PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan)- The Pitt Panthers football team will take the national spotlight Thursday night when they play host to No. 25 Virginia Tech Hokies at Heinz Field.
Pitt currently stands at 5-2 overall and is 2-1 in ACC play, which is good enough for third in the ACC Coastal Division. The visiting Hokies are one spot above the Panthers and many are calling this a “must-win” game for Pitt if they want to win the division.
Head coach Pat Narduzzi was one of those that agreed to those sentiments earlier this week and he joined “The Fan Morning Show” on Wednesday to talk about his team and this matchup.
Despite being a defensive-minded coach, Narduzzi likes the way his offense has performed this season, although the defense is improving.
“I think your best defense is a great offense, and I think we’ve got that,” said Narduzzi. “This is going to match-up one of top offenses in the ACC (Pitt) against one of the best defenses in the ACC (Virginia Tech). I also think every week we get a little better on defense. One of the things I stress as the head football coach and a defensive guy is that we play good run defense and we’ve done that. We’re probably in the top ten in run defenses as well in the country.”
When asked what how he is going to go about fixing the Pitt defense, Narduzzi said that the process will take time, but that the offenses in college football are outstanding.
“I think little by little we have [improved],” Narduzzi said. “We’ve tried to keep things a little bit simpler for them and continue to go back to the fundamentals. You watch Oklahoma last week, [head coach] Bob Stoops is a defensive guru and giving up 600 yards to Texas Tech, I mean, these offenses are getting more and more sophisticated and have beaters out there that put you on islands. I think we’ve talked about it, I think you’re seeing more and more of it every week.”
One of the challenges Narduzzi faces each week is balancing his deep corp of running backs, and he plans to get multiple backs involved on Thursday.
“James Conner and Chawntez Moss will really be getting the bulk of the reps,” said Narduzzi. “We’ve got a package for [Qadree] Ollison to get into the game and we may even pull Rachid [Ibrahim] in this weekend. So, we’re just trying to take care of the guys we have there in the backfield and trying to obviously give them touches when we can.”
Narduzzi says that overall, his players and staff feel good about themselves heading into Thursday night’s matchup.
“I think [the players] feel good about where they are, they understand they’re inches and seconds away from being an undefeated football team and they should,” Narduzzi said. ” I mean, you look at the two teams that we lost to, Oklahoma State and North Carolina are pretty good football teams, I think they’ve got an 11-4 [combined] record at this point. So, we didn’t lose to slouches and we didn’t lose by much. So our kids understand that if they do the little things right, we can win every Saturday. These last five games of the season are going to be important and that’s the pursuit we’re on and I don’t know if we could ask for a better position at this point in the season.”
You can hear the entire interview with coach Narduzzi on “The Fan Morning Show” below: