PITTSBURGH — Pat Narduzzi — along with the entire coaching staff — has stressed the importance of execution for weeks. The recipe for increased success was execution.
It made Konata Mumpfield’s 29-yard catch and run on a bubble screen in the third quarter that much more important, as Kedon Slovis got the ball to his playmaker, Jared Wayne laid a key block downfield and Mumpfield followed his blockers for a nice chunk play.
The 1st-and-10 gain wasn’t just a creative, well-executed play call, it provided a bit of confidence for an offense that has lacked consistency all season long. So, what does Pitt do with that confidence swing?
Ask Jared Wayne to attempt a long throw across the field, a throw that would’ve been a tough ask for Slovis himself, to a streaking Rodney Hammond Jr.
Hammond was surrounded by Syracuse defenders, and ‘Cuse’s Isaiah Johnson was in perfect position to snag the football himself, halting Pitt’s drive and killing any offensive rhythm.
It was a high-risk play with a low-chance payoff. Already at the Syracuse 31, Pitt was in range to put points on the board. Instead, Pitt walked away empty-handed. And Narduzzi said Wayne should’ve just thrown the ball away.
“Oh, boy,” Narduzzi said following Pitt’s win. “Should have thrown it away. They were in zone coverage. I won’t get into details, but it was — he’s got a great arm, too. He throws it long and outside, then we’ve got a shot.
“We got in the red zone twice and didn’t come away with points, so we moved the football, but it was not good. Just put it on me; blame me.”
Pitt’s coaching staff has said it wants to put its players in the best position to execute this season. The trick play didn’t accomplish either.
Slovis finished the day with 176 yards and an interception on 16-of-23 pass attempts, and Wayne finished the day with an interception on his lone pass attempt. He did fare a little better at his usual position, putting together his second straight 100-yard performance with a six-catch, 102-yard showing.
Wayne has completed 2-of-3 career passing attempts at Pitt, racking up 36 yards and a touchdown.