Despite riding a three-game win streak entering Saturday’s big ACC Coastal Division showdown against No. 24 Virginia Tech, we still didn’t know a whole lot about this Pitt football team.
We found out more Saturday afternoon in Blacksburg and it wasn’t pretty, at least not for Panthers’ quarterback Tom Savage.
Savage was sacked eight times by a dominant Virginia Tech defense and was pressured almost every time he dropped back as the Hokies defense made it tough for the Pitt offense to do anything in a 19-9 loss for the Panthers.
The Hokies (6-1, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) won their sixth straight game and ended a four-game losing streak against the Panthers, avenging a 35-17 loss a year ago at Heinz Field.
Pitt (3-2, 2-2) found out quickly that they aren’t quite ready to contend with the ACC’s big boys just yet.
Coming off a concussion suffered in Pitt’s last game against Virginia two weeks ago, Savage never had a chance. His eight sacks turned into 49 yards lost for the Panthers and he has been sacked 15 times in Pitt’s past two games.
The sad part is that the Hokies probably could have dropped Savage 15 times on Saturday by themselves as the senior escaped close to 10 more near sacks. Even more depressing for the Panthers is most of the pressure came from the Hokies defensive line as they didn’t have to blitz as much as they probably planned going into the game.
Dadi Nicholas had three sacks for the Hokies and Derrick Hopkins had two.
Hokies’ quarterback Logan Thomas had a solid game, completing 19-of-34 passes for 239 yards and an early first quarter touchdown pass to tight end Kalvin Cline, who beat Pitt safety Anthony Gonzalez for a 27-yard score.
After that the Hokies relied on the toe of Cody Journell, who kicked four field goals.
The Pitt defense played pretty well as they allowed only 315 total yards. They also took away the run as Thomas was the Hokies leading rusher with 27 yards on the ground.
The problem though is the Pitt offense struggled all afternoon.
The Panthers racked up only 210 total yards and gained only 23 yards rushing on 26 carries (0.9 ypc). They finally got in the end zone late in the fourth quarter when Savage scored on a nine-yard touchdown run.
Naturally when the Panthers went for the two-point conversion to make it a one possession game, Savage was sacked.
Pitt not being able to run the football was a big problem, but the fact that Savage was under so much pressure prevented him from getting the ball to Pitt’s weapons on the outside in Devin Street and Tyler Boyd.
Street finished with five catches for 104 yards before being knocked silly by a big hit in the fourth quarter, but Boyd caught only two passes on the afternoon for 20 yards and also got only one carry on the day.
After putting up monster numbers three weeks ago against Duke, the Pitt offense has struggled in back-to-back performances.
Pitt will look to get back on track next Saturday night when they play host to Old Dominion.
Photo Credit: Associated Press