Coming off back-to-back losses, the Pitt Panthers (3-2, 2-2 ACC) journey to South Seashore to tackle the No. 13 Miami Hurricanes (3-1, 2-1 ACC) Saturday at midday on the ACC Community. The Panthers are desirous to redeem themselves after final week’s heartbreaking extra time loss to Boston School.
Redshirt senior kicker Alex Kessman’s season-long struggles continued within the sport towards Boston School. He missed two area objectives in regulation and an additional level in extra time. Neither area objective he missed was a chip shot. Throughout Thursday’s press convention, head coach Pat Narduzzi caught by his kicker, reinforcing his personal perception in Kessman’s talents.
“I don’t know the common share on a 45-yard-plus area objective across the nation is, however in the event you hit one out of three of these, which is what Kess did, you’re fairly darned good, and a 58-yarder clearly is large and provides us an opportunity in extra time,” Narduzzi mentioned.
Senior quarterback Kenny Pickett, nevertheless, didn’t disappoint towards Boston School. He’ll want one other stellar weekend to maintain up with a proficient Miami offense, which averages 36.eight factors and greater than 425 yards of offense per sport.
“Miami has received a ton of pace. They’ve received some transfers each on the offensive aspect of the ball and the defensive aspect of the ball,” Narduzzi mentioned. “Clearly they’ve received a quarterback and a proper deal with which might be from Houston that got here collectively — I suppose, a package deal deal — which might be very athletic.”
The quarterback Narduzzi speaks of is redshirt senior D’Eriq King. Named to each the Maxwell Award and Davey O’Brien Award watchlists earlier than the season started, King brings versatility that Pitt hasn’t seen but this season. There are few quarterbacks within the ACC who could make performs with their ft and their arm in the best way King can.
By means of 4 video games, he has 857 passing yards to associate with 241 speeding yards. Narduzzi mentioned whereas watching King play, he observed the pace that makes King an X-factor for Miami on the offensive aspect of the ball.
“He’s received slightly totally different burst to him. The man can run,” Narduzzi mentioned. “Once you watch him run by way of Clemson’s protection, you understand there’s some good pace on the sphere.”
Miami confronted Clemson, the No. 1 group within the nation with the second fewest whole yards allowed per sport within the ACC, final week. King had his first style this season of stellar defensive play towards the Tigers, and Pitt gained’t make it simple on him both.
King solely threw for 121 passing yards towards the stout Tigers protection final week, however ran for 84 yards and a landing. The Hurricanes’ electrical offense that scored 52 factors towards Florida State and 47 towards Louisville met its match final week. Answerable for all however 5 of his group’s yards, King saved Miami within the sport till Clemson pulled away within the third quarter.
The Panther protection stumbled the previous two weeks after an electrical begin to the season. Nevertheless, the group nonetheless out-gains opponents by virtually 150 yards per sport on common. This discrepancy in yards gained to yards allowed is a product of permitting the second fewest speeding yards per sport within the nation, in addition to sixth fewest whole yards allowed per sport. The Panthers lead the ACC in every of these classes.
Pitt’s defensive dominance begins with its line. When All-ACC redshirt junior defensive deal with Jaylen Twyman opted out earlier than the beginning of the season, Pitt misplaced double-digit sacks. The query then turned, “Who will step up in his absence?” Look no additional than redshirt senior defensive ends Patrick Jones II and Rashad Weaver. With a mixed 11.5 sacks and 35 whole tackles, the tip pair is among the finest within the nation.
Jones leads the nation with seven sacks, whereas Weaver is fifth with 4 and a half. They’ve each been wonderful by way of Pitt’s first 5 video games and are proving they need to be early spherical draft picks subsequent yr. Defensive position coach Charlie Partridge touched on how the tip pairing feeds off one another to create success for each other.
“There’s little question that with these guys coming from both aspect, it actually makes it onerous for different groups to double-team,” Partridge mentioned.
Houston Texans All-Professional defensive finish J.J. Watt racked up seven sacks in 13 video games in his finest faculty season, so for Jones to have already hit that mark after 5 video games is astounding. Even with that, Partridge nonetheless believes Jones has but to achieve his most potential.
“I nonetheless suppose there’s room for him to develop, there’s issues we’re engaged on on daily basis from a way standpoint, so I nonetheless suppose his ceiling is greater,” Partridge mentioned.
If Pickett is wholesome, the quarterback duel will probably be enjoyable to observe. Narduzzi not often feedback a lot on accidents, however in Thursday’s media session he talked about Pickett’s readiness after the senior quarterback left Saturday’s sport briefly with an ankle damage.
“Kenny’s labored his tail off,” Narduzzi mentioned. “Kenny’s robust, I imply you noticed him end the [Boston College] sport, so is he 100% wholesome? No. However I really feel good with the place he’s proper now.”
Regardless of Pickett’s questionable well being, Pitt’s offense has confirmed itself to be extra succesful than its status lets on, averaging greater than 400 yards per sport. And it has a positive matchup within the Hurricanes. Miami enters play permitting virtually as many yards because it positive aspects.
Narduzzi’s vote of confidence is a giant deal headed into play this week and alerts that Pickett — the ACC’s passing chief — is able to tackle the top-15 Hurricanes.
It’s onerous to cease King and the Miami offense after they get going, and Pitt’s defensive numbers have come again all the way down to Earth over the previous two weeks.
All the Pitt protection might want to have eyes on King always, comprise him because it did with opposing quarterbacks by way of the primary three video games of the season and restrict the chunk performs by utilizing much more depth to maintain gamers rested. However, with Pickett banged up, I don’t suppose the Pitt offense will be capable of outscore the Hurricanes.
Pitt: 20, Miami: 27