When Mark Whipple and Kenny Pickett left at various points since the end — technically, for Whipple — of last season, they also took with them the time-honored tradition of Pickett running to the sideline to receive the play call.
Pat Narduzzi confirmed that this season’s starting quarterback, whether it’s Kedon Slovis or Nick Patti, will not be running to the sideline to receive the play call from Frank Cignetti Jr. And while it’ll be a change, it’s not as if it’s Narduzzi was actively pushing for a change either.
“I’ll say this, and I’ll say it again, I liked what we did. I know that nobody else out there did, but Kenny loved it,” Narduzzi said. “Now Kenny’s got that microphone in the ear, and he’s going to love that where coach (Matt) Canada can say, ‘Here’s your play.’ He’s got up to 15 seconds on the play clock, and then he can tell him, ‘Hey, don’t forget (on) third down and long, they like to be in this,’ or ‘Watch that corner blitz.'”
A big part of the appeal in having Pickett run to the sideline for the play call for Narduzzi, aside from the consistency in the huddle, was that there wasn’t a threat of plays being stolen.
“Nobody’s stealing signals,” Narduzzi said. “I like it because nobody can steal our signals. That’s what I liked about our quarterback going to the sideline last year: nobody could steal our signals. There’s something to that because there’s a lot of thieves out there, as we know.”
However, when it comes to Cignetti’s offense going forward, while it’s not something Narduzzi is accustomed to, the use of headsets has been implemented during practices this summer. Cignetti has experience using headsets during his numerous stops at the college and NFL level, and Narduzzi recognizes the ease of communication.
“As a head coach, I’m always like, ‘Give me some information,’ and it’s awesome,” Narduzzi said. “It’s just a way to communicate during practice. We obviously do it on game day, but if he wants something, he’s going to have to run all the way over to the receiver coach to tell him during practice. It’s just easy communication. I loved it yesterday.”
Narduzzi said in the game of football, it’s all about communication — overcommunicating if needed. And while he wouldn’t say what exactly Pitt will do this season when it comes to play calling and talking to the quarterback, but it won’t be running to the sideline.