Today brings us our final football preview of the pre-season, the Boston College Eagles late-season matchup against Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh is coming off a so-so year, finishing 7-6, which was good for… first in the Coastal Division? (seriously, the ACC needs division realignment badly).
Pittsburgh, not unlike BC, is in a bit of flux with their team. The Panthers lost a significant amount of players to graduation, and will have a lot of new faces playing in the blue and gold.
That makes the play of Kenny Pickett, the junior quarterback out of New Jersey, so important. Pickett is coming off a season where he largely played a secondary role to the Panthers’ two-headed running attack. Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall, both seniors last year, were able to hit 1,000 yards during the 2018 campaign.
Ollison and Hall, however, are gone now, and the offensive line has also gone through some changes as well. Pickett will now go from a secondary role in a run-first attack to having to improve on a season where he didn’t reach 2,000 yards passing.
Pickett, however, will have some help. Two of his favorite targets, Taysir Mack and Maurice Ffrench are returning to Pittsburgh, though it should be noted Pickett’s favorite target Rafael Araujo-Lopes was lost to graduation. Mack and Ffrench will likely need to have big seasons along with Pickett in order for Pittsburgh to have success.
On the other side of the ball, questions are abound as well. Recently, defensive end Rashad Weaver was ruled out for the season due to a torn ACL. Weaver led the team last year in sacks and tackles for losses, so his loss will be felt by the Panthers. Losing Weaver will put the onus on others on the defensive line to generate pressure on quarterbacks, a defensive line that I might add was lackluster on its production.
A lot is going to happen between now and when the Eagles play the Panthers, but right now this feels like a game that is winnable for the Eagles, which makes it all the more important that the Eagles follow through.