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Pitt’s Ford ‘Up In The Air’ For Oklahoma State

PITTSBURGH — Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi held his weekly press conference in advance of Pitt’s Sept. 17 tilt against Oklahoma State at 3:30 p.m.

Here are my five takeaways from Narduzzi’s presser:

IMPROVEMENTS TO BE MADE

Despite the victory, Narduzzi felt that his team could be a lot better than it was in Week 2 against Penn State. He felt that he second-half effort wasn’t up to par on either side of the ball.

“I think we played a really good first half,” he said. “The second half was really a different ballgame. I don’t know if we lightened up but there were a lot of plays left on the field that we could have made. That was probably the disappointing thing when you go back and watch the tape the next day.”

Offensively, he thought the team’s up-tempo pace that confused and wore down the Penn State defense also caused some miscommunications and penalties.

Nathan Peterman September 10, 2016(Photo credit: David Hague)

Nathan Peterman September 10, 2016(Photo credit: David Hague)

“Our communication needs to be better getting into the huddle,” he said. “We only had one delay of game. We won the time of possession by 11. We were a tick late on the one penalty; they snapped it right at the whistle. Overall, there are a ton of improvements we need to make. If you look at the entire second half, there were many times we were one block away from taking it to the house. But it was a good game plan and there was a lot of great execution.”

FIRST LOOK AT COWBOYS

Narduzzi called the Cowboys “the best team that we’ve seen” and said he expects Oklahoma State to provide more of a vertical threat than Penn State did and provide a challenge for the secondary.

“There are a bunch of different coverage adjustments we’re going to have to make,” he said.”They are fast and their wideouts can play. Quarterback Mason Rudolph runs the show and their two wideouts Jalen McCleskey and James Washington are blazers. There are some different things we need to do coverage-wise to eliminate the big plays. They like to chuck it deep, so we will be ready for that. They get into some max splits where they are really spreading you out. At the same time, we need to try to stop the run because they like to run the ball. It will be a challenge. They score a lot of points; they like to score points.”

CH-CH-CHANGES

There are a few changes to Pitt’s two-deep depth chart this week, both in reaction to Saturday’s news that linebacker Elijah Zeise (ankle) and defense end Dewayne Hendrix (foot) will miss the rest of the season with injuries.

At defensive end, Allen Edwards has flipped sides to be the backup to Rori Blair, leaving James Folston as Ejuan Price’s backup. Freshman Rashad Weaver made his depth chart debut behind Edwards.

At linebacker, Bam Bradley is now listed as the backup to Seun Idowu at the Star outside linebacker position. Narduzzi said Bradley is still playing at the Money spot some, as well. Redshirt freshman Saleem Brightwell is now the backup at Money behind Mike Caprara.

At defensive tackle, the backups have switched spots, with freshmen Amir Watts and Keyshon Camp behind Shakir Soto and Mike Herndon and Shane Roy behind Tyrique Jarrett.

Here’s my updated depth chart:

screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-11-59-19-amscreen-shot-2016-09-12-at-12-00-13-pm

INJURY UPDATE

Wide receiver Dontez Ford did not return to the game after making a tackle on an interception in the second quarter. He came out to the sideline for the second half with his arm in a sling.

“Right now, he’s up in the air (for Oklahoma State),” Narduzzi said. “We’re going to wait and see where we are this week. He’s a tough kid so I expect to see him in out there.”

Narduzzi said that the injury to Ford had nothing to do with freshman Aaron Mathews making his debut. In fact, Narduzzi had been hoping to get Mathews involved in the opener against Villanova.

“As a matter of fact, I texted (Clairton head coach Wayne Wade) prior to the game and said (Mathews) was going to get in,” Narduzzi said. “The week before, I thought he was going to get in, we just didn’t get to it like we wanted to. … He did a nice job.”

Narduzzi also said there’s still “a chance” injured freshman cornerback Damar Hamlin plays this season, but he did not elaborate about his injury or a potential timeframe for his return.

KUDOS

• The Panthers are fifth amongst others receiving votes in the AP Top 25 with 39 points. That’s a week-over-week increase of 32 points. They are ninth amongst others receiving votes in the Coaches Poll.

• WR/KR Quadree Henderson was named to the Hornung Award Honor Roll for his 210 all-purpose yards. The Hornung Award recognizes the most versatile players in college football.

• Henderson was also named ACC Specialist of the Week and cornerback Ryan Lewis was named ACC Defensive Back of the Week for his game-saving interception and game-high nine tackles.

• Matt Canada was named the CoachingSearch.com Offensive Coordinator of the Week and John Peterson was named Offensive Line Coach of the Week.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker

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