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.
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Pitt looks to rebound after painful loss to NC State
Pitt has had a storied tradition in football history. However, they have also found ways to disappoint both themselves and their fans in just about every fashion the last 40 or so years. The program, for all it’s success in having high caliber players call Pitt their home, hasn’t been able to have that season of adulation and prosperity in a long time.
Last week was just like so many heartbreaking losses to teams they had no business losing to, as they were clipped 30-29 by North Carolina State. The heralded defense was penalized over and over, and failed to hold on to the lead in the final minutes of the game. The offense keeps finding ways to fail more than they do in scoring touchdowns and putting teams away, and those failures all came back to bite them, knocking them out of the Top 25.
“I’ve walked into team meetings after you get beat by 20, and the guys are all laughing,” Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said of games lost in the past. “Like, ‘Do you know what happened less than 24 hours ago?’ ”
That wasn’t the case this week.
“It really hit our kids in the stomach,” he said.
Now Narduzzi and his team has to focus on getting back on track, fixing their mistakes, and still make a run at the ACC Championship.
“The sun came up this morning. We’re still alive here after a tough 24 hours,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve seen a team take (a loss) as maturely (as Pitt did). The locker room was really quiet. I don’t know if I’ve been in a team meeting where they were as quiet. Quietest meeting I’ve been in, focused, locked in.”
Boston College (2-1) will be Pitt’s first road test this year, and the last game before the schedule turns beyond challenging. The Panthers (3-1) will be the visitors in five of their last seven games, which includes stops at #8 Miami and #1 Clemson. Their next home game will be October 24th vs #5 Notre Dame.
Thus, play time is over, and if Pitt wants to be the team they think they are, this is the week they had better bring it all together.
“We’ll see how we respond,” Narduzzi said. “That’s going to be the key this week in practice. From our history, we always respond. I think we have great senior leadership.”
Pitt’s defense was probably licking it’s chops at the prospect of facing the Wolfpack’s quarterbacks, who were undecided on who would start against the Panthers.
However, Devin Leary got the start and torched the Pitt defense for 336 yards and four touchdowns.
Sometimes, you need a wakeup call to figure out what’s real, what’s fake,” Narduzzi said. “Sometimes, you listen to the outside noise, and it can affect you.”
Pitt’s defense definitely got knocked off their high horse after that showing.
Will they shake it off and fight back in the face of disappointment and adversity?
“It’s a good thing because they care,” Narduzzi said. “I know how I feel, and you get (ticked) off. You’re (ticked) at what happened. I get mad when they don’t get mad.
“So, to me, it’s important to those guys. I talk about our senior leadership, talk about our captains. (The mood) was serious.”
On the flip side of the ball, it’s been the offensive line that hasn’t manned up and done their jobs so far in 2020. The running game has been subpar and the entire squad should be embarrassed for not being able to gain a single yard when they had 1st and goal from the one yard line vs NC State.
“Blame me,” Narduzzi said. “If I don’t go for it on 4th-and-1 and I kick a field goal down there, maybe we win the game. I felt like we should be able to get it in. Maybe a stubborn head coach, but if I didn’t go for it on 4th-and-1, you guys would be yelling at me because I didn’t go for it on 4th-and-1 down there.
“So, either way you lose. But we expect to score touchdowns.”
Kenny Pickett singlehandedly kept Pitt in the game, throwing for 411 yards, but the lack of a run game and the inability by the O-line to get any type of push is killing this Panther offense. Dropped passes, which have haunted the team over the past few years, came at some very bad times last week again.
“The pass protection was great by the O-line, as well,” Narduzzi said. “Receivers caught the ball most of the time. But we’re not perfect, nor are those (NFL) guys on Sunday as I see dropped balls as I walk in and out of my office.
“There’s no finger pointing over here. You guys can point fingers all you want, but we don’t point fingers over here. This is the guy right here; you guys can point it at me.”
This, like so many games in Pitt’s recent history, will come down to Pitt being able to execute their game plan without mindless penalties, gaffes, and terrible play-calling. Pitt is the better team, like they were last week, from top to bottom, but when you continuously shoot yourself in the foot, you are going to lose more often than you win, unless you possess they type of talent that a Clemson has. Boston College, unlike last year, has become a passing team under former WPIAL star Phil Jurkovec. They are only averaging 70.3 rushing yards per game, so if Pitt’s defense can rev up the motor and get it going after Jurkovec, they should have a good day. Question is, can the Panther’s finally wake up the run game and take some pressure off the arm of Kenny Pickett? Expect a typical Pitt special, where your heart is thumping right up to the final seconds… Pitt 27 Boston College 20
Pitt’s Game Plan for Victory
- Find your Man Card offensive line: Can this line ever get off the ball and give the runner some space?
- 7’s not 3’s: This offense needs to start getting into the endzone instead of settling for field goals or worse.
- Get to Jurkovec: The Eagles have become a passing team, so if you take that part of their game away, it will make life difficult for their offense. The Pitt defense needs to pressure him every time he drops back to pass.
- Beware Hunter Long: The tight end leads the team with 270 yards receiving and two touchdowns. Someone might want to cover this guy.
Game Day Information
Pitt Panthers at Boston College Eagles
- Venue: Alumni Stadium, Chestnut Hill, MA | Field: AstroTurf GameDay Grass
- Game-time: Saturday, October 10th at 4:00 ET
- Game Tickets Link
- TV: ACC Network (DirectTV 612) (Dish Network 402) | Announcers: Chris Cotter (play-by-play) Mark Herzlich (analyst) | Kelsey Riggs (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 136, XM 194, Internet 956
- Weather at Kickoff: 74 and sunny.
- Vegas Line: Pitt -6
Pitt vs Boston College History
Series History: Began in 1959
Pitt is 17-14 overall vs Boston College
- At Home: 9-7
- On Road: 7-8
- Neutral Site: 1-1
- ACC Series: 1-1
- Streak: Boston College won the last game.
- Last Regular Season Meeting: Nov. 30, 2019 (BC won, 26-19)
Did You Know?*
- The Panthers boast top-15 national rankings in total defense (second, 232.3 yards per game), rushing defense (second, 57.5 yards per game), scoring defense (11th, 15.0 points per game) and passing defense (13th, 174.8 yards per game).
- The Panthers have produced 19 sacks through four games. Pitt ranks fifth nationally with an average of 4.75 sacks per contest. Defensive ends Patrick Jones II (four sacks) and Rashad Weaver (3.5) lead the Panthers’ pass rush.
- First-year Boston College head coach Jeff Hafley owns significant Pitt ties. He was a defensive assistant coach for the Panthers under Dave Wannstedt from 2006-10.
- Kenny Pickett leads the ACC in total passing yards with 1,123. He is coming off a career 411-yard effort against NC State
*Courtesy of pittsburghpanthers.com
A look at the Pitt Panthers
Overall Record: 3-1 | ACC Record: 2-1 | Rank: n/a
Head Coach: Pat Narduzzi (6th Season with Pitt)
- Lifetime Record: 39-30
Previous Game: NC State 30 Pitt 29
Pitt Offense (Pro Style)
- Points per game: 32
- Total offense yards per game: 419.3
- Passing yards per game: 288.8
- Rushing yards per game: 130.5
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. Pickett has thrown for 1,123 yards and six touchdowns.
The Panther rushing attack is deep, with five guys having the ability to make big plays. It would be nice for someone to take the lead role and establish some type of consistent attack. Vincent Davis leads the team with 196 yards and two touchdowns. Israel Abanikanda is a special talent as a true freshman. He has 69 yards rushing and one touchdown. A.J. Davis has 84 yards on the ground. Daniel Carter and Todd Sibley will also see time.
True Freshman Jordan Addison leads the team with 23 receptions for 246 yards and two touchdowns. Transfer D.J. Turner has 319 yards receiving on 17 catches. Expect action from a bevy of players, including the ultra talented Shocky Jacques-Louis (9-159-0), as well as Taysir Mack (9-138-1), Jared Wayne (5-59-1), 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, and it cost them last week vs NC State.
Quarterbacks: Starter- Kenny Pickett | Davis Beville, Joey Yellen, and Eli Kosanovich
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, Daniel Moraga, Grant Carrigan, and Jake Zilinskas
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, which includes Patrick Jones II, Keyshon Camp, and Rashad Weaver.
- Points per game allowed: 15
- Total offense yards per game allowed: 232.3
- Passing yards allowed: 174.8
- Rushing yards allowed: 57.5
- Sacks: 19
- Interceptions: 6
Defensive End: Patrick Jones II
Defensive Tackle: Keyshon Camp
Defensive Tackle: Devin Danielson
Defensive End: Rashad Weaver
Money LB: Phil Campbell III
Mike LB: Chase Pine/Wendall Davis
Star LB: Cam Bright
Cornerback: Marquis Williams
Strong Safety: Paris Ford
Free Safety: Damar Hamlin
Cornerback: Jason Pinnock
Scouting report: Kicker Alex Kessman is 6-9 kicking field goals so far in 2020. WR Jordan Addison is averaging 19.5 yards a return on kickoffs and 7.5 on punt returns.
Placekicker: Alex Kessman
Punter: Kirk Christodoulou
Kickoff Returners: Jordan Addison and A.J. Woods
Punt Returner: Jordan Addison
A look at the Boston College Eagles
Overall Record: 2-1 | ACC Record: 1-1 | Rank: n/a
Head Coach: Jeff Hafley (1st Season with Boston College)
- Lifetime Record: 2-1 | 2-1 (with Boston College)
Previous Game: UNC 26 Boston College 22
Boston College Offense
- Points per game: 24
- Total Offense per game: 344.7
- Passing yards per game: 274.3
- Rushing yards per game: 70.3
Scouting report: Former WPIAL star Phil Jurkovec lead the Eagles after transferring from Notre Dame. He has 823 yards passing and five touchdowns. He has thrown two INT’s and has been sacked 11 times.
His main weapon in the passing game is tight end Hunter Long, who has 25 receptions for 225 yards and two scores. Zay Flowers is the top WR with 15 catches for 243 yards and a TD. C.J. Lewis, and Jaelen Gill also contribute to the Eagle passing game.
David Bailey is the lead runner with 112 yards rushing and a score. Travis Levy is mainly utilized catching passes out of the backfield, as he is 3rd on the team with 11 receptions.
Quarterbacks: Phil Jurkovec
Running Backs: David Bailey, Travis Levy and Pat Garwo III
Wide Receivers: Zay Flowers, C.J. Lewis, and Jaelen Gill
Tight Ends: Hunter Long and Spencer Witter
Boston College Defense (Base 3-4)
Scouting report: Best scoring defense Pitt has faced yet. They give up plenty of yards, but the Eagles have a bend don’t break mentality, only giving up 17.7 points per game and have this ability to get to to QB, as evident of their 11 sacks.
- Points per game allowed: 17.7
- Total offense yards per game allowed: 369.7
- Passing yards allowed: 223.7
- Rushing yards allowed: 146
- Sacks: 11
- Interceptions: 5
Injury Report (10/8/20)
- Out: CB Damarri Mathis
- Doubtful: None
- Questionable: RB A.J. Davis, WR Jordan Addison, WR Jared Wayne, TE Kyi Wright, TE Lucas Krull, DL Keyshon Camp, LB Wendall Davis, DL Habakkuk Baldonado
- Probable: None
Boston College Eagles
- Out: None
- Doubtful: None
- Questionable: DB Connor Grieco, LB Vinny DePalma, TE Joey Luchetti, TE Danny Dalton, RB Travis Levy, DB Deon Jones
- Probable: None
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