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Opinion

Vukovcan: Stubborn to the End, Narduzzi Sticking with Slovis Sunk Pitt in Louisville

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Oh, where do I begin.

I didn’t think I would see anything worse than the hotel that I unfortunately stayed at in Louisville, but I was wrong because I unfortunately had the misfortune of watching Pitt’s offense.

I’ll borrow a famous line from Chuck Noll which accurately describes whatever Pitt is trying to accomplish on offense: “their problems are many and they are great.”

Pitt’s offense is a complete mess and I’m not sure it can be fixed this season. Before I address the obvious problem, quarterback Kedon Slovis, the most disturbing aspect of tonight’s game was Pat Narduzzi’s lack of leadership and his decision to stick with Slovis.

It was obvious to anyone with vision that Slovis didn’t have it Saturday tonight and frankly, hasn’t had it since his return from a concussion. Slovis looked scared, when he had time he was erratic and his decision making was as bad as I’ve seen from a quarterback in a long time.

The decisions he made to throw those passes that resulted in interceptions cost his team the game and big picture, ended Pitt’s chance to win the Coastal. It’s certainly fair to come down hard on Slovis but he can’t take himself out of the lineup. That’s the job of the head coach and Narduzzi failed to pull the trigger.

Whether it’s because Slovis is a team captain, whether it’s because of how much he’s talked him up in the past, whatever the reason Narduzzi didn’t have the stomach to make a tough decision, shame on you, Pat because you let the entire roster down and cost your team a chance at winning a game they had no business losing.

Earlier Saturday, Clemson trailed Syracuse 21-10 in the third quarter and head coach Dabo Swinney made the decision to pull starting quarterback and former five-star recruit D.J. Uiagalelei and replaced him with freshman Cade Klubnik.

Klubnik sparked Clemson’s offense and they pulled out a 27-21 win over previous unbeaten Syracuse.

“Sometimes, you know, Steph Curry goes 2 for 25,” Swinney said. “Your best player sometimes can have a bad day. He just got out of rhythm, made some bad plays. We just needed a change. DJ’s our quarterback,” said Swinney.

“You have to get a spark when the quarterback is not playing good and especially how I have been playing and how I feel like I should have played. You got to be able to make a change like that,” said Uiagalelei. “Today we got a ‘W’ by Cade going out there. That is Coach Swinney’s number one job. There are a 135 guys on this team and at the end of the day, his responsibility is to the team, not me.”

That’s a pretty mature answer by Uiagalelei. If Narduzzi would’ve made the obvious decision to not start Slovis in the second half, I’m probably writing a different commentary and about a Pitt win.

Narduzzi is on record as saying Nick Patti is healthy and if that’s the truth and not just BS from a Monday press conference then he should’ve started the second half. Everyone in the stadium knew that and sadly most players wearing a Pitt uniform thought the same thing.

Just because you sit Slovis for the second half doesn’t mean he can’t start next week at North Carolina. Swinney has already said that Uiagalelei will start next week for Clemson. Narduzzi’s needed to make decisions to try and win the game against Louisville and worry about next week later. For whatever reason he failed to do so.

This 2022 Pitt team is going to underachieve this season for one reason, and the problem didn’t start tonight. The bottom line is their passing game is a disaster, it has been since the West Virginia game and it remains broken following another unexpected ACC loss.

Big picture, the problems with the pass offense fall on the shoulders of Slovis and Frank Cignetti, who’s been unable to fix anything to this point.

But tonight in Louisville, I’m pinning a lot of blame on the CEO of Pitt football for letting his quarterback fail when it was so obvious that he had no chance of succeeding.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Mdtk
Mdtk
1 month ago

I don’t think you can fix an offense, if the problem is the QB. The fix starts with Patti, then see what kind of offense we actually have.

The Clemson comparison is obvious to everyone in the country including Pitt players and recruits. This loss is on the coaches, and so is GT for that matter.

Slovis has not returned to form, and HC seems willing to tank the whole season by being stubborn. Winning the coastal, should be the last concern. It really should be winning a game or at most a winning record. NC, loss, Cuse, loss. Etc.

On Campus Stadium Please
On Campus Stadium Please
1 month ago

Duzz and his stubbornness is well documented. Slovis was average before getting hurt and he’s worse now in a really bad offense.

DirtyO
DirtyO
1 month ago

Let’s reboot this season and pass on Slovis and Cignetti.

Kevin
Kevin
1 month ago

Well, I think every Pitt fan saw this coming. Slovis is terrible, he eye balls one receiver and either throws it anyway or gets sacked. The problem is I don’t think anyone else is going to do a lot better with the offensive coaching staff Pitt has. I think the wins we have this year made Narduzzi think he’s on the right track, HE’S NOT! Most teams improve as the year goes on, Pitt typically regresses. Cignetti is the main problem, but Narduzzi really needs to wake up and get in this century. This style of offense takes a perfect… Read more »

FBJ
FBJ
1 month ago

Pitt has built a WR talent pool over the past couple of seasons based on an entertaining pass heavy offense. Stubborn Narduzzi inexplicably decides to do a 180 and focus on the run. I feel bad for the WRs that were hoodwinked into coming into this stale offense. No WR wants to continuously block and run 10 yard outs. Expect a rough offseason if Cignetti stays.

SRS
SRS
1 month ago
Reply to  FBJ

Speaking of WR play, how about block downfield and Israel “Isaiah” Abandikanda takes it to the Hizzy instead of 37 Yard gain. If Gavin does not lay down injured the Wildcat takes it the House instead Louisville regroups on sideline and pops Hammond to force fumble. If Right Tackle does not down block inside out the edge Rusher does not pummel Slovis. Plenty of Good Plays by PITT, too many great plays by Louisville too overcome. Did what they needed to do to Win. Louisville’s amplifiers in South endzone were disruptive not their half filled stadium crowd. … Slovis needs… Read more »

CO2todd
CO2todd
1 month ago

How about the false starts and missed blocks? This wasnt Clemsons dl. The O-line lacks atheleticism and the RBs has missed blitzes. Patti should run, try shuffle passes and roll u to ease the pressure. Defenses will be forced to change their approach.

Will C
Will C
1 month ago

Slovis is not the problem. The OC and QB coach is terrible. No one in the locker room has any confidence in Cignetti. I know that for a fact. Of course, Cignetti will blame the players.

Narduzzi hired Frank Cignetti who has a long resume of failure. It is Narduzzi’s job to fire him NOW.

Narduzzi is too much of a pussy to fix his error. Heather Luke needs to step in.

Joe
Joe
1 month ago

Looking at the complete game Pitt’s offense early on looked much better. Good mix of pass and run. Three turnovers, two on interceptions that should have been halfchecked down to another open receiver. Louisville made adjustments. First half offensive plays, other than run into the line, were apparently run one and done. PITT’s defense, other than two plays, did an excellent job maintaining Malik. Slovis is simply a drop back passer. Cignetti doesn’t know what RPO stands for. And by sticking with Slovis in the second half, Narduzzi forget about being 1-0 each week.

Eli
Eli
1 month ago

The decision to push Whipple out the door isn’t exactly looking very smart given how bad the offense in general has been this year. Good job, duzz.

SRS
SRS
1 month ago
Reply to  Eli

Whipple out? He wanted some ACC Championship dollars. Nebraska pays him
$825k compared to $475k at PITT. Not a Scheme issue.

Robert E Landel
Robert E Landel
1 month ago

Mike Vukovcan, you and all the writers from the time he announced his transfer, praised the “abilities” of Slovis. A lot of this rhetoric continued during games. But the truth is the talent is not there! He’s slow; is not a accurate passer; has a poor arm; and makes dump decisions. He is not athletic. From Spring game on Slovis has never shown a glimmer of what Patti has to offer. What is going on in the minds of Narduzzi and Cignetti? Have they ever given enough reps to Patti to play with the starters? There will be no winning… Read more »

SRS
SRS
1 month ago

Semi un-creative play schemes. More exciting Coach Klein’s 1st 3 Quarters plays in the Bourbon Bowl.

Widen the Splits, gap power block for seals.

The counters look good, the lead draw and sweeps are getting stuffed. A pop pass to TE over middle looks open.

On Campus Stadium Please
On Campus Stadium Please
1 month ago

Duzz was enamored with his USC good year and didn’t the rest of the garbage. Totally agree, Slovis is not a good QB and can’t do anything if his first option is covered. Waste of a year developing a QB. Next year the talent pool on offense and defense will be worse.

SRS
SRS
1 month ago

Don’t agree with you much OCSP but your right around 25 Seniors and Super Srs, then three U/G could go Pro then How many Transfer Portal guys? 1/3 of the Roster can turnover. Some timely injuries did not Help, not sure if i saw much of B.Taylor at Tackle last night. They Offensive Line play was lackluster. Would like to see our QB play be more under center three or five step drops, preferably on run fake to QB Slovis eyes only when he turns to Throw. His throws to Wayne last night were contested, Louisville had most of our… Read more »

Cignetti & Friends
Cignetti & Friends
1 month ago

Hard to pass block when the opposing team knows according to down & distance you’re going to pass. Terrible play calling, which has been a thing for 4 to 5 games now.
Plus when you have avg. 3 star players, you have to run the Spread….and get the ball
out in 3 seconds or less. And they should have been working on the pass game
against Rhode Island instead of wasting that game just rushing the ball. That was the game to get Slovis’s confidence back with him throwing say 5 TD passes.

YoungBlood
YoungBlood
1 month ago

Slovis can’t be effective while running for his life. I would start with Patti and try to get Nate Yarnell at least 1/4 worth of work in each game.

Giovanni
Giovanni
1 month ago

Slovis does not know how to read defenses or take his eyes off of one receiver (aka telegraphing his passes). Honestly, I would start developing Yarnell at this point. He shows a lot of promise in natural talent, QB intelligence, poise, and leadership. Stubborn Narduzzi is killing Pitt’s chances of maximizing team talent. Beyond frustrating for Pitt fans.

SRS
SRS
1 month ago
Reply to  Giovanni

Narduzzi must want him back next Season by sticking with him. Slovis arm and accuracy are sound, the issue is throwing too late or locked on initial go to guy. Being in the Shotgun looks to make matters worse. Needs to be under center more and drop with the Play Action Pass.

Robert E Landel
Robert E Landel
1 month ago
Reply to  SRS

SRS, are we watching the same guy? Slovis can’t throw an accurate pass if he tried! At best he is hi, low, in front, or behind the receiver. Usually he is not near the receiver. He has a weak arm and his slowness accounts for the high number of sacks. Since he doesn’t move well in the pocket the shotgun is necessary to give him more time to release the ball.

On Campus Stadium Please
On Campus Stadium Please
1 month ago
Reply to  SRS

Slovis is terrible, I would guess Duzz will want him back for depth in the room but will Slovis want to stay?

Will C
Will C
1 month ago

Cignetti sunk Pitt the day he came back to Pitt.

DavePitt76
DavePitt76
1 month ago

Good take on the game and Narduzzi. I guess when you’re making millions for years to come you just don’t really care.

Steve
Steve
1 month ago

How many enter the transfer portal after this season?

Katsura cassells
Katsura cassells
1 month ago

Excellent, well written article. With a heavy run first offense, or, in this case, a run only offense, Pitt will not contend for acc championships. In addition, pitt will not be able to recruit skilled receivers or quarterbacks.

Let’s Believe
Let’s Believe
1 month ago

Didn’t you write an article in the beginning of the season about how “it’s time Pat Narduzzi gets the national recognition he deserves?”

Gary
Gary
1 month ago

Well written article. Narduzzi does not know how to adjust during a game and doesn’t believe in it. The Clemson example this year was a great one. Saban did it when he pulled Hurts for Tua and won a national championship. Game adjustments are important. Majors did it against Penn State when he moved Dorsett to the up back position for the 2nd half. I remember when Mason Rudolph was eating Avonte Maddox’s lunch. I thought Narduzzi would adjust at half time. He did not and his comment later was the kid has to learn to play the position. Narduzzi… Read more »

Dukes

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