The University of Pittsburgh has a tradition of excellence in football that dates back to the early 1900’s. The Pitt 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 defense up to challenge from Louisville high octane offense
Though the Pitt Panthers (2-0, 1-0) boast one of the top defenses in the country, Pitt has yet to shed the label of the underdog and perennial underachievers.
That, Pitt defensive end Rashaad Weaver says, is about to change.
“We’ve always been the underdog, and we’re kind of tired of it,” said Weaver on Wednesday while on the ACC Network’s “Packer and Durham” show.
Weaver and the Panthers are looking to gain their respect against a ranked Louisville Cardinals team and shoot up the polls as the season progresses.
“We want to be the big dog, and to do that, you have to keep winning. It’s good to have a top-25 matchup, and I think we’ll take full advantage of it if we do what we’re supposed to do,” said Weaver. “And I think it’s time for people to realize that this team is legitimate and you only do that by winning and winning convincingly.
“The goal is just to win and be better each week. If we do that, I’ll get to where I want to be at the end of the year, whether that’s getting a ring or money in my bank account.”
The Panthers defense faces it’s biggest challenge of the year with Malik Cunningham and Louisville’s offense, which is averaging over 500 yards a game and 34.5 points per contest.
“This guy is an athlete. He could go play a slot receiver if he had to,” Weaver said. “He’s a freak.”
Last week, Louisville (1-1) was bested by Miami 47-34.
Pitt’s defense has recorded 10 sacks on the year with four interceptions. They are only allowing just 154 yards a game total so far in 2020, and are are giving up just 26 yards a game on the ground.
On the flip side of the ball, Pitt’s offense, anchored by Kenny Pickett, has had it’s moments this year, but they have also left a lot of plays on the field of play. Too many penalties and dropped passes have kept this team form reaching it’s full potential.
“Things like that that just can’t happen,” Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said. “I just told them championship teams don’t do those things.
“So disappointed in the execution of just a lot of things. But the defense played outstanding. I got guys coming up saying, ‘My bad, coach, I’ll never do it again.’ But it’s, like, that stuff can’t happen, the details.
“But you know what? You beat an ACC opponent, made a lot of mistakes, and were still able to win by two scores. I think that’s the most important thing.”
With two games under their belt, Pitt and Narduzzi will look to start playing up to their expectations.
“I think we have a great football team,” said the Panther’s coach during a Zoom conference call. “I think we can do great things. But we have to execute and pay attention to details.
“We have a football team that’s capable of doing whatever they want to do.”
If Pitt can cut down on the penalties (11 so far in 2020), stop trying to give the ball away (they’ve fumbled six times, losing just one ball), and stop dropping passes (8-9 so far, by my count), this team could be in for a special season.
“It’s always nice to be 2-0 and not play your best football,” Narduzzi said. “I still think the best football is ahead of us. I don’t think our kids are particularly happy as well after watching the tape and seeing the situations we put ourselves in. The details weren’t there.”
It’s a home game, and yes, we understand that there won’t be any fans in the stands at Heinz Field thanks to Pennsylvania’s King Wolf, but regardless, you protect your house, especially when you have one of the nation’s best defenses, and the desire to be one of Pitt’s best teams in decades.. Pitt is the better team, and they will take care of business once again this Saturday. Expect a tough game, but in the 4th quarter, Pitt will pull away for the victory… Pitt 24 Louisville 13
Pitt’s Game Plan for Victory
- Catch the damn ball: Like in years past, too many drops by Pitt’s so called playmakers. Do your job!
- Establish the run game: Ball control will be key in this game. The offense needs to produce and keep it’s defense fresh.
- Punish Malik Cunningham: The Pitt defense needs to lay the wood to Cunningham early and often. He’s too good a playmaker if you give him time.
- Isolate Tutu Atwell: He’s the Cardinals best weapon in the passing game. Shut him down and Louisville will be in big trouble.
Game Day Information
#21 Pitt Panthers vs #24 Louisville Cardinals
- Venue: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA. | Field: Kentucky Bluegrass
- Game-time: Saturday, September 26th at Noon ET
- Game Tickets Link
- TV: ACC Network | Announcers: Wes Durham (play-by-play) Roddy Jones (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 135, XM 194, Internet 956
- Weather at Kickoff: 73 and mostly sunny.
- Vegas Line: Pitt -3.5
Pitt vs Louisville History
Series History: Began in 1976
Pitt is 9-8 overall vs Louisville
- At Home: 6-5
- On Road: 3-3
- Neutral Site: 0-0
- ACC Series: 1-0
- Streak: Pitt won the last game.
- Last Regular Season Meeting: Nov. 21, 2015 (Pitt 45, UL 34)
Did You Know?*
- Making his 2020 debut against Syracuse, defensive end Rashad Weaver had two sacks, three TFLs and seven total tackles to earn Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week honors. Weaver missed all of the 2019 season due to injury.
- Safety Paris Ford, a highly regarded run stopper, has two interceptions on the young season. He ranks first nationally (tied) in total interceptions and third in INTs per game (1.0 avg.).
- Pitt boasts top 10 national rankings in rushing defense (first, 26.0 avg.), total defense (third, 154.0 avg.), pass defense (fourth, 128.0 avg.) and scoring defense (sixth, 5.0 ppg.).
Pitt will be donning an alternate uniform this week, a tribute to Pittsburgh’s steel industry past.
*Courtesy of pittsburghpanthers.com
A look at the Pitt Panthers
Overall Record: 2-0 | ACC Record: 1-0 | Rank: #21
Head Coach: Pat Narduzzi (6th Season with Pitt)
- Lifetime Record: 38-29
Previous Game: Pitt 21 Syracuse 10
Pitt Offense (Pro Style)
- Points per game: 38
- Total offense yards per game: 399
- Passing yards per game: 262
- Rushing yards per game: 137
Scouting report: Kenny Pickett is the starter for the Panthers. He has been accurate with his passes and can take off with the ball when needed. The Panther rushing attack is deep, with five guys having the ability to make big plays. Vincent Davis leads the team with 109 yards and two touchdowns. Israel Abanikanda is a special talent as a true freshman. He has 26 yards rushing and one touchdown. A.J. Davis has 61yards on the ground. Daniel Carter and Todd Sibley will also see time.
True Freshman Jordan Addison leads the team with 14 receptions for 92 yards and a score. Transfer D.J. Turner has 124 yards receiving on seven 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. Though the talent is there, this group has to stop dropping passes. That may not kill you vs Syracuse, but teams like Clemson feed off of mistakes.
Kicker Alex Kessman is off to an awful start, going 0-3 so far. Special teams has always botched a snap on a FG attempt.
Quarterbacks: Kenny Pickett, Davis Beville, and Joey Yellen
Running Backs: Vincent Davis, A.J. 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)
Scouting report: One of the best defenses in the country, lead by hard hitting Paris Ford in the secondary, and a fearsome number of defensive lineman who enjoy eating opposing quarterbacks for lunch.
- Points per game allowed: 5
- Total offense yards per game allowed: 154
- Passing yards allowed: 128
- Rushing yards allowed: 26
- Sacks: 10
- Interceptions: 3
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
A look at the Louisville Cardinals
Overall Record: 1-1 | ACC Record: 0-1 | Rank: #24
Head Coach: Scott Satterfield (2nd Season with Louisville)
- Lifetime Record: 60-30 | 9-6 (with Louisville)
Previous Game: Miami 47 Louisville 34
Louisville Offense (Spread)
- Points per game: 34.5
- Total Offense per game: 500.5
- Passing yards per game: 325
- Rushing yards per game: 176.5
Scouting report: Malik Cunningham is the straw that stirs Louisville’s drink. The kid has passed for 650 yards so far with six touchdowns and two INT’s. His main target is Tutu Atwell, who has 15 receptions for 192 yards and two scores. Dez Fitzpatrick is Cunningham’s 2nd favorite target with 11 catches for 184 yards and a TD. The Cardinals utilize their tight ends very well, as Ean Pfeifer and Marshon Ford have combined for seven catches for 65 yards and three touchdowns.
Javian Hawkins is the lead back with 235 yards rushing and two TD’s. Hassan Hallis also dangerous, gaining 103 yards so far on 15 attempts,
Quarterbacks: Malik Cunningham
Running Backs: Javian Hawkins and Hassan Hall
Wide Receivers: Tutu Atwell, Dez Fitzpatrick, Braden Smith, Justin Marshall, and Jordan Watkins
Tight Ends: Ean Pfeifer and Marshon Ford
Louisville Defense (Base 3-4)
Scouting report: Lets just say Louisville’s defense is there for the taking. They’ve allowed 21 points to Western Kentucky and 47 to Miami.
- Points per game allowed: 34
- Total offense yards per game allowed: 366.5
- Passing yards allowed: 227
- Rushing yards allowed: 139.5
- Sacks: 4
- Interceptions: 0
Injury Report (9/25/20)
- Out: CB Damarri Mathis
- Doubtful: None
- Questionable: WR Taysir Mack, TE Jake Zalinskas
- Probable: None
- Doubtful: None
- Questionable: QB Jawon Pass
- 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.
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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