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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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Alex Borg poses for a photo with an accordion on Soldiers and Sailors Lawn.
Alex Borg: Her accordion anchors a ‘no-man Jimmy Buffett band’
By Patrick Swain, Culture Editor • April 12, 2024
Opinion | CPCs, get off our campus
By India Krug, Senior Staff Columnist • April 12, 2024

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Alex Borg poses for a photo with an accordion on Soldiers and Sailors Lawn.
Alex Borg: Her accordion anchors a ‘no-man Jimmy Buffett band’
By Patrick Swain, Culture Editor • April 12, 2024
Opinion | CPCs, get off our campus
By India Krug, Senior Staff Columnist • April 12, 2024

Preview | Pitt football looks to rebound against Virginia Tech

Sophomore+tight+end+Gavin+Bartholomew+%2886%29+hurdles+over+a+Virginia+Tech+player+at+Acrisure+Stadium+on+Oct.+8%2C+2022.
Hannah Wilson | Senior Staff Photographer
Sophomore tight end Gavin Bartholomew (86) hurdles over a Virginia Tech player at Acrisure Stadium on Oct. 8, 2022.

Following Pitt’s third straight loss and a rough opening to the ACC schedule, the Panthers will try to right the ship against another 1-3 team — Virginia Tech. Here’s what to look out for in the matchup. 

Pitt’s defense far outperforms Virginia Tech’s defense

Even after a rough showing against No. 15 North Carolina, Pitt’s defense still ranks No. 12 in the country in fewest yards allowed. In fact, Pitt’s secondary held Tar Heels redshirt sophomore quarterback Drake Maye to his second-fewest passing attempts on the year with 22. 

Pitt’s strong passing defense will prove useful against a team with a struggling quarterback. Of the 14 starting quarterbacks in the ACC, Virginia Tech redshirt sophomore Kyron Drones ranks last in most categories, closely followed by Pitt graduate student Phil Jurkovec. Pitt’s defense can wreak havoc on Virginia Tech if the Panthers are able to effectively execute its passing defense. 

While Pitt’s defense remains strong, Virginia Tech’s defense is struggling. Pitt ranks No. 12 in total defense, and Virginia Tech comes in at No. 60. The Hokies rank No. 8 in the ACC in total defense, while Pitt ranks second. 

One of Virginia Tech’s downfalls comes from its run defense, where it has a hard time finishing tackles with a very shallow linebacker room. Virginia Tech ranks second to last in the ACC in rushing yards allowed, giving up an average of 212.5 per game.

Pitt’s passing game could prove a liability again

After the two best quarters of his Pitt career to this point, Jurkovec was sidelined after a helmet-to-helmet targeting hit with less than a minute remaining in the first half against North Carolina. After weeks of fans petitioning for redshirt sophomore quarterback Christian Veilleux to start, he took the field for the second half of the contest.

This did not go how the fans had wished, as Veilleux ended the game with two interceptions and a fumble, as well as a quarterback rating of 0.9. The Panthers went into the second half trailing by just 11 and subsequently failed to score any offensive points for the remainder of the contest.

Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said if Jurkovec cannot play in this week’s contest, Veilleux will start. Jurkovec’s injury has caused dismay for Pitt fans, who were happy to see the redshirt senior finally find his rhythm and were unhappy with Veilleux’s performance. 

In order for Pitt to effectively create opportunities on the passing side of the ball, it must limit their turnovers. Pitt currently has a 5-5 touchdown/turnover ratio, which shows they have yet to create opportunities without giving up opportunities simultaneously.

Virginia Tech’s run game is weak

One area where Virginia Tech is weak is on the ground. Through four games, junior running back Bhayshul Tuten led the Hokies in rushing yards with only 192 yards. While Pitt’s rushing defense is as low as No. 40 in the country, it should have no trouble defending Virginia Tech’s run game. Their second-leading rusher is Drones, the quarterback.

Prediction

Pitt will have much success running the ball against a team that has a plethora of issues stopping it. Running backs junior Rodney Hammond and redshirt senior Daniel Carter will combine for three touchdowns and the passing offense will control their turnovers. The defense, led by junior defensive back Donovan McMillon, will continue their success with stopping the pass, and the defensive line will have success stopping the run. 

Virginia Tech will struggle to make a real impact on the offensive side of the ball, having no real strength there. On the defensive side of the ball, the Panthers might struggle to get the passing game to work, but the run game should carry the weight. 

Pitt wins 25-10.

About the Contributor
Ari Meyer, Staff Writer