Pitt trans­fer QB Browne done for sea­son

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - College Football - Brian Batko: bbatko@post-gazette.com and Twit­ter @Bri­anBatko.

el­i­gi­bil­ity, even­tu­ally settling on Pitt.

“The ini­tial at­trac­tion was prob­a­bly the staff here’s at­trac­tion to my­self,” Browne said Jan. 7 shortly af­ter he ar­rived. “When I started to open up the re­cruit­ing process for a sec­ond time, I was kind of sit­ting back wait­ing for schools to come to me. … We’ve got a great team, a chance to win a lot of ball­games, so all that kind of com­ing to­gether, it felt like it was a great op­por­tu­nity for me.”

And, for a while, it was. Browne moved into a place on the South Side so he could walk to Pitt’s fa­cil­ity each day for prac­tice and work­outs. Nar­duzzi of­fi­cially named him the starter Aug. 22, and, three days later, he was voted as one of four team cap­tains — a post he also held at USC.

Once the games started, Browne was up and down. He did enough to hold off Foot­ball Cham­pi­onship Sub­di­vi­sion Youngstown State in over­time but was ad­mit­tedly a bit jit­tery. The next two weeks, against top10 op­po­nents Penn State and Ok­la­homa State, he was subbed out for Ben DiNucci, and the sec­ond bench­ing led to the backup get­ting the start in the ACC opener at Ge­or­gia Tech.

But Browne’s time as No. 2 didn’t last long, as he was back start­ing for the Rice game and made the most of it, light­ing up the score­board with 410 yards and four touch­downs while com­plet­ing 28 of 42 passes, all ca­reer bests. Just when the out­look was get­ting rosier, Browne got knocked out of that Syra­cuse game on a failed blitz pick-up that caused con­fu­sion between tight end Matt Flana­gan and run­ning back Qadree Ol­li­son.

“Qadree kind of got just a lit­tle bit in Flana­gan’s way … Flana­gan couldn’t get over tight enough, un­for­tu­nately,” Nar­duzzi ex­plained Mon­day.

Un­for­tu­nate is right, as Browne will fin­ish his first, last and only sea­son at Pitt 96 of 135 for 997 yards, 5 touch­downs and 2 in­ter­cep­tions with 12 sacks. His .711 com­ple­tion per­cent­age ranks sev­enth in the Foot­ball Bowl Sub­di­vi­sion.

“It’s dif­fi­cult for any­body. I don’t care if it’s a se­nior that trans­ferred in or a fresh­man, it’s dif­fi­cult any­time you lose a guy for a year,” Nar­duzzi said. “It’s some­thing he’s worked hard for; an en­tire year goes into that. He had spring ball, he made a quick move from Cal­i­for­nia. It’s hard on any­body when that hap­pens, and then with the surgery, not the way you want it planned out, so my heart goes out to him and his fam­ily.”

As far as Browne’s fu­ture, Nar­duzzi guessed he might be able to start throw­ing again in seven or eight weeks, if he doesn’t try to rush back. As for Pitt’s fu­ture, it might make more sense now to burn fresh­man Kenny Pick­ett’s red­shirt, and Nar­duzzi said “there’s a plan” for how — or maybe if — to use him be­hind DiNucci.

“That’s kind of our thoughts go­ing in, just telling Ben, ‘Hey, this is what we’re go­ing to try to do,’ and try to stick with that plan,” Nar­duzzi said. “Some­times you have a plan go­ing in, and some­times the plans change.”

Just like they did for Max Browne.

Den­nis Nett/Syra­cuse Me­dia Group

Max Browne is hit by Syra­cuse line­man Al­ton Robin­son Satur­day. Browne was in­jured in the third quar­ter.

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