On this week’s depth chart, Pitt lists quarterbacks Max Browne and Ben DiNucci with the “or” designation, so coach Pat Narduzzi isn’t tipping his hand on the matter of who will start when the Panthers play Georgia Tech at 12:20 p.m. Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
After Pitt pushed Youngstown State aside in the season opener, the competition picked up considerably in the form of ranked teams Penn State and Oklahoma State. Browne started all three games, but gave way to DiNucci early in the second quarter of Saturday’s game against OSU.
In the past two games, Pittsburgh’s offense generated 28 points, off three touchdowns and two field goals. DiNucci was at quarterback for all three touchdowns and Browne for both field goals.
Of course, here’s where we have to note that the first of DiNucci’s touchdowns was on a drive led by Browne. DiNucci entered the game and scored on a 3-yard run, but that came after Browne’s helmet came off. By rule, Browne had to leave the field for a play, and DiNucci scored.
Browne, a graduate transfer from USC, has a QB rating of 107.11. He is 43-of-66 passing for 338 yards. His stat line includes one touchdown and two interceptions. DiNucci, a sophomore, has a rating of 119.3 and is 18-of-34 passing for 277 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. DiNucci has averaged 151.5 yards of total offense to Browne’s 99.0.
The significant difference is that DiNucci has averaged 8.15 yards per attempt, 3.03 yards more than Browne’s average. Neither has impressive rushing stats, but DiNucci is the more mobile, which is no small matter on a team that has allowed 10 sacks for 89 yards in losses.
DiNucci did not play last season when Tech and Pitt met at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, when Tech lost 37-34 on a field goal as time expired.
A side note, Browne’s first season at USC was in 2013, the season after the Yellow Jackets defeated the Trojans 21-7 in the Sun Bowl.
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