PITTSBURGH — On Monday, Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi met with the media for his weekly press conference. This Friday, the Panthers will travel to Syracuse to play the 3-3, 0-2 Orangemen at 7 p.m.
Below, are five takeaways from what Narduzzi had to say on Monday.
Pitt heads into Syracuse week with some injury questions. The Panthers were without some crucial pieces once again, last weekend at Duke.
Running backs A.J. Davis and Vincent Davis and defensive back Jason Pinnock were all out for the second straight game. Linebackers Chase Pine and Elias Reynolds have missed the last three games for the Panthers.
Narduzzi would not comment on the status of the Davis’ or Pinnock at his press conference on Monday.
Regarding whether Pine and Reynolds would be available Friday, “We hope and pray,” Narduzzi said.
Starting right guard, Gabe Houy missed the second half of the game at Duke and was replaced by redshirt freshman Jake Kradel.
Narduzzi was asked Monday if Houy will be the starter on Friday at Syracuse.
“We expect him to,” Narduzzi said. “Maybe Syracuse has to (prepare) for Kradel too — I don’t know.”
Carrier Dome Differences
Pitt will be traveling to Syracuse to play a game in a dome for their first time this season. Narduzzi doesn’t think playing in the Carrier Dome is really any different from any other road game on Pitt’s schedule.
“It’s a normal football game,” Narduzzi said. “The field is 100 yards long. … The special thing is the heat (and music) will be turned up. It will probably be 50 degrees up in Syracuse on Friday night, but it will be like 95 degrees indoors – That’s the memorable thing about the Dome.
Pitt is 8-11-1 all-time playing in the Syracuse’s Carrier Dome. Since 2002, the Panthers are 6-3, but did lose their last meeting at Syracuse 27-24, in 2017.
“We will turn our heat up over here in Pittsburgh, and get it going,” Narduzzi said.
Syracuse is 2-1 at home this season. Their only home ACC game was a 41-6 loss to Clemson.
Head Coach Battle
The Orange will be led by fourth year head coach Dino Babers.
Narduzzi leads the head-to-head series against Babers. Pitt beat Syracuse in 2016 and 2018, while Syracuse won the meeting at home in 2017.
On Monday, Narduzzi talked about his relationship with the Syracuse head man.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for Dino Babers, and who he is,” Narduzzi said. “He’s just a great football coach that motivates his team, will get them going – I know we’ll get their best”
Babers likes to run a tempo offense with quarterback Tommy Devito, who is getting his first opportunity to start this season.
With Babers in charge, the Orange have put up 125 points in the last three games against the Panthers.
“It seems like every week, they get a little faster,” Narduzzi said. “It’s nice when you know a team and play against a team for as long as we have.
In Pitt’s win against Duke, they once again made it a lot more difficult on themselves with the mental errors that they committed and even more importantly jeopardized what could have been a fairly easy win.
There was a muffed punt return, a bad interception, and a daunting 15 penalties that cost them 145 yards.
Narduzzi is aware of what his team needs to clean up on the mental side of the ball.
“It’s going to come down to fundamentals, execution and discipline,” Narduzzi said. “I’ve been disappointed in the last couple weeks with the way that the flags have been thrown around. … I don’t like where our discipline is.”
In order for a Pitt win on Friday night, Narduzzi knows what needs corrected for his football team.
“We have to correct that (discipline issue),” Narduzzi said. “It’s hard to go on the road (and win), when you don’t do those little things.”
NO MORE KICKOFFS?
There have been talks, throughout the football world about someday doing away with kickoffs completely.
With Pitt not having the same returning success as years past, on Monday, Narduzzi was asked if he would be in favor of eliminating kickoffs in the college game.
“Yeah,” Narduzzi said. “It would save us 10 minutes a week in practice. … I think the kids feel the same way sometimes – Based on the way that it is and how good the kickers are at kicking it in the endzone – It wouldn’t bother me.”