ACC

Pitt Panthers at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Preview

Pitt Panthers

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 (@SportsNationPIT) 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, including individual stats, team stats, and team injury reports. Heck, you’ll even know the weather at kickoff! The only thing you’re missing is a game uniform!

 

ACC COASTAL TITLE STILL A POSSIBILITY AS PITT TRAVELS TO GEORGIA TECH

Last Saturday at Heinz Field did not go as planned by Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi.

The Panthers had been on a roll since dropping a heart breaker to their rivals across the state 17-10. They were favored by 5.5 points and it was Homecoming. Honestly, gazing down the schedule, Pitt seemingly would not find itself an underdog in any remaining game on their schedule. All they had to do was keep winning and wait till Virginia tripped up and the ACC Coastal would be theirs for a second year in a row.

But…

“Tough one for our kids, tough one to swallow,” he said Monday during his weekly news conference. “Not only Saturday after the game but even Sunday. As you watch the tape, didn’t play our best ballgame, and for whatever reason sometimes that happens.”

To add salt into the wounds of a fresh loss, Virginia would indeed lose later that day.

“I don’t know what it was. Again, give Miami credit,” he said. “They’re a good football team, top-15 defense in the country, and I think anytime you face that, you’re going to come up against some things.”

So, the Panthers find themselves in the same position as they were in last week. They are favored by 7.5 as they head down to Atlanta to face the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, who are 2-5 overall, and 1-3 in the ACC.

That one win was against Miami…

With the ACC Coastal still a possibility, the Panthers need to learn from last week and play each game as if it’s their last.

“I think adversity if you’ve got a bunch of tough guys, which we do, that’s easier than handling the success that you have at times, and we had some success,” Narduzzi said. “We figured we’re going to find a way to get it done, and sometimes you just are one step behind, one play behind and don’t get it done. Who knows?

“Sometimes you’ve got to get slapped upside the face to figure it out, and, hopefully, they felt it. It didn’t feel good, and we have to respond.”

The defense has played superb. It’s the offense that has been plagued by questionable play-calling, lack of killer instinct, and brutal dropped passes.

“At the end, we got an opportunity to make probably three catches in that two-minute situation and don’t,” Narduzzi said. “We got a chance in that four-minute situation, which we’ve talked — it seems like — all year about, practicing those situations at the end of games, and again, obviously we failed in both those opportunities.”

Pitt tight ends coach Tim Salem is doing his best to correct these mistakes by his receivers.

“We catch a lot of balls,” he said.

That, though, has been in practice. What about the crucial drops that have plagued this team all season?

“If I start making an issue of it, you start writing in the newspaper. The kids start reading it. I got a problem,” said Salem.

“Now, we’re talking negative. You’re thinking negative. I’m thinking negative. You’re writing negative. That kid’s reading negative. Negative. That’s the way it is in life.

“How about some damn compliments and positive stuff and just build on that and everything else feels good? That’s how I’m looking at it.

“If I start making it a problem, it is a problem.”

Despite the miscues which clearly drive him crazy, coach Salem can only try to teach positive thoughts.

“Whether you drop one pass, two passes or 100 passes, you can’t let plays get away from you,” he said. “That’s just so many yards you could have gained.”

Hopefully the message Salem is trying to teach will be embraced by his players.

“I would say since a couple weeks ago — through our head coach right on down — it’s very positive, very full-speed, let’s stay focused on the moment,” he said. “Something screws up, just keep going.

“We went to practice (Tuesday), and there was a lot of juice and energy, which is nice. Coaching is fun. So good. We’ll get it figured out.”

 

Pitt’s Path to Success

  1. Learn from last week: Tough loss to swallow, but time to live and learn.
  2. Get that swag back: Feed off of the energy of the defense, which should come out swarming against Georgia Tech.
  3. More takeaways: One area this defense can improve upon is turnovers. Be aggressive and attack the ball.
  4. Catch the damn ball: Drops have plagued this team all season. Watch the ball into your hands. It’s not that complicated.

 

Prediction

Gone is Paul Johnson’s triple option attack, in is Geoff Collins and his spread option offense.

“We don’t have to go through the unique task of preparing for the triple option,” Pitt linebackers coach Harley said. “We don’t have to go off the reservation to find a triple option defense.”

Still, Collins’ offense is starting to find it’s mark after seven games.

“They’re getting better and better and better. They’re finding their way as they transition to that new scheme,” Harley said. “What we need to do is keep it simple and play fast.”

Pitt’s defense has been up to the task all season long. Georgia Tech has some fast players, but so did Miami, and Pitt held The U to just 208 total yards.

It’s time for the offense to rise up and take control, especially with just four games left, and the possibility of the ACC Coastal crown still within reach, especially the rushing attack, which will likely be without the services of Todd Sibely, who led the Panthers in rushing last week vs Miami with 54 yards.

“I liked what I saw out of him,” the coach said of Sibley. “He’s big, physical and he was running hard and running with a little bit of attitude and confidence.”

Now it will be up to A.J. Davis, Vincent Davis, and V’lique Carter to shoulder the load.

“He might not be our short-yardage back, but I like what he does in there,” Narduzzi said of Carter. “He can run on the outside and go, but if he hits a hole inside, it’s just a matter of time when he hits one and it’s gone.

“If he hits one and there are some holes like Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall had last year, he’s going to be gone. Now, is he going to break a million tackles? But I do like how physical he was, regardless of his size. There are a lot of guys that size in the NFL that run hard.

“He’s starting to figure it out. It takes time to figure out how to play with your pads down, and you can be small and still be physical.”

With the Yellow Jackets inability to stop a rush of 1st graders on their way to a candy table, Saturday will be a good time to see what Pitt’s RB’s can produce when given the chance. Tech is giving up 226.3 yards per game on the ground.

Pitt 31 Georgia Tech 14

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Game Information

Pitt Panthers at Georgia Tech

  • Venue: Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, GA. | Field: Natural Grass
  • Game-time: Saturday, November 2nd, at 4:00 p.m. ET
  • Game Tickets Link
  • TV: AT&T SportsNet | Announcers: Tom Werme (play-by-play) James Bates (analyst) | Kelsey Wingert (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: XM Channel 384, Internet Channel 975
  • Weather at Kickoff: 55 with a 45% chance of rain. Winds E, 5-10 mph
  • Vegas Line: Pitt -7.5

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Pitt vs Georgia Tech History

Series History: Began in 1918

Pitt is 8-5 overall vs Georgia Tech

  • At Home: 5-1
  • On Road: 3-2
  • Neutral Site: 0-2
  • ACC Series: 3-3
  • Streak: Pitt won last meeting.
  • Last Regular Season Meeting: Sept. 15, 2018 (Pitt 24, Georgia Tech 19)

 

Did You Know?* 

  • The Panthers are in the midst of a remarkable string of tight games. Each of their past six contests has been decided by one score—an average margin of 4.2 points per game. Pitt is 4-2 during this stretch.
  • Pitt’s defense is playing at its highest level in recent memory. Pitt ranks among the nation’s top 25 units in no fewer than seven defensive categories. Pitt is surrendering just 291 yards per game to rank 14th nationally in total defense.
  • Pitt boasts the country’s top pass rush. The Panthers lead the nation in total sacks (38) and sacks per contest (4.75). Defensive end Patrick Jones II and tackle Jaylen Twyman lead Pitt with seven sacks each.
  • The Panthers have the most productive pass-catching duo in the country. Maurice Ffrench (64) and Taysir Mack (48) have combined for 112 receptions this season, the most of any Football Bowl Subdivision receiving duo.
  • A win at Georgia Tech would give the Panthers a sixth victory on the season, earning them bowl eligibility. Pitt has gone bowling in 15 of the past 19 seasons since 2000.

    *Courtesy of pittsburghpanthers.com

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Pitt

Scouting the Pitt Panthers!

Overall Record: 5-3 | ACC Record: 2-2 | Rank: N/A

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

  • Lifetime Record: 33-27 (.555)

2019 Pitt Panthers Roster

Pitt Team Statistics

Previous Game: Miami 16 Pitt 12

 

OFFENSE (Pro Style)

Quarterbacks

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: 1,748

  • TD Passes: 8
  • Interceptions: 6
  • Sacks: 19

Yards Rushing: 81

  • 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: 332

  • Rushing TD’s: 3

Receptions: 17

  • Yards Receiving: 209
  • 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: 112

  • Rushing TD’s: 2

Receptions: 1

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

Todd Sibley, Jr.

Has done well when his number has been called.

Yards Rushing: 249

  • Rushing TD’s: 0

Receptions: 2

  • Yards Receiving: 18
  • Receiving TD’s: 0

 

Wide Receivers

Maurice Ffrench*

Once one of the best returners in the game. Has taken his receiving game to the next level in 2019.

Receptions: 64

  • Receiving Yards: 535
  • Receiving TD’s: 3

Taysir Mack*

Runs great routes and makes the big catches in traffic.

Receptions: 48

  • Receiving Yards: 563
  • Receiving TD’s: 2

Aaron Mathews*

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

Receptions: 10

  • Receiving Yards: 170
  • Receiving TD’s: 1

V’lique Carter

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

Receptions: 11

  • Receiving Yards: 130
  • Receiving TD’s: 2
  • Yards Rushing: 170
  • Rushing TD’s: 0

Dontavius Butler-Jenkins

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

Receptions: 6

  • Receiving Yards: 65
  • Receiving TD’s: 1

Shocky Jaques-Louis

Has all the talent in the world. Being implemented into the passing attack more each week.

Receptions: 5

  • Receiving Yards: 50
  • Receiving TD’s: 0

Yards Rushing: 36

  • Rushing TD’s: 0

Tre Tipton

Injured and out for the season.

Receptions: 7

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

 

Tight Ends

Nakia Griffin-Stewart*

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

Receptions: 11

  • Receiving Yards: 105
  • Receiving TD’s: 1

Will Gragg

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

Receptions: 13

  • Receiving Yards: 88
  • Receiving TD’s: 0

*Denotes Starter

OFFENSIVE LINE

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/Chase Pine

Star LB: Phil Campbell III/Cam Bright

Cornerback: Dane Jackson

Strong Safety: Paris Ford

Free Safety: Damar Hamlin

Cornerback: Damarri Mathis/Jason Pinnock

 

SPECIAL TEAMS

Placekicker

Alex Kessman

Had some early misses, but has been back on track since the UCF game. 

Extra Points: 18-19

FG: 12-18

  • 0-19:  0-1 | 20-29:  6-6 | 30-39:  2-3 | 40-49:  3-5 | 50+:  1-3
  • Long: 54

 

Punter

Kirk Christodoulou

Yards per Punt: 42.9

 

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: 4.8

  • Return TD’s: 0

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Scouting the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets!

Overall Record: 2-5 | ACC Record: 1-3 | Rank: N/A

Head Coach: Geoff Collins (1st Season with Georgia Tech)

  • Lifetime Record: 17-15 (.531) | 2-5 (.285) with Georgia Tech

2019 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Roster

Georgia Tech Team Statistics

Previous Game: Georgia Tech 28 Miami 21

OFFENSE (Spread)

Quarterbacks

James Graham

Typical Georgia Tech… QB isn’t really the focal point of the offense. Average numbers. Gets sacked a lot.

Passing Yards: 666

  • TD Passes: 5
  • Interceptions: 3
  • Sacks: 14

Yards Rushing: 92

  • Rushing TD’s: 1

Tobias Oliver

Passing Yards: 177

  • TD Passes: 0
  • Interceptions: 2
  • Sacks: 4

Yards Rushing: 279

  • Rushing TD’s: 2

 

Running Backs

Jordan Mason

Tech’s best weapon. Leads the team in rushing and touchdowns.

Yards Rushing: 566

  • Rushing TD’s: 6

Receptions: 7

  • Yards Receiving: 43
  • Receiving TD’s: 0

Jerry Howard, Jr.*

Yards Rushing:101

  • Rushing TD’s: 0

Receptions: 5

  • Yards Receiving: 87
  • Receiving TD’s: 1

 

Wide Receivers

Ahmarean Brown*

Yellow Jacket’s leading pass catcher with just 12 grabs.

Receptions: 12

  • Receiving Yards: 241
  • Receiving TD’s: 3

Adonicas Sanders*

Receptions: 11

  • Receiving Yards: 191
  • Receiving TD’s: 0

Malachi Carter

Receptions: 11

  • Receiving Yards: 101
  • Receiving TD’s: 1

 

Tight Ends

Tyler Davis*

Receptions: 8

  • Receiving Yards: 50
  • Receiving TD’s: 0

*Denotes Starter

 

DEFENSE (Base 4-2-5)

Bad! The Yellow Jackets are giving up 411.9 total yards per game, with an astounding 226.3 on the ground. While they have nine turnovers to their credit, they’ve only gotten to the opposing QB 12 times.

 

SPECIAL TEAMS

Placekicker

Brenton King

Extra Points: 11-11

FG: 2-4

  • 0-19: 0-0 | 20-29: 0-0 | 30-39: 1-1 | 40-49: 1-2 | 50+: 0-1
  • Long: 42

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Injury Report (11/1/19)

Pitt

  • Out: DL Rashad Weaver (ACL), DE Keyshon Camp (Knee), WR Tre Tipton (knee)
  • Doubtful: RB Todd Sibely
  • Questionable: None
  • Probable: None

Georgia Tech

  • Out: LB Chico Bennett, Jr.
  • Doubtful: None
  • Questionable: QB Lucas Johnson
  • Probable: None

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Offensive Stats

Total Yards per game 

  • Pitt: 382.3
  • Georgia Tech: 314.6

Passing Yards per game

  • Pitt: 254.8
  • Georgia Tech: 145.7

Rushing Yards per game

  • Pitt: 127.5
  • Georgia Tech: 168.9

Points per game

  • Pitt: 21
  • Georgia Tech: 18.1

 

Defensive Stats

Total Yards per game allowed

  • Pitt: 291
  • Georgia Tech: 411.9

Passing Yards per game allowed

  • Pitt: 205.1
  • Georgia Tech: 185.6

Rushing Yards per game allowed

  • Pitt: 85.9
  • Georgia Tech: 226.3

Points Allowed

  • Pitt: 21.4
  • Georgia Tech: 30.4

Sacks

  • Pitt: 38
  • Georgia Tech: 12

Interceptions

  • Pitt: 6
  • Georgia Tech: 5

Fumbles Recovered

  • Pitt: 3
  • Georgia Tech: 4

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ACC Standings

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Pitt Panthers 2019 Schedule

Regular Season: Overall: 5-3 |  ACC: 2-2

August 31: Virginia*, L- 30-14
September 7: Ohio, 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*, W- 33-30
October 18: (Friday) at Syracuse*, W- 27-20
October 26: Miami*, L- 16-12
November 2: at Georgia Tech* (AT&T SportsNet), 4:00 p.m.
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.

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.

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