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Pitt Panthers Football: 2018 Predictions

Can Kenny Pickett lead the Panthers to the ACC Championship?

August 31, 2018 - 12:10 pm

Related: Pat Narduzzi Gives Review Of Team Before Week 1 vs. Albany

PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) – On Saturday, Pitt kicks off a much-anticipated 2018 season at Heinz Field against Albany. With sophomore Kenny Pickett under center, the Panthers are expected to perform better than their 5-7 record last season.

The team gave fans a glimmer of what the future could hold when they handed the Miami Hurricanes their only loss of the season in a 24-14 upset.

Here are a few predictions on how our guys think the team will fair in 2018.

Fan Talk Host Andrew Fillipponi:

Deja vu. Pitt will go 5-7 in 2018.

The non-conference schedule will keep Pitt from getting to a bowl with three Top 25 teams-UCF, Penn State and Notre Dame on the slate.

Pitt will have a respectable ACC record, 4-4, with wins over the likes of Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech. 

This will be the best Narduzzi defense at Pitt. I like the defensive line and linebackers. I like Kenny Pickett. His receivers and offensive line will stunt his growth.

I could see this team going anywhere from 4-8 to 8-4.

Fan Sports Anchor Jim Colony:

The Panthers may not end up in Charlotte for the ACC Championship Game as Pat Narduzzi boldly predicted in front of Pitt fans – and maybe more importantly his players – but the coach may be onto something. 

The overall record will suffer because of the tough non-conference schedule but Pitt does have a chance to make some noise in the ACC. 

The pivotal games are the first 2 – at home against Georgia Tech then at North Carolina, a team that the Panthers are due to finally defeat.  A 2-0 start will set a positive tone. 

My guess is that they will win a game they’re not supposed to but also lose a game they’re supposed to win.  The key is to lose only one of those games. 

If they happens they have a chance to go 6-2 in the ACC and finish 8-4 but 7-5 is more likely.

Fan Sports Director Jeff Hathhorn:

There is improvement in the depth at Pitt under Pat Narduzzi, but with a schedule featuring road games against nationally ranked Central Florida, Notre Dame and Miami and home games with Penn State and Virginia Tech, I wonder if we’ll see it reflected in the overall record.

Panthers listed five positions where they had not committed to a starter and that underlines the tougher decisions the coaches have in determining separation between the first and second teams.  That’s good.

Pitt has a quarterback from the start of camp, a rarity for Narduzzi as Kenny Pickett had all off-season to work with second year offensive coordinator Shaun Watson.  That’s good.

Options are available in a secondary that was torched at times over the last few years where Pitt has stocked some of its highest ranked recruits.  That’s good.

Will it all translate to more wins, I really believe we have to wait and see.  How much will some of these kids progress?  What is the impact of Randy Bates as the new defensive coordinator?  Can they establish a ground game with two key seniors?  Some of what will start to play out Saturday against Albany.

I predict seven wins, and I do believe it will be more fun, aggressive Panthers football team this year.

Pitt Radio Network Sideline Reporter Larry Richert:

Pitt's overall improvements start in the training center with Coach Dave Andrews and staff. This Panther team appears to be the most fit I've seen in the past 8 seasons. We'll see if that translates onto the field but it's fundamentally a great place to start.

The new Defensive Coordinator Coach Randy Barnes will absolutely make a difference. They are deep at the linebacker position. If they can get pressure up front opponents will have a tough time scoring easily as in previous seasons. They should have an improved secondary as well.

Offensively in his second season Coach Shaun Watson will have more of an impact since he was working with a hybrid playbook that was leftover by his predecessor Coach Matt Canada. If Kenny Pickett is the real deal, the Panthers will also be a formidable offense with two senior running backs and weapons downfield. 

The senior class seems genuinely bonded to each other and the mission. That will translate on the field.

With one of the nation’s toughest schedules, 8 wins would be a great season and a giant step in the right direction for the program.

Pat Narduzzi has the team believing that they are capable of an ACC championship. He has shown he can slay the dragons with signature upsets over Penn State and Clemson in 2016 - plus Miami in 2017.

Is this the breakout year for the Panthers? Again, getting at least 8 wins says yes... and in my opinion possible.

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