The high-powered Pitt Panther offense is the talk of the ACC.
Kenny Pickett is getting mentioned by some in the national media as a Heisman Trophy candidate. Jordan Addison is a touchdown machine and is doing things that a Pitt wide receiver hasn’t done since Larry Fitzgerald. Tight end Lucas Krull is positioning himself to get himself drafted and playing on Sundays. Slowly but surely the Pitt running game is getting going with the trio of Israel Abanikanda, Rodney Hammond and Vincent Davis.
Everyone on the Pitt offense is drawing praise except for one person. The person in charge of it, Mark Whipple.
Whipple has been a lighting rod for criticism from Pitt fans and media ever since getting hired in 2019. I’m one of the many people that have publicly criticized Whipple for things such as his pass to run play calling ratio, running a horizontal passing scheme instead of going vertical and his decision making on personnel.
While I still stand by most of my previous points, it’s time that I and others start to give Whipple the credit for the job that he’s done and what he’s turned this Panther offense into.
Behind the direction of Whipple, Pitt isn’t only the best offense in the ACC, they are the top offense in all of college football.
Yes, you read that right. Through five games, the Pitt offense is averaging 52.4 points/game, which is No. 1 in all of college football. Be honest Pitt fans, is that something that you ever thought you’d see?
Behind the guidance of Whipple, here are some other national rankings that the Panther offense rank high in:
- First Downs (146): 2nd in the country
- Passing Offense (389 yards/game): 4th in the country
- Team Passing Efficiency (195.90): 3rd in the country
- Total Offense: (554 yards/game): 2nd in the country
In order to win big in college football, not only do you have to be able to play solid defense but championship teams have the ability to score A LOT of points and thanks to Whipple, that’s something Pitt is showing the ability to do.
What’s the biggest difference?
It’s pretty simple. Whipple has weapons and players that can make big plays. That has not been the case for Pitt in a long, long time.
Instead of having wide receivers that were limited as mostly possession receivers, Whipple is able to call plays for dynamic players like Jordan Addison, Jaylon Barden, Taysir Mack, Shocky Jacques-Louis. Wideouts that can make plays vertically instead running everything underneath and horizontal. Prior to this season, Pickett had the reputation of not being able to throw deep but now with proper weapons, he’s showing that’s not the case.
— Pitt Football (@Pitt_FB) October 2, 2021
Combine that with the other huge factor that Pitt has a NFL caliber tight end that is a huge weapon over the middle of the field. Lucas Krull currently leads all FBS tight ends and ranks 12th among all eligible players with five touchdown catches this season.
A person that’s been associated with Pitt football for a long time told me today this this is the most offensive talent that he’s seen on a Pitt team since the 80’s. When you’re able to call plays with talent like this, it makes the offensive coordinator a lot better and subsequently, viewed as a lot smarter by the fans.
I don’t agree with everything Whipple does but that doesn’t make me right and him wrong. He called plays over the last couple of seasons based on the talent on his roster, which is the right way to do things. As his personnel has improved, Whipple has opened things up more and is now calling plays and attacking defenses the way people were wanting him to do so.
Coaches in any sport are only as good as their talent and right now Mark Whipple looks like a really good coordinator which is something that nobody, including me, were saying the last couple seasons.