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This is another program where you can type in their record at 7-5, 6-6, or 5-7 and probably be dead on. They just can’t seem to break out of that funk. It shows they have some talent and are capable at doing good things, they just can’t take the next step. 2020 saw them finish 6-5, ho hum, and this year looks like more of the same. Coach Pat Narduzzi is entering his 7th year and has an overall record of 42-34.
Offense: The offense got a huge boost when QB Kenny Pickett decided to come back for the extra year of eligibility given because of the pandemic. With him, the offense will be so much better. His leadership and toughness make him a top QB in the ACC. The running back position is cloudy and needs to be addressed but four starters return on the offensive line. WR, Jordan Addison is back from injuries that limited him to 8 games but he is a proven playmaker. With Pickett back, the Panthers will be a threat.
Defense: An astonishing 6 players were selected from Pittsburgh into the NFL draft. That was more than any other team including mighty Clemson in the ACC. The defensive line has to be rebuilt but there is plenty of returning quality, talent at linebacker. All 3 are seniors and include Phil Campbell, Chase Pine, and Cam Bright. The secondary lost three players to the NFL so there are holes to fill there as well. Pitt usually recruits defensive players pretty well and there will be some help there.
9/11 at Tennessee
9/18 Western Michigan
9/25 New Hampshire
The Panthers start the season off with 4 straight non-con games and 3 of them are must wins and all are at home. The game at Tennessee will be tough even though the Vols lost half their team through the transfer portal. But, they are an SEC opponent and they won’t be as bad as people think. 3-1 is absolutely essential and 4-0 is a possibility.
10/2 at Georgia Tech
10/16 at Virginia Tech
11/6 at Duke
11/11 North Carolina
11/27 at Syracuse
The conference schedule is not easy but there is some opportunity to break through with a little luck. The home games are difficult but at least they are at home. Virginia is a must win because Clemson, Miami, and North Carolina are going to be iffy at best. The road games are at Georgia Tech, at Duke, and at Syracuse (all winnable) and at Virginia Tech which will be a hard one.
Summary: Pickett’s decision to return as QB turned a probable rebuilding year into the usual Pitt-be-around -.500 season. The schedule gives them the opportunity to move up some in the standings but can they break through in some of the iffy games?
Predicted Finish: 5th Place in the Coastal Division
Overall Record: 6-6
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