Pitt Football plagued by penalties and drops

pitt football

Pitt football suffered a 30-29 upset loss to the NC State Wolfpack on Saturday. After pulling ahead with less than two minutes left, the Panthers only needed to keep the Wolfpack out of the end zone. With no timeouts left, quarterback Devin Leary led NC State down the field, completing a touchdown pass to Emeka Emezie with less than 30 seconds left, which proved to be the fatal blow to the Panthers.

This is a crushing defeat for Pitt, which had a chance to achieve a 4-0 record for the first time since 2000. Instead, the team moves on with a 3-1 record with a bad loss to a team it was favored to beat by over two touchdowns. The Panthers were plagued by a number of problems on both sides of the ball that led to this embarrassing defeat.


The biggest issue for the Panthers in this loss was penalties. Just on the defensive side of the ball, Pitt committed 11 penalties for 110 yards and added another two for 15 yards on offense.

A number of Pitt’s defensive penalties came in key plays on both third and fourth down, and a defensive holding call moved the Wolfpack into the red zone on its game-winning drive. The defense looked sloppy and was handing yards out to NC State all game. Although there were a few questionable pass interference calls on Pitt, the defense didn’t look as dominant as it has in previous weeks.

While the Pitt defense had five tackles for a loss, it had only two sacks and did not force a single turnover. Pairing this with the penalties is what ultimately led to the demise of the Panthers. A team that relied on its defense shutting down the opposing team and creating turnovers, for the first time this year did not have that to count on.


Although the defense was struggling, offensively the Panthers looked the best they have since their first game against Austin Peay. Quarterback Kenny Pickett looked comfortable and confident and was slinging the ball all around the field. Pickett went 22 for 39 for 411 yards through the air and picked up another 40 yards on the ground.

Although Pickett put up a great performance, the offense was again hurt by the same two issues that held the offense back last season and so far in 2020 - dropped passes and a struggling run game.

Pitt receivers dropped a few passes including Taysir Mack, who dropped the two-point conversion that would have put Pitt up by seven near the end of the game. Drops have been a big problem for Pitt football over the past two seasons and will need to be addressed for the Panthers’ offense to be more effective going forward.

Run Game

The other big problem the offense faced was struggling to effectively run the ball. Outside of Pickett’s rushing yards, Pitt only picked up 52 yards on 22 carries. This abysmal average of only 2.36 yards per carry left Pitt to count on the success of the passing game. While the passing game was solid, it was not and likely will not be good enough to carry the Panthers’ offense, especially if the issues with drops continue.

These awful rushing numbers do not fall solely on the running backs though, as the offensive line struggled to give them holes to run through. The running backs and the line will need to work things out to get the run game and the offense as a whole going again for Pitt.

The loss should be a wake-up call for Pitt. The Panthers should not only have won this game but should have won it convincingly. Pitt football will need to work on being more disciplined on the defensive side of the ball and work on creating balance on the offensive side if it hopes to bounce back with a win next week against Boston College.

Photo by Kaycee Orwig | The Pitt News

Leave A Comment