Pat Narduzzi made a point to say this years game against Syracuse was a much better game than last season’s ridiculous shootout, which coming from a defensive guy like him that makes sense. He was hit with many questions including QB situation, burning red shirts, running game issues, over playing Jordan Whitehead… etc. Let’s dig in.
First off, he said he and his players talked about settling for field goals and not getting touchdowns. He said that was the difference in the game and if you do the math that is correct. He jokingly said his guys got the math right because they have good students at Pitt.
Coach explained that Syracuse receivers made catches and plays and our guys did not make enough of them. When asked about the running game as he was a couple of times, he stated again he answers the question each week. It’s a little bit of everything. A missed block on the offensive line, the running backs not being patient enough or missing the hole. Could be the QB did not checking down properly… he stated how they are trying to emphasize to the guys that if each guy does not do the right things, just one miss can make the entire play a failure.
As for the quarterback situation, “Ben is the Guy.” He said he is a “talented guy,” and can do really good things. When asked about Kenny Picket and burning his redshirt, he said he was the next guy. He stands behind his decision. When talking about red shirts, he said it is all about opportunity. “When you are in a position like Kenny, your one play away from being the back up or the guy.”
When asked if they will get him in the game he said “we would like to play him.” Coach Narduzzi referred to him as being more mentally prepared than any other freshman QB in the country. That is some high praise. He said from that stand point, he is much farther along from where Ben was at this point.
I have heard rumblings of Kenny Picket having the most upside of the group and I think this is more proof of that. I believe we will see the Kenny Picket ERA at Pitt start sooner rather than later.
As for Thomas Macvittie, coach said Kenny is just a little further along than he is. Although he referenced Thomas being a great athlete and someone that has been contributing on special teams all season. He was red-shirted last season so he is listed as a redshirt freshman.
There has been much debate on social networks about how Thomas is not getting a shot and it is unfair for him. But technically, he was never recruited by the OC on this staff. The Offensive coordinator that recruited him is no longer here. Coming out of high school, he was one of the top pro style quarterbacks in country. How that equates to the offense that Matt Canada brought in here last year or what version of that they are running now may or may not be affecting that.
He was asked about playing Jordan Whitehead both ways. He said they have to watch because playing 80 plays on defense and special teams and 9 on offense leads to breakdowns late in the game. He said Jordan is a great kid and never wants to come off the field. He is also one of the most talented guys on the field in the country regardless what field he is on.
With regards to NC State, coach said he has voted them from week 1 on and talked about how the program has successfully grown over the over the last 5 years. He had nothing but high praise for Coach Doeren. He talked about how they have been patient with the development of the program… and subtly dropping hints I think about his own.
He talked about how everything starts up front for them on defense and how they are a big zone team so taking what they give you is important. They are not complicated, but they are disciplined and they just play well.
As a note: Although his third year is not turning out the way Narduzzi wants, I believe there is no reason to not have patience. Look for a post on Coach this week regarding where I believe they are.