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Offense vs. Defense: Breaking Down the New Spring Game Format



PITTSBURGH — Pat Narduzzi left last year’s spring game knowing he wanted to change it up, and after thinking about it all offseason, he’s come up with a new format.

Instead of the traditional Blue vs. Gold format, complete with a draft (that would have taken place yesterday), it will simply be the offense vs. the defense competing at Acrisure Stadium in the 2023 Blue-Gold Spring Game.

It will operate in a similar fashion to Pitt’s scrimmages that take place throughout the course of the spring — with some added modifications, of course.

“It’s gonna be kind of a jersey scrimmage,” Narduzzi said Thursday after practice. “Obviously, it’s gonna be a spring game, but it’s gonna be kinda graded like we do our jersey scrimmages. You’ll see it kind of modified a little bit because usually with jersey scrimmages it’s all made-up situations. We’re not gonna make up situations, we’re just gonna play the game.

“It’ll be offense vs defense. Offense will be on one side, defense on the other, and we’ll play ball.”

The score will still be shown on the scoreboard at Acrisure, but it will be graded differently than a traditional game. The offense will still be awarded six points for a touchdown, as per usual, but a first down is also worth a point. Defensively, a point will be awarded for forcing a three and out, forcing a turnover and any tackles for loss or sacks.

If the offense doesn’t turn the ball over, it will be difficult for the defense to win, but as the defense has won the two scrimmages over the spring, it hasn’t been a problem yet.

Perhaps the biggest reason for the change in format is Narduzzi’s desire to evaluate the offense and defense fully. If it’s starting unit against starting unit, he’s able see just how far both have come over the last 14 practices. Especially when it comes to the offensive line.

“That’s the main reason I would say,” Narduzzi said. “Because I love the draft, I love coming in here and seeing the kids pick and all that, but mainly just for the matchups and keeping the unit together. It’s not all over the place.”

So, the No. 1 offense and the No. 1 defense will square off, and with the line of scrimmage featuring two complete units, it will allow more continuity for the offense before the 2s and 3s are worked into the fold across the roster. It will lead to more best-on-best action, which I don’t think anyone is opposed to.

Of course, Narduzzi will still be on the whistle — ready to stop plays as he sees fit to keep his players healthy — and the quarterbacks will be in their red no-contact jerseys as per usual. But there will be some legitimate best-on-best action Saturday.

The spring game is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. on Saturday, and it’s free for anyone to attend.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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