Pitt offensive coordinator Mark Whipple heading to Nebraska

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  • Kenny Pickett
    American football quarterback
  • Mark Whipple
    American football player and coach

Pitt offensive coordinator Mark Whipple resigned on Tuesday, a day after Panthers QB Kenny Pickett was named a Heisman finalist. A day later, he had another job.

Nebraska announced Wednesday that Whipple would be the team's new offensive coordinator. 

“During his three seasons at Pitt, Mark Whipple was a great asset for our entire football program,” Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said in a statement. “He did a tremendous job transitioning us from a heavy run attack to one of the best passing games in the entire country. His great work with quarterbacks was obviously on full display given the outstanding year Kenny Pickett has enjoyed. I am very grateful for Mark’s time in Pittsburgh, both personally as well as professionally and I wish him and his family the very best moving forward.”

Pickett was named a Heisman finalist on Monday night along with Alabama QB Bryce Young, Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud and Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson. While Pickett isn't likely to win the award —Young is the overwhelming favorite — he could end up as the top QB drafted in the 2022 NFL draft because of his performance in 2021. 

Pickett is 334-of-497 passing for 4,319 yards and 42 touchdowns against just seven interceptions in 2021. He’s also scored five rushing touchdowns and had a 58-yard TD scamper in the Panthers’ big win over Wake Forest. 

Pitt is the third-highest scoring team in the country in 2021, averaging 43 points per game. The Panthers have scored at least 30 points in 11 of 13 games so far this season and haven’t scored fewer than 27 points.

Pickett hasn’t been the only star on the Pitt offense either. Wide receiver Jordan Addison is one of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award given to the best receiver on Thursday night. Addison has 93 catches for 1,479 yards and 17 touchdowns.

At Nebraska, Whipple will be tasked with jumpstarting an offense that will have a new quarterback in 2022. Adrian Martinez previously announced that he would be transferring. The Huskers lost star wide receiver Wan'Dale Robinson to the transfer portal after the 2020 season and his absence showed in 2021. Wide receiver Samori Toure (45 catches, 896 yards) was the only playmaker on the Husker offense. Martinez had 27 combined touchdowns but was also extremely inconsistent. He missed the team’s final game of the season with a shoulder injury.

Whipple, 64, was Pitt's offensive coordinator for three seasons. He came to the Panthers after a five-year stint as the head coach at UMass. That was his second run as UMass coach after he coached the Minutemen from 1998-2003 while they were at the FCS level. He had a career record of 65-70 at UMass and 137-103 as a head coach including stops at New Haven and Brown.

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