THE BRONX, N.Y. — The 2023 season for Pitt has had many, many disappointments.
Where do I begin? The unexplained wasting of both Rodney Hammond Jr. and Gavin Bartholomew, the underperforming offensive line and the underutilizing of young talent such as Samuel Okunlola, and Jimmy Scott and young wide receivers, namely Kenny Johnson.
I could also bring up the lack of a role or development for players such as Nahki Johnson, Elliot Donald, Derrick Davis, Sean FitzSimmons, Jordan Bass, and the list goes on, but why nitpick?
But no question, the biggest disappointment that will follow this season is the fact that Pitt will enter the 2024 season with no clue of what they have at quarterback and if they have a quarterback that they can build with.
I’m not saying that either Christian Veilleux or Nate Yarnell isn’t good enough. However, because of the ineptitude of offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti Jr and the poor play of the offensive line, we weren’t able to learn enough about either.
In terms of Veilleux, I see a gunslinger with a good enough arm who can and likes to get the ball downfield. He’s had moments that get you excited and lead you to believe that he can be the guy for the next two years, but would I lay a bet on it? No.
No one, including the coaching staff, has any idea of what they have in Yarnell. He looked good and played well enough in his only start last year against Western Michigan, but that’s it. He’s only had mop-up duties in games that were already decided since.
Pitt does have two games left but because of the current state of Pitt football, we’ll learn nothing about Yarnell that will answer questions for next season.
With that being said, I know there’s talk about giving Yarnell a chance to start and Narduzzi didn’t rule it out following the game, but Veilleux needs to start the last two games.
Making a quarterback change at this stage would be ridiculous but then again, that would be par for the course for this wasted season.
Veilleux is a young quarterback with just five career starts, which is obviously not enough time to form a true conclusion on a player. So, regardless of how he ended the Syracuse game, Veilleux should get the start against Boston College. Any young player needs on-field, live game reps and that’s certainly the case with Veilleux.
The scary thing for Pitt is that heading into 2024, quarterback will still be a question mark. Instead of having a quarterback to step in when Kenny Pickett graduated, Pitt was forced to use the transfer portal and struck out with both Kedon Slovis and Phil Jurkovec.
The verdict is still out on Veilleux, who came to Pitt after transferring from Penn State.
In my opinion, Pitt needs to resist the temptation of looking into the portal for the third straight season. It’s time to decide on one of their own quarterbacks and develop them. That means Veilleux, Yarnell or even Ty Dieffenbach.
The first order of business should be finding a new offensive coordinator and making sure he’s able to develop and install a modern system that will allow any of these quarterbacks to have success.
Until they do this and have a quarterback and system that they can win with, the struggles of 2023 will be a recurring theme.