I invited readers to send in their impressions of the Spring Game and Eric Wassel took advantage. This is his take…
Reed is a stats guy. Regular readers of the Pitt POV know this. I sometimes think that statistics do not lie, while at other times I believe that they can be misleading.
For example, one of the most statistically successful QBs in Pitt football history is TS (it pains me to say the name). Yet I am not alone in my belief that he was nothing more than a mediocre QB who was a Wanny favorite. We all know that he NEVER in three years led us to a come from behind victory. So in his case, the stats are both misleading and deceiving.
I happen to believe that statistics from a spring game, (particularly one where the first, second and third team players are spread out evenly across the two teams) are mostly meaningless. I mean, when your purported first string QB (Browne) is being protected by third string linemen and throwing to second string receivers (no disrespect meant to Tre Tipton, who is going to contribute this year), it’s dangerous to take too much from a game like this. So yes, stats can be misleading.
But the eye test does not lie. I’ll be passing along what my eyes saw today from the 40 yard line. I’ll be interested to hear the comments of others in attendance that share or disagree with the views which I express. Here’s what I saw…..
Arriving before kickoff, I wanted to watch warm-ups to see the QBs. Let’s face it; much focus has been paid to the quarterbacks this spring, by the POV as well as the mainstream media. After watching warm-ups, I came away with one primary thought: we are well positioned at QB and have better depth behind center than we have in awhile. Specifically, I’d say that all of our QBs appear have the arm strength to make the throws necessary to move the ball down the field.
One thing did stick out to me in warm-ups. While all four QBs had good zip on their passes, one guy stood out as the strongest and sharpest: Kenny Pickett.
As I mentioned, kind of hard to grade the QBs given the nature of the way the game was organized. But for fun, let’s say that I had never seen a Pitt football game before in my life and did not know the names or pedigree of any of the QBs. And let’s also say that Pitt was playing another game next week and I was the sole decision maker on who would be the starter for that game.
Looking at the stats, one would likely lean towards DiNucci. And arguably he would be my choice. He looked poised, threw several nice passes and appears to have smoothed out his delivery.
But I wouldn’t sleep on Kenny Pickett either. He did not look like a freshman. His pocket awareness was exceptional. He made some excellent throws AND some quick decisions under pressure. He made several first downs with his legs.
I don’t know how else to say it, but Max Browne did not look good today. Setting aside that he was not playing with a full deck so to speak, he nonetheless made a lot of poor throws. He could have easily thrown one or two picks. Underthrown, overthrew, you name it. He had a couple of nice throws on the last possession, but for me I was hoping for more from him. That said it was one performance in the spring game, so I don’t put too much stock in it.
As for Thomas MacVittie, it’s really not fair to grade him at all. He wasn’t afforded the same opportunities as the other quarterbacks. While DiNucci and Pickett essentially split time equally for the Gold squad, the same was not true for the Blue team. As you can see from the stat sheet, Browne threw far more passes than anyone else.
Reed pointed out that MacVittie was sacked twice, but I did not see either as being his fault. He did lead the Blue on a TD drive and scored himself on a 12 yard run. But because he threw only one pass, we really learned nothing about his passing ability today.
Regarding the running backs, by far the best day was had by Chawntez Moss. He had a couple of nice runs on the Blue’s first TD drive to set up the MacVittie score. One was a 15 yard sweep and the other a 20 plus yard fake reverse. Qadree Ollison did not have very good blocking in front of him today, so I’m reluctant to be too negative about his performance. But his stats tell you that he didn’t do much. I think that his longest run was about 5 yards.
We have a very nice group of receivers. I thought that despite a few dropped passes, this looks like a team strength. Weah, Henderson, Mathews and Tipton are going to give whoever plays QB lots of options. Plus Ffrench, Lopes and Flowers each had moments today also. Flowers had a drop and a fumble (his fault, wasn’t protecting the ball).
“Q” Henderson was the best player on the field today by the way. He had a couple of pretty electric plays, including the first touchdown where he faked Jay Stocker out of his jock. He almost scored a second time on a play where he weaved himself through traffic for 54 yards and was hauled down just short of the goal line by Dane Jackson.
I thought that the secondary played a pretty sound game. No blown coverages, solid tackling for the most part. There were a few hard hits. If I had to point out anyone in particular, I’d say that Avonte Maddox played the best back there. He had tight coverage most of the day and put a big hit on Tre Tipton. Jay Stocker made several good tackles.
A few other observations of mine….
- George Aston did not touch the ball once all day. That was disappointing.
- Kam Carter (JUCO transfer who previously kicked out of the Dairy College) was not listed on either roster and may be in some sort of hot water. Edit: I didn’t see anything about Carter being injured so we are wondering why he wasn’t on a roster.
- We are fine at Punter and Kicker as long as the starters don’t get hurt. Winslow boomed a few punts, while Kessman has plenty of leg and connected on three field goals. The backups did not look good.
- We have a lot of quality depth on the defensive line. I think we will be good there. Four sacks on the day, two from Rori Blair.
- None of the linebackers did anything to distinguish themselves. Not that they did anything poorly either, but it’s still unclear to me who will emerge.
- Tough to tell for sure, but the crowd seemed to be decent. The whole one side of the lower bowl was pretty full. Note: attendance was listed at 7,076
- Pitt had a lot of prominent football alumni at the game. They should have figured out a way to do some sort of autograph session for the fans in attendance with the likes of Larry Fitzgerald, Tyler Palko, Tyler Boyd, etc. That’s how you get people to connect with the program. Fans relate to those former players. It was good to see that these players clearly care about the program.
- No major injuries from the game are apparent, although Brian O’Neill may have suffered an injury to his wrist, arm or shoulder in the second half.
I’m interested in knowing the thoughts of other POVers who were in attendance.
(Folks – that is a solid 1,266 word article by one of our readers… which is what is great about this blog – reader participation in both comments and main article writing. Thanks Eric!)
Here is a senior highlights film of Kenny Pickett – you fans who want a dual-threat QB? You have one now…
Here is another more professionally done video on Pickett found on HUDL.com.