Pitt Football: 20 Dream Scenarios for 2011
Pitt football is looking forward to a new beginning with head coach Todd Graham.
Graham brings an excellent offensive history, most of which he executed at Tulsa. He said in a press conference that this offense will focus on speed. Hopefully he doesn't disappoint.
Will they have the speed and explosion necessary for his first season? I don't know. He should be able to give the Panthers a lift in that area for years to come.
The defense will be a major question in the Graham era. His offense should be able to put up points, but will his defense be able to be a force in the Big East? If it is, Pitt could be looking like the beast of the big east for years to come.
If they want to have a magical season in 2011, at least some of these 20 scenarios need to be reality. Here are my 20 dream scenarios for the upcoming season.
No 20: Pitt Brings in More Recruits
Pittsburgh only has six recruits signed for 2012.
This number will increase, especially once they start to play a game under Todd Graham. Their style should be able to produce more players (obviously).
No 19: Pitt Brings in More Top-Notch Recruits
Pittsburgh has six recruits lined-up for 2012. Four of those recruits are considered three-star recruits.
It will take Todd Graham a few years to get his type of players in the system, but if he wants more speed he will need to get more talented players.
Four-star and five-star recruits are players that the fans want to see recruited, and soon.
No 18: Tino Sunseri Throws 25 Touchdowns
Tino Sunseri had an up-and-down 2010 campaign as the Panthers quarterback. He threw 16 touchdowns compared to nine interceptions.
New head coach Todd Graham promises speed and explosion to the Panthers offense in 2011. This would be a whole different style than what they have been used to in the past five years.
College football has changed to a spread you out, run-and-gun type of offensive style and the Panthers will be attempting to follow suit.
Not only will the run game be explosive but the passing should as well. This may allow Sunseri to collect nine more touchdowns, allowing the Panthers to have a dynamic offense.
No 17: Ray Graham Rushes for 1,500 Yards
Ray Graham rushed for 922 yards on 148 carries playing second fiddle to Dion Lewis, who was selected for the NFL Draft. Graham has ran for 1,291 in his two-year career.
He should be the primary back along with Zach Brown, a transfer from Wisconsin. Graham has the ability to break off long runs, which may allow for his yard total to increase the 1,500 mark.
If this would occur, Todd Graham would at least come through with comments about speed and explosion because that would be one heck of a season.
No 16: Mike Shanahan Steps Up His Game
Jon Baldwin is now in the NFL, after posting 53 receptions for the Panthers in 2010. Mike Shanahan was second behind Baldwin with 43 receptions.
Shanahan needs to be an option that Sunseri can count on.
2010: 43 receptions, 589 yards and one touchdown.
No 15: Tino Sunseri Throws for 3,300 Yards
Tino Sunseri should benefit greatly from the new offensive system that new head coach Todd Graham has brought to the program. He threw for 2,572 yards in 2010.
With an uptempo and explosive offense, his yards through the air should increase significantly.
The more the merrier.
If he throws for 3,300 yards, both the rushing and air-attack would be lethal.
No 14: Ray Graham Scores 20 Total Touchdowns
Ray Graham had 10 total touchdowns in 2010, eight on the ground and two in the air.
He is explosive enough to increase both totals by a wide margin. 20 total touchdowns is not a stretch for Graham.
No 13: The Defense Improves
Overall, the Panthers defense in 2010 wasn't as bad as it may have seemed. It did let them down in the biggest games though.
They gave up 27 points against Utah, 31 to Miami, 23 to Notre Dame, 30 to Connecticut and 35 to West Virginia.
The Panthers allowed 19 points per game, which was 19th in the nation. It would be great if the defense can at least repeat that performance or improve upon it.
No 12: Big East Has Another Sub-Par Year
West Virginia was 9-4 (5-2 Big East), Connecticut was 8-5 (5-2 Big East) and Pittsburgh was 8-5 (5-2 Big East) to headline the up-for-grabs conference in 2010.
The Mountaineers have a chance to run away with the crown this year, but injuries or any coaching problems could set them back, leaving the door open for other contenders.
Pitt could be one of those contenders.
No 11: Offense Averages 30 Points Per Game
Todd Graham promises speed and explosion from the offensive side of the ball. Will he be able to come through with his words?
Running back Ray Graham and quarterback Tino Sunseri should benefit most from the new and improved offense.
The Panthers' offense averaged 26.3 points per game in 2010.
No 10: Pitt Is Undefeated When Notre Dame Comes to Town
For Pitt to be undefeated before Notre Dame comes to town they will have to be 3-0.
First three games:
September 3rd: Buffalo
September 10th: Maine
September 17th: @ Iowa
The third game will obviously be the toughest test out of the three.
No. 9: Pitt Is Undefeated When They Travel to Morgantown
For Pitt to be undefeated before the trip to Morgantown on Nov. 25 they would have to be 10-0.
This will a tough task to carry because the Panthers will play some quality Big East opponents like Cincinnati and Connecticut, as well as non-conference opponents like Iowa, Notre Dame and Utah.
If they are undefeated when they travel to West Virginia, the Panthers could finish the season unbeaten if they defeat the Mountaineers.
This will be unlikely.
No. 8: Multiple Players Have Career Years
For a team to have an overachieving season, a few players will need to have career seasons.
Whether it is on the defensive or offensive side of the ball, players who break out and help a team more than expected will benefit the entire team.
If the Panthers could have more than a couple of players break out and set career numbers, they will be in good shape.
No. 7: Defense Forces 30 Turnovers
Last season saw the Panthers' defense force 22 turnovers.
This defense will need to turn offenses over so they can give it to their vaunted offensive attack. If they can up their turnovers forced statistic to 30, they will be in good shape.
No. 6: Tino Sunseri Establishes Himself as Captain
At times last season, Tino Sunseri struggled in a big way.
He did improve throughout the course of the season.
Hopefully, the second-year starter can improve in 2011, allowing him to become reliable as the captain of the offense.
No. 5: Offense Turns the Ball over Fewer Than 15 Times
Pitt turned the ball over 22 times in 2010. If they can get that number to drop to below 15, they will allow their defense to feel less pressure.
The offense should be great this season, but their defense will be about average. They will want to keep their turnovers to a smaller number.
No. 4: Pitt Wins Every Big Game
Aside from the Big East where every game should be considered "big" there are a few non-conference games to watch.
Sept. 17: @ Iowa
Sept. 24: Notre Dame
Oct. 15: Utah
Pitt struggled in big games last year; could they flip the script in 2011?
No. 3: Pitt Wins the Big East
The Big East Conference should be up for grabs once again in 2011.
West Virginia is considered to be the best team in the league, but you never know.
Pitt could see themselves in a situation of playing for the Big East title when they travel to West Virginia on Nov. 25.
No. 2: Pitt Makes It to a BCS Bowl Game
Pitt would have to win the Big East Conference to get a chance at a BCS Bowl game.
That is possible seeing how a 5-2 Big East record won the conference in 2010.
If they can get that explosive offense that Todd Graham has promised and a defense that shows up on a consistent basis, they could surprise some people.
No. 1: Pitt Runs the Table
This is a dream.
Pitt running the table would be a head shaker to say the least. Their chances of running the table are very slim.
However, running the table in the Big East is a possibility.
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