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Opinion

Vukovcan: It’s Time for Pat Narduzzi and Pitt to Put Up or Shut Up

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Respect has been the buzzword coming from the Pitt football offices this week as they prepare for a huge matchup against Virginia Tech.

Head coach Pat Narduzzi believes that his team, which is currently 4-1, isn’t receiving enough respect nationally. I agree with him in the sense that I believe, and have been saying it all season, that Pitt is a better team than most people realize. On the flip side of that, it’s not surprising at all that people, including their own fanbase, are hesitant to believe in this team or program.

That mindset starts with Pitt losing a very winnable game against Western Michigan this season, along with the fact that two of their wins have come against UMass and New Hampshire.

The biggest reason for the lack of “respect” is the recent history of this program. Let’s be honest, Pitt isn’t a team that has found itself in the Top 25 rankings much over the last 10 years. Consider that they haven’t finished a season ranked since 2009, when they finished No. 15. When that’s the case, you’re not going to get the benefit of the doubt with the national voters when compared to teams that are ranked annually.

This year’s Pitt team has a lot to like starting with their quarterback Kenny Pickett, who just might be the best quarterback in college football. With Pickett on their side, Pitt is entering these games with the advantage most times because they are starting with the best player on the field. The other bullet that they have in their gun is sophomore wide receiver Jordan Addison. Because of the attention Pickett is justly receiving, Addison probably isn’t receiving the national attention that he deserves for what he’s accomplishing. It would be difficult to find many receivers in college football BETTER than Addison.

Despite these two stars and other attractive qualities, the only thing that’s going to get Pitt the “respect” that they so desperately want is to keep winning. The way things currently stand right now in the Coastal Division, everything is setup for Pitt to realistically achieve everything they want. Being ranked, winning their division, playing in the ACC Championship Game, playing in a major bowl game.

Despite that hiccup at the start of the season, everything I listed above is sitting on a silver platter for the Panthers. All they have to do is keep winning. Pitt and Virginia Tech are the only teams in the Coastal that don’t have a conference loss yet, while Virginia, Georgia Tech and Duke have two losses and North Carolina sits with three. Miami is 0-1 but will play the remainder of the season with a freshman quarterback after losing senior D’Eriq King to an injury.

That makes this game on Saturday a huge game for Pitt with the winner essentially grabbing a two-game lead over the loser in the standings. The bottom line is that this is the best opportunity to advance and promote the program nationally since Pat Narduzzi has hired. Unlike the first time they won the Coastal, they were going up against Clemson and wasn’t going to beat them. This year, the ACC has no dominate team and Pitt has a legitimate chance as anyone to walk away with the championship trophy.

I’ve been as vocal about where Pitt can go under Narduzzi but he has a chance to shut me and a lot of other people up. Quite frankly, I hope he does because Pitt football deserves something good to happen to them after seemingly year after year things going wrong.

The race to Charlotte and national respect starts this Saturday in Blacksburg, Virginia. With Pickett and Addison, Pitt has the vehicle capable of getting there, let’s see if they can finally take advantage of this wonderful opportunity.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Kevin
Kevin
9 days ago

Just hope our secondary changes it’s scheme! They are our Achilles heel!!!
H2P!!!

Justin Dietrich
Justin Dietrich
9 days ago
Reply to  Kevin

That’s not going to happen. It’s the defensive scheme overall, not just the secondary, which relies on the pass rush to get home.

Kevin
Kevin
9 days ago

Most defenses mix it up and play some zone. Even disguise their coverages. We rarely do!

Realitychek
Realitychek
8 days ago
Reply to  Kevin

Duzz is a terrible in-game coach

Justin Dietrich
Justin Dietrich
9 days ago

Well said. Respect has to be earned and we haven’t earned anything yet. We SHOULD run the table and find ourselves in the ACC Championship, but every Pitt fan knows that is far from a foregone conclusion.

Realitychek
Realitychek
8 days ago

you think they are going to run the table and beat…Clemson, UNC, Virginia, Miami, Syracuse and Va Tech? Duke should be an easy one, but those seem to be when Duzz doesn’t prepare them and they get beat.

Randy Joseck
Randy Joseck
9 days ago

Mike, a great article. I totally agree with. Respect starts by winning the games you are supposed to win. Pitt should beat VT.

James from Florida
James from Florida
9 days ago

Mike, your observations are spot on, let’s see what happens moving forward.

The Panthers control their own destiny and it starts in Blacksburg.

H2P

Clark
Clark
9 days ago

VTech isn’t gonna roll over just because we think we should be ranked. This will be a tough physical game. We can’t afford turnovers or missed assignments. Our O-line has to keep VT off KP and help Abanikanda and Davis gain yards.

Send it in !
Send it in !
9 days ago
Reply to  Clark

The Flea is due for a big game. KP will throw for another 5 TD’s.

dennis wagner
8 days ago
Reply to  Send it in !

Carter and Sibley should be the RB’s both at 230 lb’s they will not get arm tackled at line of scrimmage. You will see more 2nd and 5 than 3rd and 10. If you want Pickett and Addison to have a big game let the OL and the 230lbs backs wear down the DL and coast in 4th quarter.

Tom
Tom
9 days ago

Mike has said it all that which all Pitt Fans know. Pitt controls their own destiny, the table is set, the field is open. Its a down year for the ACC. Hell Wake Forest is 6-0. If Pat Narduzzi doesn’t show that he can win 10 games this season, with this team he NEVER will. As a Pitt Fan I am hoping. As a realist I am expecting the worst.

Last edited 9 days ago by TSD2007
Send it in !
Send it in !
9 days ago

This seems to be the common theme on all the Pitt blogs.
Funny I don’t seem to remember any stories before Iowa, of Franklin & Psux to put up or shut up before their latest bomb.

Realitychek
Realitychek
9 days ago
Reply to  Send it in !

Latest bomb? Penn State opened with Wisconsin, Auburn, Indiana and Iowa. If you call losing to a very good Iowa team at home in a night game a “bomb” then you don’t know much about football.
Very good article….soft schedule with cupcake wins and a really bad loss. This is absolutely a game to see where this team really is. Hopefully Pickett stays healthy, as the team is done without him.

Clark
Clark
8 days ago
Reply to  Realitychek

We have two very solid backups in Patti and Beville. I’m glad they are getting some reps early in the year.

kmp30
kmp30
9 days ago

Absolutely. Every time we do manage to get ranked we lose one or two immediately after. If we beat VT and still aren’t ranked, I think he may havea point though. But this talk should be AFTER this weekend.

Pitt Fan in White Oak
Pitt Fan in White Oak
9 days ago

If you look at Pitt’s body of work at this point of the season, especially considering the Western Michigan loss at home, this isn’t a Top 25 team.

As a fan, and given Pitt’s ability to Pitt, I would rather hear the Chris Bickell ‘97 Head Coach say things along the lines of “We’re focused on going 1-0 this week” or “All we’re thinking about is Virginia Tech”, or “We just play the games and can’t control how the media votes” rather than bringing up the fact that Pitt isn’t ranked, especially with an underwhelming resume.

Last edited 9 days ago by Pitt Fan in White Oak
Let's Believe
Let's Believe
9 days ago

I like Narduzzi and believe this year will be special which will include a tough road win this Saturday. I’ve always defended Narduzzi when everyone else is ready to set the program back another 6 years and coach hunt. But I do think the pitch to the team this week should have been they haven’t proven anything yet and respect will come by where you finish. Not complaining about lack of respect.

B Lang
B Lang
9 days ago

Pitt has as good as an opportunity as ever to make their program relevant. Even though they have the highest scoring offense in the country and have produced numerous NFL players, Pitt fans know all too well they fail to show up when it is necessary. Elite teams execute in all phases of the game. Yes, the players need to make plays but the coaching staff needs to be accountable too. No conservative offensive play calls, relentless pressure on an injured QB, take the crowd out of the game, no undisciplined penalties and no boneheaded arrogant decisions to go for… Read more »

Chuck
Chuck
9 days ago
Reply to  B Lang

The players need to make the plays, but they need to have a system that fits their strengths. Too many times the players are asked to play a defensive style that doesn’t fit them, only to have it changed to one that does after it’s too late. And Pitt has a habit of going to sleep after halftime, I don’t know if once they’re up they play to not lose or if they don’t make adjustments. Even putting up the points they are this year, they still mainly do it in the 1st half. But even with what’s going right,… Read more »

Chuck
Chuck
9 days ago

I don’t think Pitt deserves respect. The 1st 4 games a loss was almost expected. Had it been to Tennessee that could have been excusable. Yes they are a rebuilding and had a coaching change, but they’re still a SEC team and followed up the loss to Pitt by blowing out and FCS team, beating 2 other SEC teams and at least for a half hanging with Florida. But Pitt as is sadly too often the case loss to a weaker team in a lower conference, completely unexcusable. This season is stacking up to be the rare season that Pitt… Read more »

Clark
Clark
8 days ago
Reply to  Chuck

No, you don’t know who they are. We’re not riding a legacy of failure. Each year reflects the development of the recruited players. This team is special and we need to get behind them and push them to more victories by showing up for games and cheering them on.

Chuck
Chuck
8 days ago
Reply to  Clark

We’ve been hearing they’re special for a few seasons now. 2016 good offense they beat PSU and Clemson but went 8-4 lost to Northwestern in a bowl game. 2017 5-7, 2018 won the Coastal went 7-5 excluding losses in the ACC championship game and their bowl game, 19 and 20 they had one if the best defenses in the country Went 7-5 in 19 8-5 with a 3 point win over E. Mich in a bowl game, 20 6-5 record. Very common theme with the loses, mostly 7 or less points. Their history shouldn’t count For this season, but do… Read more »

Duff Gunner
Duff Gunner
9 days ago

As a 50 year lifer I’d be happy with double digit win total every few years. Just hate seeing teams that should finish with double digit wins beat that 1 team they have no right beating only to lose to 2 teams they should blow out of the water. Western Michigan had me throwing in the towel saying I’m done. Only to have Kenny P and the rest make me think this team is special. Just when I think I’m out they drag me back in. Please for my blessed heart give us 1 great season. As fans we deserve… Read more »

Clark
Clark
8 days ago
Reply to  Duff Gunner

Deserve it? Where did you learn that crap?
Show up and cheer them on!!
Hail to Pitt!!

Duff Gunner
Duff Gunner
8 days ago
Reply to  Clark

Yes deserve a wee bit of luck Debbie Downer. When you lose the most one score games in D1 it’s not always players and coaches. It’s an oblong ball that many times takes funny bounces… Seems those funny bounces for the past 40 years always go against Pitt. You haven’t been watching long have you Clark. Because if you have you would know what I’m talking about. So if you don’t the crap to which I refer than either you don’t know football or you don’t know Pitt… Jog
on fool

Rob Radich
Rob Radich
8 days ago

Narduzzi is far from the biggest liability among Pitt Coaches. When you start to actually look at Capel critically then you’ll earn a little credibility as far as I’m concerned.

Realitychek
Realitychek
8 days ago

This is the year because next year will be a 4-5 win team without Pickett. Will Addison put up numbers with Patti or Bellville? Running game obviously won’t get better. Best shot for the Duzz. ACC has one good team every year and Clemson is now down. If he doesn’t get it this year, he never will.

Let's Believe
Let's Believe
7 days ago

Ok… You gave Whipple credit, challenged Narduzzi, is it actually a possibility you may write a positive article on Narduzzi now?

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