by Reed Kohberger
OK POVers – Mike asked me to chip in a “Between the Lines” article for this week. Because it is a bye week Narduzzi isn’t doing a normal Monday press conference so we’ll take a look at his Notre Dame post-debacle utterings…
NARDUZZI: First off, Notre Dame’s got a great football team. They played like the No. 3 team in the country today. They made plays on the ball. We had three interceptions. We lost the field position war big time. You’re never going to win a game, you’re probably going to lose big when you throw three interceptions. Joey didn’t have a great day.
No coach, “we” didn’t have three INTs – Notre Dame did. But let me get this straight – you mean to say that that 45-3 score was all because of ND’s play? Not even a little bit of our putrid play came into it?
But like I said, you’ve got to give their offense and their defense and their special teams credit. They made plays and we didn’t. But time of possession, 40 to 20, we couldn’t sustain drives offensively and put our defense in tough situations and when you do that against the No. 3 team in the country you’re going to have problems winning football games.
So our offense put our defense in tough situations did they? Now you wait just a minute Mr. Head Coach –our first six punts resulted in these starting field positions for the Domers: ND 37, ND 13, ND 18, ND 25, ND 12 and ND 16. How in the world can you point to the offense when ND continually had big field distance in front of them which favors your fancy pants defense?
So I’ll open it up for questions.
Wonder what’s for dinner tonight. Can’t go out to pick up food because someone might recognize me.
How do you explain how things got out of hand there? You mentioned a couple stats there but what actually went wrong?
NARDUZZI: I’ll going to start off, again, giving Notre Dame credit, period. They’re the No. 3 team in the country. They played like it. They’re as good a football team I have seen walk on the field in the last six years. They’re talented from front to back on both sides of the ball and we got beat by a better football team, period.
Who the Hell started scheduling Notre Dame again? In my extension contract you said we wouldn’t have to play them. You promised then you lied to me!! But a hell of a team. Best ever and that’s a fact. Let’s just say that we didn’t have a snowball’s chance in Tahiti and leave it at that, shall we?
I’m sure the tape will see that. I’ll watch the tape and we’ll evaluate it and probably have more answers for you when we get together again. I don’t know whether that’s Monday or not. I don’t know what our schedule is with EJ. But I feel comfortable talking with you again on Monday, if that’s what EJ says. I don’t know what our schedule is with the open week, but I would like to watch the tape before I make any comments.
EJ – Quick…dump all the tape from this game. I just said I was going to look at it, but you’ll have to Clockwork Orange my eyes for me to see one damn minute of it. Thanks, you’re a great friend.
But, again, I want to give credit to Notre Dame. They are a really good football team. They’re physical. They’re big, like I told you last Monday. They’re a talented football team. I thought we would stack it up better. I thought we would be able to throw the ball better. I did not think we would run the ball great on that front, which they’re a top run defense in the country, I think, you know, and that’s what it is.
That what it is, what it really, really is. Honestly, did anyone who has followed this football team think we’d be able to run on these guys? Whippy and I sure didn’t. That’s why we told the RBs to just go through the motions after the QBs hand you the ball – just don’t fumble and don’t hurt yourselves.
So we’ll look. We’ll re-evaluate. We’ll regroup. I think we need an open week. I think there’s only two Power 5 teams in the country that played 7 games, or 6 games for that matter, and we just got to regroup and find ourselves.
There’s this guy on the POV – Eek, or Eck or something, really great fan and knows the college game inside and out and who knows all about regrouping. We’ve been stressing that all week in practice. We drilled safety into the kids head in practice and at team meetings – if you think something bad might happen don’t turn your back to it, but take a deep breath and slowly walk away until you are sure you are safe from the threat and then…regroup! Easy Peasy.
With 1:22 left in the first half there, you guys have three timeouts, you’re on your 36-yard line. I mean, you guys kind of just sit on the ball. Are you content at that point going into the half with what it was or what happened there?
NARDUZZI: I’m never content. But with 1:22, I don’t feel like we were going get into a two-minute drill and do anything crazy, and then we give up a blocked punt. But with 1:22 and the backup quarterback in there, didn’t want to go slinging it around the park and see something bad happen. So we figured we needed to regroup and get in at the half and just see what we had to do.
Look – that never even happened. Whoever says that happened is just hating on me and, in turn, hating on Pitt. Whoever says that is just not very nice and, well, it’s kind of an insult to my manhood. But I’m a man, Dammit! I can take it! I don’t want to talk about that any more.
I think it was early in the second quarter you guys had the — decided to punt at Notre Dame’s 37. Was there any — what was the process there in deciding not to have Alex attempt a long field goal?
NARDUZZI: Another field goal, just, I think it was going to be a longer field goal than we wanted to. The wind out there was swirling a little bit at that time and just didn’t feel comfortable. Thought it was better off to just pin them, not give them a short field and play defense.
First of all “Alex” as you call him is not my friend anymore. He’s just # 97 to me now. I used to kiss him and stuff but since the NC State game I can’t stand to look at him. Here’s the truth, I didn’t call for that FG in the 1st quarter because I don’t mess with any plays that might have points attached to them – I told you all that last week. So – because I don’t like him as a friend anymore I told The Whip not to allow him on the field…at all.
The defense has given up a lot of big plays, long touchdowns during these last four games. Is it simply just — is it the front end not getting home or are there mistakes in the back end that you’re seeing repeatedly?
NARDUZZI: There’s a little bit of both. The one they hit, the big one, we brought pressure, we hit the quarterback right as he released it. So, again, I would have to watch the tape and see how our paths were when we did blitz. We did blitz on that down. We were in cover 3. And you got a 6’3″ receiver on a smaller corner, I think, a little push off, whatever, a little lean on a guy, and number 11 makes a big play. And then Erick (Hallett) came out of the middle of the field and he’s got to finish it up and at least give us another yard to stay in down there.
My defense is the best. Everyone knows that. It was the offense that gave up those five TDs and that FG. Our defense had nothing to do with it. I just told you guys that a couple of minutes ago. Use that notebook Jerry – maybe your memory is going.
But I will say this. It is always more important for your DBs to be fast rather than tall. You can teach jumping for the ball but they have to get there chop, chop, quickly first. If they are really fast they can sneak up and scare those big TEs into dropping the ball. 60% of the time it works every time. That’s how I recruit.
Talk about the quarterback play. You mentioned Yellen having a rough day, but also Beville, he looked like he only got one series in before you went to Patti. What was it like to kind of juggle quarterbacks out there today?
NARDUZZI: Not easy. You know, it’s not easy juggling quarterbacks, but we’ll look at the tape and see where we are with the quarterback. But it’s not easy when you have your backup in there and, again, against a really good defense.
Joey who? Joey, Davis, Kenny, Nick, yada, yada, yada, whatever. Again, that’s the O which I care not for. Maybe you should talk to The Whippster – he knows those guys. All I know is that those sons of bitches put my precious defense in bad positions.
When talking about some of those long touchdowns that you guys have given up during the ACC play here, as a coach, what, if anything, can be done to fix that or to prevent those or, at this point, does this just seem like kind of a fundamental flaw with this group?
NARDUZZI: I don’t know if I would call it fundamental flaws.
Well, everyone else does though.
Our defense was on the field for a long time today, almost 41 minutes. We got to make plays on the ball. We’ll look at the pass. We’ll look at what happened.
That’s what film is for…right EJ? (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) All I know is that my darling defense was made to look bad today and believe thee me – I don’t not like that Sam I Am.
You know, give Ian Book a lot of credit. Even when we did try to — almost get him, almost get him, how many times did we almost get him, and he scrambled.
So, you are saying you tried to “almost” get him? WTF? How about actually trying, you know, to get him.
But he did this thing where he evidently moved away from our outstanding and very good looking defensive lineman. We just were not expecting that. But we’ll look at the film. Well, Mrs. Narduzzi will probably look at the film. That stuff scares me. She’ll tell me about it tomorrow though.
He might have been the leading rusher. He had a nice day rushing the ball and scrambling out of there, which we knew he had escapability (. He’s a great athlete. He didn’t make any bad decisions. We didn’t force him to make bad decisions. He put the ball up where it needed to be. And like I said, I give Ian Book credit.
For God sakes guys – he’s a QB at Notre Dame, what did you expect? Of course he chewed us up. I’ll let you in on a little secret. I didn’t let any of our stout defenders watch him play on film. He’s too good and it would have scared them. Better to, you know, not take that risk.
I mean I’ll take risks in other areas but not too many – not good for the digestion, Eh What!
We put a lot of guys on their back in the backfield and we couldn’t catch him today.
EJ – did that make any sense? No? OK, change it before you post this up.
He was outstanding and he manages the game. And I told you, he’s a leader. We just didn’t get him. There’s opportunities we had to put him in — whether it was getting off the field on third down and sacking him and all of a sudden he scrambles for — I think, the first series of the game he had two third down scrambles where we just couldn’t get off a block and make a tackle on him.
Ed. Note: I think King Pat has lost command of the English language. One does not put a foe in ‘opportunities’. One takes opportunities away from the foe.
So we’ll look at that, and as I said, their offensive, line 129 starts, they played like it today, we couldn’t get the pressure and Ian Book made people miss.
Not any of MY recruits on defense missed him though. It were the 7th year Chryst recruits who couldn’t get him. That’s the crap I inherited on defense but yes, I’ve made it work if I do say so myself. Make Violin strings from the guts of cats I always say.
Do you expect to get Kenny Pickett back this season?
NARDUZZI: Absolutely. Absolutely. Hopefully sooner than later. He was out there today and he had a good week, he’s doing really well. We’ll see. Might be a stretch for Florida State, I don’t know, but we’ll see.
Who gives a flying F! Again, that’s offense stuff and I don’t need that on my plate right now thank you. It gives me a headache.
Can you talk more about the offensive side. There were a lot of drops, so how would you address that going into the bye week here and kind of coming out there?
NARDUZZI: We’ll look at the tape, I don’t know if there was a lot of drops, I don’t know if we had enough balls where they needed to be. I’m not sure how accurate we were today as quarterbacks and throwing the football. We’ll look at that.
No “we” won’t. Geez, are you guys dense or just plain S-T-U-I-P-D? Dropped passes are like the sunshine – when it rains it pours…or something like that. EJ – tell ‘em what I meant.
But we got to make plays when the ball comes to us. We had a couple balls that weren’t put where they need to be put. Whether it’s over the middle and hanging a receiver out, whatever it may be, we’ll look at the tape and see exactly where we are there.
It looked like Paris Ford wasn’t very happy about when he came out of the game in the third quarter. Can you talk about what came into the decision to take him out then?
NARDUZZI: It was nothing that we were taking him out for any reason, we talked all week just by rotating those guys that we wanted to get Brandon Hill in the game and get him active. We thought with a lot of the 12 personnel we were seeing, the two tight ends that — Brandon’s a good football player. Brandon, in my opinion, is a starter at safety as well. We got a lot of faith in him, he’s a good hitter and that’s really what it was.
I took him out because another DB’s father coughed up the going rate for getting his kid playing time. Plus, the rate doubles if it’s on national TV. Can’t pass up an opportunity to make some quick cash, can we? It isn’t like $4,000,000.00 is a lot of money – barely enough to live on.
But nobody wants to be taken out of the game, he wasn’t taken out of the game for any reason except to give Brandon Hill a series. And I guess he wasn’t happy, I’m not sure, but that happens sometimes.
Look, I don’t want to talk about the defensive kids any longer. Great kids and loyal as hell. Not like those snotty O players who think they know everything. My D was heavily traumatized by the way the offense put them in bad, bad, really bad positions all day. Therapy bills will be going through the roof these next two weeks.
You talked about the bye week coming up and just getting this team back on the winning track, what was the message at halftime if you could share it to just get these guys focused moving forward?
NARDUZZI: I said, Hey it’s 0-0 at halftime we’re going to go out and play and I think our kids played hard. We were just outmatched today, for whatever reason.
I know, I know – it was 28-3 at halftime but who’s counting. 0-0 sounds so much better. We really didn’t play that hard. Oh, at first we did but I saw the kids were getting too wrapped up in the game so at 1:22 left in the 1st quarter I said “Boys, enough is enough. Let’s just get into the locker room and take it easy for the rest of the game.”
Like I said, I’m going to give credit to Notre Dame, I think they’re big, I think they’re physical, I think they’re fast, obviously they’re well coached.
By that prick Brian “I am Notre Dame!” Kelly I might add. Ooooh, I really hate him. And how in hell does he get all the good western PA players? He must offer more ‘intangibles’ (money) than I do – Pitt is so cheap! We have to beg the admin to spring for trips to Dave and Busters and those insufferable Gods of Football get to walk on Holy Ground.
And the message at halftime was, ‘Hey, we go out and regather and go.’ And I can’t tell you we played a worse second half than we did first half. It was about the same, from what I saw, except for a couple picks and a couple more short yards.
And the message at halftime was “Hey, were are royally screwed so play as badly as you did in the first half and we might get a ten minute 4th quarter.” When I saw “about the same I mean more of the offense screwing my defense.” Makes me sick.
We gave up a blocked, you know, a blocked punt, and they didn’t score in the fourth quarter.
Blocked, you know, blocked like when an opponent (i.e. Notre Dame player) walks up to the punter, slaps him in the face and knocks the ball away as the punter starts to cry. Then the opponent saunters into our end zone and picks the ball up. Touchdown for the bad guys! Who knew that could happen in this day and age? Again – bad offense for sure.
Seriously, now I’m just throw words out there. Heather told me they don’t have to make sense just make the presser at least 10 minutes long then bail.
And we had a 49-yard drive for a touchdown and you had a 35-yard drive for a touchdown. So those are short fields and offenses will drool when they get those short fields. It opens up the playbook to do whatever you want to do. You’re in four-down territory in both those situations and it’s not easy. Both touchdowns, I believe, they had a field goal, you know, looking at it, 14-play, 72-drive, our guys played hard, forced the field goal in the third. And then we had, like I said, that 49-yard drive and a 35-yard drive for touchdowns. And our guys never quit and I never questioned their effort. Like I said, I’m not so sure the second half wasn’t better than the first half, but it’s a good football team that we played today. They’re the No. 3 team in the country and I would imagine you are probably looking at a Clemson/Notre Dame, based on what I’ve seen in an ACC Championship game.
If I talk real fast it doesn’t have to make sense. Can I go home now?
Do penalties bother you more than anything else?
NARDUZZI: No, penalties? No, there’s a lot of things that bother me. I don’t know what the penalties were for the day. But now I’m just looking at it right now. 12 penalties? Yeah. There’s just little penalties here and there and they will get you. So, yeah, penalties bother me when I see 12 and that’s more than we had last week.
Penalties? Why would you say that? Penalties are both good and bad, just like time outs – you are given them for free and some are good and some are bad but you always want to go into the half with at least three in your back pocket.
Penalties! Can’t believe you asked such a stupid, immature and churlish question.
EJ, let’s roll. Drinks on you tonight. I came closest to predicting the losing point margin at 42. Your 39 points just weren’t good enough. Hey, someone turn out the lights when everyone leaves… got to save every penny we can for that buyout, right?.