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December 1, 2018
Charlotte, North Carolina
Clemson - 42, Pittsburgh - 10
PAT NARDUZZI: First of all, I'd like to congratulate the Clemson Tigers. Obviously a great football team. They deserved to win the football game. They played better than we did. We had a lot of unforced errors out there. Again, great defenses make you have unforced errors.
They've caused havoc in every backfield they've played against this year. Again, the credit goes to them. We spotted them 14 points in the first half. It's hard to recover against the No. 2 team in the country when you have those mistakes.
Again, credit goes to them. We'll regroup and go fight for a bowl win.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for coach or Dennis Briggs.
Q. Pat, was it more of what you guys were doing? Were you rattled at the beginning or more what they did?
PAT NARDUZZI: I think it's a little bit of both. You have to watch the tape. They rattle a lot of people. I don't think our kids lacked any composure. They're pretty good. I think there was some stuff going on with the cadence, move calls that got us early.
Again, they're a good football team. They've done that to about everybody they played. We didn't help ourselves much.
Q. Can you talk about the experience, your goal ties win a game, but do you think this is a win going forward in terms of the experience the program gets?
PAT NARDUZZI: Yeah, I think I've been to a couple championships before. The first one we went to, we got beat by a Wisconsin team. The second one we got to, we knocked out the No. 1 or No. 2 team in the country in Ohio State. I think it's a great experience. Our kids deserved to be here. They earned the right to be here.
I think it's a learning experience. Clemson has been here before, been in this game. It's still a great achievement for this football team, from where we've come from to where we are now. We're just going to keep getting better. That's what it is. I think you learn from these experiences and you move on.
So, you know, again, I love this football team. They never quit. They kept fighting. That's all I really can say. But it is a great experience. We'll learn from it.
Q. Four pass attempts in the second half. Is that just a reflection of where the passing game is right now? Why do you think it's not further along than it is at this point in the season?
PAT NARDUZZI: We'll look at it. Again, the front four they've got, they've got at least three first-rounders, maybe four. They've been dominant up front. There's times where someone is flying through there untouched at times. We didn't execute. We'll see the tape, but Kenny missed a couple shots, too. They're some guys that were open that we didn't hit.
But again, it's Kenny's first opportunity coming in here. It's not easy. Nobody said it was going to be easy. Quarterback is probably the hardest position to play. Just kind of what it is. Played a good football team.
Q. On that note, the interceptions just before halftime, do you think he was trying to force something that wasn't there?
PAT NARDUZZI: I think we ran what we call a smash seven. The corner was on the number one receiver. I think Kenny was trying to hit the seven route. Was probably a little bit underthrown.
We'll look at the spacing of where those guys were. Nice play by them. But I think he was trying to get it over, maybe forced it, but trying to make something happen, trying to take a calculated risk. That hurt us right before the half, for sure.
Q. Do you have any regrets tonight, would it be maybe not running the clock out with 44 seconds to go in the first half?
PAT NARDUZZI: There was more than 44 seconds. If you just want to play not to lose bad, that's fine. We're playing to win. We can take a knee if you want to, then get booed. Pick your poison.
We're playing to win. Want our guys to go out and compete. That's the only way you're going to learn.
Q. Dennis, the seniors on this football team, what are you going through right now?
DENNIS BRIGGS: Obviously it's tough. Every loss is tough, especially a championship loss. This group of guys, we've been together for five years. This was kind of a culmination of all the work that we've been through. It hurts. Obviously it hurts.
Obviously congratulations to Clemson. They played a great game. We didn't play good enough to win. What we're going through right now is the emotions of losing. We have to get over that because we have another game to go. We still have to learn from it. We have to finish this journey that we started going into this bowl game.
Q. What was your message to the guys at 14?
PAT NARDUZZI: Just stay positive. We can yell and scream all we want, but just keep them together. Nobody tries to do those things. There's some pressure on Kenny. The first one, the ball gets stripped out of his hands. Just keep them together. That's all you can do.
We got a tight football team. We have a family atmosphere. Our kids are about as tight as you're going to get. They never quit. Just got to regroup and go out the next series.
Q. From a yards-per-carry perspective, your rushing game looked okay. You didn't have the long drives. Just a matter of you can't beat a team like Clemson with a one-dimensional offense, you needed more from the passing game?
PAT NARDUZZI: You definitely do. That's how South Carolina put some points up. We weren't able to protect like they did. We kind of knew that going into the game, that maybe South Carolina's offensive line was probably a little bit more mature than what we are. The loss of Jimmy Morrissey, still affecting us. I think we obviously rushed the ball better than we did a week ago.
When you look at things we did well, we rushed the ball better than we have but not where we need to. We tripped up, fell down on a couple of those runs that I think we could blow through.
Those guys got a lot of speed. They're a very talented football team, very talented.
Q. I think it was the second drive of the game, the offense had some miscues, how much of that was just the issues of communication on the offensive line and how much of it was Clemson's defensive line?
PAT NARDUZZI: Yeah, I think it was more of us. I don't think it was the D-line. When you have false starts, I can't hear what's going on with move calls, people trying to mock our cadence, I don't know what happened out there. It's hard to go.
Those things will drive me nuts. We got to get it fixed. I didn't think our communication coming from our sideline to that huddle all day was very good. We have to fix that. It starts with the huddle, getting them out of the huddle, getting them up on the ball so Kenny has time to look over the defense. Sometimes, the 40-second clock was running too low, not getting Kenny a chance to get going. I'd have to look at the tape to find out exactly why.
Q. There's been a couple games like this this year in terms of the low passing yards. How frustrating is it? What can you do to figure out different ways to get Kenny in a rhythm early?
PAT NARDUZZI: We got to make some plays. Comes down to the people out there on both sides of the football. We have people open at times, got to find them. It's one guy or two guys a play, whether it's a protection or the depth of a route or the read of a route. Sometimes we were throwing fades and the corner, quarterback aren't on the same page whether we're going to hit the comeback or the fade. Two of those.
It's a combination of things.
Q. Dennis, 42 points they scored. Do you feel that's reflective of the game you played on defense or you might have played a little bit better than that score would say?
DENNIS BRIGGS: I felt like we competed all day. Obviously they made a lot of great plays. But our guys competed all day. There's a story on the sideline every single game. The story is told by the emotion, the story is told by the guys of how they approach it, how they maintain their energy throughout the game. I don't feel like guys ever gave up.
It's a tough score to look at. But guys' hearts were in the game for 60 minutes, for sure. We have to clean up what we have to clean up.
Q. Dennis, what kind of challenge did Etienne present as a rusher?
DENNIS BRIGGS: He's a great runningback, a great athlete. He deserves all the accolades he's getting. He's going to have a great future.
You just have to be ready to play against great talent. He did what he had to do today. We just have to come harder.
Q. You played Notre Dame, Clemson. How would you compare those two teams?
PAT NARDUZZI: There's no comparison. Clemson is the best football team we've played so far to this point. They deserve to be where they are. They'll probably win a national championship, in my opinion. It's a good football team from the front end to the back end as far as the talent they've got. Dabo has done a great job, ton of respect for him, love that guy. Clemson is the measuring stick in the ACC right now. They've got it going.
Like I told our kids, there's no reason to have your heads down. We have gave it all we had today. We made our mistakes. We've got to live with it.
They're a talented football team. They're the best we've seen, to answer that question.
Q. Dennis, does it really matter to you at this point where the bowl game is, which game, or is it the fact you have one more to play?
DENNIS BRIGGS: We want to approach every game the same: Give it all we have when we go out there on the field. The bowl game is an exciting time for our whole team. Just like every other game, you have to respect the game, prepare for it. Whoever we play, we're going to give them our best shot.
Q. What have you learned from this game tonight, when you play somebody like these top teams, you can learn from?
DENNIS BRIGGS: The experience helps guys. Definitely experience playing in big games. We talked about it even before we went out. This is a big game. We tried to act like we had been there before.
Now those guys will actually have that experience. When they make it here in future years, they'll remember playing in this game. They'll remember what it really takes to win a championship, because it's not easy. It's not easy. The competition that you're going against is top-notch. Guys have this experience and it will benefit them in the future.
PAT NARDUZZI: Lessons learned. Again, I think we've talked about it already. Just having the opportunity to play in this game, there's lessons learned. Our seniors led us to this point. Our younger guys are going to learn from the experiences we had here.
Again, experience is the best thing for learning, where we're going, what we're going to do in the future. There's definitely the positives of what we did today.
Q. You said there's a gap between Clemson and the rest of the conference. Now that you played them, how wide would you say that gap is?
PAT NARDUZZI: I don't have a measuring stick on there. I guess it's 42-10. That's where the gap is.
Q. With seven wins, is this a step forward from the program from last season?
PAT NARDUZZI: Certainly. We played in the ACC championship game. We ran through the Coastal and won that division. Again, we're still Coastal champions. Our kids have earned that, like I said earlier. We won five last year. Five is not as good as seven. We played in a championship game. There's obviously those positives.
Q. Obviously Kenny is going to take a lot of criticism with a stat line like this. How does he deal with that as a player either in the locker room or when it's outside of it?
PAT NARDUZZI: Kenny Pickett is one of the best competitors we have on this football team. There's nobody, other than Kenny Pickett, I would want to lead our offense. I think a lot of people forget, we just walked into the ACC championship game. You can call him a true freshman, I'm still going to petition to get that year back. A year ago he only played four games. No reason he shouldn't get that year back.
He's played unbelievable this year. He made some great checks in our run game. We obviously didn't throw it as well as we wanted to. You can mark that down to whatever it is. It ain't all on the quarterback's shoulders, period. It starts with protection. When he gets time, he can be effective. When he doesn't, nobody is going to be effective when you're running back there for your life at times. It's not easy. You think about getting that ball in your hands every snap, you got to make quick decisions. It's not easy.
Kenny Pickett is our starting quarterback. You can't criticize him. You can criticize the football team, criticize me. It starts with me, trickles all the way down to the last player that traveled with us in the 85. But it certainly is not on Kenny Pickett's shoulders, period. He's a competitor. I love that kid. He's our starting quarterback. You guys can write what you want to write. He brought this team to the ACC championship game, period.
Q. How much can Kenny learn from this game, take that going into the bowl game and next season?
PAT NARDUZZI: I'll say it again. There's not a player on this football team that's not going to learn from it. Kenny is going to learn from it. He doesn't feel real good sitting in that locker room now. Neither do the 84 other guys.
Everybody is going to learn from it. It's a learning experience. I don't think you can get where you want to get without these learning experiences. Sometimes you have to take a step backwards to take two forward. That's what we're going to have to do, period. They're all going to learn from it.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, Dennis, thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports