Jimmy Morrissey hadn’t played guard in quite a while, but he performed admirably in a position switch in Saturday’s Pitt loss to Boston College.
Morrissey, an all-ACC center who has started in the middle of Pitt’s offensive line for the last three seasons, said he last practiced at guard in 2017, and it had been even longer since he did it in a game.
“I think I played right guard in a game in my freshman year of high school,” Morrissey said. “Then I got a couple reps my true freshman year in spring ball right guard for a couple days.”
But when guard Jake Kradel was injured during practice in the week leading up to the game against the Eagles, Pitt offensive line coach Dave Borbely decided that Pitt’s best five linemen involved promoting second-team center Owen Drexel and sliding Morrissey over to guard.
“I think it was a collective agreement,” Morrissey said. “Coach Borbs obviously has the say, and he recommended it and we’re all comfortable with that.”
Given his lack of experience at the position, Morrissey performed well. Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett was sacked just once during the game.
Kradel, a Butler native that earned the starting job at right guard in the middle of the 2019 season, won’t be out long, according to Narduzzi.
“Kradel got a little banged up and practice this week on a freak play, and he probably could have gone,” Narduzzi said. “He was like, ‘coach I can go,’ and I was like listen, we need you for the rest of the year. I expect him to be ready next week. But I just didn’t want to risk put him out. He’s tough and he wanted to go. So Jimmy Morrissey moved over to right guard and I thought the offensive line did a solid job, with that in mind.”
Drexel, a redshirt junior whose play in practice Morrissey has repeatedly praised, earned his first start after spending three years as Morrissey’s top backup.
Morrissey is an NFL prospect at center, but had no qualms about making the move to guard in order to help out and let Drexel shine.
“Whatever the team needs,” Morrissey said. “I was comfortable with it.”