Sure, the Panthers lost a first round quarterback, an offensive coordinator and the Biletnikoff Award winner but don’t take the bait. The offensive line returns all five starters and running backs Vincent Davis, Rodney Hammond and Israel Abanikanda (forever) are formidable. Pickett is a Pittsburgh Steeler but his former supporting cast is more than capable of taking center stage.
The defense. It is a pain in the ass. The Pitt Panthers take up real estate in your backfield. They always do. The Bates bots were third in the country last year in tackles for a loss with 113. It is a boom or bust system that has no problems offering its secondary as sacrificial pawns. 264.3 yards given up placed them third to last in conference. You just need time to pass.
A year ago Habakkuk Baldonando had nine sacks, Calijah Kancey had seven sacks and John Morgan III had 5.5 sacks. The defensive line is a strength you cannot ignore and all three of those players would have been the sack leader on Miami’s team in 2021. The uneasy feeling the triple option used to give you when Paul Johnson drove the wreck at Georgia Tech was palpable. The Pitt defense is the new punishing pariah. It is different and when it’s on all bets are off.
If you have any inclination to circle this game as an automatic win you aren’t seeing the full picture. Recent OBB guest and ACC analyst Roddy Jones picked them as Coastal favorites on the show. The Miami Hurricane fan in me wanted to fight and naturally did a double take. However when you look at the panther’s roster from top to bottom and consider it’s strengths, it mounts up.