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Vukovcan: Franklin and Penn State Embarrass Narduzzi and Pitt



Lock The Gates!

It sure looked the entire Pitt team and coaching staff were locked out of Heinz Field last night, because nobody showed up.

Losing to Penn State wasn’t a big surprise to most people but to get completely embarrassed and outclassed was shocking, at least to me.

Do you think last night was the low point of Pat Narduzzi’s coaching career at Pitt? I do.

In all honesty, I don’t remember a worse performance aside from maybe the Oklahoma State game last year.

However, Oklahoma State just physically beat Pitt. Last night, there were a number of different things that you could point to that contributed to the demolition we witnessed.

Before we talk about all the things Pitt did wrong, give credit to the Penn State players for physically being the better team and for taking advantage of every mistake Pitt made and there were plenty of them.

The area that made a ton of those mistakes and that will get criticized this week will be the special teams unit.

Man, were they bad.

From the missed extra point, to the missed field goal, to the botched punt attempt, to a couple shanked punts to penalties on punt returns that negated a long return. It was a night to forget for Andre Powell’s unit.

In his postgame press conference, Narduzzi apologized for the team’s performance and said “we didn’t have them ready to go in any capacity.”

How is it possible to not have a team ready knowing you’re playing on prime-time television, playing Penn State, playing a coach you don’t particularly like and knowing that you’ll be playing in front of a ton of important recruits and likely you’re only sellout of the season?

That just doesn’t make sense to me and isn’t a really good reflection of the head coach. Frankly, it’s inexcusable.

While I’m not going to start questioning Narduzzi as the long-term coach at Pitt like some might, I will say that efforts, execution and game plans like what we saw last night can’t be tolerated in the future if Pitt wants to think and tout themselves as ACC Coastal Division contenders.

This is year four of the Narduzzi regime and performances like this shouldn’t be happening. Losing by 45 points at home, committing 14 penalties, only getting 55 yards passing from your starting quarterback and collecting only one sack from a defensive unit that’s been highly touted.

How’s that possible from a team that the head coach was touting as capable of playing in the ACC Championship Game?

While the coaching staff will get their fair share of blame, don’t let the players off the hook. Ultimately, they’re the ones on the field giving that effort and making that many mistakes. Coaches shouldn’t be needed to get you up and focused when you’re playing someone like Penn State.

The good news is that it’ll be impossible for Pitt to play that bad again this season. Yeah, I know that’s a weak silver lining but it’s true.

Pitt isn’t as bad as what everyone saw last night. Actually, until that muffed punt snap before halftime, I thought Pitt played a pretty decent first half.

The defensive unit was getting stops, Quadree Ollison was running effective and Kenny Pickett made plays with his legs. Although the passing game was non-existent, they were moving the ball.

The game changed and honestly I’m not sure if Pitt had another positive play (offensively or defensively) after getting stopped on 4th and 3 right before halftime.

Pitt went for it, called a weak 4th down play, got stopped and that was the ballgame. It’s time to move on.

The question now is can Pitt rebound from what happened to them?

Can they? Sure. Will they? We’ll see.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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