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

Join our newsletter

Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox, three times a week.

Pitt baseball players stand in the dugout during a game against Virginia Tech on March 24 at the Petersen Sports Complex.
Pitt baseball shows promise in weekend series in Texas
By Dylan Grace, Staff Writer • 12:32 am

Join our newsletter

Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox, three times a week.

Pitt baseball players stand in the dugout during a game against Virginia Tech on March 24 at the Petersen Sports Complex.
Pitt baseball shows promise in weekend series in Texas
By Dylan Grace, Staff Writer • 12:32 am

Preview | Pitt football looking for a spark against No. 14 Louisville

Junior+running+back+Rodney+Hammond+Jr.+%286%29+runs+upfield+during+Saturday+nights+game+against+UNC+at+Acrisure+Stadium.+
Nate Yonamine | Senior Staff Photographer
Junior running back Rodney Hammond Jr. (6) runs upfield during Saturday night’s game against UNC at Acrisure Stadium.

Following a much-needed bye-week after a brutal 1-4 start, Pitt football returns to Acrisure Stadium for a homecoming matchup against No. 14 Louisville. 

The Pitt and Louisville football programs are on two very different trajectories right now. The Panthers are 1-4 and staring down the barrel of their worst season in the Pat Narduzzi era. The Cardinals are flying high amidst their best season in well over a decade, rejuvenated under the leadership of their new head coach Jeff Brohm.

Louisville is red-hot so far this season, sitting on a 6-0 record and coming fresh off a 33-20 win over No. 21 Notre Dame. The Cardinals currently sit at the top of the ACC, vying for predominance in the conference against No. 4 Florida State.

The Panthers, on the other hand, are still trying to figure out their identity. After weeks of offensive struggles, head coach Pat Narduzzi decided to bench redshirt senior quarterback Phil Jurkovec in favor of redshirt sophomore Christian Veilleux. 

Narduzzi reiterated his confidence in Jurkovec to the press on Monday but nonetheless believes starting Veilleux is in the best interest of the team.

“Obviously, last week we made a change at the quarterback spot,” Narduzzi said. “I’ve got a ton of confidence in Phil Jurkovec. I still do, even if you don’t or won’t. But it felt like we needed a spark at that position to see what happens.”

Despite reports last week that Jurkovec intended to switch to the tight end position, Narduzzi clarified that Jurkovec will remain QB2 for the moment.

“Rumors get out there, I guess,” Narduzzi said. “[Jurkovec]’s been in the quarterback meetings. Could he be a tight end someday? Yeah, but I’m talking down the line. He’s a quarterback here at Pitt.”

While Jurkovec didn’t impress in his five games starting, the limited snaps fans have seen from Veilleux didn’t exactly inspire confidence either. Veilleux started the second half of the North Carolina game, throwing seven completions on eighteen passes. He finished the day with 85 yards and two interceptions.

If Louisville’s game against Notre Dame is any indication, Veilleux has his work cut out for him on Saturday. Louisville’s secondary feasted on Notre Dame’s passing attack, nabbing three interceptions from senior quarterback Sam Hartman — who is typically excellent at avoiding turnovers.

As the most important position on the team, finding the right starting quarterback is paramount to getting the offense on track. 

But Pitt’s offensive struggles extend beyond the quarterback position. Their turnstile of an offensive line, which effectively crumbles at the slightest breeze, is the most glaring issue on the offense right now. The offensive line gave up four sacks against Virginia Tech, negating an otherwise solid performance by Jurkovec.

Of course, changes to the offense will mean very little if the defense doesn’t hold their own. Pitt’s defense gave up 228 passing yards and 199 rushing yards in the Virginia Tech game. So far this season, the Panthers’ defense allowed an average of 128 rushing yards a game. Excluding the Wofford game, where the Panthers allowed -1 rushing yards, Pitt’s defense is giving up over 200 rushing yards a game.

Louisville’s starting running back, sophomore Jawhar Jordan, ran for 143 yards and two touchdowns against Notre Dame on Saturday. Unless the Panthers make the necessary adjustments to their run defense, Jordan will undoubtedly have another career day.

Louisville looks like one of the most formidable opponents on the Panthers’ schedule this season, but the competition only gets fiercer going forward. In the following weeks, Pitt will go on the road for games against Wake Forest and No. 21 Notre Dame respectively. On Nov. 4, the Panthers will return to Acrisure Stadium for a matchup against another juggernaut in the ACC — No. 4 Florida State.

If Pitt wants to salvage what’s left of this season, the team desperately needs playmakers to step up on both sides of the ball. 

The Panthers will play at Acrisure Stadium on Oct. 14 for their homecoming game against Louisville. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m., and coverage will air on the CW.

 

About the Contributor
Ben Pisano, Staff Writer