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Vukovcan: Pitt and Narduzzi Play To Lose, Which Is Exactly What Happens

Vukovcan: Pitt and Narduzzi Play To Lose, Which Is Exactly What Happens

Pat Narduzzi has the reputation of a bold,  aggressive head coach, but it’s starting to look like appearances can be deceiving, because for the second time this season a passive call by him led to another deflating late Pitt loss.

Let me be clear in that I’m not pinning this loss solely on Narduzzi, because that wouldn’t be accurate. Aside from the players on the defensive side of the ball, plenty of other players and assistant coaches can raise their hands and take blame for what took place on Heinz Field on Saturday.

However, Narduzzi is the CEO and highest-paid member of the Pitt program, so he’ll get the blame from me for the way his team performed and the in-game calls that were made.

The two drives that will be remembered and criticized were the one in which he choose (once again) to kick a field from the 1-yard line and then the Panthers next-to-last drive when they were attempting to run the clock out with a two-point lead.

As it was against Penn State, Narduzzi’s decision to attempt a field goal instead of going for a touchdown was weak, passive and the wrong choice. By the way, the first bad choice on that play was to replace V’Lique Carter with A.J. Davis. Carter was the reason for Pitt’s success on the ground that entire drive so why did Narduzzi replaced him on 3rd and 1 with Davis? As he should’ve been, Carter wasn’t happy as he came off the field. In Saturday’s game, Carter was better than Davis and should’ve been given the opportunity to finish the drive.

After Davis got stuffed on 3rd down, Pitt’s offensive should’ve stayed on the field instead of an Alex Kessman chip-shot field goal attempt. As it did against Penn State, Narduzzi’s decision to play it safe sends a bad message to everyone in the stadium.

Narduzzi’s postgame explanation made little sense and was not very well thought out. He talked about the faith he had in his defense and how well they had played the entire game (as he said following the Penn State game) which was accurate. However, if he had so much faith in his defense making a stop with the lead, then wouldn’t he have the same faith in that defense of getting the ball back for the offense if Miami would’ve stopped Pitt on 4th down from the 1?

If that scenario played out and Pitt would’ve pinned Miami deep in their territory and forced a punt, the Panthers would’ve taken over in good field position and would’ve likely been driving for a game-winning field goal to end the game without Miami having a chance to get the ball back.

The second fatal mistake by Narduzzi and Mark Whipple was their play-calling as they attempted to burn the clock with a two-point lead. Narduzzi tried to justify the decision of running up the middle on three straight plays by saying that’s how they had success on the previous drive.

Weak, weak and weak.

Knowing that a first down or two would put the game away, Pitt chose to be conservative and showed zero faith in his quarterback. Instead of playing to win, the coaches played not lose which is exactly what they did.

The disappointment of the loss was compounded by the fact that first-place Virginia lost to Louisville. Had Pitt done what they should’ve done and beat a very beatable Miami team, they would’ve been in control of their own destiny in terms of winning the ACC Coastal Division.

When Pitt wonders why they have trouble drawing respectable crowds, they can point to today’s game. Entering the game on a roll with a 5-2 record, on homecoming and taking on an average Miami team and the entire team lays an egg.

So, instead of being in first place and likely ranked due to losses by No. 15 Texas, No. 23 Iowa State, No. 24 Arizona State Pitt finds themselves at 5-3 and staring at another seven- or eight-win season.

I still feel Narduzzi is a good coach and the right man for this job, however efforts like this in big games can’t happen.

Pitt will still be favored in their remaining 4 games and nine wins are still possible but the opportunity for a special season is over.

It’s too bad because this 2019 Pitt team is talented, but efforts like today prevent them from taking that next step and gaining national respect.

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TSD2007

Narduzzi will always make the decision to hold his team back, He’s another loser coach. Typical Pitt. Typical. They weren’t ready. The team was flat. And the WR’s apparently read too many of their press clippings. Terrible outcome. Narduzzi is a mediocre coach. Has been for five years. You can see it happening and you can see history repeating itself over and over and just have to take it. Narduzzi can recruit but he’s a terrible coach. No second half adjustments. Conservative. Loser.

Member
Clark Martineau

Thanks for moving my response to Tom halfway down the list.

Member
TSD2007

And his Press conference is just disgraceful. He’s an idiot.

Member
TSD2007

he ruined the Matt Canada/Peterman/Connor/Henderson year with that disgrace of a defense and he’ll ruin this year with that horrible play calling and FG kicking bullshit. Another ruined season. Asshat can’t even figure out how to beat NC for crying out loud

Guest
Donald J

hopefully if D’antonio gets fired at Michigan State Narduzzi goes back…

Guest
Keepthefaith

You can’t put 5 dropped passes on a head coach who had his defense play lights out. Pickett and receivers need to own this one. However, I disagree with the special season comment. A 9-3 season is still in play, if Virginia loses to UNC, Georgia Tech, or Virginia Tech and we win out we could still win this thing. Or a 9-3 season with an upper tier bowl and a chance to get to 10 wins is still in play. Season can still be special, keep the faith. It was hard though watching Miami act like… “Miami” on the… Read more »

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Justin Dietrich

We still lose if those passes are caught. The WRs didn’t choose to kick it twice on 4th and makeable downs. They also didn’t throw passes behind themselves the entire game. Narduzzi and Pickett did those things…

Guest
Smljf

So many mistakes and poor decisions. Just when you think Pickett has turned a corner and he gift-wraps two awful turnovers. Throwing behind receivers. HC playing not to lose instead of playing to win by kicking FG and without a doubt, forced his OC to run 3 straight plays with 4 min left.

Pitt has a ceiling with Narduzzi and it’s not the level the fan base and administration hope to achieve.

Some great coordinators should stay in that capacity. He is one of them.

Dave
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Dave

I have no problem with the field goal because that gave them the lead – different scenario then the penn state game. RunNing on 3rd and 6 is where I have issue. Also agree to leave Carter in. He was possessed on that drive.

Guest
Justin Dietrich

then you’re clearly part of the problem. No Pitt fan should be OK with that call. As good as our defense is, I’ll take a turnover on downs over a FG any day of the week.

Dixon
Guest
Dixon

Guess I’m part of the problem too…no issue with a call that gives you the lead. Amazingly, from your previous comments, you don’t have as big of a problem with the dropped passes as you have with the play calling. Catch the damn ball and they win the game. It’s been happening all season and it finally cost them a game. No excuse for repeatedly dropping easily catchable passes…at least five of them against Miami. There are no Tyler Boyds on this team.

Michael
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Michael

I like Narduzzi even though I blame him for this loss. What good are all those running plays if you don’t play action pass on third and goal?

Guest
Steve

Pitt had another STATEMENT game.
For the umpteenth time, the statement was “we aren’t good enough”. Blame whoever you want. I place responsibility on the highest paid Pitt employee.

Guest
Terrence Otoole

Mike I agree with everything you wrote so not much to add there but I will say this about narduzzi who I do like but his in game decision making are really bad at times and the offensive recruiting needs to be a whole lot better especially at the qb position ,kp is a gamer but not a very good qb

Chuck Dandelion
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Chuck Dandelion

It would be fun to see how a good (not even great) QB would make a lot of these issues disappear.

Guest
Terrence Otoole

Yes it would and I hope when the seasons over Pitt looks at possible transfer candidates and especially athletic qb’s like a Bryce Perkins type

Section 122
Guest
Section 122

You know what else would make a lot of our issues disappear? A legit FB, the I formation and under center on 3rd/4th and goal against PSU and now Miami.

Only worse situational football coach in Pittsburgh is Mine Tomlin.

Usually when you’re trying to outsmart everyone the only person you outsmart is yourself.

Member
Richard Johnson

Pickett is not the answer. There is no reason not to play Patti. The offense runs better. Being married to a mediocre QB is not smart, ask Dave Wannstat. If I was Nick Patti I would look for a school and Coach that would give me a fair shot at playing. Someone tell Mark Whipple he needs to call a better game. He runs when he shoul
d pass and vise vursa. Terrible play calling with a mediocre QB, equals mediocre.

Member
Clark Martineau

College coaching: One week you’re a hero. The next week you’re like “Lite” waffle syrup – no one wants you around. Narduzzi is the best coach we’ve had since Wannstedt. Way better than Paul Chryst, who is doing quite well without Pitt now. We’ve finally got the players to play Pat’s defense. We’re actually able to redshirt good players and develop them because of the recruits he and his coaches have gotten. But all the “fans” can think about are past years that went wrong. Quit ruminating! Come out and cheer at the games. Life has it’s ups and downs.… Read more »

Joe
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Joe

With so many other legitimate things to complain about, we should not be adding the 4th and 1 decision. It was the correct decision. Assume Pitt goes for it, and scores. They still need a 2 point conversion. Without getting over statistical, we can agree the probability decreases. Assuming all of that. Pitt ties with Miami’s impending touchdown. Now, lets assume he doesn’t get it, and however it plays out (Miami with a lengthy time-consuming drive, or they get enough breathing room to flip the field on Pitt, while eating up clock, etc.) Pitt loses. Wouldn’t we be losing our… Read more »

John
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John

I loved Narduzzi’s hiring when it was first announced. He quickly turned me off however, with his “this isn’t soccer” comment. You don’t bash other sports. But what is so interesting about the comment was, that for someone who speaks of toughness, his teams aren’t physical enough to get a yard when it needs to.

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