Much of the credit for Pitt’s upset win over No. 2 Miami, as it should, will go to true freshman Kenny Pickett, making his first career start at quarterback. Pickett had three total touchdowns and did a great job for the Panthers on Friday.
But the team had another hero in the victory in senior cornerback Avonte Maddox. Maddox, too, was brilliant and made several key plays in his final game at Heinz Field with the Panthers.
On the day, he had four tackles, including two sacks. Maddox also recorded two pass breakups, as Miami’s passing game, for the most part, was held in check. As if all that wasn’t enough, Maddox also effectively ended the game after Miami had gotten a bit of momentum. Coming off of a quick touchdown and picking up an onside kick, Miami was poised to stay in the game. But Maddox forced a fumble by knocking the ball from the hands of quarterback Malik Rosier at the end of the game. The fumble was recovered by Pitt an they ran out the clock to end the Hurricanes’ threat.
Maddox has had a really good career for Pitt. Like the rest of the secondary, he struggled at times and the Panthers had some really poor showings on pass defense. But head coach Pat Narduzzi stuck with him and Maddox proved that he was ultimately the best corner the Panthers had. Not only that, but he was actually pretty good.
Assuming Pitt doesn’t make a bowl game as a 5-win team, I was really glad to see him go out on a high note as such a big factor against the Hurricanes. Maddox will get a look in the NFL whether he’s drafted or whether he’s merely a free agent pickup and that’s going to be deserved because he had a really nice career for the Panthers.