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An Injury Could Hold Star QB Out of Matchup Against Pitt

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A Pitt football lays on the turf on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023 in Blacksburg, Virginia. (Mitchell Northam / Pittsburgh Sports Now.) College Football / Signing Period. NCAA.

Pitt will — most likely — conclude its season against Duke in a few weeks, and it is certainly not shaping up to be the kind of game it was hyped to be before the season kicked off in August.

Both Pitt and Duke held certain preseason expectations, and while Pitt has floundered to a 2-6 season so far, Duke is still fighting for its preseason goals — despite injuries holding back star quarterback Riley Leonard all season long.

And it appears that when Pitt and Duke finally face off at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, N.C. on Nov. 25, Leonard may not be on the field.

According to a report from ESPN Insider Pete Thamel, Leonard will miss an extended period of time this season — and he may not return to the field at all this season as he deals with a toe injury unrelated to an earlier ankle injury.

“A definitive timetable on Leonard’s potential return from this injury has yet to be determined, per sources,” Thamel wrote. “It’s not a certainty that he’ll be back this year, per ESPN sources, although any possibility of a return would come much later in the year.”

Leonard entered the season with lofty goals, lauded as a potential first round NFL Draft picked and receiving All-ACC (and All-American) hype, and he kicked off the season with an upset win over Clemson in Week 1. But injuries have severely stunted his progress this season.

In seven games, Leonard has completed 95-of-165 pass attempts (57.6%) for 1,102 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions — adding 352 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. And he’s way, way down from the numbers he produced last season.

Leonard was effective against Pitt last season, completing 24-of-45 pass attempts for 290 yards and three touchdowns in a narrow loss at Acrisure Stadium.

Grayson Loftis, a three-star quarterback in the class of 2023 out of Gaffney, S.C., made his first career start against Wake Forest Thursday night, and while he completed just 7-of-19 pass attempts for 86 yards with a touchdown and an interception, the Blue Devils escaped with a 24-21 win on a last second field goal.

It remains to be seen whether Leonard or Loftis or another option will be under center for Duke when Pitt travels to Durham later this month, but if — and it’s a very, very large if — Pitt manages to win its next three games, it will be a chance to earn bowl eligibility.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Denny
Denny
8 months ago

Pitt isn’t just bad or unlucky, but they are also extremely undisciplined and appear mentally unprepared on a weekly basis.That’s not a great reality to be facing any back-up quarterback..

bill dambach
bill dambach
8 months ago

Second or third string QBs beat Pitt

Hudie Evsns
Hudie Evsns
8 months ago

I can’t believe Pitt has not abandoned the dumbest head coach in their history.He is great at obfuscating but he is a mediocre bum that has set The Pitt Football Program back to the Dark Ages.This has been intentional and the ship has sunk without the Captain.Where’s The Captain? He’s watching the films !! Remember Captain Nardizzi is a mediocre Head Coach.This means he ie the best of the worst and the worst of the best. It’s time to cut bait and run from this disasterous season and Head Coach

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