With nearly ten days since his last full media appearance, Panthers head coach Pat Narduzzi spent his Monday press conference focusing on what went right for Pitt against Georgia Tech, and what they’ll do moving forward against Virginia Tech this Saturday.
Virginia Tech Offense
As a defense-minded head coach, Narduzzi highlighted what he expects to see from the Hokies’ run-heavy offense on Saturday.
“They got two quarterbacks banged up…I don’t know how much quarterback run we’ll see,” Narduzzi said. “Maybe see some wildcat, try to make up some stuff…putting somebody else back there to run what they want to run. But they run hard and they make plays.”
Narduzzi said that the Hokies have a penchant for making big plays as well.
“We have to eliminate the explosives. You get graded game by game. I don’t want to say they’ve always tricked you, [but] they’ve always seemed to try to get one or two of them on you a game,” Narduzzi said. “We have to eliminate the big plays.”
Coaching the Linebackers
Narduzzi said he’s focusing on his linebackers against the Hokies, given Virginia Tech’s proficiency in running the football and using run-pass option concepts.
“You either stay out of the box and let them run it down your throat or you step in the box, stop the run, let them throw it over your head,” Narduzzi said. “We have other little [tweaks] to our defense that we’ve got to take care of where we make sure we’re good in the run, still keep that backer out of the box.”
Navigating the Hype
With players like Kenny Pickett and Jordan Addison receiving national recognition for their outstanding play in the first five weeks of the season, Narduzzi said he’s trying to limit the outside noise and keep the team focused.
“Sometimes it’s one thing we struggle with, handling success,” Narduzzi said. “Social media, they look at it. They’ve had two weeks to look at it. ‘Look at me’, all that stuff. You try to tell them to shut it off, turn it off. Do they? I don’t know. Hopefully they will.”
Running Back Rotation
Despite Israel Abanikanda’s increased success in the offense in the past two games, Narduzzi said he wants to continue to rotate his running backs moving forward.
“We’re going to keep those guys fresh. Izzy and Vince have done a great job of protecting the quarterback,” Narduzzi said. “That’s a critical thing you don’t see. People are looking at rushing yards and carries. Protecting the quarterback is just as important as running with the football.”
Offensive Line Development
Narduzzi praised the offensive line for their performance against Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets earned eight sacks against UNC’s talented offense the week before facing the Panthers, who held them to just one. With the line back healthy and with backups earning more experience, Narduzzi said he likes what he sees out of the group.
“We’ve got answers if something were to occur at that position,” Narduzzi said. “We ran the ball pretty darn good if I can recall. They protected the quarterback.”