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Vukovcan: Narduzzi Has Pitt Program Poised to Turn the Corner



Pitt doesn’t win big home games. Pitt will choke. Pitt still doesn’t have a passing game and their running game will eventually get stopped. Pitt’s defense struggles with teams that run an uptempo offense.

Whether they’ll admit to it or not, the Pitt players and coaches were aware of what was being said by fans and the media.

To Pat Narduzzi and his staff’s credit, his players blocked out the negativity, dealt with the pressure of fighting for a title and turned in one of the most dominating performances in the history of Heinz Field.

That’s not an exaggeration, that’s a fact.

Narduzzi had this team prepared to play and they looked like a team deserving and worthy of playing in a conference championship game, something they very well could be doing in three weeks.

That Pitt is one win away from an ACC Coastal title is a credit to Pat Narduzzi.

Following their 45-14 loss to Central Florida, which dropped their record to 2-3, critics were out in force calling this another lost season and even suggesting Narduzzi had worn out his welcome

Narduzzi blocked out the noise and was able to keep his team believing.

As evidenced by what’s happening with Louisville and Bobby Petrino, when things aren’t going well, if you don’t have strong character kids, they’ll tune the coach out and stop playing for him.

That never happened here. A testament to how the players love, respect and enjoy playing for Narduzzi.

Since that ugly loss at Central Florida, Pitt has won 4 of their last 5 games, with the one loss coming at undefeated #3 Notre Dame in a game they very well could’ve and probably should’ve won.

The wins weren’t over cupcakes either: #13 Syracuse, at 7-3 Virginia which was ranked at the time, 7-3 Duke and Virginia Tech.

Although they won’t be ranked when this week’s Top 25 polls come out, I believe Pitt is one of the twenty-five best teams in the country and should be.

Think about it. Three of Pitt’s four losses came against teams in the Top 20 with a combined record of 26-3.

How many ranked teams can say that? None.

The SEC teams always get the benefit of the doubt of losing to ranked teams, why shouldn’t Pitt?

Like they did a year ago, their defense is playing well and does any team in the country have a better run game right now than Pitt?

Last 3 Weeks:

Ollison: 18 carries for 149 yards vs. Duke

Carter: 7 carries for 137 yards vs. Duke

Hall: 19 carries for 229 yards vs. Virginia

Ollison: 16 carries for 235 yards vs. Virginia Tech

Hall: 7 carries for 186 yards vs. Virginia Tech.

This has all been done with the opposing defenses knowing Pitt was going to run the ball and not being able to do anything about it.

That’s impressive. It’s the kind of thing that good football teams do.

Pitt is in that category and because of that will play this week for a guaranteed spot in the ACC Coastal title game.

Can you believe we’d ever be saying that about Pitt?

I do, because I picked them to win 9 games this season.

Considering the schedule and amount of talent that’s returning next season, Pitt could be in for a similar 2019.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves because Pitt still needs to finish business this year and I believe will do so at Wake Forest.

If that happens, what a recruiting tool that’ll be for Narduzzi and his coaches.

Instead of just selling having put players in the NFL, which is all they’ve been able to do over the last few years, they’ll now also be able to show recruits progress—meaning the ACC Coastal Title.

That’s how you get higher ranked recruits which in turn gives you a better chance of playing in more championship games.

It’s amazing how the tone of this season has changed in the last five weeks.

This could be just the beginning.

Let’s see what happens this Saturday in Wake Forest.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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