The bottom line is that I was wrong.
When it was prediction time at the start of the season, I thought Pitt was good enough to win 8 games.
Pitt slipped to 2-5 following Saturday’s 35-17 loss to NC State.
People can point to coaching, the offensive line, underachieving running backs, poor quarterback play, lack of pass rush, lack of turnovers by defense. Pick a reason, any reason but the bottom line is this years Pitt team isn’t ready to win yet because they’re not good enough YET.
Many people, including me, probably underestimated the loss of players like James Conner, Nathan Peterman, Scott Orndoff, Dorian Johnson, Adam Bisnowaty, Ejuan Price, Tyrique Jarrett, Matt Canada, etc. would have on this year’s team.
Combining those losses with the three-game suspension of Jordan Whitehead, the injury to George Aston, the dismissals of Jeremiah Taleni, Rori Blair and early season injures to Damar Hamlin and Therran Coleman that prevented them from playing in the first few games.
Add those factors in with the number of players (Max Browne, Ben DiNucci, Maurice Ffrench, Chris Clark, Amir Watts, Keyshon Camp, Elijah Zeise, Saleem Brightwell, Kam Carter, Dane Jackson, Bricen Garner, Hamlin, Coleman) that are getting major experience and it’s probably not a surprise that Pitt sits with a record of 2-5.
I failed to mention that their five losses (Penn State, Oklahoma State, Georgia Tech, Syracuse and NC State) are to teams that are proving to be pretty good.
I know at least half the people who read this will accuse me of making excuses for Pitt but I’m just trying to look at what’s happened to this point and then be realistic.
Pitt fans are frustrated with the footfall program and want to see the Panthers be major winners. I get it but the cards were stacked against them.
I’m just not a guy that automatically wants people fired when things aren’t going right. Do I think Narduzzi needs to fix some things and maybe make some changes, yes but tearing things completely apart isn’t the solution.
As for the small segment that want Narduzzi’s head, get serious. Just a year ago those are probably the same fans that were worried he’d be leaving for Michigan State or another major program.
I’m still a fan of Narduzzi and believe he’s the right man to lead the Panther program.
On paper, things appear to be in place for Pitt to make a major jump next season. The only noteworthy player that will graduate is cornerback Avonte Maddox.
That means that the remaining games on the schedule do have meaning. The large number of freshmen and sophomores will continue to get on the on-field ACC experience.
For that reason, it’s in Pitt’s best interest to have Kenny Pickett start the rest of the season. Let’s see A.J. Davis get the majority of the carries. Maybe work some of the younger offensive lineman in for a few series. Let’s see more of Tyler Sear instead of Matt Flanagan.
Losing sucks, but if there’s one thing Pitt can get from it’s the chance to experiment and get to really evaluate what’s on the roster.
Good, stable football programs aren’t built in a year or two, so for that reason, giving up on Narduzzi isn’t the right thing to do.