PITTSBURGH — Pitt starting quarterback, redshirt senior Phil Jurkovec, sustained an injury towards the end of the first half vs. No. 17 North Carolina Saturday night at Acrisure Stadium, which kept him out the rest of the game.
Jurkovec ran to his left across the line of scrimmage and UNC redshirt freshman defensive back Tayon Holloway leveled him. He did hit Jurkovec in the helmet, leading to a targeting penalty that disqualified him the rest of the game. Jurkovec also had to leave the game himself, with Pitt announcing that he suffered an undisclosed injury.
Prior to leaving the game, Jurkovec had a decent first half. He finished by completing 11 of his 15 passes for 109 yards and two carries for 29 yards in the 41-24 loss to the Tar Heels.
Most of his completions came off of short passes, like screen plays, but he made a great throw to junior tight end Gavin Bartholomew for 30-yards to set up the second touchdown. Jurkovec targeted junior wide receiver Konata Mumpfield seven times for six catches and 39 yards, junior running back Rodney Hammond Jr. five times for three catches and 11 yards and junior tight end Gavin Bartholomew twice for 59 yards against UNC in that first half.
Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said post game that Jurkovec was not in concussion protocol, but didn’t disclose the injury. He complimented his game and said that he did a great job in leading the offense and that he “made a lot of plays.”
“You know, I wish he would have got four quarters,” Narduzzi said. “I wish he would have got four quarters. He didn’t turn it over at all in the first half. Made good decisions, threw one away on their sideline the one time when he didn’t have time.”
Narduzzi also didn’t care about what the play calling was for Jurkovec, saying that him completing the passes was most important.
“There were completed passes,” Narduzzi said. “It didn’t matter what was called. We tried to get the ball to what we thought was open, and whether you want to call it easy passes, there’s no easy passes out there.”
Fellow sixth year in redshirt senior offensive lineman Blake Zubovic also complemented Jurkovec on his first half performance. He said that effort he gave was “phenomenal,” that he played well, that the guys were fired up about losing him and that he expects his signal caller to come back later in the season.
“I think Phil’s mental’s pretty good,” Zubovic said. “He came to talk to us before they took him to go get looked at and stuff. I think he’s a fighter. He’s a tough kid. I don’t know what his time’s going to be or what not. I have no idea what the injury is at this point, but I know he’s going to do anything he can to get back out on the field with us.”
The loss of Jurkovec also played a role for the Panthers offensive line, according to Zubovic. They have a duty to whoever is under center, including backup in redshirt sophomore Christian Veilleux, who came in for Jurkovec, and that you need to stand up for them at all times.
“I think it was rage,” Zubovic said after losing Phil Jurkovec. “That’s our quarterback. I think if you don’t have that type of emotion on your offensive line, then what do you really have? If you don’t stick up for your teammate, your brother, then what do you have? You don’t have a team, you don’t have any chemistry. No one did anything ridiculous, but it was at least good to see guys get fired up over it. I know I was pissed myself. “
The game that Jurkovec had against UNC was much better than he had in the losses to Cincinnati and West Virginia the previous two games.
He completed just 10 of his 32 passes vs. Cincinnati, 31.3% and then eight of his 20 passes vs. West Virginia, along with three interceptions. This led to boos at home, which Jurkovec didn’t care for, to cheers from the West Virginia fans the next game.
Redshirt senior David Green, another sixth year, said that he kept reassuring Jurkovec over these past few weeks to keep believing in himself, despite the losses.
“I love Phil,” Green said. “He was a great addition when he first came with us and I talked with him last week and I was like, “Phil, we believe in you. With everything that’s going on, don’t lose hope, don’t lose faith in yourself. Keep that confidence.” He definitely showed out at the beginning. So I definitely hope to see him back sooner.”
Pitt will face another 1-3 team in Virginia Tech on the road on Saturday at 8 p.m. They open up as slim favorites,but the odds will likely fluctuate depending on who is at quarterback.