The Pittsburgh Panthers Football Team will open their season at 6 p.m. Saturday against the Youngstown State Penguins at Heinz Field.
The Panthers have moved past the Todd Graham era, and now under head coach Paul Chryst hope to start off with a win in a wide open and weaker Big East.
First a little bit of information on these Penguins. Last season, they went 6-5 and had a 2-3 record away from home. One of these losses was their opener Sept. 2 against the Michigan State Spartans. The loss was by a 28-6 score.
The Penguins also lost the Horizon League title game to Missouri State 38-34.
Quarterback Kurt Hess will return for his junior season and he passed for 2,460 yards and 26 touchdowns last season. Senior running back Jermaine Cook ran for 1,386 yards and 13 touchdowns. Defensively, sophomore Teven Williams led the team last season with 67 tackles.
Head Coach Eric Wolford is in his second season with Youngstown State. He has coached with some of the greats in today’s game, serving as an assistant for both Steve Spurrier and Mike Stoops.
On the Pitt side, here is an exclusive interview I did with tailback Ray Graham at Pitt Football Fanfest last Thursday:
On what it meant for him to get tackled again (at practice): “It felt good and it got my confidence back. That’s what I needed.”
On the start of the season: “I’m very excited and I’m ready to go out there and run around a little bit with this team.”
On Youngstown State: “Definitely. It’s 6 o’clock under the lights so you know it’s going to be a good game.”
On the fans: “They’re the best. They always show their support, rain, sleet, hail or snow.”
Final words: “Look out. It’s going to be a good, fun year.”
I also got a video interview that I conducted with wide receiver Devin Street at Pitt Football Fanfest:
As for a prediction on the game, I do not expect the Panthers to have any troubles in this matchup. Things will come together and will result in a 35-10 victory.