PITTSBURGH — The Panthers bounced back from their opening week loss against Virginia with their first win of the season against the Ohio Bobcats on Saturday morning.
Now, they are preparing for their meeting with in-state rival Penn State. This matchup will be a huge test in seeing where the Panthers stand before they jump back into ACC play.
Head coach Pat Narduzzi spoke with the media on Monday morning and had a lot to discuss about the current state of his team. Here are the five takeaways from what Coach Narduzzi provided.
ACCOUNTABILITY AND EXECUTION
Pitt beat a solid football team this past weekend but that doesn’t erase the fact that they made several mistakes and are still striving to improve each and every day.
“We did a lot of things better and there’s things that we did worse, which was maybe a lack of focus or whatever it may be,” Narduzzi said.
Pitt had 10 penalties for 75 yards against Ohio. The penalties stopped momentum for the Panthers multiple times on Saturday.
“Theres things you are still disappointed in, like those five illegal procedures, that’s 25 yards, OK? Those are drive killers.”
Narduzzi also pointed out that Pitt missed a field goal from well inside the range of kicker Alex Kessman and also muffed two punts.
After a rocky first start against Virginia, quarterback Kenny Pickett bounced back nicely Week 2 and threw for 321 yards and one touchdown. Narduzzi stressed that a lot of the struggles on the offensive end have come from the collective group and not just Pickett. The only time Pickett was sacked on Saturday was the first play of the game.
“The only reason it’s a sack is because we run the wrong route and you have two guys standing right next to each other,” Narduzzi said. “Kenny is looking like, ‘Where is my guy at?’ The group as a whole deals with the outcome of one guy not doing their job.”
Narduzzi is excited about how deep he can look down the depth chart at the linebacker position and it fills some holes with the injuries that they are dealing with up front.
That’s going to be key to stopping an offense that has scored a combined 124 points over its first two games.
“I really feel comfortable,” he said. “Phil Campbell and Cam Bright are the same dude. They’re both really good. They both played very well Saturday.
“Kylan Johnson, he’s been probably the most consistent linebacker. He’s really been the most consistent linebacker. Been very impressed with him.”
OHIO A BLUEPRINT?
After the loss to Virginia and the win against Ohio, Narduzzi wasn’t willing to call the victory over the Bobcats a blueprint for future success.
Except, that is in one area: holding on to the football.
“Don’t turn the ball over,” he said. “That’s our blueprint every week is protect the ball. I talk every week about just our keys to victory as a football team, not just offensively. The defense has their goals, the offense has their goals. But what do we have to do to win that game?”
CLIFFORD IS CRUISING
Penn State Sophomore quarterback Sean Clifford is off to a fine start for the Nittany Lions, regardless of the opponents that he has faced. Clifford has thrown for 559 yards, six touchdowns, and no interceptions in his first two games this season.
“Sean Clifford is a baller,” Narduzzi said. “He’s just another quarterback that they have developed in their system and knows what he’s doing.”
Pitt fans should remember Clifford for his long touchdown pass in the waning moments of last year’s Penn State victory.