When: 11/15, 7:00
Stadium: Mountaineer Field
Last Week: BC
Returning Starters: 12
Last Week: VT
Returning Starters: 17
Last Meeting: 2002
LOW PRESSURE SYSTEMS
For once, WVU is not a decided underdog in the pass rush arena. Like the Mountaineers, the Panthers have trouble getting to opposing quarterbacks.
WVU has either ten or 15 sacks this year (the team stats say ten, but adding up the individual totals yields the higher number). Either way, that's not a big number for nine games.
Pitt has recorded just 12 quarterback traps this year, so the Panthers haven't been getting to opposing signalcallers much either. It's not as if teams aren't attempting passes against either squad, either. Opponents have thrown 296 aerials against Pitt, while WVU foes have tossed 339 passes.
Should either team be able to record three or four takedowns, it would be a big edge in the contest. However, with mobile quarterbacks on both sides of the ball, that eventuality seems remote at best.
In a game that figures to be tightly contested, every yard will be meaningful. One place the Panthers figure to have an advantage will be in penalty yardage, where the well-disciplined vistors lead the conference.
Pitt averages only 40.7 yards per game in penalties, and have been even more efficient over their last four games. The Panthers have been flagged for just 93 yards combined in those contests. WVU, on the other hand, has been flagged for more than that total in a single game this year, and averages 77.6 in penalty walkoffs.
If West Virginia can eliminate dumb unsportsmanlike conduct calls and personal fouls, they should easily be in the Panthers' range. However, the Mountaineers haven't shown the ability to do that so far, and may have developed a bit of a reputation for those types of penalties that is hard to break.
KEEPING IT TIGHT
Think Pitt has been looking at the WVU-BC game film this week? So do I.
Pitt tight end Kris Wilson racked up 111 receiving yards against Virginia Tech, and will be looking for more of the same against a Mountaineer defense that is susceptible to crossing patterns and drag routes by the tight end. The Panthers will also likely try to sneak Wilson down a seam on more than one occasion, as they try to exploit WVU's sell-out strategies against the run with a play action pass or two.
IF YOU'RE SCORING AT HOME
The Panthers seem to come alive in the second quarter of games this year. Pitt has racked up 129 points in the second stanza in 2003. The Panther defense, on the other hand, has yielded just 83 points in the entire second half this season.
MAKING THE MOST OF IT
Wide receiver Chris Henry has a chance to break WVU's all-time record for yards per catch in a season. The big play sophomore is currently averaging 26.2 yards per grab, which would place him second on the list.
Rich Hollins averaged 27.1 yards per catch in 1982, so with a couple more big grabs, Henry could threaten that 21-year-old mark.