Sponsored
×
Pitt football uses memory of 2012 loss to prepare for opener against Youngstown State - The Pitt News

The Pitt News

Pitt football uses memory of 2012 loss to prepare for opener against Youngstown State

J.P.+Holtz+was+one+of+three
J.P. Holtz was one of three

J.P. Holtz was one of three

J.P. Holtz was one of three

By Dan Sostek / Sports Editor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Three years ago, Pitt tight end J.P. Holtz was an eager, inexperienced freshman, a Pittsburgh kid from Shaler Area High School ready to play in his first collegiate game.

That game was against Youngstown State University, and it was of significant proportions. It was the season opener of Pitt’s final season in the Big East, and the debut for promising new head coach Paul Chryst.

It did not go well.

“We came [in that game] walking into the building thinking we were just going to roll out and win the game. They showed us there’s more than that to football”

“They did get us my freshman year,” Holtz said of the 31-17 loss to the Penguins in 2012. “They were ready to play, and we weren’t.”

Three years later, Holtz will get another chance this Saturday.

The Panthers will once again open the season against the Division I-AA opponents from Youngstown, and the game will once again feature a rookie head coach, in charge of his first collegiate contest, Pat Narduzzi. Narduzzi, understands the gravity of that loss, even though he was nowhere near the North Shore when the Penguins last marched to town.

“We might talk about a little payback. To me, it becomes personal that that happened,” Narduzzi said in his weekly press conference. “I think it’s great to play with an attitude and play angry.”

Senior cornerback Lafayette Pitts, who, like Holtz, played in the 2012 loss, said the defeat still stings.

“That’s gonna be on my mind,” Pitts said. “We came [in that game] walking into the building thinking we were just going to roll out and win the game. They showed us there’s more than that to football … We’re going to be ready.”

The 2015 Youngstown State team is as talented as the 2012 team, if not more so. It returns with a star, junior defensive end Derek Rivers, who tallied 14 sacks last season, as well as its leading passer (Hunter Wells), wideout (Andrew Williams) and two leading rushers.

The most intriguing piece of personnel the Penguins feature is their new head coach, the boisterous former Nebraska playcaller Bo Pelini.

The Cornhuskers fired Pelini last year after seven seasons helming the head coaching position, a tenure that featured constant run-ins with Narduzzi – then a defensive coordinator for Michigan State. The two go even further back, as Pelini and Narduzzi squared off as high school football players growing up in Youngstown.

“I think it’s great to play with an attitude and play angry.”

“Bo is a super coach,” Narduzzi said. “He’s been on both ends of these games, and he’ll have those guys ready to go. He’s an emotional coach, as you know, and it will definitely be a bonus for Youngstown State.”

Pitt definitely won’t underestimate its week-one opponent this year. Narduzzi heaped praise on the Penguins, calling them a “great team.” He warned that they have plenty of players on the roster with personal vendettas against the Panthers, whether that stems from old high school rivalries or the pain of rejection.

“If you look at their two-deep, they have 14 guys from the state of Pennsylvania. When I look at that, I know where their heart is going to be on [game] day,” Narduzzi said. “They will come in ready to go, probably guys who would have liked to play at Pitt, didn’t get recruited for whatever reason, and went there, and will have a grudge when they come to Pittsburgh.”.

Those beefs could very well lead to a physical game. Pitts and the Panthers are amped for that opportunity.

“We’ve been hitting each other for the last three weeks in camp, and then we had spring ball for 15 practices,” Pitts said. “We’re really excited to hit somebody else for once.”

Leave a comment.

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper
Pitt football uses memory of 2012 loss to prepare for opener against Youngstown State