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New Pitt QB Christian Veilleux Didn’t Come to Pitt to Sit on the Bench

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Pitt quarterback Christian Veilleux.

It was always going to be Phil Jurkovec.

Frank Cignetti Jr. has said that Pitt was bringing in Jurkovec even before Kedon Slovis officially decided to enter the transfer portal last December, but Slovis — he said — didn’t want to compete. Christian Veilleux wanted to compete.

Veilleux, who committed to Pitt a few weeks after Jurkovec, told Pittsburgh Sports Now that he didn’t come to Pitt to ride the bench. And he fought Jurkovec for the starting job throughout the spring, but it’s clear that he was viewed more as the potential quarterback of the future.

“We have a talented quarterback room, and it’s not where (Veilleux) is, but it’s where he’s going to be,” Frank Cignetti Jr. said after the spring game in April. “We’re really excited about where Christian is going as a quarterback.”

Well, the Pitt coaching staff better be excited about where Veilleux is right now. Because he’s the guy now.

Pat Narduzzi promised that Pitt would, “figure out what we do well, what we don’t do well, stop doing what we don’t do well and do something better,” during the bye week. It may have taken some time, but he finally realized that Jurkovec hasn’t given the Panthers a chance to succeed this season.

The offensive ineptitude isn’t solely on Jurkovec’s shoulders, but there wasn’t any reason to continue playing a failing sixth-year quarterback. It was time to see if Veilleux has what it takes to be the quarterback of the future. And it won’t be easy. But at 1-4 (0-2 ACC), Veilleux can’t be any worse.

He came in cold late in the first half against North Carolina a few weeks ago, completing a 15-yard pass to Daejon Reynolds to set up a (missed) 58-yard field goal. But he struggled in the second half, completing 6-of-17 pass attempts for 70 yards and two interceptions — with a fumble. But Narduzzi, as has been the case with Jurkovec, said it wasn’t all on the quarterback.

“Did he do a good job? I think he was good,” Narduzzi said earlier this month. “Like I said, it’s the guys around you. Again, we got three turnovers, and anytime you see that, you’re going to say no. We had two the week before, and it’s not good. Whatever the reason is, we’ve got to get it fixed.

“Again, like I said, those two drives, your quarterback gets hurt, you’ve got to look at our second-team quarterback in Christian right now, and after further review, you look at the quarterback play, the three turnovers there, it’s not all on him.”

Veilleux came in off the bench, hadn’t repped with the No. 1 offense and clearly was unprepared to deal with the North Carolina defense — as was the Pitt offensive line.

The offensive line at this point is what it is. As is the case with Veilleux, it’s a young, inexperienced unit that — hopefully — get better with increased reps and experience. Terrence Moore and Ryan Baer are first-year starters, a trio of veterans have missed the last few games and it’s a unit that will not be a strength going forward.

But if Veilleux is able to make the easy throws, if he’s able to progress with increased snaps and increased work in the system, Pitt should be better. And there’s a chance that Veilleux may be the quarterback of the future. And Veilleux, at least over the summer, felt like he’s come so far since arriving.

“Definitely 100% better than the spring,” Veilleux said in August. “In the spring, I only had like two months to really learn the offense as best as I could, so there were definitely some gaps in what I knew. But after having the whole summer and practicing with the team and grinding in the office, I feel so much more comfortable, like I’m getting the ball out early, making the right calls, I’m seeing it well. The coaches have just told me it looks much more fluid when I’m out there.”

As Veilleux worked with the second team during summer camp, with the likes of Kenny Johnson and Zion Fowler-El and Izzy Polk and Lamar Seymore, he grew more comfortable. He felt his bond with the young wide receivers grow.

And he certainly would not be where he is now with Jurkovec’s help either.

“Phil’s a great guy, sixth year doing it, so he’s not new to the routine and all that,” Veilleux said. “He’s a great teammate, everybody loves him and has great things to say about him. We all look up to him because he’s the older guy.”

Veilleux has sat behind Jurkovec for just a few months now, waiting for his turn, and as he arrived at Pitt, he saw potential in what the coaching staff drew up for him. There were a lot of factors that endeared him to Pittsburgh. He wouldn’t change a thing looking back.

“Pitt recruited me in high school, so obviously I had all the knowledge I needed about this place,” Veilleux said. “I think what really sold me was coach Frank Cignetti’s offense, Kenny Pickett being here the year before or two years before and just where this offense can go.

“I’m super happy with my decision. I wouldn’t change it, wouldn’t do anything different so super happy to be here.”

Veilleux has one pseudo-start under his belt — taking over for a sick Sean Clifford against Rutgers. Clifford started the game 2-of-8, giving way to Veilleux just before the end of the first quarter, and he responded by leading the Nittany Lions to a 28-0 win.

In just over three quarters, he completed 14-of-25 pass attempts for 235 yards and three touchdowns — throwing touchdown passes to three different receivers, including his first collegiate touchdown to now-NFL star Jahan Dotson.

“(Veilleux’s) poised,” Dotson said after the win. “He was very poised. Never seemed to get rattled at any moment in the game. Stayed calm, made the right reads. He had a tremendous game. He was everything and more that you can ask for from a freshman quarterback.”

It will be a much different situation this time around, but Veilleux will certainly have the opportunity to show that he is Pitt’s quarterback of the future over the next couple of months.

His first chance will arrive against No. 25 Louisville on Oct. 14.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Denny
Denny
8 months ago

It’s now apparent that things have already gotten too far out of hand. This is due to a pair of bozo’s who call themselves coaches.

Joe
Joe
8 months ago

PITT has a lot to do on the offensive side. We see in both the Steelers and Panthers why you can’t have just one go to receiver. Need to get more people involved in the passing game throughout the game. Also would help to have 2 backs as in a power I. Not only helps the running game but also gives an extra blocker for passes.

Eli
Eli
8 months ago
Reply to  Joe

I’d settle for Pitt having one go receiver, at this point. Right now, they have about -2 go to receivers. Guys we all know who we don’t want them to throw the ball to.

On Campus Stadium Please
On Campus Stadium Please
8 months ago
Reply to  Joe

I formation….that will get the skill players here

kevin
kevin
8 months ago

I hope he can run!
It would really help if they would be less predictable with the play calls. We don’t have the OL to run a predictable offense.
H2P!

On Campus Stadium Please
On Campus Stadium Please
8 months ago
Reply to  kevin

little bit of mobility, but he is in no way a dual threat

Katsura cassells
Katsura cassells
8 months ago

Starting a game with two weeks notice is an obvious distinct advantage of being inserted in the second half. I believe we will see a decent performance by Christian.

kmp30
kmp30
8 months ago

Bartholomew’s mullet

Truth
Truth
8 months ago

Yarnell didn’t come to Pitt to sit on the bench either…

Katsura cassells
Katsura cassells
8 months ago
Reply to  Truth

Agreed, supposedly, C.V. was chosen as the #2 by the “genius” Cignetti. If Christian plays poorly, I hope Cignetti has the decency and intelligence to give Nate an opportunity.

Dixon
Dixon
8 months ago

“I think what really sold me (on Pitt) was Frank Cignetti’s offense” Way to kiss up kid, but I ain’t buying it…although it’s probably best to not say what you’re really thinking, if you ever want to see the field.

John Smith
John Smith
8 months ago

Pretty sure Yarnell feels the same way.

Let’s Believe
Let’s Believe
8 months ago

Can they please get the ball in Kenny Johnson’s hands.

Larry Zuckett
Larry Zuckett
8 months ago

I don’t any difference with him. If he was that good he would have been named the starter at beginning of year. Nothing seems promising for the future with this team.

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