Pitt’s Chryst keeping close eye on quarterbacks
PITTSBURGH (AP) When Brooks Bollinger resigned as quarterbacks coach at Pittsburgh in February, head coach Paul Chryst didn’t hire another one. Instead, he added the job duties to his own.
Consider it the most efficient way to keep track of the learning curve for starter in waiting Chad Voytik.
A year after transfer Tom Savage started each of Pitt’s 13 games, Voytik, a sophomore, will take the reins after spending the larger part of his first two years at Pitt watching and learning.
Voytik, recruited by former Pitt coach Todd Graham, redshirted his freshman year and served as Savage’s backup last year.
This spring, the emphasis between Chryst and Voytik has been on learning while Voytik said the mechanics will be worked on over the summer. When it comes to aspects of the position like reading opposing defenses, Voytik says his comfort level has already increased ”a lot” as a result of the way he’s being coached.
”(Chryst) gives you such a different perspective and really makes you think for yourself,” Voytik said. ”That’s really helped me because I was always the guy saying like `tell me what I need to do’ but now he’s teaching us the game so we can kind of learn it ourselves when he’s not there to tell us.”
Savage completed 61.2 percent of his passes for 2,958 yards and 21 touchdowns a year ago. Voytik has completed 6 of 11 passes for 116 yards in his career.
Voytik saw his first extended period of play in the second half of Pitt’s 30-27 win over Bowling Green at the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl after Savage was unable to play with a rib injury he suffered on the last play of the first half.
Voytik completed a 62-yard pass to Tyler Boyd and a rushing touchdown that gave Pitt a late lead. His play not only helped the program win its first bowl game in three years, it provided insight on what else is in store when the Panthers kick off their season against Delaware Aug. 30 at Heinz Field.
This spring, junior Trey Anderson has also taken significant reps as the only other quarterback on the roster. With only incoming freshmen filling out the depth chart, the former walk-on will likely be the primary backup next fall.
He walked-on during training camp in 2011, then earned a scholarship before the team’s first game. In his career, the Pearland, Texas, native has completed 14 of 35 attempts for 108 yards next to three interceptions.
Anderson didn’t see the field last year after he was assigned redshirt status, which makes this time valuable for him.
”I didn’t get many reps last year,” Anderson said. ”Being able to just get out there and get reps, you grow every day, I feel like I’ve been doing pretty well and there’s still a lot to work on.”
While he noted Voytik is the bigger, faster and stronger player of the two, Anderson thinks his experience can benefit his teammate.
”I think the mental part of it, I can help him out,” Anderson said. ”We can kind of go through it together, learn together and make each other better.”
So far this spring, Chryst says he likes the way the young quarterbacks have been working and studying. But it’s still early.
”They’ve got a long ways to go,” Chryst said. ”But they’re doing all the things that are necessary.”
Voytik knows that as well.
”As you learn, you see how much more you have to learn,” Voytik said. ”It’s exciting because I see that room for improvement and now it’s just time to do it.”