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2020 Record: 6-5
All-time series: 41-31-3 Pitt
Last Meeting: 9/19/20, 21-10 Pitt
What to Know About the Panthers:
It’s the 5th and final year of Kenny Pickett for Pat Narduzzi and the Panthers. Pitt was solid last season, and though they lost a lot to the NFL draft have a lot of promise coming into 2021. Of course with Narduzzi at the helm, the Panthers are defensively focused and it shows, they’ve been the country’s leader in sacks two years in a row. If Pickett and now sophomore WR Jordan Addison can take the next step on the offensive side of the ball, Pitt could turn into an incredibly strong team.
Head Coach – Pat Narduzzi, 7th year, 42-34 at Pitt
On new NIL rules: “It’s a great opportunity for our kids….The opportunities the kids are getting allow some young guys to look up at a Kenny Pickett or a Deslin Alexandre and say, ‘Wow I want to be like him, look what he got. How do I get where Kenny is?’ Everybody should want to be in Kenny’s shoes, and it’s not a given, he’s earned what he’s got. When Kenny decided to come back he didn’t have [NIL] in mind, but he’s able to take part in it and he’s really going to build him for the future and it’s going to build our kids for the future, so I think it’s a great opportunity for our young men to build their image.”
On what they lost on defense: “With Patrick Jones headed to the Vikings and Rashad Weaver to the Titans we lost a lot of firepower there. Maybe we’ll blitz a little more maybe we’ve got to bring some more linebackers, but we’ve got Deslin Alexandre and Habakkuk Maldonado, a young man from Rome, Italy, John Morgan….I’m happy with the way we’ve recruited, I’m happy with the depth, and I’m happy with the development because it all comes down to development.”
Kenny Pickett – Redshirt Senior, QB
2020: 13 TDs, 2408 yds, 61.1%
On his development since 2017: “I was just a kid then, 18 years old coming out of high school….In my fifth year now I have a lot of experience and I’m excited to lead this team one more time.”
On why he’s returning for a 5th season: “A lot went into it, draft projections, talking with Coach Narduzzi and Coach Whipple, seeing the team we have coming back, I think there’s an opportunity for this team to have a really special year. I told myself I’d be all in, so I’m all in and ready to go.”
On his five 4th quarter comebacks: “Practicing. We did 2-minute drills a bunch throughout camp and throughout Spring. I have a really good feel for how Coach Whipple is going to call a 2-minute drill. I understand the flow of the game and how it’s supposed to go….I would just say repetitions and practice and continuity with the guys.
Jordan Addison – Sophomore, WR
2020: 60 rec, 666 yds, 4 TDs
On having Pickett back for 2021 and his stellar freshman season: “Having my quarterback back means a lot. My freshman season being as good as it was gives me a lot of momentum to keep going and keep succeeding.
On what the offense needs to do to take the next step: “Being more consistent and putting the ball in the endzone. Last season there were plenty of times in the red zone where we had to take three [points], but I feel like this season we’re going to get into the endzone.”
Deslin Alexandre – Redshirt Senior, DE
2020: 18 Tot Tackles, 6.5 TFL, 3.0 Sacks
On what he took away from playing alongside Rashad Weaver: “Mostly just his approach to the game, his respect for the game. To do the things he was able to do, every day how he watched film, how he prepared, it showed on the field.”
On what it’s been like to switch positions on the DL: “It’s not as difficult if you put the time and the work in and you look at all the little details. It’s just like putting your shoes on or wearing your pants, as long as you put in the required amount of work in it’s not that hard.
On what the defensive line lost: “The D-line’s getting stronger. You know I keep hearing this question all day about what we ‘lost’ but those guys set the foundation for us, they showed us how to work, they showed us how to prepare, so I’m very excited for what we have upcoming for next season. We have a lot of talented guys in our room.”