After starting off the simulated 2018 season on NCAA 2014 3-0, the Panthers won another three games from weeks four to six. The wins included two over weaker conference foes – Duke and Virginia – and the other over FCS East (Albany). Heading into week seven the Panthers are 6-0 on the season and move to number three in the nation.
I am going to give you a recap of each game, tell you what players have been key to the Panthers success, tell you about an injury that occurred in week four against Duke, and more.
#11 Pitt 41, Duke 7
After both teams had a possession and neither scored, Darrin Hall made it a 7-0 ball game with a 14-yard touchdown run. With the clock ticking down in the first quarter, Kenny Pickett completed a four-yard pass to Shocky Jacques-Louis for a touchdown. The Panthers would head to the second quarter with a 14-0 lead.
The second quarter featured two Alex Kessman field goals – a 21-yarder and a 39-yarder – to put Pitt up 20-0 at the half. In the third quarter, Pitt would once again shut down the Blue Devils offensive attack and give up no points. Hall would run for his second touchdown of the game and Pitt’s lone touchdown of the third quarter. The Panthers would lead 27-0 going into the final quarter of play.
Duke finally put up their first touchdown off of a Daniel Jones 15-yard touchdown pass to Johnathan Lloyd, but, Pitt still held a 27-7 lead. The Panthers would score 14 unanswered points – off of a Qadree Ollison four-yard touchdown run, his first of the year and a Pickett three-yard touchdown run – to end the game and win 41-7.
The Panthers defense absolutely balled out in this game and was a huge reason for the blowout victory. They forced three Duke turnovers, two interceptions, and one fumble. Elijah Zeise and Dane Jackson each picked off a pass and Oluwaseun Idowu forced a fumble.
The offense was also firing on all cylinders. Pickett played one of his best games to date as he finished with a 124.0 QB rating, completing 15 of 27 passes for 181 yards and a passing touchdown.
Jacques-Louis would finish with four receptions for 33 yards and a touchdown. On the way to doing this, he would go down with a sprained ankle that would force him to miss half of the game and at least another two weeks. This opened up the door for Aaron Mathews to get more receptions. Mathews made the most of it and played his best game of the year as he finished with six receptions for 97 yards.
As for the running backs, Hall had his second multi-touchdown game of the season as he ran for 94 yards on 17 carries. Due to the blowout nature of the game, Ollison saw an increase in his carries and he ran for 84 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. Mychale Salahuddin saw the field for the second time this season and he ran for 12 yards on two carries.
With the win, the Panthers move to 4-0 and number eight in the nation.
#8 Pitt 24, UVA 10
With Shocky Jacques-Louis out of the lineup due to an ankle sprain, Aaron Matthews stepped up early. Mathews caught a 34-yard pass from Kenny Pickett for a touchdown to put the Panthers in the lead 7-0 with 9:13 left in the first quarter.
The game would stay knotted at 7-0 until the late second quarter when Virginia hit a 33-yard field goal to make it 7-3. Kenny Pickett would immediately answer back and lead a touchdown drive capped off by a 13-yard pass to Maurice Ffrench to make it a 14-3 game at the half.
The Panthers would drive down the field to start the second half, but, wouldn’t be able to put it in the end zone. Instead, Alex Kessman would hit a 39-yard field goal to extend the Panthers lead to two touchdowns, 17-3.
Virginia would score a touchdown off a Bryce Perkins five-yard pass with 2:59 remaining in the game to make it a seven-point game With a little over a minute left and a third and ten play on their own 40-yard line for the Pitt offense, things got interesting. Pickett placed the final dagger into the Cavaliers as he threw a 60-yard pass to Rafael Araujo-Lopes for a touchdown on the play, to help the Panthers secure a 24-10 victory.
Pickett had one of his worst games in terms of completion percentage, but, his QB rating was the best it had been all season. Pickett had a QB rating of 146.6 as he completed 9 of 24 passes for 194 yards and three touchdowns.
With Jacques-Louis out, both Mathews and Ffrench stepped up. Each caught their first touchdown pass of the year. Rafael Araujo-Lopes also had two receptions for 70 yards and a touchdown.
For the first time this season there were no rushing touchdowns. Darrin Hall rushed for a season-low 61 yards on 14 carries and Qadree Ollison rushed for 51 yards on 11 carries. Mychale Salahuddin would see his third game of action this season rushing for eight yards on two carries.
Quintin WIrginis had a big-time game on the defensive side of the ball as he led the team with 12 tackles, five tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. Oluwaseun Idowu also had a great game as he picked up his fourth and fifth interceptions of the season. V’Lique Carter picked up the first interception of his young college career.
The win moves the Panthers to 5-0 and 3-0 in the ACC. It also moved them into the top five in the nation, at the number five slot.
#5 Pitt 42, FCS East (Albany) 3
In a game that was supposed to be very lopsided, the Panthers did exactly what was expected and cruised to a 42-3 victory. The Panthers put up three touchdowns in the first half – a Kenny Pickett eight-yard touchdown pass to Rafael Araujo-Lopes, a Darrin Hall touchdown run and a Mychale Salahuddin touchdown run – and the score was 21-0.
The Panthers would then give up a field goal to start off the second half to make it a 21-3 game. Then two drives straight Pickett would connect with Tyler Sear for two touchdowns – on a 40-yard pass and the other a six-yard pass.
The Panthers would go on to get one more score and ultimately come away with an easy 42-3 victory over FCS East (Albany). Both the Panthers defense and offense was on point in this game. The offense finished with 592 total yards and the defense only allowed 126 total yards.
Pickett played his best game of the season as he completed 15 of 31 passes for 236 yards and three touchdowns. Ricky Town got in the game for a few drives and would finish the game completing three of four passes for 107 yards.
Salahuddin would see action for the third straight week and he would have the best game of his career. Salahuddin ran for 88 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. Due to the blowout, Darrin Hall’s carries went down and he would only rush for 63 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.
With Shocky Jacques-Louis out of the lineup due to the ankle sprain, Tyler Sear stepped up at the tight end position and had five receptions for 99 yards and two touchdowns. Rafael Araujo-Lopes also had a good game as he finished with three receptions for 50 yards and a touchdown.
The defense played great and came away with two interceptions. Marquis WIlliams and Dennis Briggs each had an interception. The win moved the Panthers to 6-0 and they are now the number three team in the nation.
After six weeks have been played there has only been one shift in the team leaders. We are going to first take a look at the offensive leaders, the only one that has changed is the receiving leader. This is in large part due to Shocky going down with an injury.
121.6 QB Rating, 75-153, 975 passing yards, 11 touchdowns, and four interceptions
99 carries, 507 yards (5.1 avg.), seven touchdowns, and 84.5 yards per game
15 receptions, 249 yards (16.6 avg.), one touchdown and 41.4 yards per game
Next, we will take a look at the defensive leaders. They have all stayed the same since week three.
TACKLES FOR LOSS LEADER
Six tackles for loss
OTHER PLAYERS HAVING GOOD YEARS
WR Shocky Jacques-Louis
16 receptions, 155 yards (9.6 avg.), and four touchdowns
WR Rafael Araujo-Lopes
15 receptions, 233 yards (15.5 avg.), and three touchdowns
TE Tyler Sear
12 receptions, 154 yards (12.8 avg.), and two touchdowns
MLB Quintin Wirginis
18 tackles, five tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks
CB Dane Jackson
Three interceptions, five pass breakups, and one fumble recovery
CB Marquis WIlliams
Two interceptions and five pass breakups
STORYLINES TO WATCH FOR
There will be three more games simulated today – #11 Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, and #16 Notre Dame – and there is a lot to keep your eye out for in these games.
- Will Shocky play?
Shocky Jacques-Louis has been out of the lineup since he suffered an ankle sprain week four against Duke. Jacques-Louis is listed as probable for the contest against #11 Virginia Tech. He was one of Pickett’s top targets when he was healthy and while guys like Aaron Mathews have stepped up in his place, him being healthy is going to be key to the Panthers staying undefeated.
- How will Kenny Pickett fare against better teams?
Kenny Pickett has been on fire since a rough start to the season that saw him throw four interceptions in the first two weeks – three against FSU and one against UCF. This was in large part due to how good FSU and UCF’s pass defenses are.
FSU is ranked the best pass defense in the ACC and the 10th best in the nation. While UCF is ranked the fifth best pass defense in the nation. Since he has gotten to play defenses that aren’t as good at defending the pass.
It is going to be interesting to see how he reacts against Virginia Tech and Notre Dame. The big question is whether he will he go back to low completion percentages and relying on the ground game or will he continue his great play?
- How well will Darrin Hall perform?
Darrin Hall has rushed for a touchdown in every game, but, one. He has two multi-touchdown games and has been a key part to this Panthers team. Hall is going to have to continue to stay hot on the ground for Pitt to stay undefeated. The only question is if he will.
I will release an article every day recapping the three weeks simulated the day after they are simulated. If you go to @armchairpitt on twitter, you can get live updates on how the games go as soon as they are simulated. Games seven-nine will be getting simulated later today. These games will include #11 Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, and #16 Notre Dame.