College Football News Preview 2020: Pitt Panthers Keys To The Season
Biggest Key To The Pitt Panthers Offense
The downfield passing game has to work. The offense didn’t totally abandon the run, but offensive coordinator Mark Whipple changed things up to more of a passing attack.
The result? The running game suffered, but the Panthers went from throwing for fewer than 2,000 yards in 2018 to bombing away for over 3,400 yards last season.
However, after seven straight seasons of averaging more than seven yards per attempt – and over eight in two campaigns – the Panthers averaged 6.3 yards per throw two years ago and just 6.6 last year.
When the passing game worked, the results were great – Pitt was 8-1 when throwing a touchdown pass, and 0-4 when it didn’t. Over the last two seasons, the program is 7-0 when it averages 7.9 yards per throw – not that big a bar to get over.
Biggest Key To The Pitt Panthers Defense
A few more takeaways would be nice. The Panther defenses have never been big on forcing takeaways in the Pat Narduzzi era, but again, it would be nice. The D should own the nation’s deadliest pass rush again – or close to it – but at some point it has to lead to mistakes by the offenses.
Pitt only came up with 14 takeaways last season, and six of them were in the win over Duke and ten in all came in three games – all wins.
Under Narduzzi, Pitt is 17-7 when forcing two takeaways or more, and 7-1 when coming up with three or more. Last season, there were just five recovered fumbles by the D, and three of them came against Duke.
Key Pitt Panthers Player To A Successful Season
WR Taysir Mack, Sr.
He’s got the 6-2, 205-pound size, and he’s got the ability to get deep. Now he has to take on the role of a No. 1 receiver for an offense that’s going to keep pushing the passing game again.
Maurice Ffrench caught 96 passes, but he only averaged 8.85 yards per grab. Mack caught 63 passes for 736 yards and three touchdowns, and he averaged close to 12 yards per play. He’ll need to be both a volume-catcher and a home run hitter as the leader of a young and promising group of receivers.
Key Game To The Pitt Panthers Season
at Miami, Oct. 3
Pitt is good enough to start out 4-0 in a winnable September, and then it’s on. After starting out the ACC season at home against Duke, there’s a trip to Miami in a big step battle for the Coastal title.
There are still trips to North Carolina and Virginia, so lose to the Hurricanes, and there’s going to be a problem getting in the mix for the division title. Win – after losing four of the last five in the series – and all of a sudden the what-likely-would-be 5-0 Panthers get a week off for a much-hyped battle against Notre Dame.
– Pitt Panthers Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
2019 Pitt Fun Stats
– Pitt 2nd Quarter Scoring: 137 – Pitt 2nd Half Scoring: 87
– Sacks: Pitt 51 for 338 yards – Opponents 29 for 212 yards
– Penalties: Pitt 102 for 888 yards – Opponents 63 for 644 yards