Narduzzi: 'We'll be tested' with Oklahoma State's offense

Chris Peak, Publisher
Panther-lair

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On Wednesday's ACC teleconference, Pat Narduzzi talked about the challenges Oklahoma State will present. Here's the full transcript of Narduzzi's remarks.

NARDUZZI: You know, after a tough loss to a good Penn State team, we face another top-10 team in Oklahoma State, and we're excited about it, being at home, number one, after a tough loss last year at their place on the road. We've obviously got a great-coached, Coach Gundy football team, very athletic on offense, have some big weapon skill guys with Mason Rudolph at quarterback and James Washington and Marcell Ateman, great players, and on defense, very athletic, the entire back end is athletic with some very powerful, explosive guys up front. Going to be a heck of a game at Heinz Field.

What are you hoping your defense can do better than they did against Oklahoma State a year ago?
NARDUZZI
: Well, we talked to a couple coaches in the Big 12. They said the first thing you have to do is cover the receivers, so we hope they cover them better. I think any time you play a team that you really never played before, don't have any experience with, it's always an adjustment period there, and James Washington is one of the most explosive receivers in college football, period. If he's not a top-10 pick I'll be shocked. He's got great hands. He's got great speed. He runs good routes. And then he's got a top 10 quarterback a year ago if he'd have come out. Both those guys would have been probably a top 10 in Mason Rudolph, big 6'5", drop-back, pro-style, throws probably one of the best deep balls that I've ever seen thrown. You learn a little bit about your opponent, and I think our secondary coming into this game is a little bit more experienced, at least at the corner position, than it was a year ago, and we've been solid so far. We'll be tested again this week with those guys for sure.

If you need to win a shootout type game this year, what do you need Max Browne perhaps to do better than he has so far this season if you need to kind of match him touchdown for touchdown?
NARDUZZI
: Yeah, if it gets into one of those games, which every game can in today's new football, I guess, you know, it's not just a quarterback. Everybody would like to put it in the quarterback's lap and say what does Max have to do or what's the quarterback have to do. But there's 10 guys out there. It starts with the quarterback in the center with a good snap and the protection up front. If the protection is not there, we could have Drew Brees back there or Ben Roethlisberger - maybe he can walk off our practice field here today and take a couple snaps - but if he's getting hit, we've given up five sacks in the last two games, I believe, and if he's getting hit, that's not a good thing. It doesn't make his job any easier. And then we've got to catch the ball down the field.

So there's quarterback and there's accuracy, which he's been pretty accurate. We've got to protect our quarterback, so we've got to do things better better there, and then we've got to catch the ball down the field when we have opportunities.

Can you talk a little bit more about Oklahoma State? They seem to have a very potent football team.
NARDUZZI
: They really do. They're the pick - No. 8, No. 9 in the polls, and they're probably the pick to win the Big 12 right now, I think. We've talked to several coaches that - one that said they played in their tenure at their place, they played Ohio State, and they're better than Ohio State as far as just a football team. So they're very talented. They're big and strong up front, really on both sides of the ball offensively and defensively on the lines. And then I think their skill is exceptional. The Justice Hill tailback, No. 5, I think he wore 27 a year ago, is a sophomore who has I think got really good speed, probably faster than the Barkley kid we faced last week, and we've talked a little bit about the wide outs already. And then they've got two really safeties that - their two safeties are two really good players, Ramon Richards and Tre Flowers are two hitters, big 6'3", 200 pounds, and a 5'11", 185, so they're very talented and athletic as you think you'd see out in that division, in that conference.

Offensively they're a tempo offense, so they're snapping the ball as quick as eight seconds, and their average is about 22 seconds, so our defense is ready for a fast tempo offense. We've been working the tempo all week, and dummy down the calls as far as one signal or some signs up there for the communication for our defense and make it simple so they can get lined up and play fast.

Is Max as comfortable in the offense considering he's only played two games and he wasn't even here at this point last year? Is he as comfortable in the offense as you would like him to be at this point?
NARDUZZI
: Yeah, I think so. Again, when you watch him, I thought he was more comfortable in the second game than the first game, and I think we're going to continue to see that every game as we move forward. I think that's a great question for him. But I think he'd certainly say if he wasn't comfortable in the offense, him and Coach Watson, our offensive coordinator/quarterback coach talk all the time as far as, 'Hey, what do you like? What route concepts do you like? Are you having troubles in the run game at all?' But he's really done an excellent job in the run game, checks. You're never going to be perfect with some of your reads as far as where the ball is supposed to go; we've known that from the past, and that will continue as we move into the rest of the season. They're not going to be perfect in any way and nobody is, but I think he's comfortable. I think it's a great question for him, as well.

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