Panthers Survive Pickett’s Injury Scare, Win 24-19

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 15: Pittsburgh Panthers running back Qadree Ollison (30) breaks a tackle while running with the ball during the college football game between the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and Pittsburgh Panthers on September 15, 2018 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh PA. (Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Today’s Pitt win over Georgia Tech didn’t scare Panthers fans on the scoreboard. Pitt controlled the game throughout the afternoon. What did scare Pitt fans was when sophomore quarterback Kenny Pickett went down holding his knee.

On one of the final plays of the first half, Pickett’s knee bent backwards awkwardly when he was hit in the backfield. Luckily, he put on a knee brace at half and was able to play the second half with no noticeable effects.

Pitt Survive Pickett’s Injury Scare, Win 24-19

Adding to the good news was the performance of the Panthers today on both sides of the ball. It was a welcome sight after an embarrassing loss to Penn State a week ago. This time around, things are more positive in Pittsburgh’s victory over Georgia Tech.

Pitt’s Budding Star Qadree Ollison

Certainly, Qadree Ollison won’t have a first-round grade when his time comes to enter the NFL Draft. He has proven that he can, however, be a great complement to Pickett and will force opposing teams to respect both players.

Through three games this year, Ollison has carried the ball 35 times for 283 yards. He’s notched three touchdowns and has yet to fumble. He runs runs hard and after a 91 yards and two touchdowns performance today has cemented himself as the starting running back.

Watson’s Calls

After his offense was uninspiring last week, Shawn Watson called a good game Saturday.

Pitt’s second year offensive coordinator balanced the attack more Saturday instead of going straight run-heavy like the previous two weeks.

With Pickett back in the second half, Watson got wide receiver Taysir Mack involved. He has difference-making speed and we saw that on a 60-yard pass from Pickett. It was nice to see as the wide receiving core was seen as the weakness heading into 2018. They weren’t a juggernaut but still garnered 335 yards of offense against Georgia Tech. Efficiency wins football games and Pittsburgh proved that today.

Defense Bends, Not Breaks

Panther teams have struggled with defending against the option in the past. Today, they allowed 320 rushing yards, not an ideal number of course.

Georgia Tech quarterback TaQuon Marshall had 28 attempts for 103 yards. Jordan Mason had 10 attempts for 94 yards. The list goes on.

Most importantly, the Panthers only allowed 66 passing yards and didn’t allow the big play through the air. The final score read 24-19 with the Panthers winning the game. Anytime that happens, it’s a plus.

Damar Hamlin had six tackles. Quintin Wirginis had five tackles and added a sack. Phillipie Motley had an interception. Everyone pitched in and contained Georgia Tech enough for the Panthers to be standing as the victors. It’s rarely pretty against a triple option team, but a win is a win for the defense.

What Lies Ahead For Pitt?

After opening the season on a three-game home stand, Pittsburgh goes on the road to North Carolina next Saturday.

The Tar Heels were one of 15 canceled games due to Hurricane Florence. The Panthers will have some momentum going for them in that case.

A portion of North Carolina’s team is suspended for NCAA infractions so the Panthers will have a small edge in that department.

It’ll be important for Pittsburgh to take advantage of their momentum and North Carolina’s misfortune and get the all important road conference win.

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