PITTSBURGH — Every coach has to get his start someone on the food chain, and for Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi, most of his coming up through the ranks as a coach happened with him coaching linebackers.
He’s several years removed from that now, but that doesn’t mean he still doesn’t enjoy doing it.
Spring practice can provide an opportunity for the program’s CEO to get down onto a more granular level, and Narduzzi did just that on Friday, getting into a scrum and leading Pitt’s linebackers on a drill, with a full demonstration.
It was a cool glimpse of Narduzzi at his best, teaching and instructing. Check it out:
CHASE PINE, RENAISSANCE MAN
Redshirt Chase Pine has played middle linebacker, outside linebacker and defensive end in his first three seasons at Pitt, and he’s been working at outside linebacker with the starting group so far this spring, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t still have some versatility.
On a broken field goal block play, Pine ran a corner route and hauled in a pass from backup holder Kenny Pickett. In another drill, he took the ball and served as a running back while the rest of the backers worked on run fits.
BY GROUND OR BY AIR?
Throughout the previous football season it was obvious that former offensive coordinator Shawn Watson featured a run heavy offense. Darrin Hall accumulated 1,144 rushing yards while Qadree Ollison had 1,213 rushing yards. The passing game was clearly not a focus of the offense for the wide receivers and even for the running backs coming out of the backfield. Hall only compiled 15 receptions for 66 yards, while Ollison, only had 11 receptions for 66 yards.
The focus of the offense, under new offensive coordinator Mark Whipple seems to be changing to more of a balanced approach for the 2019 season, especially for the running backs when it comes to the passing game.
In the first couple spring practices, the running backs have been seen working on passing routes out of the backfield with the Pitt quarterback’s extensively. Will we be seeing this in the fall when the season begins? Based off of the first, two spring practices it seems likely that the running backs will be used in more than just the one-dimensional rushing approach that we witnessed last season.
BALL ON THE GROUND
With a new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, the Pitt offense is bound to do some things differently this spring, and they broke out a new drill on Day Two. Pitt’s quarterbacks were asked to deal with a poor shotgun snap and still get the ball out quickly to a waiting receiver.
The situation is supposed to emulate a blitz scenario where the quarterback will be throwing to a hot route and the center will be under immediate pressure, potentially leading to a poor snap.
Pitt’s quarterbacks faired pretty well, but I couldn’t help but wonder what center Jimmy Morrissey thought of this drill. I’ll try to ask him.
Graduated lineman Connor Dintino has been at the facility each of the first two days of practice, but he said he won’t be participating with his former teammates in Pitt’s pro day on March 20. He’s decided to focus on his studies, and is on track to graduate with an MBA in December — his third degree from Pitt.
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS
PSN’s Adam Schweiger contributed to this report