Panthers QB Voytik closing in on starting job
PITTSBURGH – Pittsburgh coach Paul Chryst isn’t saying much about his starting quarterback competition. Maybe that’s because Chryst’s decisions on who gets the snaps in practice is doing all the talking for him.
Sophomore Chad Voytik took the majority of the reps with the first team during a scrimmage over the weekend, and it’s almost certain he’ll be the one under center when the Panthers open the 2014 season Aug. 30 against Delaware.
While Chryst stressed Voytik is “still learning,” the coach is impressed with his command of the offense during camp.
“I’ve never been around a quarterback who doesn’t go through growing pains,” Chryst said. “But he’s a knowledgeable player. I think he’s got a good knowledge base and he’s working to keep it growing.”
Voytik redshirted in 2012 and took his first reps in 2013, playing in three regular season games.
A lot of that time was spent learning Chryst’s system and preparing for the day he would take over.
Chryst, who won a state title as a high school quarterback in Wisconsin, has taken over duties as quarterbacks coach.
The list of his proteges include Derek Anderson at Oregon State and 2014 Super Bowl-winner Russell Wilson at Wisconsin.
“I couldn’t ask for a better offensive mind to guide me through his offense,” Voytik said. “He’s always putting things in perspective, and he understands.”
So far, the biggest teaching point for Voytik has been adjusting to a more traditional offense after spending much of his time in high school working out of the spread.
While the transition hasn’t always been smooth, Voytik appeared just fine learning under fire. He took over for an injured Tom Savage during halftime of the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl last December and helped the Panthers pull out a 30-27 victory.
“You really feel yourself growing,” Voytik said. “This is the first time where I’ve seen my corrections come out. Everything’s clean right now, and it feels really good.”
Voytik already won over his teammates.
“He led us to a win in the second half of the bowl game,” center Artie Rowell said. “With us knowing that he can go in and win a football game with us and for us, it is a good feeling. He has a lot to prove still, but we are behind him.”
Voytik won’t lack for targets, including sophomore wide receiver Tyler Boyd, who broke Larry Fitzgerald’s record for receptions by a Pitt freshman last season. Though Voytik lacks Savage’s arm strength, Boyd isn’t concerned about Voytik’s ability to get the ball where it needs to go.
“He had a lot of decisions to make in order to make a big play out on the field,” Boyd said. “I feel like he’s fine and we trust him. So he’s going to go out there and do his thing.