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The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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Opinion | Do not arrest peaceful protesters
Opinion | Do not arrest peaceful protesters
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • 8:37 am

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Opinion | Do not arrest peaceful protesters
Opinion | Do not arrest peaceful protesters
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • 8:37 am

Feature | Fans and media alike point fingers following Pitt football’s 17-6 loss to West Virginia

Redshirt+Senior+Quarterback+Phil+Jurkovec+%285%29+throws+a+pass+during+the+Backyard+Brawl+in+Morgantown%2C+West+Virginia%2C+on+Saturday.
Ethan Shulman | Visual Editor
Redshirt Senior Quarterback Phil Jurkovec (5) throws a pass during the Backyard Brawl in Morgantown, West Virginia, on Saturday.

Pitt football’s energy was palpable during its warm-ups at the Backyard Brawl in Morgantown on Saturday night. The Panthers’ players — eager to down the Mountaineers for the second straight year — projected their confidence by trading verbal blows with West Virginia’s student section prior to kickoff. All in all, the Panthers looked ready to put the “Brawl” in the Backyard Brawl. 

But after four quarters of play, the Mountaineers made the Panthers swallow their pre-game taunts as West Virginia cruised to a 17-6 victory over Pitt in a sloppy slugfest at Mountaineer Field. 

What happened on Saturday was a complete disaster for Pitt football. From bad quarterback play to weak rush defense, the Panthers’ meltdown on both sides of the ball ultimately cost them the game. 

Following the game, fans were quick to blame one culprit for the loss — redshirt senior quarterback Phil Jurkovec. The Pitt signal-caller threw three interceptions in the game, while only completing eight passes for 81 yards. 

To say fans were upset over Jurkovec’s performance is an understatement. Over the course of Saturday night, Barstool Pitt — one of the biggest Panther fan accounts on social media — made seven posts on X poking fun at the redshirt senior. 

Jurkovec did not make an appearance at the post-game press conference on Saturday night, which further infuriated fans. Redshirt senior offensive lineman Jake Kradel — who helps protect Jurkovec on the field — took to defending his quarterback off the field as well. 

“Phil [Jurkovec] is a great dude,” Kradel said. “There is no question about him. He doesn’t waiver at all. He keeps us up, we keep him up. I have so much confidence in that guy. If we continue to block for him, give him time to throw, he’ll make plays.”

Head coach Pat Narduzzi — the man ultimately responsible for keeping Jurkovec in the game — also vehemently defended his quarterback in the press conference on Saturday. 

“No,” Narduzzi said when asked if he considered benching Jurkovec at any point during the loss. “I got a lot of faith in Phil [Jurkovec].”

Narduzzi was even agitated at members of the media for suggesting that he should have taken Jurkovec out of the game. 

“You guys [the media] are fast to want to pull the plug on somebody,” Narduzzi said. “But that’s not how we do it. I’m a positive guy, I try to stay positive. [When] you start dumping people, whether it’s a corner or a tackle or a quarterback, it’s not good for you.”

And Narduzzi did not back down from his post-game comments this week in practice, either. In fact, the Panthers head coach doubled down on his faith in Jurkovec and said he will most likely start next week against No. 17 North Carolina. 

[Jurkovec] is a leader in that huddle,” Narduzzi said in a press conference on Monday. “He’s a guy you trust. You’ve seen it every day. When you look back and you look at all the stats and all the numbers of what you put in a practice and what you put through camp and you put on paper and what you’ve showed to do as far as not throwing interceptions in practice.”

Narduzzi also seemingly called out fans for their booing of Jurkovec in the first three games.

“We’re in Boo City. Boo City, PA,” Narduzzi said. “But hey, it is what it is. If that’s what they want to do, that’s great. Should not affect us or our psyche.”

But Narduzzi’s confidence in Jurkovec is starting to backfire. Fans also questioned Narduzzi’s role in the loss, especially his decision not to bench Jurkovec. In one of its tweets on Saturday night, Barstool Pitt posted a picture of Jurkovec and Narduzzi next to a grave with Pitt’s logo. The caption read, “Launching an investigation into this treason & collusion.”

And Narduzzi’s decision not to bench Jurkovec wasn’t the only gripe Panther fans had against the head coach. From calling out Narduzzi’s over-reliance on running the ball to questioning his stubbornness with changing the game plan, the loss to West Virginia put a serious dent in the reputation of a once beloved head coach. 

With the Panthers now sitting at 1-2, Pitt fans have every right to air their grievances with the program. Students especially have reason for anger, considering student section attendance this season is at an all-time high.

The Panthers will not listen to all of the fan’s complaints, as Narduzzi is still apparently all in on Jurkovec as the starting quarterback. The Panthers’ hardest tests of the season still lie ahead, leaving many questions as to whether Narduzzi and company will sink or swim down the stretch. 

About the Contributor
Brian Sherry, Sports Editor