PITTSBURGH — Pat Narduzzi still believes in struggling quarterback Phil Jurkovec.
The Pittsburgh coach said Monday that the redshirt senior will start Saturday night when the Panthers (1-2) open Atlantic Coast Conference play at home against No. 17 North Carolina (3-0).
Jurkovec, a 23-year-old Pittsburgh native who transferred back home for his final season after stops at Notre Dame and Boston College, is coming off back-to-back subpar performances that contributed heavily to consecutive losses to Cincinnati and rival West Virginia.
Jurkovec completed 10 of 32 passes for 179 yards and three scores against the Bearcats. He was even worse against the Mountaineers, connecting on 8 of 20 for 81 yards and three interceptions, two of which West Virginia turned into points in a 17-6 win.
Jurkovec is completing just 46% (35 of 75) of his passes on the season.
Narduzzi said after the game he never considered going to backup Christian Veilleux and reiterated that stance on Monday.
“(Phil) is a leader in that huddle, he’s a guy you trust,” Narduzzi said. “You just don’t dump things like that. You just don’t do it.”
Jurkovec’s homecoming also reunited him with Pitt offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti, who held the same position at BC when Jurkovec had his best collegiate season in 2020.
Narduzzi made it a point to spread the blame for his team’s offensive issues, saying a lack of consistent protection by the offensive line is one of the reasons the Panthers have had trouble generating anything in the passing game.
While Narduzzi said everyone is being evaluated, he indicated he has no interest in going to Veilleux, a redshirt sophomore who transferred to Pitt after two years at Penn State.
“We’re not doing a two-quarterback system,” Narduzzi said. “The quarterback position is a totally different deal. … I’m not a quarterback whisperer or a quarterback guru. I do believe that it takes time to gel with your guys.”