November 15, 2017

Why Risk Disrupting What Hasn’t Worked

Filed under: Football — Chas @ 8:43 am

I’m glad Justin took to venting before I could. I’m still not over that loss from last week, but I’m not in a dark, angry place. Now it’s just a dark, bitter place.

Pitt prepares for a visit to Blacksburg to face a team with fans almost as pissed off as we are over an inexcusable loss. A ranked Hokie team that claims that opening game win over West Virginia and… that’s it?

I mean, don’t get me wrong. The Hokies are better then Pitt. They are at home and they should be favored. They at least can claim one quality win, where Pitt has zero. Plus they didn’t lose to UNC.

Still, their second best win was Boston College. That’s a hell of a schedule in the right season. This was VT’s rebuilding season. Especially with the early departure of QB Jerod Evans. That worked out well.

Pitt’s season is a foregone conclusion barring one hell of a surge in the next two games. A losing record. No bowl game. We all know that.

You would think that Head Coach Pat Narduzzi would be aware of that. And while I realize he can’t just say anything of the sort, he would at least make some moves that could be rationalized as shaking things up when it is clear that one way isn’t the answer.

Like, I don’t know, the QB position. Nope. Can’t do that. It might mess with the parts of the offense that are working. Wait, what?

Sophomore Ben DiNucci hasn’t thrown for more than 170 yards in any of his five starts while totaling just three touchdown passes in that time. But Narduzzi was preaching patience to reporters Monday when he was asked about his plans for the quarterback position over the last two games.

“You guys are like you were back in high school with your girlfriend,” he said. “She ain’t good enough, so I’m going to move on to the next one. Just fire her and go get another girlfriend.’ We have to have patience with who our guys are.

“You guys were fast to pull the trigger (on former starter Max Brown, now injured).

“Now you’re fast to put the next guy in. If we treated them like that, we’d be in trouble.”

Narduzzi has been so pleased with the run game — Darrin Hall has rushed for 486 yards over the past three games — that he’s fearful making a change at quarterback could have a negative impact on the offense.

“We can switch it up and all of a sudden blow something else up that’s pretty good,” he said. “Then, (reporters) would be talking the other way.

That’s a new one. The passing game is non-existent, but we can’t change the QB because he is handing off real well.

Unfortunately, Narduzzi has fallen into the dreaded Tino trap. Where, at least in practice, DiNucci is still the better QB. Therefore, he gives Pitt, “the best chance to win.” While that phrase has not been uttered by the coach, it hangs over the decision making process

It also may be (and this is the only other explanation I can figure), that the last thing Narduzzi and OC Shawn Watson want to do to Kenny Pickett is to put him out there against Bud Foster’s defense and then the Miami defense. Those are admittedly very good defenses that could do a number — physically and mentally — on a young QB.

The problem is, I can’t believe there’s a plan.

“Kenny’s done a great job,” he said. “We still have a lot of faith in him. It was more things weren’t going bad. You got two wins and things were going good and all of a sudden, you should have a third win. You’re running the ball pretty good and you’re stopping it, but all of a sudden, everybody wants to jump ship on the guy. When we made the change before, you guys were like ‘What are you making a change for? Things were going good.’ You’re doomed if you do, doomed if you don’t. It’s a feel thing by coach [Shawn] Watson, the offensive coaching staff and myself. We’ll play it by ear.”

[Emphasis added.]

We’ve gone from having a plan to get Pickett some work in each game; to, it depends on what is happening at the moment. I mean, when the coach is openly musing about whether he should go for another grad transfer at QB for next year, there has to be some big questions. About the evaluations. About the development. In general.

BD played well enough to lead at the end of the UNC game, before the D let the game slip away. Nard gets ripped all the time for his in game decision making. What would be said if Nard puts in KP in the 4th quarter and Pitt loses after being in the lead?

Comment by grizzly1 11.15.17 @ 9:20 am

Narduzzi showing signs DIS-FUNCTION.

So what’s new?

Comment by PittofDreams 11.15.17 @ 9:24 am

However, starting DiNucci against VaTech… ABSOLUTELY the right thing.

Granted DiNucci did NOT win the Game against North Carolina.

But it wasn’t the Quarterback or the Offense that lost that Game.

Believe the ONE-win, LAST-place Tarheels came into Heinz Field and put up 34 Points behind a FIRST-time Starter.

No Chas, the REAL Problem with this Team is the DEFENSE… and yes… the DIS-FUNCTIONAL Head Coach who has shown himself to be anything but a Defensive Guru SINCE he arrived.

Bottom line… stick with DiNucci unless it becomes evident that it REALLY is the Offense losing the Games.

Comment by PittofDreams 11.15.17 @ 9:33 am

By the way, making the trip to Blacksburg.

Who knows… maybe something GOOD will come?

Comment by PittofDreams 11.15.17 @ 9:38 am

This may be a simple case of them still trying to protect Pickett’s redshirt. NCAA redshirt rules are expected to change this offseason (and be retroactive for existing players). The proposed rule would allow players to play in up to 4 games without losing their redshirt. It has a ton of support from both P5 and non-P5 members.

Kenny has played in two. Playing in VT, Miami and a bowl (don’t laugh – still possible) would put him at 5 games.

The conundrum is if DiNucci wins the VT game – it’s probably hard to bench him for Miami and a chance at bowl eligibility. At that point it doesn’t matter though since the redshirt is potentially protected.

link to

Having said all that, I can’t find information anywhere that says that it was approved in July and will be voted on in January.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 11.15.17 @ 2:18 pm

Chas, I don’t think it is the case that dinucci is playing better in practice than Pickett as a matter of fact I’ve heard somewhat of the opposite.

But it’s a matter of Pat narduzzi having absolutely no guts to make a risky call or change what he thinks it’s happening even though he sees the results in his own eyes. This man has no balls whatsoever as a head coach.

He is severely stuck in the defensive coordinator mode and hasn’t realized yet that he is paid to be a head coach.

Comment by Reed 11.15.17 @ 2:52 pm

Reed – he made the move from Voytik to NP in year one. Mid-season. And pulled Browne earlier in the year for DiNucci, albeit for one game. He’s made in season switches before.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 11.15.17 @ 3:41 pm

You could be right TT about the RS thing, and I hope that’s it. We’ll know by late August if Narduzzi knows what to do at QB.

2019 could be an interesting year for AD Lyke. She may have to hire 2 important head coaches going into 2020 if things don’t straighten out by then.

No pressure though…

Comment by Jackagain 11.15.17 @ 5:04 pm

Well folks misery loves company… JUst look at Nebraska, Florida, Florida State and Tennessee.
Hell, Tennessee could not even wait for the season to end, they lost their minds and fired the coach last week. Losing seasons for traditional powerhouse schools. Those schools can afford to buy the best players and coaches and look where they are at.

Comment by Pitt Dreamer 11.15.17 @ 7:16 pm

Could Tennessee be in the market for a former defensive coordinator who is now feeling his way as a head coach?
No, I didn’t think so either.

Comment by Gasman 11.15.17 @ 9:38 pm

Amazing how disillusioned Pitt fans can be. You actually think you have something in Narduzzi.

A little reality check… to the the College Football World, Narduzzi is a nobody.

He has cemented himself at this point as an OVER-RATED Defensive Coordinator who is in WAY OVER his Head as a Head Coach.

And an AVERAGE to maybe LESS than average Recruiter.

That’s the reality.

Comment by PittofDreams 11.16.17 @ 9:07 am

Peter principle: Management rises to it’s highest level of incompetence or as some times simplified most people end up one level above where they are capable in organizations. Football programs especially true. Still hope I am wrong on Narduzzie but seeing Pitt get out coached in adjustments at game time too often. That problem is HC,OC, DC or all the above which still ends on HC’s plate. PS. Daughter lives in Bills market up north just sent e-mail Peterman gets the nod to start for Bills this week with team 5/6 record.

Comment by Pitt60 11.16.17 @ 9:51 am

For those that think it would be great if HC Narduzzi were to leave or be fired for some reason, I would like you to take a look at the regression of our basketball program as an example of why that’s a dumb move at this point.

Comment by Tony in Harrisburg 11.16.17 @ 9:52 am

The Duzzi stated today that Shawn Watson is not leaving and that shows he is loyal to the Pitt program… Where in the hell would he go? LOL LOL.

Comment by Pitt Dreamer 11.16.17 @ 11:05 pm

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