Pitt names Chad Voytik starting QB

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As expected, Pittsburgh has turned to Chad Voytik under center.

In an announcement that should surprise absolutely no one, Pitt head coach Paul Chryst announced that Voytik has been named as his starting quarterback.  The redshirt sophomore had been in a competition with senior Trey Anderson throughout the spring and on into summer camp, although from the time he played the entire second half of the Panthers’ bowl game it has seemingly been Voytik’s job to lose.

Voytik will replace Tom Savage, last year’s starter whose eligibility expired after an 18-year collegiate career.  This will, incidentally, mark the third consecutive season that Pitt has a different starting quarterback at the beginning of the year.

Voytik played in four games as Savage’s backup last season, completing 6-of-11 passes for 116 yards along the way.  Nine of those attempts and 108 of those yards came in the Little Caesars Bowl win over Bowling Green.  While he didn’t throw a touchdown pass, he did rush for a score in the 30-27 win.

A four-star member of Pitt’s 2012 recruiting class, Voytik was rated as the No. 4 pro-style quarterback in the country and the No. 1 player in the state of Tennessee.

NFL Draft: ACC has most draft picks after four rounds

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The ACC now poses a serious threat to the SEC once again. Months after snapping the SEC’s streak of BCS championships, the ACC is now in the lead with the most NFL Draft picks after the completion fo four rounds in New York City.

Through four rounds, the ACC has now sent 28 players to the NFL with 13 players being selected in the fourth round alone. The ACC snuck by the SEC, which has sent 26 players through the draft through four rounds. Florida State is among the individual school leaders with six players drafted. The Seminoles are tied with Notre Dame. The best way to supplement this trend going on in the draft right now is the fact that Pittsburgh’s Tom Savage and Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas each were drafted in the fourth round while Alabama’s AJ McCarron, LSU’s Zach Mettenberger and Georgia’s Aaron Murray are still on the board.

While the ACC and SEC are battling for the top spot right now, the Big Ten (20) and Pac-12 (22) are in the conversation as well. The Big 12 has been lagging behind the power conferences with just seven players drafted through the first four rounds.

Here is a breakdown by conference through the first four rounds:

ACC: 28

SEC: 26

Pac-12: 22

Big Ten: 20

Mountain West: 9

Big 12: 7

Independents: 7 (6 from Notre Dame)

American: 5

Conference USA: 3

MAC: 3

Southern: 3

MIAA: 2

Big South: 1

CAA: 1

Missouri Valley: 1

Ohio Valley:1

PSAC: 1

Sun Belt: 0

NFL Draft: SEC owns 23 percent of the first 100 picks

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Three rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft are in the books, and once again the SEC is leading the pack in sending talent to the draft. After 100 picks through three rounds, the SEC has accounted for 23 draft picks, including the top pick overall with South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney to the Houston Texans. The SEC has more players than any other conference in college football drafted so far.

The SEC set a record for total draft picks in the 2013 NFL Draft with 63 players chosen by NFL franchises. With four rounds to go, the SEC will have to average 10 players per round to match that number. The SEC could see the pace pick up after seeing the total number of players drafted dip in rounds two (seven) and three (five) after sending 11 players in the first round Thursday night.

The Big Ten added some depth to NFL rosters on Friday night with six picks each in the second and third rounds. With four picks in the first round, the Big Ten has a total of 16 players chosen in this year’s draft. The Big Ten had just 22 players drafted in 2013, so the conference should be on pace to avoid another repeat performance of a conference-low total since 1994.

It was the ACC that provided the most picks in the third round of the NFL draft, with seven players being chosen by NFL teams. The third round also saw non-FBS programs leave their marks as well. After Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo got things started with a late second round draft pick by the New England Patriots, there were four players from non-FBS programs selected in the third round. North Dakota State offensive tackle Billy Turner was selected early in the third round by the Miami Dolphins with the 67th overall pick. Division 2 Pittsburg State celebrated wide receiver John Brown being drafted 91st overall by the Arizona Cardinals. Towson running back Terrance West was later picked up by the Cleveland Browns with the 94th pick and Georgia Southern running back Jerick McKinnon was nabbed by the Minnesota Vikings with the 96th pick. Georgia Southern will be moving up to the FBS level as a member of the Sun Belt Conference this fall.

There are plenty of good players still to be had by NFL teams as the draft wraps up with the final four rounds on Saturday. Some names to keep an eye on include Stanford offensive tackle Cameron Fleming, Baylor offensive lineman Cyril Richardson, Boston College running back Andre Johnson, Arizona running back Ka’Deem Carey and Wisconsin wide receiver Jared Abbrederis. Teams in need of an extra quarterback have some options left on the board as well. LSU’s Zach Mettenberger, Georgia’s Aaron Murray, Pittsburgh’s Tom Savage and Alabama’s AJ McCarron are all among those still waiting for a phone call on the final day of the draft.

Hot and ready record offensive performances, defense lead Pitt to Pizza Bowl win

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It was a record-breaking day for Pittsburgh in a Little Caesars Pizza Bowl victory over Bowling Green Thursday in Detroit. Pittsburgh wide receiver Tyler Boyd set a school record for most receiving yards in a bowl game with 173 receiving yards. Running back James Connor broke Tony Dorsett’s bowl rushing record with 229 rushing yards. On top of that, quarterback Chad Voytik came in to lead the offense in the second half after Tom Savage suffered a rib injury at the end of the first half, and he led the offense on the longest drive of the season for the Panthers, 98 yards for a fourth quarter touchdown.

the performance of the offense may have overshadowed the work done by the Pittsburgh defense at times. The Panthers recorded seven sacks in the game, with five in the first half and an Aaron Donald sack late in the fourth quarter helping to seal the game for the Panthers. Pittsburgh held Bowling Green’s offense, which just weeks ago had their way with Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship game, to just 282 yards of offense. Bowling green quarterback Matt Johnson had a pair of touchdown passes and 265 yards but the Panthers defense played nearly the entire game in Bowling green’s backfield it seemed and the Falcons struggled to show a defense capable of slowing down a Pittsburgh team growing up and providing a glimpse of what could be coming in 2014.

Pittsburgh may have had a rough debut in the ACC but they end the season with a winning record and bowl victory. Next season the Panthers have a favorable non-conference schedule that could lead to a solid start to the season with games against Delaware, Akron, Iowa and FIU. They will also get Duke, Georgia Tech, Syracuse and Virginia Tech at home. The road schedule in the conference could be a bit trickier with stops at Miami, Boston College, North Carolina and Virginia but you will notice four teams not appearing on Pittsburgh’s schedule for 2014: Florida State, Clemson, Louisville (joining the ACC in 2014) and Notre Dame (on the ACC schedule rotation).

If Pittsburgh can build an offense around Voytik, see the same level of play from Boyd and keep the running game going, this Pittsburgh team could be set up for a solid season in 2014 ACC play.

Big plays, defense fuel Pitt to halftime lead in Little Caesars Pizza Bowl

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Tyler Boyd returned a punt for Pittsburgh to build a 17-3 lead midway through the second quarter. It was the first punt return for a touchdown by a Pittsburgh player since Darrelle Revis returned a punt for a touchdown against West Virginia on November 16, 2006. He later came up with a nice catch despite being pulled to the ground by a Bowling Green defender. Pittsburgh leads Bowling Green in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl 17-10 at the half tin Detroit.

Bowling Green was in danger of getting through the first half without a touchdown but a 4th and one 29-yard touchdown pass from Matt Johnson to Alex Bayer got the Falcons in the end zone and made it a one-score game before the half.

Bowling Green has clearly been making an effort to not let Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald have an impact, but the emphasis on blocking against Donald may be backfiring as the rest of the defensive line has been having a field day in the Bowling Green backfield. The Panthers have five sacks  in the half, none by Donald.

Pitt quarterback Tom Savage headed to the locker room just before the clock expired in the first half after being taken to the ground with a big hit.