Scouting Syracuse's Next Opponent: Pittsburgh

CuseNation.com breaks down the Pitt Panthers in preparation for Saturday's matchup.

Scouting the Offense

Pittsburgh runs an old school, power running type of an offense. They utilize the pass off of the run with playaction. The ground attack features a lot of between the tackle runs with some misdirection as well. The Panthers often line up in the power-I formation, using old school, smash mouth football principles.

In the passing attack, the tight end is utilized while the outside receivers are featured. Quick, short passes are mixed with the down the field throws, often off of the run game.

However, in recent weeks, Pitt has been mixing in some zone-read to utilize the mobility of the quarterback. While this is not the primary focus of the offense, it does give defenses a different look for which they have to prepare.

Projected Starters

Quarterback

Chad Voytik

Running Back

James Conner

Fullback

Jaymar Parrish

Wide Receiver

Tyler Boyd

Wide Receiver

Manasseh Garner

Tight End

J.P. Holtz

Left Tackle

Adam Bisnowaty

Left Guard

Dorian Johnson

Center

Alex Officer

Right Guard

Matt Rotheram

Right Tackle

T.J. Clemmings

Key Players

QB Chad Voytik: A former four-star prospect, Voytik has a strong, accurate arm. He is a smart quarterback who often makes the right decision with the football. Voytik is inconsistent at times, which can limit the effectiveness of the passing attack. He is more mobile than people realize, having rushed for nearly 400-yards on the season.

RB James Conner: One of the best running backs in the country, Conner has a great combination of speed and power. He is great between the tackles and even better at the second level. Conner will run over corners and around linebackers. He will be a huge test for what has been a strong Syracuse defense.

WR Tyler Boyd: Another elite offensive weapon for Pitt, Boyd is a former Syracuse recruiting target who has blossomed into one of the better receivers in the country. He has ideal size and speed while running great routes with excellent hands. If Brandon Reddish really wants to boost his NFL stock, shutting down Boyld will do that. But it will be a tall task to limit his impact on Saturday.

Weaknesses

The biggest weakness is the inconsistency of the passing attack and not taking care of the ball. The Panthers have turned it over 18 times this season, a majority of which has come during their current three game losing streak. The Syracuse defense has been great at forcing turnovers all season, and this will be how they can keep the Pitt offense out of the end zone.

Overall

Pittsburgh’s offense has averaged 37 points over their last three games, all losses. They have an elite receiver, an elite running back and a former four-star prospect at tight end. This will be a huge test for the Syracuse defense.

Scouting the Defense

Pittsburgh runs a base 4-3 scheme and rarely brings extra pressure. They rely on the front four to rush the quarterback and disrupt opposing rushing attacks. This has really hurt them over the last three games.

They use a lot of zone coverage in the secondary and rely on strong execution rather than confusion.

Starters

Defensive End

Shakir Soto

Defensive Tackle

Darryl Render

Defensive Tackle

Khaynin Mosley-Smith

Defensive End

David Durham

Strongside Linebacker

Anthony Gonzalez

Middle Linebacker

Matt Galambos

Weakeside Linebacker

Todd Thomas

Corner

Lafayette Pitts

Strong Safety

Reggie Mitchell

Free Safety

Ray Vinopal

Corner

Avonte Maddox

Key Players

DE David Durham: The best edge rusher on a defensive line that struggles to consistently pressure the opposing quarterback, Durham will be a challenge for Syracuse. At 6-foot-2, 240-pounds, Durham is also strong against the run. He is underrated as an athlete and can be disruptive when he plays on the other side of the line of scrimmage.

SLB Anthony Gonzalez: A former four-star quarterback prospect, Gonzalez has turned himself into a solid ACC linebacker. One of the top tacklers on the Panthers’ defense, Gonzalez is also a key to shutting down opposing running attacks as well as covering tight ends and backs out of the backfield. He has good speed and is a strong tackler.

CB Lafayette Pitts: Pitts is an impressive athlete with good raw skills. He has speed and good hands for a corner. However, he struggles with consistency and with getting beat over the top. Still working on technique, experienced, physical receivers tend to give him problems. Pitts flashes at times, however.

Overall

Pittsburgh does not rush the quarterback particularly well and has given up 49 points per game over the last three. Since facing the best offenses on their roster, the defense has really struggled. There is an opportunity for the Orange to get back on track offensively.

Scouting the Special Teams

Projected Starters

Kicker

Chris Blewitt

Punter

Ryan Winslow

Punt Returner

Tyler Boyd

Kick returners

Tyler Boyd

Ronald Jones

Breakdown

K Chris Blewitt: Blewitt is a solid kicker with an unfortunate name. He has a strong leg and has only missed three attempts this season, two of which were blocked. While not an elite kicker, Blewitt certainly is not a weakness for the Panthers.

P Ryan Winslow: Winslow is an average punter who only picks up 40-yards per kick. He has solid accuracy, but is not a huge weapon in the field position battle.

PR/KR Tyler Boyd: Boyd is a threat every time he touches the ball. He averages 27 yards per kick return and nearly 10 per punt return. He will test the Syracuse coverage units.

Related: Pittsburgh Season Stats

Related: Syracuse/Pitt Pre-Game Notes


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