PITTSBURGH — Kenny Pickett started all 14 games for Pitt a sophomore in 2018, but with a new offensive coordinator coming into the fold in former UMass head coach Mark Whipple, there was no guarantee that he would continue to do so in 2019.
Pickett, who finished with 1,969 yards on 180 of 310 passing, saw his completion percentage and yards per attempt both drop from his freshman season to his sophomore campaign, and Pitt has a combination of experience and talent waiting in the wings in former Illinois starter Jeff George and untapped freshmen Nick Patti and Davis Beville.
But after the Panthers first practice of the spring on Wednesday, Whipple dispelled the notion that it would be anyone other No. 8 under center when Pitt takes the field against Virginia on August 31.
“He’s the starter,” Whipple said point-blank, but added that the other quarterbacks will see a similar number of repetitions. “It’s all competition. We’ve got even the rep some way, but he’s going ones on ones. The other guys are trying to even him out.”
George, who supplanted the departed Ricky Town as Pickett’s primary backup, worked with the second team on Wednesday, followed by Patti and Beville.
“Those guys were good,” Whipple said. “The thing you’re looking for is attitude. I thought guys tried to finish, which we’ve really emphasized.”
Head coach Pat Narduzzi said the decisions made about the offense will be up to Whipple, who was head coach and ran the offense for the Minutemen.
Here’s more from Whipple’s press briefing after Pitt’s first spring practice: