UMASS Game Notes – 9/4/21

Heinz Field (68,400/Natural Grass) ∙ Pittsburgh, Pa.

ACC Network ∙ Pitt Panthers Radio Network ∙ @Pitt_FB

LINK (PDF): Pitt Game Notes (vs. UMass)


√ Pitt opens its 132nd season of intercollegiate football when the Panthers host the Massachusetts Minutemen at Heinz Field.

√ This is the first meeting between the Panthers and UMass, which plays as an independent at the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) level.

√ Pitt is 85-44-2 (.657) all-time in openers. Since the 2000 season, Pitt is 15-6 (.714) in its initial game, including 5-1 (.833) under Pat Narduzzi.

√ Pitt offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mark Whipple served two tenures as head coach at UMass (1998-2003 and 2014-18).

√ Whipple led UMass to the 1998 NCAA Division I-AA (now FCS) national championship, winning a school-record 12 games, including a 55-43 victory over Georgia Southern in the final.

√ Since 2015, Pat Narduzzi has directed Pitt to 29 victories in ACC play, the third-highest win total during that span (tied with Virginia Tech). The Panthers trail only Clemson (46) and Miami (32).

√ The Panthers’ 2021 roster has 13 players designated as “super seniors.” Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NCAA did not count the 2020 season against a student-athlete’s eligibility clock.

√ Quarterback Kenny Pickett enters his fourth season as the Panthers’ starter. Pickett has played in 39 career games, making 36 starts.

√ The Pitt pass rush perennially ranks among the nation’s best. The Panthers compiled 97 sacks over the 2019-20 seasons, the highest total in the country over those two years. It is Pitt’s highest two-year total since 1986-87.


Television ∙ ACC Network

Wes Durham (play-by-play)

Roddy Jones (analyst)

Lericia Harris (reporter)

Pitt Radio ∙ 93.7 The Fan & Pitt Panthers Radio Network

Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play)

Pat Bostick (analyst)

Larry Richert (reporter)

SiriusXM Satellite Radio

Sirius Channel 132, XM Channel 194, SXM App Channel 970

WPTS Radio (Pitt Student Station) ∙ 92.1 FM

Online Audio

71 thoughts on “UMASS Game Notes – 9/4/21

  1. Excellent summary! 132 years of football, it seems like only yesterday. BigB has probably seen most of those games. But when the average fan looks back on Pitt football, unfortunately, he/she only sees mediocrity in recent times. Face it, the fan base is shrinking with so few memorable seasons to enjoy. The Pitt administration has to realize that at a time when college football is rapidly changing the need for a strong fan base is more important than ever. There is a lot riding on this upcoming season.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great line from Mark Packer on Packer and Durham this morning on the Pitt -UMass opener.

    “You’ll find out why the call them the minutemen because thats how long the game will be competetive.”

    Hoping he’s right.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Interesting that two freshman cracked the two deep on offense, and 3 on the kicking teams, wait what?

    VOR, I don’t think Pitt Admin sees this season any differently than any other, totally fine with middle of the road results.

    Anyone expecting 8 or 9 wins with a QB ranked 10 out of 14, with little more than hope for a running game this year will most likely be very disappointed. Avoiding 5 losses will be very difficult.


    1. I disagree, Pitt is fully capable of winning 9 games, the UNC, Miami and Clemson games are probably losses but again who knows, injures, luck maybe weather tilt the odds.

      VT and GT are very winnable games that everyone seems to be convinced Pitt will lose.

      Pitt isn’t going to lose to Tennessee or Western Michigan or Tennessee and actually I think I’m going to the Tennessee game.

      Let’s see how it pans out I’m leaning 9/3 but again, injures luck and weather can bite them in any game.

      Narduzzi has to produce, the defense seems stout and everyone questions the offense but as I have mentioned prior Brennan Marion will have an influence on the offense this season and that’s a good thing because Whipple is a lame.

      Oh one last thing, if Krull stays healthy and hold onto the ball he could be a luxury they haven’t had in years. Krull’s nickname here among the Florida faithful was hands of stone but he can throw the ball for gadget plays.

      I’m looking forward to a very good season.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. So Umass won their FB “National Championship”: in 1998 and played in the NCAA Hockey National Championship (I was there) a couple of years ago….not too shabby….I would be happy to have a ranked PITT FB team at the end of the year-that ain’t asking for too much !

    VoR, Biggie has only followed PITT FB since ’63 but was one of the lucky ones on here to experience those GREAT Panther teams led by a couple of dynamic coaches.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. Interesting that the Tennessee game is crucial to both teams seasons. Hopefully since Pitt will be the more experienced team they can pull it out. Then Pitt needs an upset vs Miami or UNC to have a very good season.
    But football is a funny game, you never know when a team (especially Pitt) will lay an egg against a team it should beat.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You never know when, but one does know it will happen.

      I agree with your comment from prior post. Key to success this year (imho) is the establishment of a running game. Im skeptical though because neither Davis is going to transform into a consistent, main back over one offseason. So, a lot riding on Izzy and he hasn’t taken the bit away from the other two.

      So, we look to the OL and who knows what we will get. Pass blocked reasonably well last year and before that could only run block…remember, Borbely can only coach run blocking – 😉 With the opening 4 games, there is a chance for them to gel as a unit in time for the tough part of our schedule.

      Will we see you, the Mrs. and a bottle of Butter at Red 5A on Saturday, Gordon?


  6. All other teams have carryover kids so how much better are we?
    I was thinking 8 – 4 is a must or Pitt needs to seriously consider its place in FB.
    Are other schools lining up businesses to offer kids money even if they are still recruits?
    ACC should offer Comcast free use of its network to increase its viewership.


  7. Anyone know if Comcast is biting on the ACC apple or will this be year three without televised games?
    I’m even willing to endure Bojangles commercials.


  8. Playing football for 132 years and the program doesn’t even have 700 career wins. Shame on those administrators for their handling of the sport since 1938.


  9. For Pitt to have any chance of winning 9 games…..have to start the season 5-0.

    It’s very doable. Likely no…..doable yes.

    Umass (Home)
    Western Mich (Home)
    New Hamp (Heinz Mustard)

    Got to win 9 this year…cause new QB next year and losing 21 Super Seniors.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. They were all on defense. This year’s team should be more balanced, at least that is the hope.

        Speaking of super players, Tennessee couldn’t win an NC with Peyton Manning, won the next year with Tee Martin.

        By the way, I don’t see nine wins, unless one of them is a bowl game.

        Tennessee a must win to avoid another 5 loss season.


      2. Not predicting a 9-3 year …..however just about the only way (at least the easiest way) is to open at 5-0.

        Those are all clearly winnable games. (don’t think there’s a need to elaborate)

        Then the last 7 games you go 4-3. You lose to the ranked teams and beat the non-ranked teams.

        The 4 non-ranked are: Duke (Pitt usually beats, 6 of the last 7)
        VT (Pitt can beat, like last year)
        Virginia (Pitt has won 4 of the last 5)
        Syracuse ( Pitt has won 14 of last 16)

        And that’s how this team can go 9-3 !

        It’s doable. Pickett needs to throw about 25-30 TD passes.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Sports Illustrated came out with their Top 20 teams. Get this – at #6 Cincy, #7 Iowa State, #12 Washington and at #20… drum roll please…Coastal Carolina. Four teams that are similar to us but play way better ball.

    The best Pitt has done is #21 in-season. You remember that right? We were #21 after three games last year ( on the strength of a 55-0 blowout of Austin Peay…JK! We beat Louisville also) then lost four in a row.

    I don’t get how fans can think we’ll win 9 or 10 games when we lost three games last year by a combined score of 126 – 38. Yes, those were ranked teams but we weren’t competitive in those game at all.

    Even the closer 31-19 loss to Miami we scored only one TD. In those three losses we scored a total of three TDs.

    Sorry if this sounds negative but I just see more of the same out of our offense in ’21.


    1. If the offense continues to be problematic then why didn’t Pitt pay the extra $800k to keep Canada?

      This program won’t ascend until the administration buckles down and takes it more seriously. You can say “front porch” when behind the scenes you are really working on a “back patio.” That is Gallagher to a T. Will he hide when the Pete is empty again this winter, six consecutive on his watch?

      Unless there are some plays made when it matters, I see 7-5 for this team.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. BigB should have chipped in to keep him. As my equal half likes to say, it’s tax deductable.


      1. NRS, the “Fighting Mullets” were fun to watch last year…now there is a third reason to make a fall visit to Myrtle Beach beside golf and the ballerina shows ! Remember to grow that Mullet if your going to a Chanticleers game- “business up front-party in the back.”


    2. I regrettably musty agree. A Whipple doesn’t change its stripes

      Its fairly damning that those schools – particularly Coastal Carolina (Myrtle Beach U) are getting those kudos and Pitt isn’t getting a sniff. Coastal Carolina….

      I can imagine the heads exploding among the Narduzzi haters around here should they pull off an unlikely 10 win season and he not only stays, but gets extended.

      Anybody already working on their “Candidates to replace Narduzzi” article?


  11. Reed, you forgot to mention in two of those losses Joey Yellen was our QB, he isn’t even visible on the depth chart. The other game was Clemson who pretty much crushed everyone but Alabama. We will also see where those teams finish. I am not predicting nine wins but this should be a more competitive team than last year.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. I will also go out on a limb and say that this year’s defense has a very good chance of being better than last year, especially if they stay relatively healthy. There are very good guys that have been waiting for their chance at most every position. One thing that Narduzzi has done well is develop solid depth on the defense.
    There are plenty of solid if not experienced guys backing up the two deep.

    The key once again will be if Izzy can become a premier back and Krull and Bartholomew (who passed by a few guys) can get the job done.

    I get that most want to look at the negatives, especially after the two one point losses last year, but Pitt did win 3 of their 4 last games with the one loss to Clemson.

    The cupboard is definitely not bare this year even after the loss of some excellent players. The fact that we even have a chance to be good after those players are gone should tell you that somethings aren’t as dire as some would like to think.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Why are we still lamenting Canada. He caught lightening in a bottle here with Chryst’s players, can’t name one that he recruited for us, failed miserably at LSU and Maryland, as QB coach last year his HOF QB crashed and burned down the stretch and last Friday without Ben his offense flat out stunk.

    Seriously Pitt Admin did the right thing letting his sorry ass go.

    I agree with POD, smoke and mirrors, what did he ever do before and after one good year?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Did he fail at Maryland? He kept them competitive during a firestorm with a depleted roster. If his QB could throw a 10-yard pass on a 2-point conversion he would have upset Ohio State, 55-54, and gone 6-6. What happened after he left? PSU stopped the Terps, 59-0 early in the season and have been awful since.

      His offense at Pitt averaged 40 ppg and that is what I go by. For a fanbase that says Pitt will pay if you prove yourself, I find it funny it was OK that he could leave and many still say “good riddance” for some reason. Using the Steelers as a comparison is bad. Ben was playing really well until his elbow was fatigued and Canada didn’t call the plays. Using a final preseason game is another bad example. Canada will take the blame this season when the Steelers will trot out the worst O-line in the league and struggles, which it will.


      1. I followed Canada closely at Maryland. He had nothing in the way of talent, inherited a troubled team early season from the death on field and of a teammate, and put together an offense that could’ve scored on anyone. They damn near upset Ohio Stare at MD.

        His players loved him and played hard for him. The Alums loved him. Everyone was stunned when he was not considered but the Admin (more incompetent than Pitt’s) chose a minority candidate. WVU will clean their clocks on Saturday!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Well perhaps his lightning in a Bottle was meant for Pittsburgh.

      Like Jackie Sherrill’s was…or you could even say,….Johnny Majors 1.

      Who cares what Canada did at LSU or Maryland…he was great for us.

      Most PPG in Pitt history !

      Liked by 4 people

      1. That wasn’t the issue. It was whether he was worth 2 mil and would he have stayed even with that.
        Majors and Sherrill recruited all of their players, I don’t believe Canada recruited one on that great offense.
        Would he have stuck around to recruit enough good players to equal that year, doubtful.


        1. Jackie Sherrill had some great ASST. Coaches… Jimmy Johnson for example. And Majors had Sherrill and others

          Canada was only at Pitt for ONE YEAR !

          How many players were you expecting Canada to recruit in one year. A silly argument my man,


          1. But he didn’t recruit anyone. He inherited the best offensive talent Pitt has had since the eighties.
            A great O-line, QB and Tight Ends, One of Pitt’s best ever running backs, solid wide receivers and a kid named Henderson who could light it up around the end and gave the offense great field position on many occasions. Conner was automatic in the red zone.

            Chubby was here one year and he brought Peterman. Canada is a carpetbagger with no loyalty to anyone, he wasn’t lighting it up before he got here and he hasn’t done it since.

            I give Canada credit for knowing how to put it together, but he had all the parts.

            Liked by 1 person

  14. Hey, Wolfe — seems like the POV works fine on my new phone until a certain amount of comments are made. Weird.

    They just asked KP on the radio to name the one offensive player who he’s most excited about this season. I was hoping he’d say Krull, but he said Jordan Addison. He said Addison had limited practice time last season and is farther ahead going into this season.

    He also mentioned that Coach Whip will being allowing KP to check down to different play calls more this season.

    Looking forward to BOTH the Fran-Wolfe tailgate and seeing the Fightin’ Panthers…

    Go Pitt.

    Liked by 5 people

      1. According to the Kaiser Permanente Family Foundation, you and 25.8 % of Pennsylvanians are

        Be glad you don’t live in Oregon !


  15. Izzy needs to get at least 20 carries vs UMass.

    We know what we got with the other backs…..RB’s that are good, get better with more carries.

    Feed the Horse ! Plow the Field !

    Liked by 3 people

  16. Here’s the what the experts think at CBS Sports. 3 of them pick Pitt 3rd, 3 of them, 4th and 1, 5th.

    Pitt gets a pretty good sized mention with them. Better than usual.

    Most underrated teams

    Boston College: BC has been more consistently good in recent years than any team in the ACC except for the juggernaut that is Clemson. The Eagles have qualified for bowl games seven of the last eight seasons, although they opted out of participating last year. With 20 starters returning and a favorable schedule, Boston College has a chance to be better than simply good. Nine or even 10 wins would not be a surprise. — Jerry Palm (also Dennis Dodd, Ben Kercheval)

    NC State: It’s the same every season. Nobody expects much of anything from NC State, but at the end of the season, there’s the Wolfpack, comfortably settled in as the second-best team in the Atlantic. Dave Doeren’s program has done an excellent job of capitalizing on the recent struggles of Florida State and Louisville, and I can once again see the ‘Pack flirting with the top 25 all season long. — Tom Fornelli

    Pittsburgh: The Panthers have become a model of Power Five stability that often gets overlooked in preseason projections. Pat Narduzzi is entering his seventh year at the helm, and in the six seasons under his guidance, Pitt has never had a losing record and carries a 29-20 record against ACC opponents with a Coastal title in 2018. The 2021 Panthers are a consistent ground game away from having one of the better offenses in the ACC with Kenny Pickett and a talented wide receiver room already in place and proven. That with the usual Narduzzi defense makes the Panthers a threat to anyone (yes, anyone) in the conference on any given Saturday. — Chip Patterson

    Liked by 2 people

  17. In 2017 Pitt went 5-7 so the article is in error. I do believe that constitutes a losing season.

    I cannot wait for the season to begin so we can see if there is any hope. We need to win the game at Tennessee and then not lay an egg against Western Michigan.

    As for Yellen, he is a quarterback from California. Quarterbacks from California are NOT Pitt’s strong suit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’ve been hanging around Tex too much. Hey when a national sports network makes an error in our favor…..**roll with it baby ! ** 🙂


  18. Interesting stat, in Canada’s season Pitt gave up 34.4 points per game vs. last year when they gave up 24.5, including the 52 vs Clemson and 45 vs ND.

    Either way difficult to win many with half a team.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very possible Griz, but I see it as a tight game with Pitt winning 28-10. No missed PAT’s, but 2 missed 40 yard FG’s, 1 by each kicker as the OR remains in place.

      Pitt drives inside the redzone two more times and comes away empty as Duzz goes for it on 4th down instead of kicking the FG – fails both times.

      The Aussie punter is seen on the sidelines kicking FG’s into the net.

      Nick Patti plays the final 2 series in relief of K8.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Good things have happened when Patti gets in a game. Dn’t play him vs ND don’t know why Duzz did last year but coach make $4 mil. to make those decisions.


    1. So Joe Starkey just said this on the radio:

      “Chris Bickell has made a 20 dollar donation to Pitt football. It’s the largest donation ever made to the program.”

      No one corrected him. You can’t make this stuff up!

      Go Pitt.


  20. My favorite Panther this season is going to be DE Habakkuk Baldonado! Very cool guy – and he can play some.

    Number 87 on your roster.

    Listed as 6’5” and 260 pounds.

    Go Pitt.


  21. Good God – this Bickell guy donated that money so he could get his name attached to the Head Coaching job…

    “In recognition of Bickell’s historic gift, the head football coaching position at Pitt will be named the “Chris Bickell ’97 Head Football Coach.”. This is the first named coaching position in the history of Pitt Athletics.”

    This is hard to believe, for me at least – it ain’t enough just to donate money?


    1. I didn’t know that part…I just assumed that was Pitt making that call on the title.
      On a similar note I will name each tailgate for the POVert that “donates” the most toward the pregame bash!
      How does “The RICHMAN 9/4/21 Tailgate” sound?
      Bidding starts at $20.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Very interesting that Bickell’s $20 million gift was for “Pitt football”, not Pitt athletics. So Bickell is saying quite clearly that he wants the football program improved.

    And I see where MSU has announced their new Athletic Director, who is a former player who is currently the head of the campus police dept. Apparently, those are better credentials than Heather has (I guess a former police officer can better handle the criminal element associated with MSU athletics).

    Seriously, it is surprising how weak the credentials are for some major college Athletic Dept. hires, and perhaps they believe a strong AD could get a university in trouble. Maybe Tressel turned the job down. This tells me that most likely the MSU President will be running the athletics dept. at MSU.


  23. I don’t understand why anyone would want their name attached to a Pitt coaching position.

    Maybe on a building.

    Maybe a stadium.

    Maybe an on campus multipurpose facility…. nah, nevermind.

    Liked by 2 people

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