Press conference: Panthers need to produce more ACC success


Head coach Pat Narduzzi praised running back Darrin Hall’s performance in his press conference Monday. (Photo by Anna Bongardino | Assistant Visual Editor)

By Luke Baloga | For The Pitt News

Though Pitt football secured its first ACC victory of the season Saturday against Duke, head coach Pat Narduzzi won’t be satisfied with one good game.

In his weekly press conference Monday, Narduzzi addressed a successful run game as well as subtle changes on the offensive side of the ball. However, he emphasized that, regardless of the team’s success in one game, they can’t get comfortable.

“You only feel good Saturday after a game if things go good,” Narduzzi said. “To me, you’re only as good as your last game. So our offensive line, our running backs, Darrin Hall, those guys, quarterback, they can’t get a fat head or we’ll be right back where we were.”

As for junior running back Hall, his explosive performance in Saturday’s game could be something Narduzzi counts on for the remainder of the season. Hall’s ability to take advantage of Duke’s offensive holes led the team to its victory — and to his record-breaking touchdown run.

Right now, [Hall’s] the guy. It’s his job,” Narduzzi said. “I think he’s kind of in the groove a little bit. You saw him make cuts that he doesn’t make very often, and [running back coach Andre] Powell’s been preaching, preaching, preaching, about making somebody miss and getting yards after contact, so it’s good to see someone take to it, and something happens.”

Narduzzi praised Hall, but he acknowledged Saturday wasn’t a one-man game. Redshirt junior running back Qadree Ollison, who lead the way for Hall with multiple key blocks, received ample praise from the head coach. Narduzzi even went on to say this is a reflection of how the team plays.

“There are a lot of two-back sets in there were [Ollison is] in there also blocking his tail off,” Narduzzi said. “So, we have an unselfish football team that guys play for each other.”

Narduzzi went on to mention that many of these hardworking players are found on the offensive line, which paved the way for 336 yards on the ground.

Redshirt sophomore Ben DiNucci led the offense for all four quarters of Saturday’s game, but there are still be some wrinkles to smooth out. First year Kenny Pickett still has the chance to play more this season, Narduzzi said, but DiNucci seems to be the guy for now.

We weren’t making mistakes, weren’t turning the ball over,” Narduzzi said. “So it’s a matter of how things are going. It comes down to a feel thing. Do we need a spark? Do we need something else?”

On offense, there is also the issue of senior defensive back Avonte Maddox’s injury. He landed awkwardly on his right arm during Saturday’s game, forcing him to sit on the sideline in a sling. There has yet to be an evaluation of his condition, Narduzzi said.

On the defensive side of the ball, there was little talk. Narduzzi said even though there has been minor progress, the front seven aren’t where he wants them to be.

“They’re still trying to figure it out,” Narduzzi said. “They’re still young and not as physical as you’d like them to be. They’ve got to play more physical this week against Virginia because they are physical. They’ll hit you in the mouth, and we’ve got to come down and hit people in the mouth.”

The Panthers host the Cavaliers Saturday. For a good chance of being bowl-eligible, Pitt is going to need to the win. But, for Narduzzi, the focus is only on the next game.

“We start looking ahead, particularly with a young football team, you’ll get whacked, even with an older team,” Narduzzi said. “We’re just worried about winning the next one and taking them one at a time. Let the chips fall as they will.”

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