Explosive Plays Turning Around Pitt’s Season

Panthers offense flexing muscles of late

Josh Rowntree
November 12, 2018 - 2:22 pm
Pittsburgh Panthers running back Darrin Hall (22) hands the game ball to running back Qadree Ollison (30) after the Panthers defeated the Virginia Tech Hokies at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh won 52-22.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

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Pat Narduzzi did the math and the tabulations delighted him. 

Following Saturday’s blowout 52-22 win over Virginia Tech at Heinz Field, Naerduzzi was curious to see how many explosive plays his team has been putting up offensively of late. 

“In the last three games, we’ve had 39 explosive plays on offense,” Narduzzi said during his press conference Monday. “Everybody likes big plays, explosive plays.

“Everybody sees Darrin Hall, (Qadree) Ollison, (Maurice) Ffrench and (Taysir) Mack making these big plays. But there was 39 in the last three games. We had 39 total in seven games prior that.”

Against Virginia Tech, Pitt had 13 explosive plays, which are runs that gain at least 15 yards and passes that gain at least 20. 

“To me, it’s like, we’ve done something a little bit better, whatever it is. You never know what it is, nor will I tell anybody what it is. But we’re doing some good things. Our offense is really starting to gel.”

The bulk of Pitt’s big plays have come on the ground. Ollison, Hall and quarterback Kenny Pickett combined to rush for 479 yards against the Hokies. Those three players, on the ground, accounted for ten of Pitt’s explosive plays. Pickett threw three long passes as well. 

Those players have accounted for 1,014 rushing yards over the last three games. Ollison had five explosive runs against Virginia Tech, including a 97-yard touchdown. Hall had three, highlighted by a 73-yard scamper. Picket had two long runs and passed for a 78-yard touchdown. 

“I think it comes down to execution, feeling comfortable maybe,” Narduzzi said. “I don’t know what it is. In the open week (after the loss at Notre Dame) we tried to fix some things. We tried to address some things that we needed. There’s a couple things, protection-wise, that we’re doing a little different.”

Pitt’s next challenge will come at Wake Forest Saturday. A win puts Pitt in the ACC Championship Game, regardless of what happens in the regular season finale at Miami. The Demon Deacons are 5-5 and 2-4 in the ACC, but are coming off and impressive win at 14th-ranked NC State. 

“We’re going in there to play Wake Forest,” Narduzzi added. “It’s a one-game season right now. Nothing else matters. Good things can happen, we know. Your focus has got to be singular right now. If you’re worried about these other things, you’re wandering off.”

Hear all of what Pat Narduzzi had to say at his weekly press conference below.