It’s no surprise to Pitt fans by now that Pat Narduzzi has hired ex-Pitt Defensive Line coach Charlie Partridge as our new DL position coach . Partridge was a fan favorite back in the early Dave Wannstedt head coaching days. You can see on his job chart that he was here from 2003 until 200 when he went to the Wisconsin Badgers.
And he was a fan and player favorite. Our defenses were pretty good back then but his forte was player recruitment and then developing those players into real mainstays at their positions. That was in his younger coaching days… he’s grown up since then.
What is pretty interesting about this hire, and this is based on intuition, is that because we are hiring a staff coach who has been 1) DL coach, 2) Co-Defensive coordinator, 3) Asst’ HC and the 4) a HC at Florida Atlantic. We are setting the future table.
My Pitt friends, what does that resume’ say to you?
That’s right… he’s Josh Conklin’s replacement as Pitt’s Defensive Coordinator if thing don’t get 1000% better on defense next year and quick like. I think this is the first case of Pat Narduzzi really seeing the handwriting on the wall when it comes to Josh Conklin’s abilities and lack of production at a Power Five school.
Partridge was making $591K at Florida Atlantic (94th nationally) before he got fired there. So he’s not breaking the bank here at Pitt and I’ll wager he’s making less than that. He’ll have one year under his belt if a change is called for at the DC spot. If we start out badly enough and are getting burned in the passing game like we did last season then he’s on staff and ready to serve as an interim-DC in a pinch.
Hey, playing both PSU and their QB McSorley (24/35, 69%, 332 yards and 1 TD last year) and then OK State’s QB Rudolph (26/46, 57%, 540 yards & 2 TDs… and 21 yards per completion!) is going to be the litmus tests on whether we have really gotten better on pass defense or not.
We’ll see a drop in our offense and I think this is going to be a precarious season in that without 40+ ppg (and we won’t get that) the defense just absolutely cannot give up 35 ppg again – not without a replica of 2016’s offense to bail them out sitting along side them.
I think some Pitt fans are somewhat kidding themselves when they say our offense is going to be as good next season – we lost five starters from that offense who were all great leaders, players and high performers for us. Plus you really never know how long it will take a new OC, in our case Shawn Watson, to get his feet under him with the real games or even to see if he’s any good as an OC at Pitt at all.
So in my opinion it is imperative that should our offense sputter over the first three games (YSU, PSU & OSU) we may well need the defense to be the bailing-outer and they may have to win games for us. Not a comforting thought.
Any Pitt fans out there who feel confident at all that could happen at this point in time? Didn’t think so. Narduzzi may have to pull the trigger early on in the season, get a new DC and get way more involved in the defense himself.
Many other colleges and NFL teams make course adjustments in mid-season when things go sideways. It isn’t all that unusual and sometimes the results are strikingly good. Narduzzi has been extremely loyal to Conklin but I strongly believe you just can’t let this defensive crap show roll downhill for three straight years.
The reality is that as nice as 8 win seasons are we are stagnant in moving forward as a football team, the program and in the athletic department with the changes there also. The football team missed a great opportunity to jump to 9 wins and a possible #15 or better ranking with that loss to Northwestern.
Believe me, if we had that last bowl won and were in consideration for a ranking the poll voters would sure as hell factored in our win over the National Champion Clemson and boosted us as high as we have been in a long time.
So what we are currently is a program that is spinning its Narduzzi wheels as far as the W/L columns go and as far as national recognition goes. We can’t afford to slide backwards at this point… a 7 win season takes the wind right out of our sails and moves us back down close to SOP status.
Pat Narduzzi can not afford that and with a poor start we’ll be looking right at it, so I think Charlie Partridge was an excellent hire as a stop-gap DC if needed… and as a great DL coach as per his hire.