PITTSBURGH — Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi revealed that star wide receiver and kick returner Quadree Henderson is dealing with a minor injury.
Henderson is expected to suit and play against No. 9 Oklahoma State on Saturday, but how effective he will be remains a question. Henderson got four touches — two catches and two rushes — for a net zero yards against Penn State last Saturday and was also a non-factor in the return game.
Narduzzi said on Monday that the team needed to get Henderson back to “100 percent,” and he clarified those remarks on Thursday.
“There’s just something that’s nagging him,” Narduzzi said. “He’s not 100 percent right now. He’s not 75 percent either, but he’s not 100 percent and we’re working and doing everything we can to get him right. He had a heck of lot better practice this week.”
Henderson was not the first option in punt return drills this week, with Maurice Ffrench taking over that role. It’s not clear if Henderson will be used to return kicks this week or not.
Pitt’s linebackers have been victimized by both the passing and the running games in the first two weeks of the season, but Narduzzi said he’s seen improvement from Saleem Brightwell and Elijah Zeise and expects both to get better.
Here’s a play that got left on the cutting room floor of this week’s film session as evidence of that. Zeise makes a great play to break off his coverage and come back to a scrambling Trace McSorley to make a big stop on a third down.
Narduzzi also said he’s pleased that his cornerbacks have done a better job with opposing receivers, but would gladly trade that for more success against the run.
“You guys are happy with the damned corners,” Narduzzi said. “I’d be happier if we stopped the run.”
Here’s linebackers coach Rob Harley on the challenge his backers will face this week against Oklahoma State if they want to continue to show improvement.
PUNTERS ARE PEOPLE, TOO
Oklahoma State punter Zach Sinor has become a minor celebrity after announcing a campaign for the Heisman Trophy at this year’s Big 12 media day.
Sinor was the best punter in the country at backing up opponents inside the 20-yard line in 2016, something he touts on his hilarious web site dedicated to his candidacy.
Pitt punter Ryan Winslow said that Sinor is legitimately good, but isn’t sure about a Heisman nod.
“It’s pretty funny,” Winslow said. “Specialists have to get into the limelight somehow. He’s pretty solid. … I don’t think (I’d vote for him). I’d go for one of those guys that are making all the touchdowns.”
The Panthers and No. 9 Oklahoma State Cowboys should have beautiful conditions on Saturday. The forecast at kickoff, according to the National Weather Service, is for mostly sunny and 76 degrees with light winds and minimal chance of rain.