Welcome to the Pittsburgh Panthers vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Preview! This is your one-stop shop for everything you need to know about Pitt and their upcoming opponent! Mike Drakulich of Pittsburgh SportsNation brings you inside the huddle for both teams, provides a game outlook, score prediction, individual stats, team stats, and even the weather at kickoff! If it’s relevant, it’s in here!
A look at the Pittsburgh Panthers!
Overall Record: 3-2 | ACC Record: 0-1
Head Coach: Pat Narduzzi (2nd Season with Pitt)
Lifetime Record: 11-7
Last Week: The Pitt Panthers held on to defeat Marshall, watching a 27-0 halftime advantage get trimmed to 30-27 late in the 4th quarter. Two late scores, including a pick-six to end the game lead Pitt to a 43-27 victory over the Thundering Herd.
Breakdown of the Pitt Panthers: Nathan Peterman leads the Panthers at quarterback, and will look to continue where he left off against Marshall, where he threw for 280 yards and two scores. Peterman’s main weapon at wide receiver is Jester Weah, who has 14 catches for 313 yards and three scores. Jester’s late TD last week sealed the deal for the Panther’s vs. Marshall. Quadree Henderson is also a major weapon in Pitt’s offense, snatching down 15 catches for 158 yards, to go along with his 317 yards rushing. Henderson has reached the end zone four times so far in 2016. Tre Tipton and Aaron Matthews are Peterman’s other options in the passing game, in addition to Scott Orndoff at tight end, who has 12 catches for 117 yards and a score. On a side note, Maurice Ffrench saw the field last week and found the end zone out of the backfield. Ffrench is similar to Henderson with his speed, if not faster and may add yet another dynamic weapon to Pitt’s offensive arsenal.
Pitt pays the bills through it’s rushing attack. James Conner leads the way with 381 rushing yards and five touchdowns to go with 13 receptions for 169 yards and two more scores. Frosh Chawntez Moss is vaulting up the depth chart and will see plenty of action alongside Conner. Moss has 152 yards so far. Darrin Hall, if healthy and Qadree Ollison may also see a few touches from time to time. FB George Aston has been a goal-line terror so far this season, gaining 40 yards rushing and four touchdowns. Jordan Whitehead is Pitt’s starting strong safety but is also a dynamic force when he gets the ball in his hands offensively. Look for Whitehead to be involved in a few series this week.
“It’s nice to have a two-headed monster back there, and we’re going to continue to take care of James and make sure he’s good,” Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said. “The long-term effect and everything that he goes through, we constantly talk to him and make sure that he’s good. And it’s good to have another guy to go in there. James will be the first one to say that he’s excited about Chawntez and what he did because it helps him be better. James doesn’t need 45 carries; all we’re doing is beating him down.
I’ve been on teams where you had a guy carry the ball 45 times in a game, and it’s like, ‘Whew.’ He doesn’t need that or for the rest of his life, for his future. So it’s great when you can count on somebody else. We can count on Chawntez, and I think we can count on Qadree Ollison as well. Darrin Hall, we can count on him, too.”
Pitt’s defensive line will need to be on top of their game this week. Rori Blair, Tyrique Jarrett, Shakir Soto, and Ejuan Price are the starters along the defensive line. Mike Caprara, Matt Galambos, and Seun Idowu are at linebacker, while Avonte Maddox, Terrish Webb, Whitehead, and Ryan Lewis lead a secondary that should be able to contain any passing threats from Georgia Tech.
A look at the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets!
Overall Record: 3-2 | ACC Record: 1-2
Head Coach: Paul Johnson (9th Season with Georgia Tech)
Lifetime Record: 171-85
Last Week: Georgia Tech out-gained the Miami Hurricanes in total yards, but Miami had the most important stat, that being 35 points to the Yellow Jackets 21. Two touchdowns given up by the Tech offense was the ultimate killer in their demise.
Breakdown of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: Justin Thomas is the quarterback for Georgia Tech, and has just 458 yards passing through five games. With only two touchdown passes on the year, it’s unlikely the Jackets will be much of a threat in the air against a weak Panther secondary that has been scorched all season long.
Tech runs it’s signature Triple-Option offense as well as anyone. Dedrick Mills leads the way with 300 yards rushing with seven scores. Pitt will also see plenty of Clinton Lynch, Justin Thomas, Marcus Marshall, and Qua Searcy, all of whom have over 100 yards on the ground in 2016. Searcy has also caught seven passes for 102 yards and a score.
Tech only boasts two receivers of note, that being Ricky Jeune and Brad Stewart. Jeune has nine grabs for 121 yards so far. None of Tech’s tight ends have a catch recorded.
Defensively, the Ramblin’ Wreck is only giving up 23.6 points per game.
Paul Johnson knows his defense will have to be at the top of their game if they hope to leave Heinz Field with a victory.
“It concerns you a lot. They’re executing at a pretty high rate offensively,” Johnson stated. “They’ve been very efficient. I keep saying this, it’s like beating a dead horse, but when you get 20 possessions a game, it’s a lot different than when you get eight. So you’ve got to put it in perspective. They’ve done a really nice job, for instance in the North Carolina game, I think they held the ball 40-something minutes. They were executing; they were converting third downs. North Carolina, to start the game, I think they ran six plays in the first quarter. If that’s the case, then you’re going to get a lot of kicks at the turn, especially when the other team is going as fast as they can. It’s relative, but they’ve been very good offensively. They’re operating at a high efficiency. They’ve probably played as well offensively as anybody we’ve played this year. Miami had been scoring at a very high rate. But (with) Miami, the competition had been different as opposed to Pitt. Pitt has lined up and played Penn State, Oklahoma State, North Carolina — they’ve played a bunch of (good teams).”
Game Preview: In previous years, Pitt has been inept in stopping the Triple-Option (*cough*…remember the Navy game in the Military Bowl? The again, please don’t…), but in last year’s tilt against Georgia Tech, they held their own in winning 31-28. Everyone knows Pitt’s weakness is in their secondary, so the question is, will the Yellow Jackets try to exploit it, even though their strength is clearly grounded in the running game?
My guess is Paul Johnson will stick to what he knows, and will try to run the ball down Pitt’s throat. That, ultimately, will be Tech’s downfall in this one. Pitt has their own powerful running game and can point up points with anyone, especially with the passing game opening up for the Panthers as it did last week against Marshall. I doubt the Yellow Jackets can match Pitt score for score if they focus solely on running the ball. It’s up to the Panther defense to play with discipline and not allow many broken tackles on the day.
“Our guys would rather you run the ball. We like to defend the run,” Narduzzi said. “Obviously, the option gives you a whole different perspective on defending the run. Really, what we’d like to do is line in I-backs and just try to run the power and iso; that’s the fun part of football, that’s what it used to be. Now it’s all this spread and ‘trick-em, trick-em’ football. But this will be fun. I think our guys are looking forward to it, I believe.”
Pitt has yet to play a full 60 minutes yet this season, so look for the Panthers to jump out to an early lead and allow Georgia Tech to hang around much more than they should. In the end, Pitt will do just enough to improve to 4-2 and 1-1 in ACC play.
Prediction: Pitt 34 Georgia Tech 28
QB- Nathan Peterman (923 yards passing | eight TD passes | two interceptions | three sacks)
RB- James Conner (381 yards rushing | five rushing TD’s | 13 receptions | 169 yards receiving | two receiving TD’s)
RB- Chawntez Moss (152 yards rushing | one rushing TD’s | one reception | seven yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
RB- Darrin Hall (82 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | one reception | two yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
RB- Qadree Ollison (71 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | one reception | 8 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
RB- Jordan Whitehead (63 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 0 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
FB- George Aston (40 yards rushing | four rushing TD’s | four receptions | 25 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
WR- Quadree Henderson (15 receptions | 158 receiving yards | one receiving TD’s | 317 yards rushing | two rushing TD’s)
WR- Jester Weah (14 receptions | 313 receiving yards | three receiving TD’s)
WR- Tre Tipton (6 receptions | 60 receiving yards | one receiving TD’s)
TE- Scott Orndoff (12 receptions | 117 receiving yards | one receiving TD’s)
TE- Jaymar Parrish (3 receptions | 34 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
K- Chris Blewitt (Extra Point: 23-24 | FG: 4-7 | 0-19: 0-0 | 20-29: 1-1 | 30-39: 0-1 | 40-49: 2-3 | 50+: 1-2 | Long: 50
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
QB- Justin Thomas (458 yards passing | 2 TD passes | one interceptions | 8 sacks)
RB- Dedrick Mills (300 yards rushing | seven rushing TD’s | 2 receptions | 13 yards receiving | one receiving TD’s)
RB- Clinton Lynch (190 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 5 receptions | 108 yards receiving | 1 receiving TD’s)
RB- Justin Thomas (151 yards rushing | one rushing TD’s | 0 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
RB- Marcus Marshall (144 yards rushing | one rushing TD’s | 2 receptions | 81 yards receiving | one receiving TD’s)
RB- Qua Searcy (103 yards rushing | one rushing TD’s | 7 receptions | 102 yards receiving | one receiving TD’s)
WR- Ricky Jeune (9 receptions | 121 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
WR- Brad Stewart (6 receptions | 78 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
K- Harrison Butker (Extra Point: 16-16| FG: 2-2 | 0-19: 0-0 | 20-29: 0-0 | 30-39: 0-0 | 40-49: 2-2 | 50+: 0-0 | Long: 41
Team Stats through Week 4
Total Offense: Pitt gains 434.6 YPG | Georgia Tech gains 335.6 YPG
Rushing: Pitt gains 250 YPG | Georgia Tech gains 226.8 YPG
Passing: Pitt gains 184.6 YPG | Georgia Tech gains 108.8 YPG
Scoring: Pitt scores 37.4 PPG | Georgia Tech scores 23.6 PPG
Total Defense: Pitt allows 406.6 YPG | Georgia Tech allows 342.4 YPG
Rushing: Pitt allows 69.8 YPG | Georgia Tech allows 119.6 YPG
Passing: Pitt allows 336.8 YPG | Georgia Tech allows 222.8 YPG
Scoring: Pitt allows 31.0 PPG | Georgia Tech allows 18.8 PPG
NCAA Week Six
Pittsburgh Panthers (3-2, 0-1) vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (3-2, 1-2)
Venue: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh PA.
Game time: Saturday, October 9th, 12:30 pm
TV: ABC-WTAE / Announcers: Tom Werme (play-by-play) Dave Archer (analyst) Roddy Jones (reporter)
Local Radio: Pittsburgh- 93.7 The Fan | Announcers: Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play) Bill Osborne (analyst) | Larry Richert (sideline)
National Radio: SiriusXM Satellite Radio | Sirius Channel 93, XM Channel 194, Internet Channel 956
Weather at Kickoff: 62 with a 15% chance of rain.
Vegas Line: Pittsburgh -6.5
Pittsburgh vs. Georgia Tech History
- Series History: Began in 1918.
- Pitt is 6-4 against Georgia Tech.
- Pitt is 3-1 against Georgia Tech at home.
- Streak: Pitt won the last meeting.
- Last Regular-Season Meeting: Oct. 17, 2015- Pitt 31 Georgia Tech 28
- Bowl Games: Pitt is 0-2 vs. Georgia Tech
- Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson is 2-0 all-time at Heinz Field, including the Yellow Jackets’ 56- 28 win in 2014. As coach of Navy in 2007, he led the Midshipmen to a 48-45 double-overtime win.
- Pitt’s Ejuan Price is making a strong case for All-America and ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors. The senior defensive end leads the entire nation in quarterback sacks (7.5) and tackles for loss (11.5). Price has logged at least one sack in each contest this season.
- The Panthers boast one of college football’s most dangerous all-purpose players in Quadree Henderson. The sophomore wide receiver leads the nation in total all-purpose yards (tied) with 937. Henderson’s average of 187.4 yards per game leads the ACC and ranks fifth nationally
- James Conner has scored a rushing touchdown in 13 consecutive games. It is the longest streak in Pitt history, erasing a nearly century-old mark set by George McLaren, who had a rushing TD in 10 consecutive games over the 1916-17 seasons.
- Jester Weah was a catalyst in the Panthers’ 43-27 win over Marshall (Oct. 1) by producing the highest receiving yardage by a Pitt player in 12 years. The junior compiled 176 yards on seven catches—both career highs—and made the game’s decisive play when he beat a defender for a 54-yard touchdown to put Pitt up by 10 with 1:04 left.
- The Panthers feature one of the most potent rushing attacks in the country. Pitt is averaging 250.0 rushing yards per game to rank 16th in the nation and second in the ACC.
Pittsburgh Panthers 2016 Schedule
Regular Season (2-2)
Sept. 3 Villanova (ACCN Extra) W, 28-7
Sept. 10 Penn State (ESPN) W, 42-39
Sept. 17 at Oklahoma State (ESPN) L, 38-45
Sept. 24 at North Carolina* (ESPNU) L, 36-37
Oct. 1 Marshall (RSN) W, 43-27
Oct. 8 Georgia Tech* (WTAE) (Homecoming) 12:30 p.m.
Oct. 15 at Virginia* 12:30 p.m.
Oct. 27 (Thurs.) Virginia Tech* (ESPN) 7 p.m.
Nov. 5 at Miami* TBA
Nov. 12 at Clemson* TBA
Nov. 19 Duke* TBA
Nov. 26 Syracuse* TBA