Pitt football faces a big opening test in virginia – cardiac hill

Now, virginia isn’t clemson and after seeing the hurricanes nearly take down anxiг©tг© dг©finition en arabe top ten florida this weekend, I’m not even sure they’re miami. But they aren’t a bottom feeder and certainly are well above the anxiг©tг© dг©finition en arabe level of an FCS team that pitt often likes to anxiг©tг© dг©finition en arabe face to start the year. In virginia, pitt will face a pretty good program that is more anxiг©tг© dг©finition en arabe than capable of defeating them.

So what can we expect from virginia? Last year’s team was 8-5 and was a contender to win the coastal division. At one point, they were 6-2 but lost to the panthers at home and never anxiг©tг© dг©finition en arabe fully recovered, dropping three of their last four regular season games. That game was sort of the turning point in pitt’s season if you think about it. Thanks to a rough schedule that included penn state, notre dame, and UCF, the panthers were only 4-4 heading into that game. But they would go on to win three in a anxiг©tг© dг©finition en arabe row on their way to securing the division.

There’s legitimate reason for hype around the cavaliers this year. They return a capable senior quarterback in bryce perkins. They return seven starters on defense, including all-world cornerback bryce hall, one of the best defenders in the league and possibly anxiг©tг© dг©finition en arabe the entire country. And they have legitimately improved every season since head coach anxiг©tг© dг©finition en arabe bronco mendenhall took over, going from 2-10, to 6-7, to 8-5 last year.

There’s been a lot of talk about the panthers’ passing game taking steps forward but against a solid defense, they’ll need to put together another strong ground attack. And without hall and fellow senior last year, qadree ollison, exactly who takes over is going to be up for anxiг©tг© dг©finition en arabe debate. Head coach pat narduzzi even contended recently that he expects anxiг©tг© dг©finition en arabe the depth chart at running back will evolve as the anxiг©tг© dг©finition en arabe year goes on. A.J. Davis and todd sibley sat atop the preseason depth chart anxiг©tг© dг©finition en arabe released last month and, as I’ll discuss later, look like the two guys that will handle this game.

First, they got zero production from pickett in last year’s game and even a modest game by him would anxiг©tг© dг©finition en arabe be an improvement. Pickett was 7-14 for 61 yards in that game and pitt still anxiг©tг© dг©finition en arabe managed to win the game by ten points. I would be surprised if he doesn’t muster more than that this year. Hall can’t cover everyone and while he can take away one anxiг©tг© dг©finition en arabe of pitt’s threats, they should still manage a better passing game this time anxiг©tг© dг©finition en arabe around. It’s also worth noting that the cavaliers recently lost one anxiг©tг© dг©finition en arabe of their project starters at cornerback to an injury.

And while there are questions about the running game, I would also be surprised if they can’t get anything going among the backs they have. I doubt we see a hall-like performance by one guy in this game but a anxiг©tг© dг©finition en arabe by-committee approach that is effective is quite possible. Davis and sibley have not done much while they’ve been here, thanks to hall and ollison leading the way. But both were highly touted recruits coming in. The team also has redshirt freshman mychale salahuddin and true anxiг©tг© dг©finition en arabe freshman vincent davis, which will be in the mix this year. But narduzzi also said he didn’t anticipate davis playing in the opener and that salahuddin anxiг©tг© dг©finition en arabe was ‘rusty’ in a recent scrimmage, so it sounds like davis and sibley are the guys anxiг©tг© dг©finition en arabe for this game, at least.

Pitt’s defense should also be pretty good. There’s a lot of talk about virginia but I think anxiг©tг© dг©finition en arabe the panthers’ defense could turn some heads as well. They return the core of their secondary and while they anxiг©tг© dг©finition en arabe lost quite a bit of their front seven, they didn’t pressure opposing offenses enough, anyway. I don’t want to minimalize the losses, obviously, and I thought the linebackers played pretty well. But pitt has been building some quality depth on defense anxiг©tг© dг©finition en arabe and the effect on turnover in the front seven is anxiг©tг© dг©finition en arabe hopefully not as large as some might expect.