Pitt QB Kedon Slovis still ‘not sure’ about 2023 status

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PITTSBURGH — Kedon Slovis is in no hurry to talk about 2023. Getting through 2022 has been challenging enough for the Pittsburgh quarterback.

While Slovis said he and head coach Pat Narduzzi have “glossed over” the USC transfer’s future, he’s not quite ready to make any pronouncement about where he might be playing next season.

“I told coach I’m not sure yet,” Slovis said Tuesday.

Slovis arrived in January looking to revive his career and welcomed the chance to replace Heisman Trophy finalist Kenny Pickett.

While Slovis won the starting job in training camp, he has struggled with consistency for the Panthers (6-4, 3-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), who welcome surprising Duke (7-3, 4-2) on Saturday.

Slovis is last in the conference in touchdown passes (six) and ranks in the bottom half of the ACC in yards passing (seventh), pass efficiency (10th) and completion percentage (10th).

Not exactly what Slovis had in mind when he committed to Pitt last December. While he allowed he is dealing with some level of frustration, he added “that (frustration) is there probably in every season I played,.”

An injury suffered late in the second quarter of what became an overtime loss to Tennessee on Sept. 10 blunted any early momentum. He sat out a victory over Western Michigan before returning against Rhode Island. By then the offense’s identity had already begun shifting from the pass-happy approach of 2021 with Pickett and former offensive coordinator Mark Whipple to the more run-heavy attack led by breakout star Israel Abanikanda.

Slovis anticipated the learning curve to be steep while trying to find common ground with first-year offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti. It turned out to be even more difficult than he imagined.

“It’s a big process for everyone,” Slovis said. “And for me, obviously, I haven’t played an offense like this.”

There were signs of improvement in a victory over Virginia last week. Slovis threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to Bub Means, then managed the game after the Panthers took a 28-point, first-quarter lead. Slovis pointed to the uptick in shots downfield as proof of his increased comfort with Cignetti’s game plan.

Still, Slovis will not participate in the team’s Senior Day festivities, though he was careful to point out the decision was based more on logistics – only select members of his family were available to make the trip – than any sort of definitive hint that he will return.

Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi has repeatedly supported Slovis and publicly endorsed Slovis’ potential return in 2023. While the NFL likely isn’t an option at this point, Slovis could transfer and would likely be cleared to play immediately.

His best option is to run it back with the Panthers, though he said knowing who will or won’t be around will play a “big part” in whatever decision he makes. Narduzzi need not look far for evidence of how a transfer quarterback can thrive in year two with a program.

Nate Peterman‘s numbers were so-so when he took over as the starter in 2015, Narduzzi’s first year with the Panthers. The following season Peterman threw for 27 touchdowns against seven interceptions before getting drafted by Buffalo.

Slovis said Peterman’s journey didn’t come up in his initial talks with Narduzzi and reiterated he is going to take his time before making anything official.

“We’ve got two more games, we’re focused on that,” Slovis said. “But really (Narduzzi and I are) just organizing the types of things I need to know or the information I need to get to make a decision.”

Texas State hires Incarnate Word coach Kinne to lead Bobcats

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Texas State hired Incarnate Word coach G.J. Kinne on Friday to lead a Sun Belt program that has had only one winning season since moving up to the Bowl Subdivision in 2012.

The 34-year-old former Tulsa quarterback has made a fast rise in coaching since ending his professional career in 2017.

After three years as an offensive analyst at SMU, Arkansas and the Philadelphia Eagles, Kinne became offensive coordinator at Hawaii in 2020. He held the same role for UCF in 2021 before landing the head coaching job at FCS Incarnate Word this season.

Incarnate Word is 10-1 and averaging 53 points and 8.3 yards per play, both FCS highs, heading into its playoff game Saturday against Furman. Kinne will remain with Incarnate Word through their playoff run.

“It’s with great honor that I’m accepting the call to be next head football coach of the Texas State Bobcats,” Kinne said. “We are going to play fast, have relentless energy, and when the going gets tough, have the mental confidence to win tight games in the second half and represent the state of Texas. Eat ‘Em Up!”

Texas State fired Jake Spavital last week after the Bobcats won just 13 games in his four seasons.

Kinne signed a five-year contract, the school said. Terms were not immediately released.

“My goal was to hire someone with demonstrated leadership experience, success as a head coach, established relationships with Texas football coaches, and success with recruiting and developing players,” said Texas State President Kelly Damphousse. “I sought a leader with a plan to capitalize on our location in the heart of the best high school football in the country.”

Florida Atlantic hires Tom Herman as football coach

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BOCA RATON, Fla. – Former Texas and Houston head coach Tom Herman will take over at Florida Atlantic as it heads into its first season in the American Athletic Conference.

The hire comes just days after FAU fired Willie Taggart, who went 15-18 in his three seasons with the Owls. Details of the contract with Herman were not immediately available.

“We are incredibly excited to welcome Tom Herman to Paradise,” FAU Director of Athletics Brian White said Thursday. “Throughout the process and the more we talked with Coach Herman, the more it became apparent to me that he was the right person to lead our football program. Beyond his knowledge of the game, which is obvious by his success over the years, he also truly cares about the young people in his program.”

FAU’s final season in Conference USA ended with a 5-7 record and an overtime loss to Western Kentucky. The Owls will be in the American next season.

Herman returns to college football after spending the 2021 season with the Chicago Bears as an offensive analyst.

Herman was 22-4 at Houston, a mark that helped him land the head coaching job at Texas where he went 32-18 with four straight bowl trips in 2017-2020. He also was an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Ohio State during the Buckeyes’ 2014 national championship season, as well as stops at Iowa State, Rice and Texas State.

“All the pieces are in place at FAU for us to be successful,” Herman said. “There are already great young men on this team, great facilities, a great location, a great recruiting base and great leadership, all of which are important to building a successful program.”