Pitt Football: Managing Expectations

In the Past week and a half, we have seen many local media outlets talk about Pitt taking the next step.  That is winning and ACC Championship.  Although I think that Pitt has an opportunity to have strong season, I think managing expectations is wise.  I was having a conversation on Twitter with one of the Post Gazette’s better and more fair writers on staff Kevin Gorman and I decided to expand upon my thoughts that I shared with him, and put it in my own Post regarding Expectations

I was planning on starting our Pitt coverage this week anyways, so why not start with this topic… because it is a good one.

Coach Pat Narduzzi said it was time for his team to take it.   The Slogan this year is actually is “Take it” as in take it to the next level. He also made reference to his team winning championships and it was time for that next step.   I believe every coach should strive for that.  I also believe that it is logical for Pitt to take the next step but that next step that is 10 or 11 regular season victories.  That is an accomplishment that has not happened here in a very long time.

In Pat Narduzzi’s first season, the Panthers won 8 games.  In his second season they conjured up two HUGE wins while winning 8 games.  Coach Narduzzi said it is now time to win a championship and although I do not think he is wrong, I do believe it is now time to manage expectations.

I believe this Pitt team has talent enough to win 10 or 11 games.  Although they do play Penn State on the road, Oklahoma State at home, and Miami at home to end the season.  Those are three teams that are all in the pre season polls in the top 10 or 15.  Combine that with Penn State the second game of the season, Oklahoma State the third game of the season and then on the road against Georgia Tech for game four.

Georgia Tech is not on the same level as those other two teams, but they can post just as big a threat from the offensive side of the football because of the style of football they play.

Let us consider the fact that Pitt’s football team will be without one of their best defensive players for the first 3 games.  There is no James Connor on this team this year and although that is a bad thing, I think it can also be a good thing because it allows Pitt’s talented tailback corp to take their next step. Lastly, the Panthers will be working with a new quarterback either in his first year as a starter at as a red shirt sophomore or a first year starter as a fifth year senior transfer that has only this year of eligibility left.

So think about those first three games and then think about the hurdles.  I belive this team can win 10 games but they can not lose the home games during the first four games.   They also will need to win either at Penn State or at Georgia Tech or both.    Believe it or not, the likes of Miami at the end of the season is an afterthought because by mid-season the Hurricane may in fact crumble as they normally do.

Managing expectations is very important for this season and it is also just as important for this fan base to do the same.   This may in fact turn into another 8-4 team but not because Narduzzi is not impressive or doing his job.  It has more to do with circumstances and how those first 4 games line up.  It is a difficult schedule early on, including Youngstown state whom played in the division 11 Championship game last season with a really good head coach.

Pitt has their work cut out for them undoubtedly and While I firmly believe that Pitt can win 10 or 11, I think that might be asking a lot with as many early hurdles.

This team reminds me of a team that if they can go 2-2 or 3-1 early, they could get hot and ride a wave all the way to the end.  Or a team that can go 1-3 early and win 8 games while getting hot just a little too late in the season.  By doing so they turn into a team others will not want to play in week 11 or 12.

Either way, this Program is on the rise and this team will go as far as Coach Narduzzi can convince them of going.   If they buy into it, and the QB play, whomever it comes from is above average to good, this team will succeed at a very high level.

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