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Opinion

Vukovcan: It’s Time for Mark Whipple to Start Getting Some Credit

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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.

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.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Ghost of Foge Fazio
Ghost of Foge Fazio
14 days ago

If he would stop trying to throw the bubble screen out the boundary I would be in love with the guy. Just not a throw that Pickett can make quickly and the other receivers cant block for. We run it way to much for negative yardage.

Kevin
Kevin
14 days ago

I think it must work in practice against our defense, because every team kills us with it! H2P

TJ
TJ
14 days ago

agree with your assessment. i was critical as well but certainly felt that whip was calling the game that he felt his players could execute. we may not have liked it but, that’s what he had. drops are way down too. i put some of that on KP but it appears that it primarily was the receivers, although baffling that it was most of them, not just one isolated instance.

Tom DiPasquale
Tom DiPasquale
14 days ago

Funny as a Pitt fan the past 40 years we’ve certainly had enough villains to criticize but I never really was ever bothered by Whipple even when others were piling on. The previous OC was a disgrace, so I always believed in Whipple’s vision. You mentioned Shockey JL, and I have to say he doesn’t really make any plays. Not sure how he’s seeing the field in front of Addison, Mack, Wayne or Barden. His jet sweeps don’t sweep, he ran out of bounds, he dropped what should have been a long gain, and he seemed to be fighting on… Read more »

James from Florida
James from Florida
14 days ago

Good article, the offense is rolling and has to keep rolling, they have had issues in the past playing VT in Blacksburg.

That test is in front of them.

VT is playing ND this weekend, it’s going to be an interesting game.

VT and ND both desperately need to win.

PittBand
PittBand
14 days ago

Didn’t see an apology in there.

Whipple’s offense works because the tightends can RELIABLY catch the ball. Strange but I saw Nakia Johnson caught on with one of the pro teams. Couldn’t reliably catch Pickett.

Giovanni
Giovanni
13 days ago

Somewhat agree except you can’t beat the best teams with any kind of consistency if you don’t have a solid running game. This is Whipple’s Achilles Heel. A steady running game kicks in gear only when Pitt is winning by a lot towards the end of the game. Top teams will keep getting the ball back quickly and score much more because of Pitt’s lack of having a balanced attack/ball control.

Duquesne BB

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