Preview 2018: Previewing and looking ahead to the Pitt Panthers season with what you need to know.
Preview 2018: Pitt Panthers
– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
– Top Players, Key Game, Fun Stats
– What Will Happen & Win Total Prediction
– Recruiting Class Analysis | Schedule Analysis
– Pitt Previews 2017 | 2016 | 2015
And then Pitt goes out there and beats Miami.
It’s not like the Panthers had a whole slew of awful breaks in their 5- season.
They didn’t have to play Clemson, the schedule as a whole was more than manageable, and yet they lost at Syracuse, totally gagged away a key weeknight game against a bad North Carolina squad, and couldn’t fight past Virginia Tech to keep bowl eligibility in play.
And then, the same program that handed Deshaun Watson and Clemson their only loss of the 2016 season rose up and rocked an unbeaten Miami in the season finale.
It’s not like the team was a doormat – three of the losses were by a total of 12 points – but inconsistent quarterbacking, occasionally miserable special teams play, another rough year from the secondary, and poor pass protection all contributed to the problems.
Throw in an offense that struggled to score in the red zone, and a defense that couldn’t get behind the line, and there were a whole slew of factors contributing to the losing campaign.
But now it’s the fourth year under Pat Narduzzi, and this is when his team has to be air-tight.
He’s been able to make his mark with some solid recruiting classes, and now he has the talent in place to have his best defense yet.
The linebacking corps might not be the best in the ACC, but it won’t be far off.
The pass rush should be far, far better thanks to a great-looking group of ends, and the secondary … moving on. (The defensive backs are going to struggle a wee bit – again.)
The special teams have to be far more special. The coverage teams were a disaster, and replacing return man Quadree Henderson isn’t going to be a breeze. But the real spotlight will be on the offensive side that struggled and sputtered so much.
Kenny Pickett rose up and was terrific late in the season, and now Pitt has its quarterback to build around. The receiving corps has to do its part with a slew of okay pieces, and the blocking has to be better for the great group of running backs.
And Narduzzi has to come through with a big year. He has yet to win a bowl game, his secondaries get torched way too often, and after what happened last season, it’s not bowl-game-or-else time, but it’s not terribly far off.
It’s this simple. That team that beat Miami needs to show up from the start and keep playing that way. If it does – and we all know it’s there – look out ACC.