Welcome to the most comprehensive Pitt Panthers Game Day 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, and Team Stats. Heck, you’ll even know the weather at kickoff! The only thing you’re missing is a game uniform!
PITT HOPING TO END THEIR NORTH CAROLINA WOES
Every team has it’s Michael Myers. The North Carolina Tar Heels are just that to Pitt in football.
The Tar Heels have a five game winning streak against the Panthers, who enter the contest 2-1 overall, 1-0 in ACC play. If there was ever a better time to end the UNC Jinx, it’s this Saturday at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill, where UNC brings an 0-2 record to the table.
Since joining the ACC in 2013, Pitt hasn’t defeated North Carolina yet, with losses of seven, five, seven, one and three points.
What is it when Pitt plays UNC?
“If I had to tell you why, I’d be real controversial and probably be on ESPN,” Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said. “But we have to find a way to win, period. And the past doesn’t really matter. This football team is different than the last and the last and the last. We have a real challenge going down to play in Chapel Hill. Our guys have to be ready.
“They do a great job on offense and defense. The trend is they’re playing better football than we are, winning the game. And other trends that we won’t discuss.”
One thing Pitt had better address if they do hope to leave North Carolina with a victory is putting up some points in the 2nd half. In their first three games, the Panther offense has scored a grand total of three points in six quarters of play.
This was never an issue in the past, as Pitt teams have failed to score a second-half touchdown in only three of 38 games during the Narduzzi Era.
“Why? Is it a lack of focus? What is it?” Narduzzi said.
Pitt has converted 43% of their third downs in the first half, but only 25% in the 2nd.
“We have to be sharper on third down and look at what we’re doing there,” Narduzzi continued. “We’re not making plays, we’re doing the wrong things, dropping the ball, whatever it may be. We’re not executing. We better figure it out. We better get the second half woes of execution out of our system, or it’s going to be hard every week. Something is wrong.”
Pitt Keys to Victory
- Open Up the Passing Game
- Play 60 Minutes
- Ball Security
- Harrass Nathan Elliott
- Create Turnovers
In Pitt’s first three games, Qadree Ollison is fifth in the ACC, averaging 94.3 yards per game. He rushed for 73 against Albany, 119 against Penn State and 91 against Georgia Tech.
He will be a big factor if Pitt is to break their five game skid vs North Carolina.
Why is Ollison churning up yards again as he did three years ago when James Conner went down to injury and cancer?
Narduzzi attributes it to maturity as a running back and seeing the whole field as he takes the ball.
“Reading it faster, maturity, knowing what he’s doing better, not confused,” the coach said. “And it comes down to vision, and that takes repetition. He’s getting a lot of reps, and he’s been good. And so is Darrin Hall. I was impressed with how he ran and how hard he ran.”
With UNC giving up 190 yards per game, Ollison, Hall, and A.J. Davis should be licking their chops in this match-up.
It’s also time for Kenny Pickett to start hitting his receivers in stride and getting rid of the ball on time. He waited an extra step or two on a trick play last week vs Georgia Tech, and the throw resulted in an interception, instead of an easy touchdown if the ball was thrown when it should have been.
Pitt’s defense was able to contain Georgia Tech’s vaunted triple-option, so unless the Panthers get a big head, the D should be able to keep UNC’s offense in check, as Tar Heel QB Nathan Elliott has struggled during the 2018 slate. Elliot has just one TD to go with four interceptions.
Look for the Panthers to finally put UNC in their place and improve to 2-0 in the ACC, gaining some momentum to open some eyes next week when they travel to Florida to face the #16 ranked Central Florida Knights in Orlando.
Pitt 31 UNC 17
NCAA Week 4
Pitt Panthers vs North Carolina Tar Heels
Venue: Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC.
Game-time: Saturday, September 22nd, 12:20 pm
TV: ABC (WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh) | Announcers: Tom Werme (play-by-play) Dave Archer (analyst) | Lericia Harris (reporter)
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: XM Channel 380, Internet Channel 965
Weather at Kickoff: 86 with a 40% chance of storms later in the day.
Vegas Line: Pitt -3.5
Pitt vs North Carolina History
- Series History: Began in 1974
- Pitt is 3-9 in the series vs UNC
- Pitt is 0-5 at home at UNC
- Streak: UNC has won last 5 games
- Last Regular Season Meeting: Sept. 24, 2016 (UNC 37 Pitt 36)
- Since 2013, North Carolina is the only team in the Coastal that Pitt has not beaten. The Panthers are 0-5 against the Tar Heels in ACC play. North Carolina also leads the overall series, 9-3.
- Sophomore defensive end Rashad Weaver is tied for the national lead with three fumble recoveries on the young season. Weaver recovered two fumbles against Penn State and one last week in the Georgia Tech win.
- Senior tailback Qadree Ollison is averaging 94.3 rushing yards per game. Ollison had a season-high 119 yards against Penn State and netted 91 last week against Georgia Tech. For the year, he has totaled 283 yards on 45 carries (6.3 avg.) and three touchdowns.
*Courtesy of pittsburghpanthers.com
A look at the Pitt Panthers!
- Overall Record: 2-1 | ACC Record: 1-0 | Rank: N/A
- Head Coach: Pat Narduzzi (4th Season with Pitt)
- Lifetime Record: 23-18 (.560)
- 2018 Pitt Panthers Roster
- Pitt Team Statistics, including Defensive Stats
- Last Week: Pitt 24 Georgia Tech 19
Scouting the Panthers
Kenny Pickett played in four games last year, making one start as a true freshman. Gifted with a strong arm and accurate arm and the ability to run with the ball, Pickett has the possibility of being Pitt’s best QB since Dan Marino.
Darrin Hall (1,045 career rushing yards) and Qadree Ollison (1,646) will give the Panthers a 1-2 punch out of the backfield. Consider Hall lightning to Ollison’s thunder. George Aston is back at fullback 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). A.J. Davis will see plenty of time as well, and is excellent out of the backfield catching short passes from Pickett. Don’t be surprised if Davis becomes the #1 back before the end of the season.
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.
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.
Look for the versatile Paris Ford to see snaps at H-Back for the Panthers as Jordan Whitehead was known to do for the past two years. Ford is a threat to make a difference every time he touches the ball.
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 is the starting outside “star” linebacker. Quintin Wirginis is your starter in the middle, 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.
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 looks to improve on those stats in year two.
Maurice Ffrench and Rafael Araujo-Lopes will provide the return duties for the Panthers. Ffrench returned the opening kickoff vs Albany, 97 yards to the house.
- Kenny Pickett (406 yards passing | 2 TD passes | 3 interceptions | 4 sacks | 80 yards rushing | 1 rushing TD)
- Qadree Ollison (283 yards rushing | 3 rushing TD’s | 2 receptions | 3 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
- AJ Davis (84 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 2 receptions | 19 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Darrin Hall (79 yards rushing | 1 rushing TD’s | 1 receptions | 4 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
- George Aston (-2 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 5 receptions | 36 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Taysir Mack (8 receptions | 148 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Rafael Araujo-Lopes (9 receptions | 95 receiving yards | 2 receiving TD’s | 17 yards rushing | 0 TD’s)
- Shocky Jaques-Louis (3 receptions | 24 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s | 69 yards rushing | 0 TD’s)
- Tre Tipton (2 receptions | 14 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Aaron Matthews (2 receptions | 21 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Maurice Ffrench (1 receptions | 4 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s | 18 yards rushing | 1 TD’s)
- Paris Ford (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s | 0 yards rushing | 0 TD’s)
- Tyler Sear (1 receptions | 3 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Jim Medure (1 receptions | 15 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Will Gragg (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Alex Kessman (Extra Point: 6-8 | FG: 1-2 | 0-19: 0-0 | 20-29: 0-0 | 30-39: 1-2 | 40-49: 0-0 | 50+: 0-0 | Long: 33)
- Maurice Ffrench (30.0 yards per kickoff return | 1 return TD’s)
- Rafael Araujo-Lopes (12.0 yards per punt return | 0 return TD’s)
A look at the North Carolina Tar Heels!
- Overall Record: 0-2 | ACC Record: 0-1 | Rank: N/A
- Head Coach: Larry Fedora (11th Season with UNC)
- Lifetime Record: 77-55 (.583) | 43-36 (.544) at UNC
- 2018 North Carolina Tar Heels Roster
- UNC Team Statistics, including Defensive Stats
- Last Week: East Carolina 41 North Carolina 19
Scouting the Tar Heels
Nathan Elliott hasn’t gotten his game going so far in 2018. Through two games, he has only passed for 256 yards and one TD, and has tossed four interceptions.
Antonio Williams is the lead back with Jordan Brown seeing time as his back-up. Brown does have five receptions out of the backfield.
Anthony Ratliff-Williams and Dazz Newsome seem to be UNC’s top receivers, with Rontavius Groves and Dyami Brown in on multiple receiver sets.
Jake Bargas is more of a decoy and blocker than a pass catcher, as evidenced by him having just one catch on the year for 18 yards.
UNC’s defense was torched in their last game vs East Carolina 41-19. For the year, they are giving up an average of 32.5 points per game. UNC is giving up 190 yards on the ground.
- Nathan Elliott (256 yards passing | 1 TD passes | 4 interceptions | 0 sacks | 59 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD)
- Antonio Williams (143 yards rushing | 1 rushing TD’s | 2 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Jordan Brown (94 yards rushing | 1 rushing TD’s | 5 receptions | 45 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Anthony Ratliff-Williams (7 receptions | 146 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s)
- Dazz Newsome (5 receptions | 22 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Rontavius Groves (3 receptions | 54 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Dyami Brown (3 receptions | 24 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Jake Bargas (1 receptions | 18 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Freeman Jones (Extra Point: 3-3 | FG: 5-5 | 0-19: 0-0 | 20-29: 0-0 | 30-39: 1-1 | 40-49: 4-4 | 50+: 0-0 | Long: 49)
Pitt – UNC: Offense vs Defense Match-Ups
Pitt Total Offense: Pitt averages 347.3 YPG | North Carolina allows 394.5 YPG
Rushing: Pitt averages 207 YPG | North Carolina allows 190 YPG
Passing: Pitt averages 140.3 YPG | North Carolina allows 204.5 YPG
Scoring: Pitt averages 21 PPG | North Carolina allows 32.5 PPG
Pitt Total Defense: Pitt allows 366.3 YPG | North Carolina averages 348 YPG
Rushing: Pitt allows 197 YPG | North Carolina averages 162.5 YPG
Passing: Pitt allows 169.3 YPG | North Carolina averages 185.5 YPG
Scoring: Pitt allows 25.7 PPG | North Carolina averages 18 PPG
Injury Report (9/20/2018)
- Out: N/A
- Doubtful: N/A
- Questionable: PK Jake Scarton (Undisclosed)
North Carolina Tar Heels
- Out: N/A
- Doubtful: N/A
- Questionable: DT Aaron Crawford (Knee), S Myles Dorn (Leg)
Pitt Panthers 2018 Schedule
Regular Season (Overall: 2-1 | ACC: 1-0)
Sept. 1 Albany (ACCNE) | W- 33-7
Sept. 8 #10 Penn State (ABC) | L- 51-6
Sept. 15 Georgia Tech* (RSN) | W- 24-19
Sept. 22 at North Carolina* at 12:20 p.m.
Sept. 29 at #16 UCF at 3:30 p.m.
Oct. 6 Syracuse* (HC) at TBA
Oct. 13 at #8 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 #13 Virginia Tech* at TBA
Nov. 17 at Wake Forest* at TBA
Nov. 24 at #21 Miami* at TBA
*ACC game / (HC) Homecoming / Ranking as of that week
Bold = Homet
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.
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