Welcome to the Pitt Panthers vs Oklahoma State Cowboys 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, providing all fans with a detailed breakdown of each team, game outlook, score prediction, individual stats, team stats, and even the weather at kickoff. The only thing you’re missing is a ticket into the stadium!
A look at the Pitt Panthers!
Overall Record: 1-1 | ACC Record: 0-0
Head Coach: Pat Narduzzi (3rd Season with Pitt)
Lifetime Record: 17-11
Last Week: Penn St 33 Pitt 14
Breakdown of the Panthers
Quarterback- Max Browne, a senior and a former five star prospect, transferred from USC. Browne has a good arm and displays a nice touch on deep throws. He is not very mobile, but needs to take yards when they are available and avoid unnecessary sacks.
Ben DiNucci is probably a better all-around QB than Browne. DiNucci has much better speed and can gain yards on the ground if he see no throwing lanes open.
Running Backs- Pitt is loaded with guys who can tote the rock. Qadree Ollison is the starter and is looking to return to stardom. He rushed for 1,121 yards in 2015 en route to earning ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. He is more of a bruiser, as is Darrin Hall has looked sharp in Camp. Chawtez Moss will be in the mix, as will two highly touted freshmen in Todd Sibley and AJ Davis. Fullback George Aston is injured, but hopes to be back very soon. Colton Lively will suit up in his absence.
Wide Receivers- Jester Weah caught 36 passes for 872 yards and 10 scores last year. Quadree Henderson is a dynamic playmaker that wants to up his game in receptions in 2017. Henderson torched defenses all year in the running game via the Jet Sweep, and now wants to terrorize opposing secondaries with his speed and elusiveness. Now would be a good time in week three. Maurice Ffrench will look to contribute on both the ground and in the air, as he can employ a style similar to Hendersen. Ruben Flowers is a four-star prospect and believes he can make an impact immediately. Aaron Mathews and Raphael Araujo-Lopez saw time last year and will see action as well.
Tight Ends- Matt Flanagan and Chris Clark will step in and try to emulate the success of the graduated Scott Orndoff. Flangan is a graduate transfer from Rutgers. Clark is a huge target, and has plenty of potential and may very well become one of Browne’s favorite targets if he starts holding on to the ball.
Defense- Dewayne Hendrix and Rashaad Weaver are co-starters at defensive end, with Allen Edwards on the other side. James Folston, Jr. and Patrick Jones II will also see plenty of action. In the middle you’ll find Shane Roy and the impressive freshman Keyson Camp. Amir Watts and Kam Cater will be in the rotation.
At linebacker, Elijah Zeise, Saleem Brightwell, and Seun Idowu are the starters. Anthony McKee, Jr. and Chris Pine will get plenty of chances to make an impression, too.
The secondary was scorched game after game last year, but has played much better so far this year. Star safety Jordan Whitehead is suspended for one more game, but like Mike Tomlin says, it’s “Next man up!” for the Panthers. Avonte Maddox will start at corner on one side, and expect to see a rotation of Dane Jackson and Damarri Mathis until one stands above the other. Dennis Briggs will start at strong safety and is also a team captain. Phil Campbell and Henry Miller will back-up Briggs. While Whitehead sits, Bricen Garner and Jazzee Stocker will do their best to impress Coach Narduzzi. Highly touted Damar Hamlin will be in the mix once his various injuries begin to heal up. Top recruit Paris Ford enrolled late, but his talent will eventually rise to the top and he will see action sooner than later.
Kicker- Alex Kessman takes over the duties for Chris Blewitt and will need to prove he can handle the pressure of being the man when called upon.
Kick/Punt Return- Quadree Henderson will be back deep for every kick.
A look at the Oklahoma State Cowboys!
Overall Record: 2-0 | Big 12 Record: 0-0 | Rank #9
Head Coach: Mike Gundy (13th Season with Oklahoma State)
Lifetime Record: 106-50 | 106-50 with Oklahoma State
Last Week: Oklahoma St 44 South Alabama 7
Breakdown of the Cowboys
Quarterback- Mason Rudolph is a bad dude. If you give him time, he will eat your secondary alive. He has plenty of options to choose from, and can also go mobile when needed.
Running Backs- Choose your Pain, Part 1. The Cowboys have three capable runners in Justice Hill, J.D. King, and LD Brown. Hill has seven receptions on the year to go with 159 yards rushing.
Wide Receivers- Choose your Pain, Part 2. Oklahoma St goes six deep in receivers with at least five receptions on the season. Marcell Ateman is the leader in catches and has two scores to boot. James Washington has one less catch than Ateman, but has an incredible 117 more yards in receiving, plus three touchdowns. Pitt would do well to keep an eye on him or face the consequences.
Tight Ends- The Cowboys don’t really utilize this position…
Defense- Typical Big 12 defense that gives up a lot of yards. Tulsa ran for 244 yards against them in the opening week.
The Pitt offense had a lot to live up to if they wanted to come close to matching the numbers the 2016 team put forth. Though the team lost Nate Peterman and James Conner to the NFL, and Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada to LSU, players felt they could keep the success rolling in 2017, especially with the ever dangerous Quadree Henderson as a dual threat, and some QB pedigree from USC transfer Max Browne.
So far, the points have been less than expected, as penalties, turnovers, and dropped passes have all lead to a stagnant offense. Though Pitt outgained Penn State last week, it only produced 14 points from four trips inside the ten yard line. (one touchdown and two FG’s) That, as they say, is unacceptable.
Max Browne, who was pulled from the game due to ineffectiveness and partial injury, knows all eyes are on him this week.
“I know the deal,” Browne said. “If you’re not getting the job done, they’re going to put someone else in there.”
Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi sees it as a team effort leading to the breakdowns.
“Everybody would like to put it in the quarterback’s lap and say, ‘What does Max have to do?’ But there are 10 (other) guys out there,” Narduzzi said. “It starts with the quarterback and the center with a good snap and the protection up front. If the protection is not there, we could have Drew Brees back there or Ben Roethlisberger. But if he’s getting hit, that’s not a good thing. And then we’ve got to catch the ball down the field, so there’s quarterback and there’s accuracy, which he’s been pretty accurate.”
“I am concerned about protecting him, so we will have to do some things protection-wise,” Narduzzi added. “We have given up too many sacks. Period. So something has to change there and it is not just one guy.”
Browne has completed 36 of 56 attempts this season, and has been the victim of several dropped passes.
Ben DiNucci, the Pine-Richland product, stepped in and lead Pitt into the end zone vs the Nittany Lions.
DiNucci is a much better runner than Browne. OC Shawn Watson would like to get DiNucci in more often.
“How, when and where,” Watson said. “He’s got the ability to make people account for him as a runner.”
Watson also knows he needs more than three catches for 12 yards by Quadree Henderson.
“That’s been my biggest challenge to him since I’ve been here, is him becoming a pass receiver, becoming a legitimate passing threat, and he’s working on it,” Watson said. “He’s bought into it, and he knows he’s got work to do. We just have to keep coaching him.”
Tight End Chris Clark would like to elevate his gameplay, as it would no doubt benefit the Panther offense. He dropped what would’ve been a 1st down conversion on a 3rd and 22 play.
“Coach Duzz actually said when I came off, ‘Big players make big-time plays, so he’s gotta catch that,’” Clark said. “Obviously I know I have to catch it. No one needed to tell me anything, and no one really said anything to me on the sideline because everyone on the team knows how kind of intense I get when I don’t make a play. So really there was no coaching up, it was a bang-bang play, the safety timed the hit really well. The second it hit my hands, I didn’t even really have time to tuck it, it seemed like I was getting hit from behind. It just happens sometimes.”
The Panther defense faces a tall task in stopping the dynamic Mason Rudolph, who has a plethora of weapons to play with.
Rudolph is on fire, completing 45 of 62 passes (72.5 percent) for 638 yards and six touchdowns. The Cowboys have scored 103 points in a 2-0 start.
“We finished meetings, which we usually don’t, on Sunday night by splitting up individually to go watch the Oklahoma State tape just for a little bit to get their minds on them,” Narduzzi said. “They are very, very talented and our focus has to go to them.”
Rudolph hasn’t thrown an interception in the last 185 attempts.
“He is making good decisions,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said.
It would behoove Pitt to find a way to keep WR James Washington contained. Last season he destroyed them for 296 yards receiving. He already has eight receptions for an astounding 243 yards in 2017.
So what’s the map for success in Pitt pulling off the upset?
Make plays when the opportunity arises.
If Tulane could rush for 244 against the Cowboys, Pitt and it’s solid stable of backs should be able to do plenty of damage as well. A great running game will control the clock, keeping the vaunted Oklahoma St offense off the field, and will open the passing lanes up downfield. It’s time for Max Browne to step up and take the reigns in this offense, and when the ball does find it’s intended target from Browne, the receivers need to secure the ball and make a play.
This is the last game Pitt will be without suspended safety Jordan Whitehead, and fullback George Aston is close to returning from injury. A win this Saturday would wash away some of the pain of losing to Penn State a week ago, and set the Panthers up for some momentum heading into the ACC slate a week later.
This is the type of game, especially at home, when Narduzzi and his troops need to find a way to send home crowd home with smiles on their faces.
Pittsburgh SportsNation is putting their chips on the table one more time for the Panthers.
Pitt springs the upset…
Prediction: Pitt 37 Oklahoma State 34
NCAA Week 3
Pitt Panthers (1-1, 0-0) vs #9 Oklahoma State Cowboys (2-0, 0-0)
Venue: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA.
Game-time: Saturday, September 16th, 12:00 pm
TV: ESPN | Announcers: Dave Pasch (play-by-play) Greg McElroy (analyst) | Tom Luginbill (reporter)
Local Radio: Pittsburgh- 93.7 The Fan | Announcers: Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play) Bill Osborne (analyst) | Larry Richert (sideline)
National Radio: Sirius XM Satellite Channel 81 |
Weather at Kickoff: 81 and sunny.
Vegas Line: Oklahoma St -13.5
Pitt vs Oklahoma State History
- Series History: Began in 2016.
- Pitt is 0-1 against Oklahoma State. |
- Pitt is 0-0 at home vs Oklahoma State.
- Streak: Oklahoma State won previous meeting.
- Last Regular Season Meeting: Sept. 17, 2016 (Oklahoma State 45 Pitt 38)
Pitt will play a Top 10 opponent for the second time in as many weeks when it hosts No. 9/8 Oklahoma State at Heinz Field. The Panthers are looking to bounce back from last week’s 33-14 loss at then-No. 4 Penn State.
Fueling the Cowboys’ attack is quarterback Mason Rudolph, the all-time leading passer in Oklahoma State history with 9,352 yards. Rudolph’s top target is explosive receiver James Washington, who averages an incredible 30.4 yards per catch. Both players are All-America candidates.
Five true freshmen played in Pitt’s season-opening victory over Youngstown State: running back A.J. Davis, tight end Tyler Sear, long snapper Cal Adomitis and cornerbacks Damarri Mathis and Jason Pinnock.
- In Oklahoma State, the Panthers are facing one of the country’s most prolific offenses. The Cowboys are averaging 51.5 points and 572.5 yards per contest.
- Pitt ranks sixth nationally in time of possession, averaging 36:25 in its opening two contests. The Panthers have won the possession battle in each of their two games: 34:31 to 25:29 against Youngstown State and 38:20 to 21:40 against Penn State.
QB- Max Browne (278 yards passing | 1 TD passes | 2 interceptions | 6 sacks | -38 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD)
QB- Ben DiNucci (49 yards passing | 0 TD passes | 0 interceptions | 2 sacks | 8 yards rushing | 1 rushing TD)
RB- Qadree Ollison (187 yards rushing | 2 rushing TD’s | 7 receptions | 65 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
RB- Darrin Hall (71 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 4 receptions | 21 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
RB- AJ Davis (8 yards rushing | 1 rushing TD’s | 0 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
FB- Colton Lively (0 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 0 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
WR- Jester Weah (7 receptions | 76 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s)
WR- Maurice Ffrench (5 receptions | 28 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
WR- Quadree Henderson (3 receptions | 12 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s | 72 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s)
WR- Aaron Matthews (2 receptions | 18 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
WR- Rafeal Araujo-Lopes (5 receptions | 47 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
WR- Ruben Flowers (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
TE- Matt Flanagan (5 receptions | 54 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
TE- Chris Clark (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
K- Alex Kessman (Extra Point: 4-4 | FG: 2-4 | 0-19: 0-0 | 20-29: 2-4 | 30-39: 0-0 | 40-49: 0-0 | 50+: 0-0 | Long: 28
Oklahoma State Cowboys
QB- Mason Rudolph (638 yards passing | 6 TD passes | 0 interceptions | 1 sacks | 21 yards rushing | 2 rushing TD )
RB- Justice Hill (159 yards rushing | 1 rushing TD’s | 7 receptions | 56 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
RB- J.D. King (159 yards rushing | 1 rushing TD’s | 0 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
RB- LD Brown (130 yards rushing | 1 rushing TD’s | 0 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
WR- Marcell Ateman (9 receptions | 126 receiving yards | 2 receiving TD’s)
WR- James Washington (8 receptions | 243 receiving yards | 3 receiving TD’s)
WR- Justice Hill (7 receptions | 56 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
WR- Dillon Stoner (6 receptions | 42 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
WR- Tyron Johnson (5 receptions | 87 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s)
WR- Chris Lacy (5 receptions | 67 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
K- Matt Ammendola (Extra Point: 13-13 | FG: 4-6 | 0-19: 0-0 | 20-29: 1-1 | 30-39: 1-2 | 40-49: 1-2 | 50+: 1-1 | Long: 53
Pitt – Oklahoma St: Offensive vs Defensive Comparison
Pitt Total Offense: Pitt averages 345 YPG | Oklahoma St allows 303.5 YPG
Rushing: Pitt averages 208 YPG | Oklahoma St allows -7 YPG
Passing: Pitt averages 181.5 YPG | Oklahoma St allows 155 YPG
Scoring: Pitt averages 21 PPG | Oklahoma St allows 15.5 PPG
Pitt Total Defense: Pitt allows 365 YPG | Oklahoma St averages 572 YPG
Rushing: Pitt allows 127.5 YPG | Oklahoma St averages 247 YPG
Passing: Pitt allows 237.5 YPG | Oklahoma St averages 325 YPG
Scoring: Pitt allows 27 PPG | Oklahoma St averages 51.5 PPG
Pitt Panthers 2017 Schedule
Regular Season (Overall: 1-1 | ACC: 0-0)
Saturday, September 2 Youngstown State W- 28-21 OT
Saturday, September 9 at #6 Penn State (ABC) L- 14-33
Saturday, September 16 #9 Oklahoma State (ESPN) at Noon
Saturday, September 23 at Georgia Tech* (ACC Network) at 12:10 p.m.
Saturday, September 30 Rice at TBA
Saturday, October 7 at Syracuse* at TBA
Saturday, October 14 NC State* (HC) at TBA
Saturday, October 21 at Duke* at TBA
Saturday, October 28 Virginia* at TBA
Thursday, November 9 North Carolina* (ESPN) at 8 p.m.
Saturday, November 18 at Virginia Tech* at TBA
Friday, November 24 Miami* at TBA
*ACC game / (HC) Homecoming / Ranking as of that week
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