April 17, 2015

PITTSBURGH (AP) Chad Voytik is prepping for his second season as the starting quarterback at Pittsburgh, but in so many ways it seems like his first.

The impending junior knows what to expect once the competition begins on September 5 against Youngstown State, but it is the preparation under the offensive staff that joined new head coach Pat Narduzzi where Voytik needs to find his way.

''It kind of feels the same with the new offense,'' Voytik said. ''I am kind of back to square one. I kind of felt like a freshman. As far as my knowledge of the defense and overall IQ, it has helped me a lot this spring. I know why we are running a certain concept if we see a certain coverage and I can attack that.''

Another concept that is new to Voytik: entering Saturday's Blue-Gold game as the entrenched starter. New coach Pat Narduzzi brought back the traditional spring wrap up - with a twist - after former coach Paul Chryst opted for a series of scrimmages last year. Narduzzi brought in former Pitt stars Larry Fitzgerald and Aaron Donald to serve as honorary coaches for the game, with teams selected during a live player draft.

Voytik will be surrounded by familiar faces in the huddle, with junior wide receiver Tyler Boyd and running back James Conner joining him on Fitzgerald's team.

''It is going to be nice to be out there and get a crowd out there and have Fitzgerald and Donald come out,'' Voytik said. ''That will be cool. It puts guys in a game situation. We have had all spring to evaluate our play. This is kind of the grand evaluation. You see what you have learned and how you can execute it.''

After a month of practicing, Voytik is ready to use his progressions and knowledge of offensive coordinator Jim Chaney's playbook in a game setting.

''We installed a lot and learned a lot. It is hard to piece together your thought process and your emotions as well. If you think too much, you will see a lack of accuracy,'' Voytik said. ''That has been the battle, to settle my mind.''

As for earning his spot and good graces with the new coaching staff, Voytik proved to each one of them he is ready for the challenge. He got to know Chaney when Chaney was working at Tennessee trying to lure Voytik to the Volunteers. Voytik opted for the Panthers instead, though Voytik feels their familiarity is speeding up the process.

''It is nice to have known coach Jim Chaney before,'' Voytik said. ''We are just building off our previous relationship. It feels like they trust me.''

Narduzzi has given his players plenty of incentive to go hard. The winning team will dine on steak and lobster Saturday night, while it's hot dogs for the losers.




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