Here’s a bit more background on our first opponent of the 2014 season… the DELAWARE BLUE HENS!!!!
Delaware is a member of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) which is made up of smaller schools located on the eastern seaboard from Massachusetts to South Carolina. Included in that list is William and Mary who PITT used to play sometimes back when I was in school in the mid-‘70s. Great campus there BTW – right in Colonial Williamsburg.
As stated earlier PITT is 9-0 against teams in the CAA so we really shouldn’t have much of a problem with Delaware, but one never knows. According to the Blue Hens ESPN site the football team went 7-5 on the season and 4-4 in conference. In their only out of conference ‘big’ game they were beaten by the Midshipmen of the Naval Academy (Navy) 51-7. Navy was 9-4 last season so factor that in I guess.
Here are last season’s statistics breaking down the details of the season. It looks like they could run the ball well with a 4.8 ypc and their passing game was impressive with a 62% completion rate, 240 ypg and 27 TDs. Their starting QB, SR Trent Hurley, played in 10 games last year, completed 64% of his passes for 2207 yds and had 22 TDs to seven INTs. He also ran the ball 62 times and if you deduct the sack yardage against him he ran for 4.3 ypc which isn’t bad. It’s something for the defense to think about anyway.
The Blue Hens two leading rushers from the ’13 team have graduated so that leaves SO Jalen Randolph as the featured back now. He looks like a pretty good one to me. He played as a true freshman last season and had 63 carries for 319 yards for 5.1 ypc and five TDs which is excellent for a third string guy.
But what really opens my eyes about Randolph is this; he lost only six yards rushing. Six yards! That is a true north – south runner folks and at 6’1” 230 lbs he’s no small back. If our DL isn’t ready Saturday he could rack up big yardage. Randolph was a 3* recruit by both Rivals and Scout who was also offered a scholarship by Temple and WVU so he’s no small time player. He played FB in HS and here’s a clip of him in action as a Player of the Week.
Hell, the more I research this kid the more worried I get.
Defensively the 2013 Blue Hen team looked pretty average all around. They gave up 31 points per game along with 2596 yards rushing (4.8 ypc) and 3023 yards passing (252 ypg). Another thing that stands out to me is that their passing defense gave up a poor 61% completion rate. If Voytik can hit on 60+% of his passes on Saturday we’ll be in good shape. The defense did stand out a bit by sacking the opposing QB 24 times so they can get at it there. They also held the opponents to a 37% 3rd down conversion rate which is very good.
The leading tackler on the team is SR LB Patrick Calloway with 120 total, five tackles for loss and one sack. That is very impressive and someone to account for.
As far as the special teams go their punting and kickoffs were average. They slid downhill quickly with their FG kicker who was only 6 for 11, but he graduated and I can’t find out who his replacement will be. Whoever it is will be a rookie out there though.
So, my take on Saturday’s game? Even with the disparity of school size, recruiting stars, conference alignment, etc. I see these guys as being an opponent that can hold their own. In my view ‘holding one’s own” does not mean winning the football game, in this case it means the Delaware staff and players are going to leave Heinz Field feeling pretty good that they gave our Panthers a competitive football game.
We are not going to lose this game no matter what. Forget about YSU in 2012 – it’s a whole different team now and we’ll play like what we are; a young and talented team. The spread is 27 points apparently. I think the SO Randolph gives us some problems at RB, he’s a guy getting into his own spotlight and will thrive, and the experienced SR QB Hurley completes his share of passes, at least enough to worry us in the first half of play. So …
It’ll be close at the end of the 1st quarter; PITT has a lead at the half and we win while going away in the second half. Voytik is average as a college QB but will be OK as a first time starter. Conner runs for 100+ and in the 4th quarter we start playing our 2nd and 3rd string kids, but not as much as the fans would want. Fans panic at first predicting a loss when Delaware gets their first 1st down; then the fans feel a bit better after PITT scores some points, then are OK with the win but still find 128 things to complain about after the game ends anyway. We do not cover the spread.
PITT 31 – Blue Hens 13.
Note: Delaware has some pretty famous alumni in sports and other areas. VP Joe Biden, Gov Chris “a bridge too far” Christie, NFL QBs Rich Gannon and Cool Joe Flacco along with the Raven’s OL Gino Gradkowski, US Army General John Custer III ( I added him because I’ve met him – he’s not really famous), etc.