PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – Don’t look past your opponent. Focus on the task at hand. One game at a time.
Football coaches love these adages, and Pat Narduzzi is no different.
Pitt football’s head coach joined “The Fan Morning Show” on Wednesday to set the stage for the Panthers’ 2016 season. The campaign begins Saturday with a matchup against heavily-outmatched FCS opponent Villanova, followed by the highly-anticipated rivalry showdown against Penn State.
Narduzzi is doing everything he can to keep his players from looking past big underdog Villanova this weekend. With the Penn State game looming, it’s something he doesn’t believe they can afford to do.
“I’m locked in,” Narduzzi said. “I feel like our kids are locked in.”
Narduzzi is especially wary of FCS teams after Pitt’s two recent season-opening scares against Youngstown State. The first resulted in a loss in 2012, and the latter which saw Pitt win by just eight points in Narduzzi’s head coaching debut last season.
“I knew Youngstown State was a good football team,” Narduzzi said. “And I’m telling you right now, Villanova’s a good football team. You look at the last three BCS teams they played against, they’ve taken them all, really, to the wire… They’ll be ready, and this will be their biggest game of the year, so they will give it everything they’ve got, just like Youngstown State did. So, we’ve got to go into it physically and mentally locked in, ready to go.”
That being said, it’s impossible to totally shield players from the hype surrounding a game as big as next Saturday’s- especially once they leave the practice facility.
“You never know what they’re doing back in their dorm rooms,” Narduzzi said. “They’ve got all their buddies around school. They’re going to class. They hear you can’t wait ’til that date, or whatever. It’s hard to say. But we’ll have them locked in.”
So will Pitt remain totally focused on Villanova, or will the Panthers end up caught in another trap game?
“We’ll find out Saturday night,” Narduzzi said. “We’ll know if they were locked in or if they weren’t.”
The interview can be heard here: