In an interview during SportsCenter not more than a week ago, ESPN College Football analyst Kirk Herbstreit nabbed the Pitt Panthers to be a "team to watch" in the Big East during the 2008 season. Being from Pittsburgh, this naturally is a very exciting thing to think about.
I will give Pitt the credit it is due. Last year, then Freshman tailback LeSean McCoy had a stellar season and began getting compared to the likes of Tony Dorsett and Reggie Bush. I fully expect McCoy to produce outstanding numbers in his Sophomore campaign. Pitt also deserves credit for winning against the West Virginia University (WVU) Mountaineers last season, although that win came against a team who had Pat White sitting out with an injury after the second quarter. But, as they say, a win is a win is a win.
Do I think the Panthers could beat WVU again this year? It's hard to give a definitive yes or no. But assuming that new WVU head coach Bill Stewart keeps the spread option offense in play, I don't think Pitt will perform as well as they did last season. Especially if White and tailback Steve Slaton are both healthy.
Overall I think one of the Panthers obvious strengths is their rushing attack. If McCoy can stay healthy, it's really going to help the quarterback, weather that be Bill Stull or Pat Bostick, to improve. It has been proven on a pro level, that an awesome ground game is a developing quarterback's best friend. The duel threat of Jerome Bettis and Willie Parker helped Ben Roethelisberger develop into an awesome QB during Roethelisberger's rookie season, and if it can happen on the pro level, it can happen on the college level.
When I take a look back and analyze the Panthers "big picture" situation, I come to one conclusion. Yes, I think Pitt will come away with some big wins this season. I'm still on the fence about the backyard brawl, due to the fact that WVU basically has NFL talent in White and Slaton. But I do think that Panthers will have a strong outing this season. In my opinion I think Stull should get the start at QB, because I think a lot of people have forgotten that Stull was once a top ten recruit in 2005. What I think, however, and what the Panthers will do, are probably two different things. While I want Stull to get the start, Bostick made a big case for why he should be the starter in '08. In '07, the then Freshman threw for 1500 yards in the ten games in which he played. Honestly, as much as I'm pulling for Stull to get the start, it appears that Bostick gives the Panthers a better chance to win.