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September 14, 2016

Pat Narduzzi

Greensboro, North Carolina

PAT NARDUZZI: We closed a chapter on a great week like last week against Penn State, our rival not only, but also a Big Ten versus ACC matchup that I thought was important not only for us as a University but also for the ACC Conference.

We're excited to be able to get that one under our belt and move on to the Big 12. We face a very, very athletic football team in Oklahoma State. The offense is run by Mason Rudolph, who is very athletic, can throw all the balls, looks like an NFL guy, and he's got a lot of targets out there with great speed. James Washington and Jalen McCluskey are two awful good receivers that have 4.4 speed, one from Texas, one from Louisiana. So we go to a different type of offense and a little different gear as far as that goes.

And defensively very long, athletic, and very physical football team. We will have our work cut out for us as we travel out to Stillwater, and we've got in two great practices here on Tuesday and Wednesday, and we put the polish on it tomorrow. With that, open it up for questions.

Q. To kind of go off what you were saying, just a statement win about what it says about where Pitt football is in that moment, having that victory over Penn State, and kind of how you talked to your players about it.
PAT NARDUZZI: Well, I think the first thing is the game hadn't been played in 16 years, and I'd really like to get on Oklahoma State because they're a great football team. We've really put this one behind us, but I will answer this question.

It's a big rival, and I think our fans went crazy. I've got to thank our fan base, our Panther Pitt for making it an unbelievable atmosphere not only for the kids but for the country, I think. They helped us get to that victory.

And there was some anger, I think. It was 16 years and not playing that game, and not only out of our -- even after the game I felt like our players still weren't happy, they were angry still, so we played with an angry mentality, I guess, just kind of a nasty -- even after the game there was no smiling. It was kind of like, let's do this again. So I think I really got across the point that it was a rival game, and our kids played a really, really great first half and we played a sub-par second half and really let them back in the game, but I think the game wasn't as close as the score indicated.

Q. As far as your fullback George Aston, he stepped up in the last game, just what you can say about him moving forward and what he brings to your running attack.
PAT NARDUZZI: Yeah, George wasn't with us in the opener, so George -- not only rushing, he's one of the best all-around football players we have on this team, and he could be the unsung hero every week, except now we're handing it off to him a little bit and he gets to really score touchdowns. He is tough, he's physical, he's got great hands, and very, very intelligent as far as knowing what to do. He's got a lot of different roles and positions and stuff, and he's a football player. I bet you we could put him on defense and he'd be a heck of a linebacker, too.

Q. I just wanted to dredge up the clap thing again. It was brought up in State College this week. Is that something you've done after other defensive stops you've had before?
PAT NARDUZZI: You know, again, you went into last week, but because I love you I'm going to answer your question for you again.

But I mentioned it after the game, we clap. We raise the roof with our hands. You'll see us clap our heads. We twist our arms. We do kind of a -- kind of like a cowboy lasso. We do all kinds of different signals, and every week they're a little bit different. If you looked in the Villanova game, we clapped. I heard rumors yesterday we didn't clap, but we did. We've always used the clap. We did it at Michigan State.

If you watched any tape, you'd see that, that we've done it, and I can't go back to the Villanova game and say that we did or didn't clap in the game, but I'd be shocked if we didn't. But the offense has to do something to make us clap, and if they just stand still most of the time, we don't do a whole lot of it, but if they do move around and there's some things we have to do -- but I'd bet my life that we clapped in the Villanova game.

I'm going to add to this because I'm really sick of talking about it and we're going to move on to our new opponent Oklahoma State, but on previous tape I can promise you this: We had no indicators -- if people want to think we did something as far as what they're doing, but in the Kent State game, they went under with a cadence. Everybody has got a different indicator on offense, either raise their leg, shoot their hand down. Offense has their signals, too, and everybody has got their signals. It's a loud game out there. It was loud out there. I can't just yell things to guys and hope they hear them. I hope you hear it; I hope the crowd is not too loud out there. We have to signal on defense, so there's no illegal things about it. It's just not.

And again, the Big Ten had to problem with what we did in the past, and again, the ACC has no problem with it. It's a dead issue. It's like, what are we talking about here.

Oklahoma State has got this quarterback. They've got this James Washington, No. 28, that can run down the field, and we're talking about clapping. Next thing we're going to do is tell our fans they can't clap. Are the fans allowed to clap? I don't know, you tell me.

Q. Matt Canada at offensive coordinator, I think we've seen some of his twists and some of the things he's including in the offense, and I think it makes it quite interesting.
PAT NARDUZZI: You know, he's a great football coach. I've worked with him in the past. I tried to hire Matt the first time when I first got hired here, and I couldn't get him, from North Carolina State. Just couldn't afford him, I guess, and couldn't get out of a buy-out and all that. Things happen for a reason. In the second go-around I was able to cut him loose from there and be fortunate enough to have him here, and I think a lot of people after the first week were like, what are we doing, what's going on here, and then I think after the second week, I think he got an Offensive Coordinator of the Week deal. He's a super football coach, and I think our kids understand what he's doing. We got more than what we saw Saturday, that's for sure.

Q. The other thing for me is I heard your news coverage the other day. Emotion is a great fueler for preparation during the week, and it can even be an igniter on game day, and I think this is an interesting game. You indicated your team may still have a little bit of anger in them from last week, certainly feeling good, and an Oklahoma State team that I can pretty much guarantee they can't wait to get back on the field because of the circumstances in which they left it on Saturday. It presents a great emotional matchup with these two in what would be a non-conference game between two teams that never played each other.
PAT NARDUZZI: Yeah, no question. You talk about two football teams that are athletically very talented in both respects, offensively, defensively and special teams, and then you take in the emotions, the game of football is not just one with the physical part on the field, it is an emotional game, and we've talked to our guys this week already just about handling -- we've done a great job of handling adversity, can we handle success. We had success, and we need to go out and play angry, and that's something I talk about every week, finding a way to want to play hard this week and who are you playing for and why are you playing this game. You can't just go out there and go through the motions. You'd better have the enthusiasm and you'd better have the emotions to go with it, or you'll lose something.

Q. Ryan Lewis winning a national award, can you talk about his game and what he brings to the table?
PAT NARDUZZI: You know, Ryan Lewis is an incredible kid. He's a super, super individual. I can't say enough about really the adversity he's gone through just in his life, being hurt in high school and not being a heavily recruited guy, struggling here, obviously before we got here, wasn't real happy with his playing time or the way he was playing or even the way he was treated as a person.

And then we stroll in here a year ago, and he had talent. He had to sit behind Lafayette Pitts, who's on the practice squad with the Dolphins, last year and he gave us a few plays, and he battled all camp to win the starting job. He's just in shock. It's amazing when you sit behind a good player that's playing in the NFL and then you finally get your opportunity, you have to take advantage of it, and that's exactly what Ryan has done. He's taken advantage of it. He's making plays, and again, he wasn't one of those talented five-star guys that comes in and has all the bells and whistles and just goes through the motions. That guy has built himself to where he is. He's worked hard, and you couldn't be happier for a guy like that. He's not one of those guys you expected to come in and be a Thorpe Award guy in the first week. The other corner is a better player, but this guy is a football player, and he's really turned himself into a great starting corner.

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