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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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By Anna Kuntz, Senior Staff Writer • April 22, 2024
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Column | Don’t panic about Pitt football

Pitts+football+team+and+head+coach+Pat+Narduzzi+walk+out+for+the+first+game+of+the+season+against+Wofford+at+Acrisure+Stadium+on+Sept.+2%2C+2023.+
Pamela Smith | Contributing Editor
Pitt’s football team and head coach Pat Narduzzi walk out for the first game of the season against Wofford at Acrisure Stadium on Sept. 2, 2023.

After a disastrous 2023 season, the Panthers faithful are reluctantly getting ready for another Pitt football season, as spring practices are just about to kick off for the 2024 season. Following the departures of defensive line and assistant defensive coordinator Charlie Partridge and wide receiver coach Tiquan Underwood to the NFL, Panthers fans immediately entered panic mode. After a season where Pitt was only able to scrape together three wins, the general thoughts surrounding the team are dreary.

But I would argue that the panic from the fan base is wildly overblown, and here’s why.

Kade Bell’s high-powered offense is here to stay

Pitt’s new offensive coordinator, Kade Bell, is coming off an incredible year at the FCS level at Western Carolina. Bell’s offense was a powerhouse, leading FCS in yards per game as well as coming in at No. 4 for points per game. 

Bell’s fiery offense averaged 37.5 points per game — 17.3 more points per game than the Frank Cignetti-led Panthers. With an average of 504.1 yards per game, Western Carolina was near unstoppable with Bell at the helm. 

The Panthers should pass well with Bell and a number of quality receiving options leading the offense. With senior tight end Gavin Bartholomew and senior wide receiver Konata Mumpfield making their return, Bell will have quite the team to work with. 

On the running side of the ball, Bell will have returning junior running back Rodney Hammond Jr. as well as Western Carolina sophomore running back Desmond Reid, who are both elite playmakers in their own rights. 

Pitt’s powerful defense returns

The Panthers will enter the 2024 season with the youngest defensive core they’ve had in years, but heed no worry. Adding transfers, including first-year edge rusher David Ojiegbe and senior edge rusher Nate Matlack, the Panthers strengthen a line that is reeling from both the departure of Partridge and sophomore lineman Samuel Okunlola to Colorado. Additionally, part of the 2024 class includes two first-year defensive linemen, Francis Brewu and Sincere Edwards.

Senior defensive back Donovan McMillon is also returning to the defensive unit, bringing his team-leading 105 tackles from last season along with him.

Pitt has a generous schedule

Pitt enters the 2024 season with the 10th easiest schedule across FBS football. With only Clemson and Louisville looking like legitimate challenges, the Panthers should capitalize on the relative weakness of their opponents. Games such as Kent State, Youngstown State, Cal and Virginia are outings that the Panthers are capable of winning with ease. As long as none of those games turn into “trap” games for the Panthers, they should perform well. 

Overall, the panic that has set in among Panthers fans has led to a pessimistic air over the team heading into the 2024 season. In reality, the Panthers are heading on an upward trajectory.

Pitt football opens its season on Aug. 31 at Acrisure Stadium against Kent State.

About the Contributor
Ari Meyer, Staff Writer