Talkin' Bout Practice: Oct. 13

Written by Sam Werner on .

Pitt had its first full practice of Georgia Tech week this morning in preparation for Saturday's game against the Yellow Jackets. As coach Pat Narduzzi promised yesterday, today's practice did look a bit different than normal as the Panthers' get ready for Georgia Tech's triple-option offense. Here are a few notes from the day.

- As I mentioned, the practice looked a bit different than normal. Usually, the players go through stretching, huddle at the center of the field and then break up into their tackling/turnover circuits on defense, while the offense does some goal-line work. Today, the defense broke off into position groups, but started doing some option-specific drills (some of which you can see in the videos below).

- One of the interesting things about triple-option preparation is how the scout team gives the starting defense a look at the Yellow Jackets' attack. Today, it looked like Pitt had a couple of guys ready to mimic Yellow Jackets' quarterback Justin Thomas. Freshman quarterback Ben DiNucci was in No. 5, but so were cornerback Dane Jackson and wide receiver Manny Stocker. Jackson was also used as a scout team quarterback when Pitt prepared for Virginia Tech's Brenden Motley, and Stocker used to play quarterback during his first two seasons at N.C. State in 2012 and '13. My guess is Pitt's scout team will rotate these three guys in to simulate Thomas in different situations.

- A few videos from today...






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WPIAL to have hearing with New Castle-Central Valley ..... West A. - Woody High on TV

Written by Mike White on .

Items that fell from my laptop

The WPIAL board of directors has to step in and investigate another fight between football teams.

The WPIAL has decided to have a hearing Monday with representatives from New Castle and Central Valley after their teams were involved in a fight before their game this past Friday.

On Monday, WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley reviewed reports and video from the incident and decided to bring both coaches and school officials in for a hearing in front of the WPIAL board of directors. Game officials will also attend.

Before the contest, game officials ejected seven New Castle players and also New Castle head coach Joe Cowart. Under PIAA rules, an ejected player or coach is ineligible for the next game. So, those players, including five starters, can not play this week against Ambridge, and Cowart can not coach.

The fight started at midfield shortly before the game when some Central Valley players were jumping up and down on the New Castle logo. Some New Castle players then rushed the field. Game officials did not eject any Central Valley players.

Only a week ago, the WPIAL ordered the suspension of a few Wilkinsburg and Monessen players who were involved in a fight during their game, which was stopped in the third quarter. The New Castle-Central Valley game is different, though. The fight occurred before the game and game officials took action. In the Monessen-Wilkinsburg game, game officials did not eject anyone and agreed to stop the game in the third quarter.

Root to televise battle of No. 1s

The big game this Friday is a non-conference game - between two No. 1s. And you can watch it  on television.

Woodland Hills, the Post-Gazette's No. 1 WPIAL Class AAAA team, plays host to West Allegheny, the No. 1 team in Class AAA. Root Sports television will air the game live.

Root started televising games live last Friday. The station is going with a "flex schedule," meaning it will pick the best game on a weekly basis.

Shenango going for title

The Shenango Wildcats are undefeated after six games. A few people have asked the last time Shenango was undefeated. Answer: Twelve years ago. In 2003, Shenango finished 9-0 in the regular season and won the Class AA Tri-County North Conference title for the second year in a row.


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Empty Netter Assists - Home bound - 10-13-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .


-The Penguins will play their next five games at home

-Left winger David Perron was moved to the second line while left winger Sergei Plotnikov has been bumped to the third line.

-When will defenseman Adam Clendening get a chance to play?

-"You can get 30 seconds of zone time and one goal and everyone thinks it's great, and then you can have four opportunities, be all over them, not score and it's struggling. It's all about executing and finding a way to score. Whether it's two units or everyone's on one, we have to find a way to make sure we're winning the special teams." - Sidney Crosby his team's power play being held without a goal in two games this season.

-Head coach Mike Johnston speaks:

-Happy 55th birthday to former Penguins forward Darren Lowe. The first black player in franchise history, Lowe joined the team as a free agent midway through the 1983-84 season. In that campaign, he appeared in eight games and scored five points. He was released in the 1984 offseason. He is currently the head coach of the University of Toronto's men's team.

-Happy 59th birthday to former Penguins forward Rod Schutt (right). Acquired early in the 19878-79 season in a deal which sent a draft pick to the Canadiens, Schutt spent parts of six seasons in Pittsburgh. In 1978-79, while primarily playing on a line with Peter Lee and Greg Malone, Schutt played in 74 games and scored 24 goals and 45 points. In that spring's playoffs, he saw action in seven games and netted two goals. He followed that up in 1979-80 by collecting 39 points in 73 games. The 1980 playoffs saw him play in five games and score three points. Schutt's best season was 1980-81. He set a career-highs in games (80), goals, (25), assists (35) and points (60). In that spring's playoffs, Schutt appeared in five games and netted six points. In 1981-82, Schutt was limited to 35 games and 21 points. He would appear in five playoff games that spring and score three points. Schutt only appeared in five games in 1982-83 and failed to score a point. Schutt's final season in Pittsburgh was 1983-84. Once again, he was limited to 11 games and four points. After spending the entire 1984-85 season with Muskegon of the IHL, Schutt joined the Maple Leafs as a free agent in the 1985 offseason. In 278 regular season games with the Penguins, Schutt scored 169 points, 48th-most in franchise history. In 22 postseason games, Schutt netted 14 points.

-After the Jump: Thomas Greiss critiques Consol Energy Center.

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Narduzzi Notes: Georgia Tech week

Written by Sam Werner on .

Video courtesy of Pitt Athletics

Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi met with the media this morning to discuss the Panthers' upcoming game against Georgia Tech. You can watch the full interview above, and here are a couple of notes...

- As you could probably expect, a good deal of the discussion was about the Yellow Jackets' unique triple-option offense. Narduzzi admitted that this week of practice will probably look a little bit different than most.
"It looks a lot different," he said. "They line up in different formations, there's motion, they're chopping you and there's a lot of different things they can do to you. It's not an easy thing to defend and it'll look totally different."
Specifically, Pitt's scout team will spend more time doing walkthrough work on the field as opposed to being in the film room.
"I don’t know if it pays for us to sit in here and watch it on tape," Narduzzi said. "I think they need to go walk through it and understand how the timing is. We’re going to have to chop block, we’re going to have to get our guys on the ground. We’re going to try to do that. That’s the only realistic way to get it done, so we’ll do some of that and that’s what it is. We’ve got to give them the best look we possibly can. It’s never great. It won’t be great. That first quarter will be the best look we get. Hopefully we settle down and figure out what it’s like."

- Narduzzi said the last time he coached against a triple-option offense was in 2003 against Ohio University, coached by Brian Knorr (a disciple of Jim Grobe) when Narduzzi was at Miami (Ohio).

- As far as lineup changes brought on by the unique offense, Narduzzi said it will probably be felt more on the back end than up front. He noted Jevonte Pitts as a guy who could see more snaps because he's better against the run.
"Anybody that’s a good pass defender, really don’t have a whole lot of need for them this week," Narduzzi said. "We’ve got football players that can do both. I think we do."

- Wide receiver Jester Weah dropped what would have been a sure touchdown against Virginia, but Narduzzi said he still has faith in the redshirt sophomore moving forward.
"That’s our job as coaches, just stick with him," Narduzzi said. "I think he’s the best guy for the job right now and he’s just got to go make plays. Once he makes that one play, watch out, because he’s going to keep making more. He’s just got to see that he can do it."

- On the injury front, linebacker Nicholas Grigsby is expected to return this week. Defensive end Zach Poker is probably out, and safety Reggie Mitchell is still "day to day."

- We spoke with defensive lineman Darryl Render after Narduzzi, and here's video of that conference:

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Clendening being patient - 10-12-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Having played for the Blackhawks and being submerged on the depth chart among that franchise's deep pool of defensemen, Adam Clendening (top right, with right wing Phil Kessel) is used to waiting for an opportunity to dress.

Being a healthy scratch for the Penguins' first two games of this season wasn't a new experience for him.

"It's just is what it is," Clenening said after his team's practice at Consol Energy Center today. "It's nothing frustrating or anything. They're [the coaches] are very encouraging and confident in me when we talked before we left for Dallas [last week]. Obviously there's older guys that want to get off to a good start. It's more just waiting your time. It' s nothing to be angry or discouraged about."

Clendening's two healthy scratches came after a strong preseason which drew rave reviews from the coaching and management staffs. Head coach Mike Johnston even lauded Clendening as "one of the defensemen that has jumped ahead of a lot of other defensemen.”

"They were really happy with my camp," said Clendening, who had two points in four preseason games. "They told me I had a really good camp. When I'm called on, just build on that and keep doing the same stuff. That's what got me here. Hopefully that's what keeps me here."

Johnston is preaching patience with Clendening.

"It's a matter of pushing somebody out of the lineup as well," Johnston said. "I thought through the first two games, how was our defense group as a whole? I thought they were good in Dallas [Thursday] facing a lot of speed. Different guys played good on different nights. It wasn't like one guy had a real tough two games and you said, 'Geez, we've got to get him out of the lineup. We've got to put Adam in.'

"Adam just has to be patient right now. There will be some changes. There will be some opportunity much like there was at forward when [right winger Pascal] Dupuis went down [with an undisclosed injury] and [center Kevin] Porter] came back up [from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton]. So those things will happen but right now, to bump somebody out, it's a matter of that guy not having a good couple of nights and we need to make a change and I didn't see that. I saw different guys having weak nights on different games."

In the meantime, Clendening is taking advantage of working with some of the NHL's best players in practice.

"You can always work on stuff defensively," Clendening said. "Wearing white [jerseys], usually [centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin] are in black so we kind of get to play against the best players in the world. And it's good for young [defensemen] like myself, [Tim Erixon and Brian Dumoulin] to get that experience and see what they're all about during practice."

(Photo: Keith Srakocic/Associated Press)

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