Much has been said about Shawn Watson and the unmitigated disaster that he was as the leader of the Panther attack during the 2017 and 2018 seasons. The frustration with the former Offensive Coordinator began shortly into his tenure and only got louder as it went on. Even as Pitt was winning the Coastal division last year, the general sentiment was that it was in spite of Watson. There was even some grumbling that the division title would save his job for at least one more season. I personally was dreading what we would see from a Watson-led offense without Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall.
However, after clinching the division against Wake Forest, the Panthers offense fell flat in their final trio of games. The Pitt offense had a grand total of two touchdowns and an 8.67 points per game average over the final three contests, completed only 43.5% of their passes for a total of 275 yards (that’s total, not per game average), and the at times potent rushing attack disappeared with only a 3.66 rush average. Overall, the Panthers gained only 3.77 yards per play on average, which would have been dead last in FBS over the course of the entire 2018 season. After such anemic outputs to end the season Pat Narduzzi wasted little time in parting ways with the much maligned coordinator.
Eventually former UMass Head Coach and Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterbacks Coach Mark Whipple was hired as Watson’s replacement. There was guarded optimism with the announcement of this hire due to the reputation Whipple brought in with him as a quarterback mentor and a coach who loved slinging the ball. In other words, the polar opposite of what we saw under the previous leadership. While we aren’t even a full season removed from the end of that regime, and therefore are far from seeing how it will eventually turn out. Despite this, at the midpoint of the season and with a bye this past weekend, now seems like a good time to take stock of how the offense compares with that of the...
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