MMQB – Pitt Win Over WMU

Well, 2-1, with a 34-13 win over Western Michigan University, isn’t a bad start to the season, is it? Most probably it will be 3-1 after this Saturday’s game against Rhode Island (RI) and that game is the start of a three home field run that we have ahead of us. BTW – I’ll be up for the RI game so that will be fun.

As I stated on the last comment thread I watched the first half, with some trepidation because our offense pretty much sucked for those two quarters, then I fell asleep for the entire second half. That is what happens when you are relegated to the bedroom to for game viewing because the rest of the family is watching movies.

I said trepidation above because when our opening drive took 11 plays with, two penalties awarded, only to go 48 yards and settle for a FG… that was worrisome. The fact that our PK Sauls hit the 48 yarder was nice though and as he ended up 2/3 it looks like he might be getting back on track.

But as far as offense went the fact was that WMU had two FGs and we had two FGs after 30 minutes of play and that was a problem at the time. Rectified in the second half but that Pick 6 by DB Marquis Williams was needed more than we thought – again, in the first half of play.

I watched the second half this morning…or should say I quickly clipped through the plays on YouTube so I do have a sense of how well we played to win the game. Obviously our defense rose to the occasion, especially with DB Eric Hallett’s two interceptions, to keep the Broncos from getting a tied or a lead during the game.

Although the trickeration on a double pass by WMU that resulted in seven points was fun to watch even though it did tighten up the score a bit. Here are the highlights of the game – the trick pass is at the 2:25 mark.

Third string QB Nate Yarnell had a decent first FBS game ever. I got the sense that he settled in and while his numbers weren’t real big because our OC Frank Cignetti, Jr didn’t want him to pass much, fear of INTs maybe, his yards per attempt was just fine at 14.4 (with a 19.8 yards per completion rate that is exceptional.)

I think a lot had to do with the fact that when he did drop back the WMU defense wasn’t really expecting it. Yarnell threw only six passes in the second half, to go with the six in the first half and that bolsters my point above. The stats show that out of 64 offensive plays we threw on 12 of them which was a 81% to 19% ratio.

But he was accurate and handle the leadership job well.

I know Pitt fans will point to this game and think he’s ready to start against ACC opponents if needed but I do wonder about that. WMU gave up some big passing numbers in their first two games, 524 yards and six TDs, so I’m tempering my hopes that he could get the job done against much stronger competition we’ll face in the ACC.

That may well be a moot point as Slovis looked like he will be ready for RI this weekend.

It was a good win, especially given the loss to the same team at Heinz Field last season and we’ll be 3-1 after Saturday. Now, does that mean we’ll be 6-1 after the next four games are played, as was the case last season, I don’t know. But so far I feel like this team isn’t as good as 2021’s but then again I didn’t watch any of the Pitt games last season until this August.

Good win, good bounce back from a close loss, and good way to get ready to go into the meat of ACC schedule. Our next three ACC opponents after the RI game are: Georgia Tech, 1-2 and outscored 100-45 so far, Virginia Tech, 2-1 with a win over Boston College and Louisville 1-2 after opening with three FBS teams in a row.

Which in Louisville’s case bolsters the argument that playing FBS opponents in the first few games is foolishness that so many Pitt fans believe. Not me though – I’m old school and feel that the quality of your wins mean as much as the number of them.

Back in the stone age when we won our last National Championship we played a tough schedule start to finish:

But what do I know? Right?

HTP!

87 thoughts on “MMQB – Pitt Win Over WMU

  1. Non-conference games only hurt your national title aspirations and the more quality the opponent the less impact that even has. If Pitt sweeps the rest of the board and TN stays in the top 25, Pitt will be in Final 4 discussions.

    Not a prediction, just pointing out that the TN loss really isn’t a bad one. Especially when context is applied regarding the Slovis injury.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Totally agree TT. The only issue is that the people who vote in the weekly polls rarely apply that context. Seems to me they only look at the final scores (unless you’re a “blue blood,” of course.

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  2. Reed, you pretty well summed it up. No reason why we shouldn’t start 5 and 1 before hitting the road again. I think Pitt may be favored the. rest of the way except for Miami and probably UNC

    Two other thoughts. 1). We underestimated Kansas last week when they beat WVU in OT. For them to go to Houston (pre-season favorite in south division of their league) and handle them with relative ease was impressive

    2). I noticed OG Jacobi wore 84. This will tell you the mindset that Pitt cannot have enough blockers on field .. as opposed to the Whipple mindset where 3rd and short is a pass play

    Sent from my iPhone

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  3. Yarnell named ACC rookie of the week. Richly deserved IMO and hopefully we will get to see him utilized with an expanded number of pass plays against URI come Saturday.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Reed, I remember Manny but I don’t remember if he ever got in a snap at qb at Pitt. I believe when Nate Peterman got hurt the year Manny was a back up, Ben Dinucci took over in the Pinstripe Bowl.

      I have always had a soft spot for Pitt back up qb’s that never get in or were yanked early in their tenure. That has to be tough to go to all that practice and not get the payoff. Some names that come to mind are Sal Genilla (mid 80’s), Matt Flaus/Luke Getsy/Joe Flacco (under Walt) , Ken Ferguson and Sean Fitzgerald (under Johnny Part II), Greg Cross/ Mark Meyers (Wanny), and Thomas Macvittie/ Jeff George Jr. (under Nard).

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  4. Assuming Yarnell added weight since arriving at Pitt makes you wonder what he looked like when he walked on campus. My man needs to muscle up. My goodness, was he 160 lbs out of high school? Is he 180 now? lol

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So – do we have the next four year starter at QB in Yarnell?

    Patti is a redshirt SR and Slovis is gone after this season, correct? They have both played four seasons (including 2022).

    Or does the extra COVID year take place for them?

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  6. Extra Covid year is in place for both Slovis and Patti. So both could return if they chose to do so. If Yarnell shows more in the coming weeks that may make the decision by Patti a lot easier come seasons end. Particularly so if Yarnell ends up being called upon first if Slovis goes down via injury once again.

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  7. Hard to believe the regular season is almost a quarter over. After three games, I think this Pitt team is less dangerous than the 2021 version, but could end up with an equal or superior record. I had Pitt for three losses coming into the year (Tennessee, Miami and either UNC or UVa). I now like their chances to run the table until the Miami game and think they have a fair shot at going undefeated in ACC play.

    It’s not that I’ve been overwhelmed by Pitt, but nobody in the Coastal strikes fear in the hearts of men. Miami hasn’t lived up to their preseason billing, either. If Tennessee finishes with losses to a top #2 Georgia and say #10 Kentucky, and Pitt finishes with a lone loss to Tennessee (one where the starter was injured and the backup QB played much of the second half on a bum leg), it will be at worst the second best season I’m old enough to really remember and I’m in my mid-40s. That’s not too shabby for a team that lost two All-Americans, including a Heisman-finalist first round draft pick QB and a Biletnikoff-winning wide receiver who is putting up Heisman-type numbers himself in L.A.

    With the departure of Pickett and Addison, it was natural that Pitt would take a step back performance-wise, even if the record doesn’t show it. Despite that, the outlook is still pretty bright and a 1 or 2-loss season would go a long way toward establishing not Narduzzi has built a serious program and not just a one-hit wonder.

    As far as the play on the field, the offensive line hasn’t progressed as I hoped. Maybe I’m too demanding, but I felt it took a while to establish control of the line of scrimmage against WMU and the o-line prevailed more because of attrition as WMU tired than because of outright Pitt dominance. I’m more disappointed in the defensive line, though, as I feel they failed to apply the kind of consistent pressure this Narduzzi defense needs to protect the secondary. More than anything, I felt the struggles to rush the passer until late in the game were the primary reason for the Tennessee loss and I didn’t see much against a lesser opponent to reassure me on that score.

    We’ll see where we stand when we play Louisville and UNC back-to-back followed by a resurgent Syracuse. But, again, I’m cautiously optimistic because Pitt hasn’t played well yet and still won a rivalry game against WVU (whose loss to Kansas looks a lot better these days), took UT to the wire despite some unfavorable luck and injuries to a couple QBs, and went on the road and handled a team that upset them last year. Nobody on the remaining schedule is obviously better than Tennessee. Pitt will need to win a couple 50-50 matchups along the way, but I think they’re going to the ACC title game.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Ulterior, first of all I’m jealous of anyone as young as you. Second, our biggest risk of failing to go to Charlotte, IMO, is the stunning number of injuries we have already suffered. (Dayon Hayes already out for the year and a few others who may be)

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Reed, Pitt has a QB commit out of Tennessee who is a Rivals 5.7 and is allegedly a hot prospect. Per Rivals, he had offers from Tenn, ND, UVA, Va Tech, WVU and Mich St. Now of course, the next big issue is to get him to sign

    But Yarnell is a bird in the hand, and certainly passed his screen test

    Sent from my iPhone

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    Liked by 1 person

  9. Some people still get too enamored by the polls, too. They’re dying. One the playoff poll is released the AP and Coaches are rendered moot. It’s just eye candy until Late October. The nostalgia in college is strong but thing that used to matter like polls and bowls are just for show.

    What matters in 2022 is:

    A) Final 4 Playoff (Playoff Poll)
    B) Conference Championship
    C) Getting awarded a NYD bowl … different than having to win it … the reward is the prestige of being selected to play in it. Pitt played in the Peach Bowl. No one cares who won it.

    Playing a tough schedule will help in the playoff poll in the long run (if you have a good season). Look, if the losses in the OOC hurt you, you probably didn’t deserve the inflated ranking in the first place without those losses … and you’re probably not going to show well against better competition on a national stage.

    Schools like Pitt have to prove themselves and play a tougher schedule. They can’t rely on brand recognition. Do it enough, and then you have the brand recognition to back off the tougher schedule, maybe.

    I just want to see good teams play. I have no interest in watching us play Rhode Island. I have no interest in that it’s an easy W. I have no interest in the our road is tougher argument. I don’t care what other schools do nor do I believe in fair.

    It’s football. Make an entertaining schedule and win as many as you can. The chips will fall where they fall.

    Liked by 7 people

        1. No one is harsh. Obviously we’ll root for our team. But, it’s an exhibition game. The two best players sat it out. It affected our ranking and MSU’s ranking by one spot. We went down one and MSU went up one. The bowl games losing relevance is the reason for the playoff expanding to 12. Once the New Years Day games were no longer appreciated the sport finally decided to adapt. I think 8 players skipped the Rose Bowl.

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  10. Pitt’s volleyball team moved back into the top 10 at #10 in the AVCA poll. Louisville is now #2 while Georgia Tech dropped to #13 due to two losses. No other team in the ACC is receiving votes. San Diego is now at #4. Towson would be #27 is the poll would go past 25.

    After watching Pitt’s defeat of Ohio State, I would now say Pitt is now the second-best team in the ACC behind Louisville. I still put most of the Towson loss on the coach for underrating Towson and not putting Pitt’s best players in the lineup for that match. Annie mentioned that the players may have been tired because they played two matches the day before, but Fisher used a lot of players in those two matches against cupcakes.

    Pitt should be able to handle most of the ACC teams with relative ease except for Louisville and Georgia Tech. North Carolina has been a disappointment so far. Miami is overrated.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Courtney Buzzerio was named ACC Volleyball player of the week based on her performance against two P5 teams this weekend, Tennessee and #5 Ohio State.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. What I’d like to know is why osu’s still ranked so high? I understand they have played a tough schedule but so has just about everyone else that have tournament aspirations. You have to be better than 500 in order to be were they are. They also looked like a poor blocking team to me and not even top 4 in the big.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. ec2it OSU has lost two matches to the present #1 team and one to the present # 4 team as well as Pitt. They have beaten the #2 team Louisville as well as Georgia Tech who was #5 at the time. Their coach scheduled the toughest OOC schedule in the nation for them by far. Their RPI is going to be very high. Pitt is only behind them in the ratings because our loss to Towson. Against Pitt one of their starting middle blockers did not play. This was partially the reason for their poor blocking in that match. Hope that helps explain why they are ranked where they are. The Big Ten play will see if they warrant their rating. I am also interested in seeing if PSU is for real or a pretender.

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  11. I’m here to defend Cignetti and praise Yarnell. While it only once caused us angst, Cignetti’s strategy was solid. The game really was never in doubt. Letting Pitt’s lines and backs pound away was the way to go. Wish we’d have done that last year!

    I sent Yarnell a couple of McDonalds gift cards to bulk up on cheeseburgers! I was really impressed with his poise, confidence and throwing ability.
    We may have found our QB for the next 3 years. I really haven’t been impressed with Slovis at all. Typical W Coast QB….ok arm strength.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. It likely isn’t relevant but Rodney Hammond is listed as the #2 RB on the depth chart released today. Maybe this will dispel the rumor that he is leaving, which I’m sure began because he didn’t even make the trip to Michigan. Did Patti make the trip?

    Sent from my iPhone

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    Liked by 1 person

  13. A quick public service announcement: We will have our usual POV tailgate in Red 5A this Saturday morning. I plan to be waiting outside the gate of the lot when it opens at 7 AM. Unless ALCO plays their “you’ll park where we tell you to park” card, I expect to set up in our usual spot on the T Station end of the parking lot.

    We’ll certainly miss Fran and Joe but we will have food and drink and the rest of our usual cast of characters. Hope to see everyone there!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Do you think it would be safe to bring my PSU wife with me to the tailgate? Everyone behaved fairly well at the tailgate at Duke.

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      1. Absolutely, John! My daughter and son-in-law brought their good WVU friends to the Hoopie game and we had numerous Tenn fans at their game. My experience with the POV crowd is that we take some shots at our rivals on the blog, but welcome everyone with open arms at the tailgate. I don’t remember an exception to that statement.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. John, I’ve been to several and these are the kindest and most welcoming folks around. Hell, I’m bringing my wife in a few weeks and her school, Towson, just beat our Vollyball Team!

        Liked by 2 people

        1. We remember our conversation as well with you and your son-in-law from the Citadel. I really like Duke’s stadium. It would be an ideal stadium for Pitt to duplicate!

          Liked by 1 person

    2. Speaking of parking….we park in Red 7A, and I have never seen the attendants police the lot the way they did for the Tennessee game. If someone was easily within the lines but at a 5 degree angle, they had to repark till it was straight. Is this a new thing they have going?

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  14. Reed, thanks for the MAQB (haha). Appreciate the insights.

    I made a promise to my Mrs. to help her work on a puzzle on Saturday evening (we are party animals after all) since she went with me – and drove – to an Oktoberfest during the afternoon. I ended watching the game on my laptop while placing puzzle pieces. I’d do the same for the URI game if needed, but that ends when the conference slate begins. 😉

    Among the things that impressed me about Yarnell was his touch on the ball. Threw a great arc on that pass to Mumpfield in the back corner of the endzone. I also liked how well he executed the quick handoffs to Carter.

    One thing that seems similar between he and Slovis was how long they take to snap the ball. Perhaps that is Cignetti coaching them up to get more time to read the D? In any event, I get impatient waiting for the snap – anyone else?!

    Is Yarnell the QB of the future?… why not? Sure looked good for a guy who hadn’t played in a game since his Jr year of HS (2019) against a better MAC school defense. Put it this way, his play and the overall team depth we’ve seen thus far give reason for hope after this season. We have Kenny Minchey coming in next year, who has the look of another good one.

    Speaking of Mumpfield – good concentration on his part catching that TD pass as there was some traffic in front of him. Means also made a nice one. Would like to see both of them get a lot of looks this weekend to shake off the funk of the first two games. Still feel like Pitt is wasting the finite time they have with Bartholomew… hope he gets a few more balls going forward.

    Liked by 4 people

  15. Fran & Wolfe… I hope we are still doing the Red5A think when this day comes.
    Will invite Spider friends to join us.
    I will be wearing PItt colors that day.

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  16. Liked by 4 people

  17. A PSN source said that Hayes has a meniscus issue and is scheduled to undergo surgery this week. This is something that has hampered Hayes this year and it got to the point that he didn’t want to put off surgery any longer. This was the reason that Hayes didn’t travel with the team to Western Michigan.

    PSN has been told that this surgery is expected to sideline Hayes for six to eight months.

    The former four-star recruit was in a four-man defensive end rotation with John Morgan, Haba Baldonado and Deslin Alexandre. This group has played without Alexandre for the last two games and will now be without Hayes for the season. Baldonado was also injured against Western Michigan.

    This unfortunate injury could give an opportunity for former four-star recruit redshirt freshman Nahki Johnson to receive regular playing time.

    Next man up!

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  18. Prayers for Dane Jackson who had a very good career at Pitt.

    S. DeSheilds make some significant plays
    Overall the LBs played their best game so far this year
    Means and C’Bo are working hard to get back in the coaches good graces
    Yarnell was outstanding, nice touch and good field vision/decision making
    Izzy was a beast, hit the hole hard and was very sturdy
    Mumpfield has proven to be as good as advertised
    Cig’s overall game plan turned out to be excellent
    We all better get used to a patient/persistent running game
    Dominate early this week and let’s see how the 2nd team does in the 2nd half

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Another back that should be given some additional work is Carter. He does have some good power running skills and I would like to see him utilized some more to see if he could take up some additional slack until Hammond returns.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. PSA: I’m sure more information will come out about this later in the week, but The Great Race will be in Pittsburgh this Saturday morning so be prepared to possibly take an alternate route to the tailgate and game this weekend.

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    1. They’re was one game last year where every street in town was closed and I couldn’t get to my usual parking lot for the T. Wound up driving back to Oakland, parked at S&S and took the student bus. Any other suggestions? I come up 376.

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  21. #24/RV PITT vs. RHODE ISLAND:

    Complete Game Release Link

    September 24, 2022 • Noon (ET)

    Acrisure Stadium (68,400/Natural Grass) • Pittsburgh, Pa.

    ACC Network • 93.7 The Fan • Pitt Panthers Radio Network

    PittsburghPanthers.com • @Pitt_FB

    GAME STORYLINES

    √ Pitt concludes its non-conference slate by hosting FCS member Rhode Island. After facing the Rams, the Panthers play eight consecutive ACC contests to finish the regular season.

    √ The Panthers have played 20 prior games against FCS opponents and are 19-1 in those contests.

    √ This will be the ninth consecutive season that Pitt has played an FCS team dating back to 2014. It will be the Panthers’ first encounter with Rhode Island.

    √ Pat Narduzzi is a 1990 graduate of Rhode Island, where he was a three-year starter at linebacker (1987-89).

    √ Pitt is 14-0 all-time against current members of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA), most recently defeating New Hampshire, 77-7, on Sept. 25, 2021.

    √ A win over Rhode Island would give Pat Narduzzi his 56th career coaching victory at Pitt, tying him for third all-time with John Michelosen, who coached the Panthers from 1955-65.

    √ Israel Abanikanda has rushed for more than 100 yards in each of the past two games, including a 133-yard effort in the Panthers’ 34-13 win at Western Michigan last week.

    √ Abanikanda tops the ACC in rushing (302 total yards, 100.7 per game) and all-purpose yards (158.7 per game).

    √ Safety Erick Hallett II has collected four turnovers this season (two interceptions and two fumble recoveries).

    √ Hallett is tied for the national lead with two fumble recoveries and ranks fifth nationally in interceptions (2 total, 0.7 per game). He tops the ACC in both categories.

    BROADCAST INFORMATION

    Television • ACC Network

    Wes Durham (play-by-play)

    Roddy Jones (analyst)

    Taylor Davis (reporter)

    Pitt Radio • 93.7 The Fan & Pitt Panthers Radio Network

    Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play)

    Pat Bostick (analyst)

    Larry Richert and Dorin Dickerson (reporters)

    SiriusXM Satellite Radio

    SiriusXM Channel 135 or 194, SXM App Channel 956

    WPTS Radio (Pitt Student Station) • 92.1 FM

    Online Audio

    937thefan.radio.com

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  22. September 19, 2022

    Pat Narduzzi Press Conference

    Rhode Island Week

    PRESS CONFERENCE VIDEO

    PAT NARDUZZI: All right. Again, coming off a good win up in Kalamazoo. Was happy with the way our guys responded going up there, playing on the road. We talked I think last week about just learning how to play on the road, how we do things on the road, how we act on the road, how we travel, all those things. It’s a good week that way.

    I think after three weeks of the season you kind of find out who your team is a little bit. Couldn’t be prouder of the way our guys responded after having a couple guys hurt. The main one being obviously quarterback Nate Yarnell, how he responded. Not only next man up, which we’ve done all year, but the rest of the guys stepping up. I think I may have mentioned it afterwards in the press conference.

    Our coaches had a great game plan against a good football team. Don’t underestimate the opponent. We know what happened a year ago. They’re talented, they really are. But just the way our kids played, the way they should play versus that opponent.

    Again, the game plan, like I said, didn’t want to put Nate out there, throw it 50, 25 times a game. That was not our plan. We executed the plan. A tribute to our offensive line.

    They had nine guys in the box, not six in the box. They weren’t playing the pass, as we all know. They were playing the run. Blitzing, bringing guys from everywhere. Great opportunity there for our guys to show what they could do.

    Moving on to Rhode Island. Good team. I know last year they were 14th in the I-AA polls. Get beat by Delaware obviously (last week), so they’ll drop a little bit. A good football team.

    I’ve known Jim Fleming for a long time from his days in Akron, Canton area. He was at Kent State. He was in Akron as a defensive coordinator there. Recruited his son Will out of Akron Hoban High School. Known the family for a long time. Good people. They do a great job. Well-coached as we watch the tape. We will look forward to preparing this week.

    Questions.

    Q. Is there more satisfaction winning like you did with so many people out as opposed to having everybody playing and winning 45-3?

    PAT NARDUZZI: No question about it. I almost want to see what we’re made of. To me, I didn’t know what the heck we’d get. I mean, number one, we didn’t turn the ball over on offense. One delay of game, had to use my timeouts. That was probably the biggest struggle. Felt like I was staring at the damn play clock for a long time.

    When you hold on to the ball, with your fourth team, third team, whatever you want to call them, quarterback in there, that was impressive. He played with composure. Not turning the ball over was critical.

    Again, just don’t think it’s throwing it. It’s handoffs. He has been handing it off to scout teams, running off cards. That was impressive. Our staff did a great job of setting that up, getting to the point where he was comfortable.

    Q. You had Jake and Blake on the interior offensive line. Western Michigan tried to throw interior blitzing, trying to exploit that. What goes into preparation to see things like that?

    PAT NARDUZZI: Yeah, it was not easy to prepare for. Kradel has done it. He’s listened to it. Owen is usually giving the direction. We knew Jake could do it just as well. All got into Pitt, so they’re all smart guys, you know that. Again, they just did a nice job up front.

    Tell you what, I’ll go back to Nate Yarnell, he’s controlling things. Not only was he playing quarterback, taking snaps, he’s making checks up there as well. He’s making checks, changing runs, he’s changing pass protections. He was doing it all. We weren’t just calling a play and saying, ‘Just run it, don’t worry about anything else.’ He was operating. He had 100% decision making. He made great decisions with what we asked him to do. That was impressive.

    Q. Once Kedon gets back, would Nate be the backup behind Kedon?

    PAT NARDUZZI: Every day we’ll find out. I know we know a lot more, have a lot more faith with what Nate did on game day. You can see him in practice, on the scout field. When you see how a guy operates in a game, it definitely gives you — We have another piece to the puzzle you may have to use at some other point in the season. Who knows when, where. Gives you just another guy.

    Q. Does the success of the offensive line on Saturday make you think that’s the right lineup?

    PAT NARDUZZI: We’ll see. Coach Borbely’s decision. I’m not going to tell him who to play. It’s putting the best guys out there. We know we didn’t have just five starters. We have six, seven, eight starters out there. We’ll see how they play, how they practice.

    Comes down to how they play. Nick Patti, Yarnell. Comes down to how they practice.

    Q. Does the opponent go into deciding whether you give him another week to get ready, or if Kedon is ready to go, he’s going to play?

    PAT NARDUZZI: I think it comes down to comfort. But, yeah, I mean, we’re going to do what’s best for the health and safety of our kids first. Again, I think Kedon is out of the woods. If he is, you go play. He wanted to play last week, so… We’ll have to tie him down, probably keep him off the field this week.

    Q. You guys are playing your alma mater this week. What are some memories you have from playing there? How would you describe yourself when you were in college playing football for Rhode Island?

    PAT NARDUZZI: I don’t remember (smiling). Haven’t really thought much about it. It’s been a long time.

    But it’s a great place to live, great place to play football. Bob Griffin was the old head coach up there. I know his son is coming to the game because he messaged me the other day, who was a kicker at the time when I was there.

    Just great people. I don’t know what else to say. Played football there. Got my degree there. Met my wife there, started a family. I coached there as well.

    You think about the places you’ve worked. Worked there in those offices, did construction in those offices, even though it was against union rules. We still painted. Had to do it ourselves or it wasn’t going to get done. I was the foreman on the job in the office.

    Q. How did a guy from Youngstown end up in Rhode Island?

    PAT NARDUZZI: The attraction to go to Rhode Island, you know why, so I was leaving no matter what. The attraction was we (Youngstown State) played Akron in 1985. I had a good game against Akron. In the playoffs, Rhode Island played Akron in the playoffs that year. The coaches up at Rhode Island saw me on tape in that game, found out I was in the portal back in the day. Didn’t have a portal. Found out I was leaving. That’s how I went there.

    It was really to get closer to home. I didn’t want to play at Columbia in the Ivy League. It was really a three-hour drive from home. I wanted to be as close to where my dad and family were going to be, a place where I thought could win.

    Q. Did you have other offers?

    PAT NARDUZZI: Yeah.

    Q. Where?

    PAT NARDUZZI: Doesn’t matter. Rhode Island was the only one (smiling).

    Q. What did you learn from Bob Griffin?

    PAT NARDUZZI: Oh, gosh. Coach Griffin, he was a great football coach. Obviously he’s living up there, taking a walk probably right now down on Ocean Road right now.

    Learn everything, everything from your coaches. Discipline. I think we talked about it a month ago, leader, about being a captain and all that.

    I think who you are as people is what you pick up on a daily basis. Very disciplined. Just a great coach and a great person. That’s what I learned. How to treat people. Because Bob Griffin is a great man.

    Q. Did you know you wanted to be a coach that early? Were you kind of trying to learn how to be a coach? Obviously you had examples prior to that. Were you looking at your coaches at Rhode Island, taking things you wanted to learn, put into yourself as a coach?

    PAT NARDUZZI: Yeah, I mean, I knew way before that. I knew in high school I wanted to be a coach. Didn’t know you were going to be one. You were coaching even at that time. As you played, you were kind of coaching. My linebacker coach, the late Larry Caswell, great coach, former quarterback there.

    I knew I wanted to coach. I was into it. Put it that way. I think I was the only player that had an eight millimeter projector in my dorm room. Probably enough there.

    Q. Given how much work Abanikanda got the last two games, would you consider resting him, giving him a week off, be ready for the ACC games?

    PAT NARDUZZI: Not really. I mean, maybe don’t give him 31 carries. I’m sure he wants to play. Put it this way, we put too much work in not to play. Unless he’s banged up, he’s going to want to play. They all want to play. We all want to coach.

    You get 12 great guaranteed opportunities to go out there and play. It’s just another one of those opportunities to go make a name for yourself, brand yourself out there on the field.

    I think our players are going to take it. If I grabbed Izzy, said ‘I’m thinking about resting you this week.’ He’d look at me, ‘Coach, you don’t like me?’

    They want to play the game of football. They love football. They’re going to go play.

    We’ll rest him up Tuesday, Wednesday, give him less carries. He’ll be ready to go Saturday.

    Q. Your team had a 21-point win on the road with a backup quarterback, yet you went down one spot in the AP poll. Frustrate you at all?

    PAT NARDUZZI: Absolutely not. Nothing.

    Q. Does Nate’s performance give you confidence in the quarterback position once Kedon has moved on?

    PAT NARDUZZI: Certainly. You don’t know what you have. You don’t know in August what you have because he’s getting reps with the freshmen and the threes. Nate Yarnell has never taken a snap in a scrimmage with the ones or twos, never. After practice every Tuesday, we have what we call showtime. Those guys get to go out, get a period of that, to continue to develop all our young guys, which I think is a critical period for us, as long as health-wise you can do that.

    That’s when we were coaching him there. I guess he did get six minutes a day of getting coached. Again, it was threes on threes. You’re not going, ‘Wow, he did a great job against them today.’ How do you take it?

    Q. He didn’t play his senior year due to injury. What was the recruiting attraction there?

    PAT NARDUZZI: We don’t recruit him off of senior tape. They better be good players as juniors. He hurt his thumb.

    Q. He played a lot as a junior?

    PAT NARDUZZI: Yeah, yeah.

    They had one kid that went to Texas, I believe. He played a lot of football there before hurting his thumb. Got in a fight, tough quarterback, got in a fight with a linebacker, broke his thumb. That’s really what happened.

    He’s tough. Got leadership qualities, let’s put it that way. He didn’t crumble. He wasn’t nervous. He fights linebackers. He looks nice, mild-mannered. I guess he’s angry inside. I don’t know.

    Q. What did you see from your wide receiver group after your top guy went down?

    PAT NARDUZZI: First thing, it’s we, we, not me. I was happy the way they acted. We threw the ball 12 times. If you’re a running back last year, that’s kind of how you felt. I guess they felt like maybe sometimes the running backs did a year ago: Hey, how about us? We can carry the ball, too.

    But they responded well to that. The thing, you got disappointed the week before. Bub, not making plays, Kanota not making plays. Hopefully that’s a steppingstone to them making plays, period.

    I think we win the week before if we catch one or two more balls. We didn’t make some of those catches we needed to. It was good to see Kanota make that nice catch in the end zone, Bub come over on an over-route, make some plays.

    Obviously I was a heck of a lot more impressed with what we did based on the opportunities we had. We took advantage of every opportunity.

    Q. On the D-line, what have you learned about your depth? What has allowed them to step in in certain situations seamlessly?

    PAT NARDUZZI: Wish we weren’t getting a look at our depth. But we have an opportunity to see what they have. They develop themselves after every opportunity they get in these games, regardless of who it is, against Tennessee, against Western Michigan.

    I’ve been impressed what with what they’ve done. Like I said, our guys are stepping up. Again, Nate is a great example.

    Q. Who stood out to you on the defensive line after seeing the tape from Saturday?

    PAT NARDUZZI: Bam Brima had a nice day just coming in, playing. There’s a guy that hadn’t played a ton of football, but really did a nice job. Certainly worth noting how well he played.

    Chris Maloney came in and played a little bit. Those are some of the new guys, besides Haba playing three quarters, getting him out of there. Those guys on the D-line.

    Q. The depth, is that maybe just proof of what you’ve been doing the last three, four years on the recruiting trail, contrasting with when you first got here? The guys you’re getting that are second and third on the depth chart are guys that might not have been here before?

    PAT NARDUZZI: We’ll find out when we get to the ACC as well. Can they maintain it? We certainly have to stay healthy here.

    It is. Again, it’s not just a one-week thing. We have to keep going, keep progressing, find out where we are here in a few weeks.

    Q. Do you like the maturity you’ve seen from your group? Businesslike, it seems.

    PAT NARDUZZI: No question. It was businesslike. Our guys went up there with a business mindset, for sure.

    Again, it all comes down to character. I think we got a great room of character guys. That’s what I told the guys after the game. These are character wins. Our guys didn’t care who. I prepped them early in the week. Doesn’t matter. They went out there with a chip on their shoulder and played with great character across the board. I think that’s the important thing.

    Q. Does that character give you comfort that when you’re playing a team when you guys on paper are more talented, there’s not going to be a letdown?

    PAT NARDUZZI: I certainly hope not. We’ll have different goals what we want to do, how we want to do it. We didn’t have that problem a year ago. Maybe we were an angry football team a year ago.

    I think our guys are mature enough they understand. They’ve learned from the past. We’ll find out Saturday about 4:00.

    Q. Is there a reason Dayon Hayes didn’t travel?

    PAT NARDUZZI: Wasn’t healthy. Not going to get into any injuries. As you guys know, if somebody is out for the year, I’m going to tell you. Good information, bad information. I would say bad information. He’s not out for the year or I would tell you. Jerry, correct? Tell everybody…

    Q. Correct.

    PAT NARDUZZI: Thanks (smiling).

    Q. Did you get an explanation from the officials on why there wasn’t a penalty marched off after the hit on Jared?

    PAT NARDUZZI: No.

    You’re the ‘injury guy’ and the ‘referee guy.’ (Smiles) No, I didn’t get an explanation, whatever.

    Q. Did you understand after watching it on Sunday?

    PAT NARDUZZI: A little bit. A little bit. But whatever.

    Next question, let’s go.

    Q. They pick up a lot of flags, even the NFL games I watch.

    PAT NARDUZZI: Yeah. Yeah (smiling).

    Q. What is Erick Hallett doing to put himself in position to make plays?

    PAT NARDUZZI: I mean, he’s a football player. Again, like I said, I’ve told you guys, win or lose, that guy has been good regardless. I’ve never worried about 31. We didn’t help him a whole bunch last year as coaches and the rest of the team in that game (2021 Western Michigan) as far as what we did, how we did it. Talking little things we didn’t adjust to. Again, put it right on my shoulders there a year ago.

    Erick saw it. He’s playing off-coverage man-to-man, whatever, 65% of the time. He’s got a job, and we trust him whether it’s downs at North Carolina, we trust him against anybody. He plays good coverage. He’s got a tough job.

    Q. That was Corey Crooms in the end zone when Erick had the interception and that was who hurt you last year but Erick made the play.

    PAT NARDUZZI: Right. Like I said, half coaches. Again, the thing I noticed, guys are going to complete balls. You see them complete balls on Sundays. You see them on Saturday completing a lot of passes.

    The thing that’s impressive about him, if you go back to last year and put that tape on, when they completed it he was right there to make the tackle. One time he’s there, someone knocked him off the tackle. That’s about the ugliest play of the year. But I mean, he was right there.

    Can’t make every play. You can’t make every interception. You can’t get a PBU every play. He would have been gone already. Deion Sanders didn’t make a play every play. He did actually have balls caught on him. So did Darrelle Revis, even though he was the greatest of all time.

    Next question.

    Q. You said 100% decision making once Nate got the play or saw what the defense was showing him. How much did he have to work to earn that trust? Talk about him going out there and being able to do that effectively on Saturday.

    PAT NARDUZZI: It’s important. I mean, again, we had trust in him or we wouldn’t have done it. We have ways of saying, ‘Hey, it’s a straight call, let’s go with it, let it run.’ We have a way of saying, Hey…

    He’s not looking to the sideline, coach, go with it, check what? He’s not looking to the sideline, he’s doing it all by himself. For a young guy to go out there and do that, it’s impressive.

    He did an awful lot of it, too. If we didn’t, we would have run into a lot of walls inside. So that’s the most impressive thing. People can change defense. When we look to the sideline, you can change the defense. You can’t change it when the quarterback is making the decision out there by himself, and the cadence.

    Q. Is there any chance you would look for opportunities, even when Kedon is back, to give Nate a series during a game?

    PAT NARDUZZI: Maybe. Coach Cignetti will make that decision.

    Q. Ryan Jacoby, was that a one-time thing?

    PAT NARDUZZI: Ryan has been in there all year doing the same thing. We just changed his number. We got 61 sitting on the sideline. We’ll just see what the game plan is this week as far as personnel goes, what we want to do.

    There’s a chance he’s wearing 61, maybe 84. Maybe we’ll change his number, I don’t know, he asked for jersey number 1, I said he couldn’t have it. He did actually (smiling). He laughed.

    Anything else?

    Q. What’s the most important thing you’re looking for on Saturday from your team?

    PAT NARDUZZI: Execution. As I said last night, it doesn’t matter who you’re playing. It’s not who you play, it’s how you play. That’s what I’m looking at.

    I don’t care what color the jerseys are. It matters how you’re going to play. It comes down to execution. This game, we’re leading right into the ACC play. What do we look like going into ACC play, which is the most important game of the year.

    Q. Will Power 5 teams always play FCS teams in the future?

    PAT NARDUZZI: I hope so. I really do. They need these games. When the opportunity came up, they need these games to survive, as well. I don’t know what their average attendance is there. It’s not as much as it was back in the old days.

    They need these games to survive. Some of their paydays come on the road. Play these games, give their kids the opportunity to see what it’s like playing at Pittsburgh, Syracuse, BC, wherever it may be.

    I think it’s good, but I don’t know where it’s going with the Playoffs and everything else. I don’t know where. If it gets shut down, it will slowly kill that level of football.

    Q. A.J. has gotten beat a couple times, had a pass interference call. What does he need to do to improve on those and does that force you guys to look at other options?

    PAT NARDUZZI: I mean, again, they got good players as well. We put a lot on those guys. We want to play a better technique, whether it’s locking your hips, looking the wrong way, trying to get a pick instead of just doing your job.

    I thought the PI was just an average call. I thought there was a lot of hand fighting. But I didn’t see any restriction at all. That’s the call they made, I respect that.

    The big pass he gave up, I don’t know if they even got any points out of that or not. I forget how that series ended. That’s going to happen. How you respond to it is the key. One like he tapped out, went right back in the next play and competed. Just playing with good technique. Those guys are on an island. It’s going to happen. The best DBs in the world get beat. It’s how you respond from it.

    We gave up three explosives. I don’t care what game you’re in. Last week I think Tennessee had three explosives, I think. Maybe I’m not miss-talking. Our goal is five, I believe, five or less. We gave up three the last two weeks. That’s huge. You’re going to give up one of those. It’s going to happen.

    The other one, the Bub go, that’s the one that gets you, too. One run, two passes, we’ll take it.

    Thanks, guys.

    FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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  23. September 19, 2022​

    Pitt’s Yarnell Named ACC Rookie of the Week

    PITTSBURGH—Pitt redshirt freshman quarterback Nate Yarnell has been named the ACC Rookie of the Week for his performance in the Panthers’ victory at Western Michigan this past Saturday.

    With senior quarterbacks Kedon Slovis and Nick Patti both unavailable, Yarnell made his collegiate debut as Pitt’s starting signal caller and directed the Panthers to a 34-13 road win with a highly efficient performance.

    Yarnell threw for 179 yards and a touchdown while completing 75% of his passes (9 of 12). His scoring pass was a six-yarder to Konata Mumpfield that gave Pitt a 27-13 lead midway through the final period.

    Prior to his debut at Western Michigan, Yarnell had not played in a game since his junior year (2019) at Lake Travis High School in Austin, Texas. He missed his entire senior season (2020) due to injury. Yarnell enrolled at Pitt in January 2021 and did not play in any contests last year.

    Ranked No. 24 in this week’s Associated Press poll, the Panthers host Rhode Island on Saturday, September 24, at Acrisure Stadium. The ACC Network telecast will kick off at noon.

    For tickets, call 800-643-PITT (7488) or online at PittsburghPanthers.com.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. OT – I know POVers don’t need to be reminded to count your blessings – but count your blessings. Family is having a rough time here with the death of a brother-in-law. He was a truly great guy, much loved, and a Pitt grad. Died in only his mid-sixties after a long, hard fight with cancer. The lead-up to the end of life can be so cruel…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Not the best news of the day for sure. My sympathy and prayers for you and your family. I know how terrible it is to watch a loved one suffer having lived through the experience with the passing of my wife from Alzheimer’s.

      Like

    2. John – I pray daily for 9 folks w cancer daily and I don’t do it publicly because it used to be 15 folks. I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s an insidious disease that affects so many.

      Like

  25. When I read a transcript of Narduzzi’s press conferences, I cannot help but think he would really struggle in a deposition or on the witness stand in a trial.

    In response to whether Yarnell becomes the backup when Slovis returns… “Every day we’ll find out.”

    Attorney: “Objection, your honor. Witness is evasive.”
    Judge: “Mr. Narduzzi, answer the question.”

    I will say this, he’s disciplined and tight-lipped in these pressers.
    And he gets credit for keeping a lid on the Yarnell start under wraps.

    Guess we wont know until Saturday what the plan is.

    Like

  26. John, please give our family’s condolences to yours.

    In some ways our son’s illness and death taking only three months was a blessing and a true relief for him, but also for us.

    Four days before his death he told his mother and me “I’m not going to let you suffer any longer.” He closed his eyes and didn’t eat or drink anything and died soon after.

    He controlled the end and was a powerful gift to give the rest of the family.

    Best to you John.

    Liked by 5 people

  27. Tomlin would have answered “barring a clerical error, our expectation is that the current lineup will maintain their varsity status’

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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  28. Major, my deepest sympathy. I’m afraid when you reach our age, cancer has taken its toll on just about everyone, whether it be family or close acquaintance

    A little bit of good news for Pitt fans …. Dane Jackson walked out of the hospital this morning

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Liked by 2 people

  29. So sorry, John. Prayers for you, Kathleen and the rest of your family. Pain and sadness seem to be all around us at this time of life. You are so right about savoring the blessings.

    Like

    1. 40 years (and 40 lbs) ago, my then GF (and future wife) and I ran the 5th edition of it.
      Ran it a few more times as well and always with folks from Julian’s tavern on the North Side. Jim Julian would drive everyone to Frick Park in a school bus and brought draft beer to Point State Park so you could have a cold one when you finished.

      A mostly fun (i.e. downhill or flat) route, except for the Blvd of the Allies…that was a long gradual hill. As I cursed, a woman who was in her 50’s or 60’s flew by me…. pushing a baby buggy. And I thought I was doing OK….

      Liked by 3 people

  30. John I’m sorry for your families’ loss. Prayers for everyone.

    RIP to your beloved brother-in-law.

    We lost Mrs. Erie’s mom a few months ago to cancer. It hits us all at some point in our lives – I ditto Annie’s comment.

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