The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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A speaker addressed protestors at an Earth Day rally in Schenley Plaza on Monday.
‘Reclaim Earth Day’ protest calls for Pitt to divest from fossil fuels
By Kyra McCague, Staff Writer • April 24, 2024
Stephany Andrade: The Steve Jobs of education
By Thomas Riley, Opinions Editor • April 24, 2024
The best cafés to caffeinate and cram for finals
By Irene Castillo, Senior Staff Writer • April 22, 2024

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A speaker addressed protestors at an Earth Day rally in Schenley Plaza on Monday.
‘Reclaim Earth Day’ protest calls for Pitt to divest from fossil fuels
By Kyra McCague, Staff Writer • April 24, 2024
Stephany Andrade: The Steve Jobs of education
By Thomas Riley, Opinions Editor • April 24, 2024
The best cafés to caffeinate and cram for finals
By Irene Castillo, Senior Staff Writer • April 22, 2024

Takeaways | The Panthers are 1-0 and that’s all that matters

Takeaways+%7C+The+Panthers+are+1-0+and+that%E2%80%99s+all+that+matters
Ethan Shulman | Visual Editor

Pitt met expectations in their season opener — no more and no less.

The Panthers convincingly trounced Wofford 45-7. It’s difficult to make any fair or nuanced judgments about the team’s strengths and weaknesses given the limited sample of reps against a vastly outmatched Wofford team. The Terriers finished the 2022 season ranked sixth in the FCS Southern Conference with a 3-8 record.

The way I see it, columns like these can go in one of two directions — excessively optimistic or needlessly cynical. It’s easy enough to write this off as a guaranteed win against a greatly inferior opponent and say the Panthers still haven’t proven themselves. Given that leading experts attest to the power of positive thinking, let’s focus on the reasons to think positively about the Panthers’ dominant performance against a bottom-tier FCS team.

Jurkovec earned his starting spot — for now

One of the biggest question marks heading into the 2023 season is the quarterback position. Right now, Pitt fans aren’t expecting the second coming of Kenny Pickett so much as they’re hoping to avoid the second coming of Kedon Slovis. 

Two years removed from Pickett’s Heisman-worthy campaign, Pitt’s passing offense needed a reset at the quarterback position. Similarly looking for a reset after an injury-riddled career at Boston College, redshirt senior quarterback Phil Jurkovec transferred to Pitt last December. Not too long after Pitt acquired Jurkovec, former starting quarterback Kedon Slovis transferred to BYU. 

After a shaky opening drive, Jurkovec did more than enough to earn a week two start. Jurkovec threw for 214 yards and a touchdown — a precarious one-yard strike at the goal line to redshirt senior tight end Karter Johnson. Additionally, Jurkovec gained 41 yards on his feet and a rushing touchdown, garnering him the second-most rushing yards on the day.

With the loss of Israel Abanikanda in the offseason, Pitt’s running back room has a lot to live up to going into 2023. The Panthers’ offense put together a strong run game, rushing for 217 yards and four total touchdowns.

Redshirt senior running back Daniel Carter received the most touches, rushing for 65 yards and a touchdown. Carter gave the offense some much-needed momentum after converting on a crucial fourth and three, keeping the drive alive for a 10-yard touchdown run from junior running back Rodney Hammond Jr. 

The defense almost gets the shutout

Except for the Terriers’ solitary touchdown late in the fourth quarter, Pitt’s defense largely showed up and shut down the Wofford offense. Senior defensive end Dayon Hayes immediately made his presence known after sacking Wofford quarterback Bryce Corriston for an eight-yard loss. Pitt’s defense tallied four sacks and six tackles for loss in the game.

Anyone who bet the under for this game’s projected 48.5 points was undoubtedly let down by Wofford’s final drive of the game. With a little over a minute left in the fourth quarter, the Terriers scored their lone touchdown of the game on a pass from Corriston to first-year wide receiver Tyler Parker. 

Aside from this play — which included a questionable offensive pass interference no-call from the officials — the Panthers largely stifled the Wofford offense. Pitt’s rushing defense deserves due credit for completely shutting down the run, holding the Terriers to negative net rushing yards.

A win is a win

Vince Lombardi once said “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.” A win is a win, so it’s best to set aside reactionary hot takes for the moment and just enjoy it. More important than any stat line, Pitt is 1-0 and healthy heading into week two.

The Panthers return to Acrisure Stadium Saturday night for the River City Rivalry revival against Cincinnati. In week three, Pitt heads into hostile territory for the Backyard Brawl 2023 against the West Virginia Mountaineers. The upcoming gauntlet of rivalry games should provide a more comprehensive understanding of this team’s strengths and weaknesses.

About the Contributor
Ben Pisano, Staff Writer