Notre Dame Opponents Preview: Pittsburgh Panthers Offense


October 27, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers running back Ray Graham (1) rushes the ball as Temple Owls linebackers Olaniyi Adewole (56) and Tyler Matakevich (32) pursue during the third quarter at Heinz Field. The Pittsburgh Panthers won 47-17. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

Pittsburgh Panthers

November 3, 2012 at 3:30 pm


Last Meeting (2011): Notre Dame 15-Pittsburgh 12

Line: Notre Dame (-17.0)

Pittsburgh has enough talent to threaten anyone in the country. It truly depends whether or not they can put it all together on a given day. They rank 59th in the nation scoring 29.0 points per game, which is 2.6 points higher than the output from the Fighting Irish this season. The Panthers are near the bottom high in rushing averaging 150.38 yards per game. This does not bode well for the Panthers because the Irish are already fierce against the run. Pittsburgh is near the top of the pack in passing yards per game, however, with 281.5 yards per game. These two averages bring Pittsburgh to a total of 431.9 and 44th in the country. The Panthers are not a juggernaut but they are a formidable Offense that should not be taken lightly by the Fighting Irish.

Tino Sunseri, QB, Senior

The 6’2″ Senior from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is having an efficient season throwing the football. In his Junior year, Sunseri was a turnover prone, throwing more interceptions than touchdown passes. However, Sunseri has turned that around this season. He has tossed 13 touchdowns to only 2 interceptions. Furthermore, he is completing nearly 70% of his passes with throwing from almost 2200 yards. Sunseri is a seasoned Quarterback who is unlikely to make a lot of mistakes. He does not have a supreme ability to “make” a play but, he can definitely hurt you if as a defense you make a mistake. If the Panthers win on Saturday, it will be by the right arm of number 12.

Ray Graham, RB, Senior

Graham is the first head in Pittsburgh’s two-headed rushing monster. Graham rushes for 77.75 yards per game. Last year, Graham was one of the top rushers in the country rushing for 120.50 yards per game. This year, with the addition of the Freshmen Shell, his carries have gone down significantly from around 21 per game to 16 per game. In addition, his average has dropped from 5.88 to 4.6. There could be two reasons for this. One is that Graham is coming from knee surgery in the off-season. Two, sometimes when there is another Running Back it is hard to get into a good flow if you are constantly switching between two backs. Even though Graham has not carried the “load” yet this season, he could be ready for his break out game.

Devin Street, WR, Junior

Street is the leading receiving for the Panthers with 50 receptions this season. That number puts him tied for 33rd in the nation for receptions. It is 28 higher than any Notre Dame receiver so far this season. With those 50 receptions, Street has amassed 695 yards and 4 touchdowns. At 6’4″ 190, Street is near prototypical NFL size. He should get an opportunity to play on Sundays.

Notre Dame will have its hands full stopping this Offense on Saturday. If the Panthers can maintain a balanced approach, they should have an excellent opportunity at moving the ball on the Irish. Notre Dame has one of the best defenses in the nation. So far, they have forced teams into being one dimensional. Notre Dame will attempt to shut down the Panthers running game on Saturday and force Sunseri to win the game for the Panthers. Although Sunseri is having an excellent and efficient season at Quarterback, he may not be able to stand up the pressure that the Fighting Irish will bring if the Panthers prove to be one dimensional.

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