After an absolute blood bath of a game against Penn State, Pitt will try to rebound this weekend against Georgia Tech.
For the Panthers, a game like this one is kind of unfortunate. They had put so much into the Penn State game and now have to not only turn around to play a game, but face a quirky offense they usually see only once a year in Georgia Tech’s triple option. As if all of that wasn’t enough, this is a conference game.
Pitt has had mixed results against Georgia Tech since joining the ACC. The Panthers were defeated in 2013 and 2014 before returning the favor with wins in 2015 and 2016. Last year, Pitt lost 35-17.
Pitt’s offense should look better this weekend by default. As head coach Pat Narduzzi joked in the weekly press conference, the passing game should get going “if there’s not a monsoon,” like this past weekend.
It should be noted that the Panthers’ offense wasn’t a complete mess last weekend. They scored only one touchdown but also managed to rack up 245 rushing yards. Pitt will again try to run but you can also count on them to try to do more with the passing game, obviously, after throwing for a grand total of 55 yards last week. That’s going to be important not only in terms of this game but also for quarterback Kenny Pickett, who could surely use a bit of confidence after Saturday’s disaster.
But it’s not the offense that I’m focusing on here. That’s despite the fact that I do think those guys will have a good day, in part because South Florida threw up 49 points against them. I know there’s a lot of fretting about the defense facing the unusual offense but I actually like the matchup there.
Am I wrong to expect that? Possibly. But the best part of Pitt’s team might be the front seven and that’s the most crucial element needed to shut down an option. The secondary may be tested but Georgia Tech is going to try to do what they do every week - and that’s to run.
A good point was made in the weekly press conference with Narduzzi on Monday in that the Panthers will need someone to step up from the secondary in the Jordan Whitehead role as Whitehead was important in the run game as a safety. But Pitt has the experience needed in the front seven and, seeing Georgia Tech every year, the option is not going to be foreign to them as it might be against a team facing the Yellow Jackets as an out of conference foe.
The Penn State game was unfortunate all the way around. But it was still only one game and doesn’t factor into what the Panthers are hoping to ultimately do - and that’s compete for the Coastal Division title. It could be argued that, after such a horrendous game against Penn State, that the Panthers’ hopes to do that are pretty meager. But nevertheless, they are starting out with a clean slate in the conference standings and have a chance to get things back on track starting Saturday at Heinz Field.