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November 11, 2019

Pat Narduzzi

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

HEAD COACH PAT NARDUZZI: Been a long time since I've seen you guys, that's for sure. You know, coming off a Georgia Tech win and having a bye week, it's nice, I can't tell you how nice it is to have a win and then have a bye week, because I've been around some miserable weekends or weeks when you lose football games. So been fortunate there. Kids have played hard.

You know, a lot of the week was an opportunity for our kids to get fresh, although we practiced twice. I think we tapered back a little bit. Did a lot more mental things. Chance for coaches to get a little bit fresh and really get in that fight for the fourth quarter this season, the last three games with the most important one coming Thursday night.

We've got a chance to go on the road recruiting and hit some different spots and focus on that. Overall, great week. We've got North Carolina football team that we've struggled with in the past.

New head coach Mack Brown, talented football team, both offensively and defensively. If you asked some of our kids, you know, year-in and year-out, they tell you, North Carolina has got some of the most talented guys that they play against every year, so we know they will be talented. They are well-coached. They are fresh and what they have got offensively and defensively and special teams-wise.

You know, again, they are probably the best 4-5 team in the country coming off of five losses, total of 19 points, beat a South Carolina team, beat a Miami team that we had not beat and then lost in over time -- excuse me, lost to Clemson by one point, 21-20.

So it's a good football team coming here Thursday night, and it's going to be a battle and we've got to play our best game that we've played yet this season.

So, questions?

Q. Should we just start the game with five minutes left and tied and shorten everybody's night? Seems like no matter what happens when you play with them, it's the last five minutes.
HEAD COACH PAT NARDUZZI: Yeah, let's do it. You want to call the ACC office and see if we can get that done and save everybody's time and you guys can go watch the Steelers game, too. Great deal. Go listen to Billy.

I don't think that's going to happen.

Q. Is it a style thing? Is it the way that you guys are built that it's always like that, regardless of who is having a better year?
HEAD COACH PAT NARDUZZI: You're talking about in this game in particular or just on the year?

Q. Historically since you've been here, it's been super tight.
HEAD COACH PAT NARDUZZI: Again, it's good football. You know, you try to win football games the smart way, even you watch the Steeler game last night, got a chance to catch the end of it. In their four-minute drill they run it three times and punt it and rely on the defense which is what smart coaches do, and you know, tight games like that, you can sling it around, try to score another seven points but in the end alls we want to so is win the football game, and if it takes the last five minutes, last minute, doesn't matter. Just get the W.

Q. Do you have much history with Mack Brown?
HEAD COACH PAT NARDUZZI: Not really. Obviously he's coached a long time. But he's a heck of a guy. Very, very likable guy. You can see why he's had so much success. I'm looking forward to a match-up with Mack Brown. He's a legend.

Q. They have been talented for a couple of years but is Sam Howell the difference?
HEAD COACH PAT NARDUZZI: Yeah, he's a difference on offense, but you know, they have had quarterbacks that were accurate. You know, they have got talented backfield. Their receivers are talented.

You know, they have got players. You can have a good quarterback that's making plays, but if you've got nobody that catches the ball, if you don't have running backs that are running the football, they have got an offensive line, one guy doesn't make a difference, so I'd say no.

He's a good football player. He's really good. He's a freshman. He makes good decisions. He's very accurate with the ball but it takes more than one. It's a team sport. It takes 11. He can't do it all by himself. A running back can't do it all by himself and I think sometimes we forget that. It takes 11. And it doesn't matter; we can bring Dan Marino know back, it ain't going to matter. The guy is going to catch the football, and you need ten other guys.

Q. Does it feel like you're pushing the ball down the field --
HEAD COACH PAT NARDUZZI: You know, sometimes. Again it's kind of what they are giving you. It's game-by-game what you're doing.

So you know, at times, you've got to take what they are giving you.

Q. Do you think the offense might have to come out of its shell a little bit?
HEAD COACH PAT NARDUZZI: Yeah, I think our offense has shown when it becomes a high-scoring game, that they can match with it and not be conservative and do whatever.

I think, you know, you go into the game, you find out -- if we get down 21 real quick, you're going to see us open it up and throw it down the field probably a little bit more. But it depends on the style of the game, the weather of the game and everything else. You take everything into account.

Q. Do you think that's just the way that it's been approached the last three games? In terms of passes down the field -- it's down the last three, as opposed to the first three.
HEAD COACH PAT NARDUZZI: It comes down to who you are and what that defense is giving to you, too. We'll see.

Q. You guys are leading the nation in sacks but there are six ACC teams in the top 20 nationally. No other Power Five -- Big Ten has four, SEC has one and Pac 12 doesn't have any. Are you guys just great coaches? Is it great players? Is it the fact that you have experienced quarterbacks in this league?
HEAD COACH PAT NARDUZZI: I don't know what it is. Certainly not great coaches.

It takes players. It takes a secondary. It takes -- there's coverage sacks. We've talked every week. It's a combination of whatever. I mean, it doesn't matter. I don't care about sacks. I care about wins and you know executing and winning football games. Sacks, they ain't going to win you a football game. There's no guarantees.

Q. Do you expect Damar back and how did the two guys replacing him last week play?
HEAD COACH PAT NARDUZZI: Stocker did a great job. He's one of our Players of the Week or unsung heros. The guy didn't -- he had a nice out and up or wheel route, whatever you want to call it and was right on him at the end of the game which we had worked all week.

Jay is one of the most unselfish guys that we have on our football team and you know, he doesn't care. He just plays whether it's just special teams or whether he gets five plays on defense or whether he gets to start the whole game, you just love his attitude, and then Damar will be back. It will be nice to have him back.

And again, Jay Stocker got a whole game under his belt, and you trust him even more when he gets that opportunity and has, you know, the success he did.

Q. Any updates on Aaron (ph) --

Q. Strength of your team is defense -- is strong defense -- success in November?
HEAD COACH PAT NARDUZZI: You're heard it. You're older than me, Jerry, for sure. But you know, championships are won by defense. Defense wins them and you know, find out what we got these last three regular-season games. But you know, we've been here before and we need to finish strong as a defense, and we need to be very productive on offense. We've got to be superior in special teams. I think that's the goal every week as we move through the season.

Q. You say defense wins championships, which is true, but I watched the game on Saturday and ostensibly the two top teams in the country scored 87 points. Are you a throwback? Is there a bit of a throwback mentality in this building?
HEAD COACH PAT NARDUZZI: Those are two explosive offenses against two good defenses. That is going to happen. It all depends on who you are playing. I don't know if we're a throwback because throwback, we'd be facing two tight ends and two backs and be a big mosh pit in there. It's not that.

It's spread offenses and coaches are doing a good job of game planning. Our kids are executing and making plays. It's a different age and different era and our kids are executing. I think they are playing with a lot confidence.

But like I say every week, I could sit here and pump them up and say they are playing good. Nobody cares what they did last week or the week before. It's all what they do because they will be mud if they don't do their job this week, so Thursday night is going to be a big night.

Q. You're not a fan of the phones, but Jaylen the other day talked about how there's an Instagram user --

Q. Twyman, yeah. It's called @dlinebits (ph). He said he would go when the guy posts -- tags a video of a defensive lineman doing stuff and he said he tried to borrow that. As a coach, is that --

Q. Any information is fine?
HEAD COACH PAT NARDUZZI: Any information is good. It's just fundamental things on how to beat a guys. There's a bunch of different ways to do it, and Jaylen is in that meeting room enough with Coach Partridge. He's not going out there winging it and all of a sudden we're to go see him in a two-point stance rushing the pass and he's not going to go rogue on us. It's just fine details he's looking for. It's not some crazy stuff we don't already have in.

That's how much that guy cares. He goes in the meeting room and watches tape, watches vids until midnight. Hopefully gets some sleep. But that's the kind of effort he's putting in. If you have, you know, 55 to 60 of those guys doing that same exact thing, you have a National Championship team and he's got a passion for football and a passion for being great.

Q. Three quarters of the way --
HEAD COACH PAT NARDUZZI: Kenny has played really good at times and played average at times which is kind of the game of football. He's not going to be perfect. There's nobody in this room perfect. Certainly I'm not perfect.

You know, would you like him to, you know, to be perfect? Heck, yeah. Are we searching for perfection? Yes. You look at last week, we have to stop the turnovers, bun of them we tip it to them. One probably a bad throw. He kind of looked the receiver down which he brought the free safety over there, which that's little details we can correct and then another one, you know, Maurice Ffrench was down and fumbled, and you know, it was called a fumble.

But you look at those, those are things we have to eliminate as a football team if we want to be explosive, and you want to win by more points than seven or two or three, that's what you have to do.

Q. The offensive side of the ball, does turnovers in the game affect the decision-making on --
HEAD COACH PAT NARDUZZI: Would they affect you, if you were the offensive coordinator, you're calling, turning the ball over -- what are you thinking next?

Q. It would make me want to hand the ball off to someone I trust.
HEAD COACH PAT NARDUZZI: I think any time that happens, it's like -- Uhhh. You know, you've got to protect the football and when you're having success, when the defense is having success and it doesn't matter what you call, that's good. Once you run a zone blitz and it gets you beat, what, is it going to slow you down from zone blitzing? Heck, yeah.

It's same thing with any side of the ball. If you rush the punter and you run into him, do you think we're going to rush the punter the next time? Probably not. We are probably going to hold up and stay away from the punter because we have got guys that aren't disciplined enough to hit him.

I think any time things happen in games, it's natural for you to go, okay, hold on what can we do, what are our guys capable of doing right now and how do I not throw the game by just which you canning it as deep as I want to or doing things that really hurt the football team. I think it's just being smart.

Q. When you throw the ball more than every other team in the country except one team, does that lend itself --
HEAD COACH PAT NARDUZZI: Maybe one. I don't want three a game, I can tell you that. We know things are going to happen. Nobody is perfect, but we've been a turn-over-the-ball-in-the-first-half type of team the last couple weeks, and we've got to get that out of our system.

Q. How would you assess the play of your offensive line the past few weeks?
HEAD COACH PAT NARDUZZI: I think the O-Line has done a great job. I should say good job. Nothing's great.

We've done a nice job. We've run the ball and we've protected the quarterback pretty much. I think they have done a the job. Could they be better? We are after them every day out there.

And I like that we are developing some other guys that can go in the game. Gabe Houy, Jake Kradel and Carson Van Lynn are getting, you know, those reps that we've talked about a week ago, that are helping them be -- everybody, a little bit fresher and we have guys we can trust besides five guys.

A year ago it was five guys and there was no sixth man. It's nice just like in basketball when you can bring the sixth or seventh guy off the bench.

Q. Is that one of the biggest differences in the team since September, depth of the offensive line?
HEAD COACH PAT NARDUZZI: No doubt about it. I think our O-Line has gotten better each week and I think it's progressed as we've gone through the season. It's got to continue.

A year ago in the fourth quarter of the season, we were without our starting center and that kind of, you know, took a toll on us. So that depth in building that guy to come in and be a factor is critical.

Q. (Inaudible.)
HEAD COACH PAT NARDUZZI: I've seen him grow up on the field as well as off the field and he's being explosive. Sometimes it takes a little bit longer. He's still a puppy. He's a redshirt freshman that is supposed to get better every week, and it's just like this, him and Devin and David Green have been battling out, and Devin was ahead for a while and now David Green starts to go. He's taking coaching, he's working hard, and he's working hard, and good things happen when you pay attention to details.

Q. Does it take certain confidence for a defensive lineman to come here and ask for the No. 97?
HEAD COACH PAT NARDUZZI: Well, I would say yes. He won in 97 -- he started off at 55, wasn't it? So he was 55 a year ago. But after last year, he asked if he could be 97. I said if you study like 97 and play like 97, we'll give you 97 but I believe, EJ, correct me if I'm wrong, was it 55 a year ago? I don't know how I remember that. A lot of things I forget.

But he got 97 in the off-season. So he didn't ask for it out of high school. He waited his turn and that's his idol and who he wants to be and he's played hard like him. We need to see what he does for the next three games wearing 97. Maybe put him back at 55 if he doesn't finish strong.

Q. Your reaction when you found out the scheduling --
HEAD COACH PAT NARDUZZI: Really don't think about it much, until this week I thought about it, what are we doing here.

But it's kind of, you look at it and go, it's not good for the ACC playing on the same night as an NFL franchise in your same city. Be different in the Cowboys were playing, you know, the Seattle Seahawks or something, or the New England Patriots, but same city, two hours away.

Our schedule came out before theirs. So I think there needs to be, especially with in NFL franchises in college football and conferences they have to start and look and say, you know, what makes sense for is the it I of Pittsburgh and that obviously wasn't done. I don't make the schedule. They give me a game and we'll play wherever they are, and that just happens to be the case this week.

Q. Speaking of the NFL --
HEAD COACH PAT NARDUZZI: What's that? If he stopped over here, I'd be real mad if I was Coach McVey, but he was over here working out this morning, so he must not have taken the team plane back. So he's back in Pittsburgh and got a workout down stairs with Coach Andrews.

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