Maurice Ffrench

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Broken jaw leaves Pitt’s top WR a game-time decision

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If Pitt is to keep its ACC Coastal hopes alive this weekend, they may have to do so (again) without a very productive piece of its offensive puzzle.

Maurice Ffrench suffered a broken jaw in Pitt’s Nov. 2 win over Georgia Tech, then was sidelined for this past week’s win over North Carolina.  With a trip to Blacksburg on tap for this Saturday, Ffrench is official a game-time decision for the matchup with Virginia Tech.

“He’s practiced this week,” head coach Pat Narduzzi said, noting that the senior was in non-contact mode. “His jaw is better than it was before.”

Ffrench had a steel plate inserted into his broken jaw, which will give him a better chance of seeing the field this weekend.

Ffrench currently leads all ACC players in receptions (75) and receptions per game (8.3).  The receptions per game are also third nationally.

Pitt is 4-2 in ACC play entering Week 13, tied with Virginia Tech for second place in the Coastal and a half-game behind first-place Virginia (5-2).  The Panthers have already lost the Cavaliers this year, meaning they would need UVa to lose its last conference game of the regular season (Nov. 29 against rival Tech) in addition to winning each of their last two games (at Tech, home vs. Boston College) in order to earn a spot opposite Clemson in the ACC championship game.

Wake Forest loses ACC’s leader in receiving yards, touchdowns to season-ending injury

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Wake Forest lost much more than a football game this past Saturday.

In the fourth quarter of the Week 11 loss to Virginia Tech that, along with Clemson’s win later that night, cost Wake any shot at the ACC Atlantic championship, Sage Surratt went down with some type of upper-body injury and didn’t return.  Tuesday, during his weekly press conference, head coach Dave Clawson confirmed that the redshirt sophomore wide receiver will miss the remainder of the 2019 season because of the injury, which he again declined to specify.

Clawson added that Surratt will undergo surgery to repair the unspecified damage.

Surratt’s 1,001 receiving yards and 11 receiving touchdowns are the most of any player in the ACC, and are good for fifth and tied for fifth, respectively, at the FBS level.  His 66 receptions are second only to Pitt’s Maurice Ffrench‘s 75 in the conference.

In addition to this Saturday’s game against No. 5 Clemson, Surratt will miss regular-season games against Duke and Syracuse as well as whichever bowl at which Wake lands.

Pitt’s fourth straight win has Panthers gearing up for ACC Coastal run

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Predicting what is going to happen in the ACC Coastal Division is hardly an easy task. The division has had six different champions reach the ACC Championship Game in the last six years. This year, Pitt (5-2, 2-1 ACC) is hoping to become the second team in the division to play in back-to-back ACC Championship Games, joining Virginia Tech (2007, 2008). On Friday night, a 27-20 victory at Syracuse (3-4, 0-3 ACC) helped keep that goal alive.

Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett passed for 232 yards and two touchdowns, with six of those receptions being hauled in by Maurice Ffrench (92 yards, 1 TD). The Panthers held a 24-6 lead at halftime and had to hold off a rally by Syracuse. Among the highlights for Pitt was a lateral back to Pickett, who connected deep Aaron Matthews early in the game. The play had to be reviewed as an illegal double forward pass penalty was originally flagged by the ACC official. Replay correctly overturned the call and awarded Pitt the go-ahead touchdown. The Panthers never trailed the rest of the night.

Since losing their road game at Penn State in non-conference play in Week 3, Pitt has rattled off four consecutive wins, beginning with an upset of UCF. One more non-conference win against Delaware led into back-to-back ACC wins against Duke and Syracuse. The victory against Duke was key because the Blue Devils are a division opponent. And the quick decline of Syracuse this season made for an easier road game than perhaps was to be expected before the season started (Syracuse won 10 games last year and is now in jeopardy of missing out on bowl eligibility).

Pitt now gets ready for a key stretch of division games that could ultimately determine if the Panthers can get a second crack at an ACC title (likely against Clemson). Next up will be Miami, next week in Pittsburgh. Pitt upset the Hurricanes in western Pennsylvania two seasons ago, dealing a near-fatal blow to Miami’s College Football Playoff hopes (Clemson put the Hurricanes to rest in the ACC Championship Game). If the Panthers can get the win against Miami, the remaining schedule has some favorable draws with road games against struggling Georgia Tech (1-5) and Virginia Tech (4-2, but a far from encouraging 4-2) and home games against UNC and Boston College (both schools are 3-3 coming into the week).

Pitt would lose out on a head-to-head tiebreaker with Virginia but does own the tiebreaker with Duke. Pitt fans will be watching to see what happens between Duek and Virginia Saturday afternoon in Charlottesville. A Duke win would, essentially, put Pitt in the driver’s seat.

We may still get some ACC Coastal Chaos, but Pitt has played themselves into a bit of a decent spot within the division race.

Upset in the making? Pitt leads No. 15 UCF 21-10 at halftime

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After a big win against a power conference opponent last week, UCF is looking a little lost this afternoon against another power conference opponent. Pitt leads UCF 21-10 at halftime in Pittsburgh as the Knights have looked as lost on offense as they have in a few years.

It was Pitt’s defense that came out flying with energy to start the game. the Panthers drove UCF back eight yards on the game’s opening possession with terrific coverage on a pass in the backfield and a sack of UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel on third down. A.J. Davis capped a touchdown drive to get the Pitt offense going on the ensuing possession. Pitt extended their lead to 14-0 with a Kenny Pickett pass to Maurice Ffrench early in the second quarter.

UCF continued to look lost on offense, as Gabriel was picked off for the second time on the ensuing possession. UCF’s defense came up with a quick three-and-out but UCF’s offense was still stuck in the mud when they got the ball back. That eld to a special teams disaster when Pitt blocked a UCF punt and Wendell Davis picked up the ball and returned it for another Pitt touchdown.

UCF did eventually get on the board for a brief sigh of relief. After recovering a Pitt fumble by Davis at the Pitt 27-yard line, Knights running back Adrian Killins Jr. reached the endzone on an 11-yard run to cut into the Pitt lead.

UCF still has some work to do in the second half if they are to keep their undefeated streak in the regular season alive. But for now, Pitt holds the edge and is looking for a terrific rebound game after their loss last week.

Clemson claims 13 of 27 spots on preseason All-ACC team, including Player of the Year Trevor Lawrence

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You would think that the defending national champions would be front and center in the various preseason popularity polls, but this is borderline ridiculous.

The preseason All-ACC football team was released Tuesday morning, with 173 media members charged with selecting the squad.  Of the 27 players on the first team, a stunning 13 — that’s nearly half for those in the audience who are mathematically challenged — are Clemson Tigers.  Of that baker’s dozen, eight are on the offensive side of the ball, including Player of the Year Trevor Lawrence.

The sophomore quarterback received 127 of the 173 votes, with the next closest in the voting being… Clemson running back Travis Etienne and his 24 votes.  Boston College running back AJ Dillon (15), Virginia quarterback Bryce Perkins (six) and Florida State running back Cam Akers (one) were the only other players to receive votes for Player of the Year.

In stark contrast to Clemson’s dominance, Georgia Tech, Louisville, North Carolina, NC State, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest placed zero players on the team.

WR – Tee Higgins, Clemson (145)
WR – Justyn Ross, Clemson (123)
WR – Tamorrion Terry, Florida State (69)
TE – Brevin Jordan, Miami (66)
AP – Deon Jackson, Duke (47)
OT – Tremayne Anchrum, Clemson (100)
OT – Ben Petrula, Boston College (54)
OG – John Simpson, Clemson (136)
OG – Gage Cervenka, Clemson (45)
C – Sean Pollard, Clemson (75)
QB – Trevor Lawrence, Clemson (161)
RB – Travis Etienne, Clemson (144)
RB – AJ Dillon, Boston College (144)

DE – Xavier Thomas, Clemson (84)
DE – Alton Robinson, Syracuse (83)
DT – Marvin Wilson, Florida State (105)
DT – Nyles Pinckney, Clemson (49)
LB – Shaquille Quarterman, Miami (118)
LB – Isaiah Simmons, Clemson (109)
LB – Michael Pinckney, Miami (66)
CB – Bryce Hall, Virginia (122)
CB – A.J. Terrell, Clemson (62)
S – Andre Cisco, Syracuse (80)
S – Tanner Muse, Clemson (78)

Special Teams
PK – Andre Szmyt, Syracuse (88)
P – Sterling Hofrichter, Syracuse (70)
SP – Maurice Ffrench, Pitt (48)