The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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Column | Caitlin Clark adapts to life in the WNBA
Column | Caitlin Clark adapts to life in the WNBA
By James Carter, Staff Writer • June 20, 2024
Opinion | NHL needs to bring specialty jerseys back
By Jameson Keebler, Senior Staff Columnist • June 19, 2024
Opinion | Hold your elected officials morally responsible
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • June 18, 2024

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Column | Caitlin Clark adapts to life in the WNBA
Column | Caitlin Clark adapts to life in the WNBA
By James Carter, Staff Writer • June 20, 2024
Opinion | NHL needs to bring specialty jerseys back
By Jameson Keebler, Senior Staff Columnist • June 19, 2024
Opinion | Hold your elected officials morally responsible
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • June 18, 2024

The Pitt News Sports Desk predicts Pitt football’s 2023 campaign

With many unanswered questions entering 2023, it is hard to predict how Pitt football will fare this season. Nonetheless, The Pitt News sports desk gives its predictions for the Panthers 2023 campaign.
Roc+the+Panther+waves+a+flag+at+the+Pitt+football+spring+game+on+April+15+at+Acrisure+Stadium.%0A
Pamela Smith | Contributing Editor
Roc the Panther waves a flag at the Pitt football spring game on April 15 at Acrisure Stadium.

As the college football season quickly approaches, many analysts and fans are trying to predict how their favorite teams will fare in 2023. Pitt football, in particular, is a team that many are unsure how to project. After many key departures in the offseason, the 2023 campaign could go either way for the Panthers.

Here’s how The Pitt News Sports Desk thinks the Panthers will fare in 2023. 

Panthers fail to keep up the momentum from last two seasons, fall to 7-5 // Brian Sherry, Sports Editor

The 2023 campaign is a big one for Pitt football. After two successful seasons, the Panthers have a chance to cement themselves as a border-line elite program with another big year in 2023. But I believe Pitt will fall just short of its goals this season. 

After losing so many key starters this offseason, the team will need to find quality replacements quickly if it wants to compete against its daunting schedule this year. While the team’s strong winning culture will keep it afloat early, it will still struggle against top-tier opponents like No. 13 Notre Dame and No. 8 Florida State later in the season. 

Pittsburgh rallies to keep spirits high with Pittsburgh local Phil Jurkovec returning to lead the Panthers to a 10-2 season // Will Christie, Staff Writer

Finishing the 2022 season 9-4, Pitt football did not lose the entirety of their momentum from their previous 11-3 2021 season. Especially now, with a fresh start and a new quarterback, the Panthers are on track to embark in what I would like to call the Phil Jurkovec victory tour.

Many Pitt fans are happy to see former Notre Dame and Boston College quarterback Phil Jurkovec return to his hometown of Pittsburgh to play for the Panthers. With the support of Pittsburgh behind him, along with rising offensive players like tight end Gavin Bartholomew and running back Rodney Hammond Jr., I believe the Panthers will have the motivation to have a strong season. 

Panthers defense shines on a national stage, prove doubters wrong with 10-2 record // Ari Meyer, Staff Writer

The 2023 season is an important test for the Panthers, as seven players were drafted and more signed UDFA deals following last season. However, the high volume of opt-outs from the Panthers during the Sun Bowl proved that the Panthers are ready to compete at a national stage, regardless of lost players.

Pitt went into the transfer portal this offseason, grabbing talents such as sophomore wide receiver Daejon Reynolds, junior safety Donovan McMillon and redshirt senior quarterback Phil Jurkovec. These additions provide the Panthers the ability to gain an edge against teams like Notre Dame, North Carolina and Florida State.

Narduzzi’s pass-susceptible defense causes trouble for the Panthers, finish 8-4 // Matthew Scabilloni, Staff Writer

Twenty wins combined in the last two seasons is something the Panthers football program hasn’t done since the 1980s. The 2023 Panthers season will decide if that is the new standard for the Panthers or if that was just a rarity for Pitt football.

Head Coach Pat Narduzzi’s defenses are always susceptible to getting beat by great quarterback play, and the Panthers play four teams that have great quarterbacks in North Carolina, Notre Dame, Florida State and Duke. Playing these four quarterbacks will haunt the Panthers chances of finding a new standard.

Pittsburgh’s will to succeed keeps them alive, finish 7-5 // Eli Smith, Staff Writer

The Pittsburgh Panthers head into the 2023 season with high hopes. After a 9-4 campaign that featured its share of ups and downs, the Panthers are looking to improve and hopefully add a few more notches in the win column. Unfortunately, that is easier said than done. 

The loss of key players on both sides of the ball will prove detrimental to the team’s success. I believe the offense will struggle the most, falling to below average. Nonetheless, the Panthers’ fighting spirit will make a difference in a few games this season and the Panthers will claw their way to an above .500 record.

Rodney Hammond Jr. Carries the Panthers to 9-3 // Alex Porter, Staff Writer

Everyone will remember former-Pitt running back Israel Abanikanda’s record-breaking 2022 season, in which he led the nation in touchdowns with over 1,500 all-purpose yards. However, junior running back Rodney Hammond Jr. has proven himself as the unsung hero of the Panther’s run game. 

As a first-year, Hammond contributed over 500 yards to Pitt’s 2021 ACC championship campaign. In Abanikanda’s absence, Hammond ensured the Panthers didn’t miss a beat during his sophomore season, scoring twice in the Backyard Brawl and rushing for 124 yards against Syracuse.

Alongside senior quarterback Phil Jurkovec, Hammond will lead an improved Pitt offense in 2023. With a few wins no one will expect and a loss that should never happen, expect the Panthers to solidify themselves as one of the elite programs in college football this season.

The Panthers finish with a strong 8-4 record as new lineman fill big shoes // Dylan Grace, Staff Writer

Following a thrilling last-second field goal to ice the 2022 Sun Bowl, the Panthers head into the 2023 season with optimism and momentum. However, facing a daunting schedule filled with multiple preseason Top 25 teams, the Panthers have a tough road back to competing for an ACC title.

One of the biggest X-factors for the Panthers this season is in the trenches. In the 2022 season, Pitt had a defensive line that finished second in the country in total sacks and an offensive line that cleared the way for ACC-leading rusher Israel Abanikanda. With many new players filling starting roles this season, the Panthers lines will need to perform well in order to compete with strong Notre Dame and Florida State fronts.

Panthers go 8-4 with a surprise win against FSU // Ben Pisano, Staff Writer

The Panthers have more questions than answers heading into their 2023 season. With the loss of significant pieces such as Abanikanda, Kancey and Dennis, it’s hard to imagine Pitt improving on their record from last season. 

While I doubt the team finishes the season ranked in the AP Top 25, Pitt will pull a surprise win out of nowhere this season. Every couple of years, a middle-of-the-pack Pitt team defeats a significantly better, nationally ranked program. It happened in 2016 at Clemson and in 2017 against Miami. The Panthers are overdue for an underdog win, and they’ll claim it on Nov. 4 against No. 8 Florida State.

 

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