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.

Chris Matthews poses for a photo at the Global Hub in Posvar Hall.
Chris Matthews: Inspiring language learners at home and abroad
By Anna Kuntz, Senior Staff Writer • April 22, 2024
The best cafés to caffeinate and cram for finals
By Irene Castillo, Senior Staff Writer • April 22, 2024

Join our newsletter

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

Chris Matthews poses for a photo at the Global Hub in Posvar Hall.
Chris Matthews: Inspiring language learners at home and abroad
By Anna Kuntz, Senior Staff Writer • April 22, 2024
The best cafés to caffeinate and cram for finals
By Irene Castillo, Senior Staff Writer • April 22, 2024

Takeaways | Pitt football failed to capitalize on Notre Dame mistakes, Fighting Irish playmakers overwhelmed the Panthers’ defense

Pittsburgh+quarterback+Christian+Veilleux+%2811%29+runs+away+from+Notre+Dame+defensive+lineman+Javontae+Jean-Baptiste+%281%29+and+defensive+lineman+Jordan+Botelho+%2812%29+during+the+second+half+of+an+NCAA+college+football+game+Saturday%2C+Oct.+28%2C+in+South+Bend%2C+Ind.
AP Photo/Michael Caterina
Pittsburgh quarterback Christian Veilleux (11) runs away from Notre Dame defensive lineman Javontae Jean-Baptiste (1) and defensive lineman Jordan Botelho (12) during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 28, in South Bend, Ind.

Following a heartbreaking defeat in last week’s matchup against Wake Forest, the Panthers headed to South Bend, IN, looking for upset magic against No. 14 Notre Dame. However, the heartbreak of a season only worsened for Pitt fans, as the Panthers lost in historic fashion, 58- 7.

Here are my takeaways from the game:

The Panthers couldn’t capitalize off of early momentum

After the Panthers won the toss and decided to defer, Notre Dame began Saturday’s game quickly moving down the field and knocking on the doorstep of the endzone. When Notre Dame graduate student quarterback Sam Hartman delivered a strike toward a streaking Fighting Irish receiver, Panthers junior defensive back Phillip O’Brien Jr. jumped the route and grabbed a massive interception, shifting the momentum entirely in Pitt’s favor.

Mirroring the big defensive play formula that helped the Panthers upset Louisville, Pitt fans everywhere held hope that this play could lead to yet another top-25 upset. However, in the ensuing drive, the Panthers had a quick three-and-out and were forced to punt. Panthers sophomore punter Caleb Junko fired off a booming punt that looked to pin the Irish deep into their own territory. Notre Dame senior wideout Chris Tyree received the punt and broke multiple tackles on his way to an 82-yard touchdown return. 

In the next Irish offensive possession, the Panthers grabbed another interception, this time from sophomore linebacker Brandon George. Pitt failed yet again to string together a long drive before punting the ball back to the Irish.

Pitt’s offense looked overwhelmed

This entire season, Pitt has struggled to get anything going offensively. This weekend, the Panthers turned in their worst offensive performance in recent memory. The Panthers rushed for only a total of 53 yards against the Fighting Irish, with a team average of 2.8 yards per carry. 

Behind center, Panthers redshirt sophomore quarterback Christian Veilleux had his worst start since replacing redshirt senior quarterback Phil Jurkovec. Veilleux went 14 of 29 passing with only 127 passing yards and posted an unimpressive quarterback rating of 23.3. After his fourth interception thrown in the afternoon, Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi replaced Veilleux with sophomore quarterback Nate Yarnell. Yarnell showed late promise, but the game was ultimately finished by the time the offense got anything working.

Veilleux will grow from this 

Although Veilleux’s struggles on Saturday might cause concern for the Panther faithful, it is essential to recognize the opponent the Panthers took on. The Fighting Irish entered the weekend as the 11th-best defense in the country, allowing about only 280 yards of total offense per game. Notre Dame ranks first in the country with four total defensive touchdowns and third in the country with interceptions at 14. 

With Veilleux entering his first season at Pitt in the middle of a disappointing season, a misstep against a strong Notre Dame defensive backfield shouldn’t categorize his season. Pitt quarterbacks in the past, including Kenny Pickett, have recorded subpar games against tough opponents and have managed to learn and build from each start.

The Panthers’ defense couldn’t contain the Irish

Pitt entered the game knowing the key to compete with the Fighting Irish would come on the defensive end. However, that game plan didn’t work as the Fighting Irish exploded offensively, recording over 535 yards from scrimmage.

Fighting Irish graduate student quarterback Sam Hartman completed 18 of 25 passes for 288 yards, repeatedly putting the Irish in the red zone. Behind senior running back Audric Estime, who had 114 yards and three touchdowns, the Irish ran for 155 total yards and four scores. 

Throughout the season, the Panthers’ defense has battled and kept them within striking distance of games, but after a third quarter where the Irish scored 27 points, the game was completely out of reach for Pitt.

Next week’s matchup might warrant similar results

 As the now 2-6 Panthers return home to Acrisure Stadium, the opponent for next week only gets harder for Pitt. The Panthers are set to take on No. 4 ranked Florida State in an ACC matchup. The undefeated Seminoles this year have steamrolled past every opponent behind Heisman candidate senior quarterback Jordan Travis. 

Travis has shined behind center, throwing for 2,109 yards along with 18 touchdowns. Travis’s big play ability, along with the Seminoles’ stout defense, can easily separate themselves from the Panthers next Saturday.

Although Pitt has proven its ability to play upset to top tier competitors this season, I can’t see that happening against a complete Florida State team.

About the Contributor
Dylan Grace, Staff Writer