MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Phil Jurkovec played poorly — to put it lightly — against West Virginia Saturday night, but Jake Kradel made sure to give his quarterback a vote of confidence when given the chance.
“Phil’s a great leader,” Kradel said following Pitt’s loss to WVU. “There’s no question about him, he doesn’t waver at all, he keeps us up, we keep him up, and I have so much confidence in that guy. If we just continue to block for him, give him time to throw, he’ll make plays.”
Narduzzi did say that, while he still needs to go back and watch the tape, he thought the offensive line performed better against West Virginia than it did last weekend against Cincinnati — at least in pass protection.
West Virginia was credited with just two quarterback hits and a sack against Pitt Saturday night.
But it wasn’t enough for Jurkovec as he completed just 8-of-20 pass attempts (40%) for 81 yards and three interceptions in the loss. But Narduzzi — like Kradel — is still a firm believer.
“We’ve got a lot of faith in Phil, and you gotta give defenses credit,” Narduzzi said in his postgame press conference. “Took the opening drive, and you get down to the 3-yard line, you gotta score touchdowns. And you don’t.”
Jurkovec is in the midst of a two-week stretch in which he’s completed 18-of-52 pass attempts for 260 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions. Two losses. And just three total touchdowns — none this week.
Kradel, for whatever reason, still believes in Jurkovec’s ability to lead the Pitt offense.
“From a passing standpoint, Phil’s doing great,” Kradel said. “We just gotta protect better. It starts with me as the center. I gotta make the best IDs, the best calls, put the guys in the best position to protect him. And Phil will deliver.”
The offensive line has been a problem this season, and it wasn’t perfect (though it was improved) against WVU, but Jurkovec hasn’t done himself any favors either. Kradel, in the true spirit of the never-say-die center, reiterated that the offensive line just needs to give Jurkovec more time.
“His attitude was great,” Kradel said. “Phil’s just a natural leader, and he didn’t waver one bit, and that’s the thing I love about him. He’s from Pittsburgh, he’s gritty, he’s not gonna let any crowd get in his head or anything. He played hard, at the end of the game, we just gotta play better for him.”
I don’t know exactly how much time Jurkovec will need next Saturday against No. 20 North Carolina next weekend at Acrisure Stadium to show out, but we’ll see if the sure-to-be-heard boos get in Jurkovec’s head again.