2017 Football Preview – ACC – Panthers
Looking for 2017 Pittsburgh Panthers predictions? The Panthers have a defense-biased coach in Pat Narduzzi, but it’s their offense that has taken the cake in recent seasons. Like a lot of programs in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Pitt lost a considerable amount to graduation and the NFL Draft, so it will rely on a transfer under center and some electric playmakers to vault points on the scoreboard.
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- 2017-18 College Football Preview – Pittsburgh Panthers
- Head Coach: Pat Narduzzi
- 2016 Record: 8-5
- Pitt Panthers Odds to win the 2017 FBS Championship: +50000
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2017 Pittsburgh Panthers Predictions: Team Strengths
Wild WR Duo: With USC transfer Max Browne stepping in at QB, reliable pass catchers are a must for a smooth transition and offensive efficiency. The Panthers have two edge-of-your-seat type players in the WR corps with junior Quadree Henderson and senior Jester Weah.
Henderson is a shifty, quick, elusive type player who can find seams and doubles as a lethal return man, while Weah has the size that NFL teams covet in a No. 1 wide receiver plus game-breaking speed.
Weah’s 24.2 yards per catch was tops in the ACC last season. Although Browne never really took off for the Trojans, he is of a respected pedigree and should possess the skills to jell with Henderson and Weah.
There is less established depth at tight end, but sophomore Chris Clark has the size and talent to become a factor.
Defense is Coming Along: Pittsburgh’s defense was horrible when Narduzzi took over two seasons ago, but his first three recruiting classes have been really defense-heavy, and these talented players are now present on the depth chart.
True, the defensive line loses DE sackmaster Ejuan Price (13 sacks, 23 TFLs in 2016) but the cupboard isn’t bare thanks to battle-tested vets like Rori Blair and DeWayne Hendrix. Keep an eye on sophomore DT Amir Watts, who is big and physical and part of Narduzzi’s recent recruiting coups.
Elsewhere, the linebacking corps is set with 6’2, 240 lb junior MLB Quintin Wirginis and sophomore Saleem Brightwell, who is a ballhawking impact style player.
The secondary is the unit that is still a work in progress, but the hopes are for junior safety Jordan Whitehead to lead the way.
2017 Pittsburgh Panthers Predictions: Team Weaknesses
He’s No Peterman, Right?: The Panthers must replace two-year starting QB Nathan Peterman, and they have USC transfer Browne all lined up. Peterman was the pivot that had the Panthers scoring 35 or more points in 10 games. Pretty explosive.
Sure, Browne looks good on paper as he was a Southern Cal recruit and USC is massively prestigious, but you still have to go out there and do it.
If Browne runs into some early growing pains, perhaps Pittsburgh can lean more on its run game. The starting RB will be Qadree Ollison, who topped 1,000 yards in 2015. In Narduzzi’s scheme, the FB is heavily utilized also, so you’ll see plenty of 6’0, 245-lb junior George Aston.
Pitt has a freshman kicking the ball in Alex Kessman, though he is known to have a strong leg. They have a decent punter with senior Ryan Winslow, and Henderson may just be the best return man in the country.
Pitt Panthers Prediction: 8-5
Narduzzi’s Panthers are a pretty darn good ballclub. The defense should be the best in the coach’s now three-year tenure, there are tantalizing weapons on offense and new starting QB Browne seems to have the tools for Pitt’s pro-style offense.
Still, the ACC Coastal division is a deep crop, and Pitt also must deal with non-conference foes Penn State and Oklahoma State. Pittsburgh also gets Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech on the road this year.
I still expect a decent season in the Allegheny foothills, and if the defense can take a step forward, the Panthers could challenge for the division title.
2017 Pittsburgh Panthers Football Schedule
- 9/2/17 TBD Y. ST. (FCS)
- 9/9/17 TBD at PENN ST.
- 9/16/17 TBD OK. ST.
- 9/23/17 TBD at G. TECH
- 9/30/17 TBD RICE
- 10/7/17 TBD at SYR
- 10/14/17 TBD NC ST.
- 10/21/17 TBD at DUKE
- 10/28/17 TBD UVA
- 11/9/17 TBD UNC
- 11/18/17 TBD at VT
- 11/24/17 TBD MIA (Fl)
What do you think about our 2017 Pittsburgh Panthers predictions? Please leave us a comment below telling us how you think they’ll do in 2017!
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