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ESPN Projects Pitt as Second Worst ACC Team in 2024

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A Pitt football lays on the turf on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023 in Blacksburg, Virginia. (Mitchell Northam / Pittsburgh Sports Now.) College Football / Signing Period. NCAA.

ESPN does not envision a very good season for Pat Narduzzi and the Pitt Panthers.

Pitt is 81st in the SP+ (-4.8) — which, according to Bill Connolly of ESPN, is a tempo- and opponent-adjusted measure of college football efficiency. It is a predictive measure of the most sustainable and predictable aspects of football, not a résumé ranking, and along those lines, these projections aren’t intended to be a guess at what the AP Top 25 will look like at the end of the season. — and is projected just 4.6 wins (2.5 ACC) in 2024.

The -4.8 SP+ is only ahead of newcomer Stanford, good for 16th in the conference.

The offensive rating from ESPN of 21.5 is 97th in the FBS, which is last in the conference, and the defensive rating of 26.4 in 53rd in the FBS, which is ninth in the conference. The Panthers have a strength of schedule rank of 64th.

ESPN gives Pitt a 0.3% chance to win the ACC, a 0% chance to reach 11 wins and a 27.1% chance to reach bowl eligibility. Pitt is likely hurt by a loss of returning production, just 57.1% of offensive production and 53.8% of defensive production. But in the same vein, it was production that led to a 3-9 campaign.

Connolly also named his favorite Pitt player, Jimmy Scott, writing:

“Pitt doesn’t have much in the “proven stars” department, so let’s go with a small-sample all-star,” Connolly wrote. “As a redshirt freshman, Scott saw increased playing time in November and immediately started making plays. He ended up with 2.5 TFLs, four run stops and three pass pressures in just 102 snaps. Project that over a larger sample, and you’ve got a potential star. Pitt needs a few of them.”

Scott is an intriguing character, but he’s certainly an interesting choice. It’s not guaranteed that he cracks the defensive end rotation at this point, although he likely will.

The Pitt season will largely hinge on whether there’s solid quarterback play. Nate Yarnell is entering the summer as the starting quarterback, putting together a strong spring. He will continue to be challenged by Eli Holstein, but it’s his job to lose. And he has a Rodney Hammond Jr., Konata Mumpfield, Kenny Johnson and Gavin Bartholomew.

It remains to be seen whether Bell’s new offense will immediately translate, but if Yarnell is able to play serviceable football, it should go a long way in 2024.

The defense did suffer significant losses, but the positions of need have been bolstered through the transfer portal and a few areas defensively are entering the summer with a significant amount of depth. The defensive line and cornerback are still areas of concern, but the portal arrivals will likely be key members of both units. And the linebackers and safeties are clear areas of strength.

It will likely come down to whether or not the offense can take a step up form where it was last season.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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katuracassells@gmail.com
katuracassells@gmail.com
17 days ago

Who even watches ESPN anymore. Maybe to watch a game, but never to watch that bullshit commentary they have on there. It’s absolute foolishness.

Eli
Eli
17 days ago

The schedule is easier, the quarterback situation seems like it’s been ironed out, and the ACC will probably stink again. We’ll be safely in the middle of the pack this year. Not showin’ off, not laggin’ behind.

Kelvin Byrd
Kelvin Byrd
17 days ago
Reply to  Eli

I see what you did there, George!

Section 122
Section 122
17 days ago

If Pitt finishes 15/16 then Narduzzi needs to take a long look in the mirror.

Giovanni
Giovanni
16 days ago

Well then, I guess there’s no where to go but up (well, almost). Geeze.

kevin
kevin
16 days ago

These “experts” don’t even know who our best players are. They only follow a few teams, they don’t bother to do research. They just throwing shit against the wall in their shitty articles.
I agree with Eli, 100%
H2P!!!

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