PITTSBURGH – As training camp gets underway, Pitt will be breaking out a brand new offensive scheme under first-year offensive coordinator Mark Whipple. Luckily for the Panthers, junior quarterback Kenny Pickett looked sharp on the first day of camp on the South Side.
Going into his second season as the Panthers’ unquestioned starter, Pickett looked efficient and precise when throwing routes to wide receivers and tight ends on Friday, and was clearly the most accurate of the five quarterbacks on the roster.
Pickett threw for 1969 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, but he was only able to eclipse the 200 yards passing mark once, which was a 316 yard, 3 touchdown performance in Pitt’s ACC Coastal-clinching win over Wake Forest. The Panthers are hopeful that the addition of Whipple will allow Pickett and the passing attack to blossom in his junior season.
Tight ends were a non factor last year in the offense run by former Pitt offensive coordinator Shawn Watson. The Panthers had the fewest receptions by tight ends of any team in the ACC with just 10. Redshirt senior Will Gragg led the team with five.
The tight end position looks as though it will be much more active in the first year with the new OC. For comparison, Massachusetts tight end Kyle Horn caught 17 passes for 166 yards last season under Whipple.
Quarterbacks threw curl and out routes to tight ends during position drills on Friday, showcases some of the new ways the unit could be utilized this season.
NO FLY ZONE
Pitt will enter the 2019 season with one of the most experienced secondaries in the ACC. Seniors Demar Hamlin and Dane Jackson have played in a combined 63 games over their three seasons at Pitt. In addition, senior Jazzee Stocker and junior Bricen Garner played considerable time at the safety spots for the Panthers last season. The lone defensive back that does not have significant experience is sophomore safety and Steel Valley product Paris Ford, who head coach Pat Narduzzi named the starter at strong safety following spring practices.
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS
Here are the rest of the sights and sounds from Pitt’s training camp practice No. 1.