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 portrait of Chancellor Joan Gabel.
Senate Council holds final meeting of semester, recaps recent events
By Anna Kuntz, Senior Staff Writer • May 14, 2024
Column | A thank you to student journalists
By Betul Tuncer, Editor-in-Chief • April 27, 2024

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A portrait of Chancellor Joan Gabel.
Senate Council holds final meeting of semester, recaps recent events
By Anna Kuntz, Senior Staff Writer • May 14, 2024
Column | A thank you to student journalists
By Betul Tuncer, Editor-in-Chief • April 27, 2024

Take 5 | The Pitt News Sports Desk gives its opinion on Justin Fields, Kedon Slovis and more

Atlanta+Falcons+running+back+Bijan+Robinson+%287%29+runs+against+Green+Bay+Packers+running+back+AJ+Dillon+%2828%29+during+the+second+half+of+an+NFL+football+game%2C+Sunday%2C+Sept.+17%2C+2023%2C+in+Atlanta.
AP Photo/John Bazemore
Atlanta Falcons running back Bijan Robinson (7) runs against Green Bay Packers running back AJ Dillon (28) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023, in Atlanta.

In this week’s Take 5, The Pitt News Sports Desk discusses topics varying from the NFL to the MLB — and even gives their takes on Pitt football’s offensive struggles to start the season.

Let Justin Fields loose // Jermaine Sykes, Assistant Sports Editor

The start to Bears quarterback Justin Fields’ career is rocky, to say the least. Fields has shown signs of being an elite quarterback, but with a lackluster roster surrounding him, the Bears have hardly won since his arrival.

Last Sunday, the Bears lost to the Buccaneers and in the postgame press conference Fields complained about being overcoached in his helmet prior to the snap.

I’m a Fields skeptic. I’m not sure he can return to the level of play he showed at Ohio State. But he is not the same type of quarterback as Kirk Cousins and Geno Smith — veteran pocket quarterbacks who can quickly process a lot of information prior to the snap. Fields’ best trait is his improvisation and quick thinking post-snap.

The Bears’ coaching staff needs to let the young quarterback loose. In his third season, if Fields can’t show consistent signs of being a starting-caliber NFL quarterback, then the Bears will look in another direction this offseason. But overcoaching him will only negatively affect him moving forward. 

It’s time to apologize to Kedon Slovis // Alex Porter, Staff Writer

In 2021, Pitt was spoiled by Kenny “Heisman” Pickett. Pickett elevated the Panthers to new heights, dicing up defenses for 42 touchdowns, 4,319 yards and an ACC Championship.

When Kedon Slovis transferred to Pitt the following season, he was doomed from the start. On a new team, with a new offensive coordinator and without the reigning Biletnikoff winner Jordan Addison, Slovis never had a chance to thrive.

Slovis often shouldered the blame for Pitt’s disappointments in 2022. On senior night, with his family in the stands, Slovis was mercilessly booed. Throughout the season “Patti” and “Yarnell” chants rained down from the student section. This past offseason Pitt coaches took some not-so-subtle jabs at the now-BYU quarterback. They criticized his leadership and blamed some of their offensive shortcomings on his mobility.

In just three games, current quarterback redshirt senior Phil Jurkovec has seen statistical lows Slovis never neared. Jurkovec’s three interceptions, 81 passing yards and 10.3 QBR against WVU would have all been Slovis’s season lows. In fact, Jurkovec’s 8 completions and 31.3 completion percentage against Cincinnati were lower than any game in Slovis’s college career.

On the other hand, Slovis dropped 308 yards accompanied by a 66.7 completion percentage in the Backyard Brawl — his first start as a Panther. Meanwhile, the now Cougar has thrown 20 more completions and rushed for two more touchdowns than Jurkovec in 2023.

Looking back on 2022, it’s time to have a fair evaluation of Slovis. All things considered, he was a serviceable quarterback who would improve the 2023 Panthers.

So the next time you “boo” your favorite team, or try to run a player out of town, just remember — things can always get worse.

Bijan Robinson is already a top five running back in the NFL // Matthew Scabilloni, Staff Writer

Calling a rookie a top five player in his position this early into the season sounds ridiculous, but if you’ve witnessed what the rookie out of Texas has been doing on the Falcons thus far, then it’s hard to disagree with this sentiment.

Through two games, Robinson rushed 29 times for 180 yards, averaging 6.2 yards per attempt. Through the air, Robinson has 10 receptions for 75 yards averaging along with one touchdown.

Not only on the stat sheet has Robinson impressed, but he’s also impressed through his athleticism. He possesses one of the deadliest juke moves in the league. Early in his second game in the NFL against the Packers, Robinson made three straight juke moves as he advanced downfield, evading three Packers defenders in the process. It’s something you only see the best of the best do.

Robinson also gained the confidence of his head coach Arthur Smith. Late in the game against the Packers, Smith dialed up one of the craziest calls of the NFL season thus far. Rather than attempting a field goal to take a one-point lead, he called a pitch to Robinson five yards into the backfield, trusting that his running back would will his way to a first down. Robinson did exactly as a top five back would — he got the first down comfortably after he juked the only defender he had to beat. 

The Angels need to trade Mike Trout // Dylan Grace, Staff Writer

In the final at-bat of the 2023 World Baseball Classic, baseball fans saw their dream matchup — Shohei Ohtani vs. Mike Trout. It was special to see Ohtani and Trout competing for their respective countries in an electric playoff-like atmosphere. 

Many baseball fans, including myself, thought we would see them on a similar stage in October. However, today, the Angels sit at a record of 69-84 — 16 games back of the division-leading Houston Astros. With the Angels officially out of playoff contention, marking the ninth straight season without a playoff berth, the team faces multiple questions heading into the off-season. A split for the Angels superstar duo, in my opinion, is imminent.

Ohtani enters the offseason as a free agent, expecting to earn upwards of $600 million after his third-straight MVP-caliber season. With the Angels trading away crucial prospects at the deadline this season, their already-diminished farm system and roster worsened.

With the Angels desperately needing young talent and help, it’s time for the Halos to consider trading Trout to salvage their organizational mess. Even after missing significant time the past three seasons, Trout could warrant serious assets that could help rebuild the Angels roster. 

Teams like the Mets, Yankees and Phillies all expressed interest in Trout’s services before and can provide valuable prospects in a trade package. Moving Trout would free up over $400 million in cap space, which the Angels could use towards a record-setting Ohtani deal.

Jurkovec isn’t the only problem on the Panthers’ offense // Ben Pisano, Staff Writer

Amidst a quarterback controversy, head coach Pat Narduzzi confirmed redshirt senior quarterback Phil Jurkovec will start against UNC this weekend. Jurkovec hasn’t played well — but he’s far from the only issue on Pittsburgh’s offense. The offensive line and the running backs share a large portion of the blame as well.

Historically, Narduzzi’s offenses relied on a strong run game to take some pressure off the quarterback. Running backs like James Conner, Qadree Ollison, Darrin Hall and Israel Abanikanda helped balance out the offense and open up the passing game. 

Running backs junior Rodney Hammond Jr. and redshirt senior Daniel Carter are more than competent, but neither one proved themselves as the definitive starter. Since Pitt can’t rely on Jurkovec to put up points, someone else on this offense has to step up. If the Panthers can’t establish a solid running offense, it won’t matter who starts at quarterback.

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