After a three tough games against Clemson, Ole Miss, and UCF to start the season, Georgia Tech Football will hit the road the first week in October to face the defending ACC Champions. Pitt Football is going to look different than they did last season, but they are still going to be competing for the ACC Coastal title.
Last season, Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett took a massive leap forward and finished third-place in the Heisman Trophy voting. Wide receiver Jordan Addison won the Biletnikoff award for the nations's top receiver and Pitt had their best season in ages. Now, Pickett is the quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Addison transferred to USC.
Despite those two leaving, the Panthers are going to be a good team in 2022. Whether they can still win the conference is going to be up to some transfers and improvement from the pass defense.
Pitt currently has a four game winning streak against the Yellow Jackets, dating back to 2018. The last three matchups have all been decided by double-digits and Georgia Tech has not beaten Pitt on the road since 2014.
Let's take an early look at how Pitt Football is going to look in 2022.
Pitt Wide Receiver Jared Wayne
Pitt Running Back Israel Abanikanda
Pitt Quarterback Kedon Slovis
Pickett is now gone after having one of the best seasons in school history and now it will likely be USC transfer Kedon Slovis under center for Pitt. Slovis burst onto the scene in 2019 at USC as a true freshman, throwing for a career high 3,502 yards and 30 touchdowns, with nine interceptions. In the years since his debut however, Slovis has had to battle through injuries and hasn't looked the same. With the arrival of Lincoln Riley at USC, Slovis decided to transfer.
When he arrived at Pitt, Slovis was hoping to be hopeful to throw to Addison, but that is not going to be the case. However, there is still going to be a strong stable of skill players around him. Last year's leading receiver Jared Wayne is back to lead the group and he will be joined by Akron transfer Konata Mumpfield. Mumpfield should give the group a boost, as he had 63 receptions for 751 yards and eight touchdowns last season for the Zips.
The running attack was an issue for Pitt last season, but they are returning their top rushers to hopefully fix that. Israel Abanikanda is among the best running backs in the ACC and his backups Vincent Davis and Rodney Hammond Jr help form a dangerous trio.
The offensive line is going to be the best in the ACC in 2022. All five starters return and provide loads of experience for Pitt. This will be the strength of the offense in 2022.
Pitt Panthers Defense
Pitt Safety Erick Hallett II
Pitt Defensive End Habakkuk Baldonado
Pitt Linebacker SirVocea Dennis
Pitt had the 39th ranked defense in the country last season, but most of that was on the strength of their sixth ranked passing defense. The Panthers really struggled in stopping the run and finished with the 115th ranked rushing defense. Getting better against the run is the biggest key for Pitt's defense this season.
Up front, Pitt is going to return three of four lineman. Deslin Alexandre, Calijah Kancey, and Habakkuk Baldonado will be able to get after the quarterback and the trio combined for 18.5 sacks last season.
At linebacker, SirVocea Dennis returns and is one of the best linebackers in the ACC. The rest of the unit outside of Dennis has question marks and that is going to be something to watch.
The secondary returns three of four starters, but will miss Damarri Mathis, who is now in the NFL. Safety Erick Hallett II and corner Marquis Williams are the guys to watch in the back of Pitt's defense.
All of the ingredients are there for Pitt to be one of the best teams in the ACC yet again.
For the matchup, Georgia Tech is going to need great performances on the line of scrimmage against Pitt. That is where the Panthers are strongest and it is hard to imagine Georgia Tech going on the road and winning this game if they can't get good play on the line of scrimmage.
Follow us on social media for the latest with Georgia Tech Athletics!
Facebook: All Yellow Jackets
Follow Jackson on Twitter: @jacksoncaudell