Reading Between the Lines: Post-FSU, Pre-Georgia Tech

Pat Narduzzi was back in action Monday, dealing witticims and platitudes during his monday Zoom press conference. As usual, our crack team of sports analysts uncovers what he really meant to say.

PAT NARDUZZI: All right. Last night closed that chapter, 24-hour rule, Florida State. Really felt pretty much when you watch the game tape afterwards, the same day or the same thing I felt the day of the game is great team victory for our kids. Just proud of the way they came out of that first quarter when things didn’t look as good and they were persistent on what they came down and traveled to Tallahassee to do. I told them earlier in the week we’re not going down there to play Tallahassee or play Florida State, we’re going down there to win, and our kids did absolutely that.

Yes, you hear that. We WON. WON THE GAME. And lets be real here, I think I kinda had a thought of which way this thing was headed after we got down early, but I’ll be damned if one of our defensive backs didn’t make a play. And I thought to myself right then and there, you know, that’s something we can build on.

A lot of plays to be made. I know you guys have asked a lot of questions about they dropped this pass or dropped that pass, but receivers made plays when they had the opportunities. I don’t think there was a dropped pass the entire day (knocks wood). That’s clean football. The sacks, quarterback didn’t have a chance to really scramble that much, and we took care of the quarterback and everything in there.

Heck man like when the stars line up they really line up. We didn’t drop a pass on offense. Heck, we didn’t drop a pass on defense. And you know all you guys who were saying that Kenny doesn’t throw a catchable ball. Well let me tell you…I had Karlo come out during the bye week and adjust the JUGS machine and well hey I just want to say thanks for the fans that did the Go Fund Me on that machine because as you can see it really paid off.

I was just happy with the details. Still not as happy with some of the after-the-whistle penalties that we had, whether it was a late hit on a quarterback or a celebration or taunting. Some of those will drive me nuts and we’ll try to tie that up this week. I think they watch too much NFL football and see that the guy is running down to the end zone and taking pictures. It’s just something you can’t do in college football, and we’ve got to act like we’ve been there before.

After all I’m setting the example here. So once I figure out how to get my emotions in check then maybe the guys will figure it out too.

Got a great challenge on the road again, headed down to Georgia Tech, and I think a tough football team. When I watch tape on them, really all three phases you see a physical team. You really do. They’ve got a young football player in Jeff Sims that’s athletic. He’s a freshman from Jacksonville, Florida, that we recruited a year ago, so we know who he is. I know what he looks like; I know he’s not six foot; I know he’s probably more 6’4″-ish. I know he’s athletic, he’s got a great arm. And then defensively, again, Geoff Collins is a defensive guy and they play hard on defense. They’re sound, and they make plays.

Kinda reminds me of me when I was in my second year as an ACC head coach. Except I didn’t have a quarterback. Right?

It’ll be a tough game. It was a tough game a year ago when we went down there, and I guess we have to go to Georgia two years in a row. I don’t know how that plays out with the ACC scheduling in the future, but I hope they have to come to Pittsburgh two years in a row, as well.

Well the ACC screwed us again, and you know I know that Tech isn’t going to be asked to come up here two years in a row, but whatever I’m getting players from there and and they aren’t getting players from here so there is that. Plus I promised Rashad Battle and Jaylen Barden a home game. Look! Already checking that box.

With that, I’ll leave it open for questions from you guys.

Q. Were you surprised going back when the schedule was revised and you found out you go to Atlanta two years in a row? What were your thoughts when that came out?

PAT NARDUZZI: You know, just what am I going to do? I shake my head, like okay, I’m just hoping — you can’t just say it’s a COVID year, it didn’t matter and they only had to come up here and repeat again.

We like going down there anyway, so just another long road trip and our kids have done an outstanding job with that, preparing for it and taking care of business before we leave, and obviously on that trip last week having all our meals in a tent was interesting to say the least, and our kids just kind of didn’t matter. We came down there for a reason, to win, so we’ll travel wherever we’ve got to go to go play the game.

They don’t call it Talatrashee for a reason. Meals in a tent at a Holiday Inn. Sheesh. On top of that, it was all the BoJangles you can eat, so yea, thanks ACC.

Q. You said you had meals in a tent; what was that?

PAT NARDUZZI: I thought we talked about that last week.

What? I didn’t tell you how the “only hotel with occupancy” in a 30 mile radius of Tallahassee was the Holiday Inn? I mean I know Norvell is struggling down there but damn these guys are just stooping to another level.

Q. I might have missed that.

PAT NARDUZZI: Were you sleeping when I talked about that? (Laughs)

No no I told you but you are just trying to get a story out of me…lets play along a little more.

Q. I didn’t hear it.

PAT NARDUZZI: Well, we had a little different hotel. Maybe it was on the radio we talked about it or maybe I’m losing my mind. But we had a hotel that everybody stays at down in —

And by “everybody” I mean teams like Pitt, Boston College, Syracuse.

Q. You’re right, we did talk about that on your (radio) show.

PAT NARDUZZI: I hope you’re doing something besides listening to a radio show. You get a radio show here every Monday.

Please, please listen to my radio show.

You know, we had a different hotel, obviously, last week, and every week it’s different. We go to Boston, I think I said on the radio show, we went to Boston we had the whole hotel to ourselves. You go to Miami you’ve got some other people in the hotel. This week we had some other people in the hotel but it wasn’t big enough to do meetings in there and to be social distanced. It was just different. We’ll be great in Georgia this weekend with the place we normally stay at.

Can we just talk about how the good folks at Georiga Tech are nothing but consummate gentlemen and ladies while the folks at FSU are clearly not. But hey, we’ve never rolled up 41 points on Georgia Tech.

But it was a Holiday Inn down in Tallahassee and we had big tents outside and we were eating in the parking lot under a tent with fans blowing. It was interesting.

And it was about midway through that meal when I pulled Randy (Bates) aside and I was like “I don’t care if we in this game or lose this game but you are going to blitz the s*** out of them because this is some buuuulll….

But our kids, like I said, didn’t care. We had pregame out there, same thing, pregame meal in a tent. I’ve never done that in 30-some years of coaching. It was good. The meeting rooms were too small. The offense met in a tent outside Friday night, which is always interesting. I was with the offense that night and I didn’t feel anything, but some of the guys were talking about they were getting bitten up out there. You’re in the swamplands. I didn’t get bit at all, but I never do.

Actually I slept in that tent. Awoke very refreshed I will say. Completely covered in mosquitos, but not one single bite.

Q. Are these like big party tents? Is that what you’re talking about?

PAT NARDUZZI: Yeah, the ones with the big — it was big. We were socially distanced, but we had to do that just to keep our kids safe. We were obviously outside, but there’s no way we could have eaten inside. They had a room about as big as this little room I’m in here right now, about like five-by-five was going to be the offensive meeting room, so we switched it all up.

And so what I’m really trying to say is have you ever been to a restaurant at a Holiday Inn? I mean, at first I was pissed off about the tent, but then I was like “actually this is an upgrade”.

The training room was in the bar. They shut the bar down for us. We went and changed the whole building around. Chris LaSala and John Ford did a great job organizing that.

And if you think about it that made the most sense, because there are ice machines in the bar. And we rubbed Kenny’s ankle down with a nice 18 year old McCallan which really seemed to help. And I will also say that for some reason all the guys that came out of that training room just seemed really really….loose…and they all played pretty damn good. Probably unrelated but I just figured I’d throw that out there.

Q. Back to Saturday for a second, I saw you ran a lot of three-down linemen with Patrick Jones standing up. What did you see on tape that you employed that alignment down at Florida State?

PAT NARDUZZI: You’re a football guru. We’ve run it a couple times during the year but not enough that anybody would notice, but we did stand Patrick up quite a bit in the game. You know, when you look at it, I guess last week when we game planned, we haven’t done a lot of it and it takes more work, more pass, more football, just takes a little longer, and I guess in the open week it gave us a little chance to do maybe just a little bit more, but it’s hard to do.

Lets not mince words here. We needed a win. And if I didn’t change some things up and we didn’t come away with a W you know my head would be on a pike at the end of the season, so goddamn right I stood Patrick Jones Up.

On 3rd down we usually go three-down, okay. And on normal downs we don’t, we go four-down. But to be able to go three-down I guess was based on our secondary. We pretty much played Saturday’s game without three starters back there, and we probably didn’t have enough for nickel, and that’s kind of why we had to just have a little small package of that just to get through the game.

“Small Package” heheh. Heheheheh.

But whether we have a couple plays this weekend, I don’t know. We’ll see. We haven’t even got to that far. But we should be a little bit deeper, and I think we have a little bit more confidence in the back end based on the way Erick Hallett played, and A.J. Woods played outstanding. Judson (Tallandier) came in and played some meaningful snaps in the game.

And if you think I’m telling you anything, anything at all about how we are going to line up against Georgia Tech…well you haven’t been covering Pitt football for very long. But thanks for asking.

So just getting a game under your belt with some of those new guys out there. As I told you, Jason (Pinnock) will be back this week, so we’ll have a little bit more – ‘Quis didn’t play in the game, Marquis Williams, that is. So we were shorthanded in the back end against an athletic Florida State team.

Actually I made a bet against Norvell and I was like “hey man I’m going to beat you with my second string defensive backfield in there (except for Damar of course, who will be here until he’s thirty and has three post-doctorate degrees), and if I do you have to get a tattoo of a meatball on your calf.Of course he didn’t expect Patrick Jones to be standing up so of course he took the bet.

Q. Is it hard to overstate Kenny Pickett’s importance to this offense?

PAT NARDUZZI: You know, Kenny is really good. I keep telling you guys. When you don’t have your starter out there, it’s different. I saw Big Ben went out a little bit yesterday again (for the Steelers), and you hope he never goes out again. It changes what you do. It’s mainly like — you think of all the reps, if you added up every snap that Kenny Pickett has had in his last four years in practice and games, it’s big, and when you add up the snaps that Joey Yellen or Davis Beville have had in the last — as long as they’ve been here, I mean, it’s a drop in the bucket as far as just the knowledge they have. They’re going to have it when they get a big spring ball in front of them and then a fall camp that’s real fall camp. We got three days of spring ball in there; we just didn’t get much. And then you get to fall camp, who’s getting the majority of the reps? Your starter. And then you’re splitting reps trying to find out who the other guys are, and you never can find out. This spring is going to be huge for the other guys.

Is it hard to overstate…hard to overstate? Can’t figure out if good or bad… Yes???

But when Kenny Pickett is in the game, it’s a different ballgame whether he can scramble or not. Again, he wasn’t full go, and I think he came out of that game feeling really good, which is a positive, so he’ll be a week healthier this week as we go, and then maybe there’s some opportunities to run him a little bit more if we have to.

Did I not tell you guys I would ride or die with Kenny Pickett in the beginning of the season? Did I not tell you that? Because I’m pretty sure I told you that. Man if we would just have had this receiving corps in place two years ago…

Q. Is it as important emotionally as it is anything else, just having him out there helps the other guys?

PAT NARDUZZI: Well, I think naturally everybody has a little bit more confidence in the guy that’s done it for all those reps we just talked about, the million reps. So there’s obviously the confidence part. But there’s also the execution part that’s huge, and it’s different when you’ve been — that quarterback spot back there, you can ask Florida State’s quarterback how different it is sitting back in the pocket and seeing stuff come at you, and it ain’t easy, and he’s a younger guy, as well. But it’s a little bit different back there compared to Ian Book a couple years ago, compared to where Ian Book was this year. You look at the difference where we got him a couple years ago in South Bend and all of a sudden this year Ian Book is like a different dude. They played pretty good this weekend, as well.

I mean if you want to talk about a quarterback regressing year over year, Ian Book is definitely your dude. I mean look. A couple of years ago he was just killing it. Different Dude that Ian Book. Different Dude. I’m a big Brian Kelly fan by the way.

Q. Is that confidence not just with the offensive guys but defensive guys and special teams, like hey, we’ve got our quarterback back, maybe it gives them a lift, as well?

PAT NARDUZZI: Yeah, I think all those things are factors mentally. I think our defense feeds off our offense, our offense feeds off the defense. When our offense is moving the ball, and I’m not getting on headphones saying “punt alert,” so the defensive guys can get up near the offense in case we don’t get a 1st down on 3rd down, it’s kind of like I feel like I just said that a minute ago, “punt alert,” and there’s another punt alert, but when they’re moving the ball down the field and scoring and defense gives them a nice short field and they score, they feed off each other, and it gets frustrating and that’s when things happen in the second half, which we saw against Miami, we certainly saw against Notre Dame where guys are trying to do too much instead of just do their job, and then it gives up even bigger plays.

I also often say “first and goal from the 1 inch line alert”, which is basically a signal for the field goal unit to get ready.

They feed off each other offensively and defensively when things happen during the game. I think everybody fed off A.J. and I thought the play of the game was A.J. Woods’ pick. That changed the tide right there, and then our offense responds.

And I told A.J., Don’t let the bastards get you down. (Especially that Michaelangelo Monteleone on the Pitt POV) Because one day, even though you are getting turned around in coverage and beat six ways from Sunday right now, you are going to step up and make a game-changing play for us. And I honestly expect really big things from him going forward. Very Very Proud of A.J. Woods.

Q. How is Patrick Jones’ cover skills? And two, what is it specifically about him that you trust him to do that job of standing up?

PAT NARDUZZI: Well, if you watched it closely — you’ve got any stats for me? How many times did he go in coverage?

Actually they are way better than Chase Pine’s. Oh wait, did I say that out loud?

Q. Yes, he did. (Laughs)

PAT NARDUZZI: No, he did not. He never. He rushed all the time, it was just rushing from a different spot over one of those guards. Our confidence in him covering anybody, probably not real high, and maybe not very smart on our part if we’re taking one of our best rushers and having him drop back in coverage. Probably you guys would look at me afterwards and go, what are you guys talking about, what are you doing? As a matter of fact, a really good defense would drop (Rashad) Weaver and Patrick Jones off in coverage.

What is this NCAA Football 2015? Are we playing xBox here? C’Mon Man…

Q. It’s a zone blitz town; I think people would be okay with it.

PAT NARDUZZI: Okay. Well, maybe we’ll put it in for you this week and we’ll see how it works, and if it’s bad I’m going to blame you.

I’ve been trying to close practices for six years now to cover up my zone blitz schemes and you are here just spouting it our for everyone? Jesus Mary and Joseph somebody take this guy off the beat!

Q. Chris Doleman used to do it.

PAT NARDUZZI: That was back in 19 what? They were in three-back set. They were lining up in a bubble with a quarterback under center. The quarterback was 6’5″, 245 pounds and ran a 5.3 back in the day.

I can’t believe you just tried to get me to agree to a zone blitz by throwing out a Chris Doleman reference.

Q. You’re coaching a team, especially on defense, that looks a lot different than the one you took to training camp in late July and early August. What does that say — and you have a lot of young guys playing. What does it say about the trajectory of the program that you can insert a lot of young guys to replace these seniors and you’re able to win a game by 24 points?

PAT NARDUZZI: Yeah, Archie Collins and Cory Sanders did an outstanding job getting those guys ready, and like I tell our kids, nobody cares what you did last week; what do we got to do this week. I may say something different next Monday. But did a great job. Like I said, you get more and more confidence — we talked about it after the BC game that we wore Jason Pinnock out; that’s a coaching error. We got A.J. Woods some reps, all of a sudden now you’re going — Erick Hallett, all along he’s been kind of Damar’s backup, he plays the star position on 3rd down, he plays corner. He’s like the utility guy in everything. And I feel bad sometimes, but he starts at corner, and he made some plays out there, covered Terry, their best wideout a few times. I’m like, he’s not having any problems — he’s not running away.

I would just like to reiterate that Florida State is really, really bad.

You just find out different things every week if you recruit the right guys that have talent. And again, it’s not all about the talent, it’s about the character of our guys. And that’s win, loss. I was happy with the way that secondary played Saturday. Not only in the passing game but obviously the run game. I mean, Brandon Hill could have been a little bit better on that big long 88-yard run, but it wasn’t just him.

On the other hand Paris would have totally been playing out of position on that Brandon Hill pick-six so yea man. Yea.

Q. Are there any kind of special problems or situations that crop up when you’re coaching a team with a lot of young guys?

PAT NARDUZZI: Yeah. You see all this gray hair (points at his own head) like you’ve got? They give you a lot of gray hair, that’s for sure. I mean, there’s — nothing more than normal. I mean, coaching young guys is young guys. It depends how much knowledge they have, but it’s our job as coaches to get it out of them. It’s called coaching. That’s the fun part. You’d like to do that. Now, you don’t necessarily like the results on Saturday if you don’t get what you want, but that’s what happens when you’re playing with young guys.

Just hedging my bets for next week…<smile>

Q. SirVocea Dennis is second in the country in tackles for loss this week; what’s kind impressed you most about the season he’s put together so far?

PAT NARDUZZI: You know, his motor. I talk about effort all the time, attitude and effort, toughness. He’s tough. He’s got everything you want in a linebacker. But if you saw two of his sacks, I don’t know if you guys watch it as closely as we do. It’s bang-bang out there, but he had two where he either misses, falls on the ground. He falls flat on his face like this and then he gets off the ground and goes and gets a sack. It’s like, you watch other guys, they lay on the ground, get up slowly or pound the ground and go, ohh. I’m not talking about our guys. Our guys play with a motor. The kid has just got a motor. He doesn’t stop, and again, he’s got a great instinct for the football.

I just want to thank Dino Babers for completely whiffing on this guy. I mean here is a kid that grew up a Syracuse fan and played high school football in Syracuse’s back yard, and they don’t even offer him until after we find him and get serious about him. And say what you want about Tim Salem he found SirVocea so yea maybe a blind pig finds an acorn once in a while but man SirVocea is a damn solid acorn.

He’s obviously a talented young man, and he’s really smart, he’s really athletic and he plays with a great motor. What else do you want in a football player?

Pass the SirVocea fellas.

Busta Rhymes Feat. P. Diddy & Pharrell: Pass the Courvoisier, Part II (2002)

Q. Are you starting to see this Georgia Tech team look, I guess, less like a triple option team and more like a Geoff Collins team at this point?

PAT NARDUZZI: Yeah, I mean, you see the — you see a transition for sure, and they’re a lot better football team than they were a year ago. Obviously they gave us issues last year. I think they’re tough. I think he’s got his culture built there. He’s still recruiting, but when I look at their offensive line — because defense is defense. It doesn’t matter, nothing changed for the defense except their defense gets to play against normal offenses during summer camp. But the biggest change was what they’ve done with their offense, and I think they’ve done a great job offensively as far as what they do, how they do it, what they’re trying to do.

Well …ahem…yes, they look less like a triple option team because they are no longer a triple option team. Actually … what is that supposed to mean? Are you asking if they are going to be able to block us without cut blocking us, or throw the ball down the field consistently for a nominal gain? Because Yes, I think if you look at their college football statistics, yes, they can.

Like I said, the Jeff Sims kid is a young guy. They’re playing a — I think he’s going to be sharp, and he’s got a nice arm. He’s smooth. He knows he can read coverages. You see him look off stuff, he’ll go over here and go from one, two, three, so you see him reading the field. He’s not just throwing RPOs. But they will throw some RPOs for sure this weekend.

Actually he mostly just throws RPO’s.

Q. Is Nick Patti creating a new position as the official quarterback sneaker or are you putting any Nick Patti packages in for this week?

PAT NARDUZZI: You know, I don’t know. I wouldn’t tell you if I did know. But yeah, I would say no. Just the situation we’re in next week, I would think Georgia Tech would kind of have that one figured out already. I would probably say you probably wouldn’t see that package again. Don’t count on it.

Did you just say quarterback sneaker?

We probably saw it too many times. That third time we ran the quarterback zone was probably — that was it. I didn’t think we’d run it three times. I don’t think Coach Whipple thought he’d run it twice, but we were just in that situation.

And he didn’t have anything else in his back pocket, which is my main complaint with Whipple. And yours too I would guess.

Q. I wanted to give you a chance to talk about maybe some of the younger players that stepped up over the past week because you guys coming into this you had a losing streak, you snapped it, and this had to be a learning experience about resilience for a lot of your younger players. What are some of the things you saw, maybe some stories about different players you saw this week and what they were putting into the team?

PAT NARDUZZI: Yeah, again, it takes a team — it was a team win. But just some of the young guys, obviously Jordan Addison, obviously he’s a young guy but he’s not, he’s an old man in our offense and on our team. But like John Morgan has done some great things, just as young guys. (Deandre) Jules is getting snaps at D-end. Haba Baldonado, you saw him come out — I think he missed a sack one time, and he’s probably not 100 percent. As a matter of fact, I was a little shocked that he got out there. Tyler Bentley continues to improve, but Tyler Bentley didn’t play Saturday, as well. David Green hobbled out there; he hasn’t been healthy. We put probably a banged-up team out there and brought a banged-up team in. Tyler Bentley was with us but did not play.

Look man I can talk about defense all day. ALL DAY. We are three deep and all good there. In fact, lets keep talking about defense, yes?

I’m trying to think of other young guys. The whole secondary, we’ve already talked about them. Linebackers, SirVocea is probably the young guy in there, but you look at some of the special teams, I guess. Maybe we’ll go special teams. Not a young guy, but Kirk Christodoulou, I mean, the way he punted, 51-yard net, that’s almost unheard of. But like Bangally (Kamara) coming down on a kickoff and clotheslining the one guy. I’m glad it wasn’t a penalty.

And lets be honest, against UNC or Clemson, that’s a penalty. In fact, if FSU had been 3-2 instead of 2-3 coming into this one, that’s probably a penalty, but since it wasn’t, I gave him the special teams game ball.

Just some of our young guys that are covering kicks and on our punt return team, and Bangally is a guy, A.J. Roberts is running down. Aydin Henningham, getting another true freshman. I think at one time we had five true freshmen on one side of our kickoff team. So those are some of the things you see, and I’m going to miss some names here, but we’ve got a lot of young defensive guys that play on special teams.

Have I mentioned our depth on defense yet? Because I’ll keep mentioning it in order to divert you from asking questions about the other side of the ball…

Q. Do you have any more clarity or have you talked to the seniors about what their decision will be after this year, and how do you handle that with the young guys?

PAT NARDUZZI: You know, we haven’t talked much about the seniors. We’re kind of worried about Georgia Tech right now. Might come up next week when we talk about senior day, which I don’t even want to get to that point, but that topic may come up a little bit more next week where I’ve got to pull the guys aside. Maybe I’ve got to have meetings on the airplane on the way back from Georgia just to kind of find out. I’ve got a feel for some guys, what they’re thinking, but I think people want to really wait until the end of the season to find out where they are, what they did, and how they finished up the season as far as seniors go. Does that answer it? Just worried about trying to be 1-0 this week.

They all get an extra year. ALL GET AN EXTRA YEAR. There is no senior day…dude.

Q. What did you think of your offensive line play on Saturday, not only getting the running game going but protecting Kenny where he didn’t really have to scramble a ton on that ankle?

PAT NARDUZZI: Yeah, great point. I think they did a great job, and again, you look at Miami’s defense, you look at Notre Dame and Miami, those two fronts we saw — does anybody know how many yards Clemson rushed for against Notre Dame’s defense? Does anybody know?

Notre Dame has a good defense.

Q. Travis Etienne only had 28 yards, I think. I’m not sure of the exact number, but he didn’t have a big game.

PAT NARDUZZI: I think they may have had less than 50 yards rushing. EJ will do a stat right now. I can see he’s on his computer right now doing some type of — but I think Clemson rushed for 40, 50 yards on Notre Dame’s defense. So when you look at it, are we there yet? No. Did we play Notre Dame’s defense again this weekend? If we had, maybe we would have made a few strides there.

<Pitt POV Editor rolls eyes>

We’ll find out at the end of the year and measure where they are and what they did, but like I said, sometimes it’s the team you’re playing against. But let me tell you, Florida State has got a bunch of NFL guys on that defensive line. They’re really athletic at the end spot. But our guys did some good things Saturday in all phases of the run game and obviously the pass game, keeping Kenny clean as they did. Shouldn’t even have gave up the one sack that we did, but Carter (Warren) got his hand chopped down and just didn’t have as good a punch with that left arm.

I told Dave (Borbley) that if Kenny gets hurt this year because of pass blocking he is fired.

Q. For the record, Clemson had 34 yards rushing.

PAT NARDUZZI: They had 34, Clemson? Well, we had (44), so they got us by 10. That’s what I’m talking about. It’s not easy. It’s a good defense, as we talked about. Now, they threw for 500 yards maybe, but that was the other part of it.

So yea, actually we are better at running the ball then Clemson. Please don’t ask me about yards per attempt.

Q. You mentioned Notre Dame; I have a colleague working on a story on Notre Dame’s impact on the conference this year, just being involved. I’m sort of curious, would you in your heart of hearts like to see them become a permanent member of the conference just from a competitive standpoint? And it looks like it’s probably just going to be a one-year deal; does that almost make the other coaches pull for whoever they might face if they get to the ACC Championship game? Are you almost hoping they don’t win it since they’re just sort of interloping this year?

PAT NARDUZZI: Yeah, I mean, I hope they do. I hope they — to me you either play with us or don’t play with us. You’d almost like to boycott them. But if you want to play in the ACC, come play in the ACC. Then again, I’m not at commissioner. That’s Coach Swofford’s job to help out there.

But to me it’s either play or don’t play. And if you don’t want to play, let’s not give them five games; let them go play BYU and whoever else they want to play. But we shouldn’t give them a game. But they’re talented and we’d love to have them in the ACC for sure.

Just don’t put them in the Coastal, eh? Do you really want to see Notre Dame vs Clemson EVERY SINGLE YEAR in the ACC Championship?

Q. I wanted to ask you about Rashad Battle, a Georgia kid and a freshman that’s probably played a little bit more than you expected. What do you see out of him as long-term prospect? He’s a big guy compared to some of the other corners.

PAT NARDUZZI: Yeah, the young guy, another guy that I didn’t talk about. I talked about Jud but probably should have talked about him, as well. I’m probably missing somebody else. Jahvante Royal is another guy. But Rashad Battle, playing on special teams, he’s been really good, and he got a lot of reps at corner last week, and I don’t know how many snaps he got in the game but maybe 10 or 12. I don’t have those stats in front of me.

Rashad Battle is going to be a great player here. He’s tall. You look about — look for that mismatch as far as height sometimes, and when he’s on the field you’re not going to worry about, well, he’s too short to play against that guy and not worrying about flopping your corners and is he playing the boundary, he can play the field, all those things. But he’s a guy that can play anywhere. He is going to be an outstanding corner in this conference. He’s an unbelievable kid. He’ll be going back home this week. I know he’ll be fired up.

Got nothing bad to say about a four star from Georgia.

Q. I just wanted to get some specifics. You were asked you about the running game. Were the things you emphasized among your blockers and among your backs that maybe they weren’t doing before that they did at Florida State?

PAT NARDUZZI: You know, I was in a meeting about two hours ago with Coach Salem and Coach Borbs (Borbely) and Coach Powell just talking more of the run game, and again, I don’t like to get involved in it, but there’s still a lot of little things. But it comes down to details.

Oh I sooo don’t like to get involved in it.

Sometimes people look at the formation in the backfield set and all this, but just some of the details, they just cleaned up some of the details, I think, trying to make it a little bit simpler. To me when your kids are playing fast and know what to do, it’s more important than having all these schemes to get all these run game things going.

I told Whipple to dumb it down.

It’s a constant work in progress, and they cleaned up some of the details. We got some movement. But that was last week. We’re working on next week.

Look we did 37 for 148. That’s four yards per carry. FOUR YARDS. Remember that guy with the moustache? Pittsburgh guy? Coached here for a while? Name was Dave I think. He had saying: “Four yards a carry will Move the chains on any level” You hear that? Any level. Look it up fellas, look it up.

Hail to Pitt

Michaelangelo Monteleone

Bonus Material for my Gen X Peeps:

Pass the SirVocea…

78 thoughts on “Reading Between the Lines: Post-FSU, Pre-Georgia Tech

    1. Let me nail you at about 50 yards out with one of my patented one hop worm burner drives off the tee right where you want to get that tattoo on your calf, that will give you an opportunity to see how you like that meatball look until the bruise goes away in about three weeks. It would be a good trial run for you.🏌🏾‍♂️

      Like

  1. Who started the WMG (Whipple Must Go) thing in an earlier thread?

    I am obsessed in a Tex kind of way for Pitt to drop Whipple quickly after the season.

    I am a firm believer Narduzzi will be back next year. I am also a firm believer, as many of you are, that Pitt MUST get with the times as far as offensive scheme. For my own amusement, I threw together a quick list of types of OCs Pitt will not get and should go after. I realize none of these coaches will ever be coaching at Pitt, but I’d like to see a few of them or coaches similar in experience at Pitt.

    Pitt will have a serious QB conundrum next year with Yellen and Patti the only two with real game experience. Obviously Whipple likes Yellen, but if Whipple is gone, will any of these kids work as an RPO spread or air raid QB? Definitely not as an RPO QB. Also, I assume one or maybe two will transfer out.

    I am personally a fan of the air raid and I think Pitt would have a easier time switching to that offense because it does not necessarily require a running QB. One with mobility would certainly help. Also, there are plenty of grad transfer, JC and high school QBs that run the same offense. I think Whipple’s offense is not freshman friendly. Certainly not for RBs and QBs. Pitt also has some good young receivers and RBs that would fit into this scheme.

    I also think Pitt should consider the co-coordinator route. The disadvantage, only a position coach or OC from a lower tier would accept this deal. The advantage is you have two guys running the show. If one leaves, you don’t lose your entire offense. This is quite popular in college football these days, on both sides of the ball.

    So here are some OC names…

    Mark Helfrich – the kind of OC Pitt can’t get.
    Now a FOX College Analyst, former Oregon head coach and OC when the Ducks were at their best. In his only losing season at Oregon, which got him fired, the team still averages 35.4 points per game. He was 37-16 as the Ducks HC. When you are Nike’s flagship team, the standard is high. The original Chip Kelly spread offense is still used around college football but has obviously evolved. Was the Chicago Bears OC from 2018-2019. Price tag would be too high.

    JaMarcus Shephard – The co-coordinator to OC route.
    Not a successful program at Purdue, but learned under an innovator.
    You may think this is a bad choice based on Purdue’s record. In his third year as Purdue co-offensive coordinator/WR coach. The other co-coordinator is the head coaches brother, Brian Brohm. Perdue hasn’t put up the wins, but their head coach and staff were hired for their offensive innovation.

    Zach Kittley – Lower tier guy. This is the kind of coordinator I would love to see. Young, air raid offense.
    HBU offensive coordinator. Yes, Houston Baptist, the school you never heard of. One of the most explosive offenses in 2019, 12th nationally with 426.6 ypg. Coached Mahomes at Texas Tech. Not sure the guy ever left Texas.

    Brian Hartline – The type of coach you hire as a co-coordinator. Currently WR coach. Ohio native. If you didn’t know, Ohio State’s HC Ryan Day is a Chip Kelly disciple. This kid received a 35 under 35 award for up and coming coaches. Makes about 550k right now. Highly thought of as a future coaching star.

    Having written all this, I don’t see PN ever hiring an OC like the ones mentioned above. He’ll end up hiring Mike Mularkey or something. That is why I do agree PN should be fired as Tex has stated 400 times 🙂

    Please fire Whipple and get with the times!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Assistant coach at Clemson named Brandon Streeter – his dad was a HC at Gettysburg College and son Brandon was a QB at Clemson. He’s been on Dabo’s staff for a few years – I proposed his name before Whip was hired.

      Streeter is young and coaches with a successful program.

      He played HS ball at Gettysburg High

      Liked by 1 person

    2. NRS, nice list. Thanks for your effort in putting it together. One question. When you say co-offensive coordinator, is the other co-OC Whipple?

      Like

    3. Why would any OC candidate want to come to Pitt next year, assuming Narduzzi is back next year? Narduzzi will be gone after next year, and there goes the new guy’s job security.

      Like

      1. Money. If they are currently a position coach.
        A contract for say three years, they get paid no matter what or there is a buyout.
        Guarantee from Lyke and Gallagher that Narduzzi gets at least two more years.

        Like

  2. I think only a lower tier guy would be interested. Pitt doesn’t have one million dollars to pay for a well known name. Narduzzi doesn’t want a potential replacement candidate on his staff.

    Narduzzi is pretty much hands off the offense now. That’s a good selling point. The strength of the offense is it’s receiving corps.

    I’d want someone familiar with the RPO.

    Regardless, I don’t see this team winning more than 7 games next year.

    Prior to narduzzis hiring, if I told you that after 7 years pitt would average 7 win seasons, would you be happy?

    Remember, Walt with no budget whatsoever was fired for not getting over the hump. And he had a higher winning percentage over his last three years than Narduzzi.

    Like

    1. I can see having down years when you cycle into a new QB and young players but when you have a veteran team, as he does this year, you have to produce.

      6 and 7 wins should be the minimum, not the norm.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. His ceiling it appears is 8 wins. You can’t discount those seasons he failed to win even 8. His average is 7.2

        His bowl record is .250

        He has no top 25 finishes

        His average saragin and rpi is in the mid 50’s

        His comp is top 25

        Pitt with a top third football spend in the ACC

        Pitt plays in arguable the weaker division in P5

        He got the program on two years of probation for his silly lock the gates at practice

        But go on defending mediocrity and participation trophies.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. That is where the program is right now. No upside with the current HC.

            This was his best roster and even Duzz acknowledged that when he lashed out at the media for “disrespecting” the team with no top 25 votes.

            Like

  3. MBB ACC schedule is now on UPitt web site. Opens up at Miami 12/16 and then home to Louisville 12/22.

    20 game ACC schedule plus 4 game pre-season beginning late Nov, one at Northwestern on 12/9. Not sure about the other ones

    Like

    1. Our Aussie was preseason Pro Football Focus (PFF) 1’st team selection for All ACC team. It’s not just the average per punt 44.7 (20’th nationally – GT’s punter is #1). It is the 17 (of 38) inside the 20 & only one touchback.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Happy for the kid. A lot of people wanted to run him out of town after the PSU debacle a couple years ago. One of the best parts of college football as I get older is watching young players exceed expectations and grow into their careers/themselves as men.

        Liked by 3 people

  4. MM – good to hear you feel better. More clever writing by you in the article.

    I’m wondering, with all the Covid cases, whether the BB season will really happen? 🤔

    Like

  5. 1250 for home games, a SELLOUT! Cant wait for those Heather proclamations.

    Actually, 1250 was probably the ending attendance for the Stallings experiment.

    Nard seemed tickled during his presser about beating a 1-5 acc record team. FSU is awful. That said, I am happy with any win for the football program.

    I am hoping that Ford freelancing was the problem. You must admit, there was a lot of drama around him while he suited up for the good guys over the years. I love his passion for the game, for Pitt and I hope he does well in the league, but my sense is that he wont be getting retirement money on his first contract. Similar to Jordan Whitehead. Hopefully he bulks up during his down time and works on his speed to improve his draft status. He has the instincts and passion.The great ones make others around them better Not sure that was the case here, but we will know in a few games. That is why so many OSU players get drafted and perform at best, averagely in the pros (i.e. their dbacks get alot of hype, but is it because they are great dbacks or because the Dline puts so much pressure on opposing qb’s, they just look better)?

    Maybe pitt fb can wear the WV 3rd jersey colors when they play clempson, so there isnt an immediate assumption it is Pitt in the opposite uniforms during the highlight reels and nfl draft tapes. If you watch the ND highlights, if you didnt know they were playing Pitt, the uni’s wouldnt give it away. Hmmm.

    Like

  6. Basketball will be hard pressed to see a complete season. I expect many cancellations. But you can afford it given the number of games played and there being a conference tournament. Far more scheduling flexibility and pad with basketball.

    Pitt still going with a max capacity of ten percent at games. Probably prudent.

    Pitt should never wear those coal miners daughter uniforms again

    A good color would be black and gold. Those are the city’s colors. Pay homage to the city. But Pitt can’t even get the simple things right. Those little details matter.

    Like

  7. I may be contrary to many POVers but I am just not a Ford fan. He has been a problem since he arrived, and Narduzzi kept him off the field until he learned and matured a bit. Once on the field he had an attitude of playing for himself rather than his teammates. He gambled in search of big plays and stats such as interceptions that cost the team by giving up big plays. Pitt should never give up this number of big pass plays with such a talented safety cleaning up. Pitt may actually have a stronger secondary with Ford, Mathis and Pinnock not on the field.

    Like

    1. I never saw Mathis as a problem. Just like all Pitt CBs who are put on an island, he is going to get beat occasionally. Overall, I thought Mathis did pretty well. I remember as a natural frosh, he had to watch James Washington — felt bad for him.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. VoR, I 100% agree on PF!!! A bit of an attitude, possibly difficult to coach and in today’s game which is much more difficult than the game most of us played, I wonder about his FB IQ. We shall see how he does on Sunday

      Like

    1. reminded me of the UNC player who kicked the ball into the stands after he scored against us in the Meinke bowl years back-they watched too much Deion or Billy “white shoes!”

      Like

    2. So he got a penalty for wanting to?

      Imagine the trouble POVers would be in if that were the criterion for breaking the rules…😊

      Like

  8. WMG, I’ll say it now and say it again for the rest of the year.

    Giving credit where it’s due, Jones as a stand-up pass rusher was a great and innovative call.

    Can anyone think of a single truly innovative thing that has happened offensively since Whipple took over? Oh that’s right, having your QB run 30 miles a game so you can tell him to hand it off to one of the Davis twins up the middle might be close to innovative.

    Paris Ford abandoned his teammates after a terrible loss, and that is inexcusable, no matter his age. Clearly immature and selfish. Who thinks he opts out of the season if Pitt had upset ND?

    Like

    1. Cannot help but wonder if Pitt didn’t get some help from the Steelers with some blitz packages. Standing Jones up is something I have seen the Steelers do in the past quite often. On Sunday, I saw Watt blitz a couple times in the same way Pitt had Jones doing – standing up and then picking a lane to shoot thru.

      Like

  9. BTW, MM your interpretations of HCPN comments are great. Glad to see Covid did not affect your sense of humor. As much respect as I have for Reed and his initiative regarding the POV, your biggest contribution is the light-hearted sense you bring to the blog.

    With Pitt football, if you don’t laugh . . . . you’ll cry.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. After 40 years of wandering in the desert, Pitt needs a savior. Narduzzi and Heather are not Moses.

      Tex who knows the warehouse in Texas where the Ark is housed.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Hypothetical questions… You have just won the lottery for several hundred million. You have decided that your philanthropy will include a donation to dear old U. of Pitt. You had your lawyer set up the meeting. How much will you give? what stipulations will you impose on Pitt for them to receive the money? (obviously, the answer to the first will be greatly influenced by their reaction to the second.) Just curious to see what the POVites come up with.

    Like

    1. $300 million to go towards a MPC

      I get a new HC from my list

      I get Riddick for AD

      I get the BoT to split in two – one for academics and the other for athletics

      I get hockey

      I get my name on a piss urinal that has joe pa’s name on it.

      Like

        1. That’s not true Tex, I know the POVers that met you gave me the seal of approval not that I needed one. I’ll defend your right to express yourself any-day. You’re A OK in my book buddy but you may have a very slight, just a tiny bit, a very small tendency to repeat yourself. 🙂

          Like

          1. Tex came by that honestly from being on this, blog, the prior blog, and before that the pony express. In his defense he has heard ……. wait til next year for the last 40 years! hahahahaha, I even laughed at myself on that one.

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      1. Tex, do you fund the narduzzi buyout or would you make him be Chief Calesthenics Administrator on Pitts You Tube Station that every undergrad is required to tune into at 10am as a part of your wellness initiative with Meatball Patty, and still pay him 4M a year.

        Would it be called Tex Stadium in Oakland? Or is that, in and of itself a conflict in Branding.

        Like

  11. Wwb, I may have jumped the gun on Mathis, knowing nothing about his off field injury. His play last year was quite good and I hope he comes back next year. As for Ford, the NFL won’t put up with that nonsense unless he is exceptional as a player. We shall all watch him closely.

    Like

  12. I would ask for lifetime seats for the POVerts that sat in 536 and anyone else that wants in…but you need vetted.
    Plus Scooter gets plexiglass around his seat insuring a cone of silence.
    😃
    Joking Scooter, just joking…
    Tex, I dont hate you buddy. Guess I’m a 5%er.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. —I’m wondering whether LastRow, Scooter and Farmers will among the 1250 people allowed inside the Pete for B-Ball games…

    —The 1250 limit shouldn’t have too much effect on the Women’s BB games. I don’t expect the big step-up in winning to begin until last year’s freshmen are juniors. But there should be significant improvement this season.

    Like

  14. Whether its through injuries, COVID, or people leaving the team, the number of reserves getting significant playing time recently is the best thing that could happen to Narduzzi (aside from an improbable upset of Clemson, which probably went from a .005% chance to .0000000001% since Clemson’s loss to ND means they now need to win the Pitt game to make the CFB playoffs).

    Not only does the youth infusion create an excuse of sorts, it builds experience for next year that might help avoid a disastrous 3 and 9-type season. Although, without major improvement on the offensive line and a new OC, It’s hard to see anything more than six wins in 2021, maybe 7 if everything goes right.

    If Pitt beats Georgia Tech and is competitive with Virginia Tech (not necessarily winning but competitive) I’m pretty sure Narduzzi will get another two years (at least) unless 2021 is a complete embarrassment.

    Like

    1. there is no reason why the defense shouldn’t be good again next year. Ford, Hamlin, Weaver and Jones will be big losses … but there are many good looking FR / Sophs

      DL: Morgan, Alexandre, Kancey, Baldonero, Jules, Hayes … and the 3 local incoming

      LB: they may all return but most likely Bright, Dennis, Davis, Bengala, George

      DB: Williams, Hill, Battle, Woods, Hallett, Royal, and maybe even Mathis

      and almost all of the above is getting PT these days

      Like

  15. Paris Ford most probably was the biggest talent since AD, and I think his heart was in the right place. But he kind of reminded me of Antonio Brown because he couldn’t control his emotions on occasions … but unlike Brown, he never said anything bad about his teammates or coaches. H e seemed to be popular with his teammates

    Like

    1. Lyke

      I agree – P.Ford is a positive ambassador of Pitt FB – reminds me of Shady McCoy with his dynamic personality. I’m not fond of the negativity coming from the fan base.

      It is a free country, so have at it…

      The season is a bust – I side with letting him move on in peace.

      Like

  16. I’d give lottery winnings for an on campus stadium only if I could pick the style of offense the HC runs. Since it would be a dome, basketball on grass.

    I would have a commander Reed statue at the top of the stadium…sort of like a touchdown Jesus.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Erie, what about Ford’s commitment to his team mates? What about him arguing on the sidelines when he was taken out? Ford is a selfish player who walked out on his team when things got tough.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. For Steeler fans, it was scary to see Mason Rudolph come in at QB for a series at the end of the first half last week.

    If Nick Patti is the “Official Quarterback Sneaker,” Mason is the “Official QB Statue.” My impression is that Mason’s approach is to drop back and plant his feet and then not budge from that spot until he either passes the ball or gets sacked.

    Just my .02.

    Like

  19. Charmin is the great quarterback sneaker whisperer…… he has to whisper so that the qb runs all the way over to him. No shortcuts there.

    Like

  20. Maestro, I gotta tell you that I was reading this blog outside during lunch and laughing hysterically at your between the lines quotes. Are you sure you don’t have your eyes set on a stand-up comedy tour? Great stuff. Thanks for the levity during these stressful times!

    Liked by 3 people

  21. So, to answer my own question…After I hit the lottery, I would first grab a sammich from Primanti. Then go to the cycle shop and buy a Ducati. Follow that by picking up my new Bugatti. Stop at the lick-a-toe and pick up some Martini and Rossi Asti Spumante. Go find me a hottie and spend the night being naughty. But after that…
    I would rent out some space at a golf resort and invite all POVers. At some point we would use a conference room to formulate a plan to present to Pitt. I likely would pay some of you a consulting fee to attend the meeting at Pitt as part of my entourage- Tex would be my point man for sure. I would want to discuss with them all the particulars with where they are at and where they want to go before presenting any of our plans.
    First, I would want to buy Duzz out. Then I would find out if Urban Meyer would be willing to accept a 5 year/50 million contract to come coach (would want him to get the ball rolling for us before we turn it over to some younger coach at the top of Tex’s 2026 list.) I would appeal to his ego by mentioning that he could become the first coach to win 3 Natties with 3 different teams in 3 different conferences. I would mention that he would have no competition in the coastal and would just have to get by Clemson in the ACC championship. An MPC absolutely would be discussed- including multiple suites permanently allocated for POV use. As part of the legal documents for the monetary gift I would be giving, I would have it that the Pitt script logo shall forever be the primary logo for the University. Additionally, I would want full creative control and governorship of the Pitt uniforms including what will be worn and when until the day that I am no longer alive or lucid to make such decisions. I might also throw in that I reserve the right to be the mascot- ROC- anytime I choose. That’s just for starters. And, as someone that played 2 years on the Pitt Club hockey team, I would definitely demand that hockey be added.
    Thanks to everybody for playing along with my hypothetical questions. H2P!

    Liked by 3 people

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