What a difference a year can make.
Pitt’s offense scored just a hair under 30 points per game last season, but there was clearly another gear to be unlocked. Now in offensive coordinator Mark Whipple’s third season at Pitt, with continued rapport built between himself and quarterback Kenny Pickett, Pitt’s offense has finally reached that next gear.
Pickett has emerged as arguably the best quarterback in college football, the Pitt offense is scoring two touchdowns per game more this season than last and now Whipple is a candidate for the 2021 Broyles Award — the top assistant coach in the country.
#Pitt OC Mark Whiple has been nominated for the Broyles Award for the top assistant coach in all of college football.
— Alan Saunders (@ASaunders_PGH) November 15, 2021
Pitt’s 2021 offense, led by Pickett’s breakout season under Whipple, is fourth in the nation in scoring at 43.5 points per game — second in the ACC to only Wake Forest (44.7). Pitt’s 57 touchdowns and 435 total points are third and fourth, respectively, in the FBS.
The Panthers rack up yards at a rate higher than almost any team in college football, ranking second in the FBS behind only Ohio State in both total yards (5,311) and yards per game (531.1).
It took some time for Whipple and Pickett to blossom together, boasting the fifth-ranked passing offense in the FBS this season, but this season’s veteran-laden offense has grown into one of the best in all of college football.
Whipple is one of 59 nominees for the Broyles Award, as voted by the FWAA, broadcasters, a college football Hall of Fame selection committee and current college football head coaches. He was selected from a group of roughly 1,270 assistant coaches across 127 Division I football teams.
In a storied coaching career spanning over 40 years, Whipple has been known for offensive innovation during his time across college football. A championship-winning coach at Massachusetts in the late 1990s and NFL assistant with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles, he’s basically experienced all that football has to offer at the coaching level.
Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi won the Broyles Award in 2013 while serving as the defensive coordinator at Michigan State.