Pitt Panthers Preview : A big one against the Hokies

Photo Courtesy of http://www.pittsburghpanthers.com

This Saturday’s match-up between the Pitt Panthers and the Virginia Tech Hokies will have huge implications on who will win the ACC Coastal Division. Pitt was able to keep their hopes alive with a 34-27 victory over North Carolina in OT last Thursday at Heinz Field.

Both teams enter Saturday playing their best football of the season. Pitt’s offense, and in particular, Kenny Pickett are coming off one of their strongest performances of the year. A healthy Shocky Jacque-Louis was able to finally take the top off the defense and score on a 74 yard touchdown. If Pitt is going to win in a tough environment, they are going to need to hit on a few big plays this weekend.

Virginia Tech comes into this game having won 5 of their last 6 games with the only loss being to the Irish by 1 point. Quaterback Hendon Hooker is currently 5-0 this year and has yet to throw an Interception. This will also be Bud Fosters last home game, obviously emotions will be high. Look for this to be a physical game for 60 minutes.

When Pitt’s Offense is on the Field

Pitt’s offense put together its strongest game film of the year last week and that was without WR Maurice Ffrench. Ffrench will be a “game-time” decision this week, but even if he plays I look for Pitt to continue to get the ball downfield. Mack is finally getting back to 100% after being in a walking boot, and Shocky showed last week that he is ready to “Ball Out”. Pitt is going to need to hit a few big plays to keep the defense honest.

Virginia Tech’s defense has forced 7 turnovers in the last 3 games and Pitt on offense this year has turned it over a total of 16 times. This is going to play a huge factor in who wins this game. Pickett was able to play a clean game against Carolina last week. He will need to make it two in a row for the Panthers to have a shot.

When Pitt’s Defense is on the Field

Virginia Tech runs what they like to call the “Spread Ace” style of offense. It consists of a ton of shot gun snaps and different run schemes. Tech likes to run the football in multiple different ways, examples of this include the “jet sweep” runs by the WR last week against GT. Pitt’s defense excels against the run, and its this match-up they may determine the outcome of the game.

Pitt plays a fast, aggressive, downhill style of defense. If Tech gets into 3rd and long situations look for them to just run the ball and punt the football to play the field position game. I also look to Tech to run a bunch of misdirection plays and screens to try to take advantage of the Pitt DLine and Pass rush. Pitt will need to stay discipline in their assignments to have success defensively.

My Prediction – Va Tech 26 – Pitt 19

These are two very similar teams that will meet on Saturday. Both started slow, and have come on late to be playing their best football as we hit the home stretch of the season. Hooker has been efficient with the ball and a duel threat for Tech, while if Pickett plays like he did last week, with Pitt’s defense they will be tough to beat.

Unfortunately for the Panthers, I do not believe that Kenny Pickett and this offense will be able to NOT turn the ball over for a second week in a row. I see a one score game heading to the fourth quarter where ultimately the Panthers come up short and the dream of repeating as Coastal Division Champs comes to an end.

Let me know in the comments what you think the final score will be and why! Make sure to click subscribe below to be the first to know when new content has been uploaded!

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