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Pitt coaches looking to keep things “simpler” for Kedon Slovis

The coaching staff used the off week to self reflect on the passing attack

Georgia Tech v Pittsburgh Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

It’s been a tough start for Pittsburgh Panthers’ quarterback Kedon Slovis this season. Slovis so far has 1,167 passing yards which is 91st in the country and five touchdown passes which ranks at 108th. Slovis also has a QBR of only 44.9, which is good for only 98th in the country. With a sputtering passing attack that has prompted some to question if a quarterback switch needed to be made, the off week was a good time for some self-reflection.

After reviewing the film and doing some self-scouting, Narduzzi offered some insight into what he thought about Slovis’ play.

“I’d say it’s maybe above average. I wouldn’t say it’s a winning effort every time.” Narduzzi said “I’d say it’s above average right now. And I think it can be better. And, again, he thinks it can be better as well.”

That is certainly a fair assessment so far to say that Slovis can be better. By Slovis’ standards at USC, this is so far his worst season according to PFF. After a solid opener against West Virginia, the passing offense has fallen apart.

A large part of that has been indecisiveness which has been evident watching the games each week.

“You know, sometimes it comes down to maybe overcoaching stuff. Sometimes we’re put it this way: I think he’s a pleaser. And I think he’s trying to do everything exactly the right way. And sometimes I think he can overthink things.” Narduzzi stated. “So I think we just got to kind of let it go and maybe don’t overcoach him as much and let him play football and let him do what he does.”

Frank Cignetti runs a pro-style offense that is demanding of quarterbacks mentally. It requires a quarterback to run deeper drops and progress through three or four reads across the entire field. It is a big difference from Mark Whipple’s level concepts that had receivers run routes on the same side of the field to give the quarterback an easier time to only go through a couple of reads and get the ball out.

Could it be that we may see a simplification of the offense? That remains to be seen but it is something that could highlight the strengths of Kedon Slovis. The highlight of Slovis was his accuracy especially in the short to intermediate areas and it shows in a more college-friendly offense. Per PFF, when Kedon Slovis does these four and five-step dropbacks that take 2.5 seconds or more to throw, Slovis has a 48% completion percentage. When Slovis does quicker two and three-step drops with less than 2.5 seconds before the throw the completion percentage rockets up to 77.9%.

So it seems like a simplification of the offense that reduces the number of reads Slovis needs to make and speeds up getting the ball out could be the recipe to finally get this Pitt passing attack out of the mud.

“maybe we can do a better job as a staff and he can do a better job at seeing stuff and so I think, you know, it’s always twofold.” Narduzzi stated. “We’ve got to do a better job as coaches first. And then, you know, doing so much, maybe doing too much to the point where we’ve got to keep it simpler, too.”

If Pittsburgh wants to challenge for the ACC Coastal, they will need Slovis and the passing game to get back on track. This week against Louisville we will see if they used the self-scouting week to truly improve and put this thought process into action.