Pitt notebook: Jimmy Morrissey gets Penn State talk started
Jimmy Morrissey is ready for Penn State. He’s a Pitt co-captain, so you have to believe his teammates feel the same.
After Pitt put away Ohio with a 20-10 victory Saturday at Heinz Field, the talk turned to Penn State, the opponent next Saturday in State College. It could be the last game between the two in-state rivals, who have met 99 times dating to 1893.
“I can’t wait,” said Morrissey, 21, a junior center and member of the university’s prestigious Blue-Gold Society for top students. “I’ve said it before. I’m from the eastern side of the state, Philly area. I know a lot of people who go there. Some of my closest friends go to Penn State.
“I don’t like them one bit. That’s pretty obvious. I mean, I play for Pitt. I’m excited to play them.”
He said his friends regularly remind him about Penn State’s victories in the past two games. “Yeah, of course, from all my friends,” he said.
When he was asked why he didn’t choose Penn State coming out of high school, he said, “I was a walk-on. I didn’t get offered anywhere.”
Then, he added, “I wouldn’t have gone there, anyway, if I had an offer.”
But he does lament the end of the series. “I don’t know why they wouldn’t continue it,” Morrissey said. “I don’t know if we’re not or they’re not or if it’s both sides. … But I think it’s great for the fans and great for the universities. It’s a good rivalry.”
Don’t blame Pickett
Morrissey was even more passionate in his defense of quarterback Kenny Pickett, who amassed a career high 321 passing yards a week after throwing two interceptions in the loss to Virginia.
Pickett took plenty of blame after the loss, and he said Saturday he has shut off his Twitter and Instagram accounts until at least the end of the season.
“It was our fault,” Morrissey said of the offensive line. “It wasn’t coach Borb’s (Dave Borbely, line coach) fault. It wasn’t (Mark) Whipple’s (first-year offensive coordinator) fault. It wasn’t Kenny’s fault. It was ours. We didn’t pick up certain games and twists and blitzes (by Virginia).
“We gave up 14 pressures as an offensive line. When you get hit 14 times, I don’t blame him for wanting to scramble. He’s getting hit that many times, what quarterback in the country can you ask to be confident in their O-line after that performance?
“It was more on us. We should have gotten more heat than he did.”
Morrissey said adjusting to a new offense takes time.
“It’s a new offense, first game of the year,” he said. “We hadn’t seen their film from this year. We knew they were going to throw some new stuff at us that we didn’t prepare for and we just didn’t adjust well enough to it last week.
“This week, we were a lot more prepared. We all talked about it. It was good that everybody recognized the problem.”
Coach Pat Narduzzi also tried to deflect some of the blame from his quarterback.
“Did he bounce back (against Ohio) or did everybody make some catches for him? No. 8 is a dang good football player. Dang good football player.”
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .