Pitt Panthers Game Day: An In-depth Look at Notre Dame
Welcome to the most comprehensive Pitt Panthers Game Day Preview on the internet! IroniqMedia brings you 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, and Team Stats. Heck, you’ll even know the weather at kickoff! The only thing you’re missing is a game uniform!
PITT’S QUINTIN WIRGINIS LOST FOR SEASON
His team-leading stats spoke for themselves.
41 tackles, seven tackles for loss, three sacks, and two forced fumbles.
Tuesday, during a non-contact drill at practice, LB Quintin Wirginis went down and did not get back up.
“He plants his foot and goes down and lays flat on his face,” said Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi. “And you kinda go, ‘He’s going to get up like he normally does.’”
Wirginis did not. A crushing loss for the Panthers who are coming off a wild 44-37 overtime victory vs Syracuse, in which Wirginis changed the course of the game when he stripped Orange QB Eric Dungey of the ball, leading to a game-tying fumble recovery for a touchdown after the Panthers fell behind 14-0 to Syracuse.
“He’s resting,” Narduzzi said. “He said the pain-killers aren’t working, which is par for the course. But he’s a tough kid. I just feel bad for him. He’s had an incredible year. You wanted to see him go 13, 14 games. But we’ll embrace those games we had.
“He ended it the right way. He had a heckuva game against Syracuse. Quintin’s had a great career at Pitt. It’s just unfortunate it ended like it did.”
Now the team will have to rally around their fallen leader when they travel to South Bend to face the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Saturday at 2:30 pm.
“Our team is one big family and we will certainly rally around him,” Narduzzi said earlier Wednesday in a statement. “Knowing Quintin, I have no doubt he will remain a huge influence in our locker room. His leadership will remain as valuable as ever for our program.”
Sophomores Elias Reynolds and Chase Pine, as well as junior Saleem Brightwell, will do their best to replace Wirginis.
“It’s next man up,” Narduzzi said. “We’ll make a game-time decision (on a starter) and go with it.”
Pitt Keys to Victory
- Pound the ball with Dynamic Duo in Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall!
- Kenny Pickett has to have a great game.
- Wide Receivers need to create some space and get open.
- Better pressure Ian Book!
- Be wary of Jafar Armstrong at all times.
- Get off the field on 3rd and long!
- Create turnovers.
Pat Narduzzi knows his Panthers face a tall task to upset #5, Notre Dame, this week.
“I’m looking forward to Notre Dame, and when I say I’m looking forward, I don’t know if I’m looking forward to playing the No. 5 team in the country,” he said, “because they’re awful good. Maybe as good of a football team as you’re going to see, that Notre Dame has ever had, I think.”
The lore of Notre Dame’s campus and the stadium is well-known to get opposing players a little star struck. Narduzzi promises to keep that under wraps.
“It’s a business trip. We’re going to stay in the hotel. We’re going to get them up in the morning. We’re going to drive our bus to the stadium. We’re going to get out. We’re going to go through some cement walls to a locker room, and we’re going to put our gear on and we’re going to go out and go.”
When asked if his Panthers could upset the Irish, Narduzzi was diplomatic.
“We’re not talking any upsets,” Narduzzi said of the 21 point favorite Irish. “We never do. We’re talking us and being a better football team and executing.”
Ian Book was a 3-star prospect coming into Notre Dame. Brandon Wimbush was a 4-star and the starter at the beginning of the year. The Irish went 3-0 under Wimbush, but Irish head coach Brian Kelly made the switch to Book after he was less than impressed with Wimbush’s play.
“You’re like, where did this guy come from? Where’s Wimbush? Wimbush is really good. St. Peters Prep High School, Jersey guy, and then there’s Book,” Narduzzi said. “Offensively, he’s making things click. He can run. He’s tough. He’ll run you over. He’s got the whole package.”
Pitt was impressive in bouncing back from an early 14-0 hole to Syracuse last week. The Panthers built a 27-17 lead before falling behind again 34-27 and 37-34. Kicker Alex Kessman was incredible in the win, kicking field goals of 54, 55, and 46 yards, the last one to tie the game in the waning seconds of the game. Kessman’s 55 yarder was the longest ever at Heinz Field, also home to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Pitt has been a thorn in the side of the Irish more than a few times.
If Pitt has any plans of pulling off another monumental upset this week, they had better figure out the passing game behind Kenny Pickett, who it seems the coaching staff has no confidence in with passes longer than 10-15 yards. Pickett never seems to take the classic 3-5 step drop and step into his throws. Pitt likes to move him around and make him make plays while on the run.
So far that game-plan isn’t bearing any fruit.
The running game behind Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall has been phenomenal, and if Pitt can get those two going with some semblance of a passing game, things could get interesting.
But, until I actually see the coaches let Pickett loose, it’s going to be more than difficult for the Panthers to beat teams of Notre Dame’s caliber.
Hope for the best, but expect the worst.
Notre Dame 38 Pitt 27
NCAA Week 7
Pitt Panthers at Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Venue: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, IN.
Game-time: Saturday, October 13th, 2:30 pm
TV: NBC (WPXI-TV, Channel 11, in Pittsburgh) | Announcers: Mike Tirico (play-by-play) Doug Flutie (analyst) | Kathryn Tappen (reporter)
Local Radio: Pittsburgh- 93.7 The Fan | Announcers: Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play) Pat Bostick (analyst) | Larry Richert (sideline)
National Radio: N/A | Announcers:
Sirius XM Satellite Radio: Sirius Channel 205, XM Channel 385, Internet Channel 974
Weather at Kickoff: 82 with a 20% chance of storms. Winds 9 mph SSW.
Vegas Line: Notre Dame -21
Pitt vs Notre Dame History
- Series History: Began in 1909
- Pitt is 21-48-1 in the series vs Notre Dame
- Pitt is 10-21 on road vs Notre Dame
- Streak: Notre Dame won last game
- Last Regular Season Meeting: Nov. 7, 2015 (Notre Dame 42 Pitt 30)
- Nine of the past 11 games between Pitt and Notre Dame have been decided by single digits, including the most recent encounter at Notre Dame Stadium. In that memorable 2012 affair, the Irish rallied from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit to claim a 29-26 win in three overtimes.
- In a series long on history and color, Pitt and Notre Dame meet for the 71st time. The Panthers will be making their first visit to Notre Dame Stadium since 2012.
- Pitt boasts a formidable senior tailback tandem in Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall. The duo combined for 299 yards and three touchdowns in leading the Panthers to a pulsating 44-37 overtime victory over Syracuse last week.
- With 596 total rushing yards this season, Qadree Ollison ranks 18th nationally, while his average of 6.48 yards per carry ranks 22nd. Ollison is striving to become only the sixth player in Pitt history to achieve multiple 1,000-yard rushing seasons.
- Sophomore placekicker Alex Kessman is a long-distance scoring weapon for the Panthers. He owns four of the six longest field goals in Pitt history, including kicks of 55 and 54 yards in last week’s Syracuse win.
*Courtesy of pittsburghpanthers.com
A look at the Pitt Panthers!
- Overall Record: 3-3 | ACC Record: 2-1 | Rank: N/A
- Head Coach: Pat Narduzzi (4th Season with Pitt)
- Lifetime Record: 24-20 (.545)
- 2018 Pitt Panthers Roster
- Pitt Team Statistics, including Defensive Stats
- Last Week: Pitt 44 Syracuse 37
Scouting the Panthers
Kenny Pickett played in four games last year, making one start as a true freshman. Gifted with a strong arm and the ability to run with the ball if no receivers are open. Must work on accuracy and decision-making.
Darrin Hall (1,045 career rushing yards) and Qadree Ollison (1,646) will give the Panthers a 1-2 punch out of the backfield. Consider Hall lightning to Ollison’s thunder. George Aston is back at fullback after missing most of 2017. Aston was a beast in 2016 finishing third on the team in scoring (tied) with 60 points on 10 touchdowns (five rushing and five receiving). A.J. Davis will see plenty of time as well and is excellent out of the backfield catching short passes from Pickett. Don’t be surprised if Davis becomes the #1 back before the end of the season.
Pitt is deep at WR, with Rafael-Araujo Lopes, juniors Tre Tipton, Maurice Ffrench, and Aaron Mathews, freshman Shocky Jacques-Louis, and Indiana transfer Taysir Mack, a sophomore who excelled in the Blue-Gold Game this past Spring. Mack played in 12 games, starting eight contests in 2017 for the Hoosiers…had 23 receptions for 310 yards (13.5 avg.) and three touchdowns.
At tight end, sophomore Tyler Sear scored in his final two games last season and will start, but Arkansas transfer Will Gragg has really opened some eyes in camp. This position needs to be utilized more often.
Look for the versatile Paris Ford to see snaps at H-Back for the Panthers as Jordan Whitehead was known to do for the past two years. Ford is a threat to make a difference every time he touches the ball.
At LB, Oluwaseun Idowu is the starting outside “star” linebacker. Quintin Wirginis is your starter in the middle, with Redshirt senior Elijah Zeise and redshirt junior Saleem Brightwell battling for the “money” spot.
Redshirt junior Dane Jackson started all 12 games last year and will assume the same duties as a starting cornerback in 2018. Redshirt senior Phillipie Motley, sophomores Damarri Mathis and Jason Pinnock, and redshirt freshman Paris Ford are all battling for that 2nd spot.
Alex Kessman took over Pitt’s starting placekicking duties in his first active season…converted 11-of-19 field goals (58%) and 34-of-34 PATs (100%) for a team-high 67 points. Now he looks to improve on those stats in year two.
Maurice Ffrench and Rafael Araujo-Lopes will provide the return duties for the Panthers. Ffrench returned the opening kickoff vs Albany, 97 yards to the house.
- Kenny Pickett (880 yards passing | 6 TD passes | 5 interceptions | 13 sacks | 82 yards rushing | 2 rushing TD)
- Qadree Ollison (596 yards rushing | 5 rushing TD’s | 6 receptions | 23 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Darrin Hall (314 yards rushing | 4 rushing TD’s | 3 receptions | 7 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
- AJ Davis (103 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 3 receptions | 17 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
- George Aston (-2 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 12 receptions | 60 yards receiving | 1 receiving TD’s)
- Maurice Ffrench (16 receptions | 204 receiving yards | 2 receiving TD’s | 26 yards rushing | 1 TD’s)
- Taysir Mack (12 receptions | 265 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Rafael Araujo-Lopes (13 receptions | 167 receiving yards | 3 receiving TD’s | 17 yards rushing | 0 TD’s)
- Shocky Jaques-Louis (7 receptions | 64 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s | 58 yards rushing | 0 TD’s)
- Dontavius Butler-Jenkins (4 receptions | 12 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s | 0 yards rushing | 0 TD’s)
- Tre Tipton (2 receptions | 14 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Aaron Matthews (2 receptions | 21 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Will Gragg (3 receptions | 21 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Tyler Sear (2 receptions | 9 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Jim Medure (1 reception | 15 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Alex Kessman (Extra Point: 18-19 | FG: 4-5 | 0-19: 0-0 | 20-29: 0-0 | 30-39: 1-2 | 40-49: 1-1 | 50+: 2-2 | Long: 55)
- Maurice Ffrench (27.0 yards per kickoff return | 1 return TD’s)
- Rafael Araujo-Lopes (12.0 yards per punt return | 0 return TD’s)
A look at the Notre Dame Fighting Irish!
- Overall Record: 6-0 | ACC Record: 0-0 | Rank: #5
- Head Coach: Brian Kelly (9th Season with Notre Dame)
- Lifetime Record: 246-91-2 (.725) | 75-34 (.688) with Notre Dame
- 2018 Notre Dame Fighting Irish Roster
- Notre Dame Team Statistics, including Defensive Stats
- Last Week: Notre Dame 45 Virginia Tech 23
Scouting the Fighting Irish
Ian Book took over the starting reigns from Brandon Wimbush and has been spectacular. Book has thrown for 887 yards, nine TD’s, and just one pick. He also has 81 yards rushing and three touchdowns to boot.
Dexter Williams leads the way for the Irish as their lead back. Williams is not a threat catching passes out of the backfield. Tony Jones, Jr. is the #2 and is just as impressive with 302 yards rushing, three TD’s, as well as four catches for 88 yards.
Miles Boykin leads the Irish with 28 receptions for 428 yards. He has caught three touchdowns. Chris Finke and Chase Claypool are #2 and #3 behind Boykin. One guy to watch out for is Jafar Armstrong, who has just seven catches for 87 yards, but has rushed for 245 yards and five TD’s!
Alize Mack has 19 catches for 209 yards and one score. Brock Wright and Nic Weishar have turned five receptions between them into three touchdowns, so the Panthers better not sleep on them when they are in the game close to the end zone.
The Irish are giving up just 19.5 points per game.
- Ian Book (887 yards passing | 9 TD passes | 1 interception | 4 sacks | 81 yards rushing | 3 rushing TD)
- Brandon Wimbush (589 yards passing | 1 TD passes | 4 interceptions | 6 sacks | 144 yards rushing | 1 rushing TD)
- Dexter Williams (339 yards rushing | 4 rushing TD’s | 1 reception | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Tony Jones, Jr. (302 yards rushing | 3 rushing TD’s | 4 receptions | 88 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Miles Boykin (28 receptions | 428 receiving yards | 3 receiving TD’s)
- Chris Finke (19 receptions | 243 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s)
- Chase Claypool (18 receptions | 200 receiving yards | 2 receiving TD’s)
- Jafar Armstrong (7 receptions | 87 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s | 245 yards rushing | 5 rushing TD’s)
- Alize Mack (19 receptions | 209 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s)
- Brock Wright (2 receptions | 12 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s)
- Nic Weishar (3 receptions | 10 receiving yards | 2 receiving TD’s)
- Justin Yoon (Extra Point: 26-26 | FG: 7-10 | 0-19: 0-0| 20-29: 1-1 | 30-39: 3-4 | 40-49: 3-4 | 50+: 0-1 | Long: 48)
Pitt – Notre Dame: Offense vs Defense Match-Ups
Pitt Total Offense: Pitt averages 353 YPG | Notre Dame allows 357.3 YPG
Rushing: Pitt averages 203.8 YPG | Notre Dame allows 127.8 YPG
Passing: Pitt averages 149.2 YPG | Notre Dame allows 229.5 YPG
Scoring: Pitt averages 26 PPG | Notre Dame allows 19.5 PPG
Pitt Total Defense: Pitt allows 420.8 YPG | Notre Dame averages 441.7 YPG
Rushing: Pitt allows 196.8 YPG | Notre Dame averages 195.7 YPG
Passing: Pitt allows 224 YPG | Notre Dame averages 246 YPG
Scoring: Pitt allows 32.8 PPG | Notre Dame averages 34.8 PPG
Injury Report (10/10/2018)
- Out: LB Quintin Wirginis (Knee), TE Tyler Sear (Personal)
- Doubtful: None
- Questionable: DL Jaylen Twyman (Foot), WR Taysir Mack (Foot)
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
- Out: None
- Doubtful: None
- Questionable: DL Daelin Hayes (Shoulder), LB Drue Tranquill (Hand), WR Jafar Armstrong (Knee)
- Probable: None
Pitt Panthers 2018 Schedule
Regular Season (Overall: 3-3 | ACC: 2-1)
Sept. 1 Albany (ACCNE) | W – 33-7
Sept. 8 #8 Penn State (ABC) | L – 51-6
Sept. 15 Georgia Tech* (RSN) | W – 24-19
Sept. 22 at North Carolina* | L – 38-35
Sept. 29 at #10 UCF | L – 45-14
Oct. 6 Syracuse* (HC) | W – 44-37
Oct. 13 at #5 Notre Dame (NBC) at 2:30 p.m.
Oct. 27 Duke* at TBA
Nov. 2 (Fri.) at Virginia* (ESPN2) at 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 10 Virginia Tech* at TBA
Nov. 17 at Wake Forest* at TBA
Nov. 24 at #16 Miami* at TBA
*ACC game / (HC) Homecoming / Ranking as of this week
Bold = Home Game