Narduzzi reflects on bad performance against UNC


Head football coach Pat Narduzzi continues to avoid naming either Ben DiNucci or Kenny Pickett as the team’s starting quarterback. (Photo by John Hamilton | Managing Editor)

By Abbot Zuk | Staff Writer

With another lackluster performance from the Panthers football team — this time in the Thursday evening loss to North Carolina — head coach Pat Narduzzi is back at square one.

During his press conference Monday morning, he once again fielded questions regarding the team’s quarterback situation. But rather than give an outright defense of his decisions, Narduzzi strung together a bizarre metaphor for the way he views the situation.

“You guys are like you were back in high school with your girlfriends,” Narduzzi said. “‘She ain’t good enough so I’m going to move on to the next one,’ just fire her and go get another girlfriend.”

He went on to say he and his staff have more patience with their players than the people who are watching the games. As for the actual starting spot for Pitt’s quarterback, there’s still an opening for redshirt sophomore Ben DiNucci and first year Kenny Pickett.

“We’ll look at it. It all depends how you practice,” Narduzzi said. “That’s the first thing. It depends on how you practice and how well you pick up the game plan, how well you understand what they’re doing.”

Dwelling on losses is not ideal, but when you lose to an inferior opponent at home, pinpointing the blame can be near impossible. However, giving up a touchdown on the opening kickoff deserves a portion of it.

Pitt’s secondary, suffering from the absence of senior defensive back Avonte Maddox, is also to blame. The secondary struggled especially with defending North Carolina sophomore quarterback Nathan Elliott’s 235-yard passing attack.

“We weren’t getting work out of really both of our safeties the way we wanted it to be, and it comes down to that,” Narduzzi said. “We weren’t tight enough on [Jordon Brown] whether we were in man free or quarters coverage, we just didn’t get on the guy quick enough for whatever reason.”

As the press conference neared its conclusion, focus shifted to Pitt’s next opponent, Virginia Tech. Barring a last-minute selection committee decision otherwise, this will be the fourth top-25 team the Panthers face this season.

“Obviously, it starts with their defense. Bud Foster has nine returning starters on defense,” Narduzzi said. “Offensively, I think they have six returning starters from what we played a year ago.”

Allocating the Panthers’ focus to the Hokies’ defense may be important, but containing the Hokies’ true first-year quarterback Josh Jackson will be the Panthers’ top task.

“He’s talented,” Narduzzi said. “[He] throws a nice deep ball as you guys know. We’ll be working our tail off on the fades and the back shoulder fades that they threw a ton of, and we didn’t see a lot of them coming into last year’s game, but you see a lot of them on tape now.”

Virginia Tech has the potential to turn a bad Pitt football season into an awful one. But Narduzzi has led teams into tough road environments and knocked off superior opponents before.

“We’ve got to be prepared. We’re worried about the guys in this room, and our kids have a great attitude,” Narduzzi said. “They’re going to come out and fight.”