I feel like I got the call from the big club. Anson, over at Cardiac Hill, asked me to come aboard and contribute what I can to a great Pitt blog they run. I happily accepted. I will be shutting down the blog to go full bore over there. Come over and check us out. http://www.cardiachill.com/
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
It’s time to act like a middle school kid in love and pass some notes on our own Pitt Panthers with the season upon us. Pitt has been in camp for a couple of weeks now and the starting lineup is starting to take shape. Some questions have been answered and other issues still leave me feeling queasy like when you first ask out a girl growing up (and in my case the stomach punch that would usually follow her response of, “no”). Let’s dive right into things and start with what figures to be the strength of this team and that is the defense.
The defense returns several starters and on top of that a few that gained valuable experience last season. The defensive line brings back all-everything defensive tackle and team leader, Aaron Donald. The senior’s motor is expected to be running at all times this season and he figures to have a great year. He is one player I am not worried about with the move to the faster and stronger ACC conference. He will get his and then some. Unfortunately, despite Donald’s status on the team and in the conference, I do believe the defensive line will be the weakest part of this unit.
With the suspension of KK Mosley-Smith, the front four lost a valuable person and besides Donald, the starters appear to be Bryan Murphy and David Durham at ends and finally Tyrone Ezell at nose tackle. Ezell has been a player that appears to have the tools, but really needs to step up in order to free up Donald to make plays. He must play better than he has in the past couple of years. He is the key to how the defensive line will handle the step up in competition. Also mixing in, figure to Shakir Soto (a true freshman), Devin Cook, LaQuentin Smith, Jack Lippert and finally Ejuan Price on the ends. Price is making a move at camp to possibly start and will see a ton of playing time rotating into games. His pass rushing is not in question, but he is a little undersized. Helping out Donald and Ezell should be Darryl Render and Tyrique Jarrett. Keep an eye on this unit, as we’ll find out real soon against Florida State if they can come up big or be the weak link.
The linebackers are an interesting unit and have a ton of (excuse the terrible NBA draft language here) upside. The coaches have said they are looking for the top 6 best and mix and match. I think they found seven, but the top six seem to be Shane Gordon inside backed up by Mike Caprara and on the outside will be a combination of Todd Thomas, Bam Bradley, Anthony Gonzalez, and Nicholas Grigsby. Gordon is the only one that has absolutely locked up a starting spot and while Gonzalez should start at one outside linebacker spot, Bradley is trying to hold off the recently reinstated Thomas. I expect Thomas to eventually take over the spot, but all six are going to play. Also pushing his way onto the field appears to be true freshman, Matt Galambos. He will play special teams and probably see a few snaps here with the defense.
As good as the linebackers should be this season, the defensive backs have only gotten deeper with the freshmen from Clairton stepping up big to combine with the returning secondary to make up a talented and well-stocked defensive backfield. The starters will be Jason Hendricks and Ray Vinopal at safety and K’Wuan Williams and Lafayette Pitts at the corners. Beyond that, the back-up corners are a developing story. Last year’s impressive freshman (and still a freshman thanks to a medical redshirt), Jahmahl Pardner is still recovering from a knee injury, but is creeping closer to 100%, while the Clairton Bears’ alum Titus Howard is also making waves. Trenton Coles is also competing for time with Howard to really make Clairton fans puff out their chests. It doesn’t stop there, as Terrish Webb is also pressing for time at safety along with Cullen Christian. It all combines for a very talented secondary that I believe will be the backbone of the Panthers’ defense.
Overall, the new defensive coordinator, Matt House (last year’s defensive backs coach), will run a base 4-3 unit, but I think you are going to see a ton of mixing and matching. There has been a lot of talk about being aggressive and with a good amount of blitzing mixed in during games. We shall see, as talk is one thing and actually seeing it on the field is another. As mentioned, this unit has the potential to be very good, but they need the defensive line to be strong as a whole and not allow double teams of Donald in order to be a force.
Let’s turn our attention to the other side of the ball and look at head coach Paul Chryst’s speciality…the offense. We’ll begin at the top where senior Tom Savage was recently named the starting quarterback. As mentioned on this blog previously, while some “experts” feel Pitt losing a 3 year starter at this position is a negative, I just feel like Savage will bring improved play to the position. He brings a huge frame, rocket arm, and dare I say it…an actual deep ball to the offense. The real question will be his decision making and the ability to NOT take back breaking sacks. Can he do that? We can only wait and see and he’ll get a chance right off the bat with the Seminoles’ fast defense on Labor Day. Backing up Savage will be Chad Voytik, who fans are itching to see. I think Voytik will get some playing time, but the unit is Savage’s to command.
Now we move onto the position that has some excited, some scared and some looking as curious as a kid trying to get a peek into the adult bookstore growing up…running back. With the soap opera that was the Rushel Shell situation that lead to his departure, Pitt finds itself in flux at this spot. Isaac Bennett is hurt right now. The coaching staff is saying he will be fine, but I’m reminded of an injury like Lucas Nix, where it just seemed linger with the staff continuously saying, “he’s coming along and we’ll see where he is tomorrow.” They could really use Bennett, but until then it looks like true freshmen James Conner and Rachid Ibrahim could form a thunder and lightning combo with Malcolm Crockett mixing in where possible. No matter what happens with Bennett, Conner will give Pitt a big and bruising back option. He wasn’t highly recruited, but Conner is impressing in camp. The Panthers won’t use a fullback all that much, but when they do, true freshman Jaymar Parrish will pave the path for the most part it appears. Needless to say, this is an area of concern when you counting that heavily on true freshmen.
We’ll go from one position that is unsettled to one that became clear early in camp and has really held steady. Wide receiver could be something really great for Pitt. We all know about senior Devin Street, who has been impressing with his leadership and on-field work since the season ended in Birmingham last year. The player starting along side Street will be yet another Clairton Bear who looks to be as good as advertised…TYLER BOYD! Boyd came to Pitt as one of the prizes of last year’s recruiting class and he has not disappointed. Backing up those two will be Kevin Weatherspoon (oh hey look…another Clairton Bear) and Chris Wuestner. Boyd’s performance will be key to freeing up Street this season.
I mentioned in the running backs section that Pitt will play a lot without a fullback and that is because they will use a hybrid of tight end and H-back. Pitt is not deep here, but man is the talent level very high. Three players will split this spot and there will be a lot of times when two of them will be on the field at the same time. JP Holtz comes of a nice freshman campaign and he’ll be joined by transfer and matchup nightmare Manasseh Garner (get used to that name). Finally, the position will be rounded out by man-child true freshman, Scott Orndoff. The tight ends/H-back could be very good for the Panthers and create all kinds of problems for linebackers and safeties that are either too small or too slow for these three.
When Paul Chryst came aboard, he made no secret about building the offensive line back up to glory. If you read this blog, you know that I was very excited about this. That being said, it is still a work in progress. I think there is no doubt that they will be much deeper and talented than in years past, they do have a lot to improve on and it starts at the anchor at left tackle. That spot will be manned by the talented Adam Bisnowaty. Biz is good, but he is only a red-shirt freshman. The other tackle is a little bit of a surprise where the physically gifted TJ Clemmings has held off super-freshman Dorian Johnson for the right tackle spot. The first tackle off the bench could very well be Juantez Hollins, who is back from suspension. If they can do that, red-shirting Johnson is a possibility and would be very helpful. The guards will be a big strength for this unit with last year’s TACKLES manning the positions. Matt Rotheram and Cory King move from outside to the interior and in case you don’t watch football…that’s a good thing. Backing them up will be Ryan Schielper, who also has had his share of starts while at Pitt. Unfortunately, the center position is still an ongoing battle between underdog Artie Rowell and Gabe Roberts. Rowell is giving Roberts everything he can handle and a starter probably will be named in the next few days. Rowell is more consistent, but Roberts is physically imposing, which the coaching staff likes.
Since we are have looked at the offense and defense, I guess there is nothing else, so onto the season! Oh wait, that’s right, there is that little special teams thing lurking. Kevin Harper will no longer drive Pitt fans nuts as he has moved on and despite already having a couple of walk-ons, true freshman Chris Blewitt apparently has held the job since he stepped on the field. According to practice reports, Blewitt has not missed often and his leg strength is NOT something that is being questioned. Returning to punt will be senior Matt Yoklik. True freshman Ryan Winslow seems to have some talent, but Yoklik should hang onto the job throughout the season. As far as kick returners go, the Panthers will not be lacking with talent and excitement. Most are looking forward to watching Boyd handle some of those duties, but a starting receiver does need a break here and there, so Pitt will have an opportunity to showcase others.
OVERALL OUTLOOKSo there you have it. If you read the whole thing, you can see that my main concerns are the offensive and defensive line. My fear is that Pitt fans will see what happens against Florida State and head to the nearest bridge, which Pittsburgh has many. I hope they do not do that. I’m not really interested in whether they pull the upset or bolt onto the national scene with a stunner on Labor Day. I am more interested to see Pitt show they can play on that level and then improve throughout the year. They are young in a lot of areas, but this will take a little time this year. Make no mistake, the ACC is a different kind of speed that Pitt will not be used to this year. The schedule is much harder than past years and that will affect them. If you are hoping for 10-2 or 11-1, check your ego at the door. If you think they will be 2-10 or 3-9, you probably also think the Pirates will collapse and fail to make it to .500 still this season. I think it is somewhere in the middle. I could see some bad breaks and a 5-7 season and I could see them catching a few breaks, improving and finishing 7-5 and a bowl game. I’ll stay in the middle and say 6-6 with a bowl game. If you are upset with 6-6 with THIS schedule and THIS youth…you need to take a step back and REALLY think about Pitt’s schedule and how it compares to a Big East schedule.
Thursday, August 15, 2013
OK, so everyone take a deep, deep breath and step back from the ledge. Todd Thomas has returned to the Pitt Panthers as you all know. He will have to work his way back up the depth chart, but with Mike Caprara moving back to middle linebacker, the path has been cleared. Bam Bradley does have a chance to make a statement while Thomas works his way back, but reports are that Thomas will still have the edge. Thomas does have to wait a few more days before putting on the full pads, due to NCAA rules of having a few practices in shorts before strapping everything on.
I’m starting to put together the preview of the team itself and should do so at some point this weekend or early next week. The team has another scrimmage coming up and the depth chart should be clearer at that time. Center Artie Rowell and defensive end Ejuan Price are making moves and the next scrimmage could be huge in them seeing the field and possibly starting at some point this year.
In addition to the above, the expected happened the other day and Senior Tom Savage has been named the starter at QB over Chad Voytik. I still expect Voytik to play some this year, but the team is Savage’s to run. It should be interesting to see what Paul Chryst magic can be spread on Savage this season, as the skills are there…it’s just a matter of seeing it on the field. I don’t expect all-conference or anything like that, but I do see an upgrade at QB for Pitt this year with Savage replacing Tino.
Lastly, there is one concern that hopefully will be sorted out and that is at running back. Expected starter Isaac Bennett has been sidelined with an injury that Chryst says is not serious, but with the lack of depth behind Bennett, this is a concern until he gets back on the field. In the meantime, big freshman, James Conner has impressed, but you would rather not put everything in a true freshman’s hands come Labor Day.
Stay tuned for the Pitt preview coming at some point within the next week.
Thursday, August 8, 2013
So Todd Thomas quit the team yesterday....no wait, he's back. Confused? So am I. I won't have much on this one or the team until sometime next week as I'll be on a recruiting mission in Florida. OK, so I won't actually be on a recruiting trip, but will be pulling off Godfather duties and won't be back until Monday. Hopefully this will all be resolved when I get back, but Pitt appears to have dodged a bullet, because even though they are deep at linebacker, they need Todd Thomas.
Sunday, July 28, 2013
Training camp starts very soon for the 2013 Pitt Panthers (August 6th to be exact) and the ACC era will finally be upon us. Yup…just in time for the NCAA to have enormous changes to throw everything upside down again with several lawsuits! We’ll keep this on the informative and fun side though and concentrate on what I believe are some very key issues facing this season’s Panthers and some recruiting updates.
Just a quick primer for you and the first is the defensive side of the ball. I know, I know…they have 9 starters returning, including a good amount of playmakers and depth, but there is one position that scares me and that is middle linebacker. It is not that senior and great comeback story Dan Mason has left the team, but more that the starter Shane Gordon is a question mark right now. The word is that he is healthy and ready to go. He is an important part of this defense and not only is solid in the middle, but a big hitter and game changer as well. The problem is that he’s coming off of a neck injury. He did not play in the bowl game (though to be fair, he was probably tired of being in Birmingham) and did not participate in spring ball either.
I have faith in his back up, but there is cause for concern. Red-shirt freshman, Mike Caprara is inexperienced and undersized. That is not a good combination for middle linebacker. It is reported that he has great instincts and I think he can play at this level and do well, but just not right now. Gordon must remain healthy for this defense to reach its potential. If he can, I don’t believe the defense will be bothered by the better athletes the ACC will bring week in and week out. Then again, I thought we would be getting ready for year three of the high octane offense, so my opinion can be thought of by many as…well…shit.
I have read a few previews of Pitt and it absolutely kills me that they consider the team weaker from last year and the QB change being a reason why. Ummm, let me speak for all Pitt fans when I say…HUH? If you have read this blog, you know that I was a Tino guy (well, as much as someone can be a Tino guy), but if you think they are taking a step back with either red-shirt freshman Chad Voytik or fifth-year senior Tom Savage, you just are not correct. I keep thinking of the part in Billy Madison every time I see a preview mention the loss of Sunseri as a weakness coming into the year. I anticipate them to be better at QB this year.
Offensive line is the last thing I want to talk about. I do anticipate them to be better than previous teams. Pitt has long been plagued by poor offensive lines, which I think was one of the problems during the Tino years. They are losing three starters from last year’s line and that could be a problem, but there are a few reasons why I don’t believe it will be a bad thing:
1. Tackle is where you put your best offensive linemen usually. Pitt’s two starting tackles last season are BOTH moving inside to guard. That is a major plus as Cory King & Matt Rotheram move to left & right guard respectively.
2. Size, size, size, size, size! Look, I’m 5’3 (on a good day…okay, a really good day), so maybe it is just my height that makes me look at Pitt’s best 8 offensive linemen and be excited, but the shortest lineman is 6’5 and the lightest is around 300 pounds, give or take a 16 ounce steak (the line is also thought to be athletic big men too). As JR would say, that is a mass of humanity on the offensive line.
3. Arguably two of the most talented linemen in a good while will (more than likely) start or get playing time in red-shirt freshman, Adam Bisnowaty & true freshman Dorian Johnson.
4. Going into training camp, Juantez Hollins was tabbed to be Pitt’s starting left tackle. This season, he is slated (as of this writing) to be the SECOND TACKLE OFF THE BENCH.
I know everyone is worried about running back and that is with good reason. I won’t try and dive into that one, as training camp is needed badly to sort out the depth chart there. If the offensive line can come together, all other aspects will be improved greatly. Regardless, I look forward to the reports from training camp. The best happen at Pittsburgh.rivals.com from Chris Peak.
With that out of the way, Pitt has picked up a few more recruits since the last post. Two of them I am very excited about. Sometimes there is a recruit that I can’t understand why he doesn’t have more offers and for some reason or another, he just doesn’t. I can’t (for the life of me) get why North Allegheny’s Elijah Zeise did not have more offers. Luckily for Pitt, he did not and picked Pitt. Sometimes a player can just play. The 6’2, 185 pound Zeise seems to be able to do just that. While the Quad-A playoffs were in full swing last season, it seemed with every twitter update on Friday nights, I would see another Zeise deep ball moment during NA’s games. I like when a kid just performs. It reminds me of when I was watching Penn Hills and Gateway play a few years ago with all the big-time players and one player kept making plays. He didn’t get a lot of big offers and wound up at Pitt….his name: Aaron Donald. I am not comparing the two…I’m just saying if a kid keeps making plays…it usually means he can perform at the next level. Time will tell, but there is not a lot to NOT like about Zeise.
Finally, Pitt recently picked up the go-ahead from Upper St. Clair’s Rori Blair. Seriously, google that name and tell me you don’t like this kid and what it could become. If you don’t like his story, you also probably hate puppies and America. In short, he was slated to be a top recruit after his junior year, but in April of 2012, suffered a stroke, which almost cost him his life. He had a long road back, but has been finally cleared and granted a final year of eligibility in the WPIAL. He held offers from WVU and Kent State, but has always been partial to Pitt. He still has a ways to go, but you have to like this story and if Blair is fully recovered, this could be a steal for the Panthers.
We’ll take a short break so I can go down to SEC country to pull off Godfather duties for a high school friend of mine, but I’ll keep up to date and hopefully have small updates throughout training camp leading up to the Florida State game on 9/2.
Saturday, June 22, 2013
OK, so will everyone take a step away from the ledge now? Today, Pitt picked up its 12th commit today with TE Brian O’Neill from Delaware. After an epic panic attack by the Pitt fan base (I know, I know…that never happens) about the number of commits Pitt had (1 at the time), the Panthers picked up 11 pledges to suit up for Pitt football over the last week. So, we move on to a whole new stage of panic by Pitt fans…the quality of the recruits.
Before we get to that, there are two recruits who really caught my eye. The first one is obvious. That would be the much sought after offensive lineman from Bethal Park High School in the south hills of Pittsburgh, Mike Grimm. Grimm is simply a beast and with Connor Hayes gives Pitt two big offensive line recruits to go along with who Paul Chryst and company brought in last year. If you have read this blog from the beginning, you know that I am an offensive line guy. I was raised with the Steelers imposing their will on other teams and wearing them down over the course of a game and that is a style of football that will work in any conference with any opponent if you are good at it. It does so much for your team. You can control the game, wear down an opposing team, frustrate them, put pressure on their offense, hide weaknesses in your own defense by keeping them off the field and fresh, etc. The list goes on and on, so I love the mass of humanity (pardon the WWE phrase) that Pitt is building up front on offense.
The second recruit that I am thrilled about is Staunton, VA’s Mike Herndon. He’s being picked up as a defensive lineman and I think he will thrive. He’s 6’4, 323 pounds and is…A MIDDLE LINEBACKER IN HIGH SCHOOL! Did you get that? Yea, so he’s pretty nimble and has some instincts to go along with his size.
Now, onto the quality of recruits…one thing I heard more than once was people bitching about the type of offers these kids were getting in addition to the Pitt offer. Most of the kids were not exactly holding offers from the big boys of college football. Who cares? If it’s not one thing, it’s another with Pitt’s fan base. It is only June…what…do you think that the Michigan’s, Ohio State’s, and others are done handing out scholarship offers?? No! Just because Pitt offered them first, doesn’t mean others weren’t going to follow. There were a number of high school kids that were offered by Pitt first for this recruiting class and then blew up on the national radar with offers.
The next thing I will say about this is that Paul Chryst comes from a coaching staff that was never in the top 20 for recruiting classes and was widely successful. As a matter of fact, teams are consistently proving recruiting services wrong these days. Sure it is frustrating to lose out on some of the bigger recruits. No one likes that, but for every Larry Fitzgerald success story, there is also a Darelle Revis and Antonio Bryant (lower recruited players who not only went on to great Pitt careers, but were great right away as true freshmen). It happens all the time.
So, before you totally freak out, please go to Pitt Blather and look at this terrific rundown on how Wisconsin recruited and then remind yourself that when Paul Chryst was there, the Badgers turned in a record of 70-21. I’m not saying that it will definitely happen at Pitt as well, but maybe we can give HCPC a few years before saying his style of recruiting does not work.
Saturday, May 11, 2013
It has been a while since I put up a blog and I have been meaning to do it for a while. It has been difficult since the Pens are in the playoffs, the Pirates are above .500 and I have one of those job things too that keep getting in the way. Today it is muggy outside and threatening rain, so I was just laying on the couch watching the Buccos and the unthinkable is happening…Jose Tabata is 3 for 3 and a triple shy of the cycle…and that inspired me to get off my ass. I mean if Tabata can do it once in a blue moon…I can get on the computer and throw up a blog at the same rate! A lot has happened since my last blog with Pitt football and to cover it all, we’re bringing back the Hynoskis…they are short notes, that get the job done and move the ball forward…if you still don’t get it…then why are you reading this? You are supposed to be Pitt fans and should know who Henry Hynoski is!
· Spring ball is over and there was not a ton of movement up and down the starting ladder, but there also were several players held out that will compete for time. I like where this team is at, and I believe they are a better team than last year (except at running back). This does NOT mean they will have a better record, as I strongly think there will be a slight adjustment period in the ACC and overall the schedule is a lot tougher. One thing to watch going into the season is when OT and true freshman Dorian Johnson comes to campus. It looks like he will have to beat out TJ Clemmings to get the nod. The big question is the o-line, but I think when you take two starting tackles and move them inside, that aspect will be better. That is what Pitt did with Matt Rotheram and Cory King. It all depends on health and Dorian Johnson. I’m not really worried about Gabe Roberts or Adam Bisnowaty, but I do think they could struggle right off the bat with a fast Florida State defense.
· There were several issues with this team at the end of spring ball and immediately after and the one piece of good news is that Pitt no longer has to think about getting down to 85 scholarships, as they stand there right now. It started with Terrell Jackson and Rushel Shell transferring. They were followed by Deaysean Rippy leaving as well. No matter how you are trying to fool yourself, Shell leaving will hurt. He may not be the most mature person out there (see his twitter account right after he left), but make no mistake…he’s a stud and would have helped. Jackson and Rippy were fighting for back up time and had some good players in front of them…especially Rippy. He was behind Anthony Gonzalez and Bam Bradley…both of whom are expected to be exciting players.
· Right now, if you are a math major…or just can add and subtract, you are thinking we still have a couple of players to go before getting down to 85 and you are right. The next issue could not have been worse. You never want your favorite college football program linked with a drug bust and that is what Pitt found themselves with when Safety Eric Williams, Tight End Drew Carswell, & DL K.K. Mosley-Smith were all given citations during a drug raid in Oakland. Since then, Williams and Carswell have been kicked off the team and Mosley-Smith is suspended indefinitely. Many Pitt fans are glad to see Carswell gone, but Pitt went from thin to supermodel thin at his position and Williams was to compete for a starting safety spot. Hopefully Mosley-Smith will be back soon. He’ll have to keep his head on straight, as Paul Chryst has shown that this is HIS team and HIS rules.
· Can we get some good news please? Yes…I’m glad you asked. Since Pitt and Syracuse (and later Louisville) moved to the ACC, we have dealt with the whispers that Pitt simply moved to what the Big East was 20 years ago and soon it would also see teams migrating to other conferences. I won’t lie. I was sweating that these were facts. I was reading too much Clay Travis and believing what he was saying. Then…the gods smiled on the ACC. In addition to sticking to their $52 million exit fee, the conference also agreedto a Grant of Media Rights deal! This is huge news. Basically, what it means is that if an ACC team leaves, they must fork over the $52 million for the exit fee AND they would also owe the conference any dollars they will receive for their NEW media deal in whatever conference they decide is nicer and that goes all the way until 2027. Sooooo, basically no one is going anywhere for a while. Since the new ACC media deal runs through 2026-2027, the league should remain in place as you see it now until at least 2025…unless they want to fork over LOADS of money. It also opens the door to an ACC Network, which could bring Pitt approximately $5 million more per year.
· Pitt did have a commitment leave. Chandler Kincade decided to open his recruitment back up. The Blackhawk QB probably has heard whispers about AJ Ford and Keller Chryst (Paul’s nephew) and decided to look around more. NOW…with the recent news of freshman Tra’von Chapman being suspended…the two parties could reunite down the line, as Pitt may look to bring in more than one QB and Kincade does still like Pitt. He’s just looking out for himself and in reading all the articles and interviews, he seems to be handling the situation very well.
· After Kincade left, Pitt picked up a new commit and received a pledge from Offensive Lineman, Connor Hayes. Hayes is 6’4 and 270 pounds and has a mean streak. He’ll fit right in. He is also only 16 years old, so those stats will probably only climb. Many are happy with this addition to the Pitt family, but there are also a lot of worries with the lack of players committed to next year’s recruiting class. Now signing day isn’t until February of 2014, but let’s not let rationalization get in the way…this is Pitt we are talking about, so naturally we should all go crazy about this topic. From reports though, Pitt’s fan base may back totally off the ledge very soon (OK, so maybe not totally, it is the Pitt fan base after all). Big time prospect Mike Grimm (of Bethal Park) has been spending a lot of time on the South Side facilities and was there again this weekend. Also on the positive news front, LB prospect Chase Winovich (of Thomas Jefferson) should be making his choice soon. He is down to Ohio State, Michigan, and Pitt, but from the comments I have seen, Pitt looks to be in good shape. I won’t hold my breath…I remember Robert Foster…but these two look good and would cause a lot of excitement if they decided to say, “Pitt is It!”
That will do it for today. I’ll try and keep up a little better, but I do tend to take a few weeks off at a time until August when the team gets back to practicing.