Pitt’s keys to the game.
What was said: Kenny Pickett needs to continue to connect on big plays of 20-plus yards and utilize the speed he has at the wide receiver position.
What happened: Ok, maybe “needs to” was a little too strong of a word. I did think he needed to continue to play aggressive and take shots downfield. I think that Pitt went conservative in the second half. Pickett finished with 215 passing yards (131 in the first half), two passing touchdowns, and one rushing touchdown.
What was said: Pitt needs to continue to establish the running game and find out who will be that guy or those guys. Vincent Davis will get a chance to start this week against Syracuse. He’s not the biggest back, but he’s the most explosive and could be very productive with more touches.
What happened: For the second week in a row, Vincent Davis looked the best out of the Pitt running backs (18 carries for 53 yards). A.J. Davis gained 38 yards on 11 carries. It’s only been two games, but Pitt’s running game still has work to do.
What was said: Pitt needs to do what North Carolina did last week, and that’s get to Syracuse quarterback Tommy DeVito. If Syracuse is to have a chance against Pitt’s defense, they’ll have to depend on DeVito to carry most of the weight for a win. With a running game that was below average last week against North Carolina last week, Syracuse may have to depend on the passing game more than it wants to against Pitt this week.
What happened: Mission accomplished. Pitt’s defense sacked Syracuse quarterbacks a total of seven times today. Kudos to Pitt’s secondary for playing a solid game as well.
Syracuse keys to the game
What was said: Their offensive line allowed eight sacks last week. They face a Pitt defensive line that is better than North Carolina’s. They must protect Tommy Devito at all cost
What happened: Different opponent, same result. Syracuse allowed seven sacks to Pitt’s defense today. Its offense is not doing its defense any favors.
What was said: The wide receivers need to take advantage of the one-on-one coverage that they’ll see during the game. Pitt’s secondary is tough, but Syracuse will need to hit on some plays downfield if they want to stay in this game.
What happened: Outside of Taj Harris catching a 69-yard touchdown in the first quarter, Syracuse’s other wideouts were rendered ineffective by Pitt’s defensive backfield.
What was said: Running game needs to come alive. Their backs only ran for 38 yards last week. That’s not going to cut it against Pitt. If Syracuse becomes one-dimensional due to a non-existent running game, the Orange will be in trouble.
What happened: Not much. Syracuse could only gain 54 total yards on 31 attempts. As long as its offensive line struggles, Syracuse’s rushing game continue to be nonexistent.