Pitt Panthers at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Preview
Welcome to the Pitt Panthers at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Preview! This is your one-stop shop for everything you need to know about Pitt and their upcoming opponent! Mike Drakulich of Pittsburgh SportsNation brings you inside the huddle for both teams, providing all fans with a detailed breakdown of each team, game outlook, score prediction, individual stats, team stats, and even the weather at kickoff. The only thing you’re missing is a ticket into the stadium!
A look at the Pitt Panthers!
Overall Record: 1-2 | ACC Record: 0-0 | Rank N/A
Head Coach: Pat Narduzzi (3rd Season with Pitt)
Lifetime Record: 17-12
Last Week: Oklahoma St 59 Pitt 21
Breakdown of the Panthers
Quarterback- Max Browne has a good arm and displays a nice touch on deep throws, but he is as mobile as a statue. Ben DiNucci is probably a better all-around QB than Browne. DiNucci has much better speed and can gain yards on the ground if he sees no throwing lanes open.
Running Backs- Pitt is loaded with guys who can tote the rock. Qadree Ollison is the starter for now. He is more of a bruiser, as is Darrin Hall. Chawntez Moss has worked his way into the mix with his quickness. AJ Davis played in the opener, but both he and Todd Sibley may be headed for a redshirt. Fullback George Aston is probable and hoping to see his first action of the year. Colton Lively will back up Aston.
Wide Receivers- Jester Weah caught 36 passes for 872 yards and 10 scores last year. He has yet to continue his success this year. Quadree Henderson is a dynamic playmaker but hasn’t seen anywhere near the touches needed to produce. When he has gotten the ball, he hasn’t done much. To his credit, he is not playing anywhere near 100%. Maurice French will look to contribute on both the ground and in the air, as he can employ a style similar to Henderson. Ruben Flowers is a four-star prospect and should make an impact eventually. Aaron Mathews is getting better and Raphael Araujo-Lopez now leads the team with 11 receptions on the year.
Tight Ends- Matt Flanagan and Chris Clark hoped to emulate the success of the graduated Scott Orndoff. So far, only Flanagan has put up decent numbers. Clark is a huge target but only has one catch in 2017.
Defense- Dewayne Hendrix and Rashaad Weaver are co-starters at defensive end, with Allen Edwards on the other side. James Folston, Jr. and Patrick Jones II will also see plenty of action. In the middle, you’ll find Shane Roy and the impressive freshman Keyson Camp. Amir Watts and Kam Cater will be in the rotation.
At linebacker, Elijah Zeise, Saleem Brightwell, and Seun Idowu are the starters. Anthony McKee, Jr. and Chris Pine will get plenty of chances to make an impression, too.
The secondary was scorched game after game last year but has played much better so far this year. Star safety Jordan Whitehead is back after being suspended for the first three games. Avonte Maddox will start at corner on one side and expect to see a rotation of Dane Jackson and Damarri Mathis until one stands above the other. Dennis Briggs will start at strong safety and is also a team captain. Phil Campbell and Henry Miller will back-up Briggs. With Whitehead back, Bricen Garner and Jazzee Stocker will rotate at SS. Highly touted Damar Hamlin will be in the mix once his various injuries begin to heal up. Top recruit Paris Ford enrolled late, but his talent will eventually rise to the top and he will see action sooner than later.
Kicker- Alex Kessman takes over the duties for Chris Blewitt and will need to prove he can handle the pressure of being the man when called upon.
Kick/Punt Return- Quadree Henderson will be back deep for every kick.
A look at the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets!
Overall Record: 1-1 | ACC Record: 0-0 | Rank N/A
Head Coach: Paul Johnson (10th Season with Georgia Tech)
Lifetime Record: 178-88 | 71-49 with Georgia Tech
Last Week: Georgia Tech 37 Jacksonville St 10
Breakdown of the Yellow Jackets
Quarterback- TaQuon Marshall is your typical Yellow Jackets quarterback. He won’t chuck the ball up 30 times, but he will kill you on the ground via the triple option.
Running Backs- KirVonte Benson, Nathan Cottrell, and Jerry Howard make up a trio of running backs that GT employs in the triple option. Benson leads the three with 150 yards rushing so far this year.
Wide Receivers- Not much of a pass-catching group. Ricky Jeune, Qua Searcy, and Brad Stewart have a combined eight receptions on the year.
Tight Ends- Not utilized in the GT offense.
Defense- Decent unit that is giving up 26 points a game. They have nice speed, but Pitt should be able to put up some points this week.
Pitt knew it was going to have some growing pains in the 2017 season, but they never envisioned the way the season has unfolded so far. After needing overtime to defeat Youngstown State, Pitt was clipped by their rivals in Penn State before being humiliated at home by Oklahoma State last week 59-21.
Starting QB Max Browne has been pulled from the last two games, and replaced by Ben DiNucci, who is more elusive, but hasn’t fared much better. The offensive posture of the players looks more positive when DiNucci is in, but head coach Pat Narduzzi is still up in the air on who will start against the Yellow Jackets.
“We still have a lot of faith in that guy (Browne),” Narduzzi said. “Sometimes the ball just doesn’t roll your way. Ben has had his good plays and his bad plays, too.
“We’re still searching for that guy who’s going to lead this team to victory. If it takes us six games, it takes us six games. If it takes us one, we’ll find out.”
The offense may get a boost from fullback George Aston returning. The bruising running back was one of the team’s most versatile players last season, especially inside the red zone.
Aston scored 10 TD’s in 2016. Five via the ground, and five through the air. At 6’0, 245 pounds, Aston’s surprising speed despite his size was used on jet sweeps, often catching defenses off guard.
Jordan Whitehead will also return to his role as starting SS after serving a three-game suspension.
“I’m going to be excited to get him back out there, get him rolling and let him do what he does — which is play football,” Pitt defensive coordinator Josh Conklin said Wednesday.
His absence has lead to many of Pitt’s defensive woes. Pitt ranks 126th of 129 FBS schools in passing yards allowed at 349 per game.
“Obviously, getting Jordan back will be a huge lift for everybody, and it’ll take some pressure off some guys back there and get a guy that’s really played in games,” Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said.
Whitehead may also see time for a few offensive snaps, as he has averaged 10.5 yards per carry during his tenure as a Panther. His fellow teammates are excited to get him back on the field as well.
“It’s not even what he’s going to do on the field,” sophomore running back Chawntez Moss said. “His leadership presence is going to help the team. His locker room presence is going to help the team. Having him back, period is just great.
“We know Jordan. Jordan is a baller. Knowing that this guy in the locker room with me is going to go out and give everything he’s got — and be pretty good at it — just gives everybody else the excitement to want to play harder.”
The key for the Panthers will be containing TaQuon Marshall and the triple-option, an offense that has given Pitt fits over the years. You have to be disciplined on defense and stay on your assignment if you want to disrupt the flow of GT’s attack. Making the tackle doesn’t hurt either.
“If he sees a crack, he’s going to try to take it,” Pitt redshirt freshman defensive end Rashad Weaver said. “He’s not a big guy (5-foot-10, 185 pounds), but really quick and can move.”
On offense, Pitt would seem to benefit more if DiNucci started. The posture of the players on the field seems more confident when he is behind the center. DiNucci needs to make better use of his throws, however. The costly turnovers have to cease immediately. DiNucci will also have to develop a bit more poise in the pocket, moving up in the pocket and looking for his 2nd, 3rd, and 4th reads instead of taking off with the ball if receiving option #1 isn’t open.
It will be a tough task for the Pitt Panthers to go down to Atlanta and turn things around. The turkey is on the table for them should they rise to the challenge, as a win Saturday would likely lead to another the week after at home against Rice. Winning breeds confidence. Right now, one would be hard-pressed to trust Pitt to meet even the slightest of expectations.
Prediction: Georgia Tech 38 Pitt 30
NCAA Week 4
Pitt Panthers (1-2, 0-0) vs Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (1-1, 0-0)
Venue: Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field, Atlanta, GA.
Game-time: Saturday, September 23rd, 12:20 pm
TV: ACC Network | Announcers: Tom Werme (play-by-play) Dave Archer (analyst) | D.J. Shockley (reporter)
Local Radio: Pittsburgh- 93.7 The Fan | Announcers: Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play) Bill Osborne (analyst) | Larry Richert (sideline)
National Radio: Sirius XM Satellite Internet Channel 968 |
Weather at Kickoff: 81 and sunny.
Vegas Line: Georgia Tech -7.5
Pitt vs Georgia Tech History
- Series History: Began in 1918.
- Pitt is 7-4 against Georgia Tech. |
- Pitt is 3-1 on road vs Georgia Tech.
- Streak: Pitt won previous two meetings.
- Last Regular Season Meeting: Oct. 8, 2016 (Pitt 37 Georgia Tech 34)
- Pitt is 0-2 vs Georgia Tech in Bowl Games.
After facing one of the country’s most explosive passing teams in Oklahoma State, the Panthers will now have to defend the nation’s No. 1 rushing team in Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets are averaging 372.5 yards rushing, while the Panthers are giving up 119.7 yards on the ground.
The Panthers and Yellow Jackets both feature ball-control attacks on offense and rank among the nation’s leaders in time of possession. Georgia Tech averages 36:30 in possession time to rank fifth nationally. The Panthers are holding the ball for an average of 34:48 to rank 11th.
Five true freshmen played in Pitt’s season-opening victory over Youngstown State: running back A.J. Davis, tight end Tyler Sear, long snapper Cal Adomitis and cornerbacks Damarri Mathis and Jason Pinnock.
Pitt has compiled at least 200 yards rushing in nine of its past 15 games. The most recent occasion was its season-opening victory over Youngstown State when the Panthers netted 208 yards on the ground. Under Pat Narduzzi, Pitt has compiled at least 200 rushing yards 13 times.
QB- Max Browne (338 yards passing | 1 TD passes | 2 interceptions | 7 sacks | -41 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD)
QB- Ben DiNucci (277 yards passing | 1 TD passes | 2 interceptions | 3 sacks | 8 yards rushing | 1 rushing TD)
RB- Qadree Ollison (193 yards rushing | 2 rushing TD’s | 8 receptions | 72 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
RB- Chawntez Moss (82 yards rushing | 1 rushing TD’s | 0 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
RB- Darrin Hall (72 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 5 receptions | 29 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
RB- AJ Davis (8 yards rushing | 1 rushing TD’s | 0 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
FB- Colton Lively (0 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 0 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
WR- Rafael Araujo-Lopes (11 receptions | 136 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s)
WR- Maurice Ffrench (8 receptions | 44 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
WR- Jester Weah (7 receptions | 76 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s
WR- Aaron Matthews (5 receptions | 50 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
WR- Quadree Henderson (4 receptions | 86 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s | 73 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s)
WR- Ruben Flowers (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
TE- Matt Flanagan (8 receptions | 97 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
TE- Chris Clark (1 receptions | 7 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
K- Alex Kessman (Extra Point: 7-7 | FG: 2-4 | 0-19: 0-0 | 20-29: 2-4 | 30-39: 0-0 | 40-49: 0-0 | 50+: 0-0 | Long: 28
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
QB- TaQuon Marshall (232 yards passing | 3 TD passes | 0 interceptions | 1 sacks | 274 yards rushing | 6 rushing TD )
RB- KirVonte Benson (150 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 0 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
RB- Nathan Cottrell (96 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 0 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
RB- Jerry Howard (82 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 0 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
WR- Ricky Jeune (4 receptions | 105 receiving yards | 2 receiving TD’s)
WR- Qua Searcy (2 receptions | 61 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
WR- Brad Stewart (2 receptions | 23 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
K- Shawn Davis (Extra Point: 9-10 | FG: 1-3 | 0-19: 0-0 | 20-29: 0-0 | 30-39: 1-2 | 40-49: 0-1 | 50+: 0-0 | Long: 34
Pitt – Georgia Tech: Offensive vs Defensive Comparison
Pitt Total Offense: Pitt averages 360.3 YPG | Georgia Tech allows 279 YPG
Rushing: Pitt averages 155.3 YPG | Georgia Tech allows 132 YPG
Passing: Pitt averages 205 YPG | Georgia Tech allows 147 YPG
Scoring: Pitt averages 21 PPG | Georgia Tech allows 26 PPG
Pitt Total Defense: Pitt allows 365 YPG | Georgia Tech averages 488.5 YPG
Rushing: Pitt allows 127.5 YPG | Georgia Tech averages 372.5 YPG
Passing: Pitt allows 349 YPG | Georgia Tech averages 116 YPG
Scoring: Pitt allows 37.7 PPG | Georgia Tech averages 39 PPG
Pitt Panthers 2017 Schedule
Regular Season (Overall: 1-2 | ACC: 0-0)
Saturday, September 2 Youngstown State W- 28-21 OT
Saturday, September 9 at #6 Penn State (ABC) L- 14-33
Saturday, September 16 #9 Oklahoma State (ESPN) L- 21-59
Saturday, September 23 at Georgia Tech* (ACC Network) at 12:20 p.m.
Saturday, September 30 Rice at TBA
Saturday, October 7 at Syracuse* at TBA
Saturday, October 14 NC State* (HC) at TBA
Saturday, October 21 at Duke* at TBA
Saturday, October 28 Virginia* at TBA
Thursday, November 9 North Carolina* (ESPN) at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, November 18 at Virginia Tech* at TBA
Friday, November 24 Miami* at TBA
*ACC game / (HC) Homecoming / Ranking as of that week
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