Pitt’s running game had struggled quite a bit in the middle of the season and looked to be heading nowhere fast. But the Panthers have gotten some steady play from Darrin Hall and, two weeks later, have at least been able to run the ball effectively.
Hall had a monster game against Duke when he ran for 254 yards and had three touchdowns. A 92-yard touchdown run was the longest in school history as well. The running back followed that up with a 25-carry, 111-yard output this weekend against Virginia, scoring another touchdown.
As I mentioned on Saturday, Hall was a guy that could have been a candidate to transfer and is now the unquestioned starter at running back. After his performance in the Duke game, he went from fifth on the team in rushing to first and his big game this weekend helped cement that. Hall is now up to 473 yards on the season with most of that coming in the last two weeks.
I know a lot of fans will want to point to the competition but I’m inclined to look past that a little. I do think Hall has benefited from facing some weaker teams in Duke and Virginia but look back at what the Panthers did against Rice. Pitt blew them out for a 41-20 win but also couldn’t run the ball. Pitt’s running backs that day (Qadree Ollison, Chawntez Moss, and A.J. Davis - Hall didn’t get a carry) had 22 carries for only 45 yards. That game sort of proved that even against weaker teams, the Panthers’ running game was in bad shape.
Hall’s dominance in the backfield is pretty short-lived. And there’s a chance he continues to be challenged by Ollison, who did well with his carries on Saturday. But for the moment, he looks like the team’s best option and has given the offense a bit of a boost.