PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) – You think about the ways he could have handled it. Last year sitting as the third-string quarterback and then before this season, Pitt adds a pair of transfers. Once again, the third-string quarterback. What Nate Yarnell did was kept working and for a second time in his career he got a start, and again a win.
Yarnell threw for 207 yards and a touchdown and ran for a score in a 24-16 win on Senior Day against Boston College Thursday.
“I’m just so grateful for the opportunity,” Yarnell said. “I came to Pitt. I love Pitt. I really enjoyed getting on the field.”
“He just takes care of the details,” said Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi about his redshirt sophomore starter. “He's calm and cool, and that's what you need, someone to manage it and take care of the football.”
Narduzzi told Yarnell on Sunday that he would get the chance to start, he said it was a group decision with the coaching staff.
“We still have a lot of confidence in Christian (Veilleux),” Narduzzi said. “He will be ready to go, and he is going to learn from his mistakes. Sunday, we said we were going with Nate, and Nate took all the snaps with the ones all week.”
“We just felt like he would go in and make really good decisions, which he did today. He protected the ball and gives you a chance to win a football game.”
It’s not that he didn’t take chances, Yarnell had a 24-and-21-yard completion in the first drive alone. He would later connect on a 61-yard touchdown to Bub Means where he stood in the pocket, pump-faked a defender and then floated a perfect ball that Means caught in stride.
“We had the quarterback runs early, but he did a good job reading what the defense was giving you,” Narduzzi said. “If their ends are chasing, he is keeping it, and he had a nice touchdown run. He had a great pass to Bub. That was a big-time throw.”
All of this from the third-string quarterback coming in on a short week to beat a team looking to improve its bowl status.
“It’s my job, doesn’t matter if I’m third, fourth, fifth string to be ready to go in the game,” Yarnell said. “All season I made sure I was prepared for this moment. When my number was called, I would be ready.”
“He’s a great guy for that,” said Pitt safety Donovan McMillon. “That’s what Duzz and our whole team preaches. We wait for our moment and when it comes up we shine with it. There is no bad-mouthing other people. You may not play the whole season, but when it’s time for your name to get called, you get up there and make that play.”
“He was very confident,” said Pitt tailback Rodney Hammond. “The whole week he knew what was going on. He knew he was going to go out there and win this game for us. He was telling me the whole day, we are ready. Let’s go win it.”
“There is definitely a lot to improve, even on the field, some of those incompletions, I knew right away I should have gone somewhere else,” Yarnell said. “There’s a lot to improve, always. I’m excited next week to get the opportunity to show that.”
While Narduzzi wouldn’t commit to him starting against Duke in the season finale next week. It seems almost assured. Yarnell said he got a lot of help from Christian Vellieux leading up to the game. Now it’s about learning from that tape and finishing the season strong with a chance to make a statement for next year.