A TALE OF TWO TOWNS; Chapter 2
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
This second in a series article takes an in-depth look at transfer QB Ricky Town’s backstory and it is an interesting one. Usually when a player comes onto a school’s roster one takes a glance at where and when he played his previous football and moves on. But in this case the more I read about Ricky Town the more interested, and then fascinated, I became so I started making phone calls to satisfy my curiosity about the young man and from there I felt his was a story that was waiting to be told in deeper terms.
The first chapter of this story can be found here and I suggest you read it first if you haven’t already…
Perhaps in normal days a school’s back-up quarterback issue wouldn’t be something that warranted looking to in-depth but it’s importance will be magnified at the University of Pittsburgh this year because just last season we saw what could happen when your starting QB goes down with injury and your back-ups (QB2s) have to take control for the rest of the schedule.
That came to pass in 2017 at Pitt and the result was an overwhelming failure of the offense and was a key reason we dropped to a seven loss and five win season – the worse Pitt has completed in a full decade of play.
The fact that ex-USC backup QB Max Browne, who transferred in for a single year of play, wasn’t talented enough to play successfully at the D1 level was written about on here extensively prior to the start of last season. Before the 2017 spring practices started The Pitt POV reached out to two Southern California USC sportswriters and a USC football blogger to get their firsthand accounts of and a feel for what type of player Browne was previously and might be for Pitt. The feedback was surprisingly across-the-board negative and we saw that writ large when Browne started the season and played way below everyobody’s expectations.
Save for one four TD game against a truly bad 4-8 Conference USA Rice team, that ended up being ranked very low in all national passing defense categories, Browne threw exactly one other TD in the rest of the season. That lone TD was in overtime against Youngstown State. He didn’t throw any TDs in regulation play except for the Rice game.
When Browne went down in that sixth game with a shoulder injury Pitt was standing at 2 wins and 3 losses and it didn’t get much better under his replacement rsSO Ben DiNucci. Not surprisingly with the acquisition of yet another transfer QB for this year in Ricky Town DiNucci has left the Pitt program and transferred out, along with the once highly heralded rsFR Thomas MacVitte who had hadn’t throw a single pass in a game while at Pitt.
DiNucci’s situation after the season ended was unique and unfortunate. After the last game of the season he was told that he was to be the second string QB behind starter Kenny Pickett (more on him later).
DiNucci’s transfer precipitated Town’s visit to Pitt. Dinucci heard Pitt was looking for more depth at QB and feeling mislead, and not for the first time because it happened twice before during the regular season, he abruptly left the team on December 14th.
Once he told the staff he was leaving, they scrambled to get Town on campus two days later. Town was actually on campus at a smaller school, I believe it was Stephen F Austin, for a visit when OC Shawn Watson called and asked him to come to Pitt. So Town left that visit and flew to Pittsburgh on a Saturday night and Town then signed his LOI on December 17th.
To quote Cardiac Hill on this issue:
The Panthers’ quarterback situation took another strange twist in Saturday’s loss to NC State. In that game, Pickett relieved DiNucci, despite the game being close and DiNucci playing relatively well. Afterwards, head coach Pat Narduzzi and DiNucci gave conflicting accounts about the plan for playing time in the game.
In his post-game statements, Narduzzi insisted that both DiNucci and Pickett knew of the plan to play both during the contest.
“It wasn’t a taking Ben out because he wasn’t getting the job done,” Narduzzi said. “We had talked with them prior to the game so there was communication prior to the game on what we going to do and what the plans were.”
His starter, however, saw things differently and was taken aback by being removed from the game.
“A little bit surprised,” DiNucci said in response to being asked about if he was surprised by being taken out of a close game. “I wasn’t necessarily aware going into this week that they were going to try to get him a series, but that’s ultimately their decision.”
A follow-up question was asked about any conversations he may have had with Narduzzi and offensive coordinator Shawn Watson, perhaps to jog his memory. DiNucci’s response?
“I didn’t know anything about it going in beforehand.”
That DiNucci was assured of the 2018 QB2 spot and was, again, mislead by the head coach was the final straw before his leaving the team.
So, the possibility of going into 2018 missing his two marginally talented backup QBs, and in DiNucci the only one who had shown any smattering of D1 talented to start with, was a question mark Narduzzi didn’t want hanging over the offense’s head so he welcomed Ventura CC QB Ricky Town to transfer in for his last two years eligibility.