When last we saw the Pitt football team in game action, they were trying to contain mobile quarterback Keenan Reynolds in an ugly bowl loss to Navy. They’ll begin that same way in working to keep up with Villanova’s quarterback Zach Bednarczyk.
After redshirting as a true freshman in 2014, he got his first bit of playing time last year as the team battled through injuries. Bednarcyzk is only a sophomore, but proved he’s a force to be reckoned with last season in winning the CAA’s Co-Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. He still has work to do as a passer, but he’s a scrambling quarterback that requires plenty of attention.
The Villanova signal-caller wasn’t only good with his legs last season, but he proved to be the team’s most dangerous rushing threat. Leading the team in rushing yards, he accumulated 515 of them good for a 4.9 yard-per-carry average. No other rusher cracked even the 400-yard mark, in fact.
Twice, Bednardczyk went absolutely off. In a win against Maine, he tallied 123 yards on the ground. He did even better against James Madison in the team’s season finale with a whopping 157 rushing yards.
Now, Bednarczyk is no slouch as a passer. He has work to do but showed some good things in 2015. In a 37-0 win against Albany, for example, he set a school record for completion percentage going a perfect 12-12 for 152 yards and two touchdowns. But the real threat is that he’s a dual threat under center with the ability to scramble.
One of the things Pitt can try to do is get some early pressure on him and force him into making some throwing mistakes. Last year, Bednarczyk was solid, but was harassed into seven interceptions, all coming against FCS competition. In what should be the best defense they face all year, there’s reason to believe that he could be forced into some errors on Saturday if the defensive line works to make him think quickly.