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Pitt has uphill battle against Tigers’ offense

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No one can say Pitt’s Pat Narduzzi does not read his game notes. When asked about second-ranked Clemson’s offense during Wednesday’s ACC Coaches teleconference, the Panthers’ head coach pulled out a Clemson stat to bring home his point about the Tigers.

“You have to try to slow them down enough. I saw an interesting stat today. They are 90-1-1 when they have over 500 yards of total offense,” Narduzzi said. “I’m like 90 times they’ve had over 500 yards of total offense? That’s where college football is going.”

Clemson, who host Pitt this Saturday in Death Valley, suffered its only loss when going over 500 yards in last year’s national championship game against Alabama, while the tie came in 1991 against Virginia. This year the Tigers are 5-0 when eclipsing 500 yards of total offense.

“You don’t stop ’em, you got to slow ’em down. They have major play-makers,” Narduzzi said. “Deshaun Watson is running the whole thing. (Wayne) Gallman is a fast guy. Mike Williams and Deon Cain … Deon is a backup. He is an incredible football player.

“When you look at the talent, they got (four) underclassmen who have declared for the draft already, on top of all the great senior players they have. To slow them down, we’ve got to be in position, we got to keep things in front of us for sure, make them earn it, and try not to give up big plays.”

The Tigers (9-0, 6-0 ACC) rank second in the ACC in scoring (38.6) and total offense (488.4). That does not bode well for a Pitt defense that is last in the conference in scoring defense (34.4) and 12th in total defense (428.7).

“Defensively we have to eliminate the big plays. There’s so many weapons,” Narduzzi said. “You can’t say stop the run. You have an athletic quarterback. Deshaun can run with it any time. They got weapons outside.

“Between stopping Deshaun in the backfield, trying to contain Ray-Ray McCloud, Artavis Scott, Mike Williams, Deon Cain. It’s a handful.”

Speaking of Watson, Narduzzi says the Clemson quarterback has a great future ahead of him. Watson is coming off a game in which he completed 13-of-16 passes for 169 yards, threw two touchdowns and ran for another in less than one half of football against Syracuse.

Watson is completing 64.4 percent of his passes for 2,497 yards and 24 touchdowns this year. He also had two rushing touchdowns to go with 370 yards on the ground.

“Deshaun Watson is a threat running and throwing it. He has a cannon arm,” the Pitt coach said. “He’s throwing the ball 70 yards down the field. He’s unique. He’s going to be a great NFL football player.”

One wonder’s if Narduzzi will be thinking about that 90-1-1 statistic when he watches his defense go up against the Tigers on Saturday?

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