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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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First-year guard Aaryn Battle (1) dribbles the ball during Thursday evening’s game against Wake Forest in the Petersen Events Center.
Pitt women’s basketball falls back into their old habits, fall to Wake Forest 65-50
By Sara Meyer, Staff Writer • 9:10 am

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First-year guard Aaryn Battle (1) dribbles the ball during Thursday evening’s game against Wake Forest in the Petersen Events Center.
Pitt women’s basketball falls back into their old habits, fall to Wake Forest 65-50
By Sara Meyer, Staff Writer • 9:10 am

Takeaways | Pitt football’s offense looked unprepared in the River City Rivalry revival

Junior+Wide+Receiver+Konata+Mumpfield+%289%29+comes+down+with+a+catch+during+Saturday+night%E2%80%99s+game+against+the+Cincinnati+Bearcats+at+Acrisure+Stadium.
Lucas Zheng | Senior Staff Photographer
Junior Wide Receiver Konata Mumpfield (9) comes down with a catch during Saturday night’s game against the Cincinnati Bearcats at Acrisure Stadium.

There’s never a convenient time for a QB controversy, least of all heading into the biggest rivalry game of the season. Stability at the most important position on the offense is essential to a team’s long-term success. 

However, the Backyard Brawl is this coming Saturday, and redshirt senior starting quarterback Phil Jurkovec just threw a bunch of ducks all over Acrisure Stadium.

The best aspect about Pitt’s 27-21 loss to Cincinnati is that the team did not quit. For a moment it looked like the Panthers might pull off a remarkable comeback, scoring 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. But the mistakes, miscues and missteps from the other three quarters were too insurmountable for the team to overcome.

After a promising week one performance, Jurkovec cobbled together one the most confounding passing stat lines I’ve ever seen — 10 for 32, 179 yards and three touchdowns. That’s a 31% completion percentage with three of his 10 completed passes going for touchdowns.

The most impressive part about Jurkovec’s performance is that he somehow managed to finish the game without any interceptions despite consistently overthrowing or underthrowing his intended targets. It seems that even the defensive backs struggled to catch his wobbly, inaccurate passes.

Despite Jurkovec’s struggles, head coach Pat Narduzzi claimed he never even considered making a change of quarterback in the second half.

“Everybody’s gonna point at the quarterback [for the loss],” Narduzzi said. “He’ll get all the glory when you win football games. He’s a great quarterback. Got a lot of faith in him.”

While Jurkovec deserves partial blame for the loss, laying all the offensive struggles at his feet would ignore the truly abysmal performance from Pitt’s offensive line. When Jurkovec wasn’t running for his life, he was down on the turf. As a unit, the Panthers O-line gave up five sacks.

Narduzzi commented on the offensive line’s struggles in his postgame interview, saying the team has to work on pass protection as a point of emphasis going forward.

“There was too much pressure, Phil got sacked five times and that can’t happen,” Narduzzi said. “That was one of our goals going in was making sure to protect the quarterback and we did not do that.”

Pitt’s defense looked lost in the first half as they consistently struggled against Cincinnati’s run game. Junior running back Corey Kiner bullied Pitt’s run defense, rushing for 153 yards and one touchdown. Kiner rushed for more yards by himself than the entire Panthers offense. The Panthers rushed for 83 yards as a unit.

For their part, the defense tightened up as the game progressed, only giving up seven points in the second half. Pitt’s defensive line did a better job of putting pressure on Bearcats senior quarterback Emory Jones, as senior defensive lineman Devin Danielson recorded a sack early in the third quarter. Senior defensive end Dayon Hayes got to Jones late in the fourth quarter, making this his second consecutive game with a sack.

The solid effort from the defense in the second half was negated by miscues from the offense. The seven points that the defense allowed came off a turnover and a short field after Jurkovec fumbled on the first possession of the third quarter.

The next time Jurkovec took the field, he was greeted by booing from the home crowd, which he responded to in his post-game presser.

“I think if you’re a grown-ass man booing in that stadium, then you gotta look at things yourself,” Jurkovec said. “I think that’s pathetic. But, we didn’t play well enough, so we’re gonna be better.”

If Jurkovec can’t handle the booing from a small portion of the home crowd, he’s in for a rude awakening when he plays West Virginia at a hostile Mountaineer field. 

Only time will tell if Jurkovec can bounce back from this lackluster performance. If he comes out flat against West Virginia, expect to see some snaps from backup quarterbacks redshirt sophomores Nate Yarnell or Christian Veilleux.

The Panthers will go on the road this Saturday for the highly anticipated 2023 Backyard Brawl against the West Virginia Mountaineers.

 

About the Contributor
Ben Pisano, Staff Writer