Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi isn’t backing down from any of the criticism that he received after choosing to opt out of going for it on fourth-and-one from the one-yard line in Saturday’s 17-10 loss to Penn State.
When the Panthers were trailing by seven with just under five minutes remaining in the game, Kenny Pickett and Pitt’s offense looked poised to come from behind and win the game with a 1st and goal at the 1-yard line.
Pitt then ran three unsuccessful plays that set up the crucial decision. Narduzzi ultimately chose to kick a 19-yard field goal that Alex Kessman missed.
Narduzzi received a firestorm of criticism from local and national media for his choice, but once again defended his decision.
“I have no regrets with the call at all,” Narduzzi said Monday at his press conference. “My regret is that we didn’t score on one of those three plays. That’s my regret.”
During those three plays that set up the fourth down, Pitt never looked comfortable. Narduzzi said two of those plays were the only two plays that they really felt would work in that situation.
“My regret is that we didn’t execute those properly,” he said.
On first down, Pickett threw the ball out of the back of the end zone. On second down, he kept it himself and got nowhere. And then on third down, Pickett again had to throw the ball away with Penn State applying pressure.
“I thought we had the plays, we just didn’t do them right,” Narduzzi said.
“We did what we wanted to do. We wanted to get three there, we wanted to go out there and play defense again. … We trusted that our defense was going to get a stop, we got the ball back with a minute-fifty, or whatever left. And we expect our offense to go down the field and score.”
Pitt still hasn’t scored a second-half touchdown through three games, and the Panthers turning away a shot at one from as close as humanly possible in a historic rivalry game is probably never going to sit well with some. Narduzzi said he doesn’t pay attention to outside criticism, but acknowledged that he doesn’t expect it to go away.
“We can debate it for the next ten years, and maybe we will, because we probably won’t play them again for the next ten years,” he said.