Pitt Panthers vs Albany Great Danes Preview!

0 0
Read Time:18 Minute, 39 Second

Welcome to the most comprehensive Pitt Panthers vs Albany Great Danes Preview on the internet! This is your one-stop shop for everything you need to know about Pitt and their upcoming opponent! Mike Drakulich of Pittsburgh SportsNation brings you inside the huddle for both teams, providing all fans with a Game Preview, Pitt’s Keys to Victory, Score Prediction, a detailed breakdown of each team, Game Information, Individual Stats, Team Stats, down to the weather at kickoff. The only thing you’re missing is a game uniform!

Panthers Open 2018 Season With Eyes On Winning the ACC Coastal Division

Last year’s season ending thumping of the Miami Hurricanes have brought high expectations for the 2018 edition of the Pitt Panthers.

“Next time we’ll see you is in Charlotte for the ACC championship game because we’re going,” Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said at the end of the Kickoff Luncheon at Heinz Field a few days ago.

Armed with a young team that has all taken it’s lumps and grown together, the Panthers are hopeful this will be the season that the Narduzzi Era takes a great leap forward.

“That’s the goal,” Narduzzi said. “These guys have talked more about it than ever. I don’t make any guarantees. You know that. But that’s what we’re shooting for, and if we aren’t shooting for it, what are we doing? What are we wasting our time for?”

With sophomore QB Kenny Pickett manning the helm for Pitt, the offense could be back to it’s high scoring ways as they were in 2016.

First and foremost, however, Narduzzi believes his defense will finally become a factor in deciding games this year.

His favorite player is linebacker Quintin Wirginis, who missed last season with injuries.

“In my 29 years of coaching linebackers, being around linebackers, he’s the best one I’ve ever had, and that’s a fact,” Narduzzi said. “I just don’t say those things. I tell it like it is.”

Why has Wirginis earned such high praise from Narduzzi?

“It’s a combination of everything,” Narduzzi continued. “To me, to have a great linebacker or any linebacker, you have to have intelligence. He’s got that. He’s like a computer in there.

“He’s an explosive football player. He’ll be a surprise to every offense he lines up against this season.”

Dewayne Hendrix and Rashad Weaver are solidified as Pitt’s defensive ends.

Senior Shane Roy was a starter at nose tackle last year, but expect junior Amir Watts and redshirt sophomore Keyshon Camps to see time as well. Jaylen Twyman, has been pushing the whole group as a redshirt freshman.

“We’ve got a lot of guys that can play this year,” Hendrix said. “It’s gonna be a lot of rotation. That’s why we’re battling every day. You never know who’s gonna start coming into that first game.”

Oluwaseun Idowu will anchor Wirginis as a starting outside “star” linebacker, with Redshirt senior Elijah Zeise and redshirt junior Saleem Brightwell battling for the “money” spot.

“If no one wants to win it, we’ll rotate,” said position coach Rob Harley. “I want to be able to play five, six guys a game, so those guys are competing and doing a great job. They’re making my job really hard.”

Redshirt junior Dane Jackson started all 12 games last year and will assume the same duties as a starting cornerback in 2018. Redshirt senior Phillipie Motley, sophomores Damarri Mathis and Jason Pinnock, and redshirt freshman Paris Ford are all battling for that 2nd spot.

“We’ve got four, five, six good corners right now, and they’re still battling,” Narduzzi said. “It’s probably gonna be the guy that’s most consistent. I would say right now, if I had to name a corner, Phillipie Motley’s playing his tail off. We talk about to win a championship, your seniors got to play the best football they ever have, and No. 32 is doing that right now. … The rest of those guys, they’re pegging away. There’s some good players there, and it’s like, gosh, you only get to play two.”

Junior Damar Hamlin starts at free safety, with Dennis Briggs and redshirt sophomore Phil Campbell battling for the starting role at strong safety.

Shawn Watson will be entering his second season as offensive coordinator for the Panthers, and if his previous go-arounds are any indication of how well Pitt’s offense will perform, look no farther his previous stops in Colorado and Louisville from year one to year two. The Buffaloes went from 3-8 in 2000 to 10-3 in 2001, increasing their scoring average from 22.9 to 31.7. At Louisville, the Cardinals finished 52nd in offense in 2012, but improved to 28th with an average of 460.8 yards per game in 2013.

Pitt’s offensive line coach, Dave Borbley, has nothing but high praise for this friend.

“I told  Charlie Strong (then coach of the Cards) when Shawn took over in 2011, you’ll really feel his impact a year from now,” Borbely said. “He’s very passionate, the kids buy into him and his passion for the game and they start to get a feel for how he calls a game. With the skill players, they start to understand how he wants routes run.”

Watson is a big believer in his quarterback, whom he believes in wise beyond his young age.

“He’s different,” Watson said of Pickett. “He’s so mature. It just pours out of him. Everybody knows he’s going to make plays. When he says do it this way, they do it that way because they know he knows. He sounds like a coach.”

Pickett will have some pretty good options to throw to in senior Rafael-Araujo Lopes, juniors Tre Tipton, Maurice Ffrench, and Aaron Mathews, freshman Shocky Jacques-Louis, and Indiana transfer Taysir Mack, a sophomore who excelled in the Blue-Gold Game this past Spring. Mack played in 12 games, starting eight contests in 2017 for the Hoosiers…had 23 receptions for 310 yards (13.5 avg.) and three touchdowns.

“Here’s the thing about Taysir,” Narduzzi said. “He can play in the slot. He can play the boundary (cornerback), which is where Kenny (Pickett, the quarterback) likes him, and he can play to the field (lined up against another defensive back). He can move all over the place, intelligence-wise.”

Watson calls Shocky Jacques-Louis “a difference maker,” adding, “There have been days when Shocky has been unbelievable.”

At tight end, sophomore Tyler Sear scored in his final two games last season and will start, but  Arkansas transfer Will Gragg has really opened some eyes in camp.

“The one thing about this team, we have a lot of players at a lot of positions,” said position coach Tim Salem. “It’s not like you have just a starter and no backups. … I think the whole room has got an attitude that we are one, and whether I play 15 plays or 50 plays, we’re gonna do this as one big unit.”

One name to remember who may take Jordan Whitehead’s spot as a defensive player, but also part time offensive weapon, is Paris Ford.

“Paris’ (progress) is going like this,” Narduzzi said, raising his arm. “Paris an energetic guy. I can’t wait to watch him on the field. He’s energetic, and he plays with emotion. I think the game is a game of emotion. I just have to make sure we keep him under control. He’s wild. I love that part of him.”

Seniors Darrin Hall (1,045 career rushing yards) and Qadree Ollison (1,646) will give the Panthers a 1-2 punch out of the backfield.

“To me, those two are both starters”, Narduzzi said. “It’s really who’s got the hot hand, and you kind of got to do it that way. It’s who’s feeling good, who had a better week of practice. That’s kind of the carrot that you lay out there for who’s gonna get their name on the scoreboard, but after that its who’s making plays and who’s playing like their tail is on fire?”

George Aston is healthy again at fullback as he looks to return to the form he showed in 2016 when he finished third on the team in scoring (tied) with 60 points on 10 touchdowns (five rushing and five receiving).

Their blockers will be Alex Bookser, Mike Herndon, Jimmy Morrissey, Connor Dintino and Stefano Millin, unless injuries force any changes.

“Yeah, I think we’ve got ‘em identified,” Narduzzi said. “Are we where we want to be? No. Every day, it’s a battle. But I feel comfortable. Very comfortable.”

Everyone and their mother knows what game looms next Saturday night at Heinz Field, but first things first.

Pitt may have gotten caught looking ahead last year when Youngstown State took them to overtime before Pitt won 28-21.

Now the Panthers must focus on beating Albany before they settle their interstate differences with Penn State.

“Really, we can’t take anyone lightly,” Darrin Hall said. “We got to come out like we’re playing Penn State, or we’re playing a power-five team. It starts in preparation.”

Pitt started out well in last year’s opener, going up 21-0 before going into a lull after halftime.

“I think we came out in the second half slow, and obviously, it showed. They came back in it,” Kenny Pickett recalled of the evaporation of Pitt’s 21-point halftime lead.

Unlike last year, Narduzzi won’t play conservatively to hide any game tape for prying Penn State eyes.

“I’m looking forward to seeing some of the new toys out there,” Narduzzi said Wednesday. “There’s nothing better than having new toys in your backyard that you can play with, right? You get bored with the old swing set; it’s kind of dirty. We’ve got some new toys to play with.”

Hall, eager to pound the ball behind his offensive line, said it best.

“It’s not gonna be a walk in the park,” Hall said. “We got to come out strong, and we’re just gonna run it down their throat.”

 

Pitt Keys to Victory

Offense

  • Establish the Ground Game
  • No Costly Turnovers

Defense

  • Limit Big Plays
  • Pressure the Quarterback and Create Mistakes

 

Prediction

Pitt fans are starving for a team that will bring them the same joys they felt after watching their Panthers dismantle Miami 24-14 in the 2017 season finale. The talent is there for the Panthers at several key positions, so it’s time for this team under Pat Narduzzi to take a step forward and maybe even exceed expectations in 2018.

It won’t be easy as the schedule is the hardest for any team in the Power Conferences. Pitt will face Penn State, Central Florida, and Notre Dame in their out of conference slate.

Every journey has it’s beginning, and for these Panthers, it’s the Albany Great Danes, lead by Pittsburgh native Greg Gattuso, as well as former Panthers in Nate Byham, Jim Sweeney and Jarred Holley on Gattuso’s staff. Vince Testaverde, son of Brown’s former great Vinny Testaverde, is the Great Danes starter at QB after transferring from Miami.

It’s a simple formula for Pitt in Week 1… play above the competition as you should in facing a FCS opponent. Be bigger, stronger, and faster as you should be, eventually wearing down the Great Danes in the 2nd half. Kenny Picket has been immaculate all Spring, and needs to continue the play and leadership he showed vs Miami. He is the key to Pitt’s success this year. Darrin Hall and Qadree Ollison should be able to establish the running game behind a solid offensive line.

Pitt’s improved defense needs to give Testaverde a rough welcome back, possibly conjuring up some of his father’s nightmares, turnover-wise, that the elder Vinny had in facing the Pittsburgh Steelers defense so long ago.

After decades of frustrating football, this may be the team that Pitt fans have been waiting for. Now it’s time for the Panthers to answer the bell.

It’s Albany. Bury them.

Pitt 34 Albany 10

______________________________________________________________

Game Information

NCAA Week 1

Pitt Panthers vs Albany Great Danes

Venue: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA.

Game-time: Saturday, September 1st, 3:30 pm

Game Tickets Link

TV:  WatchESPN • ACC Network Extra | Announcers: Joel Meyers (play-by-play) Dustin Fox (analyst) |

Local Radio: Pittsburgh- 93.7 The Fan | Announcers:  Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play) Pat Bostick (analyst) | Larry Richert (sideline)

National Radio: N/A | Announcers: 

Sirius XM Satellite Radio: Sirius Channel 127, XM Channel 194, Internet Channel 956

Weather at Kickoff: 82 and sunny. 15% chance of storms.

Vegas Line: Pitt-20.5

______________________________________________________________

Pitt vs Albany History

  • Series History: Began in 2018.
  • Pitt is 0-0 overall against Albany.
  • Pitt is 0-0 at home vs Albany.
  • Streak: N/A
  • Last Regular Season Meeting: N/A

Game Notes* 

  • Pitt opens its 129th season of intercollegiate football when the Panthers host Albany at Heinz Field. This is the first meeting between the two schools.
  • Pitt returns 14 starters and 43 lettermen from last year’s youthful squad that finished 5-7. The 2017 Panthers suffered three losses by a combined 12 points.
  • A member of the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), Albany is coached by Pittsburgh native Greg Gattuso. The Great Danes are coming off a 4-7 campaign in 2017.

    *Courtesy of pittsburghpanthers.com

______________________________________________________________

 

A look at the Pitt Panthers!

Scouting the Panthers

Quarterback 

Kenny Pickett played in four games last year, making one start as a true freshman…completed 39-of-66 passes (59%) for 509 yards with one touchdown and one interception on the year. Now he is set to lead the Panthers to great heights in this second season. Gifted with a strong arm and the ability to go mobile, Pickett has the possibility of being Pitt’s best QB since Dan Marino.

Running Backs

Darrin Hall (1,045 career rushing yards) and Qadree Ollison (1,646) will give the Panthers a 1-2 punch out of the backfield. George Aston is back after missing most of 2017. Aston was a beast in 2016 finishing third on the team in scoring (tied) with 60 points on 10 touchdowns (five rushing and five receiving).

Wide Receivers

Pitt is pretty deep at WR, with Rafael-Araujo Lopes, juniors Tre Tipton, Maurice Ffrench, and Aaron Mathews, freshman Shocky Jacques-Louis, and Indiana transfer Taysir Mack, a sophomore who excelled in the Blue-Gold Game this past Spring. Mack played in 12 games, starting eight contests in 2017 for the Hoosiers…had 23 receptions for 310 yards (13.5 avg.) and three touchdowns.

Tight Ends

At tight end, sophomore Tyler Sear scored in his final two games last season and will start, but Arkansas transfer Will Gragg has really opened some eyes in camp.

Defense

Dewayne Hendrix and Rashad Weaver are solidified as Pitt’s defensive ends.

Senior Shane Roy was a starter at nose tackle last year, Amir Watts and redshirt sophomore Keyshon Camps to see time as well. Jaylen Twyman, has been pushing the whole group as a redshirt freshman.

At LB, Oluwaseun Idowu will anchor Quintin Wirginis (MLB) as a starting outside “star” linebacker, with Redshirt senior Elijah Zeise and redshirt junior Saleem Brightwell battling for the “money” spot.

Redshirt junior Dane Jackson started all 12 games last year and will assume the same duties as a starting cornerback in 2018. Redshirt senior Phillipie Motley, sophomores Damarri Mathis and Jason Pinnock, and redshirt freshman Paris Ford are all battling for that 2nd spot.

Junior Damar Hamlin starts at free safety, with Dennis Briggs and redshirt sophomore Phil Campbell battling for the starting role at strong safety.

Placekicker

Alex Kessman took over Pitt’s starting placekicking duties in his first active season…converted 11-of-19 field goals (58%) and 34-of-34 PATs (100%) for a team-high 67 points. Now he hopes to improve on those stats in year two.

Kick/Punt Return

Maurice Ffrench and Rafael Araujo-Lopes will provide the return duties for the Panthers.

Individual Stats

Quarterback

  • *Kenny Pickett (0 yards passing | 0 TD passes | 0 interceptions | 0 sacks | 0 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD)

Running Back

  • *Darrin Hall (0 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 0 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
  • Qadree Ollison (0 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 0 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
  • AJ Davis (0 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 0 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)

Fullback

  • *George Aston (0 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 0 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)

Wide Receivers

  • *Rafael Araujo-Lopes (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
  • *Aaron Matthews (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
  • *Tre Tipton (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
  • Maurice Ffrench (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
  • Shocky Jaques-Louis (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
  • Taysir Mack (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)

Tight Ends

  • *Tyler Sear (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
  • Will Gragg (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
  • Grant Carrigan (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)

Placekicker

  • Alex Kessman (Extra Point: 0-0 | FG: 0-0 | 0-19:  0-0 | 20-29:  0-0 | 30-39:  0-0 | 40-49:  0-0 | 50+:  0-0 | Long: N/A)

Kickoff Returner

  • Maurice Ffrench (0.0 Kickoff Return Average | 0 Return TD’s)

Punt Returner

  • Rafael Araujo-Lopes (0.0 Punt Return Average | 0 Return TD’s)

* Denotes Starter

 

 

 

A look at the Albany Great Danes!

Scouting the Great Danes

Quarterback

Vince Testaverde, yes, the son of former Browns QB Vinny Testaverde, takes over at QB after transferring from Miami (FL). He hasn’t appeared in a college game since 2014. Testaverde started his college career at Texas Tech in 2014, appearing in one game as a true freshman. He then transferred to his father’s alma mater, walked on and took a redshirt in 2015 and then did not attempt a pass for the Hurricanes in 2016.

Running Backs

Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks and Karl Mofor will tote the ball for Albany. Mofor had 555 yards rushing last year with six touchdowns.

Wide Receivers

Donovan McDonald leads the Great Danes at WR, He caught 29 passes last year for 339 yards and three scores. Reeves went 7-115-1 in 2017. Tadriek Johnson and Tyler Oedekoven did not record any receptions last season.

Tight Ends

L.J. Wesneski and Lukas Repetti combined for only three receptions totaling 20 yards last year.

Defense

Albany gave up an average of 17.3 points per game last year. Teams averaged 107 yards on the ground and just 175.1 through the air. Pittsburgh Native Greg Gattuso is their head coach, and he knows how to bring a nasty defense to the forefront. Against a bigger and faster Pitt team than what they usually face in FCS competition, Albany could be in for a long day.

 

Individual Stats

Quarterback

  • Vince Testaverde (0 yards passing | 0 TD passes | 0 interceptions | 0 sacks | 0 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD)

Running Back

  • Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks (0 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 0 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
  • Karl Mofor (0 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 0 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)

Wide Receivers

  • Donovan McDonald (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
  • Jerah Reeves (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
  • Tadriek Johnson  (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
  • Tyler Oedekoven (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)

Tight Ends

  • L.J. Wesneski (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
  • Lukas Repetti (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)

Placekicker

  • Ethan Stark (Extra Point: 0-0 | FG: 0-0 | 0-19:  0-0 | 20-29:  0-0 | 30-39:  0-0 | 40-49:  0-0 | 50+:  0-0 | Long: N/A)

 

______________________________________________________________

Pitt – Albany: Offense vs Defense Match-Ups

Pitt Total Offense: Pitt averages 0 YPG | Albany allows 0 YPG

Rushing: Pitt averages 0 YPG | Albany allows 0 YPG

Passing: Pitt averages 0 YPG | Albany allows 0 YPG

Scoring: Pitt averages 0 PPG | Albany allows 0 PPG

 

Pitt Total Defense: Pitt allows 0 YPG | Albany averages 0 YPG

Rushing: Pitt allows 0 YPG | Albany averages 0 YPG

Passing: Pitt allows 0 YPG | Albany averages 0 YPG

Scoring: Pitt allows 0 PPG | Albany averages 0 PPG

______________________________________________________________

Injury Report (8/30/2018)

Pitt Panthers

  • Out: N/A
  • Doubtful: N/A
  • Questionable: N/A


Albany Great Danes
 

  • Out: N/A
  • Doubtful: N/A
  • Questionable: N/A

______________________________________________________________

ACC Standings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

______________________________________________________________

Pitt Panthers 2018 Schedule

Regular Season (Overall: 0-0 |  ACC: 0-0)

Sept. 1 Albany (ACCNE) at 3:30 p.m.
Sept. 8 #10 Penn State (ABC) at 8 p.m.
Sept. 15 Georgia Tech* (RSN) at 12:30 p.m.
Sept. 22 at North Carolina* at TBA
Sept. 29 at #21 UCF at TBA
Oct. 6 Syracuse* (HC) at TBA
Oct. 13 at #12 Notre Dame (NBC) at 2:30 p.m.
Oct. 27 Duke* at TBA
Nov. 2 (Fri.) at Virginia* (ESPN2) at 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 10 #20 Virginia Tech* at TBA
Nov. 17 at Wake Forest* at TBA
Nov. 24 at #8 Miami* at TBA

*ACC game /  (HC) Homecoming  / Ranking as of that week

Bold = Home

Avatar

About Post Author

Mike Drakulich

From Midland, "The Basketball Capital of Pennsylvania", located 35 miles NW of Pittsburgh along the Ohio River. This former steel town was home to storied athletes such as Dave Alston, Norm Van Lier, Simmie Hill, and the legendary 1965 Midland High School Basketball Team. There's nowhere on earth that is more dedicated to its sports teams like Western Pennsylvania and the city of Pittsburgh. The passion and pride of Pittsburgh's fan base is second to no one. From the NFL, NHL, MLB, NCAA football and basketball, to W.P.I.A.L. high school sports, "The City of Champions" has it all! As Editor of Pittsburgh SportsNation, Mike Drakulich provides top notch opinions and coverage of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pittsburgh Pirates, Pitt Panthers football & basketball, Robert Morris Colonials basketball, and Duquesne Dukes basketball, as well as all sports teams that represent Western Pennsylvania, including WPIAL High School Football. For a refreshing view of sports, mixed with humor and uncensored opinions, check out Pittsburgh SportsNation today on Facebook, Twitter @PghSportsNation and videos with over 1,000,000 views on YouTube!
Happy
Happy
0 %
Sad
Sad
0 %
Excited
Excited
0 %
Sleepy
Sleepy
0 %
Angry
Angry
0 %
Surprise
Surprise
0 %

Author Profile

Avatar
Mike DrakulichYour source for Pittsburgh sports!
From Midland, "The Basketball Capital of Pennsylvania", located 35 miles NW of Pittsburgh along the Ohio River. This former steel town was home to storied athletes such as Dave Alston, Norm Van Lier, Simmie Hill, and the legendary 1965 Midland High School Basketball Team.

There's nowhere on earth that is more dedicated to its sports teams like Western Pennsylvania and the city of Pittsburgh. The passion and pride of Pittsburgh's fan base is second to no one. From the NFL, NHL, MLB, NCAA football and basketball, to W.P.I.A.L. high school sports, "The City of Champions" has it all!

As Editor of Pittsburgh SportsNation, Mike Drakulich provides top notch opinions and coverage of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pittsburgh Pirates, Pitt Panthers football & basketball, Robert Morris Colonials basketball, and Duquesne Dukes basketball, as well as all sports teams that represent Western Pennsylvania, including WPIAL High School Football.

For a refreshing view of sports, mixed with humor and uncensored opinions, check out Pittsburgh SportsNation today on Facebook, Twitter @PghSportsNation and videos with over 1,000,000 views on YouTube!

Average Rating

5 Star
0%
4 Star
0%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *