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November 16, 2016

Pat Narduzzi

Greensboro, North Carolina

PAT NARDUZZI: As we just finished our second day of practice for the Duke Blue Devils, we got a really great football team walking in our doors this weekend. They've had some tough losses, very similar to what we've had. They've played everybody very close, offensively and defensively. Coach Cutcliffe's always got a great plan as far as what they do. They mix it up every week. So there's a lot of new things that we'll see.

Very impressed with their personnel on both sides of the ball, as well as special teams. We look forward to a great battle here at Heinz at 3:00.

Q. Good afternoon, Coach. How are you?
PAT NARDUZZI: I'm doing great, Dan.

Q. Just from coming in day one to Pittsburgh and to what this team has become since you got there, just what you can say about going up and doing the unthinkable against a team like Clemson. To a lot of people from the outside looking in, from the inside looking out, what can you say about this program, your players, your assistant coaches to create opportunities like this against Clemson?
PAT NARDUZZI: I think we've had those opportunities every week that we've stepped on a field on a Saturday or Thursday night, to be honest with you. I don't think it's anything that shocked our coaches or our players. Our players believed going into that game, just like we believed going into every other game, that we could come out victorious.

Coaches have done a great job all year of catering to the needs of our football team, getting them in position to make plays, and Saturday we just made that one more play than Clemson did, a great football team that still ranked in the top four in the country and will do great things in the ACC.

Q. Nathan Peterman, your quarterback, five touchdowns in that game, and he's obviously had success this season. Just what you can say about his evolution from being a guy who was asked to step in at times to being the dominant starter and being someone who on the national stage in a big game is going to come out and produce.
PAT NARDUZZI: He's a big-time player. I believe he'll play in the NFL. He's a guy that came from Tennessee, wasn't playing a whole bunch, wasn't real happy, and was able to come to Pitt. A year ago, I think it was Game 3, he earned the starting job. Really he started for half a season.

Nate has really come in confident. He's more of a leader than he ever has been. Again, that's something, as coaches, we've given to him. As a quarterback, you have to be a leader. He hasn't played really a bad game all year. He's been doing what we asked him to do. Does he make every throw? No. Does he make every read? No. But there's really no quarterback in the country.

He's really managed the game well. He's really been careful with the ball. We're happy with where he is. He's a guy that scrambles, and really every time he scrambles, he makes plays. He doesn't take sacks unless we tell him to. There's a couple -- maybe six sacks on the year, instead of running out of bounds or throwing an incomplete pass, he's gotten down inbounds to take a sack just to keep the clock moving in situations where we're trying to eat the clock up.

So he's just a very heady football player and very talented and really has very great accuracy for a quarterback.

Q. Pat, I was wondering if during the course of your career, you'd ever gone up to a player on the sideline and put your arm around him and given him a Chris on the cheek like you did with Chris Blewitt. Or was that a first?
PAT NARDUZZI: That was my first gameday kiss. There may be a couple in there that I never remembered, but you guys are really making me remember that moment. I've always been one to go up and grab a guy when he needs it, whether it's a hug or a smack on the butt, whatever it is. I think it's coaching. I don't think I'm the only guy in the country that's done that. I don't think it's unusual. It was just caught on camera, I guess.

But that's what we do on game days is be positive with our kids and coach them, not only schematically, but emotionally. That's being an emotional coach.

Q. After he had missed a field goal and an extra point, was that a matter of saying, hey, we're going to need you at some point in this game? I just wonder how you kept his confidence up at that juncture.
PAT NARDUZZI: Yeah, it started -- if you went back and looked at the tape, it started with a couple of bad kickoffs as well. He kind of -- we like him to kick it right down the middle. I know that's easy, we want him to kick it right down the middle of the uprights, and even on kickoff team, we like him to kick it right down the middle of the field. There was an instance earlier in the year where we gave up a kickoff return because we didn't kick it right down the middle.

You would have thought one of our kickoffs was a squib. We weren't trying to squib it. He squibbed the last play of the game and had a great squib. But he had a couple of squibs, and obviously those missed attempts. I just tried to pull him aside. I don't know when that was. It wasn't before the field goal where he won the game, but it was obviously a moment where he needed picked up. I could see just a kind of angry, frustrated face, and I was just trying to lighten him up a little bit.

Q. What is it that you see from watching tapes against Duke that causes you the most concern?
PAT NARDUZZI: The concern, the things that keep you from sleeping at night is you look at all their scores. They've been in every game, like we have. Coach Cutcliffe is a great football coach. He'll have those guys ready every week like he has, and they've ended up on the short end.

I see great speed. I see guys that are making plays. I see a well-coached team that executes, and they have the patience to dink and dunk it down the field. They have the ability to take shots deep, which I know will be -- I know they'll be taking shots at our corners deep as well. I think the quarterback is a guy that scares you. Daniel Jones is a guy that's a big, tall, redshirt freshman guy that can sling it and he can also run it.

They didn't run him early in the season because they were trying to protect him, but with two games to go and trying to get to a Bowl, their backs are against the wall, in my opinion, and I know we're going to get every quarterback run and everything we got out of him because that's kind of the way they'll approach this.

They did that last week against North Carolina, and I don't know how many times he carried it, but he was the guy. So we're prepared for all the quarterbacks run and even stuff they haven't done, stuff they've done two years ago with quarterback runs. So we've kind of looked at everything as far as what they possibly could do.

You look at them on the defensive side of the ball, and they fly around. They don't give up big plays. They're going to keep everything in front of them, but they're well coached by Jimmy Knowles. They play hard. They play fast. And you can tell they know what they're doing on defense. They're not just junking it up on defense. They have a system, a scheme on both sides of the ball, and they execute.

Q. Good afternoon. What were you most pleased with about your team's performance last Saturday that you're going to ask them, okay, let's take that and bottle that so we can have a sustained performance week in and week out.
PAT NARDUZZI: That's a great question, Mark. There's all kinds of things you'd like to bottle. The first thing is the faith and belief that they can go down there and win and win every week. That's the first thing you'd like to bottle. You'd like to bottle the energy and emotion that you play with. I think it's a game of emotion we play. Sometimes people think it's all about the Xs and the Os and the Jimmys and the Joes, but really it's about playing with emotion.

I think our guys had probably 80 minutes of emotion going from the field to the locker room after the game. I couldn't even calm them down after the game. They had so much emotion. I tried to talk to them, and they didn't want to hear it. They just wanted to celebrate and dance and sing. They play with a ton of emotion and energy, and you have to do that every week. You've got to find a way to bring that.

Then obviously, we made a lot of plays. We caught the ball well on both sides of the ball. We made plays. We talked about being ball hawks with all our skill players, and to come up with three interceptions against a great offense like Clemson and a Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback, to make some of the catches we did going from Jaymar Parrish's big catch in the first series, which sets up a touchdown, to Jester Weah's one-hander on their sideline, with coaches running down the sideline, almost looked like they were going to hit him out of bounds.

We just made some great plays in situations that we really needed it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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