Pittsburgh Panthers Offensive Scouting Report
Pittsburgh Panthers Offense: Scheme - Pro Style
RB Rodney Hammond Jr.
WR Konata Mumpfield
TE Gavin Bartholomew
Pitt runs a pro-style offense with a wide variety of formations from both shotgun and under center. They use a lot of pre-snap motion to give the QB a read on the defense. They will often line the running back up out wide and then motion him into the backfield to see if he is followed to indicate man coverage. Pitt is a run first offense. With a stable of running backs and a good run blocking offensive line, Pitt deploys a solid power running game. More often than not there is a pulling guard on run plays. When they run from the shotgun, they will run some zone read to give Phil Jurkovec an option to keep. Jurkovec has been a solid runner in his college career between Notre Dame, Boston College, and now Pitt. Jurkovec did get hurt last week, and his game status against Virginia Tech is unknown at this time (more on this later).
The good news for Virginia Tech is that Pitt's offensive line has struggled in pass protection. It seems as though the QB gets hit on every throw. This has lead to many turnovers in the last 3 weeks. The turnovers are what has been holding the Pitt offense back so far. They have turned the ball over 7 times in the last 3 games. Those are split by 5 interceptions and 2 fumbles. Virginia Tech will have to continue this trend for the Pitt offense to slow them down.
Pitt Offensive Outlook and Keys on Defense
Pitt is 1-3 through there first 4 games. They opened with a 45-7 victory over Wofford. Since then, they have dropped three straight to Cincinnati, West Virginia, and North Carolina. Their offense has averaged just 17 points per game in those three losses. It seems as though Virginia Tech will be looking at mirror when they line up across from the Pitt Panthers on Saturday. Last week against UNC, starting QB Phil Jurkovec went down to a concussion in the 2nd quarter. His replacement was redshirt sophomore transfer from Penn State, Christian Veilleux. Veilleux turned the ball over 3 times and Pitt scored no points aside from a kick return for a touchdown in the second half with him running the offense.
Despite all their struggles, Pitt still has several play makers. They have a big and athletic tight end in Gavin Bartholomew, whom the Hokies faced last season. They have a good primary receiver named Konata Mumpfield. He is fast, runs good routes, and is the most targeted receiver in this offense. To cap it off, Pitt has a solid 1 - 2 punch at running back. Rodney Hammond Jr. is the lead back and usually gets 18-20 touches. Their change up back is speedster C'Bo Flemister. The Hokies are familiar with both backs as they faced them in last year's matchup as well.
With uncertainty at QB, Pitt's offense may look very different depending on who starts. If Veilleux must fill in for an concussed Jurkovec, Pitt may rely more on their power run game. Veilleux did not look great as a passer last week. He struggled with the pressure UNC was able to put on him. A solid rush attack will help slow that down and get him more comfortable in the offense. If Jurkovec plays, Virginia Tech will have to be more aware of the QB running as Jurkovec is a better runner than Veilleux. This is a tough game to prepare for on defense. One way or another, Virginia Tech must be ready to stuff the power run and get after the QB. I am expecting some more blitzes this week in an attempt to do both. If Virginia Tech can do this and force turnovers as Pitt has been prone to do so far, then the Hokies will give their offense a good chance of getting the team on track to victory.
All stats via ESPN.com and picture via San Diego Union-Tribune.