Pittsburgh Football 2014 – Better, Worse or about the Same?
I expect the offense to be slightly better. The offensive line will improve if they can stay healthy, as they return four starters. Former five-star recruit Dorian Johnson, the fifth projected starter by most accounts, was a freshman backup last season. Johnson struggled, but will move from tackle to guard where things should be a little easier for him. Pitt also returns all three running backs that carried the ball last year as well as leading receiver, Tyler Boyd.
On the flipside, the offense will have a new quarterback in redshirt sophomore Chad Voytik and also lost wide receiver Devin Street (the all-time leading pass catcher for the school) as well. Still, there are some capable receivers left over and Voytik has two full years in the program. The quarterback switch could mean the offense remains about the same as last year, but a slight improvement wouldn’t surprise me.
The defense looks to take a step back in 2014 – maybe even a significant one. The biggest loss, of course, is Aaron Donald, who was college football’s best defensive player last season. The team also lost defensive end Bryan Murphy, who isn’t returning to the program. Factoring in the graduation of linemate Ty Ezell, and the Panthers need to replace 3/4 of their starting defensive line. David Durham, the lone returning starter, was largely seen as the weakest of the four players, too. That looks to be the biggest trouble spot on the team. In the secondary, Pitt also loses a cornerback and a safety, and middle linebacker Shane Gordon is also gone.
Some good news is that several players that saw the field in 2013 will be back. The Panthers also get back defensive lineman Khaynin Mosley-Smith, who served a year suspension and was a projected starter last year before he sat out. Still, overall, the team only returns five starters to the defense and it’s hard to see them getting better next year.
Pitt 2014 – Better worse or about the same?
If nothing else, Pitt should have a better record than the 6-6 they’ve been at each of the past three years. They may not be a better team when it’s all said and done, but the schedule really plays into their favor.
With games against Delaware, Boston College, FIU, Akron, Virginia, and Syracuse, Pitt really has no reason not to win a bare minimum of seven games. A road game at Miami is the only game on the schedule that looks pretty unwinnable and while the Panthers aren’t likely to have a huge season, winning eight or even nine games isn’t out of the question.
My official prediction as of right now would be 8-4.
Anson Whaley, the manager/editor of Cardiac Hill provided the information for our Pittsburgh football 2014 spring wrap up. For more Pitt football information, commentary and analysis, you can follow Anson on Twitter @PittPantherBlog and on Facebook.