PITTSBURGH — Pitt’s leading receiver Maurice Ffrench missed the Panthers overtime win against North Carolina on Thursday night with a broken jaw. Ffrench suffered the injury on a hit that he took against Georgia Tech on Nov. 2.
Panther head coach Pat Narduzzi was asked on Monday at his weekly press conference about Ffrench’s status, and he replied, “day by day.”
“It comes down to his pain tolerance,” Narduzzi said. “We are going to make sure that we protect him. (As a whole) we will make a good decision, and we’ll figure out where he is by Thursday.”
Pitt’s crew of receivers made up for the absence of Ffrench against North Carolina on Thursday. Quarterback Kenny Pickett found nine different receivers on his 25 completions and 359 passing yards.
The Pitt receiving corps was led by their No. 2 leading receiver on the season in Taysir Mack with six catches. But guys that haven’t been used entirely too much until last week were the likes of sophomore Shocky Jacques-Louis and freshman Jared Wayne (both catching four passes apiece).
“When Maurice got banged up, it was like, this guys got to go,” Narduzzi said about Wayne. “He’s our next best option. What we have seen with him is a big target. Kenny says that he can see him (well) across the middle (of the field). He’s smooth and runs really well. He’s going to be a great receiver in this conference.”
Jacques-Louis, on the other hand, had 104 receiving yards against the Tar Heels and had a touchdown catch — as well as another one that got called back that Narduzzi said, “That was a catch too, by the way.”
“Shocky is one of the fastest guys on our team,” Narduzzi said. “We are happy with where he is right now. He’s healthy, and that’s the big thing. I think he’s got a little confidence right now too.”
With the status of Ffrench being unknown with only two weeks remaining in the regular season and the two upcoming games being the most important ones to date for the Panthers’ Coastal Division push, the emergence of these younger guys in Pitt’s receiving unit is crucial for their offensive improvements.