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September 1, 2018

Pat Narduzzi

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Albany - 7, Pittsburgh - 33

PAT NARDUZZI: All right. Well, it's always good to open up at Heinz Field and get a W. I was really overall happy with the way our kids played in the first half. I don't think we came out in the second half and played the way you'd like to be as clear.

We got two turnovers in the second half offensively. One's a tipped ball, and one's, you know, I think the first thing I said to Kenny at the beginning of the second quarter on the sidelines when he was warming up, I said, "Listen, you do not take a hit, so you go down." So what's he do? He goes up. He must have misunderstood down and up.

But he's a competitor. He said, "coach, I wast trying to get the first down." He's probably five yards short. But we've got to be smarter there.

But, again, it's great to be 1-0. We were able to do it a little bit shorthanded in a few different spots. You know, which, again, just being smart. We'll evaluate all of those. I'm not going to get into details, Jerry, okay, my man. I'm not going to get into details, but I feel pretty good for next week as far as our personnel goes, and hopefully we'll be near 95%.

So, with that, I'll open it up for questions.

Q. Just a lack of cleanness in the second half is one thing. But how much also is that you kind of knew you had a big lead and you didn't have to show more than you needed to?
PAT NARDUZZI: Well, as far as I told the guys, I told them at halftime it was 0-0, so we weren't taking our foot off the gas, to be honest with you. But I can say that all I want. Talking to 18, 19-year-olds, they've got their minds made up. I don't know if that was the case.

Give Albany credit. They're a good football team. They're well coached. They've got good defense. They made some plays too. So I like those guys. Good people over there.

But, you know, was that part of it, sometimes there is a letdown. Sometimes there is a letdown going into the game. Sometimes you don't even show up. Our guys showed up.

I thought they were really focused yesterday for walk throughs. A little different focus than I've seen. I even texted Heather yesterday and said, these guys are locked in a little bit different. So every year you have a different team, and these guys are focused. I like where we are right now.

We're going to make our best improvement from week one to week two. I told them afterwards, we've got a lot of things to clean up. Shoot, offensively and defensively, we've got third and one and we jump offsides or lineup offsides, so those things, you're going to have a hard time wining them all if you do stuff like that. So we've got to clean up a lot of things, and I think we will.

The other thing I'll point out if we look at the overall game, we've got a lot of guys in the game. We've got a lot of guys that played today. And shoot, we had to play probably 30 guys on defense. We'll be able to really see where they are and evaluate the rest from there. It's different practice than a game. But in the last couple years we have not been able to get our twos in there.

But we got, I bet you, shoot, we got two and a half deep really at every position, so that's good.

Q. Were you pleased with your running game?
PAT NARDUZZI: You said who had a good game?

Q. Ollison. Are you pleased with him as a whole?
PAT NARDUZZI: I didn't look at rushing yards. I mean, stats, rush for 238 yards, you tell me. I guess. I'd be happy. If we get 238 every game. I thought there were some nice holes. The O-line opened up some nice holes. I thought all three backs did a good job. I don't know who rushed for what. Doesn't really matter. They're a team back there.

But I was happy with the rush game. It's going to have to be better. It will get better this week.

Q. Are you talking about a letdown, to come out and kind of put it on them up 19 in the first ten minutes, is that sort of the kind of response you're looking for? Is it a sign of maturity from your group?
PAT NARDUZZI: Yeah, and I told French his picture will probably be right out on the wall in the locker room. We opened up with that big kickoff return. I said, hey, if we get a chance to return it, we're going to take it to the house. And they said in the huddle out there, "We're going to make a house call here," and they made a house call.

So they delivered on what we said we were going to do, and we're not going to fair catch it like some people would do. We're going to take that thing out. We've got some good returners.

Q. Coach, you talked about telling Kenny not to take any risks. What did you tell him after?
PAT NARDUZZI: I said, are you kidding me? I don't know what I said to him. I couldn't find him. I'm screaming for him. He just kept walking. He said maybe I should pretend like I don't hear him right now.

Q. Can you talk about Qadree Ollison in particular?
PAT NARDUZZI: Qadree started off strong. He led the guys early. Again, I don't know what -- I guess he rushed for 73 yards. But Qadree's a war daddy. I mean, he can tote the rock. I like what he looks like at number 30 as opposed to 37. He looks a little faster at 30, I think. But I'm happy with all those guys. We'll find out next week.

Q. You said you wanted to keep Kenny upright, but he did play almost all the game except those couple plays. Looked like he cramped. What went into your decision to wanting to keep him in there and keep him going?
PAT NARDUZZI: In my opinion, he's still a freshman. The guy still needs those game reps. The other thing, if he would have scored on that one drive where we got tipped and picked, he would have been done right then. But who wants to walk off throwing a pick. So I didn't want him to end like that. I was hoping we'd go down and score and that didn't happen. But wanted him to get back out there and not be thinking about that all week. I just think that's a mental thing. So I would have liked to have taken him out there.

Thought Ricky did a nice job when he went in there. It's good to get your back-up quarterbacks some reps. And really he should be two for two, I belive. The stats say one for one, but Aaron dropped one on him, and then Jimmy Medure had a nice catch and run.

Q. You had sacks from your defensive linemen today. Was that a philosophical thing?
PAT NARDUZZI: We'll take sacks anyway we can, Jerry. If you could get one, we'll put you in. But I don't care who gets them. The nice thing is they're getting them. If you can get four-man pressure -- I don't know if it was four or five or six man, we'll have to look at the tape.

I know Rashad Wheeler had a nice one at the end which I think was four-man pressure. But if it's a D-line getting it, the question is how many came at that time? Did he get turned loose? Were there four, five, six guys going? That's the question. So we'll have to go back and look at that.

But with all our sacks, which I don't know how many we had, all our sacks -- we had how many, five? I know the first one was six-man pressure. So it all depends on what the pressure was.

Q. You guys had the advantage in size and speed. But how much did Kenny's precision early on just in decision-making and making those first put everyone at ease a little bit?
PAT NARDUZZI: I think he avoided a little sack back there, and threw a completion to Taysir Mack, who would play about ten plays and that was the plan was to keep him ready to go. So we didn't take him out for a big reason there.

But, you know, I don't know if Kenny was as sharp as I've seen him. I think he was about 75%. I thought he played okay. I've seen him play a lot better. I've seen him be a lot more accurate. So it's been a long time since he's played. He hasn't played that much football. I expect to see a sharper Kenny next week.

Q. Today he was perfect 13 and 13 in the first half?

Q. He was. Did you see any flaws in the first half, or did you see that could have set him up to not have as good -- maybe some overconfidence given how well it went?
PAT NARDUZZI: I don't know that. He's a confident guy to begin with. I would never say it's overconfidence. I didn't know he was 13 of 13, but he could be a lot better. I can't answer that.

Q. Do you think (Inaudible)?
PAT NARDUZZI: I did. I don't know who got them, but I thought he could score.

Q. He could have striked on the side?
PAT NARDUZZI: I think he ought to take it down the sideline. I don't know.

Q. You talked about French earlier. What sort of progress and improvement do you see in the off-season, particularly training camp?
PAT NARDUZZI: Yeah, he's an explosive guy, and he takes the corner. He's explosive, he's strong. Strength coach did a great job. He put the work in, but he was explosive when we had him in camp a couple years ago, and he continues to get more explosive. He's a big play threat.

I think you saw a little burst out of Shocky as well today. You saw a little bit of 18. So both those guys got a chance to make some big plays on some of those sweeps.

Q. Any concerns about the longer pass plays Albany was able to put together?
PAT NARDUZZI: Yeah, again, maybe we're a little shorthanded back there, but they bother me. I don't think we were clean defensively like you'd like to be top to run. Which is the number one thing, I'll tell you that over and over and over again. But they've got to keep throwing it.

I don't know how many passes they threw. What did they throw? 60 passes? Is that what it was? Where are we in passing? I don't even know. 29.

But if you can't run the ball, you're going to have troubles if you're throwing it up. Then a couple of those picks, I thought a couple PIs were, you know, shoot, they ran into us one time, and Bricen has a nice pick. There were a couple, to be honest with you. The last big pass, I think we had a safety that should have been in the middle of the field and hung on Bricen.

So it really wasn't Bricen's fault. We should have had a guy in the middle of the field sitting there helping him, and he should have had a pick too. So sometimes what you see on tape and see in the stands isn't exactly true.

So there were a couple guys that said, coach, I didn't see the whole formation. I said that's what we practice every day for, are you kidding me? All you have to do is count to 11, shoot, there's five up front that never really move.

Q. Last year you played an FCS team in the opener and won in overtime. How much different is it to start the season this way compared to last year, especially given that you're going to play Penn State the second week each time?
PAT NARDUZZI: Yeah, I think our kids understood that going into it. We talked about that not happening. We came out in a different fashion. That shows our kids and hopefully shows everybody this is a different football team than it was a year ago. We didn't go out there and just settle for less. And I think we're just going to keep getting better. That is the positive. We're going to keep getting better.

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