Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Scouting Pittsburgh's Offense

Finally, redemption is about to arrive in the form of a Big East matchup vs the Pittsburgh Panthers (5-1, 2-0). Hard to believe 46 days will have passed since the humiliating defeat against the Bearcats once the Scarlet Knights suit up on Friday night. Dave Wannstedt enters the game riding a four game losing streak vs Rutgers but guides a squad that is vastly different from the defensive focused teams that have faced the knights over the four years of his tenure.

The 2009 edition of QB Bill Stull looks nothing like the player who managed just 9 TD’s and 10 INT’s including an embarrassing 3-0 loss to Oregon St. in the Sun Bowl to close the 2008 season. Through the first six games of 2009, Stull has thrown for 1,256 yards and 13 TD’s against just 3 INT’s and has elevated his game over the past three weeks in which the Panthers have faced consecutive BCS opponents. With superior pass protection provided by the Pitt O-line, Stull currently holds the nations 4th highest passer rating trailing only Jimmy Clausen, Kellen Moore and Tim Tebow.

Leading the receiving corps is freakish sophomore Jonathan Baldwin. The 6’5” Baldwin not only towers over opposing CB’s and possesses NFL caliber physical tools, but he is also blessed with 4.4 speed that he uses to separate from coverage and gain 532 yards on just 27 receptions including 3 TD’s. The Panthers also hope to exploit several advantages at the TE position where Dorian Dickerson leads the team with 7 TD’s. "We have a great matchup with our tight ends," Stull says. "With Dorin (Dickerson) running down the middle of the field against their linebackers, we like that matchup. They play a lot of man-to-man defense. If we protect well, with their man coverages, we can have some great matchup advantages."

Freshman RB Dion Lewis enrolled at Pitt in January and quickly answered the question of who would replace LeSean McCoy. Lewis was virtually assured the starting roll following a stellar spring and hasn’t looked back since bursting out of the gate with consecutive 100 yard games on the way to 738 yards and 7 TD’s through the first half of 2009. Lewis is a classic thickly built, low center of gravity runner who bounces between would be tacklers and quickly accelerates to full speed. Joining Lewis in the running game is fellow freshman Ray Graham (step brother of Khaseem Greene) who has 176 yards on 32 carries and is more of a downhill, workhorse straight line back who provides a strong complement to the cutting, slashing style of Dion Lewis.

Notes: Other then Big East standings implications, Friday night’s game could also help sway the balance of powers in local Big Eat recruiting pecking order. Pittsburgh boasts 11 current players from New York and New Jersey but more importantly has made some significant inroads recently by receiving non binding verbal commitments from 5 players from the NY/NJ area in its 2010 class.


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