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Former Pitt quarterback Chad Voytik struggling to make impact with Arkansas State

After losing his starting job at Pitt, quarterback Chad Voytik decided to transfer with the hopes of more playing time. So far, that hasn't exactly worked out.

Voytik opted to stay in Division I, but dropped to a non-P5 program in joining Arkansas State in the Sun Belt. He initially was reportedly headed to Eastern Kentucky, but then settled on Arkansas State. As I wrote at the time, it looked as if getting playing time at Eastern Kentucky might be difficult. Arkansas State's situation looked a little better and that's where he headed.

Early on, it appeared as if he made a good choice. He was the team's starter for the first three games and was given the opportunity he wanted. He talked openly about being glad to play in what he felt was more of a college town and the pieces were in place for him to play this year.

Unfortunately for him, things have sort of gone downhill. Under his command, Arkansas State got off to an 0-2 start. Now, to be fair, the competition wasn't bad as they faced 5-1 Toledo and then traveled on the road to face Auburn. And while Voytik didn't play particularly well against Toledo, he was solid against the Tigers (15-21 passing for 215 yards). But after going 2-6 against Utah State and throwing a pick, Voytik was sent to the bench in the middle of his third game.

That's where he's stayed for the most part in the team's last three games. He's only been used in some running situations and has given way to a former four-star recruit and Oklahoma transfer, Justice Hansen. Hansen came in during the Utah State game and threw for 277 yards, pretty much sealing Voytik's fate. Considering Hansen is a redshirt sophomore and the future of the program, it will be difficult for Voytik to reclaim his starting job without an injury.

It's sort of a shame that his career could seemingly end with him being benched for most of his final two seasons. He had a decent year for Pitt in 2014 and his future looked somewhat bright. But with the emergence of Pitt quarterback Nathan Peterman and now Hansen at Arkansas State, he's now facing another season when he lost his starting job and may not get much of an opportunity to play.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

WATCH: Samford football player Deion Pierre pops the question in epic postgame proposal

This weekend’s best college football moment in the state of Alabama had nothing to do with the Alabama Crimson Tide or Auburn Tigers.

No, that title goes to the Samford Bulldogs.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

Samford, which is a Birmingham-based FCS program that will play at Mississippi State on Oct. 29, took care of Virginia Military Institute 55-21 for its third consecutive victory on Saturday. But even that had little to do with the moment of the week, which goes to Bulldogs LB Deion Pierre for the postgame proposal he orchestrated for his girlfriend.

>> Read more trending stories

You can check out the whole thing here, but be warned that it’s sure to tug at your heartstrings:

>> Click here to watch

Teammates broke out into a chant after the successful proposal: “She said yes! She said yes!”

“I won twice today,” Pierre can be heard saying in the video. Indeed, Deion. Indeed.

Wittenberg at Denison

TWEETCAP: Pitt 45, Virginia 31

A game that was relatively painless, at least compared to the other games this season; that is to say, there was still a lot of pain, just not an absurd amount. You dig?

PREGAME GAME DAY, PANTHER FANS! STAND AMONG THE ASHES OF A TRILLION DEAD SOULS AND ASK THE GHOSTS IF HONOR MATTERS — PITT BSKTBL SHOUTING (@N_THEYSTAYTHERE) October 15, 2016 FIRST QUARTER One first down, then UVA forced to punt after failing on third and 11. — ChrisGrahamAFP (@AugFreePress) October 15, 2016 With a fourth and 10, back to back 5-yard penalties on Pitt’s punt team hands UVa a first down. — Alan Saunders (@ASaunders_PGH) October 15, 2016 Pitt received the punt and the offense was on the field, then they threw a flag for illegal substitution. Only in Ron Cherry's America. — Jim Hammett (@JimHammett) October 15, 2016 Wahoo-wa! Touchdown. @UVA Homecoming. Go hoos! — Carol Sawdye (@carolsawdye) October 15, 2016 This already feels like 4th-quarter Pitt. — Tony Jovenitti (@jovenitti) October 15, 2016 Pitt should field no players on this punt just to ensure they don't commit a penalty. — Dan Sostek (@dan_sostek) October 15, 2016 #GoACC — Corey Cohen (@CoreyECohen) October 15, 2016 CAN WE TALK ABOUT JESTER WEAH?? I LIKE JESTER WEAH — Lindsey Stafford (@LJStafford) October 15, 2016 There is nothing more surprising to me about this Pitt team than the emergence of Jester Weah. Didn't see it coming at all. — Gavin Williams (@GavWill13) October 15, 2016 Pitt is bad?? — 110 MBs of Horror (@justinxreese) October 15, 2016 i was happyonce — IAmKILLY (@IAmSpilly) October 15, 2016 Now we're not even stopping the run? — Mike (@85mf) October 15, 2016


Hold serve and go for the 56-49 win — pitt pass defense (@CzarOfPgh) October 15, 2016 This might be the worst Pitt pass defense I've ever seen since becoming a fan in 2008 — JD Schroeder (@Sta7ic) October 15, 2016 For the love of God bench Terrish Webb. — PittCabe (@PittCabe) October 15, 2016 Virginia throws it deep to take the lead in an early shootout in Charlottesville. 21-14 UVA — WPTS Sports (@WPTSSports) October 15, 2016 Watching Pitts defense makes me question why I watch Pitt football. — Pitt Enthusiast (@GrndCntl2MajTom) October 15, 2016 There is not sugar coating how bad this Pitt defense plays. — Jon Lavia (@Laviator_) October 15, 2016 SECOND QUARTER If, when Nar_uzzi was first hire_, you ha_ tol_ me Pitt woul_ score at the rate it has in 2016, I'_ have tol_ you Pitt woul_ win the Coastal — Matt Zemek (@MattZemek) October 15, 2016 Hard to believe this game was 0-0 at one point. — Dan Sostek (@dan_sostek) October 15, 2016 James Conner 1 yard touchdown run ties it up 21-21 with the point after. Key third down pass from Peterman to Orndoff on the drive. — Jenn Menendez (@JennMenendez) October 15, 2016 I spelled Conner wrong — Sean (@BuccoFan_4Life) October 15, 2016 MY PARENTS ARE AT DISNEYLAND AND JUST SENT ME THIS — cutie chaser (@cutiechaser_) October 14, 2016 Hey, at least Pitt has finally learned how to commit pass interference without letting the other team catch that ball. Baby steps! — Tony Jovenitti (@jovenitti) October 15, 2016 The PAT is good. UVA leads, 28-21. #PITTvsUVA — Virginia Football (@UVa_Football) October 15, 2016 NICE — IAmKILLY (@IAmSpilly) October 15, 2016 NICE — IAmKILLY (@IAmSpilly) October 15, 2016 Go for it — pitt pass defense (@CzarOfPgh) October 15, 2016 Absolute no-brainer there if you've watched the defense play this season. — Gavin Williams (@GavWill13) October 15, 2016 James. — Mike (@85mf) October 15, 2016 If you got my name in you're @ you're a real one — Conner Bobay (@BobayConner) October 15, 2016


Jordan Whitehead gets a Pick 6 right before Halftime for PITT — NCAAF Nation (@NCAAFNation247) October 15, 2016 JORDAN WHITEHEAD MY BOYYYYYYYY — JD Schroeder (@Sta7ic) October 15, 2016 PITT'S USUAL STELLAR PASS DEFENSE — IAmKILLY (@IAmSpilly) October 15, 2016 FEED JORDAN WHITEHED GRAPES, REST OF SECONDARY — PITT BSKTBL SHOUTING (@N_THEYSTAYTHERE) October 15, 2016 HALFTIME: PITT 35, VIRGINIA 28 Considering the half, kinda mind blowing Pitt is ahead — JD Schroeder (@Sta7ic) October 15, 2016 Football is dumb — Anson Whaley (@AnsonWhaley) October 15, 2016 THIRD QUARTER WHAT UP ARUJO-LOPES #H2P — Morgan Flood (@morgan_s_flood) October 15, 2016



*blewitt jokes ensue* — spooky eliza (@NotTheRealEliza) October 15, 2016 amazed every time commentators talk about Blewitt missing a FG and don't make jokes about living up to his name — Tara Jerry (@tara_jerry) October 15, 2016 I will miss the puns with Blewitt's name and that's about it. — Chris (@ThunderPittRoad) October 15, 2016 (that was a long distance and tough angle for him, and he just barely missed. but still...) HE BLEWITT! — James Santelli (@JamesSantelli) October 15, 2016 He Blewitt — Brandon Lloyd (@blloyd8298) October 15, 2016


BamBamBam bam bam — 110 MBs of Horror (@justinxreese) October 15, 2016 OR, AS A GIF, — PITT BSKTBL SHOUTING (@N_THEYSTAYTHERE) October 15, 2016 BAM!!! TRUMP JUST ATTACKED THE CLINTONS IN THE WORST WAY IMAGINABLE! LIS... via @YouTube — Cornelius Bradley (@CorneliusBradle) October 15, 2016 Bam Bradley has played well with Caprara out the past two weeks. Big third-down sack. — Lance Lysowski (@LLysowski) October 15, 2016 Ejuan Price down noooooo — Mike (@85mf) October 15, 2016 If Juan Price is seriously hurt, you should probably cancel the remainder of the season. — Gavin Williams (@GavWill13) October 15, 2016 #DefensiveStruggle — Chris Peak (@PantherLair) October 15, 2016 Go for it here. Pitt can get a yard. — Jim Hammett (@JimHammett) October 15, 2016 Dumb call. Conner would've easily gotten a yard. — Jim Hammett (@JimHammett) October 15, 2016 Best of luck to all the Baggies fans participating in the #birminghamhalfmarathon tomorrow morning! #WBA — West Bromwich Albion (@WBA) October 15, 2016 FOURTH QUARTER THESE BIG BOYS SURE LOVE TO ROUGHHOUSE — PITT BSKTBL SHOUTING (@N_THEYSTAYTHERE) October 15, 2016 Attention ACC teams: when you have 3rd or 4th and 1, do not run up the middle on @PITTMAN_54 , it won't end well on your part #H2P #BeatH2P — The Panther Pitt (@ThePantherPitt) October 15, 2016 A Panther-Lair poster said earlier this year that Tyrique Jarrett's nickname should be "Big Hero Six" and I'm all in on that. — Ryan Donnelly (@RDonnellyBG) October 15, 2016 Jim Chaney — Doc Harper (@doc_harper) October 15, 2016 "What a terr......awesome play call!!!" - me — JD Schroeder (@Sta7ic) October 15, 2016 Peterman-to-Aston shovel pass on third-and-goal from 5 gives #Pitt 42-28 lead at #UVa. 9:47 left. Three unanswered TDs from Panthers. — David Teel (@DavidTeelatDP) October 15, 2016 The number of times I have said, just stop right here and u will be fine. #Pitt #H2P — Chris Bruno (@BrunoPittsburgh) October 15, 2016 The last few drives the defense has looked... I don't know, what's the opposite of "terrible as always"? — Mike (@85mf) October 15, 2016 James Conner on defensive!! — Justin Kappert (@J_Kapp_09) October 15, 2016 James Conner playing DE AND ALMOST GETS THE SACK!! — Carlo Veltri (@vetchy119) October 15, 2016 Arujo Lopes has been good today — Mike Tam (@mike10003) October 15, 2016 Just a dumb penalty by Andrew Brown. Crappy end to a crappy day. #UVA — Ed M. (@writered21) October 15, 2016 How stupid is that by Virginia....whistles clearly blew...15-yard penalty for unnecessary roughness...or 15 yards for STUPIDY — Bob Pompeani (@KDPomp) October 15, 2016 Field Goal is GOOD: Chris Blewitt's 25-yard FG gives Pitt a 45-28 lead over Virginia with 3:21 left in the fourth quarter — Pitt News Sports (@pittnewssports) October 15, 2016 Pitt gave up 21 points in the first quarter, and then one TD in 2nd. Quarter. Nothing since — JD Schroeder (@Sta7ic) October 15, 2016


I wanted the second half shutout — JD Schroeder (@Sta7ic) October 15, 2016 FINAL: PITT 45, VIRGINIA 31 Fire up the Second Half Victory Lights!!! — Souf Oaklin fo' Life (@Souf_Oaklin) October 15, 2016 Great win. See you at 5-5 in a month — pitt pass defense (@CzarOfPgh) October 15, 2016 Left my mark. — The Smallwood Years (@TheWillardYears) October 15, 2016 Things @JamesConner_ can do for @Pitt_FB: ✔️ Play RB & DE✔️ spin moves✔️ pressure the QB✔️ everything#ConnerStrong — ACC Digital Network (@theACCDN) October 15, 2016 Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. This is an@N_THEYSTAYTHERE joint.

Pitt-Virginia Panther of the Game: James Conner

The Pitt running back pulled double duty to take home this week’s award

Despite Jordan Whitehead’s pick-6 and his four tackles and Quadree Henderson’s electrifying plays, James Conner takes home the Panther of the Game award this week in Pitt’s 45-31 win over Virginia.

You can make an argument for a couple of other players, as mentioned above, along with another strong game from last week’s co-winner: Tyrique Jarrett. However, Conner’s statistics, along with coming up big, when it mattered most give him the award.

Conner finished yesterday with 20 rushes for 90 yards and two touchdowns. He also chipped in two catches for 28 yards on the receiving end. And in case you missed it, he also played defensive end and put some pressure on Kurt Benkert on an important late drive for Virginia, nearly picking up a sack in the process.

Ho-hum...just another day for number 24. Do you want more? OK, how about the clutch plays Conner put on the field yesterday. Pitt went three-and-out right off the bat when not using Conner, but on their second possession, with Pitt trailing 7-0 and facing 2nd and 10, big James completely ran over two Virginia defenders in route to a 16-yard run. This seemed to get the offense going. Add to that two 3rd-and-2 conversions and one 4th-and-one run that resulted in a first down and it seemed that every time the Panthers needed a big play, James Conner provided it.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author@BrunoPittsburgh

Expect to see more of James Conner on defense for Panthers

Yesterday, Pitt running back James Conner got onto the field as a defensive end in the Panthers' win against Virginia. He was also pretty effective, nearly sacking the quarterback on a play.

If you are a Pitt fan hoping to see more of that, it sounds as if you'll get your wish. Here's what head coach Pat Narduzzi said after the game:

''We've been kind of working that in and as you guys know, he was recruited as a defensive lineman,'' Narduzzi said. ''... James is a super football player. I was happy he got a hurry on the quarterback and we'll have a little bit more of that.''

The key is obviously the last part of that where he suggests Conner could be doing that a bit more.

As I said yesterday, I'm not sure I want to see James back there on defense playing 15-20 snaps. But at the same time, if Pitt wants to use him on a few plays, similar to what they do with Whitehead on offense, I think that could be helpful. Narduzzi also talked about using Conner in part to help keep his other players fresh, which obviously makes a lot of sense. And with Pitt missing star defensive end Ejuan Price with an injury for part of yesterday, inserting him made even more sense.

I'll be interested to see how much they use Conner on defense going forward. And from the sounds of it, we can count on Conner playing there in some capacity.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

The Pitt-Virginia Turning Point of the Game: Whitehead Pick 6

Jordan Whitehead’s interception was an easy selection as The Turning Point of the Game

In writing about “The Turning Point” week in and week out during Pitt’s football seasons, yesterday couldn’t have been easier. Safety Jordan Whitehead’s pick-6 is The Turning Point of yesterday’s 45-31 victory over Virginia.

Pitt had just tied the game at 28, with under one minute remaining. With two timeouts and the Panthers’ suspect secondary, Virginia decided to take a chance. It was one that they would regret. The Cavaliers drove to almost midfield, before quarterback Kurt Benkert looked to his right and tried the seam. Unfortunately, Pitt safety, Jordan Whitehead, was waiting right there.

The sophomore picked off Benkert’s pass at the Pitt 41-yard line and immediately turned towards the right sideline. Whitehead followed his blockers and made one cutback, inside the 10, and streaked almost untouched into the end zone. The pick-6 gave Pitt a 35-28 lead with only four ticks left on the clock before halftime, and Pitt received the opening second half kickoff, too.

It was the Panthers’ first lead of the game and it was one that they would never relinquish. Pitt has made the majority of their games too close for comfort, but today was not one of them. Whitehead’s play, just before halftime, seemed to take the sail out of Virginia’s offense. The Pitt defense stiffened up in the second half and the Cavaliers would never get closer than the 35-28 deficit.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author@BrunoPittsburgh

Video: Pitt running back James Conner nearly records sack against Virginia

In Pitt's 14-point win over Virginia on Saturday, one of the moves that had everyone talking was the insertion of running back James Conner into the Panthers' defense. The team was a little banged up, missing defensive end Ejuan Price for part of the game. And needing a pass rush to help limit the Cavaliers' passing game, Conner got his shot.

And not only did Conner get into the game on defense, but he nearly pulled off a sack in his only snap. Included was an unreal spin move and a great tackle of the quarterback just after he released the ball:

Things @JamesConner_ can do for @Pitt_FB: ✔️ Play RB & DE✔️ spin moves✔️ pressure the QB✔️ everything#ConnerStrong — ACC Digital Network (@theACCDN) October 15, 2016

There has been a lot of talk about Conner getting into the game defensively for a while now, but this is the first time it's materialized since he was used briefly on defense in the Bowling Green game a few years ago.

I'm not a fan of using Conner all the time on the defensive line, obviously, but throwing him out there for a few plays a game to help guys stay fresh is fine by me. He's clearly talented enough to cause disruptions from time to time.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Pitt defeats Virginia on road, 45-31

Pitt's defense made things interesting early on, but in the end, the Panthers prevailed for a 45-31 win over Virginia on Saturday.

On Friday, I sort of went on a Twitter rant since I didn't quite understand the optimism some folks had regarding Virginia's chances. As I said then, Pitt could certainly lose. But nothing in the team's play this year really suggested that Virginia should win. They had some bad early losses and while they had won their past two games, they did so against teams not as good as Pitt (and, perhaps, not even very good teams at all) in Central Michigan and Duke.

Now, Pitt sort of tested that in the first half as Virginia's passing game, as we all expected, was on fire. The secondary gave up numerous big plays and it was a back and forth game. Pitt actually led at halftime, 35-28, thanks to a Jordan Whitehead pick six. But if you ask me, Virginia looked like the better team. Pitt's secondary gave up several big plays and Virginia quarterback Kurt Benkert had a strong first half.

But as I suspected they might, they had a hard time matching Pitt's offense. Aside from the opener when Pitt scored 'only' 28 points running what just about everyone insists was a scaled back offense, the team has averaged 40 points per game. Few teams will be able to match that - especially ones with weaker defenses.

Ironically, if you're looking for a difference maker today, it wasn't the offense. That would be the special teams where the Panthers dominated. Pitt pulled off (by my count, anyway) three big kick returns - one of which went the distance as Quadree Henderson took another kickoff to the house in the first half.

To me, the biggest stretch was right before the end of the first half. Pitt trailed 28-21 with under six minutes left. Kicking away from Henderson, Rafael Araujo-Lopes returned a kick back 69 yards, setting up a Pitt touchdown to tie it. On Virginia's next possession, instead of playing it safe, they tried a pass that was picked off by Whitehead on that aforementioned pick six. Within the span of a few minutes, we had a 14-point swing and, while I can't speak for them, that had to be a demoralizing thing for the Cavaliers.

From there, Pitt took over in the second half.

As much as we criticized the defense in the first half, they played pretty well in the second, allowing only three points on a late, meaningless field goal. Part of the problem in the first half was a real lack of pressure. That, um, changed.

On Virginia's first drive, Pitt sacked Benkert twice, forcing them to punt. They got another big sack on Benkert on the next drive, again forcing a punt. On the third drive, they stuffed a crucial 3rd and 1 play. They went on to force two more punts before giving up the field goal at the end.

If you want to know why the defense had much more success in the second-half, it was clearly the pressure they brought up front. We even saw James Conner on defense, something that was talked about the past two years, and he not only made an appearance there, but was a factor in forcing Benkert into an incompletion after an unbelievable spin move.

The secondary isn't good - we all know that. But when Pitt gets the pressure they need up front, they're much less of a problem. With Avonte Maddox out, Pitt also lost safety starter Terrish Webb as the injuries keep piling up. He went out of the game then returned in street clothes, so we'll see what happens there. But man, this team is getting hit with injuries every single week, it seems. Ejuan Price also missed some time.

And while the secondary again was bad, the run defense also had some big problems initially, too. Virginia led Pitt in rushing (85 yards to 77) at halftime and Taquan Mizzell accounted for most of that with 70. Mizzell was bottled up a bit early, but did have a huge 44-yard touchdown. Like I said earlier in the gamethread, if you're going to be that bad against the pass, you almost need to be lights out against the run. Pitt wound up giving up only 100 rushing yards at the end and the Panthers more than doubled that, so it got fixed.

Offensively, I was a little surprised Pitt didn't do more passing. They threw a modest 21 times despite Virginia having one of the worst pass defense in D-I (even worse than Pitt's, statistically, coming into the game). Quarterback Nathan Peterman did the job with 137 yards and two touchdowns, but this was a game I thought they might finish with more passing yards. Still, who's going to complain about that?

Finally, I thought James Conner did quite a bit today to prove he's still a star and that it's going to take some work to knock him from his perch as the top running back. He had been kind of outdone a bit by Chawntez Moss lately, but that wasn't the case today. He had 90 rushing yards with two touchdowns and some of his yards were very tough. Moss had a quiet day with seven rushes for only 26 yards (he, too, was banged up a bit on a play on special teams coverage).

Conner had one touchdown diving over the top of the line and then repeated that feat on a key 3rd down play. He also caught two passes for 28 yards and one was a very good wheel route play for a nice gain. When you factor in the pass rush on defense, too, he just sort of put the team on his back today and did what they needed done. No really huge plays for a lot of yardage from him, but a lot of key ones.

All in all, this is a really nice win. I still don't think Virginia is a great team and that they will struggle to even reach a bowl with a pretty brutal schedule down the stretch. But it was still a road win on Homecoming and, in conference, two win by 14 points is great. Pitt is now 5-2 and carries some momentum into their toughest stretch of the year with games against three ranked opponents in a row, in Virginia Tech, Clemson, Miami, and Clemson.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Former NFL player, Auburn defensive star Quentin Groves dead at 32

Former NFL defensive lineman and Auburn standout Quentin Groves, 32, died Saturday.

The cause of death has not been officially confirmed, though  according to SB Nation, Groves suffered a heart attack. During the 2008 NFL combine, he was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, which caused a rapid heartbeat. After a minor surgical procedure, Groves was selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft.

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Groves spent two years at Jacksonville, and then played for several teams, including the Raiders, Browns and Titans. He last played in the regular season in 2014.

At Auburn, Groves was an All-SEC star, tying the school's career sack record at 26 and setting a single-game record with four sacks.

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