Pitt Hosts Virginia Tech in Key ACC Coastal Game Saturday
(Photo by Paul Burdick. Check out more of Burdick’s work here)
The Panthers currently are 4-1 in the ACC Coastal (5-4 overall) and are a 1/2 game up on Virginia, who they beat last week, and a full game ahead of Virginia Tech (4-4 overall, 3-2 ACC), meaning a win would put them in a great position to claim the division title for the first time with games at Wake Forest and Miami (Fla.) remaining.
Watch Pat Narduzzi’s weekly media conference. Video courtesy of Pitt UPMC LiveWire
The Panthers’ recent surge has been keyed by a powerful rushing attack. Pitt is averaging 230.8 yards per game to rank 20th nationally and third in the ACC. Virginia Tech enters Saturday’s matchup surrendering 177.8 rushing yards per contest.
Darrin Hall was the workhorse in Pitt’s 23-13 win at Virginia. Hall, the Walter Camp National Offensive Player of the Week, churned out 229 yards and three TDs against a Cavs defense that was yielding only 113 rush yards per game.
With 819 rushing yards this year, Qadree Ollison ranks third among ACC ball carriers. Ollison is striving to become only the sixth player in Pitt history to achieve multiple 1,000-yard rushing seasons.
Virginia Tech’s roster features only six seniors, with RB Steven Peoples serving as the lone skill player among that group. Tech’s offensive line features a trio of senior starters. Sixth-year performer Kyle Chung has opened at both center and left guard in 2018, while Braxton Pfaff (RG) and Yosuah Nijman (RT) have started all eight games on the right side of Tech’s offensive front. DT Ricky Walker is the only senior in the starting lineup on defense. Through the first eight games of 2018, 70.5% (62 of 88) of Tech’s defensive starts have been made by underclassmen.
Freshman LBs Dax Hollifield and Rico Kearney made their first career starts last week due to injuries to sophomore LBs Dylan Rivers & Rayshard Ashby.
Juniors DB Reggie Floyd and DE Houshun Gaines have joined Walker as the only upperclassmen to notch defensive starts in 2018.
Senior DT Vinny Mihota started 25 games for Tech from 2015-17 before a knee injury last season vs. Pitt (10/7/17) that cost him the final two games of 2017 and has curtailed his playing time in 2018.
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