POV Bits & Pieces; 9/20

Today we’ll do a Bits & Pieces article then we’ll have a Know Your Enemy on Thursday, our Predictions Thread on Friday and the customary Game Day Thread on Saturday for the Pitt vs North Carolina.

You all responded to yesterday’s article with your great insights and your good and debatable points as always…thanks.  As for football talk:

Coaches always get put on the spot after a loss and the same thing happened yesterday at Narduzzi’s press conference…but then again hard questions should be asked.  At the 14:35 mark of the presser video (below) Narduzzi is asked about why Ollision didn’t get any carries – if you can figure out what he said and what he was trying to say please let me know in a comment.

The only think I can figure out is that they had to give the Big Dog (Conner) relief so they played Moss. ????  I don’t know and it makes no sense to me.  If you have an established RB who proved he can get 5.3 yards per carry over the season – then don’t use him but instead put in a kid who hasn’t done anything; that’s strange and I think it should be explained.

Pat Narduzzi puts the blame for the 540 yards passing by the OSU QB squarely on the player’s shoulders instead of on his or his DC’s.

The problem, Narduzzi said Monday at his weekly press conference, comes from the team’s execution and fundamental failures, not its scheme or strategy.

“They’ve got to understand and have to have faith and belief in what we’re doing,” the second-year Pitt coach said. “They’ve got to understand that it works when you do it right and it doesn’t work when you’re not doing it right. It’s either your way or our way; which one are you going to do? If you continue to do it your way, then we’re going to have problems. If you do it our way, you’ve got a chance.”

 

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“Hey, it ain’t the scheme – the kids just won’t listen in practice!”

Perhaps that thought would be best said behind closed doors coach.  This way it looks like finger pointing.  Does he really mean that the DBs, all of them, just all of a sudden decided not to carry out the defensive scheme his D coaches practiced them on all week?

Was the PSU 330+ yards in the air due to the same reason?  It was the exact same defensive scheme out there so what happened in both games?  Of course – it was the players fault. 

Sorry, but this smacks of blame deflection and sounds petty to my ear.

Here is what’s funny about local beat writers – then kind of have to see the silver lining in everything connected to Pitt football.  Especially so if you are a newly assigned one to c0ver the local college team.  Here’s an example.  Yesterday Jenn Menendez of the Post-Gazette wrote this about Pitt giving up 540 passing yards to the OSU offense:

“I think we [had] a good pass rush at times, but it was too inconsistent,” defensive end Ejuan Price said. “Facing a tempo team is one of the challenges of trying to get a rush over and over again. When we didn’t it really showed downfield.”

The silver lining for Pitt, if they can manage to look past the 642 yards of total offense allowed, is twofold. First, they were truly in it until the final play against a team that was ranked in the preseason top 25. Second there’s not a quarterback left on the schedule with that kind of arm.

Huh, she really should have mentioned that we had also given up 332 yards to a QB not known for his arm in PSU’s Trace McSorley just seven days earlier.

Pitt fans always hate the ones who got away in recruiting.  Instead of just turning the page when a local HS player chooses to attend school elsewhere we follow his every move and, let’s be honest here, some of us revel when those players don’t do well in their college career.  Case in point is WR Robert Foster down in Alabama. 

Pitt fans, and everyone else apparently, thought he’d pick up the hat that had “Pitt” written across the front of it – but no! Foster chose national champions Alabama instead setting off a firestorm of criticism from the Pitt people.

Well, he’s been a 2nd string player down there and while he’s seen some game day playing he has fallen short of what I am sure he and his family expected when he chose the Crimson Tide.  here are his career stats so far:

foster

So why did he choose Alabama?  because 1) he thought he’d have a better chance of getting to the NFL there and 2) he wanted to play for a school who annually competes fot the biggest prize in college football.

There is a prestige factor involved when a college football player who is older and done with football can say that they played ball at one of the really well-known schools.

We are seeing all this happen again, actually it happens every year with the highest ranked local WPIAL recruits, as they blue-chip kids are bypassing Oakland for greener pastures.

Yesterday we saw 4* DT Donovan Jeter of Beaver Falls verbal to the Golden Domers of Notre Dame.  Pissed Pitt fans off royally so now he’s either no good or Notre Dame paid him to play there.

Well, I think Pitt fans are more scared than pissed really.  After all the talk about recruiting local talent and making Pitt the local star HS player’s first choice… that really isn’t happening.

Chris Dokish put out this list of who he thought were the Top 10 players in PA for the recruiting class of 2017.  Granted this was generated and posted on LOI Day back in February of this year but I think it reflects the issue at hand:

Top 10 in PA for 2017 (as of Signing Day 2016)

D’Andre Swift, St. Joseph’s Prep HS (Philadelphia) RB- Perfect running back size at 5’10” and 208 pounds. Short, muscular frame and elite speed and quickness makes it nearly impossible to get a good shot on him. No real weaknesses and even has great hands. His offer list is big and will get huge before long. Right now that offer list includes Pittsburgh, Penn State, West Virginia, Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Florida State, Georgia, South Carolina, Michigan, Michigan State, and Virginia Tech. In my opinion, he won’t end up at Pitt.

GEORGIA

Lamont Wade, Clairton HS (Clairton) CB– Possibly the best cornerback prospect in the country for the class. Not big at 5’10” and 185 pounds, but he is a potential superstar with speed, athleticism, technique, hands, and toughness. Offers include Pittsburgh, Penn State, West Virginia, Ohio State, Auburn, Nebraska, UCLA, Maryland, and Virginia Tech. In my opinion, he won’t end up at Pitt, though I think the Panthers will be involved until the end.

OPEN

Paris Ford, Seton-LaSalle HS (McKees Rocks) S- Pretty slim right now at 6’0″ and 175 pounds, but he’s a high level athlete with the speed, athleticism, and hands to be an all-star college player. Great range with hands to match. Also a good hitter despite frame. Ed Reed center fielder type that seems to be everywhere. Chose PITTSBURGH over Penn State, West Virginia, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Michigan, Michigan State, Oklahoma, Auburn, and North Carolina.

PITT

David Adams, Central Catholic HS (Pittsburgh) LB– The quintessential PA linebacker with smarts, toughness, and tenacity. Sneaky good athlete. Plays well against the run and the pass. Ideal middle linebacker. Early offers include Pittsburgh, Penn State, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Louisville, Nebraska, Virginia, and Virginia Tech. I think Pitt and Notre Dame could be the teams to beat, and now that his close friends, Ford and Damar Hamlin, are committed to the Panthers, the chances may be improving. In my opinion, because of his talent and the position he plays, he is the top target for Pitt in this class.

NOTRE DAME

Donovan Jeter, Beaver Falls Area HS (Beaver Falls) DT/DE– Already a large 6’4″ and 280 pounds on a massive frame. Can easily get up to 300 pounds if he moves inside. May also have the potential to terrorize as a rush end if he slims down. Excellent basketball player who would be a high major prospect if he was taller. Early offers from Pittsburgh, Penn State, West Virginia, Michigan State, Nebraska, Tennessee, and Maryland, among others. Pitt appears to be the leader.

NOTRE DAME

CJ Thorpe, Central Catholic HS (Pittsburgh) OG– As of now he’s 6’4″ at best which means he will have to move inside to guard, but at 310 pounds he’s a massive brawler that has great feet to go with the size. Could be a devastating pulling guard and projects just as good as a defensive tackle. Offers include Pittsburgh, Penn State, West Virginia, Auburn, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Virginia, and Maryland. Penn State may be the favorite since he has a lot of ties to the school, but Pitt has a shot.

PENN STATE

Kenny Robinson, University Prep HS (Pittsburgh) LB– Every year a WPIAL player stands out to me as being under appreciated. For this class, it’s this 6’3″ 205 pound athlete that has speed, athleticism, and toughness. He could also be an excellent college wide receiver. Early offers include Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Temple, Louisville, and Iowa State. He is very close with Pitt, and all of the local players, and I would be surprised if he didn’t end up at Pitt.

OPEN  (I’m not sure why this player is on this list – here is his info)

Josh Lugg, North Allegheny HS (Wexford) OT- Already great size at 6’6″ and 290 pounds, and he has the frame to get bigger. Great feet, tenacious, and strong. He has a a lot of potential physically, but right now he is very green. He’s very much worth trying to flip because if it all comes together for him, he could be special. Committed to NOTRE DAME over offers from Pittsburgh, Penn State, West Virginia, UCLA, Virginia Tech, Michigan State, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. I’m assuming that he won’t flip, but if he does, Pitt would probably be the school he would flip to.

NOTRE DAME

Mark Webb, Archbishop Wood HS (Warminster) WR– In most other years he’d be flirting with being a top 5 prospect in the state. Already good size at 6’2″ and 195 pounds, and with that size he has the speed, athleticism, and hands to be one of the better wide receivers prospects in the east. Early offers so far include Pittsburgh, Penn State, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, and Rutgers. I’m think that Penn State is the team to beat.

GEORGIA

Kurt Hinish, Central Catholic HS (Pittsburgh) DT– Already a rock solid 6’3″ and 285 pounds. He’s been on a tear lately picking up offers on an almost daily basis. Right now his list includes Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Baylor, Iowa State, Boston College, Rutgers, Syracuse, and Vanderbilt. I think Pitt may have a good chance with this one.

NOTRE DAME

BTW – I think college football fans are a bit mistaken when a HS recruit picks on school over the other.  They tend to think strictly in football terms when the reality is for a lot of recruits, and their parents, academics and college life plays a pretty big part also.

For instance on the list above we have four kids who picked Notre Dame over Pitt.  Lugg, Hinish, Adams and Jeter – all mentioned that academics were part of the decision process.  Then why ND?  Well, look at the current US News and Worls Report college renking for that school:

ND’s 2017 Rankings

University of Notre Dame is ranked #15 in National Universities. Schools are ranked according to their performance across a set of widely accepted indicators of excellence.

 

That is a lot higher than Pitt’s current ranking of #68 and while these rankings fluctuate year to year ND is constantly up there. PSU’s ranking are pretty good also.  So that’s part of the reason recruits choose to go to these schools. 

These players parents have a lot more influence than the average fans think and the mom and dad aren’t looking only at football – most often they have a pretty firm idea whether or not their kid is going into the NFL and so advise heavily on the academic side.  We have gotten our fair share of recruits who chose Pitt over other schools for just that reason.

Pitt’s 2017 Rankings

University of Pittsburgh is ranked #68 in National Universities. Schools are ranked according to their performance across a set of widely accepted indicators of excellence.

#38 (tie) in Business Programs

 

Notre Dame also has tradition, a beautiful campus and great academics so we shouldn’t be all that surprised when local kids want to play there.  Pitt is a good school also but is in the middle of a city and hasn’t the recent winning tradition or success that Notre Dame has had on the field either.

If we were losing these high ranking players to lesser schools than ND, PSU or Georgia then I’d be surprised but looking into where they verballed to I’m not.  The fact that ND just had seven players picked in the last NFL draft doesn’t hurt either.

It is just very tough for Pitt to compete against ND when a kid is considering both schools.  Something to remember also is that as badly as we feel that these kids listed above decided to go elsewhere – they also chose their school over numerous others, not just Pitt.

On a lighter note The City Paper’s Mike Wysocki has a piece about sports personalities who Pittsburghers love to ‘boo’. cheap-seats-wysocki A Pitt guy makes the list:

Wham, bam, thank you, Todd Graham makes this list and he did it in less than one season; it’s almost admirable, in a perverse kind of way. After a lackluster 6-6 year as Pitt’s head football coach, Graham started talking to other schools about a head-coaching position. He recruited players to play for him and quickly left. When the University of Pittsburgh’s athletic director told him he couldn’t spend time looking for a new job, he resigned. Not only that, he resigned via text — a low-class move even by scumbag standards. Yes, Graham wasn’t an athlete, but if we ever get a chance to boo him, it’ll be good.

But this is my favorite line in the article: 

As you can imagine, most booing emanates from the cheap seats of a stadium or arena. These seats usually contain riff-raff, much like myself, and since our lives haven’t turned out the way we thought, we’re more inclined to show frustration.

 PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT (HTML LINK): Narduzzi Text Transcript

VIDEO: Pat Narduzzi Press Conference

VIDEO: Defensive End Ejuan Price Press Conference

 Narduzzi Opening Statement:

“Usually we try to put the last game to rest on Sunday, but I don’t want to ignore it. As a whole, when you go back and look at the game, it wasn’t a lack of effort. Our kids played hard throughout. I love the guys who sit in these seats in here; they’ve got a lot of toughness. I love those guys for the efforts they give and for never quitting. We didn’t make enough plays offensively and defensively.

We had to go out there and sit in a small locker room for almost two hours during the lightning delay. Defensively we played a great second half except for one play, and that cost us. Offensively I thought we played a great first half and not a great second half. There are so many things that we will work to correct and get better at. Give Oklahoma State credit for what they did and how they do it. They have a top-20 football team and program. I believe they will finish there based on the way Mason Rudolph can throw. I told you last week that he is an NFL guy.

After seeing him live, I don’t think there’s any question of that. They have some talented wide-outs as well. There are things that we can do better on defense—fundamentally and structurally—and that’s why we coach. That game is over, and we move on to North Carolina. We get to travel down there for a 3:30 game against a great football team that was the Coastal champion a year ago. They don’t lose much. They have four or five starting offensive linemen back from last year. Elijah Hood is a great tailback, and he switches out there to receiver occasionally.

Quarterback Mitch Trubisky is a guy we saw as a senior out of high school; he was a great player. I have a lot of respect for him. He played really well last year and now has three games under his belt. He’s very efficient in running the offense. Defensively Gene Chizik always does a great job. They are athletic. [M.J.] Stewart and [Des] Lawrence are the two corners that are lockdown guys. They are very athletic and very well coached. They have two defensive tackles in [Nazair] Jones and [Jalen] Dalton who are tough, and they have two good linebackers in [Andre] Smith and [Cayson] Collins who are bell cows on that side of the ball.

They are very athletic defensively, and they probably blitz a little bit more than a year ago. They can heat it up there. We know Gene Chizik is a great football coach. The offense looks exactly like we saw a year ago. It will be a great challenge to go down there and face the Coastal Division champion from a year ago.

That’s our goal and that’s where we want to be. When the first ACC team you play is the one who is the defending champion in that division, it is a great challenge. We look forward to going there.”

On the performance of Pitt’s secondary against Oklahoma State:

“It’s about fundamentals and structure. If we needed to change the coverage up a little bit, we didn’t do it quite enough or early enough. We had some things that we maybe didn’t use that we should have. But that happens in every game. You can always look back. I told our kids it’s 38-38 with two minutes to go in the game and we haven’t played great.

We have a chance with two minutes to go to knock them out. If you told me we could have that situation with two minutes to go in the game, I’d take that because they are a good football team and I have a lot of respect for them. For the defensive backs, [they should] play with good technique and fundamentals.

Don’t get frazzled. The first play of the game was a communication error, not a physical error. It was a coverage bust and a lack of communication. That’s on the coach. Sometimes it’s the tempo or the atmosphere; there are a lot of contributing factors. Fundamentally you have to play with good technique. That’s what we try to play at every position on the field. You better play good technique when you’re playing against great wide receivers.”

On Nathan Peterman and how they matched up in the passing game offensively against Oklahoma State:

“I’m not going to take anything away from who they (Oklahoma State) are, but we missed some throws and some reads. Especially on some third and medium calls, where we had a chance to stay on the field and keep them off the field. We didn’t put the ball where it needed to be on those plays. We missed a play in the fourth quarter to Jester Weah that we have to make.

We’re not going to make every throw either. Quarterbacks can’t be perfect. Nathan [Peterman] managed the game well. The opener [Villanova] wasn’t managed as well. It was a below average day for him. But he’s played above average the last two weeks. If he [Peterman] continues to do that, we will be fine. You can’t blame one guy—it takes 11 to win a football game. The blame is in the whole room as far as our players and coaches. We win together, we lose together.”

On how he will prepare his defensive players for North Carolina’s passing attack:

“We just have to keep coaching them; that’s our job. They have to believe in what we do. They must understand it works when you do it right, and it doesn’t work if you don’t do it right. It’s either your way or our way, which one are you going to do? If you continue to do it your way, then we’re going to have problems.

If you flip on the tape and watch when we’re successful, it is when we cover the guys with good technique. When you don’t win the play, they need to see what they did wrong. It needs to become evident. It happens, and it’s why we coach. If it were easy, everybody in here would coach. But it’s not. That’s the challenge of coaching: it’s fun.”

On Avonte Maddox’s mindset after the Oklahoma State game:

“The first thing that you have to do is be able to admit that ‘I didn’t play great. I didn’t play with great technique and that’s the bottom line.’ We’ll bring Avonte [Maddox] back and talk to him. He’s a great kid and he has a lot of talent. He is one of our best corners when he plays fundamentally sound. I don’t worry about Avonte Maddox. I think you will see a different guy this week who will play with a chip on his shoulder.”

On dealing with outside reactions from the fans and media after a tough loss:

“I don’t read the newspaper. I don’t hear what you’re saying and I don’t care what you say. I hope my players don’t read it or listen to it. I’m not going to go on Twitter and read the notifications after a win or loss.

My motto is ‘Be humble or be humbled.’ We went out and played a good football team and hung tough and that’s all that matters. Our kids will be resilient.”

On if the North Carolina game is a “must-win” contest:

“I would say it’s a big game because they are the defending Coastal champions. They’re the team to beat. But I’m not going to put all my eggs in one basket. Either division could be won by a one-loss team.

We can’t say that either champion is going to be undefeated. Look what happened to Florida State this weekend. Do you think Jimbo Fisher is going to crawl underneath his podium and say it’s over because we lost one game? I don’t think so. One game in conference or out of conference doesn’t define you as a football program or your season.”

On what makes this Pitt team a resilient one:

“I love this football team. These guys will fight to the end. Do we do everything right as coaches? No. Do we do everything right as players all the time? No. There are a bunch of calls on both sides of the ball that you may want back at the end of the game. I might have gone for it on 4th down instead of punting it. There are so many ‘coulda-woulda-shouldas.’

The great thing about this football team is they will fight to the end regardless of what the situation is. If you’re down 14, these guys don’t care because they know it’s a four-quarter game. They believe that any game can be ours, we just need to put 60 minutes together as a whole.

The offense and defense played one good half opposite of each other. We need to put those together. That’s a challenge. Nobody can be perfect, but if we played three-and-a-half good quarters, it would be better.”

On electing to primarily run the ball on the second to last offensive drive:

“We were thinking our run has been pretty good and successful. We wanted to continue to run the ball. I think James [Conner] missed a little hole on one of those runs. If he keeps it going outside, maybe we’re in a different spot today.

You can look back and look at so many plays that are missed throughout the game. It boils down to execution and fundamentals. That’s no disrespect to James [Conner]; he had a heck of a game. It happens in every aspect.”

On the defensive strategy at Oklahoma State:

“We wanted to bring pressure. You will watch college or pro football and see the corners out there on an island. I don’t care if you are in man coverage or if you’re in thirds or a read cover two. They are on an island out there and eventually they have to make a play on the ball. It doesn’t really matter what the coverage is; it’s hard to give them help all the time. That’s why you’re seeing points scored like they are.

Those guys are going to be on an island out there. When you ask a question about pressure opposed to base, it’s pick your poison. They have a good quarterback and good receivers. I don’t remember what play it was but at a point I wrote on my call-sheet ‘quarterback is human.’

He had a human error and I didn’t see many of them in the first half. He wasn’t as on fire in the second half and that’s because of the pressure we applied. Getting a couple of hits on him did a lot for us. I guess he was human, but only for a couple of plays.”

On what he will tell the team about the opportunity at North Carolina:

“It’s another game. It’s a big game, but it’s no bigger than Oklahoma State. We wanted that win badly, too. Our guys were locked in. If we don’t win this game, is our season over? No. And I don’t think Florida State feels that way after last week.

They [Florida State] will be in it. They still have to go play Clemson and if they beat Clemson, all of the sudden you have two teams with one loss. I think the same thing will happen in the Coastal. There are no perfect teams.”

On the running back depth chart behind James Conner:

“We got Chawntez Moss and Darrin Hall in the game. It’s just a matter of not wearing out your dog. We want to get all of those guys involved. Qadree [Ollison] was out there quite a bit. Maybe he didn’t get the carries, but that’s all based on the read and what we are doing on that play and what they are doing defensively.

It’s about being unselfish and doing what you need to do. We had some decent runs from all the guys back there. We need to keep guys fresh. James [Conner] gets tired. We have to keep him fresh.”

On the depth at wide receiver after the injury to Dontez Ford:

“You always are concerned with depth. We’ll have Dontez [Ford] back sooner rather than later. Tre Tipton played a solid football game out there. He’s got some wheels. He had a couple nice catches, and a great fourth-down catch. For us, it’s the next man up. Aaron Mathews will have an extended role this week as well.”

On his assessment of North Carolina’s defense:

“They’ve got some good players, I can tell you that. I attribute their stats to the high number of spread offenses. If you look at college football in general, points and yards are happening more frequently.

I think Gene Chizik is a sound defensive coordinator. He’s a bend-not-break guy, and they are very sound. They’ll be ready for us down there and will be very sound.”

On if defensive statistical goals have changed due to how good offenses are now:

“You adjust every year. When I first got to Cincinnati and eventually Michigan State, our goal defensively was to limit the other team to 13 points per game. Today, that just isn’t going to happen.

Turnovers are the key. We were plus two for the whole game until there was 30 seconds left. When you win the turnover ratio, you are usually going to win the game. When you have a blocked punt, you usually win.

We stopped the run for the most part. We ran the ball effectively offensively. Defensively we only gave up one long touchdown run, and that’s what we lost by. You could pick out that play and say we didn’t stop the run. Offenses are going to score points. The numbers don’t matter. It’s about getting a win.”

On potentially needing to score 30 points a game to win in today’s game:

“Yeah. Offensively we scored 31 and that wasn’t enough. The goal is to score more points than they score, and that’s all that matters.”

On if there will be any personnel changes on the Pitt defense:

“No. Avonte Maddox is our best corner. Ryan Lewis is playing very well. It’s our job to coach them up. I’ve got complete confidence in those guys.”

On managing Jordan Whitehead’s time offensively and defensively:

“He knows what he’s doing on defense. We try to manage that. Maybe there were some communication errors where we say ‘Is he not over there enough, or is he over there too much?’ When he gets the ball, he’s explosive and is fun to watch. Defensively we had a mental breakdown and communication error. It’s on the secondary as a whole. We have to do a better job. He might be getting less carries unless he knows how to communicate plays over there defensively.”

 

 

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118 thoughts on “POV Bits & Pieces; 9/20

  1. quick comment that I absolutely agree. I don’t want to hear a Head Coach blaming execution on his players. Everything except for fumbles and such is on Narduzzi’s shoulders. So shoulder the blame Pat. imo

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  2. The beginning of the article when you read the comments out of context it makes it sound like Narduzzi is throwing his players under the bus but when I read the press conference transcript I am not sure I get that. There was a lot of coaches need to do better and conversely players need to do better. Totally disagree that he is placing blame on them solely.

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  3. I agree with “the ghost”. I watched the press conference yesterday. He commented about how they could have probably changed some defensive schemes earlier in the game rather than waiting until the 2nd half. I never at one point thought he was “trashing” his players. Heck, as bad as he played, he stood up for Avonte Maddox and Ryan Lewis – as he should. In fact if you want to find him being critical of one player, I’d say that was Whitehead. He made it clear that if he can’t get alignments and communication right on D then he won’t be playing O.

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  4. I think we are finding out that Narduzzi is human after all, and that the trajectory would not be straight up.

    Recruiting seems to have hit a big wall. He prefers to do his practicing in private. He seems to be a bit defensive of his schemes and coaching skills. He really dodged the question about Ollison. He was by far and away our best back last year, to ignore that is folly, or just plain boneheadedness.

    He is a middle aged guy in his first head coaching job, a very tough one, putting Pitt back on the map.

    Of course he doesn’t want to say it but beating UNC makes winning the coastal much more possible than losing. It is another very tough road game.

    A win makes us 3-1 in our toughest stretch of games. A loss makes 2-2 and puts us a little behind the 8 ball. It will also hurt attendance, which hurts recruiting etc.

    When you say your goal is to win the ACC, it ups the stress level quite a bit.

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  5. Watching the video – I didn’t think he came across as bashing or blaming any players. Other than the first play of the game where it was obvious Maddox assumed he had safety help – and there was none – could he comment that there was a communication issue.

    He wasn’t pulling a Walt Harris circa 2003. C’mon.

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  6. Reed, I agree with you about the way he handled the question about the pass defense .. he could have said there was poor execution without being so dramatic. Save the drama for when he meets with the players.

    Now I don’t mind him saying “Defensively we had a mental breakdown and communication error. It’s on the secondary as a whole. We have to do a better job” But kind of frown on “He (Whitehead) might be getting less carries unless he knows how to communicate plays over there defensively.”

    Hey Jenn M, who told you that Pitt won’t see any more passers like the OSU QB? When you get to South Florida, take your eyes off the palm trees and sandy beaches, and focus on Brad Kaaya .. and you will see a 1st round draft pick who can really chuck the ball. UNC’s QB Trubitsky is no slouch …. and have we haven’t even mentioned DeSean Watson.

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  7. I concur with The Ghost. Narduzzi said that technique is key to having success. He definitely inferred that poor technique will not spell success and he eluded to the fact that when you see success with the DBs pass coverage, that it is associated with good technique. So if saying that bad technique gets in the way of having success is throwing his players under the bus, then so be it. But in that same pressor, he also stated that it is his staff’s job to coach these guys up with the proper technique, so he threw himself and the staff under the bus too then. At the same time he also stated that Avonte Maddox “is the best we have” so there’s a pat on the back for the guy that definitely got owned on Saturday and was the obvious scapegoat on his falling down coverage play on the stop & go TD to clinch the game for the Cowboys.

    Look it, these are all big boys in the locker room. They are the one’s out there on the field making hero plays or getting their lunches eaten by the opposition. They aren’t going to run home crying to their mommies if a coach offers some constructive criticism towards them,,,,, if it isn’t done with malice.

    Coach Narduzzi has shown in no uncertain terms that he absolutely hates to lose. He wears his heart on his sleeve in that regard, win or lose. Two games ago, he celebrated with his squad in a great win over PSU, this week he showed he was pissed, right along with the rest of the team, that he let one get away that was winnable right up to the end.

    I love that in a head coach, it’s called emotion. If you ever get to the point that your HC accepts losing without being pissed about it, then that’s the time to start handing out participation trophies for every player after each game and to begin looking for a new head football coach. Naduzzi said flat out that he loves this team and has full confidence in them, and that in his opinion that they are playing at 100% all game long. Maybe technique needs to be worked on but as he stated, that’s our job to do as coaches. End of story.

    Now if I was Narduzzi, what I would have done a little more is give credit where credit was due. Rudolph, Washington and the other Cowboys had stellar performances on Saturday. You tell me if you wouldn’t want a QB like Rudolph on our side throwing those 30 to 40 yard spirals right on the money for the good guys wearing Panther uniforms! I forced myself to watch the game again with my critical glasses on and these guys were impressive. Sure there were the two easy TD bookends at the start and end of the game that put an easy 14 points on the board due to TOTALLY ABSENT COVERAGE by the Panther DB’s but even with solid coverage being in Washington’s hip pocket, that first TD to Washington still gets caught because it was simply a perfectly thrown ball. He probably gets tackled with coverage but it was still an explosive play. Those guys had a great day of execution!

    Live and learn. Maddox has to move along an prepare for UNC just like the rest of the program. When the players like Hamlin and Paris Ford are the ones executing Narduzzi’s defensive schemes, we’ll see improvements in this defense, until then you play the best you got. Next. Time to beat the Tarheels.

    Like

  8. Pretty obvious that our strategy was to pressure the QB and play close coverage. As soon as we recognized that we could not pressure and that our D-backs could not hang with the excellent receivers, adjustments should have been made. Narduzzi admitted as much. The changes made at half time worked pretty well.

    Really tough to get scorched on the opening play, but we answered immediately which was good.

    Didn’t notice a question on why it seems our offense has petered out in the fourth quarter, and what should be done about it.

    Also no question about the cleats, was that really a thing?

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  9. gc, agree I believe the Jeter situation should tell all Pitt fans that it’s not necessarily the coach or the effort, it’s the school and the situation. When teams like Bama, OSU, ND, etc. really want someone, there is not much else Pitt can do (except to cheat maybe). A few may wish to stay home, but for those who don’t, there is not much that can be done.

    And I also guarantee you that no Pitt fan is hurting inside as much as Narduzzi about this …. and wouldn’t be surprised if his frustration got the better of him in yesterday’s press conference. Sometimes, it’s very hard for an emotional guy to turn it off when needed …. i’m sure (hope) he gets better at it.

    Has anyone considered the possibility that Ollison is just not playing as well in practice as the other RBs?

    Like

  10. Taken as a whole I don’t think he was playing a ‘its not my fault Walt”. Recruits like winning. It has been a long time since Pitt was relevant on the national stage; it wont change overnight.

    Like

  11. BTW Reed, Robert Foster started as 1st team WR last season for a team that won the national title. He was injured in the 2nd or 3rd game, and was lost for the year. Bad for him when there is so much talent on the team … as the national championship game showed last year just how deep and talented they are. at WR.

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  12. I place more blame on the coaching regarding the pass defense. The OSU receivers were fast and skilled. The QB was good so long as he had time. In the second half as soon as they let the defensive backs drop off more and simultaneously blitzed more the OSU quarterback became undone. He started throwing sooner than he should and missed on many throws badly. This could have been done in the first half after the second or third long pass.

    I think that on the final pass we resorted to the up close coverage again and paid the price. It was not advisable with the defensive backs having played an exhausting game with minimal help from reserves. You had the QB hearing footsteps for the entire half. .

    Liked by 1 person

  13. How can you say that a coach should not be able to point out execution errors that the players have made? When did telling the truth become such taboo? Are kids/players today so thin skinned that if the coach points out that they are not executing as they have been coached to do, they need to go sit in their little safe space? You expect the man to stand up there getting the basic question of “why did Maddox and your secondary get torched” phrased 100 different ways by the media asshats and not just tell the plain truth that apparently, those guys are following a different script than the one the coaches wrote? The man just told you the truth and that is a bad thing? Get real

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  14. Some kids go to get educated, some go for NFL dreams. As I noted yesterday, ND has over 20 DLs on their roster so those numbers are hard to break if you are a kid who has NFL dreams. You must play to be noticed. It would be nice to get the local kids but Pitt has shown that it can get kids into the NFL. Look at the NFL Hall of Fame members with more to come.

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  15. These are 20 year olds who don’t do this for a living like the pros do. They are not at the practice facility 8 hours a day, not nearly. Although I have, I rarely criticize a college player who is not loafing or showboating.

    Further, as we have seen in the past, except for the QB, the CB is the most exposed position on the field. When the DT gets blocked out of the play or the OG misses a block, it’s not nearly so apparent than when a CB gets beat. Aaron Berry and Lafayette Pitts have been the 2 most non-QB players panned on Pitt Blather because when they get beat, it’s there for all to see … yet whenever they do their job, you don’t notice it because most times the ball is not thrown their way.

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  16. To Robert Foster’s credit, although he’s not catching passes for big$$$$$ in the NFL like his counterpoint player Boyd is, he does have that National Championship ring in his dresser drawer. So at least he has that going for him.

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  17. Execution is a coached thing. If the execution is not there, then it’s the coaches fault. Either for not teaching it properly or not understanding the player is just not getting it. Take your pick. The fact that schitt falls down doesn’t apply to the man in charge.

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  18. Wanny could tell kids he knew what it took to get to the NFL and he was a great salesman for Pitt and Pittsburgh.

    This is Narduzzi’s first head coach job. Still refining his pitch and has only his MSU history to sell.

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  19. I agree with GhettoDoc above. That’s what’s wrong with everything today. No one can speak the truth for fear of offending or hurting someone’s feelings. Whatever…..
    I commend Maddox for doing the postgame interview. For anyone who watched it, you could definitely tell he was quite upset and angry at how things turned out and he stood up and took the blame. And before anyone says that he was probably angry at coach for letting him out to dry or some lame excuse like that – just go back and watch all of the previous times he’s been interviewed over the past 3 years. He’s the first one to say he loves playing press and being on an island. That’s what he prefers and he doesn’t back down. He’s a tough kid and I really like his demeanor. Every CB gets beat long – some more than others, but it’s part of the game. Heck even Revis is getting abused this year so far. The tough ones come back the next play, the next game and do their thing. We’ll give up a lot of passing yards against UNC but it won’t be near as bad as this past weekend. And you can bet our DBs will come to play.

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  20. So, The coaching staff let those receivers run wild on Saturday?Thought I saw Narduzzi using bad technique and position on that one long pass they hit us for… Execution is actually running and making the play as taught by the staff. If a player is freelancing for whatever reason, then it is on them, not the coaches. The staff can coach them up all they want. But when the ball is snapped, it is the player who must execute. If they are not willing or able to do so, then the staff needs to find someone who can and will and it is no sin to point that out.

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  21. I carefully watched Duzz’s presser and IMHO he was quite TESTY and IRRATATED. Why? My only guess is that he was trying to CHA (ie; cover his a**) and was not happy having to do so. While Duzz did spread the blame around (like fertilizer) the bottom line is he is the CEO and the buck stops with him. Thus, ultimately the blame is ON HIM and rightly so!
    Hopefully he will grow from all the mistakes in this game: not changing the D soon enough when getting flamed, playing too conservative on O (punting on 4th down when behind with little time left), sliding all over the field with wrong shoes/cleats etc. etc. etc.
    I strongly still believe that Duzz is the right man for the job at hand, he may just need a little more time to iron things out. This Saturday would be a good time to have less wrinkles!!! :>)
    #H2P

    Like

  22. I see we have different opinions about all this and I can see most points given out. The good news is that we are talking about some things that can be improved upon. HCPN is still new to the head coaching game and should be learning each and everyday. Same goes for the players. The fact is that MSU normally doesn’t have the ND, Bama or Ohio State type athletes but their defense is coached up and they cover their own assignments while understanding everyone else’s. PITT will get there shortly, we all need to show the patience an undertaking like this takes.

    Like

  23. Wondering if collectively there is anything we blog members can think of to help our team succeed. Kind of like 3 things we need to try and do and 3 things we do well and need to see more of..

    I’m not a coach by any stretch of the imagination, but I think we could mix in some screens, throw to the TE occasionally, and also, usually there is one d lineman for the opposition who we will dominate.. I think we need to run the ball towards him more often. 😀

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  24. Pitttman4ever, I believe Nard’s presser came a short time after Jeter’s announcement. He had to be frustrated that a guy that he had spent a ton of time with the past 2 years committed to ND after 1 short visit. He has to be thinking that it’s going to be harder than he ever thought it would.

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  25. Let’s see Doc, Foster got that National Championship Ring in is drawer and Boyd has a nice NFL contract to go along with a fairly large bank account. Anyone else think that Foster would like to trade places with Boyd at this point in time?

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  26. I wasn’t trying to be rude there or spend other people’s money, just pointing out how far PITT is behind when it comes to competing with the big boys.

    As far as other idea’s I don’t understand why PITT didn’t throw more Orndorf’s way? + I’ve always been a big fan of throwing deep a couple of times early just to get the linebackers off the line of scrimmage a bit. Then again field position dictates a lot of play calling. Again I can’t say I’m totally happy right now but I’m just fine with the way things are playing out so far.

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  27. Reed – thanks for the post and the link to HCPN’s pressor.

    I just watched it and have no problem with his responses. If one has time, I recommend watching it. Tone and inflection don’t come through on a transcript.

    Thought his remarks on Maddox were balanced, candid, fair and supportive.

    Like

  28. Heard this today on Sirius ESPN College Football show with Paul Finebaum, famous commentator in the SEC. Discussion involved the loss by Oregon to Nebraska over the week end when Oregon missed 4 of 5 two-point tries and lost by three points. Oregon coach said his team executed poorly, not that his strategy was wrong. How many times have we heard that poor execution excuse — James missed the hole, e.g.– rather than that was a bad play call? It must be just how coaches talk. You hear it from almost every coach when something goes wrong, not just from Narduzzi, whom I like. Pay attention to broadcasts and notice how many times the words “poor execution” are said by coaches. So often that they are cliches. Yes, kids will not always execute plays properly, but sometimes the plays called are poor and perhaps even the kids are not coached as well as they should be. How many coaches will admit any of that? Not too many. IMO

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  29. wwb… Agree. Duzz just got kicked in the nuts by the Jeter commitment then out to face the media to address the loss which in retrospect he knows there was a chance to win… We all have those days at the office.. He’s also a guy who will wear his emotions on his sleeve..

    Like

  30. Good news….Eliminator Week 3: Fighting Irish knocked out

    http://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/17587377/eliminator-week-3-already-eliminated-college-football-playoff-race

    Bad news for Foster’s dad….his son has 19 catches with a 9 yd average so far in his 3rd year and only played this year against W. Kentucky and was benched against the 2 P5 teams.

    http://www.espn.com/college-football/player/_/id/551293/robert-foster

    Will he get to play as a senior? That usually isn’t the case when better guys keep coming in….just ask Ibrahim. Calvin Ridley is a sophomore and Steward the other starter is also a Junior.

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  31. Bitch when Narduzzi shuts out the press

    Bitch when Narduzzi gives an honest answer and you twist it into him throwing people under the bus.

    He started by saying the coaches have to coach better…”We just have to keep coaching them…”

    Totally taken out of context!

    Narduzzi has taken the blame publicly many many times.

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  32. I have heard the argument that some guys just look better in practice.

    Maybe, but some guys play better when the lights are on and the adrenaline is jacked up.

    1100 yards in actual games at full speed, against real competition not practicing against your buddies is what counts.

    Powell was on the radio and said he should have taken Conner out in the fourth quarter because he was tired. Says it’s hard to take an All-American out of the game.

    Shouldn’t be when you have the ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year standing behind him.

    Give me a break.

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  33. We can’t have it both ways guys. Do we know for sure why Ollison isn’t playing? No. If he can’t pick up blitz assignments or run the right direction or whatever, then he can’t play. We don’t know but I’m dam sure it isn’t because Hall is from Ohio and a Narduzzi recruit. We don’t want Narduzzi complaining about execution from the players after-all.

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  34. For the last two games Conner has been ineffective in the fourth quarter. Made what could have been a crucial fumble against PSU, and his coach admits he should have taken him out in the last game.

    Great coaching, at this rate will Conner make it half way through the season?

    He is not an ironman, he was banged up his freshman year, and limped through the last three games his record setting year, was out last year, and has beat cancer.

    We won eight games without him last year. He is not our only weapon.

    Wake up coaches.

    Like

  35. Foster could very well make an impact this year. He fumbled and was in doghouse. Injury away from being a star. Wish all kids well not just Pitt Kids.

    Aaron Berry has more arrests than INT’s before he was fired from the NFL. Not a good Pitt ambassador.

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  36. ntrocketscience exactly. Pitt fans are a fickle bunch that’s for sure. I know people have complained at lengths about how Pitt plays all noon games and then they just announced the Marshall game was 7;30PM and someone on another site complained it was too late and no one from out of town would come because it required getting a hotel for a night. Goooooood gawd. I for one come from out of town and am so happy it is a night game so I can enjoy a proper tailgate without getting up at 6AM and feeling like Johnny Majors swilling down booze for breakfast.

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  37. I agree. Narduzzi was to blame on his defense but speaking the facts about Maddox is ok. Lots of Kids are primma donna lightweights these days bc Mommy and Daddy protected them. Screw that. Facts are facts.

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  38. Conner 63/281 4.5
    Ollison 16/66 4.1
    Hall 15/63 4.2
    Moss 2/8 4.0

    They are going to run Conner into the ground at this rate.
    Ollison and/or Hall need more carries.

    Like

  39. Tar Heels ranked 106th against the run.. They were bad last year and we didn’t take what they were giving us… Go figure.. Coaching or execution?

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  40. Ghost of Billy I agree but I have to laugh when you say PITT fans are fickle. WE sure are. (does that include you?)

    I wouldn’t worry about the rusty squeaky hinge, it’s just good to see PITT get a game on Saturday night on…? Of all things Root Sports network.

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  41. I don’t care what Foster does for another school ot any of those kids to decide to go to ND. The point is that some of these locals have some success here and think they can start for elite college programs because that’s their dream. But sometimes it turns out to be just that, a dream….and that’s the gamble.

    Remember what pd posted about Jeter: Jeter basically said a few months ago he wasn’t going to Pitt ” I’m not playing for some smalltime program”. Once he got offers from OSU & ND it was over.

    Well, there’s no guarantee you’re playing for the big time program that recruited you either.

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  42. Fellow Povites,
    Many of us see that James C. is being over used. It is OBVIOUS that in all 3 games James is having serious problems catching his breath after he carries the ball. I’ve actually been worried about his well being. Not putting our next proven best runner (Ollison) in to give James a blow is mind boggling. WHAT IS UP WITH THAT????????????

    Like

  43. ike I try not to be fickle but of course when you have to endure some of the things we have had to endure over our respective fan lifetimes it is hard not to be sometimes. I just always get a kick out of the fact when people complain about certain things and it changes they find a new thing to complain about. A tough lot to please for sure but a lot of it maybe is in our DNA of getting burned so many times when we tried to be hopeful and optimistic. I do feel like that sentiment is slowly changing but it will take time.

    Like

  44. Expecting JC to resume where he left off in 2014 is folly – gc is right. At this rate the wheels will fall off in Nov. I’m in favor of mixing up the touches including QO.

    With all the success JC has had in college, I am skeptical he will be successful in the pros. Although a tough runner, his running style is very upright and he’s not extremely quick. I hope I’m wrong on this.

    Like

  45. PittFan28 – I’ll give a shot at your give (3) “Do this more” and “Try this” thoughts:

    Do this more
    1. Hand the ball to Quadree Ollison
    2. Hand the ball to Jordan Whitehead
    3. We have three offensive “threats” (Conner, J.Whitehead and Quadree Henderson) – be sure that (2) are ALWAYS on the field when Pitt has the ball. It prevents the D from keying on any one player.

    Try this
    1. Use Scott Orndorf as a WR
    2. Involve Aaron Mathews in the offense – throw the ball to him and let Aaron throw the ball (like T.Boyd).
    3. Use Rachid Ibrahim as a WR

    Trample the Tarheels

    HTP!

    Like

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