Pat Narduzzi's Sept. 26 press conference

Written by Craig Meyer on .

Pat Narduzzi, as he does every Monday in the fall, met with the media to discuss a slew of topics, most of which centered around Pitt's 37-36 loss last Saturday to North Carolina.

Below is a transcript of that press conference...

Opening Statement:

“We’re obviously working on Marshall. As we close the chapter on last week’s game, it was obviously another tough loss on the road to a very talented football team in North Carolina. They made one more play than we did. There were a lot of critical plays in the game that could have gone our way but didn’t. We just need to figure out those issues to make those plays go in our favor. We didn’t do the things that we needed to finish the game off against a good football team. I met last night with our guys and we are moving on to Marshall. I thought we were fired up for the game [against North Carolina]. Pregame I thought some guys were going to get hurt they were so hyped up. That was something I didn’t know if we had the week before, so we had emphasized that. Our guys were excited and you could really feel it in pregame and during the game. That was a good football team. When a guy [Ryan Switzer] catches 16 balls, it’s not by accident. He is talented and the quarterback [Mitch Trubisky] is talented. We need to move on to a very talented Marshall team.

“Doc Holliday is an experienced head coach and does an unbelievable job. They will come here with a chip on their shoulder, coming into Pittsburgh which is right up the street. We will have to be well prepared. Coach Bill Legg is their offensive coordinator, and Chuck Heater is their defensive coordinator. I know both of them well—had a couple of clinics with Coach Heater. They are very talented across the board, and you are impressed by their skill, that’s for sure.”

On if missed tackles are an area of concern following the North Carolina loss:

“Yeah, sometimes. Some guys make you miss. A tackle that you don’t like to see missed is the sideline tackle—when you let a guy get back into the playing field when you could use the boundary to push him out. Those are the ones that bother you. Some of the others were alignment issues that we see. When you go back and watch the tape, you look at the details. When you talk details, our defensive line did a great job. They [UNC] rushed for 177 yards on us a year ago, and this year it was down to 18 yards. I really felt that our front was locked into the details. Maybe on the defensive line the details are a little easier than on the backend. They have great passing game. You have to be very detailed. We’re going to get a little bit simpler as far as what we do. We need to hone in on the details back there to be perfect. That’s what we’re striving for.”

On if he has any regrets about the game and specifically the fourth quarter against North Carolina:

“Not in particular. When you look at that 17-play drive at the end of the game—we always chart plays and mark each as a win or a loss—12 of those 17 plays were wins for us. They were really good. It only takes five of the 17 to be really bad. We have to find a way to make a play. We have to find a way to knock an arm off us when we’re rushing the passer. We just need to find a way to make a play. Some of the third and fourth downs, our coverages were pretty good. They just made tremendous plays. Players make plays; they made them and we didn’t. As coaches you always have some regrets. You can regret before the half not kneeling the ball down and going into the locker room. We turned the ball over and they kicked a field goal. That’s three points. We can find plays like that throughout the entire game that you would want to change. If we punt the ball deeper at the end of the game, we’re in a better spot. We have regrets as coaches and as players. It’s always going to be that way. That’s part of life.”

On personnel moves this upcoming week:

“You might see one or two. I don’t know if it will help things. There’s always time to shake things up a little bit and we’ll shake things up. I’m still a firm believer that we have a lot of the right players on the field and it’s our job as coaches to get them to do it the right way. We can do a better job coaching. The first thing we’re going to do as coaches is point the finger at ourselves and say, ‘What can we do?’ Offenses are going to score points. There are a lot of points and yards being scored out there right now. We just have to be in better positions and be more detailed as coaches and players.”

On what the offense can work on this week to extend drives late in the game:

“We talk a lot about our four-minute offense. The last few weeks we have focused on it. We probably have to throw the ball a little better. The 3rd-and-4 was a critical play, and we have to put the ball where it needs to be. Nathan [Peterman] played darn good and it’s hard to be perfect. We’re doing a great job running the football. We can do a little better job throwing the football, but not much better. It’s a couple plays here and there. It’s a guessing game sometimes as to what coverage they’re going to be in and what routes we run. They guessed right one more time than we did. If we get one more first down at the end of the game, it’s over and we know that. We talked about finishing the game off. We’d like to end up with our offense on the field at the end of every game so our defense doesn’t have to be in that position. There were some plays that we don’t regret. I think what we do well is run the football.”

On whether a potential North Carolina fumble in the red zone should have been reviewed:

“You can’t do anything about it. Players play, coaches coach, and you hope officials officiate.”

On whether the team needs to develop a “killer instinct”:

“I think that we have it. Did we make the plays? No. But that doesn’t have to do with killer instincts. I didn’t see our guys waver. You will never see them quit. I don’t think that’s in their DNA. There is a way to knock somebody out and we have to finish the game. I don’t think it’s conditioning. I think that’s a good football team. It was a battle out there. Both teams didn’t give up. UNC is great at home and they believed they can win. Our guys believed they could win. It wasn’t one big play, it was them [North Carolina] executing and making plays and it was a battle. Going three and out and punting the ball got their crowd back in it. The momentum totally shifted. But our guys never wavered. There were some plays that they made that you look at and say, ‘Are you kidding me?’ But our kids have toughness. I don’t question that at all.”

On making sure the confidence of the team isn’t shaken:

“That’s what coaches do—you show them the plays and you work on it. You say, ‘Hey, guys, look at this, this is nice, look at that coverage.’ If we had time, I’d throw some plays up here for you [the media] and run a clinic. There was some great stuff being done out there. We have to focus on that when it’s good. When it’s bad, we need to focus on that and how to fix it. You don’t throw it out or throw a kid under the bus. You look at each other and say, ‘How do we fix it?’ We were in position to make some plays. The balls that were thrown under duress [by UNC] were impressive. They’re a good team. They were the champions of the Coastal a year ago and that’s where we’re trying to get. We still have a lot of football to play. Our guys haven’t lost any of their swag.”

On injuries impacting the linebackers and the depth:

“It definitely plays a factor. I tell you what, though, Saleem Brightwell played a tremendous football game. Rushing yards, turnovers and sacks were a positive for us. Saleem Brightwell played an incredible game, really. Now I have faith and trust that guy can step up in a big football game. It increased our depth greatly. Those are some of the good things. Matt Galambos played solid, and Seun Idowu played great. Seun filled in on third downs for us because Mike Caprara wasn’t out there. I think it watered him [Idowu] down a little bit. He just earned a scholarship a few weeks ago and now all of a sudden he isn’t coming off the field at all. That’s a lot to put on his plate. Was he a little exhausted? Maybe. But he’s played every play. Usually he isn’t in there on third downs. Mike is fine now. Maybe we could have used him in that game but it wasn’t worth the risk to us of potentially losing him for the next four weeks. We expect him to play this week. But now we know we have a backup [in Brightwell] that can really go in and chase the ball.”

On the offense being conservative in the fourth quarter against North Carolina:

“When you look at our offense, it’s not really conservative. There’s a lot of stuff going on with our offense and plenty of moving parts. They had trouble defending it at times. If we go out there this week and don’t rush the ball, well you guys [the media] will come into next week and say, ‘Why didn’t you run the ball?’ Those incomplete passes will wear you out. The one thing they did well is they played great pass coverage. We wanted to take advantage of what they don’t do well, and I think we did. We ran the football well—just like we wanted to. I don’t know if we will ever see a result like that if the numbers are what they were at the end of the game. College football is really changing—for the worse, I guess.”

On changes in college football and the offenses having more of an advantage:

“It’s been like that for a couple of years and it continues to roll. It is what it is. We have to adjust and move with it. We haven’t had problems getting lined up at all. Every team that we’ve faced this year has been no-huddle and moves quickly. This week [North Carolina] was actually slower than last week [Oklahoma State]. I was happier with what we did defensively compared to last week.”

On what he attributes to the amount of yards the defense has given up the past few weeks:

“I would say details in the backend. There are some playmakers out there offensively that have got us. Teams have done a great job on offense. We’re not talking three horrible football teams that we played. We talked about the schedule before the year. Those are three pretty good football teams that are talented. There are going to be matchup problems in every game. We have Clemson and Miami down the road. You have to learn from these games. When you face a good football team, the attention to detail and fundamentals have to be perfect. If they aren’t perfect, you’re going to give up some yards. We really only had one busted coverage. Other than that, it was details in the coverage that need to be worked on.”

On potentially opening up the offense and throwing the ball more in the coming weeks:

“We talked about that already. It depends on what you are facing and what they are doing. They [North Carolina] did a great job in coverage at times. On one of the third downs their guy was right on us and it forced an errant pass. Can we throw it more? Yeah. Is that going to help us win? I don’t know.”

On his assessment of being 2-2 through four games:

“We won a lot of games last year at the end of the game. Sometimes the ball bounces your way and sometimes it doesn’t. We have to find a way to change that. We have some of the best leadership with our senior class. I’m never satisfied. I’d like to be 4-0. It is what it is and we have to move on. We faced two very good football teams the last two weeks and we took them to the wire on the road.”

On what he saw from Marshall last week against Louisville:

“Those were two athletic football teams out there. Obviously we played Louisville last year and Lamar Jackson is obviously hyped up for the Heisman. Marshall is an athletic football team that never quit. They play to the end. They’re tough, physical and athletic. They will be a great challenge.”

On playing a non-conference game following a conference game:

“It doesn’t really matter. We have to line up and go. We’re under the lights—7:30 start at Heinz Field. We need to bring our best game.”

On how the team was mentally on Sunday following the loss to North Carolina:

“They are great. Like I said, we have great kids and they understand that they are going to get better. Obviously we’re disappointed. The bus ride and the plane ride back was quiet, which is what it should be. I would be worried if they were loud and obnoxious and laughing and giggling on the plane back. It was quiet, which means it hurts. You have 24 hours to get over it and regroup.”

On what determines personnel changes:

“It’s our job as coaches to get the best players in the best situation. They have to be locked in and focused. We have to make sure the best players physically and mentally are playing for us. No matter how many moves we make, we have to be better. It doesn’t help throwing a guy out there in a pinch and thinking he’s going to be the answer. I would disagree with that. It’s our job as coaches to make them better. That’s the challenge that I love. If it was all easy, it would be easy to coach.”

On the progress of freshman cornerback Damar Hamlin:

“He’s progressing nicely.”

On if he will spend more time with the defensive side of the ball this week:

“I spend as much time as I can with each unit. I’m trying to spend as much time as I can there [with the defense]. When I have a free minute, I’m in there. That won’t change. I’m trying to get in there as much as I can. I’m going to go over there after this and take these nice dress clothes off, put my t-shirt on and some tennis shoes—maybe even some nice sandals—and we’re going to get to work. We’re going to get in there and make sure things are simple and that we’re precise.”


Craig Meyer: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG


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