Optimism surrounded this Pitt football team to start the season and nothing happened at Heinz Field yesterday to change those opinions.
In fact, they might have increased and the early season Panther bandwagon no doubt picked up some passengers.
I’m not one of those new members because, if you’ve been paying attention to what I’ve written and tweeted over the last couple of months, you know that I’ve been bullish on this Pitt team and I’m even more so following the demolition of UMass.
Hey, I realize that wasn’t a good football team that Pitt beat but that shouldn’t take way from the impressive tape that Pat Narduzzi’s team put out for the rest of the country to see.
Regardless of the opponent, it was pretty easy to see that this Pitt 2021 team is different from other years because it’s fast, deep, very explosive on both sides of the ball and finally have a quarterback that looks the part of a star. That’s not something that this fan base has been able to say for quite some time.
It’s taken longer than it should have but the Pitt fan base has finally embraced and are all in on Kenny Pickett. During pregame introductions, no player received a louder cheer from the crowd than Pickett.
Those cheers only continued throughout the game as Pickett was the best player on football field. While his stats weren’t mind blowing (27-37, 272 yards, 2 touchdown, 0 interceptions and 39 rushing yards), he was plenty good enough and had a presence about him. There was a sense that every time Pitt was on offense that Pickett was going to lead them to the end zone.
Not sure when the last time I felt this way but I have as much faith in this Pitt offense getting the job done as I do in the defense. In the past, fans hoped and prayed that the offense could score 21-24 points in a game but that’s not the expectation this year. This Pickett led team has the talent to regularly and easily put up 30+ every game and if that happens with this defense, it could be a special season.
Hey I realize that it’s just one game and they’ll be facing a heck of a lot better teams throughout the season but this Pitt team has talent and a lot of it, especially from the sophomore and freshman classes.
Thanks to a super job recruiting, this Pitt program is DEEP.
In past seasons, Pickett was lucky to have two or three legitimate players that were dangerous playmakers but that’s not the case this year. On any given Saturday, Jordan Addison, Jaylon Barden, Lucas Krull, Jared Wayne, Taysir Mack, Shocky Jacques-Louis, Melquise Stovall are fully capable of having big games.
With this passing attack being legitimate and with the ability to make plays down the field instead of everything being short, that’s only going to benefit the running game. While I’m not crazy about not having a workhorse lead back yet, it was only the first game and I’m sure Narduzzi will settle on a couple of players instead of using six players like yesterday.
Depth isn’t reserved to the offense as the same can be said for Randy Bates unit. This group of linebackers is as talented as Narduzzi has fielded since taking over at Pitt. To no ones surprise , the defensive line will be above average with future stars just waiting in the wings to get on the field to make an impact.
While it’s important to be good defensively, to win big in today’s college football you must be able to lift up the scoreboard.
For the first time in many years, Pitt can do both and for that reason it will be a fun season and one in which fans will get off Narduzzi’s back because a 9+ win year is coming.