When Pitt brought in Derek Kyler over the summer, it was to provide a little bit of insurance in the instance of both Kedon Slovis and Nick Patti suffering injuries at the same time. Well, it’s a good thing he arrived.
Even though Pat Narduzzi said Monday that the competition for that No. 3 quarterback position — the lesser watched of the two quarterback battles this offseason — is still unsettled, he’s liked what he’s seen from both Kyler and Nate Yarnell.
“Kyler’s been good,” Narduzzi said. “Nate Yarnell has been good. Nate Yarnell gives us most of the — probably two out of three team periods Nate’s given us a look.
“Because he’s done it before, that’s the guy we pick. Like defensively we want that guy. So he’s played more ball than Kyler has as far as just playing ball.”
Yarnell wasn’t active during spring practices, and Kyler hadn’t yet arrived at Pitt, but both saw plenty of reps with the threes after the departures of Joey Yellen and Davis Beville since the end of last season. According to Narduzzi, it’s a toss-up as to his No. 3 option as of now.
Kyler arrived at Pitt as a graduate transfer from Dartmouth, playing in 30 games and leading the Big Green to consecutive 9-1 seasons in the Ivy League — winning the conference last season.
Here are two similar stat lines.
|Quarterback 1||362-of-522 for 4,409 yards and a 42:6 touchdown to interception ratio|
|Quarterback 2||334-of-497 for 4,319 yards and a 43:7 touchdown to interception ratio|
Does one of those stat lines look familiar? Quarterback 2 is Kenny Pickett during the 2021 season. Quarterback 1 is Kyler’s career at Dartmouth. This isn’t a legitimate comparison. It’s to show that Kyler’s college career — at a low level — has been very efficient. He’s not big (6-foot, 180 pounds) or fast, but he’s accurate and experienced.
Will that translate to ACC play? Hopefully that will not need to be tested. But Kyler was brought in with the off chance that both Kedon Slovis and Nick Patti were to go down, and there’s a not-so-impossible scenario that neither Slovis nor Patti will play against Western Michigan in Kalamazoo, Michigan Saturday night.
“(Kyler’s) smart, number one,” Narduzzi said. “He can operate the offense. We’ve got to trust he can operate the offense, like Yarnell. We know he’s had the experience in games. As you know, we lost two guys that have played in games before. We needed to get somebody that had been in there, which was needed. He’s obviously got one year of eligibility. And he can operate.”
As a senior at Dartmouth last season, Kyler threw for 1,972 yards and 17 touchdowns and just a single interception on 169-of-239 passing attempts. Kyler led the way to a 9-1 season with wins over ranked FCS opponents in Princeton, Harvard and New Hampshire. He’s a veteran option coming off one of the most efficient seasons in the FCS.
Narduzzi said that Kyler is a leader and a great kid. And he might just be needed in some way Saturday.
Slovis and Patti both picked up knocks against Tennessee, with Slovis unable to finish the game and Patti toughing out a lower leg injury, and it’s uncertain as to the status of either quarterback this week. Narduzzi never considered pulling Patti from the game against Tennessee, not seeing a version of Patti that appeared too injured to compete.
“It didn’t look that bad from the videotape I saw,” Narduzzi said. “You guys maybe make it worse than it was. First of all, Nick’s tough. Nick doesn’t like to get hurt. Nick’s going to say, I’m good, and we’re going to believe what Nick says.
“If he’s not good, we’re going to pull him out of there for health and safety reasons. I don’t see what you guys see just from watching the game tape. On tape maybe in between snaps; we don’t watch that. You guys are watching the in-between. We’re worried about getting the next call and personnel. When he was out there he moved around well. We weren’t moving the pocket or running nakeds or anything like that with him, so we knew we didn’t feel that good.”
Narduzzi said that Kyler and Yarnell didn’t take many reps in practice over the week, not that Patti was either as the second team quarterback, considering it’s tough to get everyone reps over the course of the week. During practice Tuesday at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, at least during portions of practice available to the media, both Kyler and Yarnell were taking reps.
There’s still a week of prep remaining for Pitt’s Saturday game against Western Michigan, but with a road game and just the travel squad heading to Kalamazoo, there’s the potential for Kyler or Yarnell to have a role to play.