Pitt football needs to regroup, refine before Duke


Thomas Yang | Assistant Visual Editor

Redshirt sophomore Todd Sibley Jr. put up 106 yards rushing against Delaware on Saturday, making him the first Pitt halfback to break the century mark on a game this season.

By Elliot Borawski, Staff Writer

Pitt football narrowly avoided an upset Saturday afternoon at the hands of the Delaware Blue Hens. The 28-point favorite Panthers got a tougher game than anticipated, but won 17-14, with a 12-yard touchdown pass from first-year quarterback Nick Patti to junior receiver Taysir Mack deciding the game early in the fourth quarter.

The Panthers can relax after this weekend’s game, but need to improve on their mistakes if they want to compete on the road against Duke next weekend.

Mental errors

Despite the small margin of victory, Pitt outplayed Delaware. The Panthers totaled 443 offensive yards compared to only 170 for the Blue Hens, but it was preventable mistakes that kept the Blue Hens alive.

With a 7-0 lead, Patti, who got his first career start in place of injured junior Kenny Pickett, threw an interception halfway through the second quarter. Patti’s miscue set up Delaware in good field position, which they used to tie the game up.

The Panthers also ended the game with 13 penalties for a total of 113 yards. These critical errors extended drives for Delaware and killed the momentum for Pitt.

One of those errors was an offsides penalty by senior tackle Amir Watts that gave Delaware a first down on a fourth and three play in the first quarter. While Delaware did not score on the drive, it was another undisciplined mistake.

At the end of the third quarter, Pitt picked up a penalty when redshirt sophomore linebacker Cam Bright hit Delaware’s sophomore quarterback Nolan Henderson when he ran out of bounds short of the first-down marker. Delaware was given another first down that the Panthers could have easily avoided.

The Panthers overcame their wrong doings and overall played a solid defensive game, but Pitt cannot simply rely on superior talent and athleticism during ACC play. They will need to be smarter on the road against Duke, which is fresh off a 45-10 win over Virginia Tech this past week.

New faces

The Panthers should be confident in knowing that they have playmakers on offense waiting in the wings. Leading that depth were two of Saturday’s stars — Patti and redshirt sophomore Todd Sibley.

While Patti struggled at times in his first career start, he came through when it mattered most, orchestrating a three-and-a-half minute drive to clinch the win. Patti finished the day with 271 yards passing and two touchdowns. Pitt should have confidence knowing that it has depth at quarterback to account for injury and regression.

As for Sibley, he too got his first career starting role, replacing injured junior running back A.J. Davis. In his first game of heavy usage, Sibley ran the ball efficiently for 106 yards on 22 attempts, averaging 4.8 yards per carry.

Mack attack

Junior receiver Taysir Mack is coming into his own as the number one option for the Pittsburgh offense. He finished Saturday’s game with five receptions for 124 yards and the game-winning touchdown. Mack leads Pitt in receiving yards with 426 and has posted two 100-yard games in his last three games.

Mack is a tall, physical receiver who has the ability to make tough catches in traffic. He will be the focus of defenses coming forward in the ACC, but expect him to continue his streak as a reliable target for offensive coordinator Mark Whipple and his quarterbacks.