Welcome to the Pitt Panthers vs Youngstown State Penguins Preview! This is your one stop shop for everything you need to know about Pitt and their upcoming opponent! Mike Drakulich of Pittsburgh SportsNation brings you inside the huddle for both teams, providing all fans with a detailed breakdown of each team, game outlook, score prediction, individual stats, team stats, and even the weather at kickoff. The only thing you’re missing is a ticket into the stadium!
A look at the Pitt Panthers!
Overall Record: 0-0 | ACC Record: 0-0
Head Coach: Pat Narduzzi (3rd Season with Pitt)
Lifetime Record: 16-10
Last Week: N/A
Breakdown of the Panthers
Quarterback- Max Browne steps in for Nate Peterman and hopes to keep Pitt’s offense rolling as it did in 2017. Browne, a senior and a former five star prospect, transferred from USC. Browne will have one last opportunity to showcase the talent that so many people saw in him.
Running Backs- Pitt is loaded with guys who can tote the rock. Qadree Ollison is the starter and is looking to return to stardom. He rushed for 1,121 yards in 2015 en route to earning ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. Darrin Hall has looked sharp in Camp. Chawtez Moss will be in the mix, as will two highly touted freshmen in Todd Sibley and AJ Davis. Fullback George Aston is injured, but hopes to be back in a month. Colton Lively will suit up in his absence.
Wide Receivers- Another offensive position stocked with talent. Jester Weah caught 36 passes for 872 yards and 10 scores last year. Quadree Henderson is a dynamic playmaker that wants to up his game in receptions in 2017. Henderson torched defenses all year in the running game via the Jet Sweep, and now wants to terrorize opposing secondaries with his speed and elusiveness. Maurice Ffrench will look to contribute on both the ground and in the air, as he can employ a style similar to Hendersen. Ruben Flowers is a four-star prospect and believes he can make an impact immediately. Aaron Mathews and Raphael Araujo-Lopez saw time last year and will see action as well.
Tight Ends- Matt Flanagan and Chris Clark will step in and try to emulate the success of the graduated Scott Orndoff. Flangan is a graduate transfer from Rutgers. Clark has plenty of potential and may very well become one of Browne’s favorite targets.
Defense- Dewayne Hendrix and Rashaad Weaver are co-starters at defensive end, with Allen Edwards on the other side. James Folston, Jr. and Patrick Jones II will also see plenty of action. In the middle you’ll find Shane Roy and the highly touted freshman Keyson Camp. Amir Watts and Kam Cater will be in the rotation.
At linebacker, Elijah Zeise, Saleem Brightwell, and Seun Idowu are the starters. Quintin Wirginis will have to work his way back into a starting role after he serves a three game suspension. Anthony McKee, Jr. and Chris Pine will get plenty of chances to make an impression, too.
The secondary was scorched game after game last year, so this unit has nowhere to go but up! It won’t help with Jordan Whitehead suspended for the first three games, but like Mike Tomlin says, it’s “Next man up!” for the Panthers. Avonte Maddox will start at corner on one side, and expect to see a rotation of Dane Jackson and Damarri Mathis until one stands above the other. Dennis Briggs will start at strong safety and is also a team captain. Phil Campbell and Henry Miller will back-up Briggs. While Whitehead sits, Bricen Garner and Jazzee Stocker will do their best to impress Coach Narduzzi. Highly Touted Damar Hamlin will be in the mix once his various injuries begin to heal up. Highly recruited Paris Ford enrolled late, but his talent will eventually rise to the top.
Kicker- Alex Kessman takes over the duties for Chris Blewitt.
Kick/Punt Return- Quadree Henderson will be back deep for every kick. If teams are smart, they will avoid kicking the ball anywhere near him.
A look at the Youngstown State Penguins!
Overall Record: 0-0 | Missouri Valley Record: 0-0
Head Coach: Bo Pelini (3rd Season with Youngstown State)
Lifetime Record: 84-37 | 17-10 with Youngstown State
Last Week: N/A
Breakdown of the Penguins
Quarterback- Hunter Wells takes the snaps for the Penguins. If given time, he can burn the young Panther secondary. His name was heard plenty of times in the 2015 matchup.
Running Backs- Tevin McCaster will get the start for YSU. McCaster scored a touchdown in a team-high nine games last season.
Wide Receivers- Isiah Scott, Damoun Patterson, and Alvin Bailey form a trio of talented receivers for the Penguins. Bailey had a catch in all 15 games he played in last year.
Tight Ends- Kevin Rader will start and give Wells options across the middle and in short yardage situation.
Defense- The Penguins have a nice defense that will fare well in the FCS. Question is, how long can they last and expect to keep up against much more talented players on offense? Junior LB Armand Dellovade, a 2016 secondteam all-league selection, led the Penguins with 105 tackles last year, including 70 solo stops. He was third with 11.5 TFLs, which included a pair of sacks. Senior LB Lee Wright, a 2015 second-team AllMVFC honoree, returned to the lineup for the postseason last year and will be in the starting lineup come Saturday.
It’s the opening game of the 2017 season, and the Pitt Panthers will be looking to get off on a strong start, resisting the urge to look ahead to next week’s rivalry game against Penn State. Pitt will use this game to get Max Browne’s feet wet as Pitt’s new starter at quarterback. Qadree Ollison is back as the starter at running back following James Conner’s departure to the NFL. Ollison was the ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2015. Jester Weah and Quadree Henderson will be Browne’s main targets.
Pitt will have to survive the absences of safety Jordan Whitehead, lineman Alex Bookser and linebacker Quintin Wriginis, all of whom are starting players that are suspended.
Don’t expect to see much more than a vanilla offense from Pitt both offensively and defensively, as they will try to keep a limited amount of game tape for Penn State to go over for the following week.
“We might be a little bit boring, I don’t know,” Coach Pat Narduzzi said of the upcoming game plan. “Put it this way: There are some things we’re going to hold, but we’re going out to win that football game. That’s what it comes down to.”
Don’t let this information fool you into thinking this isn’t an important game to both Narduzzi and Pitt. Don’t expect to see Penn State open their playbook up much against Akron either.
“This is big game,” Narduzzi said. “You only get 12 opportunities. I want them to come out and play like they can.”
Narduzzi knows Youngstown State is one of the top contenders in the FCS. The Panther will not be taking the Penguins lightly. This is a game where you get your game up to speed, and then look to make a big leap in terms of play when you enter the second week of the season.
YSU’s defense will do their best, but in the end, Pitt’s offense will be too much for them to handle. It’s hard to contain the likes of such a dynamic player like Hendersen for four quarters.
“Quadree brings a lot of speed. If you can get him the ball in any way — whether it’s a sweep or a bubble (screen) — he’s shown in camp that he has the ability to go catch the ball downfield, too,” Ollison said about his fellow teammate. “He’s not looked at just as a utility guy or special-teams guy. He’s more of a receiver. He can play that position, and he’s going to show people his year that he can run routes and catch the ball and make plays.”
Pitt’s defense, despite Whitehead and Wriginis MIA, will be much improved. They are much faster and physical than they were a season ago.
Prediction: Pitt 45 Youngstown State 17
NCAA Week 1
Pitt Panthers (0-0, 0-0) vs Youngstown State Penguins (0-0, 0-0)
Venue: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA.
Game-time: Saturday, September 2nd, 1:00 pm
TV: ACC Network Extra via ESPN3/Watch ESPN | Announcers: Robert Lee (play-by-play) Dustin Fox (analyst) |
Local Radio: Pittsburgh- 93.7 The Fan | Announcers: Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play) Bill Osborne (analyst) | Larry Richert (sideline)
National Radio: Sirius Channel 93 | XM Channel 197
Weather at Kickoff: 65 with a 25% of rain.
Vegas Line: Pitt -24.5
Pitt vs Youngstown State History
- Series History: Began in 2005.
- Pitt is 3-1 against Youngstown State |
- Pitt is 3-1 at home vs Youngstown State.
- Streak: Pitt won last meeting.
- Last Regular Season Meeting: September 5, 2015 (Pitt 45 Youngstown State 37)
- Pitt is 0-0 vs Youngstown State in Bowl Games.
- Bowl Games: N/A
- Coach Narduzzi has deep ties to Youngstown and YSU. His father, the late Bill Narduzzi, was the Penguins’ head coach from 1975-85, twice leading them to the NCAA Division II playoffs, including the 1979 national title game.
- Pitt is 14-1 all-time against FCS opponents. The Panthers’ lone loss to an FCS foe came against Youngstown State in the 2012 season opener, 31-17.
- Pitt returns a 1,000-yard rusher for 2017 in junior Qadree Ollison, who netted 1,121 in 2015 en route to earning ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. Ollison will attempt to become just the sixth player in Pitt history to achieve multiple 1,000-yard rushing seasons.
- Wide receiver Quadree Henderson was one of the nation’s most productive all-purpose performers in 2016. Henderson ranked 11th nationally and second in the ACC with an average of 160.23 all-purpose yards per game.
- Brian O’Neill has started 25 consecutive games at right tackle for the Panthers. However, the junior’s contributions have gone beyond the conventional duties of an offensive lineman.
While he was instrumental for Pitt’s nationally ranked running game, O’Neill actually carried the ball twice himself last year—scoring touchdowns each time. His initial carry came on a throwback lateral that went for a 24-yard TD in the Panthers’ 37-34 win over Georgia Tech. O’Neill reached the end zone again on an end-around play against Virginia Tech that resulted in a five-yard score. He had two carries for 29 yards on the year (14.5 avg.) and even threw two passes (both incomplete).
QB- Max Browne (0 yards passing | 0 TD passes | 0 interceptions | 0 sacks | 0 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD )
RB- Qadree Ollison (0 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 0 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
RB- Darrin Hall (0 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 0 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
FB- Colton Lively (0 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 0 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
WR- Jester Weah (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
WR- Quadree Henderson (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards |0 receiving TD’s | 0 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s)
WR- Ruben Flowers (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
WR- Maurice Ffrench (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
TE- Matt Flanagan (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
TE- Chris Clark (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
K- Alex Kessman (Extra Point: 0-0 | FG: 0-0| 0-19: 0-0 | 20-29: 0-0 | 30-39: 0-0 | 40-49: 0-0 | 50+: 0-0 | Long: N/A
Youngstown State Penguins
QB-Hunter Wells (0 yards passing | 0 TD passes | 0 interceptions | 0 sacks | 0 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD )
RB- Tevin McCaster (0 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 0 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
RB- Christian Turner (0 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 0 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
WR- Isiah Scott (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
WR- Damoun Patterson (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
WR- Alvin Bailey (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
TE- Kevin Rader (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
K- Zak Kennedy (Extra Point: 0-0 | FG: 0-0| 0-19: 0-0 | 20-29: 0-0 | 30-39: 0-0 | 40-49: 0-0 | 50+: 0-0 | Long: N/A
Team Stats Match-Up (Available after Week 1)
Pitt Total Offense: Pitt gains 0 YPG | Youngstown St allows 0 YPG
Rushing: Pitt gains 0 YPG | Youngstown St allows 0 YPG
Passing: Pitt gains 0 YPG |Youngstown St allows 0 YPG
Scoring: Pitt scores 0 PPG | Youngstown St allows 0 PPG
Pitt Total Defense: Pitt allows 0 YPG | Youngstown St gains 0 YPG
Rushing: Pitt allows 0 YPG | Youngstown St gains 0 YPG
Passing: Pitt allows 0 YPG | Youngstown St gains 0 YPG
Scoring: Pitt allows 0 PPG | Youngstown St scores 0 PPG
Pitt Panthers 2017 Schedule
Regular Season (Overall: 0-0 | ACC: 0-0)
Sept. 2 Youngstown State (ACCNE) at 1 p.m.
Sept. 9 at Penn State (ABC) at 3:30 p.m.
Sept. 16 Oklahoma State (ABC/ESPN2) at Noon
Sept. 23 at Georgia Tech* at TBA
Sept. 30 Rice at TBA
Oct. 7 at Syracuse* at TBA
Oct. 14 NC State* (HC) at TBA
Oct. 21 at Duke* at TBA
Oct. 28 Virginia* at TBA
Nov. 9 (Thurs.) North Carolina* (ESPN) at 8 p.m.
Nov. 18 at Virginia Tech* at TBA
Nov. 24 (Fri.) Miami* at TBA
*ACC game / (HC) Homecoming