PITTSBURGH — After four days of training camp, Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi is concerned about what he’s seen so far when it comes to his team’s tackling.
He’s concerned because he hasn’t seen it.
The Panthers have yet to don their full sets of pads yet this preseason, with Thursday’s practice scheduled for Heinz Field this Thursday.
That’s because of a new NCAA rule that limits each team to nine fully padded preseason practices, which is fair, Narduzzi said, but unsettling to still have so much to learn about his team.
“It’s really tough on the tackling part,” Narduzzi said. “That’s going to be the key, who does the best job of coaching during the thud periods.”
Thud tackling is when unpadded players collide in simulation of a tackle, but keep one another off the ground. Without pads, it’s the safest, closest approximation to the real thing the Panthers and other NCAA teams can do, and even that isn’t foolproof.
“It’s a two-way street,” Narduzzi said. “Running backs aren’t dropping pads like you might in a game. Because if you drop your pads, that means the defense will and all the sudden, we’re live. If you’re going thud, it’s gotta be a truce between the running back and the defensive player.”
So the Panthers have gone about their work as best they can, with their always popular tackling circuit, where defenders wrap up giant foam donuts, taking on even more importance than usual. Here’s Charlie Partridge working with the team’s linebackers.
The end result, according to Narduzzi, needs to be the same quality, even with less practice time.
“We’re going to be aggressive,” he said. “We’re going to be physical. I don’t care if they give us two padded days, we’re going to find a way. We’re going to be physical when we tackle.”