We are inching ever so close to the kickoff of the season. In a little over 2 days, the most anticipated season of Pitt football in the last 25 years will take place.
Amazingly, this is one of the few years in recent memory where we are favored to be the best of the "local 3". With the pressure mounting, the team and the fans are getting anxious to start the season.
We have returning sensations Jon Baldwin, Greg Romeus, and Dion Lewis. All three should have great seasons, being able to expand on what they were able to accomplish previously. My only hope is that people do not have unrealistic expectations of what each can accomplish.
Greg Romeus will be seeing more double teams than ever given the hype as well as the departure of Mick Williams. That does not mean he can not be a force this season. I am hoping that he can earn double digit sacks and continue to be a menace of a pass rusher.
Dion Lewis will have the chance to continue his great Pitt start as he will be the anchor of the offense. Lucas Nix and Jason Pinkston provide great consistency and have the skill to seal the edge giving Dion room to run. There is some concern replacing the entire interior line, but the staff seems confident in Karabin to replace Robb Houser. The Cat Basket has always been a fan of Chris Jacobsen since his KO days and feel he will be able to step in right away. Greg Gaskins and that right guard spot continue to be a huge question mark for Pitt. If the interior line is able to provide adequate run blocking, Dion should be able to at least reach last years totals.
Jon Baldwin is a major part of the offense and is one of the biggest weapons we have. He will be counted on to help Tino Sunseri make the transition from backup QB to starter. His numbers should increase as he will be the primary target for most passing plays as well as with the departure of other receivers who were big targets last year. A new quarterback often locks into the first target during the early portion of his starting career, so don't be surprised when you continually hear Sunseri to Baldwin.
If those three players have big years, Pitt should be able to make a run for a Big East title. This is the year where a 9-3 team can win the Big East. Losses to Miami and Utah won't be devastating, but a split is needed if we are hoping to gain some respect as a major program returning to glory.
Personally I see the Panthers finishing 9-3 with 1 Big East loss and 2 non-conference losses. Hopefully a 6-1 Big East record is enough to push us forward to a BCS game against a beatable ACC team.