Home Press Conference: Pitt football coach Pat Narduzzi

Press Conference: Pitt football coach Pat Narduzzi


pitt1Pitt football coach Pat Narduzzi talks with the media on Monday. Pitt (3-1, 1-0 ACC) hosts UVA (1-3, 0-0 ACC) on Saturday.

Opening Statement:
“We’re preparing for Virginia. We had a good team meeting last night. The kids were feeling good on the airplane back after the game and we had to bring them back down to Earth today. There’s so many things that we can do better—offensively, defensively and special teams-wise.  It might look good on game day but the eye in the sky doesn’t lie. We saw a ton of things that we would like to be done a lot better in all areas.”

On how the team can improve:
“There were a lot of mistakes made. We have eleven guys out there and we give each guy a grade on execution, assignment and production. Sometimes you make mistakes: there were a couple times where we didn’t have containment but we still sacked the quarterback. Well what if he runs away?  People see that and say, ‘What are these guys doing?’ It all looks good at first but when you watch the tape there’s communication errors. We failed to communicate to some of our defensive linemen and that can’t happen in big games. Say if it’s a game of inches, and it’s only that far from getting you beat one way or the other. We just can’t have that. There’s always something you can do better with every position. There are a lot of little things that the coaches see.”

On if he is more inclined to point out small errors after a win:
“Yes. We’re getting closer. We were physical at the point of attack. I really thought [offensive linemen] Dorian Johnson and Adam Bisnowaty got after it up front and that was good to see. That was one of our focuses. Virginia Tech has a great defense and they stopped the run, especially against a team like us, where they spread the offense. We did a pretty good job. There’s little things every game.”

On if it’s difficult to evaluate the passing game considering the weather conditions:
“Sometimes. Our passing game needs to get better as well. We dropped the ball near the end and that would have made things a little bit better [if we held onto it].  I think the conditions that you play in, if you consider the weather in Akron was miserable, the weather for Virginia Tech was pretty nice out. It’s hard to [evaluate] but I think we can still throw the ball deep.”

On Pitt’s lack of connections in the deep passing game:
“Maybe we have to throw more deep shots. You have 34 minutes of time possession and we have to connect. Jester [Weah] has a chance to make one but if you look on the other side of Jester, number twenty-three [Tyler Boyd] is open too. We just have to get it to them. It’s not easy. Nathan [Peterman] is going through his reads and we’ll hit a few of them. It’s nice to win without them. We’ll hit them when we need to.”

On using Chad Voytik in offensive packages moving forward:
“I think every week we will have something going in. I think he’s a great football player and we want to keep him warmed up and ready to go. As a defensive coordinator, everyone is vulnerable to quarterback runs and it’s the eleventh guy. He does it so well. I was really disappointed he didn’t get a chance to throw the ball. We had some other stuff that we didn’t use. People think that he’s the running guy. I really wanted his first play to be a pass so maybe this week.”

On Voytik showing that he’s capable of throwing the ball:
“Well we know he can throw the ball. He was the starter a year ago. But, I think everyone is going to think that he’s going to run it and I don’t want that to be the case. He will run the ball and he will throw the ball. You just have to base it off of the situation, weather conditions or how we’re holding it up defensively.”

On if he is “planting the seed” with opponents that Voytik is the designated running quarterback:
“I don’t think we’re planting a seed. I think they’re going to prepare for him because they have to, because he’s been out there, he’s played a lot of football. Like I said before, it depends on the situation. Nathan had a pretty nice run too, where he ran for about 10 yards up the middle. So there’s a little bit of both. Chad needs to throw it and run it and so does Nathan. They’re both the same guys.”

On if Qadree Ollison has solidified himself as the starting tailback:
“I think he got a bigger footprint there at the tailback spot because of what he did. I have to think, ‘What is his style?’ Qadree tends to dance around instead of just hitting it up in the there. When he hits it up there, on that fourth and one, and not stuttering his feet—that’s not a slashing back, that’s a big bruising back. He can play like that once it becomes a habit because that’s how tailbacks run. I think he may have figured that out. Hopefully he can just get downhill and run.”

On why he went for it on fourth-and-short at Virginia Tech but not against Iowa:
“If I go for it on every fourth and one, people would say he’s 100 percent ‘go-for-it.’ It depends on the feel of the game. There’s no magic. [Against Iowa] it was a tight game, we were on the road, the crowd was into it and it’s just something you have to feel for.”

On his observations of Virginia:
“They’re a good football team. They’ve done a great job. Matt Johns is the quarterback and he’s throwing the ball pretty decently through the season so far. They’ve got a tough schedule. They’ve played UCLA, Notre Dame and Boise [State], so three perennial powers. They got a win against William and Mary, who Coach [Mike] London knows because he coached there at one point back when I was at Rhode Island, so he knows William and Mary is a great football team as well when you talk about Division I-AA football. They’ve played three great opponents, the only difference is they’ve been home a little bit more than we have. They’ve had three home games and an away game. They’ve had it rough so far, I guess, just with the people they’ve played. They beat us last year, so we have to go back and get one here at home. They’ve got a good football team. [Jon] Tenuta is the defensive coordinator. I’ve known him for a long time. He’s a big zone pressure guy. They’ll pressure and force our offensive line to protect. Steve Fairchild is the offensive coordinator. They’ve got a great staff and Mike London is the head coach, and he’s a heck of a football coach. He’s been around and I’ve known him for a long time.”

On how important it is to win conference games on the road:
“A win is a win. It doesn’t matter whether it’s on the road, home—they’re hard to come by. I don’t look at that in any particular way. I’ve been around coaches who will throw it (conference standings) up on the overhead and let the kids look at it and smile. It doesn’t matter what we did last week, it’s what we do this week, which is all you guys really care about in the ‘what have you done for me lately’ type of world we live in. So we put that to rest last night and move on to Virginia. We have homecoming. I would imagine we’d have a big crowd at Heinz Field and hopefully it’s an exciting atmosphere.”

On the tight end production:
“We really have three capable guys who can catch the ball at the tight end spot. If they’re going to keep bracketing Tyler Boyd over there, then it’s going to free somebody else up and we have to find them. Those guys can catch the ball. J.P. [Holtz] made a big play. We were thinking we should’ve hit George Aston in the flat. We’re saying, ‘Hit the fullback,’ then it’s, ‘Oh, nice job’ when [Nate Peterman] hits J.P. We have capable tight ends. They have great hands and can run, so we’re happy with the way those guys are playing.”

On if the defensive pressure came mostly from a four-man pass rush against Virginia Tech:
“I’d say it’s a little bit of both [four and three-man]. I’d say probably most of it was with five or six guys if I had to guess. I’d have to say five or six guys brought the pressure. We’ve got to be careful, obviously, with all of that pressure. We’ll have our pressure in, but we’ve got to be smart with Virginia because they love to run screens. We’ll have them [Pitt defense] ready to hit on some screens. We practiced the heck out of it last week. Virginia Tech must’ve known we were practicing a lot of it, so we’ve got to get two good weeks of screen play and teaching our guys how to play the screen better. [Virginia] runs a ton of different screens and we’ll really be ready for it.”

On Reggie Mitchell being ready to play more at free safety:
“Reggie is a good football player. I’m not sure how many snaps he took on special teams last week, I don’t have that stat on me, but we certainly want him on the field. He’s a great football player and it’s our job to get him out there. Like I said, T-Webb [Terrish Webb] is playing well, and we’re playing the guys that are playing well. We’re not subbing guys if we don’t need to. If he needs a break, we’ll give him a break. But Webb is playing well and we’ll keep going with the hot guy.”

On how to keep the team grounded after a big win:
“Maybe not patting them on the back saying, ‘Hey, you guys did a nice job. You can’t do anything better.’ Maybe that’s one of [the keys]. Just coaching them hard and, like I said, not looking in the rearview mirror but looking ahead to where we want to go and not what we did. It doesn’t matter what we did back there, we’ve got to go forward, let it go and play the next game. It’s coming out motivated and hungry for the next game, not just sitting there going, ‘Hey, you did good!’ Everybody up on campus is happy saying, ‘Nice job,’ and all of that bologna. But we can’t let that get to the kids because it can waterfall down the other way.”

On if he’s ever experienced a time when too much success hurts a team:
“No. We haven’t allowed it as coaches. Where I’ve been, we’ve been pretty fortunate to keep our guys grounded. I think that’s coaching. Are we where we need to be offensively, defensively and on special teams? No, and we never will be, so we have to keep working and push our guys to get better. We’re not going to feel good and go out in shorts and practice like the Steelers are today. We aren’t the Steelers.”

On if he’s happy to be playing at home this week:
“Well, half our road games are done. I mean, that’s the nice thing. You’re hoping you can come back at least over .500, and that’s a hurdle passed right there. It’s tough to go on the road and win anywhere. To be 3-1 going home, and I know we’re back on the road next week, but we’re going to enjoy the homecoming game here in front of our hometown crowd and try to put on a show. It’s what we have to do. I think it’s a great thing where we are right now. Pitt fans are excited and there’s nothing better than Heinz Field and homecoming.”

On if he’ll be sentimental about his first homecoming at Pitt:
“I don’t even know what homecoming is. [Laughter] Everybody comes back. It’s just another game. I just figured there’s going to be more people there on homecoming than if it was not homecoming. I don’t know how it is. It’ll be my first homecoming game here, but it’s just another game. Just like the home opener is another game and playing down at Virginia Tech in our first ACC game—it’s just another game and we treat it that way. But I’m looking forward to a great crowd and I expect our fans to show up and cheer on the Panthers.”

On creating a home field advantage:
“I think winning takes care of that. Putting a product on the field when people know they’re going to see an explosive offense and a nasty defense. I’d come watch that. The ‘Panther Pitt’ [student group] is coming over to practice this week—you guys can’t come, but they’re coming. Wednesday they’re coming over to watch practice. They will not be able to tweet. Ben [Mathers, operations director], you got that? They can’t tweet, take video or anything else like that, but they’ll be there watching and we’ll keep them involved.”

On the offense’s identity:
“I think we addressed that after the game. The team’s identity is to win little by little and finding a way to win. Little by little it depends on who is on the field. Same thing on defense—you find your identity every week and who can do what. Why is that guy doing that again? It’s in every aspect, not just on offense. We’re trying to find what everyone has to do.”

On rotating Alex Officer and Alex Bookser at guard:
“They’re still battling it out. I think Bookser is trying to get in there. We want to give him a shot to get in there. Bookser is a great guy and we got him out there to get his feet wet. He’s still a puppy [in the position].”

On if Alex Bookser is now exclusively a guard:
“Not safe to say that. Bookser is able to play any one of those [guard and tackle] positions and he’ll be the first guy in. Right know he’s the guy, the ‘sixth wheel.’”

On if Tyler Boyd has been bracketed a lot:
“They have a lot of double coverage on him. They have them inside, outside, one guy on top of him. Obviously on passing downs. I would double him too.”



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