With a disappointing loss to Syracuse on Saturday, Pitt drops to 2-4 on the season. Things don’t get any easier this weekend as the Panthers will face No. 20 North Carolina State.
Pitt gets the game at home and will have its Homecoming festivities. But the Panthers won’t have an easy time with the Wolfpack. North Carolina State has been one of the surprise teams in the conference and, at 5-1, is playing really well.
Things are complicated for Pitt by the fact that they will be without starting quarterback Max Browne. It isn’t known how long he’ll be out but head coach Pat Narduzzi said after the Syracuse game that he is expected to be out for at least a couple of weeks.
That will put backup Ben DiNucci into action and it will be interesting to see how he plays. Pitt has already burned the redshirt of freshman Kenny Pickett and we could see the Panthers try to play him if DiNucci is ineffective.
Part of the reason North Carolina State is so good is that they have a balanced offense. Running back Nyheim Hines is on pace for a 1,000-yard season and has 513 yards, getting 5.1 yards per carry. Quarterback Ryan Finley leads a strong passing attack as well. He already has 1,770 passing yards on the season and the Wolfpack have four receivers that have caught at least 20 passes. Leading the way is Jaylen Samuels, who has 50 receptions already. He’s more of a short-route guy with 425 yards total but North Carolina State is also capable of stretching the field with some of their other guys.
Defensively, North Carolina State has been decent, too. They aren’t lights out there, but have only allowed more than 25 points once all season. Even that hasn’t happened in a while as it occurred in the team’s season-opening 35-28 loss to South Carolina.
Overall, I’m not feeling real strong about the team’s chances this weekend. Pitt has beaten better teams under head coach Pat Narduzzi but this year, they’ve just really looked overmatched against the better teams they’ve faced. I do think Pitt will continue to have chances to upset teams under Narduzzi in the future but I don’t know that it’s happening this year. Pitt has just struggled so badly with the better teams on the schedule. Mix in the Browne loss and it’s even harder to see them winning on Saturday.