Pitt won the ACC Coastal last year, despite being just a borderline top-40, 7-7 team because, well, someone had to. The Panthers expectedly got blitzed in the ACC Title game by Clemson, 42-10, but nonetheless, head coach Pat Narduzzi returns for year five. The Panthers are 28-24 under his watch, which is probably right on the border of a record fans would be happy about.
The Panthers lose a lot, including RBs Quadree Ollison and Darrin Hall, but QB Kenny Pickett is back as Narduzzi tries to make it back to a bowl.
Pickett, who famously upset then-undefeated #2 Miami in his first-ever start in 2017, was very “meh” last year. Pickett threw at a 58% clip, averaged 6.4 yards a throw and tossed twice as many touchdowns as he did interceptions. You could do worse, but you could certainly do better also.
His top two pass-catchers return, Taysir Mack and Maurice Ffrench (combined over 1,000 yards), but the halfback spot is a bit of a question mark with the departure of their two-headed monster. Highly touted junior AJ Davis is the projected starter, but he hasn’t lived up to his billing yet, totaling just 134 yards on a 4.2 per carry average last year. A couple of highly touted sophomores, Todd Sibley and Mychale Salahuddin, will challenge for snaps as well.
The line undergoes a bit of a rebuild as just one starter returns. Pitt has recruited the line pretty well so there are some interesting underclassmen to step into big roles. A couple of JUCO transfers and tackle Nolan Ulizio from Michigan also join the line, but the holes up front and the departures of two 1,000+ yard rushers lead me to believe that this offense will regress.
Three of the top five tacklers are gone but Pitt does return two difference-makers in CB Dane Jackson (14 PBUs) and DE Rashad Weaver (6.5 sacks, 7.5 TFL).
The two deep looks really sketchy with a lot of unproven undeclassmen likely to step in if an injury bug hits, but if they can avoid that there is some talent in the starting 11. Just six starters are back and I think this defense takes a step back.
Getting back to a Coastal title may be tough, but Pitt hosts Miami and Virginia this year. There are holes in the run game and in the depth on defense, but this is likely still a bowl team.
|Date||Opponent||opp. rank||Proj. Margin|
|14-Sep||at Penn State||9||-13.8|
|2-Nov||at Georgia Tech||69||-0.5|
|23-Nov||at Virginia Tech||37||-5.2|
Average Projected Record: 6.2 wins, 5.8 losses (3.9 wins, 4.1 losses)