Pitt Panthers Positional Preview: Holtz and Orndoff May Be Secret Weapons, Q/A With Orndoff


Nov 2, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers tight end Scott Orndoff (83) tackles Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets wide receiver DeAndre Smelter (15) during the third quarter at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Tech won 21-10. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

For the Pitt Panthers to take a giant leap forward this season, their offense needs to become more dynamic and less predictable.

With wide receiver Tyler Boyd and running back James Conner, the offense is always dangerous, but Pitt needs to use other talent so teams can’t solely focus on those two playmakers.

In my opinion, the tight ends are the biggest secret weapon for the Pitt offense. Senior J.P. Holtz and junior Scott Orndoff are excellent blockers as well, but last year’s offense failed at using them for more than just the run game and pass protection.

Both of these athletes have size and can catch the football. I anticipate that Pat Narduzzi and the new staff will utilize the tight ends and make them more of an offensive threat to opposing defenses.

J.P. Holtz is 6-foot-4, 245 pounds, and he has started all games the last two seasons. The Pittsburgh native from Shaler also started in 10 games as a true freshman. Last season he had 21 receptions last year for 199 yards and four touchdowns, making him Pitt’s second leading receiver going into this season.

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Recently, he was named to the watch list for the John Mackey Award, given to the nation’s top tight end.

The other prominent tight end, Scott Orndoff, is 6-foot-5, 265 pounds. The local Waynesburg native played in 10 games last season as a sophomore, with four catches for 24 yards and a touchdown against Delaware.

I had the chance to ask Scott some questions regarding the upcoming season:

BT: How difficult has the transition between coaching staffs been? What are some of the positives regarding the new staff, and what does Tim Salem bring to the tight ends position?

SO: The only difficulty transitioning to the new coaches is learning the new terminology to the playbook. The new staff teaches the offense in a way that is more similar to the NFL. Tim Salem brings enthusiasm and a good knowledge base of the offense as a whole.

BT: What have you been up to this summer? How have the summer workouts been with the new strength and conditioning coach Dave Andrews?

SO: This summer has been nothing but working out and taking summer classes. The workouts with the new staff have been extremely productive. Coach Andrews and the staff he has around him are passionate about what they do and have been working us hard consistently for the entire summer.

BT: Aside from football, what are some of your favorite activities?

SO: Most of my time away from workouts is taken up with reading history books and spending time with family and my girlfriend.

BT: What are your expectations going into this season? Which game are you most looking forward to?

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SO: This season I would like to be a consistent contributor to the offense. I’m most looking forward to the Youngstown State game just so we can get this season started.

BT: Who is the strongest player on the team? Have you defeated anyone in the rope pull?

SO: Strongest player on the team is fullback Colton Lively. I never competed in an individual rope pull.

BT: What will it take to win the ACC Coastal Division, as well as an ACC Championship?

SO: To win our division and conference we are just going to have to play consistently on both sides of the ball. We need the offense and defense to be clicking at the same time. We have more than enough talent to win the ACC.

BT: Which rivalry would you prefer: Penn State or WVU, or both?

SO: I would have to say Penn State. I think it is a long overdue rivalry that’ll bring out the best on both sides.

BT: To date, which opponent over your career has been the toughest?

SO: In my opinion I think Iowa was the toughest team we have faced. They play a traditional smashmouth style of football.

BT: Who is your biggest inspiration?

SO: My biggest inspiration, at least as a player, has always been Heath Miller. He’s been the tight end for my favorite team, the Steelers, and has become one of the all-time great tight ends in NFL history.

BT: Why should Pittsburgh sports fans (Steelers, Penguins, Pirates) adopt Pitt Panthers football and attend the games this season?

SO: This team has so much potential to be good and we’ve seen how just how good our team can be. There is a lot of excitement surrounding this team and we have all the confidence in the world in achieving a lot of success this season.

Aside from Orndoff and Holtz, Pitt has much depth at the tight ends position with sophomores Devon Edwards (6-foot-4, 260 pounds) and Tony Harper (6-foot-4, 225 pounds), along with redshirt freshman Brian O’Neill (6-foot-6, 245 pounds). Edwards and Harper contributed on special teams last season and are solid reserve tight ends.

I expect Holtz and Orndoff to be important contributors on offense this season, as long as they are given some opportunities to make plays.

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