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November 12, 2018

Pat Narduzzi

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

PAT NARDUZZI: Another good Monday. Great job by our team on Saturday. A lot of great things as you watch the tape, and there was a lot of things frankly we need to continue to clean up or we'll be in trouble as we get into this weekend because we've go down and face, I think, an emerging Wake Forest team, coming off a great win against a ranked 13 or 14 North Carolina State team.

Obviously the two keys that you notice when you watch the tape is we were able to run the football, and we were able to stop the run. I think they had 47 carries. Sometimes you look at it and go, did we stop the run, but they had 47 carries for I think 153 yards by our numbers, and averaged 3.3, which is right on our goal. So even defensively we've got our goal as far as stopping the run, which was good to see when you went back and looked at it.

You know, the one thing I looked at in the last three games, we've had 39 explosive plays on offense. Everybody likes big plays, explosive plays. Everyone sees Darrin Hall and Ollison and Ffrench and Mack making these big plays, but there was 39 in the last three games. I went back and checked just to see, and that's after our open date, I believe, and we had 39 total in seven games prior to that. So when you look at -- I know you like stats. I see you typing there. But 39 in seven games and then 39 in the last three.

So to me, it's like we've done something a little bit better, whatever it is. You never know what it is, nor will I tell anybody what it is, but we're doing some good things. I think our offense is starting to really gel, and we've eliminated the big plays, as well.

Something we give out award wise every week, we talk about who the Player of the Game is, and I never bother you guys -- who cares who the player of the game is. You always have an O-lineman of the week, an attack force player of the week, but something I thought was worth mentioning this week is just all the unsung heroes that come out in a game that might not be in the newspaper. You know, you're not seeing that guy score a touchdown, but guys that are making impacts that maybe go unnoticed, and I think even in the press conference afterwards someone mentioned it, but when you watch the tape you see it.

But really all of our receivers are blocking well, but Aaron Mathews graded out 92 percent and was just lights out out there blocking people, and again, it's so critical what he does there. But he just stood out as a guy that was like, wow. He's become a great blocker, and he didn't have a catch, and that's why we talk about unsung heroes, because it's not about the tailback runs in the end zone or dives in the end zone, does a somersault, when we really don't want, either. It's bad for these little guys to watch it; he'll be diving in the end zone pretty soon.

But Maurice Ffrench, same thing, had two big catches for 83 yards, and Taysir Mack had three big catches, unsung heroes. Patrick Jones, another guy you don't hear a whole lot but played an outstanding game in there that you kind of go, nobody is talking about Patrick Jones. A week they were talking about DeWayne Hendrix, but Patrick Jones really played well.

And then Kessman got the chance to punt once and got a 50-yarder, and then Kess -- did I say -- I'm sorry, Christodoulou had a 50-yard punt and then Kess has 7 for 7 on PATs, and again, the first drive of the game hits a 48-yarder, so those are just kind of some ones you forget about with all those touchdowns and some big, explosive passes.

With that, we've got Wake Forest, which I think is really strong. The Newman kid at quarterback, new guy coming in, and they've got some players that you've got to be worried about. Greg Dortch, their wide out, is Waldo this week. You'd better know where that guy is. And you talk about RPOs, this will be RPO every down, 1st down to 3rd down. They're as good as anybody in the country.

Their tempo is as fast as anybody in the country. I think there was a clip up on the TV screen last week, they rank who the fastest team in the country is, and we know Syracuse is fast. They rank -- getting more plays in than anybody. So we'll have a lot of guys ready to play defensively. We'll prepare our tails off for the tempo, the high-speed tempo that we'll have to defend this week.

Q. Kind of sticking with unsung heroes, where would this team be without Stefano and what has he brought to this team as a transfer?
PAT NARDUZZI: You know what, obviously he's played left tackle, he's played a little right tackle, he's played center in the past. He can do a lot of different things. He's played outstanding so far this season. He really has.

Again, another one of those seniors that -- he hasn't walked up that ladder yet, but he's done an incredible job. And again, really I can say that about the entire offensive line with the lack of missed assignments. If you compared them just being on guys, compared to what they were in the second game of the season, it's not even close. You wish you could have rematches. Unfortunately they don't give them to you.

But they're playing at a high level, and Stef is doing a great job.

Q. Your explosive plays, is that different run and pass in terms of how many yards?
PAT NARDUZZI: Yeah. It's 15-yard runs and 20-yard passes.

Q. Do you know how many of those in the last three were runs?
PAT NARDUZZI: No, I didn't count those up. We just call them all the same. They're all good. I'm sure somebody has those. I hope I counted right, okay, we got them tallied up, but I did that real quick because I was like, hmm, 39, and I added them up, and it's amazing that 39 in three and 39 in seven and I didn't pull my calculator, I did it in my head.

Q. Obviously you mentioned Aaron blocking and some other guys. Do you feel that group is playing as well right now as they have all season for you guys?
PAT NARDUZZI: I think so. Again, I just love the unselfishness of Aaron Mathews going down the field and whacking people and just getting on guys. Yeah, they don't care. Aaron Mathews doesn't care if he doesn't get the ball thrown to him. He's just saying, tell me who to block, let's go. And that's what you want is guys that don't care what it takes to win. It doesn't matter if we run it, throw it, and obviously all receivers like to catch the ball.

But those opportunities will eventually come and you never know when it's going to be your day. Taysir Mack is back healthy right now, as healthy as he's been all year, which is a good thing. I welcomed him back into the room last night saying, hey welcome back, when we went through who our unsung heroes were. But he's back healthy, I think. We've got to keep him that way, too.

Q. Can you put a finger on why the 39 in three games and 39 in seven games?
PAT NARDUZZI: Executing maybe, making a play. It comes down to execution, feeling comfortable. You know, I don't know what it is. I mean, sometimes you sit there like we got into the open week, I told you we tried to fix some things. We did have an open week after Notre Dame, so we tried to address some things that we needed. There was a couple things maybe protection wise that we're doing a little bit different. In practice one thing I'd say we added and I don't know if that's -- you don't know what the difference is. Is it the emphasis?

But we usually go pass scale against our defense. We go against each other. Coach Partridge really didn't want to do this, but we go one-on-ones usually and then pass scaling going on over here. We should invite you guys in one day for it. Maybe one day we'll let EJ come in and we'll give you a middle window instead of the early window, just let you come in for a period. But we go O-line versus the D-line in that period, and so it's really pass, but it's only two guys coming so we don't really crush the pocket. I think that's just so Kenny is getting pressure in pass scale as opposed to no pressure at all, which anybody can sit back there in pass scaling and throw it, so it just gives him a fresh look at guys coming after him hard. We'll call sacks in that period and guys will come up and try to tag off. We don't hit the quarterback, but is that -- there's so many things you can look at. Was it a better job game planning? I don't know, but there's a lot of things that we addressed and tried to clean up and maybe it's had an impact, I don't know.

Q. I know it's been your philosophy having a consistency treating every week and every game as though it's the same, but for a game like this where the stakes are different, where the circumstances surrounding your team are different, how are you, if at all, going to approach this week differently with your team?
PAT NARDUZZI: The same. Come on, man. Last week was critical. I wouldn't sit here and say it, and I didn't say it to our kids, but it didn't take me long to spit it out after the game in the locker room that, hey, you're bowl eligible. That's one monkey off your back; don't even have to worry about it anymore. How would you like to go into this week, hey, you've got a chance to be bowl eligible and you've got a chance to do something else, too.

It's the same thing. It really is. I'm not going to talk about it. It doesn't matter. When we're going in there to play Wake Forest, it's a one-game season right now. Nothing else matters. Good things can happen we know, and it doesn't matter. If they're worried about that, it's -- your focus has got to be singular right now, and if you're worried about these other things, you just get -- you're wandering off.

Like he is right now, he's kicking his feet, he's got no focus. I mean, you can't do it all. He's like, get this old guy out of here.

Q. When I was talking to Connor after the game --
PAT NARDUZZI: Connor Dintino?

Q. Yes. I mentioned the ACC standings after the game. He pretty much said he wasn't even thinking about that. How do you get them to think that way when everybody wants the instant gratification side to it?
PAT NARDUZZI: I don't know, maybe he lied to you. I don't know. They're on Twitter. As a matter of fact, Dintino is not on Twitter if I'm right. He might be the one guy -- I probably should know everybody that's on Twitter and who's not, but he's a guy that's not on social media, so you maybe asked the wrong guy. But I'm sure they look at it, probably hard to avoid it. We try to tell them to avoid it.

I know our kids know where they were about four or five weeks ago, zero, and where they are now. And it's funny you go from being a hero to being zero like that. But it's that focus, and I think they know what the focus has done for them, the consistency has done for them, and if the medicine is treating you right, then just stay on the same medication, don't change medications. Doctor said this is the medication, take the medication and shut your mouth.

Q. To stay on that topic, you've been saying that you're a championship team since before the season started. The media has not been that way and now it seems to have flipped. How does that affect how you attack the game, how your players attack the game?
PAT NARDUZZI: First of all, I didn't say we were a championship team at the beginning of the season. You must have misquoted me. I just said the goal -- our kids talked about it, I guess, first, and there's not a team in the country that doesn't say I want to win a championship. So I didn't say we were a championship team. I'm not saying we're a championship team. I just want to be 1-0 this week. That never really came out of my mouth, but the kids want to do that, and that's great. I want to win each week. I want to win each game. I want to have focus on that.

So I'm glad we solidified that problem there.

But we are what we are right now. Right now we haven't won a game. We've got one game to win this week, and maybe there's a celebration, maybe there's not. We've still got another one. Miami I think is going to be a fun game, too. But we've got a lot of work to do and not much time to get it done. I hope I answered the whole question.

Q. Darrin Hall kind of mentioned there was like a team meeting going into the Notre Dame game or something like that. Was that kind of a turning point? Was that something kind of calming for a team that kind of struggled a little bit?
PAT NARDUZZI: You know what, I don't remember a team meeting. I don't remember any team meeting. Maybe they had it without me. And again, every once in a while -- I don't remember that. But it wouldn't surprise me if I did know about it and I don't remember it. Maybe they had a barbecue. I don't know. Maybe they had some good ribs. They didn't invite me to get any. But it could have happened. That's something you can ask maybe after practice some of the other guys.

Q. If you go back to early October, what indicators or signs did you see after the Central Florida game that you could get this pointed in the right direction?
PAT NARDUZZI: You know, there was no indications after Central Florida or any game that you kind of go, oh, we can still do this. I mean, I think you've got to have faith and belief every game. We never lost faith as coaches or kids. There was never -- so there was never -- we never had to get it back because you never felt like you lost it. Does that make sense? That's not in our vocabulary I don't think that we couldn't get it done. So nothing has changed. It was just -- you've just got to be persistent. You don't -- sometimes you don't win every game.

We've got a good football team, and to get it done, we show every week. And we talked the last couple weeks, we've had a tough schedule, and just because you don't win them all or lose them by the amount of points you want to lose by, doesn't make you a failure. You're only a failure if you quit. Our guys are never going to quit, and there was never a loss of faith or belief that our guys would get it done and come back and play the next game.

Q. I won't ask you if this is your best coaching job, but is this is this maybe as much as a team has improved from week 1 to week 10 or 11 since you've been here?
PAT NARDUZZI: Probably. Again, maybe it's one position, maybe it's two positions, maybe it's three positions that you say, hey, he's made improvement here. But there's some changes in the off-season. You got a new O-line coach doing new things, new terminology, just trying to get them to be all right. I think that probably has something to do with it. You've got new secondary coaches, got a new defensive coordinator, and things take a while to just -- people think change and all of a sudden you make a change and it's going to be perfect as soon as you make a change. I mean, you change your remember wife, there's going to be some adjustments real quick, and there's change in everything that you do. You think it's going to be all good; yeah, good luck to you. There's growing pains with some of those things. I think that may be part to do with it.

I can't tell you this has made a big improvement any more than the first year, the second year or the third year. We just worry about the next game. We don't look back like that I don't think.

Q. How have you changed in four years, speaking of change, since the day you stood here in December --
PAT NARDUZZI: My shoulders are sore, I'm balder, Chubbier. I don't know. I mean, I don't think I've changed personality-wise.

Q. (Indiscernible) on the offensive line last season, getting some new guys in there this year and they've all seemed to gel so well. Qadree and Darrin shout them out anytime they have a good game. Is there something you can point to?
PAT NARDUZZI: You know, our football team is together. First of all, the O-line, they want to stay Friday night in a hotel all together, so that tells you something right there. They want -- have I mentioned this to you guys at all about the O-line? No? I'll throw this one out here. These knuckleheads, they say, Coach, if we rush for 500 yards, can we stay in the penthouse so we can all stay in the same room together. I'm like, you rush for 500 yards, you can do it.

Well, they've almost gotten close. They were mad that we took a knee and lost a few yards. They were made they got taken out of the last game because that's all they've been talking about. And Dintino, he might not be on social media, but he's spearheading -- they want to sleep on -- they don't care if it's a bunk bed. They want to be together.

To me it's the togetherness that these guys have. Again, O-linemen are unselfish as anybody gets, and they just want to block and they don't care. They'll tell you, Coach, let's not throw, can we run block all day; that's what we want to do. And that's what we're going to have to do this weekend.

This game is going to come down to stopping the run. They can throw it to Dortch all they want. We're going to stop the run, and we've got to make them one-dimensional, and we're going to run the football, and that's what it's going to come down to.

Q. Was it your expectation at the start of the year that you'd run for 250, 300, 400 a game regularly?
PAT NARDUZZI: You know, you hope 250, 200. I mean, that's kind of what you'd like to -- now, it wasn't -- 492 was not in the goals, but we'll take that, too. But that's what you -- you want to run the football, and in today's world, everybody is just throwing it all over the place, and I still believe it's a matter of stopping the run and running the football.

Q. Why do you believe that, that everybody is throwing it all over the place?
PAT NARDUZZI: You know, again, it's obviously different games and different ways of doing it, and I think so many teams nowadays are so spread out. We're going to face another spread team. Our offense will be about as foreign to most teams in this conference and Georgia Tech's really, because they don't get to see it every week. You line up Georgia Tech in the backfield and what position is that, they're going to have to have a lesson, football 101, to say that's the F. I know you guys talk about Ys and Xs and Zs, but that is the F, and he's a fullback, so there's all kinds of new stuff that they've got to worry about.

To me, you want to make a team one-dimensional, okay, and it goes down to the toughness part of the game, so if you're going to be a tough football, you'd better stop the run and run the football, and that's why we live in Pittsburgh, that's why we're here. That's what the Steelers are; that's what we are; that's what the Penguins are, tough. And to me if you're going to be great and you're going to win a championship, you're going to do it running the football and stopping the run, and if they want to play basketball and soccer and all that stuff and throw the ball, those are great sports, but it's just -- these RPOs running down the field halfway, 10 yards -- I mean, we had people running down the field 11 yards and then backing up past the umpire, and the umpire sees them there and sees the ball being passed over there, and it's like you still didn't throw a flag? You couldn't tell the difference between three yards. So there's those things going on, but you'd better stop the run, and that's what we're going to do.

Q. Was this intentional? We get Nate the first couple years, he threw the ball differently. When you got here, was this how you wanted to play? You're not supposed to set school records in this era with 600 yards by running the ball a billion times.
PAT NARDUZZI: Yeah, if you had to say in a perfect world -- sometimes you get -- sometimes -- Wake Forest shut down North Carolina State's run game last week, and I don't look at the stats and see what it was, it's just from watching the game I'm going, golly, what happened. I just remember the dudes -- I know they had five -- Finley is still there. I know they had five offensive linemen so it scares you because they've got -- they have the capability of shutting you down.

North Carolina State doesn't go big people, but they run a lot of zone and do a lot of the same things we do out of different formations and had to really throw the ball to get back in the game or to stay in the game.

But you know, ideally you'd like to be able to run the football. If you can run the football, it's just like the best thing in the world, period. We're not any different; people like to run the ball out of a spread set, too. Baylor, if you watch Baylor and you looked at Baylor back even when we played them in 2013, they liked to throw the ball, but they would rather run the ball. They would rush for 300 yards a game, period. They ran the ball to the point where you were like, can we stop both the run and the pass, but you'd better stop something. If you are leaking out of both ends of the boat, you've got a problem because you can't fill both holes like this.

So if you're going to stop something or be able to do something, it's got to be running the football.

Q. You mentioned bowl eligibility a minute ago. Just big picture, how important of a milestone is that for your program after missing out and just the benefits you get big picture?
PAT NARDUZZI: It's important to get it before the end of the season, especially the way we started the season and the schedule we had and the bumps in the road that we had. So it's a milestone. It's something you can go, boom, done. Put that in your back pocket. Don't even have to talk about it, don't care, but at least we got that out of the way. Now we move on to the chore is Wake Forest, and what happens after that game. Do we reach another milestone?

That's just kind of like you don't have to worry about it. You lose to Virginia Tech, now you're going to this game going, geez, we still have a slim chance of maybe playing where we want to play and we're fighting our tails off to get bowl eligible, can we do it.

Now it seems like there's to me a relief in this room, and I told our guys, hey, we're going out and playing loose and having fun Saturday. That's what you guys -- we had energy on our sideline. We played loose and had fun Saturday night, and that's what we're going to do again. We're not going to play tight. We're not going to do anything we don't normally do. We're going to treat the week the same and we're going to have fun.

Q. You talked about some of the decisions were based on personnel and things that happened, but you had mentioned (indiscernible) could you envision that going forward being sort of the offensive identity of this program?
PAT NARDUZZI: I'm sorry, give me that one again.

Q. With the team's identity here, rushing program (indiscernible) did you envision that being the identity of this program?
PAT NARDUZZI: It is the identity. Good question: Is rushing the football the identity. It is. It always has been. I can go back to last year mid-season, I don't know what game it was, but I think it was the game after or before Duke where I sat down, I think I told you guys a year ago when Brian O'Neill was like, Coach, we need to run the football. I don't know if you guys remember that. It was kind of like, we've got to get back to doing what we do best, and I think that was a little bit of a turnaround last year in our season. But that's what we want to be, and like I said, Dave Borbely, I told you guys after, I think he's done an incredible job of coaching those guys, and those guys want to play for him, too. It's not just Xs and Os, okay, it's not just the fundamentals, but it's also wanting to play for your coach and you like going to that room, and when they're in there watching extra tape and there's a relationship in that room, that's the key, and he's done an incredible job in a short time of building the confidence in that room and those guys wanting to play for him.

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