As many backup quarterbacks do, Pitt signal-caller Kenny Pickett had earned somewhat of a cult status. Earlier this season, that status was held by Ben DiNucci, who fans clamored for over starter Max Browne.
Browne, of course, suffered a season-ending injury and it became pretty clear that, while capable, DiNucci wasn’t the next Dan Marino. Enter Pickett.
Pickett had played sparingly until earning the majority of the playing time against Virginia Tech last weekend. After nearly leading the Panthers to victory after a gut-wrenching defeat, I wrote that he deserved to start against Miami. He ultimately did and, man, was it the right decision.
Pickett was more than adequate for the team to win today in completing 18 of his 29 passes for 193 yards and a touchdown. He also aided the team’s running game with 60 rushing yards and two scores there. Pickett accounted for all three of the team’s touchdowns (along with Qadree Ollison, who was on the receiving end of one) and played as well as you could for a true freshman starting his first game against the No. 2 team in the nation.
It’s clear, of course, he still has work to do. Pickett made some questionable throws out there and at least a couple could have been intercepted. But he also made some crisp throws and has the arm strength needed to excel at the position. The decision-making will improve and, for a true freshman, he’s already ahead of the game.
As I said in the game recap, I’m still not sure what this does for Pitt exploring potential grad transfer options. But one has to think that Pickett’s play gives the staff a little more relief going forward. The Panthers could still bring in a quarterback to compete - particularly if they lose someone to a transfer. As of now, though, this looks like it could be Pickett’s job to lose.