Coming off one of the biggest upsets in ACC history, Pittsburgh Panthers head coach Pat Narduzzi still has complete faith in quarterback Kedon Slovis. Slovis and the Pitt offense struggled all game long until the final four minutes. Many criticized the quarterback play, as Slovis often looked slow to make the throw and didn’t seem to trust his receivers. It started early as the team could not establish anything with multiple three-and-outs to start the game. Narduzzi made sure to highlight that when talking about the play of Slovis.
“Nine plays. You don’t get in a rhythm. I’m telling you, it’s hard as a play-caller to get in rhythm when you run nine plays in the first quarter.
The first attempt, the first play of the game, we go to throw it, we got a guy that’s wide, wide open, okay? Kedon can’t see him because there’s a protection issue, then takes a hit. Just start off in that place.
Second play is a drop. You can talk completions. In the NFL or college football, you catch it or you don’t. Everybody has to help him, too. Completions aren’t all on the quarterback.
Again, it was a little sloppy early. The second half the weather got a little bit better. We had a little steady drizzle at least in the first quarter. We didn’t do well with that.”
Slovis was in his second game back from a concussion injury, which gave Panther fans a chance to get a look at Nate Yarnell. While in the game against Western Michigan Yarnell was only asked to throw 12 times, and some wondered if he could provide the spark that the offense was missing. Narduzzi though, never considered that option.
“Not at all. Not at all. Not even close. He’s the best quarterback we’ve got at this point without a question. I mean, just watch the way he operates in the second half. You talk about having a short memory.”
While many questioned Slovis’ ability from the pocket, Narduzzi didn’t think that was the issue.
“I think he’s really comfortable back there. You see how he sits in the pocket, throws the ball. He’s not afraid to sit back there, take a shot, throw the ball. He does it. That’s what you have to do.
He’s not a scrambler, not a guy that’s just going to take off and run for no reason. We just got to get him in a rhythm. That’s us as coaches. Our job as coaches, we have to put our players in position.”
Coaching wasn’t the only thing that didn’t do Slovis any favors. Pitt was down starting center Owen Drexel and left tackle Carter Warren along the offensive line. Continuity is crucial to offensive line play when it comes to communicating and that had a ripple effect through the rest of the offense.
“We had some missed IDs, which we haven’t had a lot. You go into this game, all of a sudden there’s some center missed IDs, Owen doesn’t have very many of those because he’s a veteran. Followed up Jimmy. Kradel has done an unbelievable job. He gave up some pressures, miss identifications as far as the linebackers, where we’re targeting, where we’re going. Doesn’t help the offense or the quarterback any. But we’ll get it cleaned up.”
There is certainly plenty of blame to go around for an overall poor performance from the offensive unit. One thing seems clear though, even with the issues Kedon Slovis when healthy will remain the team’s QB1 for the foreseeable future. The hope is that the drives Slovis put together at the end of the game, albeit against the Georgia Tech prevent defense, will carry over into the next game coming up against Virginia Tech.