3 bold Pittsburgh football predictions for 2022 season
As the official start of the college football season approaches, one big question is whether or not Pitt football can repeat as ACC champions. They lost a star QB, but who steps up now? Let’s make some Pitt football predictions for the 2022 college football season.
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The Pitt Panthers won their first ACC championship in 2021 since joining the conference in 2013. It was also their first conference championship since 2010 and their first ten-win season in 40 years. Without All-American quarterback Kenny Pickett and Biletnikoff winner Jordan Addison in 2022, however, head coach Pat Narduzzi will have his work cut out for him.
Are they still strong enough to defend their crown? That’s a huge question right now.
Moving forward, however, with newly appointed offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti Jr., the Panthers coaching staff is trying to prioritize the rushing game. Still, they have also stated that Pitt football is looking for a more balanced attack after leading the ACC in passing yards last year.
Coach Narduzzi revealed during fall camp that he expects a Panther running back to surpass 1,000 yards this season. That’s something the program has not accomplished since 2018 when Qadree Wilson and Darren Hall both reached the mark. Narduzzi is certainly hoping anyone among Israel Abanikanda, Rodney Hammond, or Vincent Davis could emerge as a star rusher.
Of course, much also depends on their play under center and their vaunted defense.
In that vein, let’s take a look at some bold Pitt football predictions for 2022.
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Pitt Football 2022 Predictions
3. Pitt’s D-Line will terrorize opponents
Pitt football’s defense is awesome. With mobile behemoths manning the defensive line, the Panthers’ pass rush will be dominating. Their secondary might give up a gazillion yards as the corners will be left on their own, but everything should still work out just okay. This defense is hinged on their pass rush, and that aspect of their game should still remain stout.
The defensive line will be a menace once again after ranking second in the country in sacks and seventh in tackles for loss last season. They will absolutely terrorize their opponents.
Habakkuk Baldonado and Calijah Kancey should lead this team. Last year, Second-Team All-ACC end Baldonado had nine sacks, while First-Team All-ACC tackle Kancey had seven sacks. Those two combined for 25 tackles for loss, and everyone else up front will feed off them.
The linebackers are also disruptive, but there is still much work to be done here. SirVocea Dennis is the team’s leading tackler, but he’s flanked by new starters and Notre Dame transfer Shayne Simon filling in the holes. They’re a bit untested in Pitt, so the jury is out on how effective they will be.
2. Kedon Slovis could be very good
Nobody would admit it, but USC transfer quarterback Kedon Slovis may actually turn out to be a better player than fan favorite Kenny Pickett. That’s not to suggest he’ll put up the same numbers, though. Recall that Pickett developed into a tremendous decision-maker and big-time play passer. Keep in mind, however, that last year was a massive fifth-year rise.
That’s no knock on Pickett, of course. He was absolutely terrific in 2021. Pitt football would not have won the ACC had it not been for Pickett. Don’t forget, however, that he actually didn’t throw more than 13 touchdown passes in each of his first four years. He then bombed for 42 in 2021.
On the flip side, Slovis fired 30 touchdown passes as a rookie, 17 in six games in 2020, and blew past the shambles that was USC last year. Even without Pickett under center, the quarterback position should be more than adequate. Nick Patti is also a strong backup.
For the doubters, again, believe in the numbers. In his first four seasons with the Panthers, Kenny Pickett tossed 39 touchdown passes. Slovis, for his part, threw 58 touchdown passes in 27 games while at USC. Pitt football got a great one in Kedon Slovis.