Is there still the potential for the present and future of Pitt’s quarterback room to collide? Yes. Yes, there is.
Kenny Minchey, Pitt’s four-star quarterback commit in the class of 2023, told Pittsburgh Sports Now of his intention to sign his National Letter of Intent in December and enroll at Pitt in January. He will be with the team for the spring. The future will be around. Will the present?
At this point in time, it’s a decision that likely only Kedon Slovis knows — if he’s even come to a decision yet — and Pat Narduzzi is content to let the decision arrive naturally as the 2022 season unwinds.
“We’re going to have that conversation,” Narduzzi said Monday at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. “I think let’s let the season play out. Really have not had it, and you’ve got Senior Day in two weeks. We’ll have to figure it out soon who’s going to walk out there, who’s not.
“Again, as you guys know, some guys will walk out for Senior Day and some guys won’t, and it doesn’t mean they aren’t going, either. There’s decisions to be made for a lot of people come the end of the season.”
The 2022 season has been anything but fulfilling for Slovis and Pitt. Offensive consistency outside of Israel Abanikanda has been hard to sustain, and Slovis’ individual success has hit a low that hasn’t been seen in his college career.
But against Syracuse, a game in which Slovis threw for 176 yards and an interception, Narduzzi felt like a game in which Slovis completed 70% of his passes was an encouraging sign. Aside from a miss on a deep post to Bub Means, Narduzzi said that Slovis didn’t leave anything on the field.
“So, I was really happy with where he was, and I think he just keeps getting a little bit better every game,” Narduzzi said.
Narduzzi has been complimentary of Slovis all season, unwaveringly loyal throughout Slovis’ struggles, and during Narduzzi’s Thursday briefing before the Louisville game, his musings on Slovis’ potential for growth caught my attention.
“I would do it all over again,” Narduzzi said. “I think (Slovis is) very, very talented and he’s got another year. I would imagine, in another year, he’s gonna be a heckuva lot better than he is this year.”
Narduzzi has often mentioned the difficulty of immediately adapting to the offense this season. It takes time time, he’s said.
Slovis has thrown for 1,737 yards with five touchdowns and six interceptions on 137-of-231 pass attempts (59%) this season. He has missed a game and a half because of a concussion, but there has not been any sort of consistency through eight games.
Quarterback has been a weakness for Pitt this season, among other offensive weaknesses, of course, but it’s an area that has held Pitt back nonetheless. There’s still a good chance that Slovis decides to return for one more season — and Narduzzi appears to be on board with such a decision.
It would be shocking if Nick Patti decided to spend another season backing up Slovis. Derek Kyler will exhaust his eligibility and Nate Yarnell has played one college game. Pitt’s quarterback depth — especially if Slovis decides to move on — isn’t very deep.
It’s the same quarterback room that Minchey will enter in January, but he will be just a true freshman quarterback learning the system. Even Kenny Pickett did not start — initially — as a true freshman.
A quarterback room that features Slovis and Minchey in 2023 wouldn’t be shocking.
At 5-4, coming off a win over a ranked Syracuse team, Pitt has the opportunity to close the season with four wins and then another in a Bowl game. 9-4 would be a very respectable season, and it would likely mean that Slovis starts to put the pieces together. It just may be putting the pieces together for another run.