PITTSBURGH — During his press conference on Tuesday, Penn State head coach James Franklin brought up the possibility of Pitt stealing their signals because of the presence on the sideline of Pitt safety John Petrishen, who spent the last four years with the Nittany Lions.
Thursday, during Pat Narduzzi’s meeting with the media, he couldn’t believe that no one brought up Franklin’s comments on them having to switch up their signs because of Petrishen.
“I can’t believe you guys didn’t ask any signal questions,” Narduzzi said.
So he brought it up all on his own. Clearly, he’d heard what Franklin had so say.
“Let’s just talk about that for one second so I can get this off my chest,” Narduzzi said. “First of all, John’s 21 years old … They have Eric Thatcher at their place, right? He sat in our defensive meeting room for two years.”
Thatcher is a former Pitt defensive back and Pitt defensive assistant under Narduzzi. He is now an assistant recruiting director for Penn State.
“They have him in recruiting and I’m sure he’s a ball coach this week.” Narduzzi said. “I’m sure he’ll try to fill them in on what we do.
“I think a 35-year-old [would help more] over a 21-year-old guy that’s been playing one position. I don’t think [Petrishen] is worrying about offensive signals or defensive signals. I just think it’s a funny subject.
“First of all, defensively, we cannot steal offensive signals. We have no time. I hope our guys can get our own signals.”
Narduzzi explained that in order for any team to effectively steal signals, the offense would have to get to the line and get set, look at the defense’s signals, and then change the play at the line to take advantage, whether that’s from a quarterback audible or a new play from the sideline.
That’s not something Pitt does very often. Conveniently, it is something that Penn State does from time to time.
“The people that look to the sideline, they’re doing it for a reason,” Narduzzi said. “They’re trying to steal signals. Have you ever seen Kenny Pickett look to the sideline to get a second call? … When you watch a game, it’s usually the people who look to the sideline who are stealing signals. The people who don’t, are just running a play.”
Narduzzi doesn’t know why Franklin made such a great deal about it, but he can understand a fair amount of coaching paranoia.
“We are all paranoid,” he said.” You don’t know if it’s happening or not.”
Except in this case, you can be pretty sure that it’s not. Penn State has changed their signals. Thatcher hasn’t worked for Pitt.