Well, a win is a win right? The University of Pittsburgh won in overtime against Youngstown State, 28-21, on Saturday. The game was held at Heinz Field.
Here are somethings that stuck in my head after today’s performance by the Panthers.
When Pitt started the game on Offense, we saw Quadree Henderson running up and down the line before the ball was snapped, similar to last year’s offense under former offensive coordinator Matt Canada. That was the biggest question I had going into this year. Would the motion stay the same? To some degree, it stayed the same.
It is safe to say Henderson hasn’t missed a beat and that he will be another big time play-maker for the Panthers this year. Pretty quiet day for him today, but he will be a game changer in the games to come. Henderson had 77 yards rushing on nine carries.
The Panthers 1-2 punch in the backfield with Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall looked solid. Also good to see AJ Davis get some touches as well as his first collegiate rushing touchdown. The backfield will not be a worry. Ollison was just shy of 100 yards rushing with 91, while Hall tallied 51 yards on the ground.
The jury is still out on Max Browne. He wasn’t given much of an opportunity to make a play, but his scrambling ability is questionable. He certainly had trouble avoiding sacks. He did however, throw some good balls today. Browne finished the game 17/24 for 140 yards and one touchdown.
Jester Weah needs to be more active in the offense. They threw the ball to him at the end and he came down with it. An above average catch in my book. He has the talent to score points in this offense.
I thought the offensive line played well in the first half. In the second half, Browne was getting pressured more and there weren’t too many holes opening up for our backs. As a group, the second half was a loss for our line. However, the Panthers do get Alex Bookser back next week after serving a one-game suspension.
The offense didn’t use their timeouts in the first half to their advantage, and head coach Pat Narduzzi brought that up at halftime. Luckily, Pitt was up by 21 points in the first half, so those burnt timeouts didn’t cause too much of a problem.
It was the first game under a new offense, so getting the plays in was probably a struggle. That will improve with time.
I would also like to point out, that the first attempted pass that Youngstown State made, Panthers cornerback, Dane Jackson, turned around, located the ball and batted it away.
I could count the number of times our corners did that last year on one hand. I thought Jackson played a very good game and I have confidence in him on the other side of Avonte Maddox.
I thought Elijah Zeise played pretty well for the most part. He was getting beat on the wheel routes, but I know he has enough speed to make those plays in the future.
Bricen Garner was the player of the day on the defensive side of the ball. He had a fantastic diving tip on a crucial third down for the Penguins that resulted in a blocked pooch punt by Jazzee Stocker. I like Garner’s presence in the secondary.
This game should not have been this close.
A new quarterback, a new offensive coordinator, losing a lot of players, the Panthers can make excuses all day. Pitt was flat in the second half and looked nothing short of dreadful. They cannot come out like that against teams like Penn State and Oklahoma State.
I think we will learn a lot in these next two weeks with Browne. He wasn’t given much of an opportunity to “wow” fans. The offense played really conservative, showing absolutely nothing to the Penn State Nittany Lions.
Narduzzi said he wasn’t going to show much today. The offense will look a little more complex next week, with both the run and pass. Browne should have more of a presence throwing the ball and giving wide receivers and big tight ends a chance to make a play.
With all that being said, let’s relax, Pitt fans and see what next week brings. The are 1-0 and moving on to Penn State.
Hail to Pitt.
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