With Pitt headed for ESPNU this week (12:00 p.m. EST on Saturday), we had another chance to catch up with the former Panthers quarterback and ESPN analyst, John Congemi about the big game on Saturday against Virginia Tech.
John answered my questions below - voila.
Virginia Tech's defense has looked great while the offense has looked below average. Is the defense really that good and, conversely, the offense that bad?
Virginia Tech has talent at every level on the defensive side of the football. Defensive Coordinator Bud Foster predicates his defense with bringing pressure in from the edge and having great cornerback play. That’s why they’ve been so good on defense over the past 10,12, 15 years. Offensively, it’s not that they don’t have talent, it’s just that historically, they have been a team that has liked to run the football and beat you up up front. A reason with their lack of consistency is that just don’t have the depth at wide receiver that they had in the past.
Last year Pitt was able to get to Logan Thomas and while he's playing okay this year, he still looks like he's having some more troubles. What kind of pro prospect do you think he makes?
Just with size alone, Logan Thomas has the body type to play at the NFL level. He’s come a long way from last year to this year in terms of working with on his mechanics and footwork. The one aspect that allows him to be successful at the position is his ability to run the football. I don’t know if he’ll be a starter in the NFL but his attributes will definitely give him a hard long look at that opportunity.
Speaking of quarterbacks, Tom Savage has struggled with some interceptions but overall, has been a pleasant surprise for Pitt fans. The passing game has looked strong and despite the six picks he has already, he's putting up some big chunks of yardage. How close will NFL scouts look at him?
I think very close. Just as close – and probably more than – Logan Thomas because Tom Savage is a pure thrower of the football.
It's early but Tyler Boyd already has the look of a star. What are the impressive things you've seen out of him so far this year?
He has the ability to make explosive plays. He has three straight 100-yard games and is averaging over 100-yards per game. He doesn’t look like a freshman, which should bring a smile to faces of Pitt fans. He’s the other receiver this team needed, because everyone knew Devin Street would be consistent. His presence gives Pitt another dimension to the offense.
What are some of the weak spots that you have seen from this Pitt team so far this season?
Other than consistency on the offensive line, some people on the defensive front seven need to make Aaron Donald’s job a little easier. If the Panthers can create any type of edge pass rush, as hard as this is to believe, I think Donald’s numbers would go up.
Pitt pulled off an upset last year and are again the underdogs heading into this one. Winning on the road won't be an easy task, but what are the keys for a Pitt win on Saturday?
Protect the football and be able to keep the offense on the field in the first quarter. They had the same situation last year against the Hokies, they came in as underdogs and were able to get three interceptions off and stay away from negative plays. They didn’t get many negative plays and were able to move that chains and I believe that made Virginia Tech press.