Pitt Panthers at Duke Blue Devils Game Preview

Pitt Panthers at Duke Blue Devils Game Preview

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 Story, Pitt’s Path to Success, Score Prediction, Game Information, a detailed breakdown of each team, Individual Stats, and Team Stats. Heck, you’ll even know the weather at kickoff! The only thing you’re missing is a game uniform!



The Pitt Panther defense has come out attacking all season long. They have gotten to the quarterback 24 times in 2019, and Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi would like nothing better than to see that trend continue vs the Duke Blue Devils, who with the explosive Quentin Harris under center, have given up just one sack this season.

“So, they’re getting the ball out quick, out of the quarterback’s hands, and they’re not taking negative plays,” Narduzzi said.

Narduzzi has preached since the Spring Game, that stats are just stats, and you have to hit the reset button every week.

“You’re only as good as your last week,” he said. “Right now, when I look at that tape, I get sick and I think we’re a crappy defense, so we’ll find out what we get this weekend, and we’ll evaluate them week by week, and then at the end of the year we’ll find out who we’ve got.”

Pitt would like to add to their takeaway totals, of which they only have two in five games.

The defensive coaches have been working the team hard in practice this week, even implementing a little punishment for missed opportunities.

“If it touches your hand, you might as well go do 10 push-ups right now,” safeties coach Cory Sanders said of any opposing passes that even grazes a defender’s hand. “We harp on it daily. We harp on it in the film room.”

The players are taught to be aggressive through the end of the play, and take nothing for granted.

“Go get that ball,” Sanders said he tells his players. “We call that loose change. If the ball’s on the ground, it’s ours.

“We make that a strong point of emphasis.”

And like in Full Metal Jacket, when one gets punished, all get punished.

“If you don’t get interceptions, you do pushups and they do that as a group,” Sanders said.

Hopefully no one will get the soap in the towel treatment any time soon…

With pressure, and continued instruction, the turnovers should increase, sooner than later.

Despite playing the likes of Virginia, Penn State, and UCF, Pitt’s defense is ranked 38th in points against, allowing just 21 points per game. They are 48th against the pass and 17th vs the run.

The secondary has been excellent, blanketing most opposing receivers, which helps the defense collect those 24 take-downs.

“Their first and second reads weren’t there,” Sanders said, “and by that time, you better block our D-linemen or they’re going to be on you. Those guys up front, they are playing with great fundamentals, technique and getting after those O-linemen and quarterbacks.

“I think (the defensive backs) have done a good job downfield just continuing to get better with our eyes and technique. I thought we did pretty good last week, when the quarterback broke the pocket, of just locking on downfield, making sure we’re staying with our wide receivers.”

The Panthers are hoping they will enter Saturday night playing with a full deck, as last week vs Delaware, QB Kenny Pickett missed the game with a shoulder injury, as did A.J. Davis, Vincent Davis, Chris Pine, Jason Pinnock, and Elias Reynolds. That’s in addition to Rashad Weaver, Keyshon Camp and Tre Tipton all being lost for the year.

Todd Sibley made the most of his opportunity and rushed for 106 yards.

Still, Pitt would like to have all their weapons available in a pivotal match-up.

One weapon that will definitely be playing is defensive lineman Jaylen Twyman, who was named Outland Trophy National Defensive Player of the Month for September. Twyman was selected by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).


Pitt’s Path to Success

  1. Get to Quentin Harris: He is the straw that stirs Duke’s drink. He has only been sacked once this year. Introduce a little pain to his day.
  2. Gang tackle: Duke has a lot of playmakers. It is imperative Pitt’s defense surrounds the ball and gang tackles with ferocity.
  3. Continue offensive progress: Be versatile, aggressive, and find a little balance between the passing and running attacks.
  4. Break a big return: Maurice Ffrench is due for a long return…. this might be the week we see it.



Kenny Pickett will be under center when the Panthers take on the Duke Blue Devils. That should jump-start the offense again and turn those yards they gained last week into points on the scoreboard. Despite only scoring 17 points last week vs Delaware, Pitt out-gained the Blue Hens 443-170.

“Kenny is back, ready to go,” said Narduzzi, who rarely ever comments on injured players. “I’ll talk about guys I know for sure will play. And Kenny will play.

“He’s 100 percent. He looks great.”

That is great news for a team that may have to put up some points in this one, as Duke averages 33.5 points per game… then again the Blue Devils haven’t faced a defense quite like Pitt possesses either.

Stopping QB Quentin Harris is priority #1, and if the defense plays up to it’s standards, then Harris will be in for a bit of a shock, as he has rarely been touched all year, as evident by the Devils giving up just one sack all year with Harris in the game.

Harris doesn’t throw deep often, averaging just ten yards a pass, so the defense will have to be ready for quick passes to receivers and backs in motion. Like against UCF, Pitt’s defenders need to swarm the ball carrier and gang tackle.

Pitt had a little bit of a hangover last week after it’s huge win vs #15 UCF, and when five other players who play key roles sat out, the Panthers didn’t play quite up to par.

This week is different. It’s a Coastal Division game played in Prime Time, and Pitt will be amped to prove their doubters wrong yet again…

Pitt 31 Duke 24



Game Information

Pitt Panthers at Duke Blue Devils

  • Venue: Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, NC. | Field: Natural Grass
  • Game-time: Saturday, October 5th, at 8:00 p.m. ET
  • Game Tickets Link
  • TV: ACC Network | Announcers: Dave O’Brien (play-by-play) Tim Hasselbeck (analyst) | Katie George (reporter)
  • Local Radio: Pittsburgh- 93.7 The Fan | Announcers: Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play) Pat Bostick (analyst) | Larry Richert (reporter)
  • Online Radio: 937thefan.radio.com
  • Sirius XM Satellite Radio: Sirius Channel 136, XM Channel 194, Internet Channel 956
  • Weather at Kickoff: 70 and partly cloudy. Winds E 5-10 mph.
  • Vegas Line: Duke -5.5



Pitt Panthers vs Duke Blue Devils History

Series History: Began in 1929

Pitt is 14-9 overall vs Duke

  • At Home: 6-5
  • On Road: 7-4
  • Neutral Site: 0-0
  • ACC Series: 5-1
  • Streak: Pitt has won last four meetings.
  • Last Regular Season Meeting: Oct. 27, 2018 (Pitt 54, Duke 45)


Did You Know?* 

  • The Panthers’ trip to Durham marks the first of seven consecutive ACC games to close the regular season.
  • Pitt is looking to gain traction in the Coastal race with its first ACC win. Duke is 1-0 in ACC play following a 45-10 victory at Virginia Tech last week.
  • Over his initial four years as Pitt’s head coach (2015-18), Pat Narduzzi led the Panthers to the third-best record in ACC play with a 20-12 mark. Only Clemson (30-2) and Miami (21-11) achieved better ACC records during that span.
  • The Panthers lead the ACC and rank second in the nation with 24 quarterback sacks (4.80 per game). Sophomore defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman leads Pitt’s pass rush with an ACC-best six sacks.
  • The Panthers boast the most productive pass-catching duo in the country. Senior Maurice Ffrench (40) and junior Taysir Mack (32) have combined for 72 receptions this season, the most of any Football Bowl Subdivision receiving duo.

    *Courtesy of pittsburghpanthers.com



A look at the Pitt Panthers!

Overall Record: 3-2 | ACC Record: 0-1 | Rank: N/A

Head Coach: Pat Narduzzi (5th Season with Pitt)

  • Lifetime Record: 31-26 (.543)

2019 Pitt Panthers Roster

Pitt Team Statistics / Defensive Stats

Previous Game: Pitt 17 Delaware 14


Scouting the Panthers

OFFENSE (Pro Style)



Kenny Pickett*

Tough kid, good arm, and getting better each week under Mark Whipple’s offense. Utilizes his legs well and scrambles for extra yards.

  • Passing Yards: 1,102
  • TD Passes: 3
  • Interceptions: 2
  • Sacks: 9
  • Yards Rushing: 83
  • Rushing TD’s: 0
  • Receptions: 1
  • Receiving Yards: 3
  • Receiving TD’s: 1

Nick Patti

Filled in well for Pickett when he was out for the Delaware game.

  • Passing Yards: 287
  • TD Passes: 3
  • Interceptions: 1
  • Sacks: 0
  • Yards Rushing: 24
  • Rushing TD’s: 0



Running Backs

A.J. Davis*

Talented ball carrier who is dangerous on the ground and through the air, especially on screens.

  • Yards Rushing: 184
  • Rushing TD’s: 2
  • Receptions: 12
  • Yards Receiving: 179
  • Receiving TD’s: 0

Vincent Davis

The ultra quick Vincent Davis looks to utilize his speed  and agility to be a game-breaker for the Panthers.

  • Yards Rushing: 96
  • Rushing TD’s: 2
  • Receptions: 1
  • Yards Receiving: 0
  • Receiving TD’s: 0

Todd Sibley, Jr.

Like his fellow back Davis, yearning for a breakout season toting the rock for the Panthers.

  • Yards Rushing: 132
  • Rushing TD’s: 1
  • Receptions: 2
  • Yards Receiving: 18
  • Receiving TD’s: 0


Wide Receivers

Maurice Ffrench*

One of the best returners in the game. Looking to take his receiving game to the next level in 2019.

  • Receptions: 40
  • Receiving Yards: 342
  • Receiving TD’s: 2

Taysir Mack*

Runs great routes and makes the big catches in traffic.

  • Receptions: 32
  • Receiving Yards: 426
  • Receiving TD’s: 1

Aaron Mathews*

Great blocker who would like to incorporate a few more catches intro his arsenal. Part time QB…

  • Receptions: 6
  • Receiving Yards: 87
  • Receiving TD’s: 0

Tre Tipton

Injured and out for the season.

  • Receptions: 7
  • Receiving Yards: 81
  • Receiving TD’s: 1

Dontavius Butler-Jenkins

Butler-Jenkins has stepped up his game in the absence of the injured Tre Tipton.

  • Receptions: 5
  • Receiving Yards: 52
  • Receiving TD’s: 1

V’lique Carter

Versatile player who also moonlights as a RB and at cornerback. Special athlete.

  • Receptions: 7
  • Receiving Yards: 48
  • Receiving TD’s: 1
  • Yards Rushing: 75
  • Rushing TD’s: 0

Shocky Jaques-Louis

Has all the talent in the world. Will this be the year he displays all of it. Starts season not listed on the Two-Deep roster…

  • Receptions: 0
  • Receiving Yards: 0
  • Receiving TD’s: 0
  • Yards Rushing: 9
  • Rushing TD’s: 0



Tight Ends

Nakia Griffin-Stewart*

Physical player. A graduate transfer from Rutgers who will have one season of immediate eligibility at Pitt.

  • Receptions: 8
  • Receiving Yards: 81
  • Receiving TD’s: 0

Will Gragg

Becoming a very reliable target across the middle for Kenny Pickett.

  • Receptions: 11
  • Receiving Yards:71
  • Receiving TD’s: 0

Grant Carrigan

  • Receptions: 0
  • Receiving Yards: 0
  • Receiving TD’s: 0

*Denotes Starter


Left Tackle: Carter Warren

Left Guard: Bryce Hargrove

Center: Jimmy Morrissey

Right Guard: Gabe Houy

Right Tackle: Nolan Ulizio


DEFENSE (Base 4-3)

Defensive End: Patrick Jones II

Defensive Tackle: Jaylen Twyman

Defensive Tackle: Amir Watts/Devin Danielson

Defensive End: Deslin Alexandre

Money LB: Kylan Johnson

Mike LB: Saleem Brightwell/Elias Reynolds

Star LB: Cam Bright/Phil Campbell III

Cornerback: Dane Jackson

Strong Safety: Paris Ford

Free Safety: Damar Hamlin

Cornerback: Jason Pinnock/Damarri Mathis




Alex Kessman

Needs to find his confidence. Can’t miss field goals under 30 yards… period. 

  • Extra Points: 12-12
  • FG: 4-10
  • 0-19:  0-1 | 20-29:  3-3 | 30-39:  0-1 | 40-49:  1-3 | 50+:  0-2
  • Long: 41



Kirk Christodoulou

  • Yards per Punt: 44.2


Kickoff Returner

Maurice Ffrench

Ffrench averaged 27.4 yards per return last year with two touchdowns.

  • Yards per Kickoff Return: 23.0
  • Return TD’s: 0


Punt Returner

Maurice Ffrench

  • Yards per Kickoff Return: 3.5
  • Return TD’s: 0



Pitt Injury Report (10/3/19)

  • Out: DL Rashad Weaver (ACL), DE Keyshon Camp (Knee), WR Tre Tipton (knee)
  • Doubtful: None
  • Questionable: LB Elias Reynolds, LB Chase Pine, DB Jason Pinnock, LB Albert Tucker, WR Will Gipson
  • Probable: QB Kenny Pickett



A look at the Duke Blue Devils!

Overall Record: 3-1 | ACC Record: 1-0 | Rank: N/A

Head Coach: David Cutcliffe (12th Season with Duke)

  • Lifetime Record: 114-102 (.527) | 70-73 (.489) with Duke

2019 Duke Blue Devils Roster

Duke Team Statistics, including Defensive Stats

Previous Game: Duke 45 Virginia Tech 10

Scouting the Blue Devils

OFFENSE (Multiple Sets)


Quentin Harris*

Harris can do it all, from quick passing to taking off and running when needed. Has been sacked only once in 2019. Likes short and accurate passes.

  • Passing Yards: 842
  • TD Passes: 10
  • Interceptions: 2
  • Sacks: 1
  • Yards Rushing: 303
  • Rushing TD’s: 2



Running Backs

Deon Jackson*

Jackson is the top option for Duke at RB.

  • Yards Rushing: 232
  • Rushing TD’s: 2
  • Receptions: 10
  • Yards Receiving: 64
  • Receiving TD’s: 1


Mateo Durant

  • Yards Rushing: 122
  • Rushing TD’s: 1
  • Receptions: 9
  • Yards Receiving: 108
  • Receiving TD’s: 1



Wide Receivers

Jalon Calhoun*

Duke’s #1 wide receiver, will test the secondary with his agility to make defenders to miss in open space. 

  • Receptions: 18
  • Receiving Yards: 159
  • Receiving TD’s: 3


Aaron Young*

  • Receptions: 12
  • Receiving Yards: 159
  • Receiving TD’s: 2


Scott Bracey

  • Receptions: 7
  • Receiving Yards: 106
  • Receiving TD’s: 0


Eli Pancol

  • Receptions: 2
  • Receiving Yards: 50
  • Receiving TD’s: 2


Tight Ends

Noah Gray*

Gray leads the team with 22 receptions. He is Harris’ favorite target and safety blanket. 

  • Receptions: 22
  • Receiving Yards: 172
  • Receiving TD’s: 2

*Denotes Starter



DEFENSE (Base 4-2-5)

Solid defense that has played well all season. Giving up just over 20 points and 339.8 total yards per contest.





A.J. Reed

  • Extra Points: 17-17
  • FG: 5-5
  • 0-19:  0-0 | 20-29:  1-1 | 30-39: 2-2 | 40-49:  1-1 | 50+:  1-1
  • Long: 50



Duke Injury Report (10/3/19)

  • Out: RB Brittain Brown (Shoulder), TE Jake Marwede (Knee)
  • Doubtful: None
  • Questionable: None
  • Probable: None




Total Yards per game 

  • Pitt: 404.4
  • Duke: 415.8

Passing Yards per game

  • Pitt: 278.4
  • Duke: 221.5

Rushing Yards per game

  • Pitt: 126
  • Duke: 194.3

Points per game

  • Pitt: 19.2
  • Duke: 33.5


Total Yards per game allowed

  • Pitt: 300.8
  • Duke: 339.8

Passing Yards per game allowed

  • Pitt: 209
  • Duke: 199.8

Rushing Yards per game allowed

  • Pitt: 91.8
  • Duke: 140

Points Allowed

  • Pitt: 21
  • Duke: 20.8


Defensive Stats


  • Sacks: 24
  • Interceptions: 2
  • Fumbles: 0


  • Sacks: 10
  • Interceptions: 1
  • Fumbles: 4



ACC Standings


Pitt Panthers 2019 Schedule

Regular Season: Overall: 3-2 |  ACC: 0-1

August 31: Virginia* (ACCN), L- 30-14
September 7: Ohio (ACCN), W- 20-10
September 14: at #13 Penn State, L- 17-10
September 21: #15 UCF, W- 35-34
September 28: Delaware, W- 17-14
October 5: at Duke*, (ACC Network) 8:00 p.m.
October 18: (Friday) at Syracuse* (ESPN), 7 p.m.
October 26: Miami* (HC), TBA
November 2: at Georgia Tech*, TBA
November 14: (Thursday) North Carolina* (ESPN), 8 p.m.
November 23: at Virginia Tech*, TBA
November 30: Boston College*, TBA

*ACC game | (HC) Homecoming | Bold = Home Game


Author Profile

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.

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