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Opponent Breakdown: Pitt Panthers Offense

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Pitt has talent at the skill positions but needs to find a way to get more out of that talent.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 19 Syracuse at Pitt Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Pitt hired Pat Narduzzi to bring a strong defense and a “blue-collar” mindset to the program. What he actually brought was an offense that has been high powered at times. Pitt hasn’t produced a lot of NFL guys on offense but they have had some of the weirdest scoring totals in games over the last five years. Mark Whipple was brought in last season to take over the offense and they’ve had mixed results so far.

Kenny Pickett is the third mobile Quarterback that Louisville will see this year but Pickett is more of a scrambler than a guy that will run on designed plays. He has a big arm and can make all the throws but he has been somewhat inconsistent since he became the starter in 2018. Pitt has a NFL system in the way that the Quarterback can complete 20 passes for 185 yards. Louisville is going to see a lot of throws within five yards of the line of scrimmage. Pickett has been hitting those throws this year and they have to make sure they’re there to make the tackle.

The glaring issue with Pitt’s offense has been the struggles running the football. It doesn’t help that Mark Whipple has the old school mentality of “establishing the run”. A.J. Davis and Vincent Davis have been the main ball carriers and neither is averaging 4 yards per carry. That’s with a cupcake game against Austin Peay in week one. A.J. Davis is the returning leading rusher from last season and was a four-star recruit a few years back. He hasn’t really lived up to expectations and Pitt was fairly putrid in the run game last year.

Vincent Davis is the guy I’m a little more worried about as a Running Back. He hasn’t been great either but he’s smaller and shiftier and he is the type of player that can get lost behind the line and end up breaking a play outside. Louisville has been more aggressive with their run defense, so if a back gets to the second level with space, it could turn into a big play.

Pitt has some speed and talent at the Wide Receiver spot and it looks like they will look to stretch the field more with that speed. They return Shocky Jacques-Louis and Taysir Mack from last year but they’ve added a potential dynamic player in Jordan Addison. Addison is the guy in the slot who will get a ton of touches. He has 14 catches on the year but is only averaging 6.57 yards per catch. That’s not abnormal for this offense but I was impressed with Addison’s speed down the field when I watched him.

Pitt can’t run the ball, so they have a hard time stretching the field. However, Louisville’s pass rush hasn’t gotten home much so Pitt may be able to take their shots to Addison and Jacques-Louis. Pitt also added D.J. Turner as a transfer and he has some good speed.

There isn’t much about the Pitt Offensive Line that really stands out but they protect Pickett pretty well. To me, it seems like Pitt has more coverage sacks than they have guys just getting beat. Pickett can hold onto the ball too long at times, also. Louisville has been getting after the Quarterback at times and sitting in a shell on long yardage third downs. I’d imagine that we’ll see some conservative calls this week with Pickett not being a huge threat as a runner like they’ve seen the first two weeks.