Fiu, Cirminiello, Mitchell on TV - Campus Insiders | Buy College Football Tickets

Week 1 Matchup - Buffalo vs. Pitt
UB DE Steven Means & Pitt S Jarred Holley
UB DE Steven Means & Pitt S Jarred Holley
Posted May 11, 2011

Looking ahead at the Week One Matchups - Buffalo vs. Pitt

Preview 2010

Week 1 - Buffalo vs. Pitt

- 2011 Pitt Preview | 2011 Pitt Offense
- 2011 Pitt Defense | 2011 Pitt Depth Chart

- 2011 Buffalo Preview | 2011 Buffalo Offense
- 2011 Buffalo Defense | 2011 Buffalo Depth Chart

Offense: The idea of the offense in Jeff Quinn’s first year was to be very fast, up-tempo, and very frenetic, but the quarterbacks didn’t get the memo. The nation’s most inefficient passing game allowed defenses to load up against the run, and it showed as the running game averaged 3.1 yards per carry and the running backs scored just one rushing score. This year, the team is loaded with veterans led by one of the MAC’s better receiving corps. However, the nation’s worst scoring offense won’t get much better unless the veteran line can stay healthy to pave the way for the quick backs, while the quarterback play, from either Jerry Davis or Alex Zordich, has to be night-and-day better.

Defense: The UB 3-4 defense turned in a strong season despite getting little help from the offense. The Bulls finished 32nd in the nation in total defense thanks to a loaded secondary, but the team needs to replace all four defensive backs from a strong pass defense. The defensive front seven should be great on the outside with Khalil Mack one of the league’s best all-around players and Jaleel Verser a star if he can stay healthy. The front three won’t get to the quarterback, except when Steven Means is getting the job done at one end, but it should be good against the run.

Best offensive player: Senior WR Marcus Rivers. All he needs is a little bit of help from the quarterbacks, and he should shine and be one of the MAC’s most dangerous receivers. At 6-4 and 218 pounds he’s a big matchup nightmare, and he has just enough speed to be worried about deep. He started off the year with ten catches for 155 yards and a score, but he only made one catch in three of the final four games and couldn’t get the ball because of the poor quarterback play. He has 75-catch potential, and he’ll be the weapon the offense works around.

Best defensive player: Sophomore LB Khalil Mack. When the NFL is looking for a 3-4 hybrid, Mack fits the bill. He might not be a next-level talent, but he’s 6-3, 241 pounds, and fast off the edge with the potential to be a tremendous situational pass rusher. He made 4.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss last year, and now he’s going to be turned loose even more to be the type of playmaker who changes games around.

Offense: It’s not the spread. That’s the message Todd Graham is trying to convey as his offense gets improperly labeled by casual observers. Despite what you’ve heard, Pitt is not about to become Western Pennsylvania’s version of Texas Tech, throwing the ball from the moment it gets off the bus. Up-tempo? Yes. No-huddle. You bet. However, Graham does not plan to abandon the running game. In fact, he craves balance, often running first and then burning defenses on play-action. His Tulsa team was No. 15 nationally on the ground, something you’ll never see in Lubbock. The staff’s top offseason priority will be making sure that QB Tino Sunseri is the right man to guide this offense into a new era. A starter in 2010, the new staff has different expectations and measurements of success. The two players to keep an eye on are RB Ray Graham and WR Devin Street, who both have high ceilings and will fit in nicely in the revised attack.

Defense: Whether it’s offense or defense, the new Pitt program will be governed by the same buzzword—attack. Operating out of a three-man front, but mixing up their looks, the Panthers want to create turnovers and take quarterbacks out of their comfort zones at all times. Employing positions with catchy names, such as “Panther” and “Spur”, the D will get its 11 best athletes on the field and turn them loose. While at Rice and Tulsa, Graham’s units had a penchant for big plays, both making and yielding them. However, he and his staff never had this much talent in Conference USA. The Panthers welcome back eight starters and a robust 28 lettermen, enough to form an impressive two-deep. Even without all-star ends Jabaal Sheard and Greg Romeus, Pitt will be stout up front, headed by sack specialist Brandon Lindsey and tackles Chas Alecxih and Myles Caragein. The approach will be different in 2011, but the results are going to be similar for a stingy Panther defense.

Best offensive player: Junior RB Ray Graham. Despite losing Dion Lewis to the NFL Draft, the Panther running game isn’t going to skip a beat. Graham figures to be an ideal fit for an offense that wants to accentuate his determined, one-cut running style and excellent hands as a receiver. Don’t forget that before fading into a secondary role, he’d run for 100 yards three times in the first four games, capped by a 277-yard, three-touchdown outburst versus Florida International. As the focal point of the new attack, he’s capable of stockpiling a few Graham-y Awards at the end of the regular season.

Best defensive player: Senior DE Brandon Lindsey. Opportunity knocked when Greg Romeus injured his back last September, and Lindsey answered the call. The single biggest surprise of 2010, he went from valuable reserve to relentless pass rusher, collecting 51 tackles and a team-high 18 stops for loss and 10 sacks. At 6-2 and 250 pounds, he has the size and speed of an outside linebacker, which makes him a natural fit for the “Panther” position, a hybrid role up front.