PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan)- It’s hard to believe, but football season is coming once again.
The Pitt Panthers will open camp Aug. 3 and Pitt Center Artie Rowell took time out to talk about the upcoming season with Ron Cook on The Cook and Poni Show Thursday.
“We have been working hard all summer,” Rowell said. “We have four returning guys up front and we have added some good freshmen we are looking forward to a fun year.”
That fun year could be highlighted by a rare two-way player in James Connor, who is going to see time in the Panthers back field and on the defensive line.
Rowell says Connor is big, physical and fast. He also says Connor works hard and will be ready to make an impact on both sides of the ball.
“I think he can really help our team offensively take that next step and even defensively this year,” Rowell said. “James isn’t looking to make too many cuts. He is looking to get behind us up front and push it north and south, and as an offensive lineman I can’t ask for much more that that.”
The Panthers offense showed some good things in the win over Bowling Green in the bowl game at the end of last season. It was a comeback 30-27 win over Bowling Green in the Little Caesars Bowl lead by Chad Voytik, who will return to lead the Panthers this year.
“I think he is going to be OK,” Rowell said. “I think he is going to gain confidence in every practice and every game week to week and I think if he can just relay that confidence in the huddle guys will continue to believe in him and I think it helps that he had such a stellar performance in the second half of the bowl game. He really lead us to that win against Bowling Green.”
Rowell says the offense constructed by Head Coach Paul Chryst is not an easy one to pick up because it’s a pro style offense but Chad has done a nice job with it and is spending a great deal of time in film study this summer and he thinks he will be up for the challenge.
One of the main targets for Voytik will be sophomore WR Tyler Boyd who made a real impact a year ago and he is expected to be an even bigger target this year.
“There is always that one guy that seems like he is the superstar,” Rowell said. “You had Shady on our team and guys like Baldwin. Every year there is somebody that is that big guy and Tyler is our guy for that role.”
He says the most impressive thing is to see how hard Boyd has worked since day one and he doesn’t expect to see a sophomore slump from him.
Rowell says there is an excitement at the Pitt facility these days and they are excited to get the season started.
“To finally come back to a coaching staff after a few years and have some returning starters up front, on offense and on defense in the same system is awesome,” Rowell said. “There is a lot of excitement on the South Side and the whole city of Pittsburgh right now for our upcoming season.”
The Panthers will open the season Aug. 30 against Delaware.