Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi may have been signed to a contract extension recently, but the Panthers are quickly getting shallow at the quarterback spot on the depth chart for 2018. For the second time in as many days, Pitt is losing a quarterback to a transfer.
Ben DiNucci is the most recent of the two to announce his decision to leave the program. Though DiNucci did not say where he is heading next, he did say in a brief message on Twitter he will be enrolling in January. He will have two years of eligibility to use, although he would have to sit out the 2018 season if he transfers to another FBS program. He would be eligible to play right away if he transfers to a lower division football program. A report from The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette suggests the latter will be the case, with James Madison and Towson the two leading candidates to add DiNucci.
DiNucci was Pittsburgh’s leading passer this season with 1,091 yards and five touchdowns, although he was used mostly as a backup for Max Browne until Browne was injured after appearing in six games. DiNucci also added 126 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown, which came in Week 2 against Penn State.
DiNucci’s announcement comes just one day after Thomas MacVittie announced his own decision to leave the Panthers behind. The redshirt freshman did not appear in any games this season and was passed over on the depth chart by freshman Kenny Pickett. Pickett now becomes the top option in the passing game for the Panthers heading into the spring, unless Pitt happens to add a transfer to the mix.
Pitt will have another scholarship quarterback on the way in 2018 with the addition of incoming freshman Nick Patti out of New Jersey. Patti is not expected to be enrolling early, so he will not be around in the spring.
For the second straight week, No. 5 Michigan was hardly forced to put their foot on the gas at home. The Wolverines easily improved to 2-0 this season with a 51-14 victory over visiting UCF (1-1). This one was over just as soon as Jim Harbaugh was hired and UCF went 0-12 last season.
Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight turned in a highly productive afternoon, completing 25 of 37 pass attempts for 312 yards and four touchdowns. Amara Darboh led all players with 111 receiving yards and a pair of touchdown grabs, and Jehu Chesson added 84 receiving yards. Tight end Jake Butt hauled in two touchdowns as well, and picked up 86 receiving yards.
The Wolverines did not get a whole bunch of yards on the ground, which should be a credit to UCF’s defensive effort. De'Veon Smith led the ground game with 38 rushing yards on 10 attempts. Of course, Michigan didn’t need a whole lot out of the running game on this day.
Michigan will remain home next week when they play their first power conference opponent. Colorado of the Pac-12 makes their way to Ann Arbor after picking up a win in the season opener against Colorado State. The Buffs had Idaho State at home today, so they should bring a 2-0 record with them next week to Michigan Stadium. It will be Michigan’s final non-conference game before hosting Penn State in the Big Ten opener the following week.
UCF clearly needs to find a quarterback because neither Nick Patti or Justin Holman were very effective. Each completed three passes out of 11 attempts for a combined total of 56 yards.
UCF will look to bounce back and learn from some experiences in this game next week when they take on another Big Ten team, this time at home. UCF hosts Maryland, who will be making a second straight trip down to the Sunshine State after beating FIU in Miami Friday night.
UCF head coach George O’Leary previously stated he would name the Knights’ new starting quarterback Sunday. He didn’t go quite that far.
O’Leary did indicate which quarterback would be the opening-day starter if the season began today.
DiNovo is somewhat of a surprise choice to become Blake Bortles‘ successor.
Both DiNovo and Justin Holman were recruited in the 2013 class. While DiNovo redshirted, Holman served as Bortles’ primary back and played in three games as a true freshman. O’Leary’s decision indicates DiNovo developed at a greater rate than Holman did between last year and this summer.
With DiNovo leading the way, O’Leary has to determine the rest of the depth chart. Sophomore Nick Patti and freshman Tyler Harris were also a part of the competition. O’Leary has an idea where all four quarterbacks currently stand.
O’Leary wanted to name his quarterback at this point in the process to build chemistry in the huddle. Now that the coach has indicated which of the signal callers is currently considered the favorite, the Knights can place their full attention on the Penn State Nittany Lions and their meeting Aug. 30 in Dublin, Ireland.
Who will replace Blake Bortles as UCF’s starting quarterback?
The Knights’ coaching staff still doesn’t have an answer to that question, but one should be coming very soon.
UCF head coach George O’Leary told reporters he wants to name his starter Sunday in order to build chemistry in the huddle. The coach has plenty of options from which to choose.
Sophomore Justin Holman is considered the favorite after entering fall camp atop the depth chart. Holman was the team’s primary backup last season and played in three games. Pete DiNovo was in the same recruiting class as Holman, but he redshirted last season and now gets his chance to compete for the starting spot. Freshman Tyler Harris is a four-star recruit with plenty of natural ability. Finally, Boise State transfer Nick Patti arrived on campus this summer after being a promising three-star recruit as part of Boise State’s 2012 recruiting class.
“Once coach makes a decision, it’ll be somewhat of relief for everyone just so we don’t have to answer that question people are always asking,” senior wide receiver J.J. Worton told the Orlando Sentinel‘s Shannon Owens-Green.
With O’Leary’s decision only a day away, the picture has started to clarify for the rest of the team.
“I think it’s starting to show itself and reveal itself,” said Charlie Taaffe, UCF’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. “But having said that, none of these guys have really played any significant gamer. … So now we have to see how they perform in a game. Some guys are great practice players, but can’t transfer it to the game field and vice versa. Some guys show up on game days. We’re still learning. You got four guys that we know very little about and that’s the way it is.”
Whichever quarterback is eventually named the starter won’t be eased into the position. The Knights open their season Aug. 30 in Dublin, Ireland against the Penn State Nittany Lions.
It is that time of the year again when head coaches with vacancies at quarterback refuse to show their cards on making a final call on who will lead the offense on the field. This often happens at schools looking to replace established quarterbacks from the previous season, whether it be because the coach honestly is not sure which way to go with it or because he does not want to give the season opening opponent a hint of whom to prepare for in week one. Where UCF head coach George O’Leary falls on this subject is probably anyone’s guess, but he is not making any decisions on a starting quarterback to replace Blake Bortles anytime soon.
”I’ll let you know when I’m going to name one, it’s not a big secret,” O’Leary said, according to the Associated Press. ”I’ll let you know when I feel comfortable about somebody.
With Bortles now in training camp with the Jacksonville Jaguars after being drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft, the competition is now wide open in Orlando. Sophomore Justin Holman is the lone option with any previous playing experience, but redshirt freshman Pete DiNovo, freshman Tyler Harris and redshirt sophomore and Boise State transfer Nick Patti are all going to be given a chance to win the job.
Reporters covering the Knights, defending American Athletic Conference champions, are not the only ones hounding O’Leary for an answer as camp opened up Thursday. “Everybody’s trying to get a jump on it,” O’Leary said. “My wife’s going to be the first one to know. And she’s out of the state, so good luck.”
It may be best to allow the competition play out with so much unknown about the new options, but there is a benefit to narrowing the decision down as quickly as possible. Knowing who will lead the offense during the season will give everybody on the offense a chance to develop an identity and comfort level with the quarterback. With a somewhat challenging schedule facing the Knights, getting as much taken care of early on could be a benefit in the long run.
UCF will open up the 2014 season in Ireland against Penn State in week one. The Knights topped the Nittany Lions in State College last fall, kickstarting their run to the Fiesta Bowl.