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WTWF: Pitt Panthers

This week's What To Watch For has some familiar focal points.

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If you like old school football you have to love players playing on both sides of the ball. Jordan Whitehead has been doing just that over the last few games for Pitt. James Conner left a big void in Pitt's backfield and even though Qadree Ollison is nearing 1,000 yards, Pitt needed a spark in the running game. Whitehead has been that spark in small doses, getting a handful of carries a game. With two touchdowns against Notre Dame and a near score against Duke, it's no wonder Pitt has looked to Whitehead for a changeup from the power run.

Whitehead also leads the Panthers in tackles by a good amount with 82 stops on the year. Whitehead isn't a big guy at all but you would never know that with the way he comes up in run support. His coverage skills aren't as great as his tackling but it's hard to find true issues in his game. The ACC has no shortage of good, young safeties and Whitehead playing on both sides of the ball shows why he's a part of that group.


Earlier this year I pointed out that NC State's safeties were a liability in coverage and Louisville would probably look to exploit that. I'm not the type to say I told you so, but......I told you so. Louisville went right after the safeties early in the game and they were able to make a few plays that way. James Quick has also had a handful of catches against safeties in man coverage in other games as well.

Pitt's safeties aren't NC State's safeties. They're smaller and quicker. They can run with smaller and shiftier slot receivers. They aren't world beaters and I don't want to portray them that way. But they are guys that can make a play on the ball and I wouldn't use the term "exploit" when describing them. With that being said, Louisville absolutely has to attack Jordan Whitehead and Terrish Webb. If a team dares you to beat them deep, you have to do that. It's that simple. With UofL's offensive line improving, it's time to show that.


Good teams always find a way to get their best players the football on offense. Pitt does it by putting Jordan Whitehead at running back and by putting Tyler Boyd all over the place. Literally. Boyd will line up out wide as an "X" or "Z" receiver. The next play he might be in the slot. Then he might line up as the deep running back in I-Formation. Or maybe they put him in the "Wildcat". He's honestly all over the place which makes him impossible to scheme for. The goal of this is to make him impossible to truly contain. While Duke and Notre Dame both held Boyd to three catches on the day, he was able to put up 79 and 42 yards rushing in both games, respectively. He's going to get his and Pitt's offensive staff deserves some serious credit for finding ways to get him the ball.


The Panthers have fumbled the football 21 times so far this season. To put that into some kind of context, Louisville is at 20 fumbles on the season. We all know how many botched handoffs, fumbled punts, and and other head scratching gaffes the Cardinals have had. For Pitt to have more fumbles than Louisville was surprising to me because they have a solid turnover margin. So in all reality, they've been fortunate to just not lose a lot of those fumbles. Louisville has to change that luck. UofL is the underdog and when teams pull upsets, they're always opportunistic. The Cardinal's defense needs to be just that come Saturday.


It sounds like a broken record but it really is glaring that Louisville has only put together one complete game against an FBS team this year. The offense has either sputtered or the defense has been gashed for big plays. Throw in the handful of big kick returns given up and missed field goals and it's fair to say that Louisville's season hasn't seen an impressive game outside of Syracuse.

At this point in the season you would expect that Louisville would have put together a handful of games where both sides of the ball played well. Boston College, Syracuse, and Virginia are all teams that have fans calling for their coaches to be fired. BC, statistically, has the worst offense since the FIU team that Louisville ended up beating with a running clock. Syracuse and Virginia would be battling for the worst defense on UofL's schedule if UK wasn't back to being the worst team in the SEC. UofL's schedule was front loaded and a lot of people gave them a pass. I get that to an extent, but the last four games have to be somewhat alarming. This team isn't young anymore and at some point a complete game against a good team needs to happen.