One of Pitt’s biggest problems this season has been a near-continual stream of penalties called on the Panthers, seemingly from all angles and in all phases.
Pitt jumped offside a bunch against NC State and has had some repeated trouble with defensive pass interference, but one of the things that’s seemingly made the Panthers’ problem with penalties so hard to solve is that it hasn’t been one, easily correctible thing.
Take Saturday’s loss to Miami, when the Panthers were penalized 10 times for 10 different infractions, offense, defense and special teams. Two more types of penalties (and the only duplicate) were declined.
“Those discipline things that drive you nuts as a coach,” Pat Narduzzi summarized on Monday.
But with such a grab-bag of problems, how will Narduzzi go about attempting to correct those issues before No. 3 Notre Dame pays a visit on Saturday?
For one, he doesn’t believe all 10 have them should have been called against his team.
“I can go through each one of them,” Narduzzi said. “Some of them aren’t penalties, I can tell you that. … It’s tough to make all those calls out there. I’m not whining. Some things that set us back, shouldn’t have been 10 penalties.”
But there were some — even many — that Pitt earned.
A.J. Davis and Jake Kradel combined for an illegal block when Davis cut a player that Kradel was still engaged with in the first quarter.
“Sometimes, you don’t see it in practice,” Narduzzi said. “The three technique (defensive lineman) on the scout team, he’s not screaming through the line of scrimmage, not fully blocked. You hope your tailback is not in that position, but he was.”
Damar Hamlin earned an iffy call for pass interference, but probably got away with another.
“There’s not a better cover guy back there than Damar Hamlin,” Narduzzi said. “He had a couple PBUs. They tripped up feet there. I don’t know what happened.”
Shocky Jacques-Louis overran a punt and crashed into returner Xavier Restrepo before he could catch the ball, giving the Hurricanes a free 15 yards.
“Shocky is busting his tail down the field,” Narduzzi said. “He just gets too close to the returner one time. Things like that that we’ll continue to coach. It’s something different every week.”
And some of the things are getting fixed. A roughing the passer penalty hurt Pitt against NC State, when SirVocea Dennis crushed the Wolfpack quarterback with a late hit. On Saturday in a similar spot, John Morgan held up.
But at the end of the day, the Panthers remain the 17th-most penalized team in all of college football. Some penalties just happen. Tyler Bentley likely wasn’t trying to get called for a face mask when he grabbed D’Eriq King by the cage. But there have been too many, and too many in big spots, for them to go ignored.
“Those we’ve got to learn from,” Narduzzi said. “We’ve got to do a better job coaching it, making sure that doesn’t happen.”
You can add how to line up for a punt or field goal block, getting the play in faster to prevent delay of games and syncing up the cadences of all the quarterbacks that will be playing to prevent false starts to Narduzzi’s to-do list this week.
Hopefully this time, he can solve those problems before more arise.