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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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Chris Matthews poses for a photo at the Global Hub in Posvar Hall.
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Takeaways | Pitt football faces ugly loss against Syracuse

Pitt+players+at+a+game+against+Syracuse+at+Acrisure+Stadium+on+Nov.+5%2C+2022.
Pamela Smith | Contributing Editor
Pitt players at a game against Syracuse at Acrisure Stadium on Nov. 5, 2022.

Pitt football (2-8, ACC 1-5) fell to conference rivals Syracuse 28-13 on Saturday at Yankee Stadium in New York City. This was another disappointing loss for the Panthers as the football season winds down.

Here are my takeaways from this weekend’s game at Yankee Stadium. 

Pitt’s defense needs to make changes

It didn’t take long in this game before the Syracuse offense learned that Pitt’s defense could not match its run game. The Orange capitalized on this and put up 382 rushing yards during the game. 

Syracuse fifth-year senior quarterback Garrett Shrader made his return to the field following an injury during week nine against Virginia Tech. With his health still in question, he relied less on his passing and more on redshirt sophomore tight end Dan Villari and sophomore running back LeQuint Allen to help pick up yards on the ground. 

The Panthers didn’t tighten up their defensive play at all throughout Syracuse’s 66 rushing attempts during the game. Pitt allowed both Villari and Allen to both have 100-yard rushing performances. The Panthers’ defensive line lacked in its ability to make quick tackles, often resulting in massive run gains right up the middle of the field for the Syracuse offense.

Pitt has consistently struggled throughout the season to keep its defense intact. With injuries plaguing redshirt seniors defensive tackle Devin Danielson and defensive lineman Tyler Bentley against Syracuse, there are a lot of questions as to how the defense will proceed as the Panthers finish out this season’s schedule. 

Pitt should utilize its wide receivers more often

The Panther offense should put more trust in players like junior Konata Mumpfield and redshirt senior Bub Means. 

Means has improved substantially from his 2022 season to now. His average has improved by 25 yards per game, and he is targeted for more passing attempts, but I think that Pitt could look to him even more. 

Mumpfield’s stats mirror Means, with the junior averaging 52.7 yards per game and putting up five touchdowns so far this season compared to one in 2022. 

I feel that Pitt is hesitant and often misses opportunities to go for deep ball passes during games. Players like Means and Mumpfield often have one-on-one opportunities downfield, but aren’t always targeted by the quarterback. 

Fans have seen junior tight end Gavin Bartholomew produce yardage for the Pitt offense but often through shorter passes to the outside. I think if Pitt took the risk more often by attempting some deep ball passes to the receivers, fans could see some really positive gains from players like Mumpfield and Means. 

Other Quick Takes 

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Christian Veilleux and the Panther offense must tighten up on their turnovers. The Panthers have given up a pretty steep number of fumbles and interceptions within the past couple of games. During Pitt’s matchup with Notre Dame, Veilleux threw four interceptions, making it nearly impossible for the Pitt offense to make significant gains. 

In Saturday’s matchup with Syracuse, Veilleux threw a pick-six late in the third quarter, which was quickly followed by a fumble at the hands of the Pitt offense early into the fourth quarter. It was still a one-possession game prior to these turnovers. But after these almost simultaneous mistakes, Pitt’s momentum was slowed enormously. 

For the most part, Saturday’s game was refereed quite fairly. But the referees should have reviewed the fumble call on Pitt junior running back Rodney Hammond Jr. late into the fourth quarter more closely. From the replay, it seems that the ball was clearly knocked out after the whistle was blown. Seeing that the ball was free from possession after Hammond was whistled down, the play should not have resulted in Syracuse’s possession.

The Panthers will return to Pittsburgh for their last home game this season against Boston College this Thursday. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m., and coverage will air on ESPN.

About the Contributor
Camille de Jesus, Staff Writer