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Serious Questions Need to Be Addressed for Pitt



“Don’t stumble over something behind you.”

That phrase can be applied to where the Pitt Football program currently finds itself. Don’t dwell on the past, fix what’s wrong.

For the first two years of his regime, Pat Narduzzi brought enthusiasm and hope. Pitt fans truly believed the University hit a grand slam with his hiring and good times were ahead.

Following last nights disappointing loss to North Carolina, for the first time, fans are wondering if Narduzzi is the right man for this challenging job. In my opinion, last night was Narduzzi’s worst loss at Pitt.

My stance on that hasn’t changed and that’s that Narduzzi is a good coach and is the right man for Pitt. Let’s remember, this is only his third year as a head coach. It’s tough to hear and maybe accept, but he’s still learning on the job.

Coach Pat Narduzzi yells during a timeout at Heinz Field on November 9, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. — DAVID HAGUE

That being said, part of being the CEO of a company or as in this case a football program, means that tough decisions need to be made and tough questions need to be asked of staff members and also of yourself.

As the 2017 season winds down and what could be an eventful off-season begins, Narduzzi has to look back at some things he did and not be too stubborn to admit mistakes that may have been made.

While I’m still a supporter of Narduzzi, I think there’s things he’s done this year that have to be questioned. First and foremost his handling of the quarterback situation.

To be blunt, he screwed it up big-time and has been too stubborn to make a change and do the right thing.

His reasoning for burning freshman Kenny Pickett’s redshirt is still a mystery. It’s probably the biggest mistake Narduzzi has made as head coach.

Kenny Pickett during pregame September 2, 2017. — DAVID HAGUE

To compound the mistake, he continues to sit Pickett instead of getting him meaningful game action to see what he might have at quarterback for 2018. Since the redshirt is burnt, it’s mind-boggling as to why he hasn’t gotten playing time.

If he had his mind was made up to play DiNucci, then why not let redshirt freshman Thomas MacVittie finish the Syracuse game? That still makes zero sense.

One thing that’s fairly obvious to anyone that’s watched this year and that is Ben DiNucci isn’t the answer. This isn’t meant as a criticism of him but taking the hometown factor out of this, Pitt needs to do better at quarterback if they’re going to be a consistent winner.

With DiNucci as the quarterback, it limits the play-calling and basically takes away the option of throwing deep. While he might be a decent backup, he isn’t a starter.

Narduzzi has stated that DiNucci hasn’t made mistakes which is mostly true. However, a head coach has to expect more from his quarterback than to not make mistakes.

Ben DiNucci passes down field, October 28, 2017. — DAVID HAGUE

By continuing to go down this road, all Narduzzi has done is make the quarterback position a bigger question mark heading into 2018.

Here’s another legitimate question for either Narduzzi or Shawn Watson. What took so long to get Darrin Hall on the field and feeding him the ball?

In his last 3 games as Pitt’s featured back, Hall has rushed for 486 yards and 8 TDs. Where was he early in the ACC schedule when Pitt was only rushing the ball 10-12 times a game?

Did the light just turn on for him or did the coaches do a bad job of evaluating talent?

If Hall would’ve been used, the redshirt of highly regarded prospect AJ Davis wouldn’t have had to be used. This situation appears to be another mismanagement of a players eligibility.

AJ Davis, September 30, 2017. — DAVID HAGUE

The toughest and first real big decision that Narduzzi might be faced with is does he need to make changes on his coaching staff?

Both Shawn Watson and Josh Conklin are getting questioned and criticized by fans and— I’m sure by some alumni — for the performance of their units. Will anyone in Pitt’s administration express their displeasure to Narduzzi about what they’ve seen and if so, how will he respond?

If Narduzzi is going to get better as a head coach and ultimately make Pitt a better program, he’ll need to make tough decisions and don’t be afraid to admit a mistake.

Although you wouldn’t know it from last night, Pitt has some solid pieces in place for 2018 and like has happened at other programs, things can change quickly.

The question is can Narduzzi learn from the past and make the proper adjustments to make Pitt a winner again?

Should be an interesting off-season.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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