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 Guide 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 pass defense licking it’s wounds after two subpar outings
When the Pitt Panthers (3-2, 2-2) entered the 2020 season there was lofty expectations from their defense. Everything was looking pretty good after the first three games, but that hasn’t been the case in back to back losses to North Carolina State and Boston College, where the Panther secondary was torched for 694 yards and seven touchdowns.
Many questions have come up, including why the corners have been allowed to be left alone despite being killed one on one, over and over. Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi was specifically asked if he regrets leaving his corners alone vs opposing top receivers.
“Not really,” he replied. Then he continued when pressed.
“Just because it’s what we do. If you want to stop the run, which, I think, is still one of the keys. Those (cornerbacks) play best when they’re pressed up and on that island.”
Pitt’s defense focuses on stopping the ground game, and it’s run defense has been stellar, only giving up 52 yards per contest, and that strategy is designed to make the opposing team one dimensional, which was working great till the past two weeks, where the secondary just hasn’t made the plays they are tasked to make.
Narduzzi believes his pass defense is given more help than meets the eye.
We give (cornerbacks) more relief than maybe what it appears,” said Narduzzi. “That should take some pressure off them. We play a good bit of cover two as well, which we played 15 snaps of it against Boston College, especially in two-minute situations and third down.”
Still, in his defense, his corners are expected to step up when attacked.
“They got a job to do, and we trust them to do that job,” Narduzzi said, “and it’s what they want to do as well.”
This week Pitt will try and right the ship against the #13 Miami Hurricanes (3-1, 2-1), who are coming off a 42-17 walloping at the hands of #1 Clemson.
The Panther defense has it’s work cut out for them slowing down Miami quarterback D’Eriq King, a dual threat weapon.
“I could see (LB SirVocea) Dennis being a quarterback spy 60-70 percent of the time, using his speed to track down D’Eriq King,” Narduzzi said.
Pitt will also be doing what they do best, and that is get to the QB and bring him down often. The powerful defensive line will be ready to make a difference
“When their number’s called to blitz, there is no latency in their movements,” Narduzzi said. “They are downhill. They are decisive in their blitz path. It allows for pressure to come other places if they don’t get the sacks.”
One of the biggest questions of the week will be if Pitt starting quarterback Kenny Pickett will be available to play, after taking a beating last week vs Boston College.
Pickett leads the nation with 1,389 yards passing and has eight touchdowns.
Narduzzi didn’t tip his hand on Pickett’s condition this week in practice.
“Kenny’s worked his tail off. Kenny’s tough. You saw him finish the game,” said the Pitt head coach. “Is he 100% healthy? No. But I feel good with where he is right now.”
If Pickett is out, either Davis Beville or Joey Yellen will get the nod under center.
Pickett’s toughness has not gone unnoticed by his fellow teammates.
“It was definitely something that inspired me, that lit a fire under me for that last drive,” left guard Bryce Hargrove said. “The guy’s out there hurt, and he’s out there giving his all. You have to respect it.”
Narduzzi did have an update on RB A.J. Davis who missed the past two games.
”A.J is back 100% right now, so that’s a good thing,” he said.
Honestly, this is the type of game Pitt wins after having their hearts ripped out the past two weeks, losing twice by a combined two points. But with quarterback Kenny Pickett hobbled and or possibly out, it will be tough. The Panther defense will give it everything they have, but the lack of an offense will be the killer here… Miami 24 Pitt 14.
Pitt’s Game Plan for Victory
- Find the endzone: Pitt cannot settle for field goals in place of touchdowns. Make a block, catch passes thrown to you, make plays, and secure the ball.
- Where is the offensive line?: This line has been awful all season getting any type of push upfront. They HAVE to step their game up, especially protecting whomever drops back at quarterback.
- Tighten up pass defense: The Panthers have been torched in the past two games. It’s time to start making plays or adjusting the defense to provide help for the corners on an island.
- Beware Brevin Jordan: Like Boston College had last week, Jordan is a tight end that leads his team in receptions and receiving yards. Pitt has to neutralize his role in the Hurricanes offense.
- Pressure is a must vs D’Eriq King: Time for the Pitt defense to step up and make King ordinary.
Game Day Information
Pitt Panthers at Miami Hurricanes
- Venue: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL. | Field: Tifway 419 Bermuda Grass
- Game-time: Saturday, October 17th at 12:00 ET
- Game Tickets Link
- TV: ACC Network (DirectTV 612) (Dish Network 402) | Announcers: Chris Cotter (play-by-play) Mark Herzlich (analyst) | Eric Wood (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 380, Internet 970
- Weather at Kickoff: 84 with a 50% of storms. Winds 15 mph.
- Vegas Line: Miami -13.5
Pitt vs Miami History
Series History: Began in 1950
Pitt is 11-27-1 overall vs Miami
- At Home: 6-15
- On Road: 5-12-1
- Neutral Site: n/a
- ACC Series: 2-5
- Streak: Miami won the last two games.
- Last Regular Season Meeting: Oct. 26, 2019 (Miami 16, Pitt 12)
Did You Know?*
- Pitt’s last road victory over a top-15 ranked foe occurred on Nov. 12, 2016, when the Panthers defeated No. 3/2 Clemson in Death Valley. It was the eventual national champion’s only defeat that season.
- Pitt leads the ACC and ranks second nationally in rushing defense, allowing just 52 yards per contest. Miami is averaging 196.5 yards on the ground to rank fifth in the ACC and 23rd nationally.
- The Panthers boast one of college football’s top pass rushes. Pitt is averaging 5.0 sacks per game to lead the ACC and rank third in the nation. Defensive ends Patrick Jones II (seven sacks) and Rashad Weaver (4.5), a Fort Lauderdale native, are Pitt’s top sack artists.
*Courtesy of pittsburghpanthers.com
A look at the Pitt Panthers
Overall Record: 3-2 | ACC Record: 2-2 | Rank: n/a
Head Coach: Pat Narduzzi (6th Season with Pitt)
- Lifetime Record: 39-31
Previous Game: Boston College 31 Pitt 30
Pitt Offense (Pro Style)
- Points per game: 31.6
- Total offense yards per game: 408.2
- Passing yards per game: 284.2
- Rushing yards per game: 124
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 leads the nation with 1,389 yards passing and has eight touchdowns. Pickett is hobbled with an ankle injury after taking a beating vs Boston College. If he misses any time, Davis Beville or Joey Yellen will get the nod under center.
The Panther rushing attack is deep, but no one has taken total control. They have five guys having the ability to make big plays. Vincent Davis leads the team with 235 yards and three touchdowns. Israel Abanikanda is a special talent as a true freshman. He has 80 yards rushing and one touchdown. A.J. Davis has missed the past few games, and has 84 yards on the ground. Daniel Carter and Todd Sibley will also see time.
True Freshman Jordan Addison leads the team with 30 receptions for 297 yards and three touchdowns. Transfer D.J. Turner has 331 yards receiving on 18 catches. Expect action from a bevy of players, including the ultra talented Shocky Jacques-Louis (12-193-0), as well as Taysir Mack (13-214-2), who has stepped up his play after missing the first two games. Jared Wayne (5-59-1) and Tre Tipton round out the Panther weapons at WR.
Lucas Krull was hopeful to make a difference at tight end for the Panthers, but that has yet to come to fruition. Though the talent is there, this group has to stop dropping passes and committing stupid penalties. That may not kill you vs Syracuse, but teams like Clemson feed off of mistakes, and it cost them the last two weeks vs NC State and Boston College.
Starting Quarterback: Kenny Pickett | Back-ups: 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: Was supposed to be one of the best defenses in the country, but have been gashed the past two weeks, especially through the air. Pitt is 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. The Panthers are tops in the country with 25 sacks.
- Points per game allowed: 18.2
- Total offense yards per game allowed: 263.4
- Passing yards allowed: 211.4
- Rushing yards allowed: 52
- Sacks: 25
- 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 has been a headcase in 2020, going 7 of 12 in field goals, making a 58 yard FG, but missing an extra point to tie the game vs Boston College. 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 Miami Hurricanes
Overall Record: 3-1 | ACC Record: 2-1 | Rank: #13
Head Coach: Manny Diaz (2nd Season with Miami)
- Lifetime Record: 9-8 | 9-8 (with Miami)
Previous Game: Clemson 42 Miami 17
- Points per game: 36.8
- Total Offense per game: 426.8
- Passing yards per game: 230.3
- Rushing yards per game: 196.5
Scouting report: D’Eriq King has taken over at starter and has been solid, throwing for 857 yards, with six touchdown passes and two interceptions. He has been sacked seven times. King is 2nd on the team in rushing with 241 yards and two TD’s. The Hurricanes are averaging 36.8 points per game, but were humbled last week by Clemson, only scoring 17.
Tight end Brevin Jordan is the Hurricane’s leading receiver with 18 receptions for 243 yards and three touchdowns. The Canes have a trio of receivers in Mark Pope, Mike Harley, and Dee Wiggins. Pope has 11 catches for 142 yards, while Harley has 15 receptions for 127 yards.
Cam’Ron Harris is the lead back with 314 yards rushing and five TD’s. He also has 10 receptions for 40 yards. Donald Chaney, Jr. has rushed for 105 yards and a pair of scores.
Starting Quarterback: D’Eriq King | Back-ups: N’Kosi Perry
Running Backs: Cam’Ron Harris, Donald Chaney, Jr., Jayland Knighten, and Robert Burns
Wide Receivers: Mark Pope, Mike Harley, Dee Wiggins, and Keyshawn Smith
Tight Ends: Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory
Miami Defense (Base 4-3)
Scouting report: Strong as usual, but not as great as last year. They are allowing 25 points a game, which went up last week when they were pasted for 42 by Clemson. They are giving up a lot of yards both on the ground and through the air. The Hurricanes have sacked the opposing QB 11 times and have five interceptions. They feed off of turnovers.
- Points per game allowed: 25
- Total offense yards per game allowed: 420.3
- Passing yards allowed: 245.8
- Rushing yards allowed: 174.5
- Sacks: 11
- Interceptions: 5
Injury Report (10/15/20)
- Out: CB Damarri Mathis
- Doubtful: None
- Questionable: TE Kyi Wright, TE Lucas Krull, LB Wendall Davis, DL Habakkuk Baldonado
- Probable: QB Kenny Pickett
- Out: None
- Doubtful: None
- Questionable: OL John Campbell, Jr., OL Issiah Walker, Jr.
- Probable: TE Brevin Jordan
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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