Pitt eyes stability in bid to repeat as ACC Coastal champs

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Kenny Pickett is aware of his numbers in his first yr as Pittsburgh’s beginning quarterback weren’t nice. He would not significantly care.

What the numbers failed to indicate had been all of the occasions he would come to the road of scrimmage, survey the protection and examine for the suitable play, a play that was nearly at all times a handoff for a group that relied closely on the operating again tandem of Darrin Hall and Qadree Ollision.

These heady selections earned Pickett reward throughout video evaluate classes the subsequent morning, even when they did not replenish the stat sheet with gaudy passing numbers or do a lot to construct on the ”Kenny Good” moniker bestowed upon him following his electrical debut as a freshman on the finish of 2017.

”I am not right here to please followers,” stated Pickett, who threw for 1,969 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2018, each totals that did not crack the highest 10 within the 14-team ACC. ”I am right here to please the fellows in our locker room, on our teaching workers. So so long as I am doing proper by my teammates first after which the coaches, it is OK with me. I simply need to win.”

One thing the Panthers did sufficient final season to earn this system its first ACC Coastal Division title . But momentum within the Coastal is fickle. No group has repeated as Coastal champions since Virginia Tech in 2011.

For Pitt to get again to Charlotte to face the Atlantic Division winner on the primary Saturday in December, the Panthers want the passing recreation to be extra of a menace. Being one-dimensional caught as much as Pitt late within the yr, when it ended the season with a three-game shedding streak that included a lopsided loss to Clemson wherein the Panthers managed simply eight yards via the air.

New offensive coordinator Mark Whipple was introduced in to supply a jolt . He and Pickett holed up throughout a lot of the spring and parts of the summer time, with Whipple – whose teaching profession consists of three stops within the NFL – usually utilizing tape of NFL stars Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers to make a degree.

The underlying message is not to count on Pickett to play as they do, however to present him tangible proof that the factors Whipple is making an attempt to make have advantage. Take into account Pickett a believer. Their conferences did not focus a lot on what play Whipple known as however why he known as it, a course of that Pickett says has allowed him to develop into a coach on the sector. The trickle down has generated a higher buy-in by the offensive gamers as an entire.

”He is far more assured and far more stronger to the place he can deal with what he has to do,” senior huge receiver Maurice Ffrench stated. ”He is extra mature now. Me and him sit down and watch movie with each other and skim the whole lot and I perceive and choose his mind to: ‘The place would you like me to be? How would you like me to run this route?’ That is how our complete receivers’ room is. Simply to be on the identical web page.”

Different issues to observe for as Pitt seems to be to show its unlikely rise from a 2-Three begin to a spot within the ACC title recreation final yr was no fluke.


Corridor and Ollison – each of whom topped 1,000 yards in 2018 – are actually within the NFL. Enter A.J. Davis and Todd Sibley Jr., who’ve 72 profession touches mixed.

”I feel for essentially the most half they perceive what we’re making an attempt to get achieved, however there’s so many little nuances that it simply takes time to be taught,” operating backs coach Andrew Powell stated. ”It is going to take a while. We will be affected person and we’ll determine who can play profitable soccer and we’ll attempt to get them able to assist us win.”


Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi constructed his resume by establishing intimidating defenses at Michigan State. Now in his fifth season with the Panthers, he could be doing the identical at Pitt. Nevertheless, there are critical questions at linebacker – which is making an attempt to interchange three starters – and at defensive finish after Rashad Weaver was misplaced for the yr due to a knee harm. There’s loads of expertise within the secondary and alongside the defensive position even with Weaver out.


The schedule is heavy on residence video games early, placing the onus on Pitt to ship on the street final. Visits to Georgia Tech on Nov. 2 and Virginia Tech on Nov. 23 will go a great distance towards figuring out whether or not the Panthers are professional contenders within the Coastal.


The Panthers open the season by internet hosting Virginia on Aug. 30. Pitt is 5-1 towards the Cavaliers since becoming a member of the ACC. Beating Virginia, the preseason choose to win the Coastal, can be an vital first step to a repeat.

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