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Virginia Tech Football: Previewing the Pittsburgh Offense

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Previewing the Pittsburgh offensive unit before the Hokies and Panthers tangle this Thursday.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Offensive Coordinator: Joe Rudolph

Offensive Scheme: Pro Style

Scoring Offense: T-64th Nationally (30.5 PPG)

Rushing Offense: 20th Nationally (243.67 YPG)

Passing Offense: 116th Nationally (161.5 YPG)

Quarterbacks:

The Pittsburgh offense is lead by redshirt sophomore quarterback Chad Voytik. In his first season as the Panthers signal caller, Voytik has completed 84 of 143 passes for 949 yards. On the season Voytik has averaged 158.2 yards per game, while contributing eight passing touchdowns, and throwing five interceptions.

Voytik's arm strength is on par with his 6'1", 205 pound frame, and his accuracy has been maligned at times. However, his effectiveness as a dual-threat quarterback has made Voytik a valuable piece on the offensive side of the ball for Pittsburgh. Voytik's athleticism has allowed him to become another threat for Panthers where he has contributed 169 yards and one touchdown on 42 rushing attempts this season.

Virginia Tech has struggled in 2014 when tasked with containing mobile quarterbacks. Against Ohio State, Virginia Tech surrendered 70 rushing yards and a touchdown to Buckeye quarterback J.T. Barrett. Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas ran for 165 yards and a touchdown en route to the Yellow Jackets 27-24 win over the Hokies in September.

Running Backs:

Pittsburgh's running game ranks 20th nationally, in large part to the efforts of sophomore James Conner. The 230-pound sophomore has bulldozed the opposition this season, running through defenders, and occasionally carrying them with him down the field. Conner averages 145.5 yards per game, and has run for 874 yards on 155 attempts, good for 5th nationally in rushing yards. He is also tied for 7th in the country in rushing touchdowns this season with nine.

Freshman Chris James has been a pleasant surprise in the Pittsburgh backfield, contributing 138 rushing yards on 28 attempts with three touchdowns. Senior rusher Issac Bennett has made the most of his 17 attempts on the ground, running for 105 yards and a touchdown.

The well populated Panthers backfield should test a Hokies run defense which ranks 16th nationally, surrendering 108.83 rushing yards per game this season.

Receivers:

The unquestioned leader of the Pittsburgh receiving corps is sophomore Tyler Boyd. Boyd has hauled in 30 passes for 428 yards, and four touchdowns. A season ago as a true freshman Boyd broke two records previously held by Pittsburgh alum Larry Fitzgerald; receptions (85) and receiving yards (1,174). Boyd has excellent hands, and uses the entire field to his advantage. While his awareness along the sidelines lends itself to "top 10" quality catches, Boyd also excels making catches over-the-middle in traffic.

Playing across from Boyd is senior wideout Manasseh Garner. Garner has contributed 164 yards and two touchdowns, on 14 receptions this season. Fellow senior Kevin Weatherspoon has only caught five passes, but his limited opportunities have accounted for 62 receiving yards. Tight end J.P. Holtz has nine receptions for 87 yards and doesn't grab headlines, but he remains a potential threat thanks to Voytik's mobility behind center.

Virginia Tech's pass defense currently ranks 44th in the nation, allowing 216.3 yards per game through the air. "DBU" will obviously be focused on containing Boyd, but can't allow Garner and company to exploit that focus.

Outlook:

Pittsburgh quarterback Chad Voytik's stat line against Virginia Tech likely won't amaze, but he has enough weapons on offense to make for a challenging evening. Even fielding a top 20 run defense, the Hokies will still surrender its share of rushing yards to James Conner, and can't allow Voytik to add to it. All eyes in the secondary will rightfully be pierced on Tyler Boyd, but the Hokies can't allow themselves to be exploited by Pittsburgh's other, underutilized receiving options. If the Hokies can find a way to get off the field with out allowing Conner to wear them down on sustained drives they should find success Thursday in Pittsburgh.