Pickett Sits as Patti, Panthers Squeak Out Win

Pitt starting QB 'not 100 percent' according to Pat Narduzzi

Josh Rowntree
September 28, 2019 - 5:11 pm
Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Nick Patti (12) warms up before playing the Delaware Fighting Blue Hens at Heinz Field.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Kenny Pickett stood and watched his fellow Pitt quarterbacks warm up before Saturday’s game against Delaware. It became apparent, right then, that Pickett would be a surprise absence from the field when the game began. 

Redshirt freshman Nick Patti started at quarterback for the Panthers, which snuck out a 17-14 win over upset-minded Delaware. 

“Really, it was game time,” Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said of the choice to sit Pickett. “I just don’t think Kenny was 100 percent. I thought all week that he was going to be able to go. But I did warn our kids earlier in the week that I don’t care who goes. I wanted to make sure there wasn’t a letdown.”

The letdown happened, however, following Pitt’s win over then-No. 15 UCF last Saturday. Pickett, in that game, exited with an injury. He did, however return to lead the game-winning drive.

When Pickett exited the game against UCF, Patti came in and immediately threw a touchdown pass. 

“Coming into a game where it was a crucial time and having to make a play, it showed me that I can do it,” Patti said. “I had a lot of confidence coming into this week. I was ready to go.”

Narduzzi and Patti confirmed that he got the bulk of the first team reps this week in practice. 

“I think he played solid for his first start,” Narduzzi said. “Remember this, it’s a lot different starting a football game as opposed to just jumping in there. I thought he did an admirable job.”

Patti, who threw for 271 yards and two scores, found an early and frequent connection with wideout Taysir Mack, who pulled in five passes for 124 yards and the game-winning score in the fourth quarter. 

“The way that college football goes, it’s always the next man in,” Mack said. “We get a lot of reps with the (second team) and Nick Patti. It has to be a well-oiled machine. When we found it… it’s wasn’t like, ‘aw, damn.’ We know we have a leader that’s going to be able to come in and get us the win, no matter how ugly it was.”

Pitt, sitting at 3-2 overall and 0-1 in the ACC, will next face Duke in a primetime ACC Network game next Saturday as it hops back into conference action. It is unknown, just as it was on this Saturday, if Pickett will be on the field, or on the sideline. So Patti will, as usual, prepare to play.

“As a quarterback, you try to do that every week, just be mentally prepared to go in,” Patti said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen this week, but whatever coach needs, I’ll go out and do it.”

Hear more from Pat Narduzzi below.