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October 4, 2016

The status of Jordan Whitehead is still an unknown. Not listed as injured, he did not play versus Marshall. He was dressed, but without a helmet. Head Coach Pat Narduzzi refused to say anything about why he didn’t play and remains vague as to whether Whitehead will play on this Saturday against Georgia Tech.

It got downright weird in the Monday presser.

Here are the questions posed to Narduzzi Monday on the subject, and his subsequent answers:

Question: Any update on Jordan with the depth chart change?

Narduzzi: “No. It’s nothing more than what I told you [Saturday]. We hope it’ll be soon.”

Question: “You said hope, you hope what?

Narduzzi: “You guys…”

Question: “Is he practicing with you guys this week?

Narduzzi: “You’ll see tomorrow morning. You guys know I’m not going to talk about it. I’m not talking about the injuries or anything else, about anybody.”

Question: “I respect your position on that Pat, but just wondering is whatever kept him out of the lineup Saturday…”

Narduzzi interrupts: “This seems like a hot topic?”

Question, again: “Has whatever kept him out of the lineup Saturday night been resolved?

Narduzzi: “It’s never resolved is it? It’s never resolved. We’re still working on it. Next.”

And that was it. There has been no information to indicate Whitehead is injured.

So is it an injury? Is it team discipline? Is there something else?

I know plenty of fans want to side with Narduzzi. He’s the coach. It’s his team. His rules. And it isn’t easy to side with the media, especially the local media, when you feel they don’t give Pitt proper respect or feel them to be downright hostile at times. I’m not going to change your mind on the matter, but I still think this is a really stupid thing by Narduzzi.

Forget the gamesmanship and any potential edge it might provide the other team to know the exact status of a player like Whitehead for this weekend. Forget following the letter of the law in the ACC with regards to injury report — can be kept vague and does not need to be reported until later in the week.

It is unfair to Whitehead. Since Narduzzi won’t even say if he’s injured, the speculation is rightfully high. Could it be a concussion and he’s in the protocol for that? That would explain not having his helmet, but being dressed for the game against Marshall. Not to mention leaving his status up in the air. Team rules, suspension? School rules? Another type of injury?

By refusing to provide any information, the situation becomes one where people fill in the blanks themselves. Creating more of a distraction and sideshow than any direct statement and information would.

[UPDATED 5:30pm: Sorry just got home, but Pitt/Narduzzi issued a statement around 2:50pm

For IMMEDIATE Release

October 4, 2016

Statement from University of Pittsburgh head football coach Pat Narduzzi:

“As head football coach, I feel a tremendous amount of responsibility for the well-being of our players. That includes protecting their privacy when appropriate. Jordan Whitehead did not play in last week’s game for reasons that are personal in nature. I won’t comment further on the topic other than to say I fully anticipate that Jordan will be available to play this coming Saturday against Georgia Tech.”

Once more. Much of this drama could have been avoided if he had simply stated that after the Marshall game. Or even if he had said this on Monday. Whitehead is one of the top players on the team. Say this on Saturday or Monday, and everyone would let it go. Needless speculation was created by Narduzzi. Not by the press. Not by the fans. By Narduzzi’s own words of obfuscation and unwillingness to provide any clarity until it started spiraling.]

Oh, and Damar Hamlin may or may not play this year.

Narduzzi indicated the injury Hamlin was dealing with during the preseason is no longer an issue, but that doesn’t mean the team will burn his redshirt halfway through the season.

“He’s back full time. Is he where he needs to be football-wise? Probably not,” Narduzzi said. “But he could get there, but then it could be too late.”

Narduzzi would not say why he had his freshman dress but said it was not just to give him the experience.

Now that we’re all clear on that, let’s move on.

In the last couple games, James Conner has carried the ball less. A good deal of that has to do with monitoring his workload. But it doesn’t hurt that Chawntez Moss has led the rest of the running backs in stepping up.

“Yeah, we are (watching Conner’s number of carries),” Narduzzi said. “It would be different if we had James and nobody else.”

Conner carried 46 times for 228 yards in the Penn State and Oklahoma State games, but those numbers dipped to 27 and 100 against North Carolina and Marshall.

“We’re going to keep an eye on him,” Narduzzi said. “We have to keep him healthy.”

Meanwhile, Moss is gaining yards and confidence. He had a season-high 12 carries for 97 yards against Marshall on Saturday. His first career reception — 7 yards — turned third down into first down, one of four Pitt converted while nursing a lead in the fourth quarter.

“He’s got a little different gear,” Narduzzi said.

On the subject of increased confidence, nowhere is that more evident than in WR Jester Weah.

CoachPat Narduzzi said a game official told him Saturday he would have called defensive holding if the decisive touchdown pass to Weah was incomplete. “You can hold him, jump on his back and still can’t stop him,” Narduzzi said. “His confidence is up here, and it should be.” Weah is averaging 22.4 yards per catch (14 for 313 yards). “I feel like when I’m on the field, I can do whatever I want,” he said.

Hard to imagine you wouldn’t feel confident after having a game like Weah had against Marshall.





Chas… impressed that you are willing to tackle the Whitehead issue head on.

My thought… if you’re DRESSED, you’re NOT injured.

But with Narduzzi, who knows?

Going back to Penn State, unfortunately we’ve learned that the Coach prides himself in TRUTH MISDIRECTION. His explanation about intentionally not passing to put the Game away in the Second Half as a way to keep the Passing Attack out of view from future Opponents… SIMPLY wasn’t true. And I posted as much at the time.

What an interesting CHARACTER this Narduzzi.

Reminds me a little of the Guy who used to Coach from quite awhile at another School in Pennsylvania.

Comment by PittofDreams 10.04.16 @ 8:28 am

Let’s hope he puts up WINS like that Guy. It’ll make all of the rest much more tolerable.

Comment by PittofDreams 10.04.16 @ 8:31 am

It is all too odd not to be disciplinary. They are just keeping it quiet to protect his reputation and draft stock down the road. One game suspension. He’ll play Saturday and it will all go away….which is what they want. He’s willing to take a hit from the media to protect him as JW has been a model citizen. That’s a good coach. Just a theory but I really think that’s it. It’s the only logical conclusion to this nonsense.

Comment by FG 10.04.16 @ 8:54 am

Also, other players will cite this as an example of how coach has your back. They’ll tell recruits as well. There is a method to his madness.

Comment by FG 10.04.16 @ 8:57 am

If there is an injury causing this, that will come out in the open in due course. Probably something else clearly. If so, public hangings benefit nobody and only serve to feed the egos of megalomaniacs like Brian Kelly. And let’s all thank the good Lord Narduzzi is no Kelly.

Comment by wally 10.04.16 @ 9:13 am

If you think the Pgh media is biased towards Pitt & don’t give them enough coverage, it’s going to get a lot worse. Only having the 30 minute practice window, the media blackout during psu week, being vague & standoffish about injuries. All of it is going to sour viewpoints. Some people feel the PG is especially anti-Pitt, well guess what, the Trib is folding & they’re going to be the only paper in town.

Comment by Nick 10.04.16 @ 9:14 am

To clarify, the Trib isn’t completely shutting down. They will no longer print papers in Pgh & go online only. There will be a lot of layoffs, so you can expect coverage to be spotty at best.

Comment by Nick 10.04.16 @ 9:16 am

Who cares about the local media in this day and age.
I started looking for other news outlets pertaining to Pitt over a decade ago.

Comment by Justin Gilmore 10.04.16 @ 9:34 am

My guess is that the JW situation revolves around some “disciplinary” issue. I must also add that I don’t think this issue will be resolved by having him sit just one game. What ever the issue it seems to me at least that Narduzzi will meet out sufficient punishment hoping that JW gets the message before it gets out if hand.

Comment by jrnpitt 10.04.16 @ 9:41 am

If Whitehead was suspended, he likely wouldn’t have dressed. The only situation I ever remember when a suspended player dressed is when Jameis Winston dressed without the knowledge of his FSU coaches … and was quickly sent to the locker room when discovered on the field.

But who knows?

He is practicing today BTW

Comment by wbb 10.04.16 @ 10:04 am

There have been many times when a player went thru pre-game drills before a decision was made if he could play.

The main reason people think he was suspended is the tweet from Pgh Sports Now referring to hearing something “disturbing” … but have yet to hear anything more.

So who knows .. but I think right now, injury is every bit as possible as suspension.

Comment by wbb 10.04.16 @ 10:09 am

I’m kinda at a loss on this one. As wbb said if it was a suspension, very unlikely he dresses.

My guess is it was a benching. But why does Terrish Webb keep getting run out there? Does Narduzzi expect more of Whitehead? Maybe he felt he was not taking direction well enough. We’ll probably never know.

Narduzzi’s secretiveness is starting to get a little annoying…

Comment by Pap76 10.04.16 @ 10:18 am

Maybe JW told HCPN that his system sucks!

Comment by HbgFrank 10.04.16 @ 11:13 am

Haha!! Good one HbgFrank

Comment by Pap76 10.04.16 @ 11:33 am

A team can impose a suspension in any way it likes. He can tell him he’s not playing but still dress him. This could have been done for a number of reasons…

If he’s trying to protect him, it leaves it vague as to why he’s not playing (could be flu, etc.). It also leaves the opposing team wondering so they are delayed trying to exploit the absence. In this case he warmed up….really delaying it. Who knows, this strategy may have saved us as whatever adjustment Marshall made at halftime could have been made sooner if he wasn’t dressed and warming up. Also, maybe he’s available to play as a last resort if there are an inordinate amount of injuries.

Let the coach handle it how he sees fit. It’s his team and relationship with the player. The media and fans are secondary.

Comment by FG 10.04.16 @ 11:46 am

lol HbgFrank.

Whitehead might have said something like:

“Coach, maybe we could defend the pass better against these passing teams, by having 5 DB’s in the game.”

And Coach replied….and maybe you can watch from the bench.

Comment by Emel 10.04.16 @ 3:53 pm

The Nard Dog’s defense was built to stop the run.

So he will get another chance to do just that, against Georgia Tech, who have only thrown the ball a total of 70 times in 5 games.

Which averages out to 14 passing attempts per game.

He couldn’t do it against an almost identical offense last year in the Bowl Game Blowout Loss.

Comment by Emel 10.04.16 @ 3:57 pm

@Emel Pitt didn’t do all that well stopping the run against GT last year either. 376 rushing yards at a 9.4 average.

GT also had more total yards than Pitt last year 482-391.

GT had two turnovers last year and Pitt dominated ToP.

Comment by Barvo 10.04.16 @ 4:21 pm

Chas… thanks for the update.

Like most surmised, it was something “personal.” And it will remain private… which is fine.

Comment by PittofDreams 10.04.16 @ 6:02 pm

But why would Narduzzi let Whitehead actually dress if he weren’t going to play?

The truth is had an injury or something else happened that would have demanded Narduzzi put him in the Game… Whitehead absolutely WOULD have played.

Must NOT have been THAT serious to Narduzzi which makes it even that MUCH MORE important to keep whatever it was “under wraps.”

More TRUTH MISDIRECT.

Comment by PittofDreams 10.04.16 @ 6:10 pm

~ Barvo

Yea I forgot about that.

GT probably would have beat Miami last week sans the 2 QB fumbles returned for Miami TD’s.

I’m thinking after GT playing Clemson and Miami on back to back weeks, Pitt’s players are going to look slow in comparison.

Hopefully they got banged up substantially in those games, cause I see speed being a big difference in this game. Especially with our defense. As in……a lack of speed.

Plus we debuted the script against them 2 years ago and that didn’t turn out too well 🙁

Comment by Emel 10.05.16 @ 4:49 am

I just hope JW’s “personal” issues are not related to off field issues

Comment by xkegroller 10.05.16 @ 6:51 am

@POD – Or maybe he was just protecting the player like he was doing all along.
Who really cares anyhow?
It’s over.

Comment by JJ 10.05.16 @ 8:51 am

I suspect JW not playing has to do with him being constantly out of position and free lancing too much.

Comment by steve5bill 10.05.16 @ 9:46 am

True… it’s over… and keeping private whatever Whitehead is guilty of is fine.

But a little hard to understand how anyone could think that having a STAR Player dressed but not playing is somehow “protecting” him from scrutiny.

By having Whitehead dressed and available, Narduzzi was DEFINITELY leaving open the OPTION of playing Whitehead if he needed to. It only makes sense.

And actually Narduzzi was pretty SLICK to handle the situation that way.

An ACE in the hand.

Comment by PittofDreams 10.05.16 @ 1:54 pm

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