Jackets prepare for Panthers’ system, not their QB

ATLANTA — The mystery of who will start at quarterback for Pittsburgh in today’s Atlantic Coast Conference opener at Georgia Tech hasn’t been a concern for Yellow Jackets coach Paul Johnson.

 

Max Browne, a graduate transfer from Southern California, started the first three games for the Panthers (1-2), including in back-to-back losses to top 10 teams Penn State and Oklahoma State. Coach Pat Narduzzi may start sophomore Ben DiNucci against the Yellow Jackets (2-0).

“Prepare for their system,” Johnson said. “It don’t matter who they play at quarterback. I could care less.”

Added Johnson with a smile: “They don’t know who we’re going to play at right guard.”

Pitt bracketed the two quarterbacks on their depth chart, separated with “OR.”

For Johnson, that was a sign Narduzzi was planning on a change to DiNucci. Johnson said when “the starter has been the starter for three games and it’s either/or,” it usually means a new starter for the following game.

DiNucci passed for 228 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions while playing behind Browne in last week’s 59-21 loss to No. 6 Oklahoma State.

Narduzzi said he’ll make the decision based on “coaching feel.”

“Obviously Ben sparked things with his feet and his athletic ability and what he can do running the ball, and he does some great things, which we know,” Narduzzi said.

The Panthers have won two straight in the series, including a 37-34 victory last year on a 31-yard field goal by Chris Blewitt as time expired. Blewitt kicked a school-record 56-yard field goal to beat the Yellow Jackets 31-28 at Georgia Tech in 2015.

“It definitely is in the back of our minds,” said Georgia Tech cornerback Lance Austin. “We lost on a field goal the last two years, so one thing we’re hyping is finish, just finish. We’ve got to make the little things happen.”

The Panthers were forced to make do in the secondary over the first three weeks while junior safety Jordan Whitehead served a suspension for a violation of team rules. Whitehead, the ACC Rookie of the Year in 2015, gives Pitt a needed dose of speed and physicality.

After opening the season with two games in five days, Georgia Tech has had to wait 14 days to play again, after its game at Central Florida scheduled for Sept. 16 was canceled due to Hurricane Irma. The good news is Georgia Tech is well-rested.

 

More

Sat, 10/21/2017 - 02:07

Truex shines again at Kansas Speedway