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What We’ve Learned About 2016 Pitt Panthers

It’s hard to believe that we’re starting the last week of Pitt football’s regular season.

I swear it seems like yesterday that we were over at the South Side watching Pat Narduzzi getting the Panthers ready for the opener vs. Villanova.

Fast forward three months and Pitt holds a record of 7-4 following yesterday’s 56-14 demolition of Duke. If the Panthers are able to win their final two games (against Syracuse and whoever they play in their bowl game), they will improve on last year’s record of 8-5.

How big of a deal would a record of 9-4 be?

(Photo by: David Hague)

(Photo by: David Hague)

Well, consider that since 1983 (32 years), the Pitt football program has only won 9+ games three times. Yes, THREE TIMES.  In 2002 Pitt went 9-4 and in 2008 & 2009, Dave Wannstedt’s teams won 9 and 10 games.

This would be a big accomplishment for the program and yet another sign that Narduzzi has this program headed in the right direction.

Coach Pat Narduzzi September 10, 2016 (Photo credit: David Hague)

Coach Pat Narduzzi September 10, 2016 (Photo credit: David Hague)

What else have we learned about this program and some things to look forward to next season?

Matt Canada’s impact: Gone are the days of Pitt being a grind it out,  run the ball 35+ times and rely on the defense to win.

Jim Chaney leaving for Georgia was a blessing for the program. The hiring of Canada just might have been the final piece for the Panthers to take the next step in the development of their program.

Photo courtesy of offensive coordinator Matt Canada

Photo courtesy of offensive coordinator Matt Canada

Under Canada, the Pitt offense has scored 35+ points in 9 of 11 games. How about this, yesterday Pitt set a school record for points in a season; 432 with two games left.

Think it’s going to be a little easier for the Pitt coaches to try to recruit skilled position players?

Quadree Henderson, a star is born: When they got a commitment from him two years ago, I’m not even sure the Pitt coaches knew that Quadree Henderson would have this sort of impact on the team.

The wideout from Delaware has turned into the most dangerous player on the Panthers offense. It’s hard to believe but Henderson has been better on special teams than offense.

Henderson is closing in on the NCAA career kick return touchdown record. He already has 4, the record is held by C.J. Spiller (7). All together, Henderson has 5 career return touchdowns (punt and kickoff), the NCAA career record is 8.

(Photo by: David Hague)

(Photo by: David Hague)

One other stat to show you how good Henderson has been this season. He’s just the ninth Power 5 player in the last decade, joining Christian McCaffrey, Stacy Coley, Tavon Austin, D’Anthony Thomas, Cordarrelle Patterson, CJ Spiller, Derrick Williams, and Jeremy Maclin to score 9+ touchdowns with at least one on a kick return, punt return, rushing and receiving.

Quadree Henderson celebrates TD September 10, 2016 (Photo credit: David Hague)

Quadree Henderson celebrates TD September 10, 2016 (Photo credit: David Hague)

Weah Has Arrived: Coming into the season, a big concern was finding a receiver to replace Tyler Boyd, well Weah has done the job. The junior wideout is finally fulfilling his potential and turned into an explosive, big play receiver. The good news is that’s he’ll be back next season.

(Photo by: David Hague)

(Photo by: David Hague)

Tight Ends Will Be Targets: Raise your hand if before the season you had Scott Orndoff as a candidate to get drafted and play in the NFL?

It’s no guarantee but what’s not to like from the Seton-LaSalle product? He’s big, physical and is a huge weapon in the passing game.

Orndoff can thank Canada’s offense for showcasing his talents and showing NFL scouts what he can do.

Just imagine the fun Canada will have next year when he has both UCLA transfer Chris Clark and 2017 commitment Charles Reeves to  throw to.

(Photo credit: David Hague)

(Photo credit: David Hague)

More talent is coming: The best part about this is that Narduzzi has more talent in the pipeline. Next year, players like Saleem Brightwell, Damar Hamlin, Amir Watts, Keyshon Camp, Chase Pine, Rueben Flowers, Chawntez Moss, Therran Coleman, Paris Ford, Todd Sibley, Thomas MacVittie, Charles Reeves, Cam Bright, and others are on the way.

That list doesn’t include other players that’s commit to Pitt before National Signing Day.

The Pitt football program is definitely trending up and 9+ win seasons are likely to become the norm under Pat Narduzzi.

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