Burden on Pitt's D To stop Miami

Cale Berger and Chris Peak preview Pitt/Miami
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On this week’s Peak at the Panthers, Cale Berger and Chris Peak breakdown what went wrong in the Panthers’ loss to the Boston College Eagles last weekend, and preview Pitt’s upcoming matchup with the Miami Hurricanes.

Pitt suffered their second-straight loss by a single point last Saturday night when they fell 31-30. Chris’ main takeaway was Pitt’s consistent inability to close tight games. He points out that it is the minor mistakes and missteps throughout the game that placed Pitt in the position where they had to hit a record 58-yard field goal to send the game to overtime. Chris added that the Panthers need to play more complete games if they want to be able to put the result beyond doubt.

Cale has concerns about the Pitt secondary, which allowed three touchdowns to Boston College wide receiver Zay Flowers last week. He believes the Panthers truly miss starting cornerback Demarri Mathis, who is missing the entire year with a season-ending injury. Without Mathis, younger, inexperienced defensive backs have been pressed into service and forced to learn on the fly. Cale feels that the defense is increasingly relying on their pass rush to get sacks, because they have not been able to make plays in the passing game when they don’t get to the quarterback.

As for Pitt’s visit to Miami this Saturday, Cale and Chris agree that the burden will be on the defense to stop Miami’s star quarterback D’Eriq King. King is in his first season with Hurricanes after a tremendous career at the University of Houston where he was responsible for 81 touchdowns. While not large in stature at just 5’11”, King is still a talented passer and dynamic runner.

Cale is also looking at special teams as a key area between the two teams. While Pitt missed two field goals and an extra point last week, Miami is tops in the ACC in both field goal kicking and punting. The Canes are also tied for the national lead in blocked kicks with three on the season. Field position and a crucial swing on special teams could paramount at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday.

If Pitt can contain King and win the special teams battle, they’ll have a great chance to snap their two-game losing streak and upset the Hurricanes.