You know about Keenan Reynolds, but Pitt's offense boasts a playmaker of its own. Here's a preview of the matchup between Navy's defense and Pitt's offense.
Navy defense national rankings: 25th in scoring defense (21.3 points allowed per game), 32nd in rushing defense (138.42 yards allowed per game), 9th in passing defense (173.8 yards allowed per game), 43rd in total defense (367.4 yards allowed per game)
Pitt offense national rankings: 69th in scoring offense (28.3 points per game), 47th in rushing offense (185.92 yards per game), 95th in passing offense (195.1 yards per game), 77th in total offense (381 yards per game)
Pitt entered the season with two of the biggest playmakers in the ACC. Unfortunately running back James Conner was lost to the Panthers in the first game of the season and his health has taken a tragic turn as he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. While prospects for a recovery are good, he obviously has more important things to worry about than a bowl game and he will not be available, though he will be in attendance.
That means junior receiver Tyler Boyd will be the focal point of Pitt's offense, as he has been for much of the season.
Pitt averages fewer than 200 passing yards per game with Boyd as their main target. His 85 catches this season are more than the next five receivers on the team combined. Quarterback Nathan Peterman has proven to be dependable for the Panthers though unspectacular. Having a talent like Boyd certainly helps.
Freshman running back Qadree Ollison has started in Conner's place this season and is fourth in the ACC in rush attempts (204) and rushing yards (1,048). He is a bruising running back who is more likely to run over defenders than out run them, but he has also shown remarkable shiftiness and cutting ability in his first season.
Pitt is not a dominant offense in any aspect, but the Panthers have found success by being versatile. When they struggle to pass, they find success on the ground. When they can't run, they air the ball out and allow Boyd to take over.
No player on Navy's defense particularly stands out. Instead, their defense has been stout thanks to a complete team effort as is typical of military academies which often lack superstar talent. It will require a team effort in order to shutdown Boyd while not opening the defense up to big runs from Ollison. The Midshipmen have been very good at slowing down opponents' rush attack this season which makes defending Boyd key to a Navy victory.
Like Navy, Pitt has not shown much ability to run away on the scoreboard as they have scored 40 or more points only twice this season, one of which came against an FCS opponent. Chances are, this one is going to be close.
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