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Business as usual as Pitt’s Kenny Pickett approaches off week – TribLIVE

Kenny Pickett spoke for a little more than three minutes late Saturday afternoon after Pitt’s victory against Georgia Tech.

He gave credit to his teammates and the trust that has developed among them.

He showed respect for the weekly preparation that has led Pitt to a 4-1 record.

He was his usual polite, straightforward self.

None of it was particularly surprising or interesting. Until he said this: “We have a lot of tape to watch.”

There was no, ‘I can’t wait to get home and celebrate.’

Nothing along the lines of, ‘We showed them.’

It was all business for Pickett, who (as noted by coach Pat Narduzzi) is in the process of making himself a lot of money in the near future.

That says as much about Pickett as anything he has shown between the lines while averaging 346.2 aerial yards per game (fourth in the nation). He’s already thrown 19 touchdown passes, six more than in any previous (full) season and first among all Power 5 quarterbacks.

Through five games, Pitt’s passing game has earned Pro Football Focus’ top grade (93.7). Only five other teams are graded in the 90s.

Pitt doesn’t play until Oct. 16 in Blacksburg, Va., against Virginia Tech. Yet, only minutes after his fifth consecutive productive aerial display, Pickett couldn’t wait to sit down behind the video machine to find out what went right and what wrong against Georgia Tech.

Pickett has thrown only one interception in five games and been sacked eight times (once Saturday), but the opponents get a bit tougher, starting with the Hokies.

(Yes, the ACC is down this season, but the most recent time Pickett led Pitt into Blacksburg, he left with the only shutout loss of his career, 28-0.)

The Hokies will present the Pitt passing game its most serious test to date. Virginia Tech allows an average of 190.2 yards per game, second-stingiest in the ACC.

“We got two weeks,” Narduzzi said. “We should be a lot better when we step on the field and face a nasty, tough Virginia Tech football team.”

Time to heal

Senior linebacker John Petrishen noted the off week comes a bit early — before the halfway point in the season — but it will be welcomed.

“A few guys got a little banged up (Saturday),” he said. “It will be good for us, rest-wise.

“We’re a veteran team. I feel like we’ll handle it very maturely and do the right things, get our bodies back and, hopefully, not take a step back in terms of mental preparation.”

Pickett: By the numbers

Pitt’s fifth-year quarterback has moved into 10th place all-time among ACC quarterbacks with 9,715 yards through the air. Only six ACC quarterbacks have reached five digits, led by Philip Rivers of N.C. State (2000-03).

Pickett may have a difficult time maintaining his current per-game pace (346.2). But if he does so through the next seven games, he would move into second place ahead of Clemson’s Tajh Boyd (11,904, 2010-13).

Currently, he leads the Power 5 with a 145.0 passer rating on throws of 20 yards or more, according to Pro Football Focus.

Other numbers of note

Running back Izzy Abanikanda earned his third 100% pass blocking grade from Pro Football Focus.

Wide receiver Jordan Addison leads the nation in touchdown receptions (nine) and is ninth with 524 yards receiving. PFF also notes he leads the team with 41 targets and four drops.

National recognition

ACC Atlantic teams Wake Forest, Clemson and N.C. State — Nos. 20, 21 and 22 — are the only ACC teams in the Associated Press Top 25. Pitt received the most voting points (34) among Coastal teams, followed by Virginia Tech (24) and North Carolina (five). Boston College received 14 and — of non-ACC note — Western Michigan two.

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .