The Pitt Panthers stay unbeaten via the primary three video games of one in every of their most extremely anticipated soccer seasons in many years. However regardless of boasting one of many premier defenses within the nation, Pitt has left one thing to be desired on the offensive aspect of the soccer.
Disregarding their 55-Zero dismantling of FCS opponent Austin Peay within the season opener, the Panthers haven’t seemed utterly dominant in both of their convention matchups up to now. Whereas they did defeat a ranked opponent in Louisville final week, their victory in opposition to Syracuse the week prior was largely lackluster. Whereas the protection has dominated, the offense has merely missed one thing –– a dynamic playmaker within the backfield.
For the Panthers, it’s not a matter of buying a greater working again –– they have to notice who the most effective one is.
On its strategy to an ACC Coastal Division championship in 2018, Pitt had two working backs accumulate over 1,000 yards. However with new offensive coordinator Mark Whipple, and no NFL-level skills within the backfield, Pitt merely hasn’t run the ball as a lot since that season. Senior quarterback Kenny Pickett has proven super development, and has gotten off to a stable begin to his ultimate season at Pitt. However for the Panthers to persistently transfer the ball via the air, they have to set up the bottom sport.
Senior working again A.J. Davis carried nearly all of the workload for Pitt final season, however averaged simply 4.2 yards per carry, a less-than-ideal mark for a beginning school working again. Alternatively, his second-year counterparts within the backfield, Vincent Davis and Todd Sibley Jr., averaged 5.1 and 5.Zero yards per carry respectively throughout their first-year seasons in 2019. Whereas they each acquired restricted work, and Sibley was out from a number of video games attributable to a Week 6 harm, Pitt followers hoped that an thrilling new working again would emerge this yr.
Head coach Pat Narduzzi introduced Vincent Davis as his lead again, however the outcomes haven’t proven up. Pitt has expressed a transparent need to run the soccer, doing so 119 occasions throughout this season, however has averaged simply 3.6 yards per carry as a workforce. This can be a extremely inefficient mark for the No. 24 Panthers.
Pitt’s present chief in yards per carry isn’t any of the aforementioned gamers, however first-year working again Israel Abanikanda.
In his restricted touches, the first-year has proven flashes of the pace and athleticism he displayed in camp. Whereas Narduzzi at present makes use of him in a change-of-pace position, he should look to get Abanikanda extra touches.
Pitt has loads of dynamic pass-catchers on the surface, together with senior Taysir Mack, senior switch D.J. Turner and first-year phenom Jordan Addison. Whereas Mack possesses the athleticism to make seemingly any contested catch — and Turner and Addison all the time threaten to burn the secondary deep — a run sport that hardly ever churns out greater than 4 yards between the tackles limits their influence. The Panthers run the ball, however don’t do it with sufficient effectivity to maintain defenses trustworthy.
Abanikanda is the reply to the lackluster working sport up to now in 2020. His aforementioned first-year counterpart, Jordan Addison, has emerged as the important thing to the passing sport.
Whereas Pitt returned 18 of their 22 starters from 2019,the lack of receiver Maurice Ffrench might have damage essentially the most. Each time he touched the ball on offense and particular groups, Ffrench posed a menace to take it to the home together with his pace, steadiness and agility. To this point, Addison seems as if he can fill that position instantly, whilst a real first-year.
Addison has turn into Pickett’s favourite goal, accumulating 169 yards on 21 catches. Narduzzi additionally usually makes use of dynamic receivers within the run sport on jet sweeps, and Addison has run the ball 4 occasions on this method, gaining a superb 39 yards on these performs.
For Addison to proceed to shine, the run sport wants extra efficiency. Due to this fact, Abanikanda should begin to obtain the majority of the carries. He’s too dynamic of an athlete to have a mere 14 carries up up to now within the season, particularly given how a lot Pitt has run the soccer. For an offense averaging a mediocre 22 factors per sport in convention play, they’ve to show to burners like Abanikanda and Addison, regardless of their inexperience.
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