Kenny Pickett, Pitt look to right ship vs. New Hampshire

Field Level Media

September 20, 2021 at 7:47 pm.

Pittsburgh aims to pick itself up following last week’s letdown when it hosts FCS member New Hampshire on Saturday afternoon.

The clash against the Wildcats at Heinz Field serves as the last tune-up for the Panthers (2-1) before they play eight straight games against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents.

Offense hasn’t been the problem for Pittsburgh, which eclipsed 40 points in three consecutive games to start the season for the first time in the history of the program.

Kenny Pickett threw for 382 yards and a career-best six touchdowns in the Panthers’ 44-41 setback to Mid-American Conference opponent Western Michigan last Saturday.

Pickett moved past Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino into second place on Pittsburgh’s all-time passing yardage list. His 8,923 yards trail only career leader Alex Van Pelt (11,267 in 1989-92).

Jordan Addison reeled in a career-best three scoring strikes and finished with six catches for 124 yards last Saturday. Tight end Lucas Krull found the end zone twice to double his touchdown total on the season.

“My eye test tells you the receivers are pretty good and Kenny Pickett’s pretty good. I want to run the ball better,” Panthers coach Pat Narduzzi said.

Pickett leads the team with just 115 net rushing yards on the season.

As for the other side of the ball, Pittsburgh’s defense surrendered 517 total yards last Saturday and saw the Broncos hold the ball for 40 minutes, 15 seconds.

“Everybody looks at the yardage and all that stuff and again, it’s stats, and I always say stats are for losers, but pull the stat together yards per minute you’re on the field, OK?” Narduzzi said. “Pull up our offense per play on the field. Defense was on the field for over 40 minutes. I mean, two thirds of the game they’re on the field.”

Bret Edwards tossed two touchdown passes to Brian Espanet to lead New Hampshire (3-0) to a 19-13 win over Lafayette last Saturday.

“They’ve got a good feel for each other,” Wildcats coach Sean McDonnell said of Edwards and Espanet, who have teamed up on four touchdowns this season. “Brian’s done that his whole career here. … He has great hands and he’s got a good feel for trying to find spots in the end zone.”

Espanet’s totals in catches (13) and receiving yards (171) trail only those of Sean Coyne (16, 189) for the team lead.

Two former New Hampshire assistant coaches are now coordinators with Pittsburgh. Mark Whipple is the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, while Randy Bates is the defensive coordinator.