Well, here we are: A week away from Pitt football. By this time on the 12th we’ll have a first look at how good or bad Pitt looks, at least against fair-to-middling FCS competition. As with most seasons, the pundits are expecting Pitt to finish somewhere around the middle of the pack, and as with most seasons, there is a pretty obvious disrespect narrative.
The optimists in the crowd (and there are plenty) will point out that this is the first season in Pat Narduzzi’s six-year tenure where Pitt has had continuity at both coordinator positions. That will help. Especially on offense. And, to their credit Pitt does have a lot more going for it on that side of the ball than it did last year. Lets run down the list shall we:
- A Senior Quarterback who’s got the same coordinator two years in a row for the first time in his college career.
- Four out of five starters back on the offensive line, and an experienced and surgically-repaired Right Tackle (Gabe Houy) stepping into the spot that was vacated.
- A receiving corps that returns all but one receiver, with a true freshman (Jordan Addison) who is rumored to be the Real Deal.
- A running back room that returns all but one contributor from last season
- A grad transfer Tight End that can reportedly both run and catch.
On defense there are two major qeustion marks, which are a lot fewer than there were last year. One is at defensive tackle, but the optimists will point to Pitt’s depth. The other question mark is corner, and that could be an Achilles heel if a younger player doesn’t step up. With all that being said, the defensive line could make up for any shortcomings in the secondary, and it’s possible that Pitt could be one of the few teams that eclipses 50 sacks for two seasons in a row. It’s a rare feat, but and even though Pitt lost All American DT Jaylen Twyman to an opt-out, the re-addition of Keyshon Camp and Rashad Weaver should offset the loss.
Of course the pessimists in the group (and there are quite a few) will point out that this is still a team that limped to a relatively disappointing 8-5 record last year, with frustrating losses against a beatable Miami team, a very beatable Boston College team, plus a near loss to FCS Delaware, and a handful of had-to-come-from-behind victories on top of that, including one against a 6-6 Eastern Michigan team that required a last-minute circus catch from Taysir Mack. They’ll also point out that Head Coach Pat Narduzzi has never won more than 8 games in a season (although he has done that three times), and so what reason do we have to believe he can win more than that…ever?
None really. Other than the continuity and getting everybody back thing.
Which brings us to the schedule. Eleven regular season games this year instead of 12.
- Sept. 12: Austin Peay
- Sept. 19: Syracuse*
- Sept. 26: Louisville*
- Oct. 3: NC State*
- Oct. 10: at Boston College*
- Oct. 17: at Miami (Fla.)*
- Oct. 24: Notre Dame*
- Oct. 31: Open
- Nov. 7: at Florida State*
- Nov. 14: at Georgia Tech*
- Nov. 21: Virginia Tech*
- Nov. 28: at Clemson*
For those of you who are into math, winning eight out of 12 translates to .667. Winning seven out of 11 translates to .636. So seven and a hook seems about right here.
Of course there are…complications. There’s a very good chance games will be cancelled. There is an equally good chance that even if all the games are played not all the players from both sides will participate.
So is this a prediction thread on the number of games played? Of the number of games played with a full roster? On the number of games played agasint ACC opponents with full rosters? I’d suggest we avoid that. It’s hard enough to predict wins for an up-and-down team like Pitt, adding COVID-related variables into the mix would probably make things well-night impossible.
And so with that being said, here’s my run through the schedule. This is pure instinct and I’m not going to consciously try to fit into my 7.5 win prediction:
- Sept. 12: Austin Peay – W – Even though I’ve been writing with a negative slant of late, I’m an optimist at heart. Assuming everyone dresses for the game, Pitt wins this one going away.
- Sept. 19: Syracuse* – W – Even if the Orange Offensive line improves I don’t think they are going to improve enough to keep Tommy DeVito from hearing footsteps all day.
- Sept. 26: Louisville* – L – Louisville is the anti-Pitt. Their offense was great last year and their defense was terrible. I suspect that their defense will improve more than Pitt’s offense.
- Oct. 3: NC State* – W – I just don’t think they have the talent right now.
- Oct. 10: at Boston College* – W – Pitt will be focused for this one. And BC’s Jurkovec isn’t enough to make up for it.
- Oct. 17: at Miami (Fla.)* – L – Sure, Pitt *should* beat Miami. But will they?
- Oct. 24: Notre Dame* – W – Just call it a feeling.
- Oct. 31: Open
- Nov. 7: at Florida State* – W – Mike Norvell is a good coach but in year one he’s just got too far to go from both a culture and a talent perspective. Fun fact: Norvell coached wide-receivers for one year at Pitt under Todd Graham.
- Nov. 14: at Georgia Tech* – W – Southern Pigskin calls this one a winnable game for Tech. If there was ever a time for the Duz to play the disrespect card, this would be it.
- Nov. 21: Virginia Tech* – W – They took us out to the woodshed the year after we took them out to the woodshed. Then we trashed their locker room. Yea it’s not a rivalry… Our turn this year.
- Nov. 28: at Clemson* – L – No way they overlook us this time.
Tally that up and it puts us at 8-3 (.727 winning percentage), which feels like our ceiling (and as I mentioned, actually is). Of course Notre Dame and Virginia Tech are just as loseable as they are winnable (and Louisville and Miami vice-versa), so six or seven wins is just as plausible. It’s recently occurred to me that Pat Narduzzi has basically gotten us to Walt Harris levels, only in a tougher league. And 6-5, 7-4 or even 8-3 bears that out pretty well. So seven-and-a-hook. Just like the numbers predicted.
What do you think?
Hail to Pitt