It seems you have questions about the quarterbacks. That was the big topic when I threw out the signal flare for input for the Week 3 edition of Five Questions at Five, so that’s what we’ll lead with and get right into it.
I’ve lumped some of the quarterback questions together so you’re actually getting some bonus answers today. What can I say, I was feeling charitable.
Parris Knight @parrisknight How will Pitt get Max Browne to let loose and stretch the defense?
I think Browne got pretty understandably gun shy after his first five deep routes last Saturday included two drops and two interceptions. He has to make some corrections on the interceptions, but I think getting a completion early would go a long way toward Browne’s confidence and Shawn Watson’s confidence in his ability to make those completions.
Mark Kaczanowicz @mark5kaz What are the odds we see Ben DiNucci take multiple series’ worth of snaps?
If I were to put a Vegas line on it, I would say two series for DiNucci sounds about right. I’d expect him to get at least one even if Browne plays well.
Chuck Like @chucklipke How bad will Max have to be to get pulled?
It depends on how DiNucci does with the time that he’s given. If Browne is just mediocre as he was against Penn State, but DiNucci looks dynamic, maybe the move happens gradually, with DiNucci getting more and more playing time.
For Browne to be out and out benched, I think he would have to be pretty bad. Graduate transfers are going to get every opportunity to prove the can start before the team moves to a different direction.
Steven King @stheking27 If Browne gets pulled and DiNucci isn’t much better, will Pat Narduzzi bring Thomas MacVittie in as ‘the future is now’ QB?
I think DiNucci is the quarterback of the future before MacVittie is the quarterback of the future. However long of a leash Browne gets, DiNucci will likely get longer. I wouldn’t expect to see MacVittie unless there’s an injury or the season gets out of hand.
OK, on to non-quarterback questions.
Wayne Greiser @CoachGresier Do you see any of their visitors committing this weekend?
Honestly, no. For the most part, under Pat Narduzzi, the Panthers haven’t gotten a ton of in-season commitments and I can think of very few that came directly after a game. Narduzzi has said that he’s a lot more focused on his team than he is recruits during a game day.
The other thing working against the Panthers is that they don’t have many spots left and we have a pretty good idea of who they’re targeting with them. We also know a lot of those players aren’t likely to commit this weekend.
Per PSN head honcho Mike Vukovcan, Kwantel Raines won’t commit until October and Cole Beck still has a visit scheduled to Virginia Tech next weekend.
If there is a surprise commit, it might come from the ranks of the 2019’s invited, but I would consider that a pretty decent long shot.
John Pezza @Paruhdyme With Duke looking better than expected, what will Pitt do in the ACC Coastal?
My first thought was that it’s pretty early for this question, but then the schedule reminded me that ACC play starts for Pitt next weekend, so it’s worthy of taking a look at.
I’ll start with what I thought before the season, which was that Pitt would lose three of four against Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina and Virginia Tech and take care of business against Duke, NC State and Virginia to finish the regular season 4-3.
Right now Duke and Virginia Tech are 2-0, UNC is 0-2, Miami is 1-0 and everyone else is 1-1, with North Carolina’s loss to Louisville the only conference game played.
Virginia Tech looked like heavy favorites in the division and reinforced that with neutral-site win over West Virginia. Virginia looked like the same Virginia team that finished in last place a year ago, losing to Indiana at home by 17. There’s not much to be gleaned from Miami thrashing Bethune-Cookman and I wouldn’t put a lot of stock in Duke beating up on North Carolina Central and Northwestern.
In the stock down department, it looks like the Tar Heels might not be as good as I thought after home losses to the Cardinals, and more troubling, the California Bears.
However, Georgia Tech took Tennessee to overtime in a classic. The Yellow Jackets had a ton of injuries last year that derailed their season, but I was already bullish on them this year and they might be even better than they thought.
I’d say I have Pitt right about where I did at the beginning of the season: in the middle of the pack.
Anthony @twsports7 How much of Pitt’s defensive success do you attribute to them spending less time on the field?
Good question, Anthony, and it’s a good observation. I asked Max Browne about how much of the offense’s job this week is keeping the defense off the field. Here’s what he had to say.
“It’s staying on the field and sustaining drives when you need to,” Browne said. He also added that just being on the field longer helps the offense break more big plays, because they get more plays to work with. “The more we’re out there, the more likely something is to go wrong (for the defense). Big plays are crucial, but sustaining drives is definitely a focus for our offense.”
I would say it’s been a big part of Pitt’s defense’s successes this year, particularly because the Panthers don’t have experienced depth pretty much anywhere. So when players get tired, the second string is going to be a big step down in a lot of spots.
But, that’s what Pitt’s offense is designed to do — take up a lot of clock with long drives and keep the defense off the field. So while I think it’s helped a lot, I think it should also continue to help.