The “second” season begins this Saturday for Pitt as they open ACC play at Georgia Tech.
Fortunately for the Panthers, nothing that happened in the first three weeks matters. Pat Narduzzi’s ultimate goal for 2017 is to win the Coastal Conference and that’s still within reach.
That being said, a lot of things will need to improve for Pitt to even think about winning their first conference title.
The opening three games against Youngstown State, Penn State and Oklahoma State gave Narduzzi a look at what he had and what things he needs to change.
On the depth chart released yesterday, there were four changes, the biggest being an or between Max Browne and Ben DiNucci for the starting quarterback spot.
What would my lineup be for Saturday?
The biggest question is who starts at quarterback on Saturday? I would give Browne one last chance to try and move the offense. I realize he hasn’t shown anything to this point but you can sat that about mostly everyone in the starting lineup. Unlike the Penn State and Oklahoma State games, Pitt won’t be huge underdogs and I believe Pitt should be able to move the ball. Would I have Browne on a short leash? Of course, but I believe he deserves a conference game before any changes are made. Unlike most people, I haven’t given up on Browne and believe that if he gets some help around him, he can move this offense.
2) RUNNING BACKS
Qadree Ollison or Chawntez Moss? Right now, I believe that Moss is the best running back on the roster. Now that he’s healthy, he should be the Panthers top back.
Now that Narduzzi used him in the first game, I’d have freshman AJ Davis be the primary backup. Pitt needs backs that can take it the distance and make yards on their own. Davis can do that.
Ollison and Darrin Hall would be my short yardage backs and could spell Moss and Davis from time to time.
3) OFFENSIVE LINE
It’s no secret that Max Browne isn’t the most mobile quarterback. He isn’t a player that’s going to make a play improvising on the run. Browne needs his line to give him time in the pocket and through three games, he hasn’t received that.
I think Pitt needs to change up the right side of their line and put Alex Bookser at right tackle and Brandon Hodges at right guard. Jaryd Jones-Smith has struggled at tackle trying to protect Browne.
Alex Officer hasn’t performed great either at right guard but I don’t know that Pitt has an option to replace him.
4) WIDE RECEIVERS
The biggest change that I’d make is trying to get Aaron Mathews involved more. In my opinion, too much of the play-calling is around the line of scrimmage via jet sweeps, wide receiver screens and short passes to the right off of a rollout. When everything is within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage, it makes things a lot easier to defend.
Mathews, Jester Weah and Ruben Flowers are big, talented receivers that are mismatches for most cornerbacks. Shawn Watson needs to get them involved more down the field.
Less jet sweeps and more vertical passes.
5) DEFENSIVE LINE
The defensive line needs to produce if Narduzzi’s style defense is going to work so I’d give the players that are producing more snaps. I’d get Rashad Weaver, Amir Watts and Kam Carter more snaps. Pitt needs to get more from Keyshon Camp, Dewayne Hendrix and Allen Edwards.
**I want to comment on the secondary but I don’t know if Damar Hamlin and Therran Coleman are 100% healthy. If they are, I’d make sure they get on the field a lot more. Pitt desperately needs their athleticism.