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Doctor Robert: Pitt-Oklahoma State Injury Report

A look at some of the Panthers’ injuries heading into this weekend

Pitt fans learned immediately after the game against Penn State that the Panthers lost two key players for the season in defensive end Dewayne Hendrix and linebacker Elijah Zeise. Both started in the team’s opener, suffering injuries in that game against Villanova.

We’ve touched on this already, but these are fairly big losses here. Replacement players Rori Blair and Oluwaseun Idowu have filled in well so far in their absence, but as I wrote over the weekend, the losses hurt the team not so much in the starting lineup, but from a depth standpoint.

Up in the air is starting wide receiver Dontez Ford. Ford was injured against Penn State this past weekend and he is questionable at this point.

And as I wrote earlier this week, one tiny piece of injury news aside from those guys is regarding true freshman cornerback Damar Hamlin, who many expected to start this year. Head coach Pat Narduzzi said in his weekly press conference that Hamlin was not guaranteed to miss the entire year. Despite the fact that he hasn’t played yet and has seen a specialist for an undisclosed injury, there still appears to be a chance he could play this season.

Narduzzi actually made it seem more like a situation of passing guys ahead of him instead of the injury.

On if he expects freshman corner Damar Hamlin to play this season: “There is a chance. There are still more guys ahead of him. We’re playing to win. Whenever they are ready, they are ready.”

Nope, there’s not much there. But if you were wondering if it was a lost year for Hamlin, perhaps it is not.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Despite slow start, Pat Narduzzi pleased with QB Nathan Peterman

The Pitt coach says his quarterback is playing well despite being used in a limited fashion

So far, Pitt is a perfect 2-0 on the young football season. But one area they haven’t showed much is in the passing game.

There, quarterback Nathan Peterman is having a very modest year. Through those two contests, he has only 266 total passing yards. And considering that in one game, Pitt faced an FCS foe and in the other, was involved in a shootout where teams scored a combined 81 points, that is pretty remarkable.

But despite those low totals, head coach Pat Narduzzi isn’t concerned.

“There were some things we left on the field in the running game,” Narduzzi said when discussing this week’s Penn State game. “But when you rush for 350 yards, who wants to throw it? A lot of our passing game we haven’t really seen yet I guess. I feel great about Nate [Peterman]. He was on fire. He had a super game and he played well enough for us to win a football game.”

“Nathan [Peterman] played a great game.”

A great game? Maybe not statistically, but he did everything his team needed from him. Pitt’s offensive game plan relied mostly on short passes, some innovative plays, and a heavy dose of the running game. When you run the ball as much as they did, as Narduzzi alluded to, there’s not a lot of room for big passing numbers.

And while it would have been nice to see him go for more than the 175 he had against Villanova, that offensive game plan was nothing like we saw this weekend. As I wrote over the weekend, the game plan there was to simply beat Villanova with their talent and not show too much on offense.

For the record, I do think Peterman is capable of more. How much more? That’s anybody’s guess. But in nearly half the games he started last year, he threw for at least 200 yards, so it’s clear he can do more than what he has to date in 2016. in 2015, he topped out at 262 yards against North Carolina.

Obviously, the Panthers don’t have Tyler Boyd, so that’s a massive hit. However, the Panthers do have playmakers such as Quadree Henderson that are capable of taking a short pass and picking up chunks of yardage. So even without the deep threat, I still expect Peterman will have more yardage as we go along.

You can also bet that with James Conner showing he’s still capable in the last game, opposing defenses will key in a bit more on the run. That should ultimately open things up and give the passing game even more of a chance to succeed.

Finally, don’t forget that Pitt has not trailed yet this year. He’s been playing with the lead and really hasn’t had to throw much. Once Pitt inevitably plays some games where they are behind, he will have even more of a chance to pad his numbers.

Another great thing to like about Peterman is that he’s played mistake-free football so far for the most part. On the season, he has five touchdown passes to only one pick, and that one interception was off a tipped pass this weekend, which wasn’t his fault. He doesn’t have the big numbers, but has been a very capable quarterback so far.

Despite the slow start, expect bigger things from him later this year.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Writer criticizes women’s choice of clothes at ’Bama-USC game

A Texas-based freelance writer admonished young women attending the Alabama-USC college football game earlier this month, writing that they should “cover it up.”

In a story published in the Huffington Post, Rebecca Walden wrote that she was surprised to see some of the clothes worn by women at the game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Sept. 3. Top-ranked Alabama won 52-6 in the season opener for both teams.

>> Read more trending stories

According to AL.com, Walden, a Birmingham native, wrote that she recalled shopping for her own gameday outfits as a student at the University of Alabama 20 years ago.

"What we didn't want, and what we never did, was to show up for a college football game looking like we belonged in a Victoria's Secret fashion show," Walden wrote.

The Huffington Post later removed the column from its site. Part of the column was captured in a screenshot that was posted online.

Dontez Ford up in air for Pitt-Oklahoma State

The Panthers receiver could miss the team’s next game

We’re only three games in, but the injuries are starting to pile up for the Pitt football team.

Already down two starters on defense declared out for the year (with a third one expected to be in the mix to start in Damar Hamlin), it’s the offense now taking some bruises. Starting wide receiver Dontez Ford was injured in the Penn State game and is now questionable for the Oklahoma State contest on Saturday.

Pitt wide receiver Dontez Ford’s playing status is “up in the air” after he sustained an injury to his right arm, coach Pat Narduzzi said Monday at his weekly press conference. While there’s uncertainty in that diagnosis, Narduzzi added that he expects the senior to play Saturday against Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Okla. “We’ll continue to wait and see where we are this week,” Narduzzi said. “He’s a tough kid.”

Ford hasn’t done much this year with only two catches for 14 yards after being the de facto top receiver on the team. But losing him would still hurt a great deal. He’s by far the most experienced receiver and his loss now thrusts another more inexperienced guy into the spotlight.

As is usually the case, Narduzzi didn’t offer many details. That he was in a sling during the Penn State game isn’t all that encouraging. Hopefully, though, he’s ready by the weekend.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Ohio sites potentially in the running to host NCAA championship after pull from North Carolina

Dayton and Columbus, Ohio, could contend for NCAA championship events that were pulled from North Carolina this week because of the cumulative actions taken by the state concerning civil rights protections.

>> Read more trending stories  

Officials from the University of Dayton and the Greater Columbus Sports Commission told the Dayton Daily News they have interest in hosting the events, which include first- and second-round men's basketball tournament games in March as well as the Women's College Cup soccer tournament in December.

"We have let them know we are available and would be happy to help them out," University of Dayton athletics spokesman Doug Hauschild said in an email. "We believe their intention is to relocate to sites as close as they can to the original ones for fans who have already purchased tickets."

The University of Dayton Arena is already set to host the First Four to open the basketball tournament, as it has done every year since 2001.

Ohio State and the city of Columbus have also become frequent hosts of various NCAA events and could add to their impressive docket in the coming years.

"We have viewed the information provided by the NCAA today regarding the process by which replacement sites will be selected for 2016-17 championships and are determining, with our partners, if we have the availability to host any of these championships," Greater Columbus Sports Commission director of marketing and communications Bruce Wimbish said in an email. "There will be a two-week time frame to submit new bids with the decisions to be made in early October."

Ohio State is already set to host multiple NCAA events this academic year, including the Division I women's volleyball championship in December and the men's volleyball championship in March.

The women's basketball Final Four will be hosted in Columbus in the spring of 2018.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, announced that he sent a letter to NCAA president Mark Emmert about Ohio's potential to host the orphaned events.

"Ohio has been a consistent partner in hosting NCAA sporting events," Brown wrote. "As you weigh options for relocation, I urge you to give Ohio's cities your full consideration. Your organization would be hard-pressed to find a better partner, and I know Ohioans would embrace these events with open arms."

WATCH: Central Michigan upsets No. 22 Oklahoma State on officials' error, Hail Mary

Central Michigan scored a stunning upset against No. 22 Oklahoma State on Saturday, with the Chippewas using a Hail Mary and a lateral to steal the win with no time on the clock.

>> Watch the play here

Steal is indeed the key word there, as MAC officials ruled that the play Central Michigan scored on should have never happened.

The reason the play shouldn’t have happened is because of what happened on the previous play. Oklahoma State had the ball on 4th-and-13, where they were called for an intentional grounding penalty as time expired. Usually, penalties allow for an extra play to take place, but since intentional grounding results in a loss of down, an extra play shouldn’t have been allowed by NCAA rule.

>> Read more trending stories

As the Big 12 mentioned in their statement, the game is over and the ruling cannot be reversed. Instead, Central Michigan gets its first victory over a ranked opponent since 1991, and Oklahoma State takes a big loss for the Big 12.

Ohio State vs. Tulsa

Latest Pitt-Penn State dust up involves unused tickets

Penn state reportedly returned unsold tickets to Pitt

There’s already been enough drama this week in advance of the Pitt-Penn State game to last an entire season.

First, there was some mixed messages regarding Pitt’s injuries.

There was Pitt playing things close to the vest by not changing the depth chart at all this week despite some possible health issues.

There was head coach Pat Narduzzi closing off all media access to players.

There’s Pitt hoping to set an attendance record for the City of Pittsburgh.

There’s Narduzzi avoiding talk of a potential use of Jordan Whitehead on offense.

And on the other side, there’s plenty, too. James Franklin and company barely acknowledging Pitt’s presence. Fans are trying to organize a white out for a road contest. And there are hot takes about how Penn State is too good for Pitt.

It’s late and we’re almost at game day, but another wrinkle was added earlier this afternoon. Behold, I give you our fearless leader, Scott Barnes dropping this knowledge to no doubt rub salt into a wound:

Visiting team returned tickets for tomorrow. Will be making them available for Panther Nation. Stay tuned. #H2P— Scott Barnes (@PittADBarnes) September 9, 2016

Now, Barnes’ tweet is funny on a few levels. First, there’s the obvious - that Penn State returned tickets for the game. Penn State was quick to point out that these were tickets from special groups that didn’t use their entire allotment and, as was later reported, that number was 59 tickets. Some groups may not use them all, but you’d also expect for a game this size that someone finds a way to take them. Obviously, Penn State didn’t open them up for sale, etc., since they surely would have been gone. So this is a case of some student groups, etc., not using them up. It’s just sort of funny given that it’s such a hot ticket right now.

Pitt, of course, was happy to take the tickets and sold them within a very short time.

Two other things were interesting here as well. First, it’s sort of amusing that Barnes doesn’t refer to the opponent as Penn State - simply calling them the visiting team, which of course sounds like a rub on some Nittany Lions fans claiming they will have a home type atmosphere at the game.

The even more subtle potential jab is the time of Barnes’ tweet, which was sent at exactly 1:07 p.m. On the surface, that seems trivial, but could be a dig at Penn State, which constantly refers to themselves as 107K strong, a nod to their attendance at sold out games.

Did Barnes tweet at that specific time for that reason? I would be surprised if ever admitted to that and it very well could have simply been coincidence. But given everything that’s gone down between the two sides, good luck convincing some fans of that.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

(Don't) Bet the Farm: Pitt vs Penn State Predictions

The Cardiac Hill writers make their picks for Pitt-Penn State

Well, well. Here we are.

I'm not gonna spend too much time on this one. I think PBS and Jim did a fantastic job putting the rivalry in perspective.

All I'll say is I think this is an ugly, low scoring affair. something like 21-17

(Spoiler: Full Homer Warning)

Anson - Pitt (1-0)

Aron - Pitt (1-0)

Chris - Pitt (1-0)

Corey - Pitt (1-0)

JD - Pitt (1-0)

Jim - Pitt (1-0)

Know Your Enemy: Pitt-PSU Q&A with BSD

SB Nation’s Penn State site answers our questions ahead of the big game

Pitt-Penn State is almost here, folks. With that, we’ve gathered some intel on the Nittany Lions’ side of things with Aaron Yorke of SB Nation’s Penn State site, Black Shoe Diaries. Check out his answers to my questions below and be sure to head over there for my answers to his questions.

James Franklin really seemed to downplay the importance of the game while Pat Narduzzi went in the opposite direction. Given the nature of the in-state recruiting and the long (albeit old) history of the rivalry, do you think Franklin is privately telling his players the same thing or do you think it's a bigger deal to him than he's willing to let on?

I don't like to speculate on what coaches may or may not be doing behind closed doors, but I'm guessing that this rivalry game is a bigger deal to Franklin than he's letting on. When the coach first signed on with Penn State, his big mantra was "Dominate the State," and that meant getting the best recruits from not only Pennsylvania, but the surrounding areas as well. He won't look very good if his squad, which is first starting to feature some of the players he recruited, gets beat by Pitt, even if the Panthers are the more experienced team.

Just how hot is Franklin's seat at the moment? Warm? Not hot at all? He has recruited very well, but I wonder at what point does the fanbase expect more.

I think a lot of college football fans outside of Happy Valley believe that Franklin's job is less secure than it is. I'm hoping that athletic director Sandy Barbour is patient enough with Franklin to allow him to coach the players he's done such a good job recruiting. The failure of Christian Hackenberg to grow into a solid quarterback under Franklin is a bad look, but nobody knows how much of that is the coach's (or the offensive coordinator's) fault. With a more experienced offensive line this year to go with a new quarterback and a talented backs and receivers group, Franklin and new offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead will have a better chance to mold the offense into an effective unit. If the team still isn't competing with the big boys in a couple of years, Franklin will be under pressure, but his job isn't in serious jeopardy this year unless he misses a bowl game.

I've long made the point that Pitt and Penn State should play whenever possible for many reasons. As long as they are in the 7-8 win era, Pitt surely needs it from a ticketing standpoint. However, I think it benefits Penn State as well. There are a lot of factors at play here, but all things considered, playing Pitt instead of teams like Temple and Kent State is just more fun, isn't it? I know that most Pitt fans would rather see Penn State on the schedule than Villanova, FIU, etc.

It's definitely going to be more fun than Temple this year! Even if we count games like Temple and Kent State as automatic wins, though, playing the Panthers adds more juice to the schedule because they're a historic rival and a major-conference opponent. This game gets fans and alumni excited about college football in September, and that's great for both programs. I couldn't agree more that these teams should play each other every year.

Sandy Barbour made some statements earlier that sort of raised some eyebrows about Penn State not necessarily needing a rival. Do you think the fans want a rival and/or do they feel they have rivals in the Big Ten? Are her thoughts in tune with what most Penn State fans think?

I can't speak for all Penn State fans, but I think most of them would like to be considered rivals with Ohio State and Michigan. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like the program is on that level yet. On the other hand, if Penn State is drawing 90,000 or more fans to games against even mediocre opponents, it's easy to say that the Lions don't need a big-time rivalry game on their schedule. Still, you can't say that the football calendar isn't more fun with rivalry games on it. I'll say that Penn State might not need a rival, but it should want one. With this Penn State vs. Pitt game recently gaining the "Keystone Classic" moniker, I'm hoping that it turns into an annual clash. If not, there's always that makeshift rivalry with Michigan State to fall back on. The trophy might not be pretty, but the two programs have the potential for some very competitive matchups over the next few years.

I've been very impressed with Saquon Barkley - that kid's a star. I feel that both teams are going to try to establish the run. Just how dangerous is Penn State's passing attack, though?

The jury is still out on how effective Penn State's passing attack might be this year. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Trace McSorley impressed last January with a pair of touchdowns strikes after he came in for an injured Hackenberg during the TaxSlayer Bowl against Georgia. He followed that up with a nearly perfect spring game that helped him earn the starting job over talented freshmen Tommy Stevens and Jake Zembiec. McSorley's debut as a starter against Kent State didn't go as well as I hoped, but he still threw for another two touchdown passes with zero interceptions. There's a lot of room for him to grow alongside a bevy of talented receivers led by Chris Godwin, and we could see Barkley more heavily featured in the passing game as well.

Like Pitt did against Villanova, Penn State struggled a little coming out of the gate against Kent State. Can you talk a little about that game - what the Nittany Lions did well/not so well?

Penn State made some mistakes early in the Kent State game that allowed the Golden Flashes to hang around. Specifically, the Lions missed on a seemingly superfluous two-point conversion attempt following their first touchdown and later had McSorley get sacked, allowing Kent State to run in a fumble for a touchdown. Other than that disastrous play, Penn State did a a good job of protecting the quarterback and feeding Barkley. However, McSorley failed to take advantage. He missed on a few deep throws and averaged just 6.7 yards per pass attempt. On defense, the Lions were gashed by tailback Justin Rankin for 82 yards on 13 carries despite Kent State failing to throw the ball effectively all day. The best parts of the day for Penn State fans were freshman punter Blake Gillikin averaging 47 yards on six kicks and redshirt freshman Shareef Miller notching two sacks for a front line that is supposed to be the weakest part of the Penn State defense. The back seven pitched in with interceptions by linebacker Brandon Bell and cornerback Amani Oruwariye, who took his in for a touchdown.

What do you expect to see on Saturday? Give us a prediction.

I think scoring will be at a premium on Saturday with Penn State winning 20-13. With no Tyler Boyd out there, the Pitt passing attack seemed quite pedestrian against Villanova, so I'm hoping that allows the Lions to stack the box and keep James Conner from making too many big plays.

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