The easiest thing to point out through the first two games of the Pitt Panthers football season has been the running game, namely James Conner.
Conner built on his 153-yard performance against the Delaware Blue Hens by topping the 200-yard mark for the second time in his young career (last year’s Little Caesar’s Bowl). Through two games, Pitt’s rushing attack has run for over 300-yards in each game – topping 400-against Delaware.
Pitt Panthers Defensive Line Quietly Strong Start to Season
But maybe the most impressive thing to come out of the Panthers wider than the score would say victory against the Boston College Eagles was the play of the defensive line. Neither team’s passing game was able to get under a real rhythm so they were forced to try and move the ball on the ground.
Boston College was successful originally, as their opening drive saw them drive down the field with no problem. After that Pitt’s defense clamped down (until the last drive) and didn’t allow the Eagles running game to get going.
With the running game isolated, and Boston College trying to throw the ball down the field to catch up, Pitt used a four-man rush to apply constant pressure on quarterback Tyler Murphy. David Durham continued his strong season, recording four tackles on the night and now as six (one a sack) on the season.
Despite having one of the most experienced offensive lines in the ACC, Pitt was able to push around BC for the majority of the game. After allowing 64-yards on the ground on their opening drive, Pitt held Boston College to 78-yards rushing the rest of the way.
In fact, Boston College rushed for 115-yards on their first and last scoring drive – which leaves a total of 27-yards in between then.
The run defense, while impressive, took a back seat to the pass rush the front four was able to put up – finishing with four sacks on the night.
Bam Bradley continued his great start to the season, making his lone tackle an important one – an early third down takedown to force a Boston College punt. Three of the four sacks Pitt had, including Shakir Soto’s sack and strip, came on third downs.
The landscape of how offenses are ran is in a constant transformation but one thing remains, a good ground game and a strong defensive line are instant recipes for success. Pitt’s running game is a very dangerous and explosive aspect that teams will have a difficult time defending, but the defensive line has shown the ability to be a disruptive force.
Losing Aaron Donald was huge, and no one thought they would be able to replace him with just one player – which they won’t. Donald’s senior season was one for the ages and it is remained to be seen how they play when they go up against one of the truly elite lines in the ACC.
But experience is almost as good an asset to have in college as skill, and there aren’t many other teams with the amount that BC has – and Pitt certainly put a whipping to them.
Wins against Boston College and Delaware certainly aren’t signature wins that put Pitt on the ‘contenders’ map, but aspects taken out both of the games certainly show that they are on the right way.
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