Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 24, 2020

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

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Page 36 of 55 OCT. 24, 2020 37 BY TODD D. BURLAGE PITTSBURGH RUNNING GAME VS. NOTRE DAME RUN DEFENSE Situated in the middle of the NCAA pack in rush- ing average, nothing jumps off the Pittsburgh stat sheet. But after finishing last season just 118th nationally in rushing offense, there is one statistic that stands out so far in 2020. Led by senior quarterback Kenny Pickett, Pitt recorded 11 rushing touchdowns through its first five games, matching the total number of ground scores the team posted in all 13 games last season. Pickett had five of those rushing touchdowns this season, while sophomore tailback Vincent Davis added three. Senior tailback A.J. Davis, who has been slowed by a lower-body injury, rushed for 530 yards and four scores in 2019 and still is expected to become the feature back in the Panthers' offense. What's been evident for Notre Dame so far is the depth along its front seven provides a reliable run-stoppage unit that can survive injuries and/ or player shortages COVID-19 quarantines might still bring. Advantage: Notre Dame PITTSBURGH PASSING GAME VS. NOTRE DAME PASS DEFENSE Pickett — a third-year starter for Pitt — remains on pace to reach or exceed the notable production numbers he posted in 2019, a campaign where he threw for 3,098 yards with 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Bolstered by five 300-yard passing games last season, Pickett's yardage total ranked fourth all time in a single season at Pitt, and it was the most by a Panthers quarterback since 2012. Watch for Pitt freshman wideout Jordan Addi- son — who had a team-best 30 catches and three touchdown grabs in the first five games — to be a potential matchup problem. Reliable senior receiver DJ Turner is also off to a quick start for Pitt with 18 catches that averaged 18.4 yards through five games. Senior wideout Taysir Mack — who tallied 736 receiving yards and three touchdowns for the Pan- thers in 2019 — has been slowed by injury but Freshman wide receiver Jordan Addison was off to a strong start in Pittsburgh's first five games this season, pacing the team in both receptions (30) and touchdown catches (three). PHOTO BY CHARLES LECLAIRE, USA TODAY SPORTS GAME PREVIEW: PITTSBURGH On PaPer

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