Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 24, 2020

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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36 OCT. 24, 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED Six players had at least 3.5 tackles for loss in the first five games. First- team All-ACC safety Paris Ford has a team-high two interceptions and is tied for the team lead with 31 tackles (3.5 for loss). The breakout player is sophomore linebacker SirVocea Dennis, who stepped in for injured all-conference linebacker Cam Bright and posted 11 tackles, with 4.5 for loss, against Boston College. "It's all about stopping the run," Peak said. "They've done a good job of it this year. They did a pretty good job of it last year." The problems persist on offense — the years-long bugaboo. Pitt is av- eraging 5.3 yards per play, which is 55th out of 76 teams that have played this year but would have ranked 99th nationally in 2019. The Panthers' measly 3.63 sack-adjusted yards per carry is indicative of a rushing attack missing in action. They have not had a running back top 53 yards in a con- ference game this season. "There's nowhere to run," Peak said. "The O-line is just not opening any holes. … They're probably worse [on offense] than they were last year. "They were pretty bad at running the ball last year, and it's holding back the whole offense." The passing attack, in turn, has become a de-facto run game with short passes to try to get something on early downs. Pickett is averaging a relatively modest 6.95 yards per pass attempt in ACC games. For the second straight year, Pitt's receptions leader is on pace to average fewer than 10 yards per catch because he's asked to be an extension of an absent run game. Freshman wide receiver Jordan Ad- dison, who Notre Dame recruited, has 30 catches but for only 297 yards. Thirty of his 43 targets have been on throws that traveled 10 yards or fewer downfield. Last year, Maurice Ffrench caught a school-record 96 passes but had just 850 yards, with 37 percent of his targets coming on throws behind the line. Oddly enough, Pitt is tied for first nationally with five pass plays of at least 50 yards and tied for third with 22 plays of 20-plus yards. "They're firing downfield and they have the weapons to make those kinds of plays, but they have to find a way to offset the lack of a running game," Peak said. "A lot of shorter passes play into that." ✦ GAME PREVIEW: PITTSBURGH Third-year starting senior quarterback Kenny Pickett is on pace to set career highs in several catego- ries, though a recent ankle injury threatens to slow him down. PHOTO BY CHARLES LECLAIRE, USA TODAY SPORTS 2020 PITTSBURGH SCHEDULE Date Opponent (TV) Result/Time (ET) Sept. 12 Austin Peay W, 55-0 Sept. 19 Syracuse W, 21-10 Sept. 26 Louisville W, 23-20 Oct. 3 NC State L, 30-29 Oct. 10 at Boston College L, 31-30 Oct. 17 at Miami L, 31-19 Oct. 24 Notre Dame (ABC) 3:30 p.m. Nov. 7 at Florida State TBA Nov. 14 at Georgia Tech TBA Nov. 21 Virginia Tech TBA Nov. 28 at Clemson TBA 2020 NOTRE DAME SCHEDULE Date Opponent (TV) Result/Time (ET) Sept. 12 Duke W, 27-13 Sept. 19 South Florida W, 52-0 Oct. 10 Florida State W, 42-26 Oct. 17 Louisville W, 12-7 Oct. 24 at Pittsburgh (ABC) 3:30 p.m. Oct. 31 at Georgia Tech TBA Nov. 7 Clemson (NBC) 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14 at Boston College TBA Nov. 27 at North Carolina (ESPN) TBA Dec. 5 Syracuse (NBC) 2:30 p.m. Dec. 12 at Wake Forest TBA Facts & Figures NOTRE DAME AT PITTSBURGH Game Info Date: Oct. 24, 2020 Site: Heinz Field in Pittsburgh Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET Television: ABC Radio: This game can be heard on Notre Dame's IMG affiliates. Series Facts: Notre Dame leads 48-21-1 and won the last meeting 19-14 in South Bend on Oct. 13, 2018. Head coaches: Pitt — Pat Narduzzi (39-32, sixth season); Notre Dame — Brian Kelly (96-37, 11th season). Noting Pitt: The Panthers last won the ACC Coastal Division in 2018 and have made a bowl game in every season but one since 2008 … Pitt last won more than eight games in 2009, when they went 10-3 under Dave Wannstedt … Senior quarterback Kenny Pickett threw for 13 touchdowns in 2019 and 12 in 2018. He also has 12 career rushing touchdowns … Safety Paris Ford, a Pittsburgh native and the No. 51 overall player in the 2017 class, had the highest recruiting ranking of anyone on the roster … Pitt has allowed an opposing player to run for at least 85 yards in only three games since the start of 2019.

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