw in another loss of maybe ND or South Florida and go with an early prediction of 9-3. Hopefully if those losses happen, they'll come against the non-conference foes.


  1. As to the QB situation for 2010 I agree that its a two horse race between Bostick and Sunseri - although I would hope that Cignetti and DW keep their minds open and give Kolby Gray a real shot to compete also.

    Whoever it is I think we'll see this out of their play next year - more INTs. As much as Bill Stull has been criticized over the last two years, for almost everything under the sun, one has to admit he has been pretty darn good at protecting the football. His pass:INT ratio has been very good over both 2008 & 2009.

    Part of that is because Stull wasn't a big risk taker at QB and didn't try to force plays with his arm. Plus IMO he wasn't consistently getting past his 1st and 2nd options in his progressions - hence Byham not seeing the ball much.

    Next years QB probably won't have that same attitude - especially Sunseri with his arm strength. Bostick's command of the offense will probably allow him to check down quickly also.

    Both of them may, probably will, be willing to take more chances and certainly throw over the middle more often - which is prime territory for INTs.

    On the flip side I do think that either QB can also be more productive than Stull has been with yardage per game, yards per pass and number of TDs over the season given the strength of our running game for 2010.

  2. I'm with you on the INTs - personally, I expect the play at QB to drop at least a little. Although, I didn't expect the kind of year Stull had, either, so maybe I'll be wrong about that.

    Glad you brought up the QB issue because I'll have an analysis of the options later today.

  3. Actually, probably won't get to it today, so I'll just say this.

    Bostick has practically a full season under his belt in 2007, and while it wasn't a great year, the receivers were nothing special. TJ Porter and Oderick Turner were the best of the bunch and neither even got to 500 yards. Yes, part of that was on the QB play, but no one would compare either of those guys to Baldwin, who will give the 2010 QB a real weapon.

    Bostick also completed over 60% of his passes that year, which is pretty good for a true freshman, or ANY QB for that matter. He could even improve on that with a legitimate star at WR, three years of the system under his belt, and good play-calling.

    On top of that, he also didn't play in the Eastern Michigan and Grambling games in 2007 (other than attempting one pass in garbage time). You've got to figure his year-end stats would have been a bit better if he could have played against those teams, arguably Pitt's weakest opponents.

    Throw in the dominant run game and the QB, whoever it may be, should have a decent chance at succeeding. It's up in the air who will win the job and we're so far off, it's not even worth speculating, really. But if Bostick does happen to win it, he might not look bad.

  4. It will be great to watch Florida Panthers, i have bought tickets from looking forward to it.