So far, Pitt is a perfect 2-0 on the young football season. But one area they haven’t showed much is in the passing game.
There, quarterback Nathan Peterman is having a very modest year. Through those two contests, he has only 266 total passing yards. And considering that in one game, Pitt faced an FCS foe and in the other, was involved in a shootout where teams scored a combined 81 points, that is pretty remarkable.
But despite those low totals, head coach Pat Narduzzi isn’t concerned.
“There were some things we left on the field in the running game,” Narduzzi said when discussing this week’s Penn State game. “But when you rush for 350 yards, who wants to throw it? A lot of our passing game we haven’t really seen yet I guess. I feel great about Nate [Peterman]. He was on fire. He had a super game and he played well enough for us to win a football game.”
“Nathan [Peterman] played a great game.”
A great game? Maybe not statistically, but he did everything his team needed from him. Pitt’s offensive game plan relied mostly on short passes, some innovative plays, and a heavy dose of the running game. When you run the ball as much as they did, as Narduzzi alluded to, there’s not a lot of room for big passing numbers.
And while it would have been nice to see him go for more than the 175 he had against Villanova, that offensive game plan was nothing like we saw this weekend. As I wrote over the weekend, the game plan there was to simply beat Villanova with their talent and not show too much on offense.
For the record, I do think Peterman is capable of more. How much more? That’s anybody’s guess. But in nearly half the games he started last year, he threw for at least 200 yards, so it’s clear he can do more than what he has to date in 2016. in 2015, he topped out at 262 yards against North Carolina.
Obviously, the Panthers don’t have Tyler Boyd, so that’s a massive hit. However, the Panthers do have playmakers such as Quadree Henderson that are capable of taking a short pass and picking up chunks of yardage. So even without the deep threat, I still expect Peterman will have more yardage as we go along.
You can also bet that with James Conner showing he’s still capable in the last game, opposing defenses will key in a bit more on the run. That should ultimately open things up and give the passing game even more of a chance to succeed.
Finally, don’t forget that Pitt has not trailed yet this year. He’s been playing with the lead and really hasn’t had to throw much. Once Pitt inevitably plays some games where they are behind, he will have even more of a chance to pad his numbers.
Another great thing to like about Peterman is that he’s played mistake-free football so far for the most part. On the season, he has five touchdown passes to only one pick, and that one interception was off a tipped pass this weekend, which wasn’t his fault. He doesn’t have the big numbers, but has been a very capable quarterback so far.
Despite the slow start, expect bigger things from him later this year.