It hasn’t been a good week for the Pitt football program. In fact, it’s been downright awful.
The volume of negativity that has been unleashed is something they haven’t faced in a few years. Pitt have been winners of 22 of their last 30 games over the past two seasons. So any criticism, aside from a game here and there, has been minor.
All of that previous good will is certainly gone now with a surprising 1-2 start and coming off back-to-back dreadful performances against rivals Cincinnati and West Virginia, two teams they have no business losing to.
The center of 99% of the criticism has been the trio of head coach Pat Narduzzi, sixth year quarterback Phil Jurkovec and offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti, Jr. The scene at Acrisure Stadium Saturday night should be interesting considering this will be the first home game since Jurkovec’s and Narduzzi’s comments about the home fans booing.
But that’s what make sports so great and betting so difficult because you just never know what’s going to happen.
The oddsmakers have had North Carolina as favorites all week, starting at -5.5 and now rising up to -7. Despite the external pressure to do so, Narduzzi is sticking with Jurkovec, Pitt’s offensive line, which has struggled all year, is banged up and the wide receivers have been inconsistent at best. Plus, did I mention they’ll be going up against a likely Heisman finalist in Maye!
Nothing gives you any hope that Pitt is going to win this game, let alone keep it close. No person in their right mind believes Pitt will win this primetime game. Right?
I’ll take that bet. I’m not sure why but I just have a feeling that Pitt is going to play up to their preseason expectations, play their best game of the season and somehow will find a way to win this game.
Despite what the outside perception of Narduzzi is, his players like him and play hard for him. While he has areas in coaching that he struggles with, motivating and playing mental games with his players isn’t one of them.
Considering his dislike for the media in general, I can only imagine the things Narduzzi has said and shown his players over the last six days to try and get them extra motivated. Using the,”Us against the world,” mentality, “They don’t respect you”, “Look what they wrote,” etc.
He’ll never admit it but trust me, he definitely used it throughout the week.
Forget about that, the bigger reason I think Pitt will pull a surprise tonight is the pride that’s in that locker room and that they’re embarrassed about the results of the last two weeks. This program is filled with winners and players that have won a lot of games and they know the effort against Cincinnati and West Virginia isn’t indicative of who they are.
One thing that still has to surface for this 2023 team is finding out who the field leaders are. Who are going to be ‘The Dudes” on this team. In the past it’s been quarterback Kenny Pickett, linebacker SirVocea Dennis, defensive lineman Calijah Kancey, etc.
This year’s “Dude” has yet to step up and if Pitt is going to have any chance tonight to upset the Tar Heels someone must do so.
Will it be junior running back Rodney Hammond, junior wide receiver Konata Mumpfield, senior defensive lineman Dayon Hayes, redshirt senior cornerback MJ Devonshire, junior safety Donovan McMillan or even Jurkovec? Despite what we’ve seen in his first three games at Pitt, that’s still a possibility.
Chances are, this column will just be fodder for Pitt fans to laugh at, but I don’t think they’ll have the opportunity to do so. Unlike some people, this opinion isn’t given for click bait, I truly believe Pitt will play their best game of the season tonight and get 2023 back on track.
FINAL SCORE: Pitt 27 North Carolina 24