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Way-Too-Early Projection Places Pitt Back in Bowl Game in 2024

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Pitt mascot before the football team faces Virginia Tech on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023 in Blacksburg, Virginia. (Mitchell Northam / Pittsburgh Sports Now.)

It’s only Feb. 15, and the start of spring ball is still a little over a month away, but it’s never too early to look ahead to next season.

OK. It might be a little early, but the point still stands. It’s a way-too-early projection for a reason, and the Action Network’s Brett McMurphy has predicted that Pitt will make its way back to a bowl game next season.

McMurphy projected Pitt to matchup with Tulane, setting the Panthers as an early 2-point underdog, in the Gasparilla Bowl in Tampa, Fla.

The Gasparilla Bowl, formerly known as the St. Petersburg Bowl and Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl, has a wide range of tie-ins. The ACC, Big 12, SEC and Pac-12 from the Power Five level, the AAC, Conference-USA,  MAC and MWC from the Group of Five level and Army from the independent level.

The 2023 matchup pitted Georgia Tech vs. UCF in a contest that the Yellow Jackets took 30-17.

Pitt is obviously coming off an incredibly disappointing 2023 season, finishing 3-9 and out of bowl consideration in early November, which ended a two-season bowl streak and a stretch of four bowl games in five seasons — and it would’ve been in each of the last five seasons if not for declining a bowl in the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season.

It’s certain to be an interesting season in 2024, considering the losses sustained and the expectation that Pat Narduzzi will turn around the team following his worst season at the helm.

New offensive coordinator Kade Bell will lead an entirely new offense, which will feature new position coaches at every position. Jeremy Darveau (offensive line), Lindsey Lamar (running backs), Jacob Bronowski (tights end) and eventually a new wide receivers coach will be tasked with helping Bell teach and install a new offense this season.

It’s the first time in a long time that Pitt will have replaced its entire offensive coaching staff, but in the new age of college football, it’s just the reality of the situation facing college coaches.

Nate Yarnell is in place as the starting quarterback entering the spring, and there are some talented rushing and receiving options returning for the 2024 season. It will be interesting to follow the progression of the offense through spring ball and see who exactly emerges in the new up-tempo offense.

There are losses to replace across all three levels of the defense, especially on the defensive line and at cornerback, but the Pitt coaches have done a good job adding defensive reinforcements from the transfer portal. It remains to be seen whether it will be enough. And it remains to be seen whether or not new defensive line coach Tim Daoust will be able to step in and make an impact on the unit.

But Pitt has a lot of young, talented defenders emerging and the new additions should be able to help fill the cracks that weren’t filled last season.

There’s a very slim chance that Pitt will play in the Gasparilla Bowl in 2024 (or 2025, depending on the date), but there’s an internal expectation that the Panthers will return to some bowl game next season.

Another season without a bowl appearance will be considered a failure for Narduzzi and the Panthers.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Tom D
Tom D
3 months ago

I think people should be more mortified how poorly Narduzzi performed last year as a HC. Just mind numbingly incompetent –with a relatively easy schedule and terrible terrible losses. 3-9 in year Nine of the Narduzzi regime is a disgrace to the program. Should have never happened. It’s a stain.

Jeff
Jeff
3 months ago

Hire Heinz Ward as Wide Receivers Coach to replace Underwood. Ward should make the Hall of Fame eventually. Ward was a great blocker and was a team first guy.

Can’t think of many better to learn from than Heinz. Just think of all the college kids that would love a chance to work and learn from a great NFL receiver like Ward.

He’d likely be someone a big time recruit would want to learn from. I know it’s off topic but inquire about Ward. It’s worth a shot seeing that he enjoys coaching and obviously has ties to Pittsburgh.

Jeff
Jeff
3 months ago
Reply to  Jeff

Hines Ward.

Last edited 3 months ago by Jeff
Jeff
Jeff
3 months ago
Reply to  Jeff

If not Hines think about Perry Parks from Coastal Carolina for WR Coach.

Randino
Randino
3 months ago
Reply to  Jeff

Why?

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