It has been quite a topsy-turvy season for the Panthers so far in their ACC debut. In two league games, they gave up 96 total points. In the other two, they gave up a combined 22 points and just one offensive touchdown.
As Eminem would say, will the real Pitt defense please stand up?
One thing is for sure -- we all know defensive tackle Aaron Donald is for real. Donald has been simply outstanding in his senior season, wreaking havoc on every offensive line the Panthers have faced so far this season. He is the anchor of a group that has had its share of highs and lows so far this season. Without him, it is hard to tell where this Pitt D would stand.
There have been highlights and lowlights for the Pitt offense as well. Quarterback Tom Savage has helped the Panthers improve their passing dramatically, allowing Devin Street and true freshman Tyler Boyd to become one of the best receiving duos in the entire nation. They are the only teammates ranked in the top seven in the latest ACC receiving stats.
True freshmen have made a large impact across the entire offense -- accounting for 66 percent of Pitt’s scoring output. But familiar concerns have cropped up along the offensive line. Pitt has allowed 21 total sacks on the season -- 15 in the last two games. That ranks the Panthers last in the ACC and third-to-last in the entire country. This has been an ongoing problem for years and clearly still is a work in progress. So is developing a consistent running game. In their last two games, Pitt has 31 total rushing yards.
Winnable games remain on the schedule, so Pitt has every chance to go bowling again. This team just needs to find more consistency from week to week.
Offensive MVP: Tom Savage, QB. We could have gone with receivers Tyler Boyd or Devin Street, but there is a reason those guys are having a great year. It starts with Savage, who has given the Panthers the ability to open up the passing game because of his arm strength. Plus, anybody who can stand in the pocket and take 15 sacks in the last two games is an MVP in our book.
Defensive MVP: Aaron Donald, DT. Donald went into the season with multiple preseason accolades and he has not disappointed, Donald leads the country in sacks per game (1.60 avg.) and tackles for loss per game (2.40 avg.). Donald has eight total sacks and 12 TFLs on the year. Donald has at least one sack in each game this year, including two last Saturday at Virginia Tech.