Can Duke halt its two-game losing streak? We will find out this Saturday when Duke takes on the Pittsburgh Panthers. Whenever Duke plays Pitt, the offense is pretty explosive. Obviously wide receiver Tyler Boyd is back, but other than that, it’s a relatively different cast of characters from the last two years, no?
Yeah, Pitt’s offense has undergone some pretty dramatic changes over the past few months, especially when you consider the narrative going into the season was “Everybody’s back!” Losing James Conner in the season opener was certainly a factor, but then Pitt also went through a pretty unexpected quarterback change, with Nate Peterman replacing incumbent Chad Voytik.
From an identity standpoint, Pitt hasn’t really tried to change too much, though. The game plan is still to work the clock, run the ball and grind out drives. That’s obviously less effective without James Conner, but it has worked at times for Pitt this season (particularly in winning drives against Syracuse and Georgia Tech). The biggest problem for Pitt is that while Boyd has been their most reliable receiver, the big-play ability hasn’t really been there the way it has been in the past. That’s the biggest thing this offense is really lacking so far, compared to previous years.
Pitt players and coaches are holding out hope for a division title. Realistically, this game feels like sort of an inflection point for the season. Pitt’s last two games have, admittedly, been really tough, but there’s definitely a sense that all the goodwill built up over the team’s 6-1 start could begin to slip away. I think Pitt fans were pleasantly surprised to even be in the Coastal mix in late October the way they were, so I don’t thing there’s a huge disappointment that it’s probably out of reach. I think eight wins is probably still the benchmark for progress for this team. They can still get there with a loss Saturday, but it would mean winning against Louisville and Miami.