Vukovcan: Two Big Predictions for Pitt Football in 2022
As the official start of the college football season approaches, everyone will start making their yearly predictions.
These will range from the standard season win totals to conference champions, team MVPs, breakout players; the usual.
I’ll touch on a few of those next week, before the West Virginia game, but I have a couple early predictions about the 2022 Pitt Panthers.
I guess the first one is more of a statement and it’s that this group of players and overall team isn’t getting enough credit for how talented they are and how good they can be.
It’s a bit strange that a team that’s coming off winning the ACC Championship and returning a large number of starters isn’t getting more national respect. I guess that’s part of the growing pains that come with trying to build a college program into one that’s nationally respected and recognized.
Right now, I think Pat Narduzzi’s program is viewed as one that had a special season but isn’t a program that has fully arrived.
It’s funny that despite being average for better part of the last decade plus, the Miami Hurricanes are being declared back by everyone simply because of the hiring of Mario Cristobal. That’s the benefit that teams with a national brand like Miami, Texas and USC get. They still need to actually win games and championships to be back, so let’s see over the next few years how that works out.
Unfortunately, Pitt isn’t viewed nationally like those programs are. And aren’t given the benefit of the doubt. The Panthers need to a few more successful seasons before they’re automatically put into the Top 25 like some teams seem to be, despite not deserving to be there.
Although they probably should be, Pitt isn’t inside the Top 15 or Top 10 and there are two reasons for that: Kenny Pickett and Jordan Addison.
Despite having already thrown for over 7,000 yards and 58 touchdown passes, Kedon Slovis is being viewed as a question mark. Why do I think if the situation was reversed and Slovis was transferring from Pitt to say USC or Ohio State or Georgia, he’d already be viewed as a Heisman candidate?
You know that’s true.
Here’s a spoiler alert, Slovis will be more than fine, and the quarterback position won’t be an issue for Pitt in 2022.
As far as my prediction that I mentioned earlier, here goes. The wide receivers will be the strongest position group at Pitt and overall, they’ll be a better unit than they were a year ago.
No, I’m not saying that any of the receivers will have a better season than Addison did a year ago. What I am saying is that from top to bottom, this is a more talented group of players and will be better as a whole than the ones Pickett threw to in 2021.
The 2022 Panthers wide receiver’s room isn’t short on talent, the only thing they’re missing is national recognition. Very few people aside from the coaches and players on the South Side really know how talented guys like Jared Wayne, Konata Mumpfield, Bub Means, Jaylon Barden, Jaden Bradley and Myles Alson really are. That won’t be the case at the end of the season.
This group of wideouts has everything you need in terms of overall size, a few home run hitters, a couple guys that can be physical, make combat catches and be excellent route runners.
When you combine that, with a deep and talented running back depth chart, probably the most talented offensive line in the conference and a ton of talent returning on defense, it’s hard to find many true weaknesses on this Pitt team.
That’s why I’ll give you another one of my predictions that I was going to save.
Book your rooms in Charlotte because the Pitt Panthers will be playing in the ACC Championship Game again.
The secondary remains a concern for me (as always, with Narduzzi teams). Tyler Van Dyke and Brennan Armstrong might put up 1,000 yards passing combined against this group this year.
What is going to make that secondary better is the fact that the defensive line will put so much pressure on opposing QB’s that QB’s like Van Dyke and Armstrong will not have the time to make plays down the field.
You cherry picked the two games they gave up the most Passing Yards against last Season. And yes they put up 900+ against them last year combined… … However making a Team 1-D and giving up 400+ Yards Passing is not a terrible outcome provided you can Score 40+ like PITT 2021 most of the Season. … A crappy call on a perceived Safety against Miami and that would have been a W. However if you take the thought train PITT could have lost some of the other teeter-totter games like UTK, UNC, UVA, Clemson. And yes Clemson could have… Read more »
Scoring 40+ a Game is going to show up better in Media than Narduzzi post-game emphasizing how long the offense had the ball clockwise. Pretty deep defense personnel wise, so let the Offense be wide open throttle (high octane).
Don’t use that word, it speaks of a failed coach.
You can say that just about on all acc games .. they Have a team that can win every game… that all you ask for for!!!
I didn’t cherry pick anything. Those are the two best QB’s Pitt will face all year, and they play for the two teams that Pitt will likely have to edge out if they want to win the division. If they lose to both teams because the secondary got torched again by both guys, you can cancel your trip to Charlotte.
Agree. The Slate of QBs PITT will face this Season is daunting. The Secondary will be tested for sure. Hopefully it holds up, else the front 7 will need to do their annual thing of laying the QB to the turf.
Look at Cignetti’s offense at BC for a clue. I know a certain Big Ten breed coach likes to run the ball but we play in Miami in November not Ann Arbor.
I did, which Validates my argument. Run heavy in 2021 (i.e. like he did in 2009 at PITT). I’m not interested in rhetoric-discourse debate, I am pointing out last Year’s Offense was enjoyable in lieu of Ground and Pound ball-control approach.
That’s why it’s best to run it and keep van dike off the field (:
Would that it were so simple.
I agree 100%!!! I watched too many Pitt games over the last 5 years with NO help over the top by safeties, even after 4 or 5 easy TDs. With less LB talent /experience, and many DBs and safeties, Narduzzi needs to play them more.
How about keeping the defense off the field more so their not worn out in the second half?
Not if Pitt controls the clock and keeps their defense off the field and fresh. Pitt possessed the ball 19:45 in the western Michigan game which is not a formula for success. That loss can be blamed on Whipple as much as the defense.
Uh, yes it can be blamed on the offense and Whipple but NO IT SHOULDN’T
I’ve read others say similar, makes zero sense then and now and forever
Let me help make better sense of this concept for you. The team that controls the clock usually wins the game because the defense is fresh in the 4th quarter. Bill belichick, Saban and the like preach this it’s just common football knowledge.
I agree that this team gets no respect. The ACC network team seemed unimpressed until they came to Pittsburgh and watched them practice. Now they can’t stop talking about them. Two of the three man crew picked v them to be in the ACC championship game. I think that they are in for bigger and better things as do they.
Thanks Mike… like you I think they have a team that has a shot every game
H2P ! Great synopsis, especially about Slovis and how he would be viewed elsewhere. Not sure if they will win the title and certainly it takes some luck as well; however, I do believe they will beat down some folks. Also, the QBs from UVa and UM won’t sneak up on them this year. And, even if they get 500+ yds each, are their respective defenses up to keeping us from doing the same + ?
Hopefully running the ball more will keep the ball out of those opposing qb’s hands
This team is talented and no doubt the deepest team pitt has had in a decade. Pickett was so good, I just wonder if the drop in QB play will hurt more than we think. Like every college football season there will be 3-4 games that come down to a play or 2. Hopefully luck is on the panthers side this year and no big injuries. I thought 2 years ago was going to be pitts year and then Covid happened and twyman sat out and ford quit in the middle of the year and the year ended up being… Read more »
There will be no drop in QB play just not as many attempts. This is probably the best D Narduzzi as ever put on the field (including Mich St) so he obviously will change the offensive strategy to a ball control offense. This will keep the defense fresh unlike last year to close out games and give up less yards. Pickett took too many unnecessary hits last year which prevented him from playing in the Peach Bowl with undisclosed injuries. We don’t need to score 40 points a game to win with this defense.
This season depends on how many starters WV disables.