A once-promising season for the Pitt Panthers has started to spiral out of control. The Panthers dropped their second game in a row, falling 51-28 to the Miami Hurricanes. And in an increasingly troubling trend, Pitt’s defense was torched all afternoon.
The Panthers’ porous defense has proven to be their undoing. Despite head coach Pat Narduzzi’s pedigree as a defensive coordinator at Michigan State before his hiring at Pitt, his defense has routinely been burned. If Pitt’s current 34.4 points allowed per game average holds up, it would be the Panthers’ worst scoring defense since 1996, when the team allowed 39.1 points per game.
Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya was the latest to have his way with the flimsy Panthers secondary, lighting it up for 356 yards and four passing touchdowns; he also added a score on the ground. And Pitt’s usually stout run defense wasn’t excused from the scorching either. Hurricanes running back Mark Walton rang up 125 rushing yards and a TD on just 14 carries.
Quite frankly, Pitt’s defense is a disaster. The aforementioned 34.4 points a game ranks them 110th out of 128 teams in the FCS. I’d liken the Panthers’ pass defense to Swiss cheese, but that might be unfair to the reputation of Swiss cheese, an integral part of the Reuben sandwich, which is one of my personal favorites.
Allowing 317 yards per game through the air ranks the Panthers a horrendous 125th out of 128 schools. They’ve given up 18 passing touchdown (an average of two per game), which is tied for 102nd in the nation. Opponents are completing passes at a 60.7 percent rate, as well.
Simply put, the Panthers’ defensive effort this season has been embarrassing and unacceptable.
Pitt’s propensity for hanging tough and playing hotly contested games was nowhere to be found against the Hurricanes. Miami manhandled the Panthers much of the afternoon, and the outcome was never in doubt (beyond about half way through the third quarter).
It’s yet another wasted opportunity in what seemed like a wide-open season in the ACC Coastal division, and it’s one the Panthers seem perfectly content to squander away once again.
The loss proves especially damaging because it essentially takes Pitt out of contention for the ACC Coastal division — they’ve lost to UNC, Virginia Tech and Miami, and all three teams are now ahead of Pitt in the standings and hold the head-to-head tie breaker. It would take nothing short of a miracle for the Panthers to end up atop the division at season’s end.
Next, the Panthers head down to Death Valley to take on No. 3 Clemson at home, and it might be prudent for Pitt faithful to start praying now.
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