Pitt center Jimmy Morrissey went down with an injury in his team’s 34-13 win over Wake Forest on Saturday, as he had his right leg rolled up during the Panthers’ final touchdown of the day. He was helped off the field and did not return. On Tuesday, Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi confirmed Morrissey underwent surgery on his ankle and will miss the remainder of the season.
Morrissey served as Pitt’s starting center in 23 consecutive games and was instrumental in paving the way for running backs Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall, who have combined for 1,994 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns this season. Narduzzi discussed the news about Morrissey on Tuesday.
”Jimmy has been tremendous for us this year, both as a player and a leader,” Narduzzi said. “We all share his disappointment, but I know this will only be a temporary setback for him. Jimmy will be back next year better than ever. In the meantime, I know he will continue to do all he can to help our offensive line perform at the same high level. That’s the type of person and teammate he is.”
The center not only filled a leadership role along Pitt’s offensive line, but was singled out by outlets like Pro Football Focus as one of the top linemen in the ACC on a consistent basis. As such, he will be difficult to replace, and Pitt’s plan for the line without Morrissey is currently unclear. However, Owen Drexel falls behind him on the depth chart, and Connor Dintino has previous experience playing center.
Dintino has played alongside Morrissey all season, starting at left guard in each of Pitt’s 11 games thus far. Aside from that, he competed for a starting role at center ahead of the 2017 season. Given his relative experience, he seems more likely to slot in at center than Drexel. Of course, that would open up a hole at left guard, which would likely be filled by Bryce Hargrove, who has seen action at both guard positions.
In any case, the timing of this development is far from ideal for Pitt, as the team is set to face the 19th-ranked defense in the nation when it heads to Miami on Saturday. After that, it will take on Clemson, which currently boasts college football’s top defense. The ACC title will be on the line in the latter matchup, which is set for Dec. 1.
With Morrissey's injury, Pitt has now lost four starters since the start of the season, as linebacker Quintin Wirginis and defensive tackle Keyshon Camp were both lost to injuries in October and tight end Tyler Sear left the team the same month.