Pat Narduzzi said last Thursday that while Pitt’s staff hasn’t always made it easy on Jaylon Barden, he would be starting against North Carolina after an excellent week of practice. Instead, Barden didn’t take a single snap against UNC.
With a strong week of practice, after admittedly not being put in a position to make plays against Louisville, Narduzzi said that Barden was ready to step into the lineup against North Carolina. He didn’t expect Bub Means, who only played one snap against Louisville, to be able to go.
There was nothing going on with Barden to not allow him to see the field, Narduzzi said. He’s a great kid. Just didn’t see the field.
“To be honest with you, last Thursday I didn’t think that Bub Means would play,” Narduzzi said Monday at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. “He was available game time. That’s the only reason. Again, I felt guilty kind of saying he was going to play and all of a sudden he doesn’t.”
“(Barden) was ready to play. From the week before, I don’t know if you remember this, from the week before, I was excited for him to get a chance, and then, again, we got him at a different position that wasn’t fair to him.”
Pitt had been preparing Barden to play the inside wide receiver position in the offense, and when Means went down against Louisville, Barden wasn’t ready to play outside. So, Konata Mumpfield prepared to play outside, shifting from the inside to the outside in the absence of Means, and that would allow Barden — who prepared for the inside — to slide into the starting lineup.
But Means being able to play, according to Narduzzi, kept Barden out of the lineup.
“It seems like every week there’s something going on, and then last week we got (Barden) switched around,” Narduzzi said. “We were going to put Konata in that position because he’s played it before and just leave Jaylon where he was. However, then it goes down to — comes to game time and Bub is ready to go and he played the whole game and did a nice job.”
Means caught three balls for 53 yards, helped by a 40-yard reception on Pitt’s first offensive possession. He was one of just three players to catch a pass against UNC — along with Jared Wayne and Konata Mumpfield. Gavin Bartholomew received two targets, and Israel Abanikanda, Vincent Davis and Myles Alston all received one.
Narduzzi said that Barden started all week in practice, was ready to start, but it came down to Means being ready to play on Saturday.