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2007 Big East Football Prospectus Part 4: Pittsburgh

Editor’s Note: This is part four of an eight part series giving analysis of each of the eight teams in the Big East Football Conference, proceeding alphabetically, but ending with Syracuse. A new team will be released each weekday for the next eight days. Feel free to use the comment section to supplement the facts and analysis presented, however my opinions will stand. Enjoy and I hope you are looking forward to the new Big East football season as much as I am. Part three can be found here.
Preview – MUSTACHE POWER! Dave Wannstedt will take the helm again for the Panthers. After a hot start last season, they finished 6-6 on the year with only two Big East wins. He loses his 35 consecutive game starter Tyler Palko (220/322, 2871yds, 25 TD, 9 INT, sacked 22 times), and one of the most prolific passers in Pitt history. To replace this will be the biggest question for Pittsburgh in 2007. Stopping the run will be key to beating Pittsburgh this coming season. Most every other facet of this team is solid however. They have a stellar wide receiving core with Derek Kinder (893yds), their best receiver returning. Their offensive line is solid and their defensive line is excellent. Their special teams may not be as good with a new punter taking snaps this season.

Key Returning Players – RB LaRod Stephens-Howling, WR Derek Kinder, WR Oderick Turner

Key Losses – QB Tyler Palko, LB H.B. Blades, CB Darrelle Revis

My Thoughts – Pittsburgh is the team with some of the biggest questions this coming season. After looking absolutely unbeatable early in the year, only to fall to UConn and South Florida late in the season. These were teams they would have destroyed early on. So, if Pittsburgh has a solid running game, the defense can be ferocious, and the quarterback gets massive help from their talented receivers, this will again be a team in the mix. However, they will probably end up in the middle of the pack in the Big East. I’m thinking forth or maybe even third place if they get lucky.

Will We Beat Them? – We will be traveling to the Steel City playing Pitt at Hines Field. Therefore I have a strong suspicion we will be losing this affair. I always think our chances are much less than in the home sweet Dome (unless we end up playing in Chestnut Hill near Thanksgiving and we have a guy named Diamond). With so many aspects of Pittsburgh’s team still in tact from the previous year, and some stellar freshman they could mix in, I think this will be a loss for the Orange down in the ‘Burg.
UPDATE (8/13): Derek Kinder (847yds, 57rec, 6TD), quite possibly the best reciever that was going to be in the Big East this season, is out for the year. He has injured his right anterior cruciate ligament during the first full contact practice for Pittsburgh. reported the injury after Coach Wannstedt’s press conference this past Sunday. Kinder was to be the biggest part of the Pittsburgh offense that will be fielding a new starting quarterback this season. In that kind of position, you need all the support you can get.
This could hurt Pittsburgh’s chances at a decent season. This might be the reason that a competent offense turns into a massively unproductive offense. I’m not ready to count this team out from beating Syracuse still though. Life is tough down that the Hines Field. Especially for the orange the last few years. This is encouraging for the Syracuse Orange, and knowing that this guy is out could be a nice spark to the team. But you never know, and this game is in the middle of the season. So really, by then, this news may not impact the Syracuse @ Pittsburgh game whatsoever.

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