ESPN.com is highlighting each week's
ultimate ACC road trip throughout the football season. It's no surprise that
Pitt's Sept. 2 matchup with Florida State at Heinz Field is mentioned as a
"can't miss" contest.
"You can't miss the Labor
Day opener at Heinz Field, when Pittsburgh will take on one of the best
programs in the ACC in what will be the Panthers' first game as a member of the
conference. It will be a nationally-televised game that will mean something to the
conference race, and it will be the first chance of the season to see both
programs under the direction of their new quarterbacks."
Do you have your tickets for this can't miss matchup?
Fans can call the Panthers Ticket Office at 800-643-PITT (7488) or can reach us
on the web for tickets.
The Hokies lead the all-time series with 7 wins to the Panthers' 4, but Pitt has won the previous four contests.
The Last Time
Pitt and Virginia Tech last met on September 15, 2012 in a 35-17 Panthers' win at Heinz Field. Senior running back Ray Graham rushed for 94 yards in the contest, scoring two touchdowns on the ground and hauling in an 18-yard touchdown pass from Tino Sunseri. Pitt's defense was stellar against the Hokies, forcing four Virginia Tech turnovers. The win was the Panthers' signature victory in 2012, as they snapped the 13th-ranked Hokies' 13 game road winning streak.
2012-13 Virginia Tech Season Review
Head Coach: Frank Beamer (26th season)
2012-13 2012-13 Record: 7-6 (4-4 ACC, 4th in Coastal Division), Russell Athletic Bowl Champions
Beat Sun Bowl Champion Georgia Tech 20-17 (OT) to open the season.
Beat Rutgers 13-10 (OT) to win the Russell Athletic Bowl.
Entering his 27th season at the helm of the Virginia Tech Football Program, Frank Beamer has come to define the measure of success in college football - winning. Under his leadership, the Hokies have appeared in 20 consecutive bowl games, won four ACC titles, five ACC Coastal Division crowns, three Big East championships, made six BCS appearances and earned a trip to the national title game. A Virginia Tech grad, Beamer is the winningest active coach in the FBS with 258 career victories. The only thing missing from his resume, you ask? A win at Heinz Field - his teams are 0-3 on the Panthers' home turf since its opening in 2001.
Loeffler charged with revamping VT Offense, QB Thomas in 2013
After being named Second-Team All-ACC in 2011, Virginia Tech senior quarterback Logan Thomas saw his performance drop off in 2012. His completion percentage plummeted, dropping from 60% in 2011 to 51% last season. He also threw six more interceptions. As Thomas' productivity decreased, so did the effectiveness of the Hokie Offense. Virginia Tech finished 9th in the ACC in Total Offense in 2012 as compared to 3rd in 2011.
Enter Scot Loeffler; Frank Beamer's newly appointed offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Loeffler, a Michigan graduate, has worked with the likes of Tom Brady, Tim Tebow, Brian Griese, Chad Henne, Drew Henson and John Navarre during his 15 year coaching career. His career stops include a six-year stint at his alma mater and two years at Florida. Most recently, he served as offensive coordinator at Temple (2011) and Auburn (2012). Loeffler's ability to adapt his scheme to different quarterbacking styles (i.e. John Navarre vs. Tim Tebow) bodes well for Thomas and the Hokie offense in 2013.
Looking at the Hokies Offense: 5 starters lost, 6 return
1. Look for an improved Logan Thomas in 2013 - Never mind the fact that Thomas loses his top three receivers from last season, I look for him to be much improved in 2013. From the sound of things, his coaches do as well - he was named the Hokies' most valuable player of spring practice as well as a permanent captain for the upcoming season.
2. Returner at running back - Though he didn't enter the 2012 season as Tech's starter, sophomore J.C. Coleman returns as the Hokies' feature back for 2013. He showed tremendous improvement over the course of his first active season. Playing in all 13 games and starting six, Coleman rushed for 492 yards on 109 carries in 2012, scoring 2 touchdowns. He also added 21 receptions for 132 yards and a score. Alongside Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech's leading rusher in 2012 (174 att., 524 yards, 9 TD), I would expect Coleman to be a big part of the Hokies' offense in 2013.
Defense: 2 starters lost, 9 returning
1. The strength - The second ranked defense in the ACC last year doesn't lose much coming into the 2013 season. The strength of this unit will be its front four. The Hokies finished first in the conference in sacks, registering 35 in 2012 (2.69/game). Top returners include first-team All-ACC linebacker Jack Tyler (119 tackles in 2012) and second-team All-ACC selections CB Antone Exum (5 INT) and DE James Gayle (11 TFL, 5 sacks).
Keys to Victory
1. Win the turnover battle - This key to victory will never change. Need a case in point? The Panthers won the turnover battle against the Hokies last season by a wide margin (VT-4, Pitt-1).
2. Watch last year's tape - If there is a blueprint to flustering QB Logan Thomas, it can be found on last year's game tape. Get after him, contain him and force him to make tight throws. I do think he will be better this season, but I believe Pitt's defense will be also.
Check back next for a preview of Pitt's week 6 Opponent, Old Dominion.
Video credit: Paths of Glory: 100 Years of PItt Football
By R.J. Sepich
Pitt football team prepares for its first season in the ACC, many Panther fans would
select a legendary quarterback wearing No. 13 to receive an extra year of
eligibility and be under center next fall if they had their wish.
asked fans this week if they could select any former Pitt student-athlete to
earn another year of eligibility to suit up for the Panthers, who would it be?
Dan Marino was a popular pick for Pitt fans.
the Panthers and Hokies have only ever met each other 12 times in football, the
two schools developed a fierce athletic rivalry as Big East foes in the 1990s
and early 2000s. That rivalry will be renewed when Pitt joins Virginia Tech in
the Atlantic Coast Conference this year.
Tech holds a 7-5 edge in the all-time football series against the Panthers, but
Pitt has won four consecutive games against the Hokies from Blacksburg, Va.
will travel to Virginia Tech's Lane Stadium on Oct. 12 for an ACC Coastal
Division football battle.
Most Recent Football Matchup:
Pitt 35, Virginia Tech 17 - Sept. 15, 2012
former Big East rival that the Panthers will resume annual clashes against is
the University of Miami. Like Virginia Tech, Miami left the Big East for the
ACC in 2004, temporarily discontinuing yearly matchups with Pitt.
The history books show that the Hurricanes have enjoyed success on the football
field against their new Coastal Division foes, boasting a 22-9-1 all-time
record against Pitt and winning their last seven encounters with the Panthers.
football will hope to end its losing streak against Miami when the Hurricanes
come to Heinz Field for a much-anticipated regular-season finale on Nov. 29.
Most Recent Football Matchup: Miami
31, Pitt 3 - Sept. 23, 2010
on the football field or the basketball court, there's no lack of familiarity
between Pitt and Syracuse. And fortunately for fans and student-athletes alike,
the good-spirited athletic rivalry between the two schools will continue as the
Panthers and Orange both join the ACC this year.
Syracuse enters the Atlantic Division while Pitt joins the Coastal Division,
the two schools will continue a football rivalry that has been played every
season since 1955 as annual crossover opponents. Coach Paul Chryst's Panthers
will hope to improve on their 34-31-3 all-time record against the Orange when
they travel to the Carrier Dome on Nov. 23.
Most Recent Football Matchup: Syracuse
14, Pitt 13 - Oct. 5, 2012
Yesterday on Facebook and Twitter we asked fans to name the player in the photo below. I have to admit that I swung and missed on the first try.
Like a lot of you, my guess was Ray Graham. Hopefully you had better luck!
Our first "Name That Player" is...
(Bethlehem, Pa./Liberty) tallied
four catches for 73 yards and a touchdown in a 35-17 upset of No. 13 Virginia
Tech at Heinz Field on Sept. 15, helping Coach Paul Chryst earn his first
career head coaching victory.
pass catcher has already put his name in the Pitt record books several times,
sitting in the top 10 of five different categories: receptions in a season,
receiving yards in a season, receptions in a game, career receiving yards and
career receptions. He enters his redshirt senior season with the chance to statistically
become one of the best Pitt wide receivers of all time.
finishing with 73 receptions for 975 yards and five touchdowns in 2012, Street
needs just 20 receptions to break Latef Grim's career catches mark and 1,015
more receiving yards to top Antonio Bryant's career receiving yardage record.
Thanks to everyone who participated! Check back next week on Facebook and/or Twitter for our next Name That Player photo.
The Panthers lead the all-time series 3-2.
The Last Time
Pitt and Virginia last met on September 29, 2007 in Charlottesville. The Cavaliers won that game 44-14.
2012-13 Virginia Season Review
Head Coach: Mike London (3rd season)
2012-13 Record: 4-8 (2-6, 6th in Coastal Division)
Beat Penn State 17-16.
Beat Miami 41-40.
The London File
Charged with restoring Virginia football to prominence, Mike London took over the Cavaliers' program in 2010 after leading his alma mater, Richmond, to the FCS National Title in 2008 and a semifinal berth in 2009. Despite only guiding the Wahoos to a 4-8 record in his first season (2010), London oversaw impressive progress in 2011. The Cavaliers finished 8-5 and became the first college team to ever win road games at Miami and Florida State in the same season. London was named the ACC's Coach of the Year after leading the Cavaliers to the Chik-fil-A Bowl, though his team's follow-up to 2011 was somewhat forgettable. Looking to put their sub-par 2012 campaign in the rear view, London will rely on a solid group of returners and a revamped coaching staff to fuel a successful 2013 season.
New Names, Faces in 2013
Following a dismal 4-8 campaign in 2012, Mike London has made significant changes to his staff heading into the 2013 season. Featuring a wealth of experience, London's staff will have five new coaches this year - three of which will serve as his offensive, defensive and special team's coordinators. Here's a quick look at four notable additions to Virginia's staff:
1. Tom O'Brien, Associate Head Coach for Offense/Tight Ends - O'Brien has 38 years of coaching under his belt, most recently serving as the Head Football Coach at North Carolina State.
2. Steve Fairchild, Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks - Fairchild boasts 31 years of experience at all levels of the game. He most recently served as a senior offensive assistant for the San Diego Chargers after a four-year stint as Colorado State's Head Coach.
3. Jon Tenuta, Associate Head Coach for Defense/Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers - Entering his 33rd season of collegiate coaching, Tenuta is a well-known defensive mind who has coordinated at schools like Notre Dame, Ohio State and Georgia Tech.
4. Larry Lewis, Special Teams Coordinator/Running Backs - Lewis owns 32 seasons of coaching experience, including an eight-year stint as the Head Coach at Idaho State.
Looking at the Cavaliers Offense: 4 starters lost, 7 return (21 lettermen return)
1. A few losses - Among Virginia's departing starters on the offensive side of the ball, a few stick out. The Cavaliers will have a new starting quarterback in 2013, as Michael Rocco has transferred to Richmond. However, junior Philip Sims appeared in 12 games last season and sophomore David Watford emerged from spring practice as the frontrunner for the vacant position. Virginia's biggest loss offensively is probably tailback Perry Jones, who rushed for 463 yards (2nd on team) and 2 touchdowns last season. Jones also led the Cavaliers in receptions in 2012, tallying 49 on the year. London does return four of five starting offensive lineman, but the lone departed, tackle Oday Aboushi, was Virginia's only draft pick in the 2013 NFL Draft (5th Round, NY Jets).
2. Looking for a spark - After finishing in the middle of the conference in terms of total offense last season, Virginia is looking for a spark in 2013. The Cavaliers return a very capable receiving corps, headlined by wide receiver Darius Jennings (48 rec., 568 yards, 5 TD) and tight end Jake McGee (28 catches, 374 yards, 5 TD). The key to getting the Cavaliers' passing game going this season is quite obvious - quarterback play.
Defense: 4 starters lost, 7 returning (18 lettermen returning)
1. Build on last season - The Cavaliers finished fourth in the ACC last season in total defense. With seven starters returning and the experience of new defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta, I would expect Virginia's defense to improve in 2013. However, if they aspire to be the kind of defense that wins games for their team, they will have to make greater strides in two important categories - sacks and turnovers gained. The Wahoos finished dead last in the conference last season in turnovers gained (only 12) and 10th in sacks (1.42/game, 17 total).
Keys to Victory
1. Win the turnover battle - Pitt needs to continue protecting the ball and forcing turnovers the way it did in 2012. The Panthers finished 15th nationally in turnover margin, forcing 22 turnovers and only yielding 10. Conversely, Virginia needs to drastically improve their turnover ratio from last season - the Cavaliers finished last in the ACC in turnover margin. As is usually the case (there are always exceptions), the team that wins the turnover battle will win this football game.
2. Contain Watford - If sophomore David Watford indeed wins Virginia's starting quarterback job, the Cavaliers will certainly aim to utilize his athleticism. Pitt will need to keep him in the pocket, as allowing him to escape and become a run-pass threat would play to this young man's strengths. If the Panthers do "set the edge" and contain Watford, things would seem to be more difficult for the first-year starter.
Check back in two weeks for a preview of Pitt's week 5 Opponent, Virginia Tech.
Pitt football wide receiver signee Jester Weah, from Madison, Wisc., was highlighted in today's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Not for his football skills, but for his short, but very successful track career.
The countdown to full membership in the Atlantic Coast
Conference is down to just over one month away. As July 1 quickly approaches,
the move becomes more and more tangible and today was another of those exciting
The Panthers will travel to Clemson, Duke, Maryland, Miami,
North Carolina, Syracuse, Virginia and Virginia Tech. Pitt's home and away
partners will be Syracuse and Clemson.
Fans will have a chance to meet the leader who will take the
Panthers into the ACC this season as new Pitt women's basketball coach Suzie
McConnell-Serio will be at the University Club on campus on Thursday, May 30
from 4:30-6:30 p.m. for a meet and greet. Parking is available for $5 in
Soldiers and Sailors garage beginning at 4 p.m.