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2009 Pittsburgh Panthers Football Preview

2009 Pittsburgh Panthers season preview from Maddux Sports. Below you can find our official Pittsburgh Panthers football preview as well as the 2009 Pittsburgh Panthers Football Schedule. After reading this article check out our college football predictions against the current point spread.

Coach: Dave Wannstedt (5th year at Pittsburgh)
Team Name: Panthers
2008 Overall Record: 9-4
Returning Starters: 15

Last season, the Pittsburgh Panthers (9- 4 overall, 5- 2 Big East) found their stride after three years of losing seasons and missing out on a bowl bid each of those years. In 2008, they finished tied for second in the Big East. The 18th ranked Panthers earned a Sun Bowl invite where they met the 24th rated Oregon State Beavers. Pittsburgh lost that contest three to zip.

This season the offense will be led once again by QB Bill Stull (330 ATT, 188 COMP, 2,356 YDs, 10 INTs, 9 TDs). Stull, now a senior, has shown some flashes of fine play, but he’s been overall inconsistent and can be a liability. There are plenty of fine receivers on board for him to throw to, including sophomore Jonathan Baldwin (18 REC, 404 YDs, 3 TDs), who averaged 22.4 YPC. For the Panthers, the key will be replacing top running back LeSean McCoy and his 1,488 yards and 21 touchdowns. Five new running backs have been brought in to try to fill that gaping offensive hole. Freshmen Chris Burns and Dion Lewis look to be the best. The offensive line includes two top-rated recruits and four returning starters and should be an asset.

The Panthers will put the best defense in the league on the field. Last season, with Scott McKillop anchoring that end of the ball, they held opponents to 21.5 PPG. The frontline was especially effective, with DEs Greg Romeus and Jabaal Sheard combining for 13 of the club’s 29 total sacks. They also had 26 tackles for a loss. They’re back along with senior DT Mick Williams (4.5 SKs, 4 TFL), making the Panther D-line the best in the conference. The secondary, which returns three starters, is also tops in the Big East. SS Dom DeCicco is back as the leading pick man, having grabbed four in 2008. The linebacking unit will miss Scott McKillop and his 137 tackles. This is the weakest part of an otherwise strong, skilled and seasoned defense.

The special teams include Aundre Wright returning kicks. He averaged 21.0 YPR last season. Extremely accurate placekicker Conor Lee is gone, leaving the spot to be filled by either junior Dan Hutchins or freshman Kevin Harper.

Over the past four seasons, head coach Dave Wannstedt (25- 23 in four years with Pittsburgh) has certainly brought the club along. He’s been especially effective in recruiting key defensive players. This year, the Panthers have a light non-conference schedule with Youngstown State, Navy and Buffalo on the list. Pitt is one of the better clubs in the Big East. The November 27 game versus West Virginia could decide the Big East Championship. It will be tough but not impossible for the Panthers to be a top contender with star running back McCoy and All-American linebacker McKillop gone. Still, there’s a strong incoming class and that will help. Depending on how successful Wannstedt is at filling the holes, this club could win the conference or finish as low as third. The good news for the club is that West Virginia, Cincinnati and Rutgers are all in decline. Look for the Panthers to finish first and make their second straight bowl appearance. This time they’ll be in a BCS venue.

Pittsburgh Panthers Football Schedule

Date Team Opponent Site Line Total Points Opp Points
9/5/2009 Pittsburgh Youngstown St home        
9/12/2009 Pittsburgh Buffalo away        
9/19/2009 Pittsburgh Navy home        
9/26/2009 Pittsburgh N.C. State away        
10/2/2009 Pittsburgh Louisville away        
10/10/2009 Pittsburgh Connecticut home        
10/16/2009 Pittsburgh Rutgers away        
10/24/2009 Pittsburgh South Florida home        
11/7/2009 Pittsburgh Syracuse home        
11/14/2009 Pittsburgh Notre Dame home        
11/27/2009 Pittsburgh West Virginia away        
12/5/2009 Pittsburgh Cincinnati home        

 

For more info on the 2009 Pittsburgh Panthers football program, view the Panthers football site or you can read about other Big East teams below.

 

2009 Big East Football Team Previews

All of the Big East teams are featured to the right. Each link under the team previews gives our individual breakdown for the eight Big East colleges. For other teams visit Maddux's 09 college preview page.

If you would like to know how Maddux forecasts the order of finish for the Big East football conference check out the Big East Conference Preview section which is our conference preview as a whole. With only 1 starter back on defense can Brian Kelly get his Bearcats back to the BCS? Will Wannstedt choke away another season with loaded talent? Is Rutgers' schedule just too easy for them not to win the Big East crown?

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