Deeper roster helps Pitt withstand injuries | TribLIVE.com
Pitt

Deeper roster helps Pitt withstand injuries

Jerry DiPaola
1715344_web1_gtr-PittUCF22-092219
Pitt’s Marquis Williams takes out UCF’s Jacob Harris in the fourth quarter Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019 at Heinz Field.

The last thing Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi wants to discuss is the number of important players struck down by injuries this season.

Whether it’s trying not to sound like he’s making excuses or simply hoping to avoid giving the opponent a competitive advantage, he’s reluctant to get into specifics.

But there was no denying the number of players — at least eight starters or key backups — who left the field or never played at all Saturday in the victory against then-No. 15 Central Florida.

“You’re like, ‘Oh, boy,’ ” Narduzzi said. “You look upstairs and say a prayer.”

Wide receiver Tre Tipton (leg) and defensive linemen Rashad Weaver and Keyshon Camp (knee) won’t play this season. Linebacker Elias Reynolds didn’t play but should return at some point. Those four absences impaired Narduzzi’s ability to keep everyone fresh on a hot day when UCF was snapping the ball about 10 seconds after the previous play.

Then, quarterback Kenny Pickett, linebacker Kylan Johnson and cornerbacks Damarri Mathis and Jason Pinnock were hurt during the game. Pickett and Johnson returned, but Mathis and Pinnock did not. Narduzzi said he expects them to play Saturday against Delaware.

Pitt used 27 players on defense.

“Therran Coleman, my hat goes off to that guy, and Marquis Williams,” he said of two backup cornerbacks, who were joined by backup safety Erick Hallett. “They’re waiting, begging, whining, complaining, which they should. ‘When do I get my chance?’

“They came in and did some stuff that you go, ‘Okay, good, we can trust you.’ It’s hard to trust someone until you give them a chance to go. And that’s the hardest thing as coaches. You want to play your best players to win football games. So that was a good thing those guys came in there. Now, makes us even that much stronger.”

Narduzzi wished he could get Weaver and Camp back, but he was pleased the injury-plagued defensive front four helped hold UCF to an average of 2.5 yards per rush, including six sacks.

“I look at it all the time, man. What if we had those two guys? Because they’re difference-makers,” Narduzzi said.

•••

QB of the future?

Backup quarterback Nick Patti replaced Pickett long enough to throw a touchdown pass and rush twice for 18 yards during the second-half comeback.

“He got out of trouble, made some plays with his feet,” the coach said, pointing out Patti also played a snap while Pickett was in the game as a decoy.

“We will continue to maybe expand that package every week about what we can do with him because he can run,” Narduzzi said. “And he’s tough. He was our scout-team quarterback a year ago, so I know what he’s got. He’s got his tail beat in, and he keeps coming back for more.”

•••

By the numbers

Kicker Alex Kessman has missed five of eight field goal attempts, but Narduzzi gave him a vote of confidence. “I’m going to go on record saying we probably won’t miss another field goal the rest of the year,” he said. … Pickett (quarterback), Bryce Hargrove (offensive line) and Aaron Mathews (specialist) were named ACC players of the week at their positions. … Pickett has the second-longest active streak in the nation without an interception (139). … Defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman is fourth in the nation with an average of 1.38 sacks per game (5½ total). … Kickoff for the game at Duke on Oct. 5 is 8 p.m. on the ACC Network. … Pitt received six voting points in the Associated Press poll this week.

Get the latest news about Pitt football and all things Panthers athletics.

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected]bweb.com or via Twitter .

Categories: Sports | Pitt
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.