There has been a lot of hue and cry from the Pitt faithful this season regarding HC Pat Narduzzi and OC Shawn Watson’s burning of QB Kenny Pickett’s redshirt in the Syracuse game. I read and hear the complaints about that move every day since that happened and have to smile just a bit when I do. Why? Let me explain…
You remember that SYR game right? A 27-24 loss in which not only did SYR beat us for the first time in five years but where we went through three different QBs ending up with Kenny Pickett taking his first college snap on a meaningless end-of-game play.
Let’s set the stage here:
That game was the 7th of this season and we sat at 2-4 and 0-2 in conference play. As things progressed during the game we saw starting QB Max Browne go down halfway through the 3rd quarter on a vicious sack, allowed by a mix-up between Ollison and Flanagan on pass protection, that tore his shoulder ligaments putting him out of action for the rest of the game (and out of his very short Pitt career).
After that injury rsSO Ben DiNucci came in as he should have because he was the listed two-deep QB and who had been getting QB2 snaps both in fall camp and the season’s regular play’s practices. That left rsFR Thomas MacVittie and true FR Kenny Pickett on the bench if needed.
And one of them was needed because on the last possession Pitt had a 2nd and 18 with only 52 seconds left on the clock and DiNucci was sacked and his helmet came off. So with no time outs remaining Narduzzi called for Pickett to take the snap and thus screwed Pickett out of a full year of eligibility.
Why that particular scenario is important and why I’m re-hashing this is because with that scenario, knowing we would lose that game to go 2-5 and 0-3 in conference, Narduzzi already knew that a winning season was already very unlikely and that a division championship was almost certainly out of reach.