Pitt rolled out 58 points on Saturday against Duke and it marked the third time in the past ten years in which the Panthers scored 50 points against an FBS level opponent. The other times came against UCF in 2006, and Buffalo in 2009. Pitt displayed balance between the run and the pass, and kept Duke off balance for pretty much the entire game.
Any offense, it has to start with the quarterback. Tom Savage was extremely efficient on Saturday, and threw for six touchdowns. His first two games showed some inconsistency and some bad reads, but Saturday he looked superb. Through the recent years, Pitt has had solid quarterbacks, but nothing outstanding. Tino Sunseri, Tyler Palko, and Bill Stull all had their moments. I don't view Savage as someone much better than those guys, but his one separating factor is his arm strength. Savage and Pitt have the deep bomb in their arsenal, a sign that this offense can be for real.
The running game has been consistent and it appears the staff found a hidden gem in James Conner. The bruising true freshman looked unstoppable in the first half at times, and could be on his way to a Dion Lewis/LeSean McCoy type of freshman season. Throw in a veteran guy like Isaac Bennett, and Pitt is packing a powerful 1-2 punch.
No offense can survive without a good offensive line, and they looked tremendous on Saturday. They are enormous in stature with an average weight of 315. They had their troubles with the speed of Florida State in the opener, but they were far from being overmatched. This is a unit with four underclassmen, and guys switching positions. I think the progress they have made until right now is pretty remarkable.
The old term "Wide Receiver U" has been lost somewhat, but could it be making its return? Tyler Boyd is proving that he may be one of the best offensive players in the whole ACC, freshman or not. Boyd has made some jaw dropping plays in only three games, and you would have to expect he is going to make a few more. Devin Street is being overshadowed, and he is having an outstanding year in his own right. Street has and will be there all season long. Also, it was only one game, but Kevin Weatherspoon may be able to grasp the third receiver spot that's been such a topic of discussion.
The tight ends have been doing a fantastic job of blocking, and they have helped this offense very quietly. We know Manasseh Garner is going to get the ball, but Scott Orndoff has come up with two touchdown catches in consecutive weeks. JP Holtz has proven he is capable as well. The unit is so young and you would expect them to keep taking steps forward
Looking at the personnel, it's certainly an offense on the rise, but don't forget who is coaching these guys. Paul Chryst led Wisconsin on some memorable runs at Wisconsin running this very offense. Joe Rudolph was around for those years also. Jim Heuber has been through it all coaching the offensive line, and Bobby Engram and Brooks Bollinger are former NFL guys that the players seem to respond to well.
So looking at what they have, is this offense for real? I am leaning towards thinking it is. They have a quarterback with a strong arm, two explosive receivers, a steady stable of backs, a diverse group of ends, and a growing offensive line. Not to mention a pretty well built offensive coaching staff. This team is not going to drop 58 every game, and they certainly can come out and still make mistakes. But moving forward, the offense is definitely becoming less of a worry.