Pitt football can’t get offense going in loss

Pitt football suffered its third straight loss Saturday, falling to Miami 31-19. With this loss, the Panthers are officially in panic mode, as what started as a promising season is now in jeopardy of becoming a train wreck.

Pitt was forced to rely on redshirt freshman Joey Yellen at quarterback, as Kenny Pickett was unavailable due to an ankle injury. Yellen did not put up an overly impressive performance completing only 22 of his 46 passes for 277 yards. Although Yellen did not put on a spectacular performance, he did not receive much help from the rest of the offense.

The Panthers’ receivers again struggled with drops, costing them a number of first downs. These drops once again came back to bite them, as a multiple drives stalled due to the receivers’ inability to catch the football.

On top of this, the Pitt offense could not move the ball effectively on the ground. Pitt ran the ball 23 times and picked up only 50 yards. This comes out to a horrendous average of fewer than 2.2 yards per carry, which is the lowest for the Panthers this season. Vincent Davis, who has been getting the bulk of carries out of the Pitt backfield, also put up his worst performance this season, managing to gain zero yards on his nine carries. While Davis and most of the other runners certainly did not impress, they also have not received the help they need from the offensive line.

Runners have not had a lot of holes or lanes to run through this season, which is partially what has hurt the ground game. While the backs have not looked great, they also haven’t gotten a lot of chances to hit the open field, often getting hit in the backfield or at the line of scrimmage. The offensive line is failing to get push and to create the running lanes needed for running backs to be successful.

These offensive issues all led to an even bigger problem for the Panthers on Saturday, the inability to put the ball in the end zone. They had a number of solid drives that completely fell apart in the red zone and relied heavily on the defense to put them in positions to score. The only time Pitt was able to get the ball over the goal line was when it started the drive from the Miami one-yard line following an interception.

While the offense looked the worst it has all season, the Pitt defense – for the most part – looked great. The Panthers were wreaking havoc in the Hurricanes’ backfield, racking up four sacks and 15 tackles for a loss. Additionally, they managed to force two turnovers with defensive backs Paris Ford and Marquis Williams each picking up an interception. These interceptions were both returned inside the Miami 20-yard line and led to 10 of the 19 points that Pitt scored

While it seemed that Pitt defenders were living in the Miami backfield, the secondary struggled to contain Miami’s receivers. The Hurricanes scored four touchdowns on Saturday and three of them came on passing plays of 35 yards or more. These long passing touchdowns are what really killed the Panthers’ defense, as outside of these big plays they held up really well.

This loss officially put Pitt in the danger zone. The team has seen the same glaring issues in each of its losses and desperately needs to get them fixed if there is any hope of turning the season around. The Panthers will square off against Notre Dame next, and will certainly need to have things ironed out to pick up the win and stop their current slide.

Photo by Kaycee Orwig | The Pitt News