ACC: Pitt Panthers vs Miami Hurricanes Preview
Welcome to the ACC: Pitt Panthers vs Miami Hurricanes 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 Game Preview, Pitt’s Keys to Victory, Score Prediction, a detailed breakdown of each team, Game Information, Individual Stats, Team Stats, down to the weather at kickoff. The only thing you’re missing is a game uniform!
There the Panthers were again. 1st and goal from the two-yard line and about to shock the Hokies yet again.
Four interesting plays later and Virginia Tech’s players were running off the field in jubilation and the Panthers were hanging their heads in defeat with another heartbreaking loss.
“We can sit here and talk about play calls, but you have to block,” Panther head coach Pat Narduzzi said. “We had four downs to get 1 yard. They’re a good football team. We knew that they have a good run defense, but it’s a yard. We have to be able to get a yard.”
They didn’t and now Pitt has only pride to play for as they dropped to 4-7 on the season.
The #2 Miami Hurricanes blow into town on Friday at Noon, and coach Narduzzi knows the task at hand will be tough for his team.
“They’ve got that chain going and the ‘U’ and the whole deal,” Narduzzi said. “They’ve got confidence that they’re going to get turnovers every time they walk out on the field, so that’s going to certainly be a key to victory is don’t get them started. They want to pass that chain around and have 10 or 12 guys have that chain around their neck, so we’ve got to make sure that thing stays wherever they keep it when they walk out on the field. We’ve got to try to keep it in that box.”
Tackle Brian O’Neill is confident the Panther offense can make some noise against the vaunted Miami D.
“I don’t necessarily think we wanna change what we do just because they might be able to get more turnovers through the air,” O’Neill said. “They’ve had a lot of success with that, but at the same time, their D-line’s been really productive with tackles for loss, so it’s a big challenge whether we run it or throw it. There’s no shying away from that. “
Narduzzi was asked if there was one thing about Miami that impressed him.
“Speed. They’ve got athletes all over the field. Rosier, obviously, at quarterback, I think he’s faster than the Jackson kid last week, very similar type guy throws a nice ball, tight spiral. He can run. And then they’ve got skill everywhere,” Narduzzi said. “They’re going to line up in three wideouts just about every snap. They’ll get in a little bit of two tight end sets, but it’s going to be a tempo game, not a fast tempo like Syracuse but it’s the speed that they have, and Berrios at the slot receiver is not only an electric returner but heck of a receiver, too.”
“They’ve got some tremendous athletes that are big and fast,” Narduzzi continued. “They’ve kept it simple enough that those guys can play fast. They’re not an overly complicated football team when you look at what they do offensively and defensively, but you know what? You don’t have to be when you’ve got better dudes out there.”
O’Neill and safety Jordan Whitehead may be playing their last game in a Panther uniform, along with 14 seniors on Friday.
Whitehead said he’d reflect on his future after the game Friday.
“We still have things to prove next year,” Whitehead said. “It starts right here vs Miami. I know I have a whole other season left, but I have to focus on finishing this season out.”
It was expected to be a transition year for Narduzzi and his Panthers. No one expected a 4-7 season with no Bowl. Despite the down year, this young team has shown signs of becoming a force next year, especially defensively. With one game left, Pitt fans, and coaches will get one final look at what lurks for the 2018 season.
“We’ll use Miami as a measuring stick as to how far we’ve grown through the entire year.”, Narduzzi stated.
Pitt Keys to Victory
- Establish the Ground Game! Darrin Hall and the running game was non-existent last week. Last game of the year it’s time to man up.
- Get on the Pickett Line! No more dual QBs. This is Kenny Pickett’s team now and for next year. Send him in there and let ‘er rip!
- Bring the Pain to Malik Rosier! If Pitt has any chance to win, they need to be physical with Rosier. If he has time, Pitt will be Thanksgiving leftovers.
- Limit Chunk Plays! Make the Hurricanes earn every yard.
This game will go how the Panther offense goes. The best chance for any type of upset lies in the hands of freshman QB Kenny Pickett, who is clearly better than Ben DiNucci.
What will Pat Narduzzi do?
“Ben had a heck of a day out there Monday, I can tell you that,” Narduzzi said during his Press Conference. But…
“Kenny did a nice job. Kenny threw the ball well, which we thought he could, but you never know in a game,” Narduzzi said of Pickett’s performance last week vs VaTech. “He just gave us a chance.”
That chance Pickett gave Pitt wouldn’t have existed with DiNucci in the game. He is the future of Pitt’s program. It’s time the keys get handed to him permanently.
“We’ve just got to kind of ride the hot hand, and last week we felt like Kenny was the hot hand,” Narduzzi said. “We’ll find out [in practice] who the hot guy is this week and kind of go with him. And then if things don’t as well as we want, we’ll make a switch.”
If so, there could be a monumental upset taking place around 3:30 pm Friday afternoon at Heinz Field. The “U” had a slow start against Virginia last week and may come in overlooking this young Pitt team in advance of next week’s match-up with Clemson in the ACC Championship Game.
Pitt’s defense held their own against the Hokies last week and would like to go out on a high note with the season-ending Friday against the Hurricanes.
But, no matter how good the defense plays, it will need some help from a Panther offense that is clearly better with Pickett at the helm.
Look for a tough, hard-fought game by both teams. Miami will have just enough left in the tank to hold off another late Panther charge.
Don’t be surprised, however, if Pitt shocks the world again just for the heck of it. If you get a chuckle out of that statement, remember, West Virginia and Clemson were laughing once, too.
“All our guys know what happened a year ago,” Narduzzi said. “They know it can be done.”
Miami 28 Pitt 24
NCAA Week 13
Pitt Panthers (4-7, 2-5) at #3 Miami Hurricanes (10-0, 7-0)
Venue: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA.
Game-time: Friday, November 24th, 12:00 pm
TV: ABC (WTAE) | Announcers: Bob Wischusen (play-by-play) Brock Huard (analyst) | Allison Williams (sideline)
Local Radio: Pittsburgh- 93.7 The Fan | Announcers: Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play) Bill Osborne (analyst) | Larry Richert (sideline)
National Radio: Sports USA Media | Announcers: Josh Appel (play-by-play) Doug Plank (analyst)
Sirius XM Satellite Radio: Sirius Channel 84, XM Channel 84, Internet Channel 84
Weather at Kickoff: 48 and sunny.
Vegas Line: Miami -14.5
Pitt vs Virginia Tech History
- Series History: Began in 1950.
- Pitt is 10-25-1 overall against Miami.
- Pitt is 5-14 at home vs Miami.
- Streak: Miami won the previous two meetings.
- Last Regular Season Meeting: Nov. 5, 2016 (Miami 51 Pitt 28)
Fourteen seniors will be making their final appearance at Heinz Field when the Panthers host Miami. Of note: this week’s projected Pitt starting lineup (24 positions with two specialists) lists only seven seniors, including two who are listed as co-starters.
Junior tailback Darrin Hall has rushed for more than 100 yards in three of the Panthers’ past four contests. Hall is averaging 122.5 yards over this span, totaling 490 yards and eight touchdowns on 87 carries (5.6 avg.).
- Pitt last played a team ranked this high just last season. The Panthers faced No. 3/2 Clemson in Death Valley on Nov. 12, 2016, handing the eventual national champion Tigers their only defeat, 43-42.
A look at the Pitt Panthers!
Overall Record: 4-7 | ACC Record: 2-5 | Rank: N/A
Head Coach: Pat Narduzzi (3rd Season with Pitt)
Lifetime Record: 20-17 (.540)
Last Week: Virginia Tech 20 Pitt 14
Scouting the Panthers
Quarterback – Senior graduate transfer Max Browne was the starter at the beginning of the season, but his career came to an end at Pitt after requiring surgery on a shoulder injury he sustained against Syracuse. Ben DiNucci was the next man up and has the ability to take off and run if none of the passing lanes are open. The future of the program belongs to Kenny Pickett. The young freshman took over for DiNucci in the Virginia Tech game and showed why he is the future of the program at QB.
Running Backs – Pitt plenty of guys who can tote the rock, but none are making a difference. Qadree Ollison was the starter for the first half of 2017, but Darrin Hall has been handed the keys to the lead back role. When Hall was finally given the ball consistently vs Duke, he responded with 254 yards on 24 carries. Chawtez Moss had worked his way into the mix with his abilities but now finds himself suspended indefinitely. AJ Davis has played sparingly but has seen his role increase the last few games. Fullback George Aston is back from injury but hasn’t been involved much in the offense since his return.
Wide Receivers – Jester Weah caught 36 passes for 872 yards and 10 scores last year. He had struggled to emulate those numbers early in 2017 but has picked his game up over the past month. Needs to get better at attacking the ball and dropping too many easy catches. 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. Maurice French contributes on both the ground and in the air, as he employs a style similar to Henderson. Aaron Mathews is taking advantage of his chances, and Raphael Araujo-Lopez is the team leader with 41 receptions on the year.
Tight Ends – Matt Flanagan and Chris Clark are hoping to be a dynamic duo at tight end for the Panthers. Flanagan has put up decent numbers so far in 2017, and Clark, a huge target, is starting to make his presence known in the Pitt offense.
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, and that trend has continued into 2017. Help is on the way as 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. With Whitehead back at SS, Dennis Briggs returns to being a back-up. Bricen Garner and highly touted Damar Hamlin will rotate at FS. Top recruit Paris Ford enrolled late, but his talent will eventually rise to the top and he will see action sooner than later.
Kicker – Freshman Alex Kessman takes over the kicking duties for Pitt. He needs to be more consistent, but he has nailed a 56 yarder this year. He’ll get better with age.
Kick/Punt Return – Quadree Henderson will be back deep for every kick.
Ben DiNucci (1,091 yards passing | 5 TD passes | 5 interceptions | 14 sacks | 126 yards rushing | 1 rushing TD)
Kenny Pickett (316 yards passing | 0 TD passes | 1 interceptions | 4 sacks | 33 yards rushing | 0rushing TD)
Darrin Hall (598 yards rushing | 9 rushing TD’s | 15 receptions | 152 receiving | 1 receiving TD’s)
Qadree Ollison (336 yards rushing | 5 rushing TD’s | 17 receptions | 150 yards receiving | 1 receiving TD’s)
Jordan Whitehead (142 yards rushing | 1 rushing TD’s | 2 receptions | 7 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
Chawntez Moss (116 yards rushing | 2 rushing TD’s | 5 receptions | 75 yards receiving | 1 receiving TD’s)
AJ Davis (40 yards rushing | 1 rushing TD’s | 1 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
George Aston (0 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 0 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
Rafael Araujo-Lopes (41 receptions | 510 receiving yards | 2 receiving TD’s)
Jester Weah (35 receptions | 618 receiving yards | 4 receiving TD’s
Maurice Ffrench (25 receptions | 272 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
Aaron Matthews (15 receptions | 180 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
Quadree Henderson (14 receptions | 150 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s | 228 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s)
Matt Flanagan (17 receptions | 160 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
Chris Clark (14 receptions | 97 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s)
Alex Kessman (Extra Point: 27-27 | FG: 9-17 | 0-19: 0-0 | 20-29: 2-4 | 30-39: 1-2 | 40-49: 4-7 | 50+: 2-4 | Long: 56
A look at the Miami Hurricanes!
Overall Record: 10-0 | ACC Record: 7-0 | Rank: #3
Head Coach: Mark Richt (2nd Season with Miami)
Lifetime Record: 164-55 (.748) | 19-4 (.826) at Miami
Last Week: Miami 44 Virginia 28
Scouting the Hurricanes
Running Backs –
Wide Receivers –
Tight Ends –
Malik Rosier (2,620 yards passing | 23 TD passes | 9 interceptions | 17 sacks | 377 yards rushing | 5 rushing TD )
Travis Homer (849 yards rushing | 7 rushing TD’s | 17 receptions | 217 yards receiving | 1 receiving TD’s)
Mark Walton (428 yards rushing | 3 rushing TD’s | 7 receptions | 91 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
Braxton Berrios (41 receptions | 522 receiving yards | 7 receiving TD’s)
Christopher Herndon IV (37 receptions | 436 receiving yards | 4 receiving TD’s)
Jeff Thomas (14 receptions | 308 receiving yards | 2 receiving TD’s)
Christopher Herndon IV (37 receptions | 436 receiving yards | 4 receiving TD’s)
Michael Badgley (Extra Point: 40-41 | FG: 15-18 | 0-19: 2-2 | 20-29: 6-6 | 30-39: 5-5 | 40-49: 1-2 | 50+: 1-3 | Long: 50
Pitt – Miami: Offensive vs Defensive Comparison
Pitt Total Offense: Pitt averages 368.1 YPG | Miami allows 364.1 YPG
Rushing: Pitt averages 148.2 YPG | Miami allows 152.4 YPG
Passing: Pitt averages 219.9 YPG | Miami allows 211.7 YPG
Scoring: Pitt averages 23.9 PPG | Miami allows 17.7 PPG
Pitt Total Defense: Pitt allows 411.5 YPG | Miami averages 442 YPG
Rushing: Pitt allows 151.3 YPG | Miami averages 176.7 YPG
Passing: Pitt allows 260.3 YPG | Miami averages 265.3 YPG
Scoring: Pitt allows 27.7 PPG | Miami averages 33.7 PPG
Injury Report (11/23/2017)
Out: FB George Aston
Questionable: DB Damar Hamlin, DB Malik Henderson, TE Matt Flanagan, LB Anthony McKee, Jr.
Pitt Panthers 2017 Schedule
Regular Season (Overall: 4-7 | ACC: 2-5)
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), L – 35-17
Saturday, September 30 Rice (ATT SportsNet), W – 42-10
Saturday, October 7 at Syracuse* (ATT SportsNet), L – 24-27
Saturday, October 14 #20 NC State* (HC) (ATT SportsNet), L – 17-35
Saturday, October 21 at Duke* (ACC Network- ABC), W – 24-17
Saturday, October 28 Virginia* (ATT SportsNet), W – 31-14
Thursday, November 9 North Carolina* (ESPN), L – 31-34
Saturday, November 18 at Virginia Tech* (ACC Network), L – 14-20
Friday, November 24 #3 Miami* at 12:00 p.m.
*ACC game / (HC) Homecoming / Ranking as of that week
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