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Pitt Panthers at Virginia Tech Hokies Game Day Preview

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The University of Pittsburgh has a tradition of excellence in football that dates back to 1890. The Pitt Panthers have won Nine National Championships and many of the greatest players in the history of football are proud to call Pitt their alma mater.

Pitt boasts 99 First Team All-Americans, 25 members in the College Football Hall of Fame and ten Panthers have been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

NGSC Sports provides you the ultimate Pitt Game Day Preview, 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 The Pittsburgh SportsNation Game Scoop, Score Prediction, Broadcast Information, and a complete breakdown of each team.

Heck, you’ll even know the weather at kickoff! The only thing you’re missing is a game uniform!

 

Pitt Panthers (1-3) at Virginia Tech Hokies (1-3)

NCAA Week 5

Game-time: Saturday, September 30th, at 8:00 PM

  • Vegas line: Pitt -2.5

Venue: Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, VA.

  • Field: Natural Grass

Weather at Kickoff: 66, and partly cloudy. Winds light and variable.

Tickets: Pitt Ticket Office 

 

The Pittsburgh SportsNation Game Scoop

For a quarter last week, the Pitt Panthers (1-3) looked like a team out to turn their season around, as they lead North Carolina 14-7.

Unfortunately, the floor fell out from beneath the Panthers, as quarterback Phil Jurkovec, who was playing markedly better, was knocked out of the game, and the Tar Heels never looked back en route to a 41-24 beating.

Jurkovec, who was 11 of 15 for 109 yards, is questionable to return to action this week, as the Panthers travel to Blacksburg to face off against the Virginia Tech Hokies (1-3), who have their own quarterback issues to deal with.

Starter Grant Wells, is still unlikely to play this week according to reports, so Kyron Drones will get another chance to lead the Hokies to an upset at home.

So far in relief of Wells, Drones has passed for 390 yards, with one touchdown pass and one interception. He has been sacked six times and has completed just 54.7% of his passes. Drones runs well, amassing 164 yards on the ground and two touchdowns.

“Kyron did some great things on Saturday. Not just with his feet. He threw some nice balls, he made some good decisions,” Hokies head coach Brent Pry said. “I think that there’s some things with his reads that we can help him with as coaches to clean that up, and then he has to make some better decisions within that framework. So there’s certainly room for improvement, but I was excited about kind of the platform, the potential, that Kyron can bring to our offense.”

Wide receiver Ali Jennings, one of the Hokies top weapons, is also doubtful to play, however, in his absence, Da’Quan Felton, Stephon Gosnell, and Jaylin Lane have stepped up to combine for 29 receptions, and three touchdowns. Tight end Dae’Quan Wright is the team leader with 11 catches for 127 yards.

Bhayshul Tuten is the lead back for the Hokies.

Defensively, Virginia Tech has been abysmal against the run, allowing an eye popping 212.5 yards per game.

Whether Phil Jurkovec starts, or if Christian Veilluex or even Nate Yarnell ends up under center for Pitt, the smart game plan would be to run the ball down VaTech’s throats, featuring Rodney Hammond as the bell cow, and C’Bo Flemister, Daniel Carter, and even Derrick Davis, Jr. getting their shots in the rotation in a game of good old smashmouth football.

The offensive line will have to play the next man up game, especially with losing Matt Gonsalves and Ryan Jacoby for the season. Center Jake Kradel may also miss this weekend’s game. A makeshift line of Branson Taylor and redshirt freshman Ryan Baer, guards Blake Zubovic and Jason Collier and center Terrence Moore may be the unit this week.

”You lose a lot of experience. You lose some really good players,” Pitt offensive line coach Dave Borbely said. “With that said, that’s why we work the next-man-in philosophy and concept. That’s why guys practice. It’s someone else’s opportunity. So when it’s your time, rise to the occasion and perform.”

Regardless of who starts at quarterback, one player that needs to see more playing time is Kenny Johnson, who is a dynamic weapon, as evidenced by his 100 yard kickoff return for a touchdown vs UNC. Johnson has just three receptions for 27 yards, but the Pitt offense needs a spark, and perhaps Johnson can provide that, as Bub Means, who had all kinds of preseason hype, has been a major disappointment. Perhaps Zion Fowler-El could help infuse some life into this offense as well.

Pitt has great depth at tight end, including Gavin Bartholomew, who is 2nd on the team in receptions, and first in receiving yards with 216. Offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti needs to start finding ways to get his playmakers the ball more consistently. The Pitt offense has been a disaster so far this season, but the weapons are there to turn it around if used properly, and executed.

Lane Stadium is known for how crazy the crowd gets for their Hokies, especially at the introductions when Enter Sandman is played, but the fans may not be as enthusiastic with their team being a paltry 1-3. Pitt as a whole team, needs to man up, fight through the injuries and the adversity, and find the heart and desire it takes to win in this game.

Though the Panthers have looked bad in three consecutive losses in a row, Virginia Tech has been even worse, getting hammered by Purdue, Rutgers, and Marshall.

Look for Pitt to control the game in the trenches, which should lead to some chances downfield in the passing game.

This should be an old fashioned, “We’re coming, try and stop us” type of game for Hammond and the rest of the Panther running backs, a challenge they should all embrace.

Pitt stops the bleeding and earns a win this Saturday night.

Prediction: Pitt 31 Virginia Tech 16

 

 

Broadcast Information

TV: ACC Network (Xfinity: Channel 1325 | DirecTV: Channel 612 | Dish: Channel 402 | Verizon: Channel 829)

  • Announcers: Mike Monaco (play-by-play) Tim Hasselbeck (analyst) | Taylor Tannebaum (reporter)

Local Radio: Pittsburgh- 93.7 The Fan

  • Announcers: Jeff Hathhorn (play-by-play) Pat Bostick (analyst) | Larry Richert and Dorin Dickerson (reporters)

National Radio: N/A

  • Announcers:

Alternative Broadcasts

  • Online Radio: 937thefan.radio.com
  • Satellite Radio: SiriusXM channels 133 or 193

 

 

Scouting the Pitt Panthers

Overall Record: 1-3 | ACC Record: 0-1 | Rank: N/A

Previous Game: North Carolina 41 Pitt 24

Head Coach: Pat Narduzzi

  • 9th Season with Pitt
  • Lifetime Record: 63-44
  • ACC Division Titles: 2
  • ACC Championships: 1

 

Pitt Team Links

 

Pitt Offense (Pro Style)

Offensive Stats

  • Points per game: 24
  • Total offense yards per game: 317
  • Passing yards per game: 182
  • Rushing yards per game: 135

 

Quarterbacks

Phil Jurkovec | #5

  • Passing Yards: 583 | TD Passes: 4 | INT’s: 3 | Sacked: 8
  • Rushing Yards: 81 | Rushing TD’s: 1

Jurkovec played better in the loss to UNC before being injured. If he is able to suit up, perhaps he can continue to elevate his game going and get the Pitt offense back on track.

Back-up: Christian Veilleux | #11

  • Passing Yards: 145 | TD Passes: 1 | INT’s: 2 | Sacked: 1
  • Rushing Yards: 6 | Rushing TD’s: 0

Veilleux got his shot when Jurkovec went down and didn’t exactly shine as some people thought he would, completing just 7 of 18 passes for 85 yards, and two interceptions. If he does start, he may be on a short leash to Nate Yarnell, who played well last year when Kedon Slovis was hurt.

 

Running Backs

Rodney Hammond | #6

  • Rushing Yards: 178 | Rushing TD’s: 3
  • Receptions: 4 | Receiving Yards: 26 | Receiving TD’s: 0

Hammond is Pitt’s lead back with 178 yards rushing and three touchdowns. If Pitt had any brains, the running game would be the focal point of attack vs a Hokies defense that is horrific vs the run.

C’Bo Flemister | #24

  • Rushing Yards: 109 | Rushing TD’s: 0
  • Receptions: 3 | Receiving Yards: 35 | Receiving TD’s: 0

Flemister makes the most of any opportunity he gets, always finding a way to fall forward for positive yards.

Daniel Carter | #4

  • Rushing Yards: 104 | Rushing TD’s: 2
  • Receptions: 1 | Receiving Yards: 0 | Receiving TD’s: 0

Leads the team in rushing after three games.

Derrick Davis, Jr. | #34

  • Rushing Yards: 8 | Rushing TD’s: 0
  • Receptions: 0 | Receiving Yards: 0 | Receiving TD’s: 0

 

Wide Receivers

Konata Mumpfield | #9

  • Receptions: 16 | Receiving Yards: 183 | Receiving TD’s: 2

Mumpfield is first on the team with 16 catches for 183 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Bub Means | #0

  • Receptions: 7 | Receiving Yards: 71 | Receiving TD’s: 0

Means had plenty of preseason hype, but has been a bust so far in 2023.

Daejon Reynolds | #3

  • Receptions: 7 | Receiving Yards: 86 | Receiving TD’s: 0

Reynolds, a transfer from Florida, has a catch in each game this year.

Kenny Johnson | #2

  • Receptions: 3 | Receiving Yards: 27 | Receiving TD’s: 0

Johnson has plenty of talent and it may be time for him to be featured in this offense.

Che Nwebuko | #21

  • Receptions: 0 | Receiving Yards: 0 | Receiving TD’s: 0
  • Rushing Yards: 23

 

Tight Ends

Gavin Bartholomew | #86

  • Receptions: 9 | Receiving Yards: 216 | Receiving TD’s: 1

Leads the team with 216 yards receiving. It would behoove the Panthers to utilize their tight ends more often.

 Karter Johnson | #8

  • Receptions: 2 | Receiving Yards: 24 | Receiving TD’s: 1

Caught a touchdown pass in week one.

Malcolm Epps | #7

  • Receptions: 2 | Receiving Yards: 3 | Receiving TD’s: 0

Made a catch in opener but didn’t gain a yard.

Jake Renda | #88

  • Receptions: 2 | Receiving Yards: 14 | Receiving TD’s: 0

Renda looked good when the ball came his way, catching two passes for 14 yards.

 

Offensive Line

LT: Ryan Baer #70 | LG: Blake Zubovic #68 | C: Jake Kradel #53 | RG: B.J. Williams #55 | RT: Branson Taylor #78

*Injured/Out

 

Pitt Defense (Base 4-3)

Defensive Stats

  • Points per game allowed: 23
  • Total offense yards per game allowed: 270.3
  • Passing yards allowed: 159.5
  • Rushing yards allowed: 110.8
  • Sacks: 14
  • Interceptions: 1

 

Defensive Starters

DE: Dayon Hayes #50 | DT: Deandre Jules #0 or Tyler Bentley #92 | DT: Devin Danielson #95 or David Green #2 | DE: Nate Temple #6

  • Hayes has eight tackles and two sacks. Bam Brima has a sack. Okunola has two sacks. Green is 5th on the team with 16 tackles and a sack.

Money: Bengally Kamara #11 | MIKE: Shayne Simon #32 | STAR: Solomon DeShields, Jr. #23

  • Bengally Kamara has recorded 12 tackles and a sack. DeShields has 21 tackles and a sack.

CB: Marquis Williams #14 or A.J. Woods #9 | SS: Donovan McMillon #3 | FS: Javon McIntyre #7 | CB: M.J. Devonshire #12

  • McMillon leads the team lead with 31 tackles. Javon McIntyre is 2nd with 22 tackles.

 

Pitt Special Teams

Placekicker

Ben Sauls | #90

Extra Points: 11-11

Field Goals: 4-6

  • 1-19 yards: 0-0
  • 20-29 yards: 2-2
  • 30-39 yards: 1-1
  • 40-49 yards: 1-2
  • 50+ yards: 0-1

 

Kickoff Returners

Konata Mumpfield | #9

  • Average: 20.0 | TD Returns: 0

Kenny Johnson | #2

  • Average: 37.6 | TD Returns: 1

 

Punt Returners

M.J. Devonshire | #12

  • Average: 3.7 | TD Returns: 0

As a senior at Aliquippa High School, Devonshire had eight kickoff or punt return touchdowns, one short of the national high school record, and would’ve had five more if not for penalties. Last year, Devonshire averaged an ACC best 9.7 yards per punt return.

 

 

Scouting the Virginia Tech Hokies

Overall Record: 1-3 | ACC Conference Record: 0-0 | Rank: n/a

Previous Game: Marshall 24 Virginia Tech 17

Head Coach: Brent Pry

  • 2nd Season with Virginia Tech
  • Lifetime Record: 4-11 | 4-11 at VaTech

Links

 

VaTech Offense (Multiple)

Offensive Stats

  • Points per game: 21.5
  • Total offense yards per game: 329.3
  • Passing yards per game: 221
  • Rushing yards per game: 108.3

 

Quarterbacks

Grant Wells | #6

  • Passing Yards: 494 | TD Passes: 5 | INT’s: 2 | Sacked: 3
  • Rushing Yards: 14 | Rushing TD’s: 1

Wells is the starter with 494 yards passing, five TD’s, and two interceptions. Listed as Questionable for the game, but reports out of Blacksburg aren’t expecting him to suit up.

Back-up: Kyron Drones | #1

Drones gets plenty of action during games due to his running ability. Has been sacked six times. Will start if Wells can’t play.

  • Passing Yards: 390 | TD Passes: 1 | INT’s: 1 | Sacked: 6
  • Rushing Yards: 164 | Rushing TD’s: 2

 

Running Backs

Bhayshul Tuten | #33

  • Rushing Yards: 192 | Rushing TD’s: 1
  • Receptions: 9 | Receiving Yards: 95 | Receiving TD’s: 1

Tuten is the lead back and has amassed 192 yards and scored one touchdown. 

Malachi Thomas | #24

  • Rushing Yards: 62 | Rushing TD’s: 0
  • Receptions: 2 | Receiving Yards: 12 | Receiving TD’s: 0

 

Wide Receivers

Da’Quan Felton | #9

  • Receptions: 10 | Receiving Yards: 128 | Receiving TD’s: 1

Felton is one of a trio of wide receiver targets, tied for 2nd on the team with 10 receptions for 128 yards and a touchdown.

Stephen Gosnell | #12

  • Receptions: 9 | Receiving Yards: 133 | Receiving TD’s: 0

Gosnell is the team leader with 133 receiving yards.

Jaylin Lane | #83

  • Receptions: 10 | Receiving Yards: 124 | Receiving TD’s: 2

Lane is tied for 2nd on the team lead with 10 catches, for 124 yards and two touchdowns. 

Ali Jennings* | #0

  • Receptions: 5 | Receiving Yards: 72 | Receiving TD’s: 2

Jennings is one of the Hokie’s best receivers, but is unlikely to play.

Da’Wain Lofton | #3

  • Receptions: 5 | Receiving Yards: 46 | Receiving TD’s: 0

Tucker Holloway | #11

  • Receptions: 2 | Receiving Yards: 13 | Receiving TD’s: 0

Ayden Greene | #26

  • Receptions: 3 | Receiving Yards: 29 | Receiving TD’s: 0

 

Tight Ends

Benji Gosnell | #82

  • Receptions: 8 | Receiving Yards: 96 | Receiving TD’s: 0

Gosnell is one of two tight ends utilized in the VaTech passing game.

Dae’Quan Wright | #8

  • Receptions: 11 | Receiving Yards: 127 | Receiving TD’s: 1

Wright has a team leading 11 receptions for 127 yards and a score.

*Injured/Out

 

VaTech Defense (4-3)

Defensive Stats

  • Points per game allowed: 25
  • Total offense yards per game allowed: 351
  • Passing yards allowed: 138.5
  • Rushing yards allowed: 212.5
  • Sacks: 9
  • Interceptions: 3

 

Defensive Starters

LDE: Antwaun Powell-Ryland #52 | LDT: Norell Pollard #3 | RDT: Josh Fuga #6 | RDE: Keyshawn Burgos #2

  • Powell-Ryland has 15 tackles and two sacks. 

WLB: Keli Lawson #21 | MLB: Alan Tisdale #34 | STAR: Keonta Jenkins #7 

  • Lawson is the team leader with 39 tackles and has an interception. Tisdale is 4th with 16 tackles and a sack.

CB: Mansoor Delane #26 | SS: Jalen Stroman #26 | FS: Jaylen Jones #15 | CB: Dorian Strong #44

  • Stroman is 2nd on the team with 26 tackles. 

 

VaTech Special Teams

Placekicker

John Love | #97

Extra Points: 9-9

Field Goals: 5-6

  • 1-19 yards: 0-0
  • 20-29 yards: 3-3
  • 30-39 yards: 1-2
  • 40-49 yards: 1-1
  • 50+ yards: 0-0

 

Kickoff Returners

Bhayshul Tuten | #33

  • Average: 24.3 | TD Returns: 0

Malachi Thomas | #11

  • Average: 15.5 | TD Returns: 0

 

Punt Returners

Tucker Holloway | #23

  • Average: 24.4 | TD Returns: 0

 

Pitt vs Virginia Tech History

Series Began: 1993

Overall Record: 11-11

  • At Home: 8-4
  • On Road: 3-7
  • Neutral Site: 0-0

ACC Series: 6-4

Streak: Pitt won the last three games.

Last Game: Oct. 8, 2022 (Pitt 45, Virginia Tech 29)

 

Injury Report (9/28/23)

Pitt Panthers

  • Out: LG Ryan Jacoby, LT Matt Goncalves
  • Doubtful: None
  • Questionable: QB Phil Jurkovec, LB Bengally Kamara

Virginia Tech Hokies

  • Out: None
  • Doubtful: WR Ali Jennings
  • Questionable: QB Grant Wells, FS Jaylen Jones

 

ACC Standings

 

 

 

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About Post Author

Mike Drakulich

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. For a refreshing view of sports, mixed with humor and uncensored opinions, check out Pittsburgh SportsNation today on Facebook, Twitter @PghSportsNation and videos with over 1,000,000 views on YouTube!
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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.

For a refreshing view of sports, mixed with humor and uncensored opinions, check out Pittsburgh SportsNation today on Facebook, Twitter @PghSportsNation and videos with over 1,000,000 views on YouTube!

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