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October 25, 2017

Pat Narduzzi

Greensboro, North Carolina

PAT NARDUZZI: Well, we had a nice one last week against Duke, and we move on to a very much improved Virginia football team, I think a tough football team, well-coached. Bronco in his second year there, and having a fine season. They travel up to our place, and we're looking forward to it.

Q. I'm doing a story on coaches who have at times taken steps back in year three, and that's kind of the case for you guys right now. I know the season isn't over, but there's clearly a little bit of a growing process for you guys this year, and that's true of a number of programs across the country this season. I guess I'm just curious if there's something about this season that seems similar to year one, even though it's not year one, it's year three, and maybe if you anticipated some of these growing pains that you guys are having this season?
PAT NARDUZZI: Yeah, we did anticipate some of them. We had 13 players that were in NFL camps whether they were drafted or free agents, and a lot of them stuck. We had a mature senior team a year ago I think with 23 seniors and we turned around and don't have as many seniors. I think your football team is run by your seniors. That's where a lot of your leadership comes from. Those guys take ownership of your program, and I think that's what it comes down to. We're a young football team. I think we still have good football players but they're younger and getting a lot of play time for the first time in their careers. You're going to take your bumps and bruises.

Now, when you look at our schedule and who we played, I think that also plays into it, so you've got a young football team that plays a Penn State football team who is pretty good, Oklahoma State is pretty good, Georgia Tech is having a great season, Syracuse knocks off the No. 2 team in the country, and they're a much improved team, and North Carolina State is in the top 15. I think you look at a young football team with less seniors and you look at a schedule that was, I guess, rated early in the year or before the season started as one of the hardest schedules in the country, which is what we want. I think it'll pay off hopefully as we enter into the final part of the season here, the fourth quarter of the 2017 season.

I think that's part of it, and I think when you talk about the third year and all those things, I don't necessarily think it's the years that you're in your program. I think in the 3rd and the fourth and the fifth are going to be better than the first or the second, I think it's all based on who your kids are and what kind of football team you inherit. If we inherited a team that won one game when I got here, it would be a different story, but we weren't a bad football team when I got here.

So I think why did a guy get a job -- did he get a job because someone got fired and things weren't going good or did he get hired to go to Wisconsin, take a job that was in his hometown and did a nice job where he was.

Q. When you're a young team, are there things that you have to convince them of and coach them up on as they learn how to play this game?
PAT NARDUZZI: Yeah, I think when you have a young team, sometimes you can practice it and practice and practice but they don't really get it until they see it effective in the game. Whether it's getting lined up or that block or the split of a receiver, making sure you get an outside release, there's so many details when there's 11 guys on the field at a time that if one guy doesn't do it right, you have problems. Sometimes you have to learn by experience. A lot of those situations sometimes don't even happen until you get into a game and then you find out from a young football team how they're going to react when the lights come on. You talk all the time about you did it right in practice and you did it right when you were sitting on the practice field on the south side of Pittsburgh, and then you go to Heinz Field and play in front of crowds, all of a sudden you don't do the right things, and it comes to that experience.

I think iron sharpens iron, and I think you have to be under fire to get all those things accomplished like you'd like to.

Q. You've been spreading the work among your tailbacks most of the season, and then Darrin Hall erupts for 254 yards last week. Has he earned a few more snaps because of that?
PAT NARDUZZI: I would say he has. I mean, he ran like his hair was on fire and ran hard, did a lot of little things right, not only with his footwork in the backfield before he got the ball, but what he did with it after he got the ball in his hands. We've known Darrin, he was in our first recruiting class here, he's still another young guy that I think gets better weekly. A year ago we had James Conner in there getting the majority of the reps and really nobody wanted to take 24 out of the game. Now it's those young guys that are getting those opportunities. He's a talented man. He's big, he's fast, he's physical, and he's playing good football right now. So yeah, he's going to get the majority of them, and if things don't go well, then we've got other guys that we think we've got confidence in, too.

Q. You had two extremely long runs, 90-some yards and 79 yards, so obviously for a big guy he moves really well once he hits the open field.
PAT NARDUZZI: He really does. He probably has maybe one of the better speeds in our backfield to be honest with you, and he's big. It's not like he's 180 pound guy running through there and nobody could walk him down. So that's a positive. I think it helps his confidence, and obviously the offensive line did a great job of getting to that point, and we knew based on their coverage and the way they were playing things and getting tight to the line of scrimmage that if you popped one that you could go the distance, and he was able to do that. That won the game for us, that's for sure.

Q. What kinds of particular problems does Virginia cause? What are the areas where they've made the biggest strides from last season?
PAT NARDUZZI: Well, I really believe Bronco is doing a great job. First thing they're going to cause chaos with their front seven. You really know what's going to blitz. Is it going to be Peoples blitzing or Moore blitzing, you've got Micah Kizer, athletic football players that are understanding his scheme, and our offensive line is going to have to do a good job of picking up what they bring against us this weekend.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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