Pittsburgh Panthers

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Pat Narduzzi, teammates support Pitt player’s decision to kneel during National Anthem

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The National Anthem protest that has enveloped the NFL has created barely a ripple in the college game — in large part because the vast majority of teams are in the locker room when it’s played — but there have been pockets of college players following the lead of their professional counterparts.  One such instance came Saturday afternoon, with Pitt walk-on kicker Ian Troost going solo in kneeling for the anthem prior to the game against North Carolina State.

He wasn’t alone, though, as senior offensive tackle Jaryd Jones-Smith stood behind Troost with his hand on his shoulder.

Afterwards, Pat Narduzzi said he supported Troost’s decision.

“I’m never going to tell a guy you can’t do something,” the head coach said according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “What we’ve talked about is, if you’re going to do that, you’re trying to make a statement, we’re going to stick together. Someone had his hand on his shoulder saying, ‘We’re with you.'”

“I know I’m going to stand and put my hand over my heart,” Narduzzi added.

Troost’s teammates were supportive as well, with one stating that “[m]y take is everyone should be able to do what they think is needed to express themselves,” and another “[e]verybody has their own freedom to do as they please.”

One, however, questioned the effectiveness of this avenue of protest.

“Is really taking that knee going to prove anything?” senior cornerback Avonte Maddox said. “That’s a statement for 30 seconds. You want to take action.

“If you really want to get out and do something, we want to go out in the real world and do things to make actual change, not 30 seconds of fame making a statement out there. Is that really going to help us?”

Troost, who is white, wasn’t made available to the media by the Panthers after the game.

Midway through season, NC State sits alone atop ACC Atlantic

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Who didn’t see this one coming?  Correct answer: absolutely no one, almost.

Heading into the 2017 season, defending national champion Clemson and Florida State were the overwhelming picks to win the ACC Atlantic and the conference championship.  Not only that, but they were viewed as the league’s only realistic shot at a return to the College Football Playoffs.

With the seventh week of the season almost entirely in the books, and thanks in large part to Clemson spitting the bit Friday night, it’s North Carolina State that’s seated somewhat comfortably in the divisional driver’s seat following an impressive 35-17 win at Pitt.

If the Wolfpack is to win its first-ever divisional its and its first conference championship since 1979, however, they still have a couple of hurdles to clear.

While they’ve already knocked off Florida State and Louisville, they still have to face Clemson. The good news on that front, though, is that the Wolfpack gets the Tigers at home. Their other three conference opponents, Boston College, North Carolina and Wake Forest, are at the moment a combined 2-8 in ACC play.

Pitt loses starting QB Max Browne to season-ending shoulder surgery

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Not only has Max Browne‘s 2017 season come to an end, but so has the collegiate portion of his playing career.

Pittsburgh announced that the graduate transfer quarterback underwent surgery to repair an unspecified injury in his right (throwing) shoulder and will be sidelined for the remainder of the season.  Browne suffered the injury in the third quarter of last Saturday’s loss to Syracuse.

Because this is Browne’s final year of eligibility, his collegiate career is over as well.

Browne, in his first season with the Panthers, won the starting job in summer camp.  However, Ben DiNucci, who will take over as the full-time starter, has seen his playing time increase as the season wore on.

For the season, Browne completed 96-of-135 passes for 997 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions.

A five-star member of USC’s 2013 recruiting class, Browne confirmed months of speculation in early December of last year that he would indeed be transferring from the Trojans.  He later transferred to Pitt after considering North Carolina as well.

Browne began the 2016 season as the starter, but lost his job to Sam Darnold after the Trojans stumbled out of the gate at 1-2. With Darnold under center, USC finished the regular season on an 8-1 run and won their last eight after losing Darnold’s first start by four points to Utah.

Browne spent the 2014 and 2015 seasons as Cody Kessler’s primary backup.  In his time with the Trojans, Browne completed 69-of-112 passes for 507 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Report: Pitt RB Chawntez Moss didn’t travel with team to Syracuse

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Chawntez Moss seemingly began the 2017 season in Pat Narduzzi‘s doghouse, but managed to climb out.  Five weeks later, it appears he’s climbed back in.

Citing unnamed sources, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting that Moss did not travel with the team to Syracuse and will not play in Saturday’s game against the Orange.  According to the Post-Gazette, Narduzzi hinted that something could be afoot when it comes to the running back, although the head coach mostly talked around any potential issue.

Moss is currently second on the Panthers with 113 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.  The redshirt sophomore has added another touchdown and 71 yards on five receptions.

Just last week, Moss served as Pitt’s No. 1 running back in a 32-point win over Rice, although gained just 22 yards on 14 carries.  This season, he’s averaging just 2.8 yards per carry on 41 attempts.

Qadree Ollison‘s 221 yards leads the team.  The past three games, however, he’s rushed for a combined 34 yards.

Pitt FB/TD machine George Aston set to return vs. Georgia Tech

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One of the most efficient touchdown producers in college football in 2016 that you were probably completely unaware of appears ready to make his 2017 debut.

A vague lower-extremity injury knocked George Aston out of most of not only summer camp but also Pittsburgh’s first three regular-season games as well. With Georgia Tech on the horizon in Week 4, the fullback is listed as probable on the team’s official injury report released Thursday.

For a team that has scored just four offensive touchdowns in two games against FBS competition, Aston’s potential return could serve as somewhat of a boon for that side of the ball.

Last season, Aston totaled 75 yards on 22 carries as well as 169 yards on 22 receptions. In those 44 touches, Aston totaled 10 touchdowns — five on the ground, five through the air.

Saturday’s game will serve as the ACC opener for both Pitt and Tech.