clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Second wide receiver still not emerging for Pitt football

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

After three games for this year's Pitt football team, one aspect looks alarmingly similar to last season's squad - the lack of a second wide receiver to go along with future NFLer Tyler Boyd.

In 2014, converted tight end Manasseh Garner won the starting job. Despite lots of potential, however, Garner was largely ineffective, catching only 17 passes all season for a meager 201 yards. The rest of the Panthers' wide receivers added only 34 receptions.

It's still early, but 2015 looks like more of the same. No. 2 receiver playing alongside Boyd, Dontez Ford, has only three catches on the year - and that actually leads the way among the Panthers' other wideouts. Zach Challingsworth, Elijah Zeise, and Quadree Henderson are the only others to record any receptions, and that group has only a combined five grabs. Add it all up, and you have eight balls caught by a wide receiver not named Tyler Boyd. Also, keep in mind that the team didn't even have Boyd in the season opener. Those numbers look even weaker by comparison given that note.

The good news is that the team is going to its tight ends more. I mentioned that before the game and that trend continued with J.P. Holtz and Scott Orndoff catching four balls for 52 yards and a touchdown against Iowa. Holtz, for all intents and purposes, has been the team's second best receiver as his six catches on the year indicate. Still, it would be nice to see Pitt find another target among its wide receivers for a few reasons.

First, Boyd will almost assuredly be jumping to the NFL after this season. The team won't have him much longer and really need to develop some other options to get the wheels in motion for a good passing game next season. Along those lines, the Panthers also need to make sure that quarterback Nathan Peterman establishes some kind of rapport with the other receivers for his season, too. There's always the chance that Boyd sustains an injury this year and, as we saw in the opener without him, there wasn't much of a passing game when he's not a factor.

Another issue is that Pitt's running game has struggled with the loss of James Conner. Now, more than ever, there's a need for a passing attack. Pitt can't solely rely on chucking the ball to Boyd on every play. As we saw with Peterman in the Iowa game, keying on one guy too much leads to forcing the ball into places it shouldn't go and, ultimately, interceptions.

Finally, utilizing Boyd all the time isn't really taking any pressure of off him. Without another threat, teams will load up on him and force Peterman to make plays elsewhere. Pitt's offense becomes even more stagnant if he's taken out of games. Boyd is too good not to get any receptions, but he could make even more of an impact if he had a little breathing room with defenses respecting some of Pitt's other receivers.

To be fair here, one thing we don't really know is if the lack of utilization of the other wide receivers is on them not getting open enough or on the quarterbacks for looking to Boyd too much. Still, if those guys are making plays in practice, where they're certainly given an opportunity, one would think that they would be utilized more in actual games.

The Panthers are fortunate to have Boyd, who is one of the top wideouts in college football. But he can't be the only receiver they look to going forward and Pitt is in need of someone else to step up.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.