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August 23, 2017

Almost as long as this blog has been around, a familiar question has been about getting the back-up quarterback some game reps. Specifically, when there is a senior starting QB. It essentially became a running joke in Tyler Palko’s senior year, of fans asking when Bill Stull might get a few mop-up snaps.

Which serves for some amusement to see this bit in Kevin Gorman’s column praising the naming of Max Browne as the starter:

DiNucci, by contrast, hasn’t even played a full game. He was 3 of 9 for 16 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions in late relief of Nathan Peterman in the Pinstripe Bowl.

That should have taught Narduzzi to get his backup more playing time during the season, something DiNucci needs if he’s to eventually succeed Browne at Pitt.

Ah, the classics. They never get old.

There are good points in the column, about the need for the offense to start strong and perhaps (definitely) have to carry a larger bit of the load with a defense that has a couple key suspensions in the first few games. To say nothing, of the experience difference of the entire defense versus the offense.

By all accounts Ben DiNucci did not make it as easy for the expected depth chart to emerge.Though,  that is kind of an open question with closed practices meaning we can only go by what the coaches say happened. Along with edited highlight clips provided by the Pitt Athletic Department [Editor note: Sorry, going off on a tangent of the stupid modern college trend of closing practices for whatever competitive excuse is used.]

DiNucci got a lot of time working with the starters. There’s been a lot of positive buzz about him and freshman Kenny Pickett.

But now that the (inevitable) decision was been made at QB, the praises of Ben DiNucci must be sung. Warning, heavy doses of cliches to follow.

“Ben, compared to where he was a year ago at this time, it’s night and day,” Narduzzi said. “It’s not the same quarterback you’re gonna see during the season. He’s mentally prepared, he’s physically prepared … because he’s one snap away from being in there. He’s very mature, and, obviously, very intelligent.”

As a coaching veteran, offensive coordinator Shawn Watson has had to deliver news like this to his players for a long time. That never makes it any easier, but he, too, is impressed with where DiNucci stands — even if it’s not at the top of the depth chart.

“It was close. Ben fought and did a great job, and I’m really proud of him for the player he’s become because of competition,” Watson said. “I feel like we have two guys in that room that we can win with.”

That’s music to the ears of Eric Kasperowicz. DiNucci’s coach at Pine-Richland, once a Pitt quarterback himself, said recently he had heard only good things about his former star pupil.

“His best football’s ahead of him; I said that when he left. He was so raw when we had him,” Kasperowicz said. “He’s just gotta continue to mature and he’s just gotta keep his head in the game, keep working on the mental aspect.”

That may have exceeded my daily sports cliche allotment in just a handful of quotes.

If Browne falters, it will probably be Pickett as opposed to Ben.

Comment by TX Panther 08.23.17 @ 7:12 am

If he is lucky Ben may get a little mop up work vs YSU, but doubtful to get much after that unless we get blown out in the next two.

Our last few coordinators saw no value in giving the back-up any work. Will Watson be any different?

Comment by gc 08.23.17 @ 7:37 am

Browne getting the nod to start the Season… no surprise.

However, keeping the job would be one.

Keep your head up Lil’ Ben, it’s only temporary.

Comment by PittofDreams 08.23.17 @ 9:58 am

I don’t understand why so many think Browne is going to suck. Look at Peterman. He had worse stats at UT than Browne did and he turned out to be a real nice QB.

Comment by JJ 08.23.17 @ 12:23 pm

The common theme is Pitt has found success relying on other schools to develop a good quarterback, then developing younger even better quaeterbacks. Does that make Pitt’s starting qb sloppy seconds, or lightly browsed seconds? Meh. Pitt stinks at recruiting quarterbacks.

Comment by 50 million Deutschmarks 08.23.17 @ 12:42 pm

Ben was a very productive QB in HS, the only PA QB to ever throw for > 4000 yards. And he did it against very good competition, leading team to state title game. I remember the opposing coach being very complimentary of him post-game.

If he was raw then, as his HS coach suggests, maybe (hopefully) many of us are underestimating him.

Comment by wbb 08.23.17 @ 1:48 pm

By the end of the season he was trusted enough to go into the bowl game. The staff did not do that to throw him a bone.

For the first time in years it looks like there may be actual depth at quarterback – not the fantasy about Myers sending Tino to the bench.

Comment by 2$Chuck 08.23.17 @ 4:23 pm

Where will McVittie be in two years?

Comment by Gasman 08.23.17 @ 8:46 pm

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