CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Pitt got a lot of help a week ago when Virginia Tech beat North Carolina to bring the Panthers back into the race in the ACC Coastal Division.
This week, it was a different story, as the Hokies lost on the road in Syracuse and North Carolina beat Miami in what was a pretty much worst-case scenario for the Panthers, despited their 45-31 win over Virginia.
Pitt, North Carolina and Virginia are now tied atop the division with one loss. As it stands right now, it would be a three-way tie, with Pitt beating Virginia but losing to North Carolina.
But the Cavaliers and Tar Heels play each other next week while Pitt is off. If North Carolina wins that game, they’ll position themselves to win the division, even if they end up in a tie with Pitt.
After Virginia, North Carolina has 4-3 (1-3) Georgia Tech, 3-4 (0-3) Duke, an FCS team (The Citadel) and 4-2 (1-1) North Carolina State. As long as they keep winning, North Carolina will likely be favored in all of those games. In order for the Panthers to come out on top, they’ll need some more help in the form of an upset win over North Carolina.
BUSY BYE WEEK
Pat Narduzzi clearly doesn’t like playing on Thursdays. Last year, he complained about having to play North Carolina on a short week. This season, his team has a bye before their Thursday night game, but on Saturday, he complained about not getting a full two weeks off to rest his injured players.
“I wish it was two weeks instead of a week and a half, but we’ll take full advantage of it.”
This time, there is an advantage, though. While Pitt will have 11 days off before they host Virginia Tech on Oct. 27, the Hokies will have just hosted Miami seven days prior, giving them the short week.
Between early prep for the Hokies and a crucial matchup between UVA and UNC, it will be a busy off week of scoreboard watching for the Panthers.
With Damar Hamlin, Therran Coleman, Bricen Garner and Patrick Jones II all making the trip to Virginia, Pitt fans were buzzing about a potential freshman debut.
All four players left Charlottesville with their redshirts intact, but there were some debuts. Junior defensive tackle Jeremiah Taleni played a good bit at defensive tackle for his first action of the season and junior tight end Devon Edwards participated for the first time this season, as well.
Taleni is an interesting story. After filling in quite a bit in 2015 due to injuries to K.K. Mosley-Smith, Darryl Render and Mark Scarpinato, Taleni seemed poised to be the prime backup to Tyrique Jarret at tackle.
Instead, Taleni was scratched for the first game against Villanova and has spent some time on the scout team while true freshman Amir Watts and converted offensive lineman Mike Herndon have played ahead of him.
I’m not sure if he’s been hurt — he hasn’t worn a non-contact jersey or been listed on an injury report — or if he didn’t play for some other reason, but he acquitted himself fairly well in the run game on Saturday.
It wasn’t a debut, but running back Darrin Hall made his return to the field after a two-week absence. He didn’t get a carry, but he had a crucial block on Quadree Henderson’s kickoff return touchdown in the first half.
It’s a travel day for me, so our weekly trip to the film room will happen on Monday this week. There will be no Pat Narduzzi press conference on Monday due to the bye.