Pickett Encouraged, Not Satisfied With Career Day

Panthers quarterback throws for 321 yards, touchdown in win

Josh Rowntree
September 07, 2019 - 3:44 pm

Kenny Pickett started to show a glimpse at what he is capable of in Pitt’s new offense. But he knows more is needed. 

Pickett was 26 of 37 passing, racking up a career-high 321 yards and a touchdown, while not throwing an interception, as Pitt took down Ohio 20-10 at Heinz Field Saturday.

The win came after Pickett, a week ago, threw a pair of interceptions in the Panthers’ 30-14 loss to Virginia. 

“I think it was important for our whole team to have a bounce back game, not just myself,” Pickett said. “I think the whole team, as an offense, played really well. I just wish we would have finished better in the red zone.”

“Did Kenny bounce back or did the receivers bounce back,” Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi asked. “It’s a combination of everything. Everyone wants to put it on the quarterback. Number 8 in a dang good football player.”

Pickett, who again got off to a slow start, found Maurice Ffrench for 74-yard touchdown pass, kickstarting the Panthers’ offense on a day in which Pickett also set a career-high for completions. 

“Kenny has that in him every game,” Ffrench said. “We all just have to click. Today was that day. We have to be consistent in doing that.”

Against Virginia, Pitt’s offensive line struggled to protect him. Through the early moments Saturday, it looked like things were headed in a similar fashion. But the line started to pass and run block better as the game wore on.

“I trust those guys a lot,” Pickett said. “(Center Jimmy Morrissey) and those guys work really hard. I talk with them after every series to see how they’re feeling. I think they had a pretty good key on what Ohio was trying to do and they locked it down pretty good out there.”

He also incorporated the tight end position more. Pitt, already this year, has more receptions from tight ends than all of 2018.

“I just think they’re involved more,” Pickett said. “There’s more plays directed toward their way. They’re getting their numbers called a little bit, spreading the ball around. I think we’ll continue to be more comfortable as the year goes.”

Pickett, a year ago, averaged 20 pass attempts per game. He has attempted 78 passes through the first two contests this season, a definite uptick under new offensive coordinator Mark Whipple. 

“I think it’s however the game goes, that’s how coach (Whipple) calls it,” Pickett said. “He’s got a great mind for the game and I trust him 100 percent with the play calls he’s got.”

Hear more from Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi below.