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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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People sit inside of Redhawk Coffee on Meyran Avenue.
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People sit inside of Redhawk Coffee on Meyran Avenue.
The best cafés to caffeinate and cram for finals
By Irene Castillo, Senior Staff Writer • April 22, 2024
Fresh Perspective | Final Farewell
By Julia Smeltzer, Digital Manager • April 19, 2024

Takeaways | Pitt football’s offensive struggles continue while defense shines against Florida State

Redshirt+senior+wide+receiver+Bub+Means+%280%29+catches+a+pass+for+a+touchdown+during+Saturday+evenings+game+against+FSU+at+Acrisure+Stadium.
Pamela Smith | Contributing Editor
Redshirt senior wide receiver Bub Means (0) catches a pass for a touchdown during Saturday evening’s game against FSU at Acrisure Stadium.

Pitt football’s (2-7, ACC 1-4) offensive struggles continued in Week 10 as they fell to No. 4 Florida State (9-0, ACC 7-0) 24-7. This was the Panthers’ third straight loss, causing the Panthers to lose out on postseason play. 

Here are my takeaways from the Saturday evening matchup.

Pitt offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti’s offense is too complicated

The Panthers offense has miscommunications all too often. On Saturday, Panther fans watched Pitt quarterback Christian Veilleux throw the ball to a place with no receiver within 10 yards, take a sack because his intended target ran the wrong route and throw the ball away because his receivers ran the wrong route. 

Typically in the beginning of the season, miscommunications, like the ones that the Panthers had throughout their matchup against Florida State, happen. But it’s week 10 of the college football season, and the Panthers are making week one mistakes over and over again. 

Pitt’s offensive complications forced Veilleux to finish his Saturday night with a completion percentage below 43%, which is not even close to the lowest completion percentage for a Panthers quarterback this season. Graduate student quarterback Phil Jurkovec finished his outing against Cincinnati in week two with an abysmal 31% completion percentage.

And the Panthers’ issues with completing passes are consistent, as Pitt’s quarterbacks had a completion percentage at or below 50% in six of nine games in 2023. And through these nine games, the Panthers quarterbacks have a completion percentage of 50.4% — the fourth lowest in the FBS.

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Christian Veilleux (11) throws a pass during Saturday afternoon’s game against FSU at Acrisure Stadium. (Ethan Shulman | Visual Editor)

Cignetti’s offense is a pro-style offense that’s designed to get his offensive personnel ready for the next level. But Cignetti fails to realize that his offense is made up of student-athletes and not professionals. Cignetti’s offensive personnel have other responsibilities to worry about, unlike professionals.

The complications of Cignetti’s offense have hurt his team each week, and it’s apparent. What Cignetti does might work in a higher up level for professionals, but it obviously doesn’t work with student-athletes at Pitt.

Pitt’s linebackers shined

In Saturday’s loss, Pitt’s linebacker group did everything they could to keep the Panthers’ upset hopes alive. The linebackers were everywhere throughout the game.

Redshirt senior inside linebacker Brandon George showed out for the Panthers linebackers. In the first half, he stressed the Seminole offense by making his presence felt in the Florida State backfield. George finished the first half with five tackles, 1.5 of those were for a loss. 

Although hope of an upset victory slipped in the second half, George finished the day accounting for 10 tackles and 2.5 tackles for a loss. 

George wasn’t the only inside linebacker making plays in the Florida State backfield on Saturday. Redshirt senior Shayne Simon made many key plays for the Panthers as well. The Notre Dame transfer produced throughout the game and finished with six tackles, 2.5 of those for a loss. Simon also had a key pass deflection on a third down in the first half.  

With these two middle linebackers making plays, an outside linebacker joined in. Senior Bengally Kamara made two key plays for the Panthers against the Seminoles. The Akron, Ohio, native recovered a fumble on the first Seminole drive of the game, giving the Panthers hope of an upset. Kamara then added a huge solo tackle on the goal line to stop Seminole redshirt junior running back Trey Benson from reaching the end zone. 

Throughout the day, Pitt linebackers made huge plays. Linebacker coach Ryan Manalac and defensive coordinator Randy Bates deserve tons of credit for having the linebackers players ready for a top-four team.

Three Quick Takes

The referees were not the reason Pitt lost, but they definitely didn’t help the Panthers. The referees hurt the Panthers the most when junior wide receiver Konata Mumpfield fumbled at the one-yard line, which cost Pitt a touchdown. Florida State redshirt junior defensive back Fentrell Cypress II appeared to facemask Mumpfield on his forced fumble, but the referees didn’t call it. Then Cypress recovered the ball while he had his hand out of bounds, and the referees apparently didn’t notice the illegal touching on replay review. If the play was called in Pitt’s favor, it would have likely resulted in a touchdown, giving Pitt an early 7-0 lead. 

Head Coach Pat Narduzzi talks with a referee during Saturday evening’s game against FSU at Acrisure Stadium. (Pamela Smith | Contributing Editor)

The Panthers should play redshirt sophomore quarterback Nate Yarnell and Veilleux equal snaps for the rest of the season. Veilleux played well on Saturday, and this is not a knock on his performance. The Panthers officially have no postseason to push for and should see what they have in Yarnell before completely anointing Veilleux as the next Pitt quarterback.

Head coach Pat Narduzzi should not have allowed former wide receivers coach Brennan Marion to leave. Marion’s currently the offensive coordinator at UNLV, and his offense has scored over 40 points six times this season. Cignetti’s offense has done that once this season against  Wofford, who is currently winless.

About the Contributor
Matthew Scabilloni, Senior Staff Writer