Narduzzi on the blowout loss, the QB change and more

Chris Peak, Publisher
Panther-lair

VIDEO: NARDUZZI'S POST-GAME PRESS CONFERENCE

What did Pat Narduzzi tell the media about Pitt's blowout loss and the change at quarterback? Here's the rundown of his post-game remarks.

NARDUZZI: That’s about the worst day you can have at the office. First thing I’ll do is start off by - like I said to Coach Gundy after the game, ‘You certainly have a top-ten football team.’ And I don’t know if there’s many teams around the country that, in your first three games, play two top-ten teams. Whether it was a hangover from last week - obviously it starts with me not getting our guys as ready to play as they need to be. Again, that’s a good football team. That is a top-five football team, for sure, and I’ve got no question about it.

We knew they were a good football team coming in. We had troubles covering them on defense. We had troubles getting first downs on offense and at least keeping our defense off the field. I have to look at the stats but I’m sure we didn’t win the time of possession. I’m obviously disappointed in the performance, our kids are disappointed in the performance and we’ll continue to move forward.

ACC play is starting next week against Georgia Tech down in Atlanta, and that’s where our focus will go. Move right onto them and continue to move.

DO YOU HAVE A DECISION TO MAKE AT QUARTERBACK?
NARDUZZI:
Yeah, we have a decision to make. For sure. You look at it, Max wasn’t very productive when he was in there. Misses a long shot to Jester, which could have given you some life. And then Ben comes in - like I’ve told you, I think we’ve got two pretty good quarterbacks. Do we have a great quarterback? No, not right now. Nathan Peterman was a great quarterback walking out of here. You miss guys like that. That’s what happens when you’re a young football team at a lot of different spots, not just the quarterback spot.

But Ben came in and gave us a spark that we thought he could. That’s why we made the decision to put him in in the second quarter or whenever it was. He provided that spark and he did some nice things. And he did some things where, you know, we’ve talked, decision-wise, that he can’t do. He throws a pick-six and throws another one in the red zone - he moves them down the field, but we have to get in the end zone when we get down there, so we’ll continue to evaluate and watch the tape and see where we are.

WITH WHAT THEY DO ON OFFENSE AND WHAT YOU DO ON DEFENSE SCHEMATICALLY AND THE YOUTH YOU HAVE AT LINEBACKER AND SAFETY, IS THIS A TOUGH MATCHUP WITH YOUNGER SAFETIES AND LINEBACKERS HAVING TO COVER THOSE SLOT RECEIVERS?
NARDUZZI:
It is. We had to play a lot of safeties. Damar got in there and did a solid job later on. The one good thing is - some of those guys didn’t get to summer camp, as some of you guys know, so that second half was a scrimmage, and we got to see some of the young guys compete and play and try to pull along some of those younger guys.

We’ll have an added safety next week coming into the pack, which will help us - which has really hurt us for three weeks. He’s paid the price and he’ll be back. And we’ll continue to look at that second half and find out who made plays, who didn’t. Really, whether it was Therran Coleman coming into the game and playing a little bit, there were some guys that got some reps today which we normally don’t get a chance to have. WE didn’t have a chance against Youngstown, so it was good to see some of those young guys compete and have an opportunity in that second half. That’s, I guess, a bonus.

AS A HEAD COACH, YOU’RE NOT GOING TO CHANGE YOUR ENTIRE SCHEME FOR ONE GAME, BUT WHAT GOES INTO NOT WANTING TO CHANGE TO MASK SOME OF THOSE WEAKNESSES?
NARDUZZI:
Well, we are changing. When you look at it, there’s a lot of change back there. There’s some different things. WE played a lot of man free, we played a lot of quarters and we played a lot of cover three. But then, you know, different things happen. We don’t stop the run early - you zone pressure, you put yourself in thirds and you make a couple plays, and then all of a sudden, then you get gashed because they run kind of a power scheme, they kick out and get all our linebackers sucked up inside.

So it’s - you just have to keep going. I mean, there’s not - there’s only so many things you can do, and matchup-wise, probably not a great matchup. We knew they had some - not just Washington, we knew they had some great receivers all over the field. They have a good football team. Gundy’s been doing it a long time, he’s got what he wants there and they’ve got a good football team.

HOW DISAPPOINTING TO YOU, ESPECIALLY AS A DEFENSIVE COACH, WAS IT TO NOT BE ABLE TO GET OFF THE FIELD ON THIRD DOWN, ESPECIALLY IN THE FIRST HALF?
NARDUZZI:
Yeah, I mean, you look at it, we had opportunities. I mean, we’re whiffing on a - you know, and for some of you older folks in here, Fran Tarkenton wasn’t back there. I think I said it last Thursday or Friday, that’s not what he does is be mobile, but we fell off of him. We just didn’t make plays when we had opportunities. When you let a guy have opportunity with time to throw the ball down the field, then you’re going to have problems. We had that problem. When you get to him, you have to get him down. We had opportunities, really, for the last three weeks, to get sacks and we haven’t got them.

DO YOU WORRY ABOUT GETTING THIS TEAM BACK MENTALLY AFTER A LOSS LIKE THIS, AT HOME, THE WAY IT PLAYED OUT?
NARDUZZI:
Not at all. Not at all. Our guys, I didn’t have to talk to them. They talked to each other. Qadree Ollison brought them in and they talked. I have no doubts. Our guys are going to come ready to play next week. They have to let it go and we have to move on to the next one. We only get so many opportunities.

Like I said, it’s a good football team. We didn’t get beat by Little Sisters of the Poor. It’s a good football team and we have to recognize that, too.

WHAT’S THE KEY TO GET YOUR DEFENSE TO WHERE IT NEEDS TO BE NOW?
NARDUZZI:
Just keep recruiting and keep coaching. Hard. Don’t give up faith in what you’re doing. We have to have belief in what we’re doing. And there are some good plays out there, and then there are some not so good. You see, stop, stop, third down - get you. You know? Have a bad P-and-10 and then all of a sudden you do well on second down. So there’s got to be more consistent, there’s got to be more attention to detail in everything we do. Offensively, defensively and special teams. There’s a lot of missed plays, whether it’s dropping passes or missing tackles; I think we missed more tackles out there today than we’ve generally missed.

WHAT WASN’T WORKING IN THE RUNNING GAME? IT SEEMED LIKE YOU WEREN’T STAYING AHEAD OF THE DOWN AND DISTANCE?
NARDUZZI:
We’ll look at the tape, but it starts with blocking. They’ve done a nice job, really the last two weeks, of slowing us down. They slowed us down. I think we had a hundred yards, which is the lowest we’ve had. But they’ve got some guys. Give them credit: they have some players, too.

GIVEN THAT BEN PLAYED A LITTLE BIT LAST WEEK, AT WHAT POINT WERE YOU STARTING TO CONSIDER MAKING A CHANGE? DID YOU THINK ABOUT MAKING IT EARLIER AT ALL?
NARDUZZI:
Earlier today?

YEAH.
NARDUZZI:
Really, the second quarter is pretty early. I think we made it when we needed to. I tried to give opportunities - just, we needed a spark. It wasn’t Max’s fault. There was 11 guys out there. So it’s not all on one guy. It’s on 11 plus me, and I’ll be the first one to take it. I didn’t get the guys ready.

ARE BEN AND MAX GOING TO BE BATTLING AGAIN THIS WEEK, OR DO YOU WANT TO HAVE THAT DECISION MADE GOING INTO THE WEEK?
NARDUZZI:
You know, I probably won’t tell you. But we’ll continue to evaluate.

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