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Pat Narduzzi: Phil Jurkovec Working With TEs, Kickoff, Punt Teams

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Pitt QB Phil Jurkovec drops back to pass against Virginia Tech on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023 in Blacksburg, Virginia. (Mitchell Northam / Pittsburgh Sports Now.)

If you see a No. 5 out on the Pitt special teams unit against Notre Dame, it may not be P.J. O’Brien Jr. but Phil Jurkovec.

After initially denying that Jurkovec would play tight end at Pitt, he confirmed Thursday that Jurkovec is indeed working with the tight ends — and with the kickoff and punt coverage units.

“That’s not for me to decide what he’s doing, but he wants to play a little bit over there and he still doesn’t have a position change, but he’s played on kickoff returns, he’s on the punt team, he’ll pay anything,” Narduzzi said Thursday at his weekly news conference. “He’s going wherever we can get him in.”

It’s not an official position change, but with Jurkovec listed as the No. 3 quarterback on the weekly depth chart (and Ty Dieffenbach traveling to Winston-Salem, N.C. over the week) it does appear that Jurkovec’s days as a quarterback are over.

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. Suffice to say, it was an unsuccessful season as the Pitt starting quarterback — evidenced further by Christian Veilleux adapting quickly as the new starter.

He’s thrown for 6,224 passing yards with 43 touchdowns and 20 interceptions — adding 627 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground. He put together his best season under Frank Cignetti Jr. at Boston College in 2020, but it’s been downhill since as inconsistent play and injuries stalled any sort of progression.

It’s unlikely that Jurkovec will see the field against Notre Dame Saturday afternoon in South Bend, Ind. — a homecoming for Jurkovec after beginning his collegiate career with the Fighting Irish.

Pitt already doesn’t target Gavin Bartholomew enough, and with Karter Johnson, Malcolm Epps and Jake Renda all seeing the field at times this season, Jurkovec is likely TE5 or so. His work on kickoff and punt coverage is another story.

He has a large frame, saying before the season that he weighed in at 245 pounds, so there is the possibility that he could provide additional blocking on the edge.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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JGehrig
JGehrig
7 months ago

Narduzzi, are you for real?
Let it go, Head Coach!
Play some new faces, Phil has had his chances.
Hope u watch some tape before you use him!

Section 122
Section 122
7 months ago
Reply to  JGehrig

“That’s not for me to decide what he’s playing.” What??? That is exactly what your damn job is as the HC. This guy has jumped the shark.

On Campus Stadium Please
On Campus Stadium Please
7 months ago

Another lie exposed..no, he was not a TE now he’s saying he is. Even better he wants to “go wherever he can play”? How about get a start on your coaching career early.

Dixon
Dixon
7 months ago

If coaches are going to persist on finding Phil some playing time, somebody give him a football and see if he can boot the damn thing more than thirty yards down the field.
Seriously though, I can’t understand why they coddle this guy so much…I’ve never seen anything like it before.

Panther
Panther
7 months ago

Please coach. This is not Youth Football. Phil is done. Playing Arron’s with him now? As if you are a pop warner coach? .

Kelvin Byrd
Kelvin Byrd
7 months ago

I am so over Narduzzi. Why are we even talking about PJ at this point?

Pitt Fan
Pitt Fan
7 months ago

Phil better not take ANY reps from Gavin Bartholomew. Cignetti seems to be having a difficult time getting Gavin the ball enough as it is for some reason.

Panther
Panther
7 months ago
Reply to  Pitt Fan

Cignetti does not like Gavin. That is well known.

Giovanni
Giovanni
7 months ago
Reply to  Pitt Fan

I’d love to see what Epps can do also. Duzz and Cig are absolutely depressing for Pitt fans and numerous Pitt players.

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