The University of Pittsburgh has a tradition of excellence in football that dates back to 1890. The Pitt Panthers have won Nine National Championships and many of the greatest players in the history of football are proud to call Pitt their alma mater.
Pitt boasts 99 First Team All-Americans, 25 members in the College Football Hall of Fame and ten Panthers have been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
NGSC Sports provides you the ultimate Pitt Game Day Preview, where true Panther fans come to find out about Pitt and their upcoming opponent! Mike Drakulich (@PghSportsNation) brings you inside the huddle for both teams, providing all fans with The Pittsburgh SportsNation Game Scoop, Score Prediction, Broadcast and Game Day Weather Report, and a complete breakdown of each team.
Heck, you’ll even know the weather at kickoff! The only thing you’re missing is a game uniform!
Pitt Panthers (1-2) vs #17 North Carolina Tar Heels (3-0)
NCAA Week 4
Game-time: Saturday, September 23th, at 8:00 PM
- Vegas line: UNC -7.5
Venue: Acrisure Stadium, Pittsburgh, PA.
- Field: Natural Grass
Tickets: Pitt Ticket Office
The Pittsburgh SportsNation Game Scoop
Pitt football has encountered some dark times over the past four decades.
Rarely have Panther fans witnessed as brutal of an offensive performance displayed the past two games.
It was one thing to lose at home to Cincinnati 27-21, with quarterback Phil Jurkovec passing for a paltry 179 yards, completing just 10 of 32 passing attempts.
That game was an MVP effort compared to Jurkovec going 8 for 20, for 81 yards, no touchdowns, and three backbreaking interceptions vs West Virginia, paving the way to a 17-6 loss to their hated rivals.
Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi’s utter stubbornness to NOT bench Jurkovec and let Christian Veilleux get a series basically handed the game to the Mountaineers on a silver platter.
What on earth was Narduzzi thinking? How awful does Jurkovec have to be to get sat down? How could it get any worse under Veilleux? You could drag a random student out of the stands, or even a 57 year old retiree, hand him or her a football, and one of them could probably complete a seven yard pass, unlike Jurkovec who was bouncing passes to his receivers just ten yards away.
“We’re going to evaluate every day. It’s going to be a big week of practice for everybody, including the quarterbacks,” Narduzzi said. “We have to get better.
“We all got issues. That’s why they call us coaches, and we have to go fix it and try to make it as perfect as we can. We can do a better job coaching. It starts with my butt.”
That said, it looks as if Narduzzi is going to stick with Jurkovec when the Panthers (1-2) host the #17 ranked North Carolina Tar Heels (3-0), Saturday night at Acrisure Stadium. Kick off is at 8:00 PM.
“He’s a leader in that huddle. He’s a guy you trust,” Narduzzi said during his press conference. “You see it every day. When you look back and you look at all the stats and all the numbers of what you put in a practice and what you put through camp and you put on paper, you just don’t dump things like that. You just don’t do it.
“That’s a philosophy and where I’m coming from.”
Leader aside, this game is about results, and right now, this team needs a huge dose of confidence if they intend to turn this season around as ACC play begins.
Christian Veilleux needs to start, but he likely won’t, nor will he likely get a chance if Jurkovec continues to struggle.
“I know you don’t want to hear that,” Narduzzi said. “If I could sit here and say, it’s this guy, if we get rid of this guy … It’s not that. You go back and watch the tape as a coach, missed blocks, not only miss a block, but a player goes the wrong on the offensive line, or tight end or tackle, whatever it may be.
“It’s catching the ball. You have to catch the ball. We have opportunities where we can catch the ball and we don’t catch the ball. There are opportunities to complete the pass and throw a better pass, and we don’t complete the passes. It’s everything. There are a lot of guys who didn’t make plays on both sides of the ball. It’s all over the tape.
“I think we do a good job of not throwing guys under the bus and say it’s all your fault. Once you start pointing fingers, you got major issues, and then you lose your locker room and lose your faith and belief and trust to what’s going on.
“Believe in the system and stick to your fundamentals and what we do as a program. You stick with what you do and it will get better.”
Pitt’s defense, already under duress due to getting no help from their offense, will have their hands full with the Tar Heels offense, lead by highly regarded QB Drake Maye, who knows he’ll be facing a Pitt defense known for getting the the quarterback.
“They try to play that bully ball,” Maye said. “They have that tough personality of the ACC. They hit you hard and try to do a little extra stuff to get you riled up.”
Maye lit up Pitt last year in a 42-24 rout, in with he passed for 388 yards and five touchdowns.
“We’re going from the triple option to this spread, with the best quarterback in the country, probably, arguably,” Narduzzi said. “I would be shocked if he’s not the first pick next year regardless of who wins the Heisman Trophy and all that baloney. When they do all their evaluations on character, the kid is an unbelievable young man.
“Drake is a phenomenal quarterback, and I don’t know how we do it, but that’s what we practice for.”
Maye has a trio of talented receivers in Nate McCollum, J.J. Jones, and Kobe Paysour. Kamari Morales is a more than capable tight end.
Omarion Hampton is the lead back for UNC and has 317 yards on the ground and six touchdowns.
Honestly, it’s hard to envision Pitt doing anything on offense with Jurkovec under center. He’s just mentally broken right now. If Veilleux does start, or finally gets into the game at some point, maybe Pitt will have a fighting chance, but right now it looks as if Saturday night could be another brutal game for the Panthers. The defense will do all they can to keep this game in check, but no offense equals no chance.
I’m daring Jurkovec to prove me wrong, or for Narduzzi to do the right thing for his team.
Prediction: UNC 27 Pitt 10
Broadcast and Game Day Weather Report
TV: ACC Network (Xfinity: Channel 1325 | DirecTV: Channel 612 | Dish: Channel 402 | Verizon: Channel 829)
- Announcers: Wes Durham (play-by-play) Tim Hasselbeck (analyst) | Taylor Tannebaum (reporter)
Local Radio: Pittsburgh- 93.7 The Fan
- Announcers: Jeff Hathhorn (play-by-play) Pat Bostick (analyst) | Larry Richert and Dorin Dickerson (reporters)
National Radio: N/A
- Online Radio: 937thefan.radio.com
- Satellite Radio: SiriusXM channels 134 or 193
Weather at Kickoff: 61, with a 40% of rain. Winds out of the NE at 5-10 mph.
Scouting the Pitt Panthers
Overall Record: 1-2 | ACC Record: 0-0 | Rank: N/A
Previous Game: WVU 17 Pitt 6
Head Coach: Pat Narduzzi
- 9th Season with Pitt
- Lifetime Record: 63-43
- ACC Division Titles: 2
- ACC Championships: 1
Pitt Team Links
- Pitt Panthers Roster
- Pitt Coaching Staff
- Pitt Team/Individual Statistics
- Pitt Panthers 2023 Schedule
Pitt Offense (Pro Style)
- Points per game: 24
- Total offense yards per game: 321.3
- Passing yards per game: 178
- Rushing yards per game: 143.3
Phil Jurkovec | #5
- Passing Yards: 474 | TD Passes: 4 | INT’s: 3 | Sacked: 7
- Rushing Yards: 76 | Rushing TD’s: 1
Jurkovec looks completely lost three games into the year. No one besides Pat Narduzzi and Frank Cignetti can comprehend why he hasn’t been benched for at least a series to see what Christian Veilleux can offer. Jurkovec vs WVU had one of the worst performances by a quarterback in Pitt history, going 8 of 20 for 81 yards, and throwing three horrific interceptions. If he starts this week vs UNC, the Acrisure Stadium crowd is going to mutiny with the first incomplete pass.
Back-up: Christian Veilleux | #11
- Passing Yards: 60 | TD Passes: 1 | INT’s: 0 | Sacked: 0
- Rushing Yards: 9 | Rushing TD’s: 0
Rodney Hammond | #6
- Rushing Yards: 95 | Rushing TD’s: 2 | Receptions: 1 | Receiving Yards: 15 | Receiving TD’s: 0
Hammond and the running game looked good in the first drive vs the Mountaineers, but couldn’t find many yards when WVU adjusted and began stacking the box and daring Jurkovec to pass.
C’Bo Flemister | #24
- Rushing Yards: 99 | Rushing TD’s: 0 | Receptions: 2 | Receiving Yards: 35 | Receiving TD’s: 0
Flemister makes the most of any opportunity he gets, always finding a way to fall forward for positive yards.
Daniel Carter | #4
- Rushing Yards: 103 | Rushing TD’s: 1 | Receptions: 1 | Receiving Yards: 0 | Receiving TD’s: 0
Leads the team in rushing after three games.
Derrick Davis, Jr. | #34
- Rushing Yards: 8 | Rushing TD’s: 0 | Receptions: 0 | Receiving Yards: 0 | Receiving TD’s: 0
Montravius Lloyd | #15
- Rushing Yards: 20 | Rushing TD’s: 0 | Receptions: 1 | Receiving Yards: 7 | Receiving TD’s: 0
Konata Mumpfield | #9
- Receptions: 8 | Receiving Yards: 93 | Receiving TD’s: 2
Mumpfield hasn’t been able to put up any numbers with the poor passing performances by Jurkovec.
Bub Means | #0
- Receptions: 4 | Receiving Yards: 64 | Receiving TD’s: 0
Means was set to have a big year, but he and Jurkovec are often not on the same page with the ball being thrown in his direction.
Daejon Reynolds | #3
- Receptions: 5 | Receiving Yards: 59 | Receiving TD’s: 0
Reynolds is a transfer from Florida looking to make his mark at Pitt.
Kenny Johnson | #2
- Receptions: 3 | Receiving Yards: 27 | Receiving TD’s: 0
Another true freshman that had camp buzzing with his play-making abilities.
Che Nwebuko | #21
- Receptions: 0 | Receiving Yards: 0 | Receiving TD’s: 0
- Rushing Yards: 23
Gavin Bartholomew | #86
- Receptions: 7 | Receiving Yards: 157 | Receiving TD’s: 1
Leads the team with 157 yards receiving.
Karter Johnson | #8
- Receptions: 2 | Receiving Yards: 24 | Receiving TD’s: 1
Caught a touchdown pass in week one.
Malcolm Epps | #7
- Receptions: 2 | Receiving Yards: 3 | Receiving TD’s: 0
Made a catch in opener but didn’t gain a yard.
Jake Renda | #88
- Receptions: 2 | Receiving Yards: 14 | Receiving TD’s: 0
Renda looked good when the ball came his way, catching two passes for 14 yards.
LT: Matt Goncalves #76 | LG: Blake Zubovic #68 | C: Jake Kradel #53 | RG: B.J. Williams #55 | RT: Branson Taylor #78
Pitt Defense (Base 4-3)
- Points per game allowed: 17
- Total offense yards per game allowed: 236
- Passing yards allowed: 114
- Rushing yards allowed: 122
- Sacks: 8
- Interceptions: 1
DE: Dayon Hayes #50 | DT: Deandre Jules #0 or Tyler Bentley #92 | DT: Devin Danielson #95 or David Green #2 | DE: Nate Temple #6
- Hayes leads the defensive line with seven tackles and two sacks. Bam Brima has a sack, as does Samuel Okunola.
Money: Bengally Kamara #11 | MIKE: Shayne Simon #32 | STAR: Solomon DeShields, Jr. #23
- Bengally Kamara has recorded 12 tackles and a sack. DeShields has 10 tackles.
CB: Marquis Williams #14 or A.J. Woods #9 | SS: Javon McIntyre #7 | FS: Phillip O’Brien, Jr. #5 | CB: M.J. Devonshire #12
- Phillip O’Brien, Jr. is tied for the team lead with 12 tackles. Javon McIntyre has 10 tackles.
Pitt Special Teams
Ben Sauls | #90
Extra Points: 8-8
Field Goals: 3-4
- 1-19 yards: 0-0
- 20-29 yards: 2-2
- 30-39 yards: 1-1
- 40-49 yards: 0-1
- 50+ yards: 0-0
Konata Mumpfield | #9
- Average: 20.0 | TD Returns: 0
Kenny Johnson | #2
- Average: 23.0 | TD Returns: 0
M.J. Devonshire | #12
- Average: 3.3 | TD Returns: 0
As a senior at Aliquippa High School, Devonshire had eight kickoff or punt return touchdowns, one short of the national high school record, and would’ve had five more if not for penalties. Last year, Devonshire averaged an ACC best 9.7 yards per punt return.
Scouting the North Carolina Tar Heels
Overall Record: 3-0 | ACC Conference Record: 0-0 | Rank: #17
Previous Game: North Carolina 31 Minnesota 13
Head Coach: Mac Brown
- 15th Season with North Carolina
- Lifetime Record: 277-144-1 | 102-68-1 at UNC
UNC Offense (Air Raid)
- Points per game: 34
- Total offense yards per game: 494.3
- Passing yards per game: 297
- Rushing yards per game: 197.3
Drake Maye | #6
- Passing Yards: 891 | TD Passes: 4 | INT’s: 4 | Sacked: 4
- Rushing Yards: 116 | Rushing TD’s: 1
Maye is an NFL prospect who is having a good but not great season, with four touchdown passes and four interceptions. He’s been sacked four times, but is pretty good getting out of the pocket, rushing for 116 yards and a score.
Back-up: Conner Harrell | #8
- Passing Yards: 0 | TD Passes: 0 | INT’s: 0 | Sacked: 0
- Rushing Yards: 0 | Rushing TD’s: 0
Omarion Hampton | #4
- Rushing Yards: 317 | Rushing TD’s: 6 | Receptions: 3 | Receiving Yards: 21 | Receiving TD’s: 0
Hampton is the lead back and has amassed 317 yards and scored six rushing touchdowns. Pitt’s defensive line will have their hands full keeping him contained.
British Brooks | #00
- Rushing Yards: 128 | Rushing TD’s: 1 | Receptions: 4 | Receiving Yards: 30 | Receiving TD’s: 0
Nate McCollum | #11
- Receptions: 16 | Receiving Yards: 173 | Receiving TD’s: 1
McCollum is one of a trio of targets for Maye, with 16 receptions for 173 yards on the year.
J.J. Jones | #5
- Receptions: 10 | Receiving Yards: 179 | Receiving TD’s: 0
Jones is the team leader with 179 receiving yards.
Kobe Paysour | #29
- Receptions: 16 | Receiving Yards: 143 | Receiving TD’s: 1
Paysour is tied for the team lead with 16 catches, for 143 yards and a score.
Gavin Blackwell | #84
- Receptions: 6 | Receiving Yards: 88 | Receiving TD’s: 0
Kamari Morales | #87
- Receptions: 5 | Receiving Yards: 110 | Receiving TD’s: 0
Morales is averaging 22 yard per catch, and is one of three tight ends that is utilized in the Air Raid attack.
Bryson Nesbit | #81
- Receptions: 8 | Receiving Yards: 77 | Receiving TD’s: 1
Nesbit is 4th on the team with eight receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown.
John Copenhaver | #81
- Receptions: 3 | Receiving Yards: 52 | Receiving TD’s: 1
UNC Defense (4-2-5)
- Points per game allowed: 21.3
- Total offense yards per game allowed: 382.7
- Passing yards allowed: 253.7
- Rushing yards allowed: 129
- Sacks: 10
- Interceptions: 3
DE: Desmond Evans #10 | NT: Kevin Hester, Jr. #98 | DT: Myles Murphy #8
- Evans has nine tackles and a sack.
JACK: Kaimon Rucker #25 | MLB: Powers Echols #23 | WLB: Cedric Gray #33 | STAR: Alijah Huzzie #28
- Echols is the team leader with 27 tackles and has an interception. Gray is 2nd with 26 tackles and has 1.5 sacks. Rucker has two sacks.
CB: Tayon Holloway #20 | SS: Don Chapman #2 | FS: Giovanni Biggers #27 | CB: Marcus Allen #29
- Chapman is 3rd on the team with 18 tackles and has a interception.
UNC Special Teams
Noah Burnette | #22
Extra Points: 4-4
Field Goals: 1-1
- 1-19 yards: 0-0
- 20-29 yards: 0-0
- 30-39 yards: 0-0
- 40-49 yards: 1-1
- 50+ yards: 0-0
George Pettaway | #23
- Average: 16.0 | TD Returns: 0
George Pettaway | #23
- Average: 0.0 | TD Returns: 0
Pitt vs North Carolina History
Series Began: 1974
Overall Record: 5-11
- At Home: 4-4
- On Road: 0-7
- Neutral Site: 1-0
ACC Series: 2-7
Streak: UNC won the last game.
Last Game: Oct. 29, 2022 (UNC 42, Pitt 24)
Injury Report (9/21/23)
- Out: LG Ryan Jacoby
- Doubtful: None
- Questionable: None
North Carolina Tar Heels
- Out: None
- Doubtful: None
- Questionable: WR Gavin Blackwell (Upper body)
From Midland, "The Basketball Capital of Pennsylvania", located 35 miles NW of Pittsburgh along the Ohio River. This former steel town was home to storied athletes such as Dave Alston, Norm Van Lier, Simmie Hill, and the legendary 1965 Midland High School Basketball Team.
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As Editor of Pittsburgh SportsNation, Mike Drakulich provides top notch opinions and coverage of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pittsburgh Pirates, Pitt Panthers football & basketball, Robert Morris Colonials basketball, and Duquesne Dukes basketball, as well as all sports teams that represent Western Pennsylvania, including WPIAL High School Football.
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