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October 10, 2018

Pat Narduzzi

Greensboro, North Carolina

PAT NARDUZZI: Great to be here with you again. Had a great team win a week ago against Syracuse, but there's no rest. There's no reason for us to look back. We're looking forward. We've got another great football team ahead. We face I think our third top-10 football team in Notre Dame, the best of all three. Talent wise maybe the best in the country. They're big, they're tall, they're fast. You can't tell the difference between a wide out and a tight end. It's pretty scary as far as just their personnel. Our kids are excited to go into South Bend and play a great Notre Dame Irish football team.


Q. How ready do you kind of feel your run defense is to take on Williams and that Notre Dame running game this week?
PAT NARDUZZI: You know what, it's got to be real good. The problem is you look at what they do and you've got to stop the run, but you've got to stop the pass, as well. They've got great speed on the field. You feel like you've got to carry some nickel just to shut down some of the RPOs and all the stuff they give you there. It's a double-edged sword, which is the case with a lot of great football teams.

They can wear you out in the run game, they can wear you out in the pass game. It's like which one do you want to get worn out with first, so we'll try to pick which one we'd like to get worn out with first and try to change it up as the game goes on.

But they've got a huge offensive line. They know what they're doing. They're well-coached. They can hurt you. Ian Book is playing at a high level at quarterback. If you just look at the stats from when Wimbush was playing to when he's taken over, the points are substantial as far as what they've put up on the board offensively, and then defensively Jerry Tillery I think may be the biggest human being I've ever coached against, 6'7", 310 pounds, just a mammoth individual inside, and we've got to control him and Drue Tranquill and the rest of that 4-3 defense they've got.

Q. Do you feel like coming off the Syracuse game, do you like how your defense is playing getting ready for Book?
PAT NARDUZZI: You know what, you're never happy with -- I mean, you're never happy with it. We're not getting enough sacks. We went through a bunch of quality control tape yesterday, just kind of watching what we've done, what we haven't done. One of the tapes that really stood out to us yesterday watching, yesterday afternoon, was watching just 3rd down and how many plays we have left on the field, how many times we have lost contain. And I know we've played some good quarterbacks, and Ian is just the same, a guy that can scramble. He can make plays with his feet. So could Central Florida's quarterback and Penn State's quarterback. You name it. So could Dungey last week. We let Dungey last week go clean on a scramble when we've got a corner that kind of runs right up our linebacker's tail and doesn't find the hole, and you never run up the back end of one of your own players. They usually don't run it there.

But we've let quarterbacks scramble out of the pocket way too much, and we've had too many penalties on 3rd down. So our pass defense better be good, or it will be a long day for the Panthers.

Q. Especially given the popularity of RPOs in college football these days, I'm curious about your thoughts on the ineligible receiver downfield rule. What are your thoughts on that?
PAT NARDUZZI: You know, I think the game of football is crazy without it. If we're the feeder for the NFL, why are we not playing a very similar football game? There's a lot of things that go the same way as the NFL. That's one that hasn't been able to make happen yet, and it's probably because there's more offensive head coaches that are on those committees that end up saying yes and no to what's going on. I think it's hard on the officials. If you ask any official in the country, do a breakdown of those guys, forget the offensive head coach or the defensive head coach feels, we're not teaching our guys how to properly run and pass protect. We can defend it either way. It's all fair, and we can run them, too.

But really, what are we doing for the game of football? It's either run or pass, and poor officials don't know how to call it. There's plenty of times linemen are down the field and there's no call. The only time it really gets called is if a lineman runs into the umpire and then he throws a flag. We just saw Notre Dame run seven yards down the field, and it looked like the lineman was going to go hit the umpire right in the mouth, so he threw a flag. But if he's not running at him, he ain't calling it. I think he just said, holy cow, why is that 305-pound guy coming at me. He's like, oh, my gosh, I think he's more than three yards down the field, so let me throw this flag. It looks like it's a pass.

It's hard to call, and I think the officials have enough things to do and deal with that those are things that they should not have to deal with. They don't know if it's run or pass. They've got to keep their eyes on whatever they're supposed to look at.

Q. What did you do better last week that allowed you to come out with the win, and how important was it to have a win like that going into such a big game this weekend?
PAT NARDUZZI: It was huge. And again, I think it's huge any time you get a win. They're hard to get. I mean, you look at our schedule this year, Central Florida is a great football team, Penn State. We've lost to two top-10 teams, we've got a top-five team now we get to face. Everybody talked before the season about having one of the top schedules in the country, maybe the hardest schedule in the country, so you're seeing that live and in color, and it's real.

But it was huge to get a great win against a great football team, and Syracuse is really, really good. Now, let me tell you, that's not an easy win. They're going to win a lot of football games the rest of the year, I think. It's a battle in the ACC every single week, so anybody can win. We go down to North Carolina and we lose by three down there. It was our other loss besides losing to two top-10 teams, and we've got a chance to win that game. Really the difference, if you broke it down, you're just going to go really? Poor Pitt. We make some big plays and we've got turnovers and then penalties at the same time we get a turnover and take it all the way down to the 3-yard line against Central Florida. We have shot ourselves in the foot or someone has shot us themselves.

We've got to do the disciplined things the right way. We lose to Syracuse last week if we weren't as disciplined as we were or we didn't have a little help.

We had three penalties last week, two offsides penalties and a pass interference. None on offense, none on special teams, and that's Pitt football. We've never been a team that's been the highest penalized team in the ACC. All of a sudden this year we are. I don't get it. It confuses me, but we are more disciplined than we've been, and I appreciated our kids last weekend for taking care of business that way, and that's what -- hopefully they learned from it and say, we've got to do it again. We've got to get help.

Q. We've been talking with some of your offensive linemen about the pass protection. What do you feel like Kenny's role in that has been, and is that sort of an underrated aspect of a young quarterback's development?
PAT NARDUZZI: You know, there's -- it's no difference than a pass rush on defense or a pass defense. Let's just go to defense and then I'll go right back to offense and answer your question. When it comes down to if your pass defense isn't real good, it usually has something to do with the rush. They always are tied in, and there's times when defensively we've got a coverage sack and you're supposed to get a sack and we get the quarterback scramble out of the pocket. Offensively it's everything. It's a young quarterback that's learning to set his feet in the pocket and make decisions. It's an offensive line. Sometimes a guy is going to miss his block, but usually the ball comes out before it happens, and then it's feeling comfortable with your receivers and trusting your receivers that they run the right splits, the right depth of the routes, getting off a press and being timing-wise in the right spot, and attribute that to we've seen a lot of press defense and probably see it again this weekend against Notre Dame, which we've worked, but it's just not the same working against scout DB's and opposed to playing the real deal.

So it's a timing issue, as well, and Kenny is trying to throw it on time, can't throw it on time because the guys aren't where they're supposed to be, and he's afraid of throwing picks, and I don't blame him. I wouldn't want to throw picks, either. So he doesn't want to hurt the team, but at the same point, those receivers got to get open.

It's play calling. It's receivers. It's pass protection. It's quarterbacks. It's head coaches not getting it done. So it's a combination of everything. You can't put your finger on man, our protection stinks. No, that's not it. It's everything, and that's why we coach and there's why there's videotape and that's why we try to get it all corrected. Our football knows what it is. They know it's not just one thing, and sometimes those dudes on defense are pretty darned good, too. So sometimes there's some mismatches, and I thought those two ends we played last week at Syracuse are as good as you're going to see.

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