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Pitt’s Pat Narduzzi Cautions against Overlooking ‘Dangerous’ Miami Team

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Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi spoke to his team’s performance and motivation in their win over Clemson and prepared for a dangerous, athletic Miami team during his weekly press conference on Monday, Oct. 25.

Narduzzi complemented Miami’s offensive skill players, quarterback Tyler Van Dyke in particular. Van Dyke became the starter following D’Eriq King’s season ending surgery, and has thrown nine touchdowns to just three interceptions in relief.

“He’s really, really good. Our defense is going to have to play really good,” Narduzzi said. “Seems every game he gets more and more comfortable throwing the ball.”

Narduzzi also complimented Miami’s receivers and starting tailback Jaylan Knighton.

“They have speed all over the field, receivers to throw to,” Narduzzi said. “[They have] Knighton, who is a great tailback, as well, one of the best tailbacks to come out of South Florida. Could have gone to Alabama, a lot of places. He’s taken over that role.”

Quarterback-Receiver Connection

Narduzzi praised the relationship between quarterback Kenny Pickett and his receivers, as well as Pickett’s ability to process the defense and go through his progressions.

“I think Kenny has faith in all those guys. He really does,” Narduzzi said. “It’s not like Kenny is saying, ‘I’m going to throw it to Jordan. I am going to throw it to Jared.’ If he does that, we have problems. Great thing is he can go through all his progressions, he’s getting it to the guy that’s open, the next up on his progression.”

Not a ‘Bunch of Knuckleheads’

After the Panthers letdown loss against Western Michigan, much was made of their ability to focus on each opponent in turn. With an emotional win against Clemson under their belt, Narduzzi said he doesn’t expect that to happen again.

“We have a mature group in here, a senior group of leaders that will take care of it. I think we learned from our past mistakes,” Narduzzi said. “If we don’t, we’re a bunch of knuckleheads.”

Clemson linebacker Trenton Simpson(22) sacks Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett(8) during the during the first quarter of the NCAA football game between the Clemson Tigers and Pitt Panthers on November 28, 2020: at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, SC. (Photo by Carl Ackerman)

Payback Kind of Guy

After two blowout losses to the Tigers earlier in their Pitt careers, Pickett and senior cornerback Damarri Mathis both said that they’d had the game against Clemson circled. Mathis, in particular, said that Clemson’s conduct in past contests had irked him.

While Narduzzi said that he didn’t emphasize the approach in preparing for Clemson, he made a pointed remark that seemed aimed at the Tigers, and agreed with the approach his veteran players took.

“I think you’ve always got to look back on the past, what has happened. We try to do things with class here…Other people decide to go a different way than what we do” Narduzzi said. “I’m kind of a payback guy myself.”

Praising the Panther Pitt

Narduzzi praised Pitt’s student section for their performance in the Clemson game, as Panthers fans came out in droves for the matchup.

“That Panther Pitt, as you guys saw, was live. It was unbelievable. I haven’t seen them like that maybe since I’ve been here,” Narduzzi said. “That was the difference in the football game, I guarantee you that.”

Narduzzi called on the fans to show up in similar fashion against Miami, and to help keep his team focused as Pitt continues to work toward an ACC Championship berth.

“All the students need a 10:30 bed check on Friday night so they can get up early to get to Heinz Field so they can give us the same type of performance,” Narduzzi said. “Panther Pitt, another message, tell them they got more. Don’t pat them on the back.”

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker

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