Sunday Morning Cup of Coffee - Who Stood Out During Pitt vs UMass

 


The Pitt Panthers dominated the University of Massachusetts Minutemen in yesterday’s game with a final of score of 51-7.  It was clear from the start that Pitt had the upper hand.  There were several really outstanding highlights for the Panthers.

However, the game did not go without exposing a couple flaws that the Panthers need cleaned up by next Saturday when they head to Knoxville to take on the Tennessee Volunteers.  The following is what stood out to me about yesterday’s game, good and bad.

Luke Krull

The tight end position has not existed in the Panther offense for several years now.  Since Scott Orndoff put up a huge game at Clemson in 2016, tight end production has not been consistent for the Panthers.  Luke Krull changed that yesterday.

Krull had an outstanding day averaging 11.6 yards per reception and a touchdown.  However, my favorite part of his day is that he had five catches on five targets.  Krull completed the day with no drops.  That is a huge improvement over last year already.  There is not a lot to take from yesterday’s game with how bad the opponent was.  No drops from Krull is one of those few things I will take.

Defense

Pitt’s defense was outstanding against the weak Minutemen offense.  They looked like they were in the UMass huddle before each play.  One guy to focus on in particular is Calijah Kancey.  He was Aaron Donald-esque yesterday.  Kancey was beating double teams, swim moving through blockers, and looked like nothing could stop him from disrupting the UMass offense.

However, if not for accuracy issues from UMass quarterback, Tyler Lytle, the score in the first half may have been much closer.  There were several UMass receivers who got the beat on Pitt’s cornerbacks and were two or three steps ahead of Panther defenders. 

Despite having several receivers open downfield, Lytle had no ability to hit them in stride and the incompletions led to several missed opportunities for the Minutemen.  Unfortunately, this does not excuse Pitt corners for getting beat.  

I would expect the film room this week to expose the Pitt secondary and it is something they have to work on before Game 2.  Tennessee quarterback, Joe Milton III, is by no means a Heisman candidate but he’ll hit open receivers if they have as much separation as the Minutemen receivers had in the first half.

Kicking Game

When Sam Scarton missed the point after attempt following Pitt’s second touchdown, it looked like Pitt’s kicking troubles were surfacing.  However, Scarton then went on to make the next three extra points and a 35-yard field goal.  It is a breath of fresh air among the worries Pitt had about their kicking game coming into the season. 

Backup Ben Sauls also made both of his point after attempts.  While I hope both kickers get stretched out a little more than just extra points, they can’t help that the Panthers just kept getting the ball in the end zone instead of having to settle for field goals.

Kenny Pickett

Kenny Pickett did Kenny Pickett things yesterday.  In 38 attempts he had 28 completions and no interceptions.  The stat line is deceiving because the Minutemen defense was not good.  They did not really pressure Pickett for most of the game.  However, I do like that Pickett still managed no interceptions and effectively used his legs without any fumbles.

Pickett looked like a 5-year starter against a lousy team.  But that’s okay.  It is way better for him to have played to his expectations than to have underwhelmed in the opening game.  Pickett will be good all year.  He just needs protected and receivers cannot drop the ball like last season.  A Taysir Mack drop in the end zone yesterday scares me, but hopefully it was just opening game yips.

Looking Ahead

Pitt will travel to Knoxville next week to take on the Tennessee Volunteers.  The Volunteers beat Bowling Green last Thursday night with a final score of 38-6.  Each team is 1-0 going into the matchup.  The game will be televised on ESPN and kickoff is set for 12pm EST.



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