The Miami Hurricanes finished their 2018 regular season with a 24-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Panthers in week 12. Miami running back Travis Homer rushed for 168 yards and a touchdown in the victory that led to the seventh win of the season. The team will take on the Panthers this season in week eight at Pitt on October 26th. Pat Narduzzi will be entering his fifth-year as the head coach for Pitt. Narduzzi holds a 1-3 record against the Hurricanes. The Panthers had a 6-2 conference record last season which was good enough to put them atop the Coastal Division. The crowning glory was short-lived after suffering a 42-10 drubbing by the Clemson Tigers in the ACC Championship game. They later lost in the Sun Bowl against Stanford 14-13. The Hurricanes play the Panthers a week before our dogfight against FSU. Pitt will be a solid opponent but not a daunting one.
The Panthers had the nation’s 13th best rushing offense in 2018. They lost four starting offensive lineman and two 1,000-yard rushers in Darrin Hall and Qadree Ollison. Rafael Araujo-Lopes, who led the team in catches, is also gone. For the second year in a row, junior quarterback Kenny Pickett will be under center for the Panthers. Tackles Carter Warren and Gabe Houy have one start under their belts collectively. The offensive line transition will be the main factor in the Hurricanes matchup. With such depth and talent upfront for the Canes, it won’t take long to flex their muscles in the trenches.
Taysir Mack, Maurice Ffrench and Tre Tipton lead the receiving core. The lone bright-spot Ffrench had eight receiving touchdowns last season. The team will also have a new starting tight end in either Rutgers graduate-transfer Nakia Griffin-Stewart or Grant Carrigan. There’s really nothing to write home about with either prospect.
The Panthers brought in a new offensive coordinator in Mark Whipple and a new wide receivers coach in Chris Beatty. As we all know, Whipple was the offensive coordinator at Miami under Randy Shannon. He was fired along with Shannon after a one-year stint in Coral Gables. Whipple has grown his resume since his putrid run with the Canes. Whipple’s UMass ranked 14th in FBS in passing in 2018. At Maryland, Beatty developed 2018 first round pick DJ Moore.
The Panthers defense gave up 27.8 points a game last year. That was good for 75th in the nation. Dane Jackson and Jason Pinnock will return as starters the starting corners. Pinnock had two interceptions last season. Amir Watts and Rashad Weaver will return as starters on the defensive line. Weaver had 6.5 sacks last season. The team will be filling openings at safety and DE with depth guys like Paris Ford and Patrick Jones. There’s not much to say about a defense that gave up 179 yards, rushing a game, ranked beneath Texas State, and added no high talent. They’ll have to rely on being coached up and player development through game experience in order to be successful in 2019.
The Miami Hurricanes ran through the Pittsburgh Panthers last season. There’s so much anticipation around the hype and electricity the Hurricanes will bring to the field this season. This will be a matchup of a marginally improved team vs a power house program with extreme gains on both sides of the ball. Pittsburgh will be simply outmatched and outplayed by superior talent.