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Georgia Tech Football 2019 - Opponent Q&A: Pitt

Our Q&A with Cardiac Hill

Hurricane Sandy Joe Cavaretta/Sun Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

The Q&A today chats with JD Schroeder of the Pitt Panthers blog, Cardiac Hill. The Panthers are entering Saturday struggling on offense behind a young, inexperienced, and injured offensive line. Sound familiar? Below we cover the always exciting #CoastalChaos, who’s going to be ruining James Graham’s life in the backfield, and we get an explanation of whatever a yinzer is. So read on, and become a learned doctor.

1. Nothing about the Coastal makes any sense this season, so what was the difference in Pitt’s play in the loss to Miami as opposed to the wins over Duke or ‘Cuse?

As Pitt QB Kenny Pickett goes, so does Pitt. Pickett really struggled in the first couple of series against Miami, and it kind of set the tone for the offense for the rest of the game.

He eventually started to play pretty decently, but his receivers did him no favors with a tremendous amount of drops, including on what could have been a game winning drive versus Miami. Pickett some games looks like he won’t let the team lose, and then other days he makes some really questionable mistakes that make you scratch your head. Both of his picks against Miami were pretty bad decisions.

The one consistent factor for Pitt has been the defense’s play. Most of the comebacks orchestrated by some of the other teams were usually because the offense turned the ball over (like Miami took advantage of this past week) and gave the defense a short field to work with. Overall the defense has been honestly pretty elite, and I’d be pretty frustrated with where the offense has been at the last couple weeks if I were them.

2. After hanging with a very good PSU team and then upsetting UCF, Pitt looked to be the favorite to win the division, and who knows, they still might, but what’s the ceiling for Pitt this year after a couple division losses?

As sad as it is, Pitt still has the chance to win the Coastal. It’s totally not ridiculous to think UVA could drop another game and Pitt could go undefeated. Having said that, I think the most likely outcome is Pitt drops one more game (probably UNC as Pitt is winless against them since joining the ACC), and finishes the regular season 8-4 and somewhere between 2nd and 3rd in the coastal. As much as I liked Pitt winning the Coastal last year, running into the buzz saw that is Clemson isn’t very fun. 8-4 is a good season for Pitt. Finishing the regular season undefeated to go 9-3 would certainly make 90% of the fan base very happy.

3. Pitt is currently 109th in the nation in rushing yards per game - what’s the cause of the Panthers’ struggles there? It seems like only yesterday James Conner was torching everyone on the ground behind Pitt’s o-line.

Aside from its center in Jimmy Morrisey, the line is entirely brand new for the most part, and combine that with PItt’s two 1000 yard rushers Ollison and Hall from last year graduating as well, that’s not a great recipe for a rushing game. While last year’s line was terrible in pass protection and outstanding in run blocking, this O line swings a little bit more the other way. Pitt’s had some injuries in its running back room as well. AJ David and Vincent Davis (no relation) were both sidelined for a couple games with injuries, so Pitt was using its 3rd and 4th string along with a flex type player in V’Lique Carter. Long story short: this has been a running back by committee type of season, and it’s not quite had the same rushing potency that Pitt has been famous for for the decade or so.

4. Tech’s O-line has struggled mightily this season between the scheme change and injury / depth issues, so who on defense will be spending the most time in our backfield this Saturday?

I’ve got some bad news. Pitt’s defensive line is pretty good. Pitt leads the nation in sacks with 38. Patrick Jones II and Jaylen Twyman are both tied for 14th in the country with 7 sacks a piece. Pitt and Wisconsin are the only two teams with 2 players in the top 20 in sacks. Apart from those two, LB Kylan Johnson, DL Deslin Alexandre, and DL Habakkuk Baldonado all have 3.5 sacks a piece or more. In summary: Pitt will get pressure on Georgia Tech both passing and rushing the ball. Syracuse’s offense had a really hard time getting going because of it, and it took Miami 4 full quarters basically to finally break though.

5. If the game is on the line, do Pickett and the Pitt offense have what it takes to execute a 2 minute drill for a score?

I’d say so. They had to do just that for Duke, and while it may sound like I’m contradicting myself from earlier, there are times that Pitt’s offense has scored quickly in short clock situations.

The Miami game really hurt my impression of Pitt’s offense though, and right now I don’t have a tremendous amount of confidence Pitt could reliably go down the field within 2 minutes.

6. What, exactly, is a yinzer?

Pittsburgh famously has a pretty....odd accent. Pittsburghers are often called “yinzers” because of their use of the word “yinz”. Think of yinz as a Pittsburgh way to say “ya’ll”. Example: “When are ya’ll going to the mall” Yinzer: “When are yinz guys going to the mall?”

I’m originally from upstate New York but married a girl from a town around here, and her family uses “yinz” all the time.

7. And finally, how do you see this game going? Who wins and how?

Georgia Tech is several steps above where I’d thought they’d be. A week ago I’d think Pitt would have no trouble with this game. But now with Georgia Tech beating Miami, who beat Pitt, I’m not as sure. Pitt’s offense did about as bad as it could versus Miami, and Georgia Tech’s defense I don’t think is as good as Miami’s. I’m going to say something like 24-10 Pitt. But I would 100% not be surprised in the slightest if Pitt only won by 3 at the last second (like many of Pitt-Georgia Tech’s games have gone in years past).

Thanks again to JD for taking the time to chat with us this week. It’s not looking promising for the Ramblin’ Wreck this weekend, but then again, it wasn’t against Miami either.

It’s homecoming, it’s a non-noon kickoff, and the weather is supposed to be perfect. We’ll see you on The Flats.

Go Jackets!