College Football Preview: The 2015 Pittsburgh Panthers
Pittsburgh Panthers Preview
2014 Record: 6-7 (78th of 128) Lost Armed Forces Bowl 35-34 vs. Houston
Odds to Win National Championship: +60000 See the Latest Odds
Overview: The Pittsburgh Panthers have reached a bowl game in seven straight seasons and now begins a new era under head coach Pat Narduzzi. Narduzzi is a well respected defensive mind who hopes to get Pittsburgh to that next level, as this is a program with just one double-digit winning season since the 1990s. Either way, Pittsburgh is an OK 13-13 in its first two seasons in the ACC.
Offense: Pittsburgh's offense should once again be centered around running back James Conner, who is an old school back who carried the ball nearly 300 times and topped 1,700 rushing yards. Conner is an absolute nightmare and gives the Panthers a chance to beat any team on the schedule because he’s that good. Tyler Boyd at wide receiver is another playmaker who topped 1,200 receiving yards despite having a mediocre quarterback. Speaking of quarterback, Chad Voytik gets another hack at it but has to be better than 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions if Pittsburgh is going to really make a push in the ACC. With elite weapons at the skill positions and four offensive linemen returning, Pittsburgh has a scary offense if it can just get consistent play out of its quarterback.
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Defense: Pittsburgh finished eighth in the ACC in total defense and will have to be better if season expectations will be met. Rori Blair is a rising star along the defensive line with five sacks as a freshman and Reggie Mitchell is a safety with impressive ball skills. Matt Galambos is the linebacker who will have to be the glue guy and Darryl Render has the potential to have a breakout season after 8.5 tackles for loss his last two seasons. Nicholas Grigsby is the x-factor, as his athleticism could result into some game changing plays. The Pittsburgh Panthers don’t have the same star power on defense as they do on the offensive end. However, Pitt has a solid defensive line and some key guys who can come together and form a decent unit.
Special Teams: Chris Blewitt returns at kicker after kicking 76.2 percent on 21 attempts. Ryan Winslow returns at punter after averaging 40 yards on 50 attempts.
Overall: It’s hard to trust the Pittsburgh Panthers with all these new coaches. This team also remains a question mark until it gets more consistent play from its QB. However, Boyd and Conner are one of the best tandems in all of college football. If there’s one team in the ACC that could pull off multiple upsets, it’s Pittsburgh.