Best Pitt Offensive Player
QB Kenny Pickett, Soph.
The guy throws one touchdown pass, hits 59% of his passes, and now he’s the next Dan Marino? Hardly, but he was terrific against Virginia Tech and engineered the win over Miami, and now the offense is his. Great throughout the offseason, the 6-2, 225-pounder has pro passing skills and can move, running for 93 yards and two scores in his limited time.
No, he’s not going to be the most accurate passer, but he’ll push the ball deep, is fearless, and can move just enough to buy himself time. If he settles down the quarterback situation and is great from the start, Pitt will be a player.
2. RB Darrin Hall, Sr.
3. RB Qadree Ollison, Sr.
4. OG/OT Alex Bookser, Sr.
5. RB Mychale Salahuddin, Fr.
Best Pitt Defensive Player
LB Oluwaseun Idowu, Sr.
The linebacking corps might be terrific, but Idowu should still be the star. The 6-0, 230-pounder followed up his 74-tackle sophomore season with an All-ACC season, cranking up a team-leading 94 tackles with five sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss from the strongside.
Very smart, very active, and with the fight of the walk-on that he was, he’s always around the ball and great in the open field.
2. DE Rashad Weaver, Soph.
3. CB Dane Jackson, Jr.
4. LB Quintin Wirginis, Sr.
5. DE Dwayne Hendrix, Sr.
Key Player To A Successful Season
WR Rafael Araujo-Lopes, Sr.
Pickett is the true key player, but he needs targets to rise up and help him rock. Araujo-Lopes is a quick 5-9, 190-pounder who led the team with 43 catches for 531 yards and two scores, but he needs to grow into a No. 1 target – or else someone else has to.
The former JUCO transfer can move, he’s an academic all-star, and he can get himself open. Can he average over 17 yards per catch like Jester Weah? If so, the dynamic of the receiving corps quickly changes.
Key Game To The Pitt Season
Georgia Tech, Sept. 15
You don’t want to put too much stock into a mid-September game as a make-or-break moment, but that might be what the Georgia Tech game is. With road games at North Carolina and UCF up next, and with a nasty November with three road dates, the Panthers can’t give away any home games.
Last year, they got rocked 35-17 in the ACC opener in Atlanta and started out the conference season 0-3. Win, and all of a sudden, the rest of the slate might start to look more manageable.
2017 Pitt Fun Stats
– Time of Possession: Pitt 32:28 – Opponents 27:32
– 4th Down Conversions: Pitt 13-of-20 (65%) – Opponents 8-of-17 (47%)
– Kickoff Return Average: Opponents 25.21 yards – Pitt 18.73 yards