Pat Narduzzi promised that changes would be made during the Pitt bye week, and he’s delivered on that promise.
According to a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Noah Hiles, Phil Jurkovec has been benched as the Pitt starting quarterback, and Christian Veilleux will be the Panthers’ starting quarterback going forward.
Jurkovec completed 57-of-112 pass attempts (50.9%) for 818 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions through four-and-a-half games this season, but that stat line doesn’t tell the full story. He made the easy look impossible, failed to connect on his deep shots and actively contributed to three losses this season.
“We gotta bye week to figure out what we do well, what we don’t do well, stop doing what we don’t do well and do something better,” Narduzzi said after the loss to Virginia Tech. “And we gotta obviously change some things up. And that’s what we’ll do in the open week, is try to figure out what we gotta do to get first downs and touchdowns.”
Pitt has scored 15 touchdowns this season, which is tied for second-to-last in the ACC, but one of those touchdowns was a defensive score and another was a special teams score. That’s 13 offensive scores, and six came against winless Wofford. And with the fewest first downs in the ACC, it’s been a struggle to move the football.
Pitt is second-to-last in the ACC in scoring offense, last in scoring offense (last in passing offense and second-to-last in rushing offense) and just having a very tough time doing much of anything.
Veilleux, who came into the second half of Pitt’s loss to North Carolina last month, has completed 12-of-27 pass attempts (44%) for 145 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. He did not play well against UNC, but he came off the bench cold and hadn’t been receiving first-team reps.
He will receive first-team reps in the week of practice leading up to Pitt’s matchup against No. 25 Louisville, and the Panthers will see what they have in the redshirt sophomore. It will be Veilleux’s first collegiate start.
Quarterback has been the most pressing issue offensively for the Panthers this season, and it remains to be seen if Veilleux or Nate Yarnell is the answer going forward, but Pitt will be able to see if Veilleux — who played well in limited opportunities with Penn State — is someone who can be the quarterback of the future throughout the remainder of the season.
Pitt is off this weekend, but the Panthers will return to Acrisure Stadium on Oct. 14 against Louisville, and it will be with Veilleux under center.
It’s a — seemingly — tough end to Jurkovec’s collegiate career as his college eligibility expires upon the conclusion of the season. It just didn’t work out between Pitt and the Gibsonia, Pa. native.