New Pitt starting quarterback Christian Veilleux (Vay-er) sounds like he's ready to lead

If you’re wondering how Pitt’s quarterbacks prepare for a game, let new starter Christian Veilleux take you behind the curtain.
First of all (and of least importance as it relates to Pitt’s game Saturday against undefeated No. 14 Louisville), the Canadian-born Veilleux prefers the pronunciation of his name to be “Vay-er,” such as you would say conveyor belt. His father, Martin, prefers Vay-u — as in Mario Lemieux — but he apparently has given up the fight, per his message on X.
Some have asked so: Lemieux -> Veilleux. The way you say the end of the first name is the same way you say the end of the second name. Example in video below. Ignore media guide. More importantly, cheer them on! #H2P #WeNotMe pic.twitter.com/QwJnJqUhvK
— Martin Vay-Yer (I give up) (@veilleuxmartin) October 9, 2023
Christian Veilleux (pronounced Va-er) meets the press for the first time as Pitt’s starting quarterback. pic.twitter.com/8XhwEsMJTo
— Jerry DiPaola (@JDiPaola_Trib) October 11, 2023
Veilleux met with reporters Wednesday and said his “preparation is the same” as it was before he replaced Phil Jurkovec as the starter last week.
“I stay here until 3 — about four hours after the morning practice ends — and watch film, watch practice with the coaches. I take my own notes. I feel like I have a good note-taking process so I can get a good feel for the team.
“Business as usual.”
Veilleux doesn’t rely on an antiquated legal pad to take notes, instead tapping incessantly on his IPad during those meetings.
“Right now, I have a big folder of about 24 pages, just listing (Louisville’s) coverage percentages, every coverage look, every statisticial coverage based off formation, third-down distances, red zone yardages. I have screen shots of formations and coverages.”
All of that information is at his fingertips while he’s watching video with offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti Jr., and any other coaches or players who walk in the room. The goal is turn his brain into a Rolodex he can flip through while calling plays, taking the snap, scanning the secondary and throwing the football.
It’s a complicated process Jurkovec, presumably, carried out in a similar manner before he was benched after five games.
Veilleux, a 21-year-old redshirt sophomore, said Pitt runs a different style of offense than he what learned the past two seasons at Penn State.
“Took a while to learn,” said Veilleux, who enrolled in January. “Similar concepts from where I was from before, but a lot more under-center stuff here. Just the footwork and technique is different from what I was used to.”
When he was asked what he might bring to the offense that would look different from the first five games, he answered respectfully toward Jurkovec.
“I don’t want to answer that question by making it sound like I can do things better than what Phil was doing,” he said. “I think I bring my own personality and my own leadership style to the offense. Whether that’s beneficial or not, we’ll find out. But I do think I can definitely help this team win as being the starting quarterback.”
Veilleux has been with the team for less than a year, but he’s played quarterback for a long time and has thoughtfully developed his own leadership style.
“Leadership, for me, is having a personal relationship with the guys, knowing who people are, how they act, how they behave, how to address certain players,” he said. “Some guys you need to be tough with. Some guys you need to pull them aside, (and say), `It’s all good. Next play we’ll figure it out.’ Some guys you just need to go over stuff with them.
“It’s easy to be in a room full of your teammates, and your coach (is) telling you what to do. But when you have that one-on-one, people just understand better.”
Veilleux admits that having less than a year to build relationships with teammates is not a long time, but he said it’s worked at Pitt.
“Ever since I came here, everybody took me under their wing and showed me the ropes about this place. I have a great relationship with everybody, talking in the locker room with the guys, hanging out with some of the guys, going to dinner on Thursday nights. Just spending time with them.”
Veilleux has watched 4 1/2 of the first five games from the sideline, and he said the only aspect of the offense that’s not clicking is the execution.
“Football is a game of execution. Coach Cignetti says it all the time,” he said. “Our plan is good. Our players are good. Plays are good. Coaching is good. We just have to execute. At the end of the day, if you’re not executing, no matter what team you play for, you’re not going to win football games.
“We just have to go execute, believe in our plan, believe in what we can do, believe in our own ability and I think that is going to make a huge difference this weekend.”
He said he takes full responsibility for the three turnovers in the second half of the North Carolina game when he replaced Jurkovec.
“It was a good learning experience,” Veilleux said, “getting that game action out of the way … taking all that I learned from that and applying it this week.”
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at jdipaola@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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