The Pitt Panthers snapped a three-game losing streak Thursday with a 21-16 victory over the Virginia Tech Hokies. In doing so the Panthers are now in the thick of the ACC Coastal division race.
Despite a 4-3 start, Pitt is 2-1 in the division, which places the Panthers just behind the 2-0 Virginia Cavaliers. The Panthers are also tied with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
Big win for Pitt, keeping Coastal hope alive. VT and UM both 1-2 in division headed into showdown next Thurs. Didn’t expect that b4 season.
— Andrea Adelson (@aadelsonESPN) October 17, 2014
Pitt’s success moving forward will be determined by the play of quarterback Chad Voytik.
The Panthers lay claim to a Top 10 defense. Their running game is among the best in college football with a massive offensive line and a workhorse running back in James Conner. And sophomore Tyler Boyd is one of the nation’s most dynamic wide receivers.
The inconsistency the team experienced earlier this season starts behind center.
Voytik was only 10-of-17 passing against the Hokies, but he added a completely different dynamic to Pitt’s offense when the coaching staff decided to place an added emphasis on the quarterback’s mobility. The sophomore signal-caller was the game’s leading rusher with 118 yards. Virginia Tech only managed 26 rushing yards as a team.
During the previous three games against the Iowa Hawkeyes, Akron Zips and Virginia Cavaliers, the quarterback had minus-three yards rushing. As the team moves forward, Voytik’s ability to run the ball should be a bigger staple in Pitt’s offense.
Pitt’s schedule also works out in the team’s favor with their two biggest games against Georgia Tech and the Duke Blue Devils will be played at Heinz Field over the next two weeks. Plus, Pitt doesn’t have to face cross-divisional foes Florida State or Clemson this season.
While Pitt has some control over its destiny, Virginia Tech isn’t as fortunate after a 1-2 start in the division with the Miami Hurricanes next on the docket.
The Hokies have been damaged on offense due to multiple injuries, but the play of quarterback Michael Brewer dropped off precipitously since the team’s Week 2 victory over the Ohio State Buckeyes. The Hokies have a chance to redeem themselves in the coming weeks in conference play if the offense can get on track.
As ACC Coastal play continues this weekend, the Pitt Panthers emerged Thursday as one of the favorites to claim a divisional crown.