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A Passive Approach in Practice Didn’t Work Against Cincinnati



Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi.

Pat Narduzzi thought that Pitt had a good week of practice heading into the Cincinnati game last weekend, but the actual execution when it mattered left little to be desired.

And there were warning signs that Narduzzi noticed throughout last week’s practice, but he didn’t bring up. That, also, left little to be desired.

He’s had a few days to sit back and evaluate everything from the film room, from the practice field and just from observing everything that’s gone on around the facility, and he’s more confident than ever that his team is ready to push past its woes.

“We’ve had a really, really good week of practice, better than last week,” Narduzzi said at his weekly presser Thursday. “If practice is any indication, I think our guys are locked in and ready to roll.”

It wasn’t as if Pitt did anything different this week in practice. Sure, there were some new drills designed to help fix what went wrong against Cincinnati in anticipation of West Virginia this weekend, but it was largely business as usual. What was different about this week’s practices then? The way Narduzzi himself approached it.

“As you go through what you did, as a head coach, I try not to micromanage,” Narduzzi said. “I try to let the offense and defense kind of do what they feel they need to do, keep the guys healthy without getting guys banged up. You want to go into battle with your guys. I just saw some things in some periods that I didn’t like, and I knew I didn’t like it, but I didn’t say anything.

“It all starts with me. I just didn’t like it. It’s too early in the season to really go, ‘Oh, we can’t get hurt, we gotta make sure we’ve got this guy,’ all of that stuff. You have to play the game of football. And I feel like we did not play the game of football last week like I’d like. Now we executed and did all those things, but the game is fast, and you can’t go from Saturday playing a real game against fast people to playing tag football during the week, and then get to Saturday and expect to be fast.”

There’s a fine line when it comes to being that hands-on head coach and being the overbearing manager. Narduzzi trusts his staff, but he made it clear Sunday that he was shouldering the blame. He saw what he didn’t like in practice and allowed it to happen. And that won’t happen again.

“I think it’s more about when — like, did we think we arrived after playing Wofford, and we’re just going to protect everybody?” Narduzzi said. “We didn’t do anything, and I knew that, but I let it happen.”

The Wofford game, in retrospect, didn’t really answer any questions that Pitt had entering the 2023 season. The Cincinnati game didn’t really either, but it did showcase just how much work is still needed across all three phases. There was a lot to clean up after the loss to Cincinnati.

Narduzzi labeled Cincinnati as Pitt’s true Week 1 opponent, getting a gauge on just how much further the staff needs to coach up and develop, and the jump from Week 1 to Week 2 will be pivotal — especially considering the opponent.

There have only been a few days of practice, a few more days of film study with the coaching staff, to really dive into those trouble spots. To diagnose the issues and work on correcting them in an efficient manner.

The Backyard Brawl has arrived quickly, and while it remains to be seen if Pitt will be able to correct all the issues that plagued the loss to Cincinnati, Narduzzi feels like Pitt’s preparation will lead to some real football this weekend.

Narduzzi doesn’t need to micromanage practices each week, but he can certainly insert himself in where he sees fit.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Jim C,
Jim C,
9 months ago

When the head coach sees something he don’t like or thinks it need re-thought, he better darn well step in and do his job, you know, like a freakin head coach, that is why he gets the big $$$$$. Wonder how much that style has cost in the past.

Hudie Evans
Hudie Evans
8 months ago
Reply to  Jim C,

Absolutely true What the Heck is he being paid for ?Do you f-ing job.This is the reason Pitt will always be an average team at best.Average means the best of the worst and the worst of the best. This is a comfy job for an average thinking coach.I think his feet need to be held to the “Fire” or go back to Michigan State for the Biggest Bucks.College Football is now all about the money ,Right DAWG !!

8 months ago

Narduzzi has turned his team, his success and ultimately his legacy over to an incompetent OC. Sad to see that.

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