After Pitt watched the tape from Saturday’s loss to Louisville, Pat Narduzzi pulled up the drive sheet. A screen that showed every Pitt drive, how each started and ended.
“You watch the tape and then you’ve got to visually look at it and go, ‘Okay, what the heck happened?’ To me, it’s a 10-minute ‘Hey, what happened here?” Narduzzi said Monday at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.
Pitt ran 13 drives against Louisville, six in the first half and seven in the second half.
In the first half, Pitt’s drives resulted in two interceptions, a fumble, a punt, a touchdown and the end of the half. In the second half, Pitt’s drives resulted in three punts, two turnovers on downs, a fumble and a field goal.
Pitt turned the ball over four times against Louisville, and the defense didn’t allow a point off of any of the four turnovers. But the real swing came from Pitt failing to put points on the board despite being so deep in Louisville territory.
10 points wasn’t — and almost always will not be — good enough.
Pitt has turned the football over nine times in three losses this season, with a -6-turnover differential, and that’s been a recipe for losses.
— Louisville Football (@LouisvilleFB) October 25, 2022
“You look at the offense, and we all want to talk about the turnovers, and rightly so,” Narduzzi said. “The first one — here’s the rundown. Obviously, we’ve got to do a better job as coaches of making sure we don’t throw it to the other guys. We’ve got to make sure we don’t fumble the ball, and again, got a helmet on the ball, which are sometimes the hardest ones to take care of.
The first interception came just five minutes into the game, the first of two Kedon Slovis interceptions. A play in which Slovis badly underthrew a pass into tight coverage. It resulted in zero points.
“It’s 2nd-and-10 and we’re at the plus 29-yard line,” Narduzzi said. “We’re in field goal range already, and we’re thinking points. We’ve got to protect the ball; we’ve got to make better decisions. Carter is open in the flat and just a bad decision. Wanted to throw it down, thought he had a shot. Just got to throw a better ball if you’re going to throw it deep.”
Pitt’s second turnover came on the heels of a drive filled with wildcat play calling. Rodney Hammond Jr. and Israel Abanikanda pushed Pitt 42 yards down the field with their legs, but the sixth consecutive wildcat snap resulted in a Hammond fumble. It resulted in no points.
“Next one is 1st-and-10 at the plus 18-yard line,” Narduzzi said. “We’re moving the ball down. We’re down in the red zone. That’s what hurts the most is (when) you’re down where you need to be. 1st-and-10, plus 18-yard line. Five-play drive, we fumble the ball doing some of that wildcat stuff.”
The third turnover came off of Slovis’s second interception, an interception in which Slovis tossed up a prayer upon being hit by a Tennessee defender. It was another bone-headed decision that an experienced quarterback should know better than to make.
— Louisville Football (@LouisvilleFB) October 23, 2022
“1st-and-10 at the plus 28, we throw another interception moving down the field,” Narduzzi said. “Again, it’s not like it’s 4th down and you’re turning it over. It’s like, ‘Okay, we’re down there.’ It’s not like you’re turning it over in your own territory. We moved the football, which is what the offense is supposed to do. We’re supposed to hold on to it and put points on the board.”
The offense, for the third time, didn’t hold on and put points on the board.
The fourth turnover came about as a cadence issue led to Slovis being obliterated off the edge, the ball forced from his hand and being scooped and scored by the Louisville defense. The Pitt defense wasn’t given a chance to stop the drive, but Louisville scored nonetheless.
“Then the last one, it’s a 1st-and-10 at the plus 35, and there’s 4:21 left to go in the game. It’s a 17-10 ballgame. This is what it comes down to. Again, as crappy as you can say we played, turnovers and all those things, we’ve still got a chance to win the game with 4:21 to go in the game. We don’t make good decisions. So, we get the ball down — 1st and 10 at the plus 35, we’re striking.
“I’m already in my head thinking about we’re on the road; we going for two or not? Are we going to get home at 4 o’clock in the morning or are we getting home at 3:30 in the morning? What are we going to do?
— Louisville Football (@LouisvilleFB) October 23, 2022
“Again, it’s a protection issue. It’s a snap cadence issue. It was a no-huddle, going from — I won’t give you the terms, but we were in a no-huddle two-minute to get to that point, to that 35-yard line, then we went into a huddle mode, and our cadence was still in a no-huddle tempo, and it was a mistake. Again, something we’ve got to work harder on, make sure — we got across there, we wanted to take our time, and now we can run some runs, and again, we screwed it up.”
Gabe Houy didn’t leave his stance, standing flat-footed as Louisville’s Yasir Abdullah rocked Slovis and Kei’Trel Clark returned the fumble 59 yards for a touchdown. It was the nail in the coffin for Pitt, the one touchdown lead stretching to two — which would prove insurmountable.
Pitt lost 24-10, effectively cementing a season in which preseason goals will not be met. Four turnovers, all inside Louisville’s 40-yard line, led to Pitt’s loss.
Two turnovers against Tennessee, three against Georgia Tech and four against Louisville. Pitt’s scoring efforts decreased as each game has arrived. It’s nearly impossible to win with such a drastic turnover deficit, and with such a lackluster scoring effort, it’s led to a few very disappointing efforts.