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Pitt football near bottom of NCAA in terms of experience returning to team

Justin K. Aller

We all know by now that Pitt isn't returning much on defense in terms of starters (only five return), but what about the team as a whole?

It goes deeper than just returning starters according to Phil Steele, and when you add everything up, he says the Panthers rank near the bottom of the NCAA in terms of returning experience.

Steele looked at a variety of factors, including senior starters returning, seniors on the two deep lineup, the amount of experience those seniors have, number of returning lettermen, percent of offensive yardage returning, percent of tackles returning, and the career starts by a team's offensive line.

Pitt ranks pretty poorly in some of those things, including the categories having to do with seniors since the team is youth-oriented. The Panthers also lost guys like Tom Savage and Devin Street, that accounted for a good chunk of offensive yardage. Add it all up and Pitt ranks No. 105 out of the 128 FBS schools.

That sounds alarming, obviously, but don't be too concerned with it. The top five teams on the list were UTSA, Louisville, Indiana, Central Michigan and Mississippi State. Some heavy hitters like Alabama, LSU, Ohio State, and Notre Dame finished even below Pitt.

The bottom line is that while intriguing, it really means little in terms of what to expect in terms of actual results on the field for 2014. Many big time programs have younger players in big roles and the best players typically leave before even becoming seniors.

Truth be told, Pitt loses a lot on defense and some key offensive players. But based on the number of weaker teams at/near the top and better ones near the bottom, it's really hard to be too concerned or read too much into this.

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