September 14, 2015

PITTSBURGH (AP) Where some see a budding quarterback controversy, Pat Narduzzi sees potential for growth.

The first-year Pittsburgh coach is hardly in a rush to name a starter for Saturday's game at Iowa. Maybe junior Chad Voytik starts. Maybe it's transfer Nate Peterman. Narduzzi is fine keeping the Hawkeyes guessing.

He is certain of one thing: both players will get to make a case.

''I still anticipate whichever way it goes, that third series the other guy coming in and playing,'' Narduzzi said Monday. ''It doesn't matter who (the starter) is.''

Voytik has started the last 15 games for the Panthers (2-0), including Saturday's 24-7 win over Akron. Yet he found himself on the sideline as Peterman entered early in the second quarter and never returned while Peterman completed 12 of 17 passes for 148 yards and a score.

Peterman has quickly closed the gap on Voytik, averaging nearly 15 yards per completion, more than double Voytik's average of 6.9.

While acknowledging a two-quarterback system probably isn't sustainable long-term, Narduzzi plans to treat the position like any other. Whoever does the best in practice will be given the first - but not only - chance to play.

''We've just got to go with the hot hand,'' Narduzzi said. ''We've got two very, very capable quarterbacks. We're comfortable with both those guys. We didn't have that in the spring.''

That's because Peterman was still in Tennessee, finishing his degree and preparing to transfer to the Panthers. At Pitt, he reunited with offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, who was in the same position with the Volunteers when he recruited Peterman out of high school.

Peterman's first completion at Pitt was a pretty 42-yard strike to Dontez Ford in the opener against Youngstown State, though he was later pulled after throwing an interception.

Narduzzi acknowledged he probably should have allowed Peterman to go back in and bounce back from the mistake. There were no real miscues once he entered against the Zips - he played through soggy conditions as the Panthers avenged an upset loss to Akron in 2014.

Narduzzi said it may take a few weeks for the situation to sort itself out.

''I think they're pretty equal back there,'' he added. ''We'll find out in the heat of the game.''

Narduzzi praised Voytik's composure while serving in a supporting role, though Narduzzi is pretty sure Voytik is frustrated.

''He'll probably want to take his red jersey off and turn it loose,'' Narduzzi said. ''He's a competitor and a leader ... Nobody is giving in and that's how you want it to be.''

Neither quarterback will be made available to the media before Saturday's game against the Hawkeyes (2-0), who rallied to beat the Panthers at Heinz Field last fall. Narduzzi will likely name a starter on Thursday.

NOTES: Narduzzi said injured RB James Conner would ''be crazy'' to want to return this season from a torn MCL in his right knee but didn't completely rule it out. ''I can't tell you he won't be ready,'' Narduzzi said, ''but for his best interests he needs to get healthy.'' ... RB Chris James will rejoin the rotation after missing the Akron game as a precaution after sustaining a minor injury in the opener against Youngstown State.


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