With just a little over two months until the college football season finally gets underway, it’s hard to ignore some of the blockbuster matchups that we’ll be treated to to open up the 2013 season. Opening weekend is stacked with games that pit some of the marquee programs in the nation against one another.
To cap off the illustrious weekend, the annual Labor Day night game will feature the Florida State Seminoles squaring off against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Heinz Field. The Panthers will be making their ACC debut against the most successful team from their new conference, and the reigning champions.
It’s not an easy task by any means whatsoever. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone giving Pitt any sort of a shot in this one.
However, the Panthers pulling off the upset isn’t completely out of the realm of possibility. But, for this to happen, there needs to be a change to whom most people expect to be under center for head coach Paul Chryst when the game kicks off on Sep. 2.
Most, if not all, expect journeyman transfer Tom Savage to start at QB, given his experience during his time with the Colorado State Rams. Of course, this logic may make sense to some especially going up against this powerful powerful FSU team. But, while passable at best, Savage didn’t exactly show signs of being the next Dan Marino in the games that he has started.
Back in April, Chryst said before their annual spring game that Savage, for an undisclosed definitive reason, would see limited playing time. Instead, redshirt freshman Chad Voytik would take the majority of the first-team snaps. Voytik did more than take advantage of this opportunity by putting out a 358-yard, three touchdown performance. With no interceptions neither, it was a near flawless performance commanding the offense. Even with the game being played under inclement weather on a frigid, rainy Friday night, Voytik looked more like a seasoned veteran rather than a freshman.
And, in my opinion, the nation needs to see him on Labor Day night leading the Panthers into their new era.
Aside from the natural leadership qualities that Voytik exudes, he also brings something valuable to the table against the Florida State defense that Savage doesn’t–mobility. The ‘Noles are a defense that is fast, aggressive, and physical. With the Pitt offensive line not exactly considered among the elite in the country, which is putting it lightly, it’s easy to envision a pure pocket-passer like Savage having one of the worst nights of his athletic life.
Chad Voytik, on the other hand, can keep the Seminole defense on their toes throughout the night with the mobility options he provides. In that spring game, he worked remarkably well out of the pocket and, more importantly, was deadly accurate with his throws on the run. If you couple this ability with some of the playmakers around him including RB Isaac Bennett, WR Devin Street and highly-regarded, incoming all-everything athlete Tyler Boyd, there is a lot more for this Panther offense to work with. Quite simply, if Pitt tries to line up man-for-man against FSU, their first night in the ACC will not be one to remember. But if they can find ways to scheme around that speedy defense with the mobile youngster at the helm, Labor Day night could be interesting.
Is it a gamble? Absolutely, it is. But people seem to be forgetting that Florida State is also trotting out an unproven redshirt freshman at QB who had an impressive spring performance in Jameis Winston. All of the hype seems to be surrounding the Seminoles’ two-sport phenom.
Who’s to say, that at least on the football field, fellow redshirt freshman Voytik can’t snatch that hype from Winston by the time the night is over?
Jack is the ACC College Football Writer for Rant Sports. Follow Jack on Twitter @JackJ14RS