The Kenny Pickett era needs to start this Saturday vs. Virginia.
Yes, Ben DiNucci was quarterback yesterday as Pitt beat Duke but they won in spite of the quarterback. If the Panthers had any sort of passing game, they would’ve blown Duke our instead of squeaking out a seven point win.
After the game, Pat Narduzzi said all the right things about DiNucci “not making any mistakes”, etc but a starting quarterback for a Power Five team has to do more than that.
This is not meant to criticize DiNucci, it really isn’t. I realize that yesterday was just his second college start and he’s trying to learn and get comfortable on the job. I certainly understand that.
However, Narduzzi is the CEO of the Pitt program and needs to make decisions that are in the best long-term interest of Pitt. Starting Pickett this Saturday is what he needs to do.
Despite being a freshman Pickett will make Pitt’s overall offense better. Starting DiNucci limits Pitt’s playbook because he’s strictly someone who can throw underneath routes. Pitt will rarely throw deep with him and when they do, he isn’t very accurate. Pickett is just as mobile as DiNucci, has a stronger arm and frankly has more upside.
During training camp, we heard whispers that Pickett was physically the most gifted quarterback in camp but wasn’t going to play because of Max Browne. Now that Browne is out for the season and Narduzzi burned his redshirt, there’s no legitimate reason to not get Pickett game action.
Not much has gone right for Pitt this season but one big thing they can finish 2017 with is knowing who their quarterback for the following season will be. There’s nothing worse for a football team than having uncertainty at quarterback.
This is not to say Pickett is going to be Dan Marino but Narduzzi owes it to the program and himself to find out what he has in Pickett.
Getting him starts against Virginia, North Carolina and especially Virginia Tech and Miami will be great real live experience and could prove to be beneficial for 2018 (especially for the second game of the season).
Pickett might be completely overwhelmed and look no better than DiNucci. That would be bad news for Pitt but better to find out now and have a real evaluation of him heading into the offseason.
Making a quarterback change at this point won’t be easy but it’s the right thing to do and one Natduzzi should do starting this Saturday.