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Five Questions at 5: Retro Unis, Playmakers, Kenny Pickett & More



It’s Friday, so that means it’s tine for my five questions at 5 o’clock.

I had a couple from last week, so we’ll do those first and then get into this week’s questions. Enjoy!

@BringinThe44: When will #Pitt bring back the retro uniforms on a permanent basis?

It seems like things are trending in that direction. More and more of the things the university puts on social media, merchandise, and branded items in their buildings are of the old-school colors.
The basketball team is expected to reprise their throwback look during this season, and some of the school’s other teams have expressed interest in doing so as well. Additionally, the cheer squad and the dance team wore throwback outfits against Penn State and North Carolina State.

It seems likely that at least the football team will go all-old school at some point sooner than later. While I think the blue and yellow gold are an awesome combo and make a beautiful football uniform, there’s no denying that they’re a bit garish for more traditionally conservative sports like tennis, baseball, softball and soccer.

Drew Nedzinski @drewneddy: We’ve seen Whitehead, Ffrench and Maddox play both ways the last 2 yrs. Is that an indication of their athleticism or lack of playmakers elsewhere?

I think it’s a little bit of both, and each case is unique. Ffrench was recruited as an athlete that needed to develop into a position. For him, it was more about at which spot the team was going to have a greater need than any desire to tinker with playing him both ways.

Whitehead is the team’s best player. He could probably play 15 positions. Pitt uses him as much as they can, where they need him the most.

With Maddox, I think it’s more about rewarding a senior that has worked hard for four years with something of a different challenge. He’s obviously fast and has returned kicks in the past, so there’s no reason he can’t be a useful offensive weapon. Pitt did the same thing last season by letting James Conner rush the passer a little bit.

In sort of a related note, Pitt has been using tackles Brian O’Neil and Alex Bookser in what they’re calling their “Diesel” package on field goal block. Bookser blocked one against Duke and claims he’s been saying since he got to Pitt that he could do the job.

Pete Havern @PeteHavern: Do you anticipate more inside zone running this week? If so, how does UVa’s 3-4 scheme impact the reads and responsibilities.

Last year, the inside zone/jet sweep combo was huge for Pitt against Virginia’s 3-4 defense, just like it was a week ago against Duke.

Against Virginia, they key will be the motion-side inside linebacker. If he reacts to the motion, the handoff needs to go to back on the inside zone. If he doesn’t, the handoff needs to go to the receiver in motion.

Making that read and call is something that Ben DiNucci has been doing very well, maybe even better than Max Browne had been. After having neither play working for much of the season, Pitt had both going against Duke last week.
That’s one of the major reasons I expect DiNucci to get continue to get the bulk of the playing time despite his relative lack of success passing.

Jordan Keebler @JKiebs_5: Is Kenny Pickett the future? If so, does he start the rest of the season? Why would DiNucci stick around to be a backup?

Whew, there’s a lot going on here.

First of all, it looks like Pickett is the future starter for Pitt at quarterback, but nothing is guaranteed. He remains a true freshman and though he’s fairly polished as a passer and very athletic, his mastery of the offense and decision-making need to improve before he’s going to get handed the reins.

As it stands right now, the Panthers still have plenty to play for this season. With Miami and Virginia Tech still left on the schedule, they aren’t even mathematically eliminated from winning the division and also have a chance to get to six wins and become bowl eligible.

For those reasons, Pat Narduzzi is going to play the quarterback that he feels can most help him win games, and right now, that’s DiNucci. If a game gets out of hand one way or the other, I think it’s likely you’ll see Pickett at that point.

If Pitt loses a few more games and the season does truly become hopeless, maybe Pickett will get a start.

As far as what happens next year, it’s hard to say. What happens the rest of the way will probably go a long way to figuring that out. I could see all three quarterbacks go into the spring and then sort themselves out from there.

@The_Kambler: How has [Kaezon] Pugh adapted to the position change? On talent level alone, I thought for sure he would forge his way into the rotation. Also, is George Hill still enrolled at Pitt and part of the team in any fashion?

I think it’s been a tougher-than-expected change for Pugh. It’s not just a change of position, but he’s also been trying to put on physical mass to help better deal with the defensive end spot. Being an undersized end is really tough. Ejuan Price made it look easy as a fifth- and sixth-year senior, but he struggled at times as a younger player, as well.

Pitt is actually pretty deep at end right now, too. Rashad Weaver has emerged as maybe the best of the bunch with Dewayne Hendrix and Allen Edwards providing solid contributions and James Folston and Patrick Jones depth. Furthermore, all but Edwards are coming back for next year, so there’s no reason to rush Pugh along.

He also didn’t dress for Pitt’s last two home game against NC State and Rice. He wasn’t listed on the injury report, so I don’t know if it was an injury or for another reason. We’ll see if he dresses this Saturday.

George Hill is still enrolled at Pitt and got to keep his scholarship while he’s on a permanent medical exemption. I haven’t seen him around the team as much this year as I did last year, so I don’t know if he has any kind of official or unofficial role. I’ll ask around and let you know if I can come up with something.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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