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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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Chris Matthews poses for a photo at the Global Hub in Posvar Hall.
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Column | The three scariest quarterbacks remaining on Pitt football’s schedule

Florida+State+quarterback+Jordan+Travis+warms+up+for+a+game+against+Southern+Mississippi+on+Saturday%2C+Sept.+9%2C+in+Tallahassee%2C+Fla.+
AP Photo/Phil Sears
Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis warms up for a game against Southern Mississippi on Saturday, Sept. 9, in Tallahassee, Fla.

Pitt football has five games remaining in the season. The remainder of their season is truly frightening as they face several competitive, ranked ACC teams — all with top-tier quarterbacks. With Halloween just around the corner, here are the three most frightening quarterbacks Pitt has to face in upcoming games.

Duke junior Riley Leonard 

Riley Leonard, a 6-foot-4 junior, is the quarterback for No. 20 Duke football. Leonard has started 19 games in his career at Duke, posting a 13-6 record over three seasons. He is 4-1 as the starting quarterback this season. Leonard has also completed 79 out of 126 passes for 912 yards, with three touchdowns and just two interceptions in 2023. 

While Leonard is usually dangerous, he is currently dealing with a lingering ankle injury, creating many questions about whether he’ll find his groove in 2023. His ankle was already sprained coming into last Saturday’s game against Florida State, but he still played. Leonard ultimately reinjured the same ankle later in the game. 

Despite these recent injuries, Leonard and the Blue Devils host the Panthers Nov. 25. By then, his condition is likely to improve. Even towards the end of the Florida State matchup, following his injury, he asked Duke head coach Mike Elko to return to the game. 

If Leonard is able to play against Pitt, the Panthers’ defense will have their hands full with one of the scariest signal callers in the ACC. With Pitt squeaking by against the Blue Devils 28-26 in last year’s matchup, this is an exciting game this season, especially with Leonard’s return. 

Leonard is great in the run game, as he posted a 13-yard run against a notably impressive Florida State defense on Saturday. So far in the 2023 season, he has 48 carries for 339 yards, averaging 7.1 yards per carry. The run game he employs is so fierce that many defenses are unable to contain it.

Although Leonard ushered his team to a first-half lead over Florida State, leading 20-17, he had a flawed performance in the passing game. He completed just three out of 11 throws for 37 yards in the first half of his last game.
Pitt must stop Leonard and his run game and capitalize on the issues presented with the pass game from Duke. If Pitt’s secondary can prevent Leonard from making completions down the field, the Panthers will have the upper hand during their matchup on Nov. 25. 

Notre Dame redshirt senior Sam Hartman 

Sam Hartman, a 6-foot-1 redshirt senior, is the quarterback for No. 14 Notre Dame football. He is in his sixth and final year of college. Other than his three-interception performance in the loss to Louisville, he plays dominant overall. He has tossed 16 touchdowns and zero interceptions in the other six games. He even defeated USC and top NFL prospect quarterback Caleb Williams 48-20.

He has completed 131 out of 203 passing attempts for a 64.5% completion rate. Hartman has amazed viewers by his elite deep passing abilities, having 10 deep passing touchdowns in the last eight games. He leads a precise offense with rhythm, which includes anticipating where wide receivers are to fit passes into tight spaces. 

The NFL’s website currently ranks the Notre Dame signal caller ninth for the 2024 NFL quarterback draft class. 

Hartman’s only major flaw comes when he is put under pressure. He has a 34.1 grade and only a 41% completion rating when the defensive front line closes in on him. Hartman also has an 11% turnover rate when under pressure. When he drops back from the pocket, he has completed just 10 passes on 43 dropbacks. 

If Pitt wants to put up a fight against this elite quarterback, the defensive line needs to pressure Hartman as much as possible to expose his flaws and not allow him to throw deep balls. 

Pitt plays Notre Dame and Hartman this Saturday in South Bend, Indiana. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. 

Florida State redshirt senior Jordan Travis 

Jordan Travis, a 6-foot-1 redshirt senior, is the quarterback for No. 4 Florida State football. He is a sixth-year quarterback. Florida State is undefeated under Travis this 2023 football season, going 7-0 so far. On the season, Travis has 15 touchdowns with a 65.1% completion rating. He has just two interceptions, with 1,750 passing yards and 176 rushing yards. 

Travis is scary, in particular with the run game. Last weekend, he and Florida State took on Duke. Travis led his offense to a dominant win, with 62 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown. He was named ACC Co-Quarterback of The Week due to his phenomenal performance this weekend. 

Along with Hartman, Travis is also ranked in the 2024 NFL quarterback class draft on the NFL’s site, placing him fourth on the list. 

Travis’ major flaw comes from converting third downs. Florida State’s offense lacks efficiency in converting third downs and short fourth downs. At Saturday’s game, Duke managed to stop Travis on the first two drives when he was put into a fourth and short situation. 

If Pitt football wants to bring down Travis, they have to contain him from his run game. Pitt needs to contain Travis from converting third downs and short fourth downs, exposing his flaw. By not allowing Travis to extend drives, Pitt will have a much better chance of preventing him from scoring on both his dominant run game and pass game. 

The Panthers take on the Seminoles on Nov. 4 at Acrisure Stadium.

About the Contributor
Lily Peters, Staff Writer
Lily Peters is a sports staff writer for The Pitt News. She is a part of the College of General Studies class of 2027 and is majoring in Media and Professional Communications. Additionally, she is pursuing a certificate in Television and Broadcast Arts.