PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) – The Pitt Football team is not yet in full pads, but, Wednesday at Pitt’s South Side practice facility, there was more contact than in previous days at camp. Panthers head coach Pat Narduzzi said that the “shell” practices (shoulder pads, helmet and shorts) that took place today and are scheduled for tomorrow will allow for more speed on the field.
“It becomes more of a football game, it becomes faster,” Narduzzi said. “Guys have been slower because they know they can’t run through people. But things will be speeded up on both sides of the ball today and the game is going to play a lot faster.”
The Pitt defense sparsely committed turnovers last year, finishing the year with just 14 turnovers, tied for 113th in the nation. Narduzzi said that, this year, he is putting an emphasis on having players in the right position to make plays on defense.
“Our philosophy at corner, safety or linebacker is to put them in position to make a play,” said Narduzzi. “We have to make a play on the ball. We have a deep ball drill today where we have a receiver and a corner and we’re working the ball down the field and we will find out if they can get around. We will have that drill. We try to build that in and putting them in position to make the play is our job as coaches number one and the next one is; they have to make the play.”
As it stands today, sophomore defensive back Avonte Maddox and senior Lafayette Pitts are presumed to be the two starting cornerbacks this upcoming season. But Narduzzi did not say those two locks at the position.
“I think we’re good, obviously they’re starters so we have to feel good with [Maddox and Pitts],” said Narduzzi. “But what’s its going to be in ten days? I don’t know. We might feel good with a new two starters I don’t know.”
Regardless of whether Maddox and Pitts are starters, there will be no reservations for starters on defense or offense to be involved on special teams this year for Narduzzi’s squad.
“We want to win, so we want to get them [the starters] in there,” Narduzzi said. “If they’re the best guys, we’re going to play them. If we can rest them and there is a guy just as good that’s fine, but they will be back ups for sure. When you get down the stretch, my philosophy is when we are playing for an ACC Championship at the end of the year that things may change and there will be more starters on [special teams].”
Narduzzi said his guys are anxious to start hitting, but he is scaling them back for now. They ran only two plays each for the first and second teams in Wednesday’s 11 on 11 drills, with an additional two for freshmen.
The team will switch to full pads Friday and follow that up with a closed scrimmage on Saturday.