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July 7, 2014
Study Guide: Pitt
Over the next few weeks, EagleAction is creating quick-hit study guides for fans to get to know each of BC's opponents for the 2014 season. Today, we look at the Pitt Panthers.
Coach: Paul Chryst, 3rd season
2012 record: 6-7 (4-3 Big East)
2013 record: 7-6 (3-4 ACC)
Road Record vs. ACC last season: 2-2
Road Record under Chryst: 4-7
Returning starters (based on final 2013 depth chart): 8
The Big Names: The Pitt offense featured one of the best freshmen in the country last year in wide receiver Tyler Boyd. All Boyd did was compile 1,174 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns on his way to being named a 1st Team Freshman All American. Boyd will be one of the best receivers that BC has to stop this season.
The strength of the Panthers might be up front with the offensive line, which returns four starters from last season. The best of the bunch is probably senior guard Matt Rotheram.
Running behind the offensive line will be sophomore running back James Conner, who ran for 799 yards as a true freshman. Conner's best game was in the Little Caesars Bowl when he ran for 229 yards, which broke Tony Dorsett's school record for rushing yards in a bowl game.
Reason for BC to worry:Chryst is one of the best offensive masterminds in the ACC, and probably the entire east coast. The Panthers start the season with a warm-up against Delaware before getting the Eagles. Chryst won't have his team looking past the Blue Hens, but he certainly is already developing some wrinkles for the ACC opener against BC. With an experienced offensive line and some good offensive weapons, the Pitt offense should be a formidable test.
Reason for BC to rest easy: The Pitt offensive line is experienced but the key returners at the skill positions are not. The quarterback, running back, and best wide receivers are all sophomores. The young group could be prone to mistakes in a nighttime road test early in the season.
Returning starters (based on final 2013 depth chart): 5
The Big Names:Unlike its offensive counterpart, Pitt's defense does not have many star studded names. The most productive player on the team was free safety Ray Vinopal, the team's leading returning tackler (83 tackles). Vinopal had three interceptions and six pass breakups to go along with his high tackle total.
The best player returning in the front seven is linebacker Anthony Gonzalez. The former quarterback was the third leading tackler on the team last year.
Reason for BC to worry: Pitt is inexperienced on the defensive line but not at linebacker. Along with Gonzalez, the fourth leading tackler on the team, Todd Thomas returns. The duo will form one of the better linebacker duos in the ACC this year. With BC's run-first offense this could pose some problems.
Reason for BC to rest easy: Pitt's front four are a huge concern. The unit loses Outland Trophy winner and 1st round NFL Draft pick Aaron Donald, who had an amazing 11 sacks and 17.5 tackles for a loss last year. Even with Donald, the Panthers defense still allowed 27 PPG last year, good for 11th best overall. David Durham is the only starter that returns up front, and he managed only 21 tackles and 0.5 sacks at defensive end last year.
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