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Pitt football notebook: Week three - The Pitt News

The Pitt News

Pitt football notebook: Week three

Pitt+QB+Nathan+Peterman+%284%29+is+a+preseason+candidate+for+the+Johnny+Unitas+Golden+Arm+Award.+Jeff+Ahearn+%2F+Senior+Staff+Photographer
Pitt QB Nathan Peterman (4) is a preseason candidate for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. Jeff Ahearn / Senior Staff Photographer

Pitt QB Nathan Peterman (4) is a preseason candidate for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. Jeff Ahearn / Senior Staff Photographer

Pitt QB Nathan Peterman (4) is a preseason candidate for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. Jeff Ahearn / Senior Staff Photographer

By Dan Sostek / Sports Editor

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Before Pitt sets off for Kinnick Stadium, questions about position battles and health linger following a 24-7 win at Akron on Saturday. Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi addressed his team’s quarterback controversy, injuries and depth at his weekly press conference Monday at the UPMC Sports Performance Complex in South Side.

QB by Thursday?

Through the first two games of the season, the Panthers have surprised onlookers, shuffling their two quarterbacks, juniors Nathan Peterman and Chad Voytik, in and out of contests.

After seeing the majority of the snaps against Youngstown State in week one, the coaching staff benched Voytik in favor of Peterman on Saturday against Akron.

With both players listed as co-starters on the weekly depth chart, Narduzzi said he’s in no rush to decide who will be under center against the Hawkeyes.

“We’re gonna wait until Thursday,” Narduzzi said. “[On Thursday] we like to make sure we’re sharp and detailed. There’s no question we’ll wait until that day.”

Narduzzi did concede that regardless of who starts, the other will likely still see the field around the third series of the game. Still, he would like to see one of the quarterbacks separate themselves from the other.

“Yes, you always hope for that. I think both of those guys are pretty equal back there,” Narduzzi said. “We’ll find out in the heat of the battle.”

On the Mend

Star running back James Conner’s season-ending right knee injury grabbed most of the headlines, but a few other Panthers are nursing injuries of their own. Narduzzi provided status updates for safety Reggie Mitchell, running back Chris James and offensive tackle Adam Bisnowaty, none of whom saw the field against Akron due to undisclosed injuries.

Pitt listed Mitchell, the only one of the three who did not dress for Akron, as the backup at free safety to junior Terrish Webb. While Narduzzi didn’t give an update on Mitchell’s availability, he said the depth chart was due to not only Mitchell’s injury, but to Webb’s play as well.

“Reggie Mitchell is a guy who started off in spring ball as the starting free safety. Then in camp he got banged up a little bit,” Narduzzi said. “T. Webb came in, and Webb has been one of those guys that plays better than he practices at times, which is great for him.”

Narduzzi noted that Mitchell won’t necessarily have the starting spot handed to him when he returns from his undisclosed injury.

“I’m happy with where Terrish is. He’s doing a nice job,” Narduzzi said. “Reggie will have his hands full when he comes back.”

As for James, Narduzzi said the sophomore running back could have played against Akron, but the lack of practice time during the week leading up the game — as well as the weather — was a deciding factor. Narduzzi said James is “100 percent ready to go” this week.

Narduzzi wasn’t quite as bullish on Bisnowaty’s availability, but he still expressed some optimism that the junior would see the field at Iowa.

“Biz is getting healthy, I think. Shoot, I thought he was healthy last week, but he didn’t practice,” Narduzzi said. “Hopefully he’ll get some reps in this week and we’ll have him back.”

Backing Boyd

Despite missing the first game of the season because of a suspension stemming from an offseason DUI, standout junior wide receiver Tyler Boyd looked confident in his return to the field.

He hauled in 11 receptions for 95 yards and now leads the team in both categories, even though he’s played in one less contest than his fellow wideouts.

Although the team’s apparent lack of a number two wide receiver opposite Boyd — no other wideout on the roster has more than two catches — seems concerning, Narduzzi contended the talent is there.

“I really like what Dontez [Ford] has done for us,” Narduzzi said. “Zach Challingsworth is a player. It’s just a matter of who you’re showcasing. Some guys do need to step up and we have to get the ball to those other guys.”

Following a season in which Boyd totaled 52 percent of Pitt’s total receiving yards, Narduzzi knows that Boyd won’t be able to carry the entire offense forever. Teams will begin to adjust — he pointed out that Iowa will likely double-team the Panthers’ star.

“If we try to go to Tyler the whole time, we’re gonna have problems,” Narduzzi said.

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Pitt football notebook: Week three