Dayon Hayes, John Morgan and Calijah Kancey — along with the entire defensive line — wreaked havoc upon Pitt’s offense during Saturday’s spring game, so the offense wasn’t given much of a chance to shine. And if it was a clean day in the pocket for the quarterbacks, Frank Cignetti Jr.’s offense wouldn’t have given much away.
Kedon Slovis said that it’s not really a percentage of the offense that’s been installed, and Cignetti himself said roughly 80 percent after last Wednesday’s draft, but that install will continue through the summer as the coaches take a step back and the players put their heads together.
“Just continuing the install,” Nick Patti said. “I think we’re gonna do a good job of — in the summer, it’s all player-led stuff, so it’s just getting guys comfortable with all the stuff we’re doing. We have the offense in, you guys didn’t really see much of it today, trying to do a lot of vanilla stuff for the spring game, but just polish everything off and get ready.”
While the quarterback competition between Slovis and Patti will continue, that roster spot uncertainty hasn’t stopped either from really stepping up as leaders in the locker room this spring. For Patti, it all comes down to just being confident.
“It really comes down to confidence … I think it’s a confidence thing and comfortability,” Patti said. “Guys are comfortable with me, and they’ve been comfortable with me for a while, and they see how I play and how I am as a person, and I think they flock to me and they feel comfortable with how I am, so I use that as an opportunity to step up and get the best out of our guys.”
The work in building connections, Patti said, really begins in the winter. When the season ends, the guys immediately begin to work for the next season, and that was no different for Pitt last winter. The offensive consistency and identity really get going in the summer, but the summer is where timing is really ironed out.
Slovis echoed Patti’s sentiments, speaking to the massive opportunity that an entire summer presents in terms of building connections with new players and strengthing the bonds between those who have already been around.
“I think really, leading up to spring, we did a lot,” Slovis said. “Going into the spring, that lent us a hand in terms of getting the timing down. But now that we know the offense — a lot of it is in, you might not have seen a lot, today, but a lot of it is in. So during the summer, I think that’s huge for us to get more and more comfortable with the receivers, all our quick calls, getting lined up getting set, knowing the details, all the last small details in this offense. For the summer, we have all the time the world to refine and get better and get the timing down. That’s going to be a huge aspect for us.”
While Patti has been around Pitt for a few seasons now, this is his first real chance at attacking a summer with the chance at being a No. 1 option. Slovis, who has only been in the program since December, has the chance to continue working with the offense and doubling down on learning the offense.
Unlike other situations across college football, both Slovis and Patti have spoken about their excitement around the competition. Patti said he’s a competitor. Without someone pushing you for more, there’s always the chance for complacency. With Slovis, Patti and guys like Joey Yellen, Eli Kosanovich, Nate Yarnell and Jake Frantl, Slovis said it’s a room of friends.
It’s an interesting dynamic as the competition has bred friendship, which, again, can’t be found everywhere, but it’s working for Pitt. And another form of motivation came for Slovis Saturday too.
As Pitt’s 2021 ACC championship rings were handed out before the spring game, massive, sparkling rocks awarded to all of Pitt’s players last season, Slovis wasn’t able to take part in the festivities. And that only served as added motivation.
“Me and Coach Underwood were kind of sitting next to each other saying, ‘we need to get one for ourselves.’ It’s great, the energy is great,” Slovis said. “These guys are excited. But the thing is, we’re not complacent with that. We’re getting better. We’re gonna go strive for bigger and better things. That’s a championship mindset, and that’s what we have here.”