Ray Jr. on Sports

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  1. Pitt football continues to get national recognition as several players received honors from either the Atlantic Coast Conference, College Football All-America, and others. Awesome accomplishments and I know the school is very proud.
  2. SafetyJordan Whitehead and wide receiver Quadree Henderson were honored by the Atlantic Coast Conference today for their performances in the Panthers’ 45-31 victory at Virginia. I’ll talk more about that game later, but these 2 players had clutch plays that earned them this honor.
  3. Henderson, DE Ejuan Price & Offensive Lineman Dorian Price were also named Mid-Season All-Americans by the Sporting News, si.com and cbs.com That’s pretty huge, especially for Price as he continues to increase his NFL stock. Johnson was also named All-American by espn.com. Congrats to these young men.
  4. As for Pitt’s win on Saturday, I admit that I was impressed. It looked like the usual ‘get smacked in the face that leads to a loss’ but the Panthers hung in there and then Whitehead’s 59-yard INT return gave Pitt a lead that they would never relinquish. That was inspiring. Virginia may have had a worse record, but they played tough and Pitt beat them.
  5. What also impressed me about that game was how the defense played in the 2nd They kept the pressure on Virginia’s QB and kept them from scoring a TD the rest of the game. Not bad. Yes, their secondary still has issues, but that performance can only strengthen their confidence.
  6. I also liked how Pitt HC Pat Narduzzi used RB James Conner more in this game. He finished with 90 yards and 2 TDs and was rolling over folks. No matter how deep a position is, you must know how to play the ‘hot hand’ when needed and Conner was that ‘hot hand’ in that game.
  7. I also liked how Conner was used on defense and he also got a sack. His spin move on that offensive lineman was awesome too. Like Whitehead, if Conner could play both ways, he certainly would.
  8. So now the Panthers are 5-1 and 2-1 in the ACC. They’re a win away from being Bowl Eligible-something that they’ve been since 2008. No, some of those bowls may not have been so impressive (ex: BBVA Compass Bowl) but it totally looks good in their school’s history. To get that 6th win, they must beat a decent Virginia Tech team something that Pitt hasn’t had too much trouble doing in the past 10 years.
  9. And just in case you forgot Pitt fans: This is a bye week. In other words, they’re off. Pitt’s game vs. Virginia Tech is Thursday, October 27th. You’re welcome.
  10. As for the rest of College Football, here’s the weekly AP Top 5: 1. Alabama, 2. Ohio State (no surprises there) 3. Michigan, 4. Clemson (Still the ACC’s best team) and 5. Washington. Wisconsin (HC Paul Chryst’s team) is 10th, the other ACC ranked teams are: Louisville at #7, Florida St (13), and North Carolina (22) West Virginia is the only ranked local team ranked 12th.
  11. As they prepare for their yearly scrimmage, Pitt basketball was also in the news as Senior forwardMichael Young is one of 20 watch list members for the 2017 Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Award as announced by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Thursday. Young, a third team All-ACC selection a year ago, averaged 15.7 points and 6.9 rebounds while shooting 53.7 percent from the field for the Panthers last season.
  12. That’s a tremendous honor for Young, who can build on his NBA stock with a good 2016-17. And I hope he does because his team will need him on both sides of the court more than ever this season. Hopefully, he will not be playing center and can focus on his natural position at power forward.
  13. And now onto the NFL which means those Pittsburgh Steelers as they endured another horrible loss time to the Miami Dolphins, who spanked them in a 30-15 victory Sunday. Another case of taking a so-called lesser team for granted, and they paid for it. But obviously, the main concern is the injury to QB Ben Roethlisberger who tore his meniscus in Sunday’s game.
  14. The early reports were that Big Ben will be out for only 2 weeks, but now they’re saying that he may be out 4-6 weeks, which would hopefully have him active Dec 4th the NY Giants. I honestly hope it doesn’t take that long, and I know you do too.
  15. So, that leaves backup QB Landry Jones who has the ‘fun’ task of starting his first game of 2016-vs. the New England Patriots (5-1) Sunday. Nobody certainly didn’t want that scenario, but it’s a reality. I don’t trust Jones’ skill set. The only advantage that he has is the fact that the Patriots have never seen him, but that’s not too comforting.
  16. I figure that the Steelers will shorten the playbook for Jones and limit him to short passes while the running game does the bulk of the work. It may work, provided they can get into the end zone early and often vs. the Patriots.
  17. But the big question is, what will the defense do? In all my years of watching Steeler football, I have never seen a defense play so horrible. In those 2 losses, they embarrassed the Steeler legacy, which was built on defense. They looked overconfident and lazy out there and that can be fixed provided they get their heads together.
  18. Also: The NFL is looking at Dolphins DT Ndamukong Suh’s kick on Big Ben’s lead Sunday. Apparently, Suh still hasn’t learned to stop with the cheap shots.
  19. In MLB playoffs: The Cleveland Indians are in the World Series after beating the Toronto Blue Jays 4-1 in the ALCS. And they did it the only way to succeed in the playoffs: Good pitching.
  20. So apparently, my World Series champion pick of the Toronto Blue Jays didn’t happen. Well, I’ve decided to stay in the AL with my champion pick: I’m going with the Indians over the LA Dodgers. We shall see.

 

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