Pitt Panthers’ fans have long been clamoring for heralded prospect Chad Voytik to become not only Pitt’s signal caller of the future, but their quarterback of the present as well.
While Voytik has certainly shown some good things during his appearance in the Little Caesars Bowl last season and his first three starts of this season, the sophomore quarterback showed last Saturday against Iowa that he still has some things to work on.
With the fashion that the Panthers have been able to have success running the football so far this season, Voytik hasn’t been asked to do a whole heck of a lot. But when he has had to make plays so far this season, there have been mixed results.
A third quarter throw to Ronald Jones on Saturday was short and cost the Panthers a first down. While Jones should have run a 14-yard rout to get the first down instead of a 12-yard route, if Voytik hits Jones in the numbers, Pitt likely doesn’t have to settle for a field goal. Voytik also missed an open Manasseh Garner on the Panthers’ next drive. Pitt ultimately punted to Iowa, who turned that stop into the game-winning drive.
But at the end of the day, Voytik still finished Saturday with a respectable line, completing two-thirds of his attempts for 250 yards, but some mistakes, including an interception to end the game, proved crucial.
These little things are just some growing pains for a young quarterback, but also by correcting some of the little things, Voytik and the Panthers will be better off.
“I think there were some teaching moments for him,” said Pitt head coach Paul Chryst. “I thought he did some good things. There were other moments he can learn from. He felt good with the offense on the last drive. We just came up short.”
However four games into his first season as a starter, the biggest issue with Voytik may be his “Tyler Boyd Goggles.”
While it makes a ton of sense to get Boyd the ball as much as possible, for the Panthers to be successful as an offense, Voytik must start spreading the ball around.
Boyd has 21 catches through four games while the next highest Pitt player has only nine receptions (Garner). Jones is next on the list, but has only six catches on the year.
The Panthers also have a pair of talented tight ends in J.P. Holtz and Scott Orndoff, yet they have combined for only five receptions, with Holtz having four of those.
Teams are going to start spreading all of their coverage over to Boyd, especially in tight situations, until Voytik shows he is willing to spread the ball around more often.
“I thought [Chad Voytik] saw a lot of things,” said Chryst. “I thought there were a couple where the ball could have gone to someone else, but it also gave him a chance. [I’m] not going to be one of those guys to second-guess if it’s not there. Yeah, we want to get our tight ends the ball. We want to get everyone [involved]. I’m no stranger to that. He’s got to keep growing. We’ve got to keep going. But yeah, I like the progress he’s making and what he’s seeing. Each week’s a little bit different. That’s kind of fun. You’ve got a whole other preparation, and I love the way he’s working. I think that’s helping him. He’d probably be the first to admit that he’s not where he wants to be, but he is making some progress, I think.”
What Voytik has shown through four games is that he is a guy that Pitt can win with, especially if they have a potent running game.
But if he can continue to improve and eliminate the little mistakes and spread the ball around more often, this Pitt offense could turn out to be pretty good by the end of the season.
Photo Credit: Associated Press