The Pitt Panthers will play their annual Blue-Gold Scrimmage at Heinz Field 1 pm Saturday.
After a long spring practice, Pitt football host their spring game tomorrow at 1 pm. The Panthers will play at Heinz Field for the first time since taking their annual scrimmage on the road. Last year, the game was played at Highmark Stadium, Home of the Riverhounds.
Team Gold (Team Cavanaugh) will be led by quarterback Nate Peterman and safety Jordan Whitehead. Last season Whitehead spent time at running back, scoring two touchdowns vs Notre Dame. Earlier this week, Whitehead said he may get a few snaps on offense in the game.
Team Blue (Team Dorsett) is led by running back Qadree Ollison and defensive end Ejaun Price, who was granted a 6th year of eligibility by the NCAA. Running back James Conner and tight end Chris Clark, who transferred from UCLA, are on Team Blue as well, but they will not play. Conner hopes be ready for Villanova September 3.
The big question for the Panthers this upcoming season is who will step up at wide receiver. Tyler Boyd’s 91 catches from last year are gone. Dontez Ford was second on the team with 26 catches. Both he and former walk-on Zack Challingsworth did show flashes that they can be reliable targets in 2015. Scott Orndoff should be able to pick up where J.P. Holtz left off as the top tight end. Clark as of now will sit out 2016, but he is fighting the NCAA to play this year.
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After a surprising resurgence under first year coach Pat Narduzzi, the defense looks to build on its success in 2015. From reports from spring practice, the Panthers defense is looking even better. In a scrimmage two weeks ago, the defense racked up 10 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss. Pitt ranked 16th and 41st in each category as a team last year.
What’s fueling this defense? The Panthers were a top 15 defense in the NCAA before struggling down the stretch against Louisville, Miami and Navy. More familiarity with Narduzzi’s aggressive defense should have the Panthers defense back in the top 15 nationally.
I predict Team Gold will edge Team Blue thanks to a few touchdowns by Whitehead. Let’s just hope for no injuries in tomorrow’s scrimmage.