Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi fires Big Ten, Michigan State and former offensive coordinator

Pittsburgh coach Pat Narduzzi apparently had a few tricks up his sleeve this week.

On a podcast hosted by a Pittsburgh-area car dealership owner (yes, for real), Narduzzi snapped shots of the Big Ten, Michigan State, and Mark Whipple, among others.

It all started when Narduzzi was asked about Kenny Pickett not playing in the Peach Bowl against Michigan State. Pickett, Pitt’s Heisman Trophy finalist quarterback who went on to be a first-round pick in the NFL Draft, chose not to play to recover for the pre-draft process.

With Pickett out, substitute Nick Patti started. But after Patti broke his collarbone in the first quarter, Pitt was forced to face third tailpiece Davis Beville for most of the game – a game Michigan State won 31-21 despite American running back Kenneth Also absent is Walker III.

Narduzzi said Pickett would have made a “21 point difference” had he played in the game. And if Patti could have played more than two sets, Narduzzi claimed he would have made “at least a 14 point difference” in the game.

“Michigan State is getting its ass kicked,” Narduzzi said Wednesday.

Narduzzi, who spent eight seasons as MSU’s defensive coordinator before taking Pitt’s job, went on to attempt quality in the Big Ten as a whole.

“It’s at least a 14 point difference if Nick Patti plays the whole game. That’s how I feel,” Narduzzi said. “We talk about the Big Ten, the SEC and the ACC… If it was one of the best teams in the Big Ten last year, then let’s go to the Big Ten and win it every year. I don’t want to hear about this Big Ten and SEC dominance.

During ACC media days Thursday, Narduzzi said he “meant no disrespect to the Big Ten or Michigan State” with the comments.

“You hear all these things over the summer on the Power 2 and stuff. You know, we play really good football in the ACC, and I think people forget about that,” Narduzzi said. coached the Big Ten for eight years, so I know that. I don’t know the SEC. I’ve never coached in the SEC, but I know the Big Ten. I feel very confident. It’s not being arrogant. It’s just kind of knowing the landscape and knowing what we played against in the Peach Bowl.

“I just wish our backup quarterback had played the whole game. It’s just confidence. It’s not disrespect to the Big Ten or Michigan State. It’s just to “About Pitt and the ACC. That’s all I can tell you. I think ACC football is really, really good, and that’s really the comment I was trying to get across.” “

Pittsburgh head coach Pat Narduzzi answers a question during NCAA College Football Atlantic Coast Conference media days in Charlotte, N.C., Thursday, July 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)

Pat Narduzzi calls out Mark Whipple, his former OC

During the podcast appearance, while answering a question about Pickett’s decision not to bowl, Narduzzi made it clear what he thought of Whipple, who served as Pitt’s offensive coordinator from 2019-2021. After last season, he left Pitt for Nebraska.

Narduzzi criticized Whipple’s tendency to call passing plays and said Pickett was “bumped” due to the predictability of the offense.

“I think when you’re throwing the ball 85% of the time and people are attacking you in the pass rush, we haven’t made it easy for Kenny. Everyone knew we were going to kick the ball and we kicked the ball,” Narduzzi said. “As the defensive coordinator, if I know you’re going to throw the ball, I’m going to catch you. I will make you pay. There are some things we could do to really stop you if we know you have no desire to run the ball.

“Our former offensive coordinator had no desire to run the ball. Everyone knew that. He was stubborn. I mean Wake Forest were 118th in run defense and we kicked the ball on every try. When we ran it, we ran 10 meters but it wasn’t good enough. [Pickett] got bumped so maybe if he hadn’t bumped it all season maybe he would have played [in the bowl game].”

Pitt won the ACC title in 2021 largely thanks to a high-powered offense called in by Whipple. Pickett pulled in huge numbers, consistently linking up with wide receiver Jordan Addison, who won the Biletnikoff Award.

In the Wake Forest game Narduzzi referenced, Pickett threw for 253 yards (well below his season average of 332.2 ypg) and two touchdowns. Collectively, the Panthers rushed for 112 yards on 38 attempts in that game. And 58 of those yards came on a Pickett touchdown (the infamous one with the fake slide). In the win, Pitt’s running backs compiled for 116 yards on 26 carries – an average of 4.4 yards. For the season, Pitt ranked No. 84 nationally in rushing yards per attempt (3.98).

Based on comments Narduzzi has made throughout the offseason, it looks like Pitt is going to rely more on the running game in 2022. Frank Cignetti Jr., who Narduzzi hired to replace Whipple, made his evidence using a ground attack – for better or for worse.

Narduzzi thinks his program is better with Cignetti and Tiquan Underwood, who replaced receivers coach Brennan Marion after he left for Texas.

“I feel even better with our staff now than a year ago. It’s a fact,” Narduzzi said. “I don’t care if we win a football game. We have better coaches in those positions in attack. I can guarantee that, okay? I’m just giving you facts. Coach Cignetti. Coach Underwood. It doesn’t couldn’t be better.

Narduzzi: Jordan Addison’s departure pretty much sucked

Pickett won’t be the only star player not on Pitt’s offense in 2022. Addison has decided to transfer to USC. He said he started considering a transfer when Whipple and Marion left Pittsburgh, but Narduzzi believes the move to USC was based more on NIL opportunities.

“I think [NIL] had something to do with it. If it had anything to do with coaching, we’re fooling ourselves if we want to believe it. We have the best staff in the country,” Narduzzi said. “I think it was all tied to that. There was nothing else. Anyone can make excuses, but there are no excuses.

Pitt is scheduled to open his season at home against West Virginia on Sept. 1.

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