Kedon Slovis took some shots, stood tall in the pocket and weathered the thunder and lightning throughout much of the first half against Tennessee Saturday, but he couldn’t outlast the storm.
Pitt stopped the Tennessee offense late in the first half, a Calijah Kancey tackle for loss and a David Green sack halting the Volunteers’ two-minute drill. The Vols’ Paxton Brooks punted the ball back to Pitt, and Slovis and the offense took the field with 21 seconds left in the half.
A 1st-and-10 play from the Pitt 37-yard line ended in disaster, with the Vols’ Tyler Baron ripping through Pitt’s offense line, wrapping his arms around Slovis and flinging him to the ground head-first.
The play resulted in a fumble, and eventually a Chase McGrath field goal, but it also resulted in Slovis missing the remainder of the game — and potentially more.
When asked about the decision to use the 21 seconds to potentially push for points in what was a four-point game, Narduzzi reflected upon his decision — and it’s safe to say his decision wouldn’t be the same with a do-over.
“I’m a d***a**,” Narduzzi said Monday. “There’s no doubt about it. We didn’t put a returner back. We were really worried about it, and you go back and look, that’s the one — you guys talked timeouts Saturday after the game. I certainly wasn’t going to call a timeout at the end of the game. That’s why we kneeled down in the fourth quarter and take it to overtime. We weren’t going to take a chance and have something crazy like that happen there.”
It’s clear the ending sequence of the second half, which was nearly avoided after M.J. Devonshire’s potential interception was reviewed and reversed off his toe coming down just out of bounds, but Tennessee would nail a 37-yard field goal to end the half and push its lead to seven points.
“Even on that play, if we just throw it to Bub in the flat wide open, if we just throw it there and take that, we’re probably feeling pretty good right now,” Narduzzi said about the final Pitt possession of the half. “But that’s not what happened.”
Narduzzi chose to run a play late in the second quarter, trailing by a handful of points, and while I, personally, don’t fault him for that, it did result in a negative play. In the second half, with a chance to try to score and go for the win, Narduzzi decided to not risk another ending like the first half. It ultimately resulted in a closely contested loss.
When it comes to Slovis’s status, or even Nick Patti or anyone on Pitt’s roster, Narduzzi remains tight-lipped on status updates.
“Like I always say, guys, I’m not talking personnel,” Narduzzi. “On Monday, we all know what we know. I know nothing. How about that?”
With Western Michigan on Saturday night in Kalamazoo, it remains uncertain if Slovis, Patti or Derek Kyler or Nate Yarnell will make the start.