The University of Pittsburgh has a tradition of excellence in football that dates back to the early 1900’s. The Panthers have won nine National Championships and have had some of the greatest players in the history of football call Pitt their alma mater. Pitt has 25 members in the College Football Hall of Fame and nine have been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
NGSC Sports brings you the best Pitt Game Day Preview you will find anywhere! This is where true Panther fans come to find out about Pitt and their upcoming opponent! Mike Drakulich (@PghSportsNation) brings you inside the huddle for both teams, providing all fans with a weekly game story, Pitt’s game plan for victory, score prediction, crucial game day information, a detailed breakdown of each team, and up to date team injury reports. Heck, you’ll even know the weather at kickoff! The only thing you’re missing is a game uniform!
Pitt prepares for Syracuse in ACC conference opener
After dispatching Austin Peay 55-0 in the 2020 season opener last week, the Pitt Panthers (1-0) now set their sights on opening up ACC play when they face their long time rivals in the Syracuse Orange Saturday at Heinz Field.
The Pitt defense was as dominant as advertised, holding Austin Peay to just one yard rushing, and 137 yards overall. Pitt’s offense was led by senior quarterback Kenny Pickett, who threw for 277 yards and one touchdown, while adding 23 yards rushing and a touchdown.
“He’s a leader. He’s smart. He’s got all the intangibles you want in an NFL quarterback,” Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said. “How people are sleeping on Kenny Pickett, I have no idea.”
Pickett will be the straw that stirs the drink for Pitt’s offense, and a main reason if Pitt can return to the ACC Championship game and even higher aspirations.
He was extremely efficient with his throws in the opener, completing 14 of his 20 passes.
“Kenny put the ball where it needed to be 99% of the time,” Narduzzi said after the game.
The Panthers boasted five running backs getting time last week, four of them finding the endzone.
Vincent Davis is set to start this week vs the Orange after A.J. Davis got the nod in the opener.
Both Davis’ (not related) have competed for carries with Todd Sibley, Daniel Carter and Izzy Abanikanda.
All have unique abilities.
“Everybody brings something different to the table. Everybody gets the job done,” Vincent Davis said. “But, with Izzy, I ain’t going to lie, that kid’s a freak. He’s different. He’s powerful. He’s strong. He’s fast.
“He can go from 0 to 100 real quick. He hits his top-end speed very fast. He can run through you, make a person miss or run past you.”
Pitt running backs coach Andre Powell is also very impressed with his true freshman in Abanikanda.
“He runs with great power and leverage,” Powell said. “We have to invest more time with him, getting him caught up in the passing game, but when you turn around and hand him the ball, he can figure it out.”
Pitt is hopeful that starting wideout Taysir Mack and tight end Lucas Krull will be able to suit up and join their offensive teammates after sitting out week one.
“We expect to have Lucas back this week,” Narduzi said. “He could have gone if we wanted him to (last week). We chose to hold him and get him 100%. I didn’t want 99% of Lucas Krull.”
Syracuse comes into the game fresh off a 31-6 beating at the hands of North Carolina. The Orange offense managed only 202 total yards and QB Tommy DeVito was sacked seven times. That is an area that Syracuse had better improve upon with how well Pitt’s defense gets to the opposing QB.
The Orange defense was just as bad, allowing 463 yards to the Tar Heels.
Looks like two teams going in opposite directions to start the year. As long as Pitt’s offense continues to be efficient under Kenny Pickett, the sky is the limit for this team with how great the defense is. This could get ugly in the 2nd half… Pitt 38 Syracuse 9
Pitt’s Game Plan for Victory
- Kenny Pickett: He was stellar in the first week. Look for Pickett to spread the ball around again and exploit a weak Syracuse secondary.
- Make Plays: Pretty simple… make plays in space, and take it to a bad Syracuse defense.
- Jordan Addison: Look for the true freshman to break a long return this week as a returner.
- Play smart and play aggressive: Pitt has one of the best defenses in the country. Paris Ford can do it all, but can he lay off the highlight hit that some refs look to eject him for?
- Get to Tommy DeVito: Sacked seven times last week, the Pitt defense should be salivating at this match-up to exploit.
Game Day Information
#25 Pitt Panthers vs Syracuse Orange
- Venue: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA. | Field: Kentucky Bluegrass
- Game-time: Saturday, September 19th at Noon ET
- Game Tickets Link
- TV: ACC Network | Announcers: Chris Cotter (play-by-play) Mark Herzlich (analyst) | Kelsey Riggs (reporter)
- Local Radio: Pittsburgh- 93.7 The Fan | Announcers: Jeff Hathhorn (play-by-play) Pat Bostick (analyst) | Larry Richert (reporter)
- Online Radio: 937thefan.radio.com
- Sirius XM Satellite Radio: Sirius 105, XM 193, Internet 955
- Weather at Kickoff:
- Vegas Line: Pitt -21.5
Pitt vs Syracuse History
Series History: Began in 1916
Pitt is 40-32-3 overall vs Syracuse
- At Home: 23-11
- On Road: 17-19-3
- Neutral Site: 0-2
- ACC Series: 6-1
- Streak: Pitt has won the last two games.
- Last Regular Season Meeting: Oct. 18, 2019 (Pitt 27, Syracuse 20)
Did You Know?*
- No. 25 Pitt opens a stretch of 10 consecutive ACC contests when it hosts Syracuse at Heinz Field. The Panthers are coming off a 55-0 season-opening win
over Austin Peay. The Orange lost 31-6 at North Carolina.
- Pitt and Syracuse have played every year since 1955, when both schools were independents. The Panthers and Orange were Big East football conference members from 1993-2012 before entering the ACC in 2013.
- The Panthers have won 15 of the past 18 games in the series. However, tight games are commonplace. Six of the past eight contests have been decided by single digits, including Pitt’s 27-20 win last year in the Dome.
- Pitt is 8-1 against the Orange at Heinz Field. Syracuse’s lone win at Heinz occurred in 2001, the venue’s inaugural year.
- Senior quarterback Kenny Pickett was highly effective in one half of play against Austin Peay. Pickett compiled 300 total yards, throwing for 277 and running for an additional 23. He accounted for two touchdowns (one pass, one rush).
- The heralded Pitt defense surrendered a single rushing yard to Austin Peay on 22 carries. The Panthers gave up only 137 yards overall in producing their first shutout since 2014.
*Courtesy of pittsburghpanthers.com
Overall Record: 1-0 | ACC Record: 0-0 | Rank: #25
Head Coach: Pat Narduzzi (6th Season with Pitt)
- Lifetime Record: 37-29
Previous Game: Pitt 55 Austin Peay 0
Pitt Offense (Pro Style)
- Points per game: 55
- Total offense yards per game: 456
- Passing yards per game: 309
- Rushing yards per game: 147
Scouting report: Kenny Pickett is back as the starter for the Panthers. The 5th year senior passed for 277 yards and a touchdown in the opener. He can take off with the ball as well, rushing for 23 yards on the year for a touchdown. The Panther rushing attack is deep, with five guys having the ability to make big plays. Vincent Davis leads the team with 43 yards and a score. Israel Abanikanda is a special talent as a true freshman. He has 26 yards rushing and one touchdown. A.J. Davis has 24 yards on the ground. Daniel Carter and Todd Sibley will also see time.
True Freshman Jordan Addison leads the team with seven receptions for 35 yards. Transfer D.J. Turner has 76 yards receiving on two catches. Expect action from a bevy of players, including the ultra talented Shocky Jacques-Louis, as well as Taysir Mack, Jared Wayne, and Tre Tipton. Lucas Krull looks to make a difference at tight end for the Panthers, an area that has been severely lacking from the past few years.
Quarterbacks: Kenny Pickett, Davis Beville, and Joey Yellen
Running Backs: A.J. Davis, Vincent Davis, Todd Sibley, Daniel Carter, and Israel Abanikanda
Wide Receivers: (Outside) Taysir Mack, Shocky Jacques-Louis, Jared Wayne, Tre Tipton, and D.J. Turner
(Slot) Jordan Addison and John Vardzell
Tight Ends: Lucas Krull, Kyi Wright, and Daniel Moraga
Left Tackle: Carter Warren
Left Guard: Bryce Hargrove
Center: Jimmy Morrissey
Right Guard: Jake Kradel
Right Tackle: Gabe Houy
Pitt Defense (Base 4-3)
- Points per game allowed: 0
- Total offense yards per game allowed: 137
- Passing yards allowed: 136
- Rushing yards allowed: 1
- Sacks: 3
- Interceptions: 2
Defensive End: Patrick Jones II
Defensive Tackle: Keyshon Camp
Defensive Tackle: Devin Danielson
Defensive End: Rashad Weaver
Money LB: Phil Campbell III
Mike LB: Wendall Davis
Star LB: Cam Bright
Cornerback: Marquis Williams
Strong Safety: Paris Ford
Free Safety: Damar Hamlin
Cornerback: Jason Pinnock
Placekicker: Alex Kessman
Punter: Kirk Christodoulou
Kickoff Returners: Jordan Addison and A.J. Woods
Punt Returner: Jordan Addison
Overall Record: 0-1 | ACC Record: 0-1 | Rank: N/A
Head Coach: Dino Babers (6th Season with Syracuse)
- Lifetime Record: 60-43 | 23-27 (with Syracuse)
Previous Game: UNC 31 Syracuse 6
Syracuse Offense (Spread)
- Points per game: 6
- Total Offense per game: 202
- Passing yards per game: 134
- Rushing yards per game: 68
Scouting report: Tommy DeVito is under center for the Orange but didn’t manage much of anything in the first game vs UNC. DeVito had just 112 yards passing and was sacked seven times. Jawhar Jordan was the leading rusher out of the backfield with 26 yards.
Taj Harris is still a dangerous receiver for Syracuse and nabbed up five receptions for 64 yards. Anthony Queeley caught four passes for 37 yards. Nykeim Johnson is the Orange’s #3 WR with two catches for 12 yards.
Quarterbacks: Tommy DeVito
Running Backs: Jawhar Jordan and Pierre Markenzie
Wide Receivers: Taj Harris, Nykeim Johnson, Anthony Queeley, Justin Barron, Sharod Johnson, Ed Hendrix, and Courtney Jackson
Tight Ends: Aaron Hackett and Luke Benson
Syracuse Defense (Base 4-3)
- Points per game allowed: 31
- Total offense yards per game allowed: 463
- Passing yards allowed: 303
- Rushing yards allowed: 160
- Sacks: 2
- Interceptions: 2
Injury Report (9/17/20)
- Out: CB Damarri Mathis
- Doubtful: None
- Questionable: None
- Probable: None
- Out: RB Abdul Adams, RB Jarveon Howard, DL Cooper Dawson
- Doubtful: None
- Questionable: None
- Probable: None
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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