Stats brought to you by Richard Hefner – aka Pitt-Cocks Fan
Yesterday, we asked what would happen if Kenny Pickett was forced out of the Miami game, because the Syracuse.com power ranking article astutely pointed out that Kenny is “starting to show some wear and tear from Pitt’s one dimensional offense”. Lets take a look at what Kenny has done so far this season and what might happen if the unthinkable does happen.
First, the basics. Here are Kenny’s stats YTD, broken down by game.
A couple of takeaways here. Fist of all, Kenny statistically is still ranked towards the bottom of the NCAA. However, he’s shown improvement over his last three games. YPA is up in each game. YPC is up in each game. Passer rating has gone from 100.2 to 133.6. That’s a 33% improvement. His overall passer rating rank has improved from 109th to 90th. That’s a at 17% improvement. The data would suggest that needle is pointing up for Kenny.
Also it’s worth noting that Pickett threw a season-low 33 attempts against Syracuse. He handed the ball off 38 times, and the running backs gained 151 yards. Other teams have had varying amounts of success throwing the ball against the Hurricanes. Here is a breakdown of what ACC quarterbacks have done.
UNC’s Howell and VT’s Hooker clearly had success with the long ball. Just look at those YPC. (17.1 for Howell, adn 18.4 for Hooker.) Whipple could decide to attack Miami in the same way, but in order to do that successfully Kenny needs to continue to work on his touch passing (put some air under the ball!), and the line needs to be able to give him time. That’s a 50/50 proposition at best.
Perkins played dink and dunk and couldn’t put points on the board. He was also sacked five times, so again, there is the whole pass protection factor. Note also that Perkins threw the ball 42 times. Howell and Herndon threw 24 and 20 times, respectively.
Graham – a true freshman QB – had the support of a very strong running game (45 att / 207 yards). Can Pitt do this? Running for 145 against Syracuse is one thing. Running for 145 against Miami is something completely different. Running for 200 against anybody is pretty much out of the question.
Still, Pitt is going to have to try to establish the run. Two ACC teams have beaten Miami with a combination of a solid running game and the long ball. UNC ran for 97 yards. Virginia Tech ran for 150. This in turn set up a deep passing game (off of play action I would assume). UNC scored 28 and Tech scored 42.
So even if Pitt is able to run on Miami (unlikely…), you’d have to think that Kenny is still going to be asked to throw the ball at least thirty times., if not more. If Pitt can’t establish the run, Kenny is going throw 40 times or more. Either way, he’s going to take some hits in the process. What happens if …?
rFr Nick Patti will be the first off the bench of course, and we’ve got a one-game body of work by which to judge him.
Not too bad…kind of similar to Pickett’s game against the ‘Cuse.
Miami’s defensive line, on the other hand, is in a completely different league than the Delaware Blue Hens. If Patti has to see extended action against Miami will his stat line look more like KP against Virginia? (87 QBR, 1 TD, 2 INT). It very well may. On the positive side, Patti has a game’s worth of experience in Whip’s system (Kenny did not when he played against UVA). On the negative side, throwing Patti in against the ‘Canes would be a much sterner test than Delaware. Still, Patti has some scrambling skills which could come in handy. And he’s cool under pressure (anybody remember the UCF touchdown?). On the other hand, Patti has also thrown some bad balls right to opposing defenders, and he’s lucky that he’s only had one of the intercepted. It’s probably safe to say that Nick could use another year or two of seasoning before anyone feels really good about him playing against ACC competition, but we know he’ll give it all he’s got if he’s tapped to go in.
So yes, my extremely hot take (that’s sarcasm folks) is that Pitt has to find a way to keep Kenny Pickett in one piece on Saturday, and also give him a little bit of time to throw. It’s the key to the game, and the key to the season. I don’t know if they do that by keeping a tight end in to block, and a running back, or by calling plays where the back releases out as a safety valve so Kenny can throw before he’s hit, or by working on the screen game (which been pretty ineffective all season), or by doing something else, but Pitt has to do something. Because if they don’t protect Kenny it’s going to be Pahtti-time on the Northside and I have a feeling that’s not the kind of “pah-ty” Pitt fans are wanting to attend. Heyooo!