Pitt’s Kenny Pickett ‘brings that dog’ out of teammates
Kenny Pickett allowed himself a chuckle when he was asked Wednesday about his body’s level of soreness.
It doesn’t hurt when he laughs, and doesn’t hurt enough to keep him out of the game Saturday against Delaware.
“Pretty sore on Sunday,” the junior quarterback said. “Getting a lot better now. I should be ready to go for Saturday.”
Pickett was dumped on his throwing shoulder late in the victory against then-No. 15 Central Florida. He briefly, but reluctantly, went to the locker room and returned in time to lead the game-winning drive and catch the decisive pass on the now-famous Pitt Special play (depicted on a T-shirt selling for $23.95).
Pickett claimed he wasn’t throwing through pain while completing 3 of 6 passes for 42 yards and running for 9 more before catching the touchdown pass and rolling to the ground— on his shoulder.
Nonetheless, his teammates noticed the sequence of events and were impressed.
“Kenny brings that dog out of everybody,” tight end Nakia Griffin-Stewart said. “He’s a warrior. When he comes in the huddle, he brings that confidence.
“I’m excited to see what happens next.”
Coaches were impressed, too.
“He’s older and more mature,” tight ends coach Tim Salem said. “Every game you’re stuffing your pockets full of experiences.
“For Kenny, he’s tough son of a gun. That’s what I like about him best. He’s not afraid to run, take a shot, stay in the pocket, take a shot, get back up and do it again.
“He’s making plays. Good for him. Good for us.”
Pitt’s coaching staff also came out of the game reasonably confident that backup quarterback Nick Patti could fill a void, if necessary.
Actually, the final TD drive wouldn’t have been enough without Patti’s touchdown pass to Dontavius Butler-Jenkins with 4 minutes, 11 seconds left in the game. Patti, who is right-handed, was flushed out of the pocket to his left and was able to steady himself and throw for the score.
“I like to stay in the pocket,” Patti said, “but when things break down, you have to make a play and be an athlete.”
Even before Pickett was injured, offensive coordinator Mark Whipple designed a package for Patti, who rushed for 8 yards on the touchdown drive that gave Pitt a 14-0 lead in the second quarter.
“I’m happy he did that,” said Patti, who took the first meaningful snaps of his career and completed 2 of 3 passes for 16 yards. “When I saw Kenny go down, I grabbed my helmet, threw a couple balls and got ready to go.”
What about nerves?
“Not much,” he said. “Getting that play in the first quarter, getting hit and getting my feet wet, I’m ready to go ”
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] or via Twitter .