Are QB Decisions Now Changes Later?

I was surfing old Pitt articles in the Sports illustrated magazine this morning trying to get some push towards writing an article for this Monday lunchtime hour.  I came across a few articles about Pitt quarterbacks Dan Marino and Rick Trocano and started thinking about how back in the day players would be demoted or moved to other positions and you rarely heard a peep out of them.  They would just suit up and carry on in a different job.

Very few players who had been recruited over in a specific position threw up their hands and transferred out back then.  Yet we see that happen all the time now. Mark Myers, a big strong armed highly rated QB recruit by one recruiting service – not so much by the others – came to Pitt under Dave Wannstedt and never really bought into the energy and desire required to succeed at this level.

After muddling around and being not played by two different HCs he transferred to John Carroll college and had a blast in the less pressurized atmosphere where all he had to worry about was throwing the football around and dating different co-eds.  He seemed to thrive at both and set school passing records there.

Just recently we watched ex-starting QB Chad Voytik leave the team because he lost his starting job.  Fans looked at that and figured he wanted more starting playing time elsewhere, naturally assuming that if he dropped to a lower level of competition he’d be a starter again.

It didn’t work out that way for him.  He went to Arkansas State as a graduate transfer (eligible to play right away) and ended up playing sparsely and on the bench mostly in the letter half of the year.  Boy – we could have used him in the 2nd half of the Pinstripe bowl though. I don’t doubt he could have pulled a win out there.

Just lately we saw QB Adam Bertke leave Pitt when his prospects closed down in front of him.

So now with the 2016 season just ending it looks like we’ll have some more movement in the QB roster ranks before either Spring practices start or most certainly before the 2017 fall camp starts.

In the past Pitt has usually carried three scholarship QBs on roster with a walk-on or two added to the group.  Here is what we had going into 2011:

Trey Anderson QB FR
Anthony Gonzalez QB RS FR
Mark Myers QB RS FR
Tino Sunseri QB RS JR

Before the fall camp dust settled Gonzalez was moved to LB where he did a nice job and we kept three scholarship QBs.  That is about the norm. 

However coming out of the 2016 season we have this at present and all are scholarship kids:

Bo Schneider 6-3/225 QB SO
Manny Stocker 6-2/215 QB RS SR
Thomas MacVittie 6-5/225 QB FR
Nathan Peterman 6-2/225 QB RS SR
Ben DiNucci 6-2/215 QB RS FR

Delete Peterman and Stocker from the list due to graduation and add recruit Kenny Pickett and transfer Max Browne and we see this going into the April drills:

Bo Schneider 6-3/225 QB SO
Kenny Pickett 6-3/190 QB FR
Thomas MacVittie 6-5/225 QB FR
Max Browne 6-5/220 QB RS SR
Ben DiNucci 6-2/215 QB RS FR

Again, all five are on scholarship as we speak – that won’t hold.  Even though we have heard reports of Bo Schneider leaving the program I can’t find any formal release stating that… but lets delete him because that sure will happen sooner or later.  Unless Schneider wants to keep on the roster as a walk-on and get a Pitt degree; which is an excellent idea, he’ll probably move on to somewhere else.

Which will leave us with four scholarship QBs. One too many in the long run.  But this is also where fan’s speculation can start to show some creativity.

I believe that fan’s expectations for 2015 recruit Thomas MacVitte is very high and I can’t either agree with it nor really understand it.  At 6-5 and 225 he’s a big kid and he did go to a good football high school in Moeller of Cincinnati, but after that I wonder where the unbridled optimism comes from.  Here is his recruiting offers page:

School Interest Offer Visit
Pittsburgh Committed(3/26/15)  * 1/15/16
LSU Medium * None
Cincinnati None * None
Miami (OH) None * None

That’s it folks and that LSU offer consisted of a single late in the game ‘test the waters’ phone call just to see how committed he actually was.  I’ve watch MacVitte in warm-ups and some drills and think he’s just about right as a three-star, not so highly recruited kid. He played only one year of starting ball in HS meaning he didn’t beat out the other starters before his SR year and he did OK in his singular year of play.

I list all of that because those are the reasons Pat Narduzzi and then-OC Matt Canada scrambled around to get not just one other transfer, but two QB transfers and a reporting-early 2017 recruited QB.

In addition to those personnel moves something happened in the Pinstripe bowl and the weeks that led up to it that made me scratch my head and sit up a bit. 

When Nate Peterman went down with a concussion that day we didn’t see the player who had been taking the QB2 snaps all season long in Manny Stocker.  Instead Narduzzi rotated Ben DiNucci into the QB2 position a week or so before the bowl game and had him taking the 2nd string snaps in bowl preparation.

Why is that interesting? Because Ben DiNucci doesn’t have all that great starting  D1 QB prospects and that move surprised a lot of people at the game and up in the press box. You would have thought the more talented Stocker would have gone in relief to try for the win, instead we sent in a QB who was an afterthought all year-long and played like it that afternoon. It was basically a “What the hell?” moment in Pitt history.

So here is some big speculations and let’s understand that’s what this is. Speculation on my part.

Let’s start with why did Narduzzi and Canada do that with DiNucci?  Why sit down the incumbent relief QB Stocker for someone who hadn’t taken a snap yet at all and then play him in the latter part of an important bowl game we were behind in?

One reason maybe that Stocker can’t be in the future plans and so they threw a bone to DiNucci to keep him on roster.  DiNucci has a few years left if he decides to stay in the program.  I say “if he decides to stay” in the program because DiNucci was both transferred-in over and recruited over in the two years he’s been on the roster.  So they give him some snaps in a game that had loss written on it from the starting whistle almost.

MacVitte sure wasn’t going to have his redshirt burned for that one game at the expense of a  full year of later  eligibility if he does pan out for the future at Pitt.  That BTW isn’t a given at all to happen.  He could well drop down the depth chart as well as rise in it.

When Narduzzi went out and grabbed Max Browne for 2017 and then convinced Kenny Pickett to report early he sent a message to the other QBs. Nothing is etched in stone and we’ll play to win each season on its own.  There won’t be any season long on-the-job learning with this HC.  Every QB he has played so far has at least a years experience as a D1 QB.

Incoming recruit Pickett is an interesting guy as he had a lot more scholarship offers than MacVitte did coming out of HS.  I think we need to take his early presence at Pitt as serious competition for the future.  If not, the program wouldn’t have enticed him to get into the Southside facilities so soon (it costs $$$ to bring kids in early folks).  Here are Pickett’s offers:

School Interest Offer Visit
Pittsburgh Committed * 12/9/16
Boston College None * None
Buffalo None * None
Coastal Carolina None * None
Connecticut None * None
Iowa None * None
Monmouth None * None
North Carolina None * None
Temple None * None
Texas State None * None
Toledo None * None

So skipping over what we all believe will be Max Browne’s starting season in ’17 and going into 2018 we’ll have DiNucci as a rsJR, MacVitte as a rsSO and Pickett as a rsFR – assuming that Bo Schneider has by then gone onto greener pastures. 

What will be the very interesting situation to watch is which QB not named Browne rises to that QB2 position and takes the practice snaps during the latter part of this year’s fall camp and into the 2017 regular season.  My thoughts about DiNucci not being up to the task may be off base if he gets constant and regular practice time and catches the eye of a new OC.  Give any kid a year of solid practices and show your staff’s faith in his abilities and anything could happen.

I don’t believe that will be the case but who knows?  I didn’t think DiNucci would get playing time in the bowl game either.

But I’m not 100% convinced it will be Thomas MacVitte at the helm in 2018 either. DiNucci has already gotten playing time; Pickett may be just as capable (in my eyes) of starting as a rsFR as anyone else on the roster and, as stated above, a new OC may well come in and change the offense around so that any of those three QBs could grab that starting slot in a year from now.

What may happen also is that either DiNucci or MacVitte may cut their losses and look elsewhere for solid playing time. We saw that with Myers and Voytik and we may well see it again sometime down the road.

Narduzzi has already brought in a total of three transfer QBs in his short two years at Pitt and who’s to say he won’t do the same thing after the 2017 season?  He’s not one to care about anyone’s feeling when planning for the future, that’s for sure.

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325 thoughts on “Are QB Decisions Now Changes Later?

  1. Darkie..thanks for posting the hilarious arrest of the Cinncy Bear-Cat on the last thread…Cincy game took on a life of its own and was on it’s way to becoming a rivalry…

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  2. What’s interesting is had the Nard Dog played Voytik in last year’s bowl game rout in the 2nd half or maybe just even the 4th quarter. The kid might have stayed at Pitt and been available to lead us to victory as he did in Pitt’s last Bowl victory.

    Or maybe not.

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  3. Reed, think your comment in the next to last paragraph will occur. Whenever you have a true QB competition in today’s college game, it seems like the HC is making two decisions: Which QB will start and which QB will I watch transfer out of my program…we can only hope the HC makes the right call.

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  4. Judging by the comments PN made about MacVittie at the end of the season, I doubt he has plans on running him out of town. And the fact that he fought to keep Pickett….you need at least 2 solid guys. #2 is only one play away from being #1.

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  5. Never did understand why they ran Voytik out If they could have kept him he may have been able to beat Northwestern. But just the fact if Peterman got dinged earlier in the year, we had no one with any experience. As Emel mentioned and I have mentioned before, he should have been given the ball to start the second half vs Navy, just for loyalty to the program. Who knows maybe he stays maybe not, but backup QBs are important. A third string guy won a National Championship for t OSU and got benched the next year.

    Personally I hope McVittie wins the job next year, if not for the first two or three games maybe during the year. Having a QB play for multiple years is ideal.

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  6. Timing is everything, I always wondered what would have happened if Flacco got to throw to Fitz. My guess is many records would have been broken.

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  7. Reed – is it me or do two of the three QB’s in your picture look out of shape?

    I think all five QB’s stay and fit for a spot. May the best man win and the 2nd best be his back-up.

    HTP!

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  8. I’m also hoping PN’s comments about McVittie were accurate and not just said because he was concerned about what McVittie may be thinking about how aggressively Pitt went after Browne.

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  9. Interesting tidbit on PSN today on Pitt making an offer to a 2015 4 star Penn State DT Kam Carter dismissed from the team for violating team rules. He evidently played this year at East Mississippi Community College and has several offers on the table to return to the Division 1 level. To say that Pitt is need of some solid DT depth is at best a deep understatement IMO.

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  10. I agree the real battle is for the #2 spot. Does anyone know how mobile Browne is? I mean, is he more cement footed like Savage or a more mobile and athletic QB like Peterman ?

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  11. Special K – think a water buffalo in the shotgun – Browne isn’t going anywhere with his feet.

    There are some pretty upset people with the transfer of Browne coming in. I think a lot of people expected MacVitte to be handed the starting job right off the bat. Which as I have said a few times i don’t understand at all.

    Just as I thought years ago that Voytik was not a ‘star’ recruit I think the same about MacVitte – except I think Voytik is more talented than MacVitte also. Peterman really impressed me the 1st time I saw him in action and it was Pat Bostick jr who said to me ‘We have a deep passing game now!” when I asked him about NP in the fall of 2015.

    So I think it isn’t so much the relative skills all our QBs have but what the new OC wants in his QB/passing game/offense

    That was before Chaney put the handcuffs on NP and called safe, short passes to Boyd all day long. Big difference between then and 2016 when Canada opened it up with Weah.

    Here is what I meant about different OCs having different takes on QB play.

    In 2015 with Chaney NP had 7.28 yards per attempt and and 11.8 yards per completion – rather average.

    In 2016 with Canada he had 9.33 yards per attempt (7th nationally) and and 15.5 yards per completion (#4 nationally) and truly outstanding.

    Look at that again guys because we may not see that from a Pitt QB for some time:

    #4 in yards per completion
    #7 in yards per attempt and
    #8 in passing efficiency

    That would never have happened with Chaney as OC and Boyd on the roster again. Canada saw what he had and used it – a bit late maybe but really used Peterman well.

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  12. Reed, I’m now on record as totally disagreeing with you on MacVitte. You’re way off with your thoughts on Thomas. He’s going to be a good one.

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  13. MacVitte is a 6-5 215 pound athlete who has limited experience at QB. But he has a the physical tools to be a QB that can be very good. He will see time this coming year and he has the most upside at this point. Browne is not quite immobile. He can move and is more Savage in look than Peterman.

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  14. Reed, I’m thinking Carter may have some added incentive in going into the Pitt Penn State game viewing the coach that dismissed him standing across the field from him. And I think Pitt may need a good deal of added incentive from many players to beat PSU come next fall on their home field.

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  15. Just back from a long weekend at my favorite local casino in western North Carolina.

    Wore my PITT gear. Had a few conversations with complimentary Klempsun fans. Talked to a man (originally from Virginia) who was a neighbor of Tom Yewcic,

    The high lite was a discussion with an elderly (hard to say that when I’m 66) gentlemen who asked if my PITT script stood for Pittsburgh, When I said yes, he said his grandson was going to enroll at PITT. After a little more back and forth, it seems that he was the grandfather of ’17 recruit Cam Bright from Alabama. He said his grandson was looking forward to playing at PITT.

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  16. First off, PITT, LSU, Cincinnati and Miami @ Ohio have put out some good QB it their days. A short but impressive list. TM’s size and athleticism have me believing and it’s not like he just started playing high school football and QB his senior year, he’s played QB for a long while just didn’t start there his jr year. He was Moeller’s star receiver his jr year. In other words, I just have this feeling about the big kid…..ike

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  17. How many games exactly did McVittie play at QB in HS ? Reed mentioned something about him being
    injured in the only year he became the starter.

    Not comparing this kid to Big Ben, other than that they’re both from Ohio. I know Big Ben only played one year at QB in HS. You see the Coach’s kid got the nod the 3 years prior. Good thing the coach’s kid wasn’t the same age as Ben, or he might have NEVER gotten a chance. lol

    Also did McVittie play any other sports ? as per Ben he was also a basketball star.

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  18. Reed – I used to think that PITT/South Carolina shouldn’t take anyone who was kicked off another team. I now believe it depends on what “team rules” he was disciplined for. If its a case of hitting a women, stealing or heavy drug usage = no way. If it’s marijuana, missing team activities (including tutoring) then I say ok with spelled out testing, requirements & consequences.

    Btw, Scooba, Ms. where East Mississippi Community College is located, is the perfect example of a town that wouldn’t exist without the college. I drive through Scooba going to a casino in Philadelphia (Neshoba County), Ms. The casino is about half way drive to my brothers house in Texas,

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  19. MacVittie played WR his junior year at Moeller but took some snaps as QB. (Ironically, Mark Myers and Big Ben did the very same thing in their junior years — the coaches’ son was starting QB over Ben.) In the summer camps before his senior year, he (MacVitttie) won a couple of citations as best QB prospect.

    He did get injured in his 2nd game of his Sr year, and missed 2 games, but came back and looked brilliant … in fact, one of the rating services (Scout?) elevated him to 4 stars.

    Yes, he doesn’t have the experience that most QBs have, but he got raves in fall camp this year from the few things I read about him … and he ran the scout team QB (except before the GT game when Theran Coleman did.) This is why I think HCPN welcomed the experienced Browne this year because starting MacVittie at Happy Valley before 107k isn’t too wise (same for DiNucci).

    Having said that, I read the other day where Browne said he was told the starting QB job would not be given to him … he would have to earn it.

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  20. Again, this is what I love about college football. The cast of characters changes every year.

    I don’t think MacVitte is not talented he probably has some decent skills, it is just that he doesn’t jump off the page at me.

    Whichever way the wind blows I would like to see Pitt finally get a backup QB some decent playing time so to be ready.

    That is what I didn’t agree with in playing DiNucci in the bowl game. He had zero snaps and limited practice time beforehand. It was a weird and unexpected choice that, I believe, failed entirely.

    The thing is fans will jump on the results of the spring game but a lot of time that means nothing going into fall camp.

    I think it will be Browne with MacVitte but throwing DiNucci in there was a twist.

    What is the sad thing is we really have to cast back a long time to see an actual recruited QB who starred at Pitt… most all have been right around average.

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  21. Think DiNucci and his family are regretting him not going to that other fine academic institution on the other end of the state?

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  22. I didn’t think DiNucci ‘failed entirely’ in the bowl game. In fact, he led Pitt to a TD early in the 4th when Pitt took its final lead …. and then on a later drive, he put a pass right on the hands of Orndoff that would have allowed Pitt to tie the game..

    That is by no means ‘failing entirely’

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  23. Iowa: Offensive line coach / run game coordinator Brian Ferentz has been promoted to offensive coordinator. Brian Ferentz has been on staff since 2012 and is the son of the HC.

    Pittsburgh: Steelers linebackers coach Joey Porter has been placed on leave following his arrest on Sunday.

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  24. Reed your comments are very interesting especially since you were very correct about Peterman when he came in 2 years ago. Are you sure though that PN encouraged Pickett to enroll early? I seem to remember that he was going to do that quite a while ago. Additionally PN came out last year and stated he was not in favor of having kids enroll early which I thought was kind of funny since a lot of the top programs have a lot of early enrollees as many as 10 from what I have seen. Even if MacVittie is not the greatest passer I am intrigued by his reported speed which is supposed to be in the 4.5 vicinity if we can believe that. Combined with his size you might have something. That would be a dimension we haven’t had for a long time at Pitt QB. Just a thought.

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  25. Take Clemson. Clemson will roll the Tide tonight much like the Steelers speared those Dolphins. Clemson 38, Tide 20. ACC is the most dominant and best conference for football. And shaping up for basketball as well. Thank GOD Pitt is in this conference and not the Big 12 or Big 10. Or left carrying the bag in the Big East. Thank U CornHole for picking up the phone when the commish called and saying YES.

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  26. Otherwise, screw you CornHole for coming back to Pitt after leaving Nebraska in shambles and leaving Pitt in one screwed up state. Any news on the new AD search?

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  27. Just done reading the comments -THIS IS AN EXCELLENT THREAD IMO.
    @wwb you and I agree that Dinucci did some things well. He threw a TD pass, ran for an excellent gain for a 3rd or 4th down and long first down, he hit Orndoff with a pass that should have been a TD (SO had an unusually bad game – felt sorry for him), ;Yeah I noticed the sidearm motion and an int in trying to comeback (not a first for any QB) but was told by a recruiter for Central Catholic (yes they have them – shock) they wanted him big time and he is tremendously athletic and a winner so who knows.
    As for recruiting Carter I agree with jrnpitt, it depends on the team rule. For example Ejuan Price went to tOSU and politely put partied to much with his cuz who was a team mate. and was kicked off the team. He came to Pitt, grew up and became a fine person and player. It really depends so I hope they do their due diligence.Games are won and lost in the trenches and our DL trench looks like Petersburg 1865.
    I would like to get to a position where we have stability and QBs want to come here.
    Finally, an old dead issue but this is why I wish PN would allow the media to watch practices, it gives us fans through the media a chance to get insight ie Reed nailed NP. The media has never violated protocol in Pittsburgh by giving out changes in offensive of defensive theory etc. Grow up Nard, this is the 20th century..
    Gotta turn on the T.V
    HAIL TO PITT

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  28. Never in my wildest dreams did I think there would be such an outcry about losing the bowl game. Another problem I have is that some want to say PITT was not prepared? What? PITT rolled to the redzone many times early to come up empty. The game was not meant to be imo

    About Dinucci and off my above sentence. Why in the world would PITT waste a snap or better yet practices on the outgoing Stocker? Playing Ben D was the correct thing to do and he did have some good moments and maybe even a better learning experience?

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  29. @Reed, I’m not sure about your reference to Chaney shackling Peterman to short passes to Boyd in 2015. Ford averaged 19.4 ypc on 24 catches (2 TDs). Orndoff averaged 18.8 ypc on 13 catches (5 TDs). Holtz averaged 14.6 ypc on 24 catches (4TDs). My recollection is that Peterman did throw a fair number of passes beyond 15 yards in 2015, he just didn’t throw that often to Boyd.

    MacVittie certainly looked the part of a D1 QB on the sidelines this season. He played WR his junior year at Moeller. He has 4.5 speed. That suggests he’s more athletic and has more speed than most QBs that have appeared on the Pitt roster. Granted there is far more to playing D1 QB than athleticism and speed.

    DiNucci just doesn’t seem to have the arm for downfield throwing. It’s possible Narduzzi next OC will favor a short passing game. Little Ben did have an excellent HS career for a major local program.

    Browne is one and done. There would have to be a real surprise in camp for him not to ascend to starter in 2017. This is especially true considering he started in front of Darnold for a few games at USC this season.

    Pickett certainly has the more impressive list of offers. He’s smaller than MacVittie and his 40 speed is 4.8. Pickett’s junior year stats (first as starter) are comparably to MacVittie’s.

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  30. Not so quick to throw on the towel on Dinucci.. He did ok in his 1st real game action ..arm strength can improve and he throws with some accuracy…a bit sidearm but some was Bernie Kosar …

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