Pitt went into its season opener last Saturday with the running back position somewhat up in the air. A.J. Davis was listed as the starter, but the backup role was shared by Israel Abanikanda, Daniel Carter, Vincent Davis and Todd Sibley Jr. All five saw action in Pitt’s 55-0 rout of Austin Peay, but it appears Vincent Davis impressed the Panthers coaching staff, as he has been named the starter at running back for Pitt’s matchup with Syracuse.
“We’ll play them all and see what they got,” Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said of his running backs on Thursday. “But Vince was the guy that showed up last week, so he’ll start.”
Vincent Davis led the quintet of halfbacks in carries, yardage and scoring in the season opener, as he came up with 43 yards and two touchdowns on 11 runs. But his 3.9 yards per carry ranked fourth out of the five averages posted by the Panthers' running backs. Israel Abanikanda led the way in that respect, as he averaged 5.2 yards per carry in addition to contributing 26 yards and a touchdown.
A.J. Davis put on a decent performance, accruing just two yards fewer than Abanikanda on the same number of rushes. However, he was the only running back of the five who did not find the end zone against the Governors. Carter and Sibley both ran the ball four times and scored, but Sibley appeared to struggle overall, amassing just two yards.
Narduzzi noted that all five of Pitt’s running backs will once again see action against Syracuse. So it seems that no one has distinguished themselves as the bell cow of the Panthers backfield, but after a solid showing in the season opener, Vincent Davis appears to have taken the lead in the running back battle — at least for now.