Narduzzi talks Tigers, Tony Elliott and more

Narduzzi talks Tigers, Tony Elliott and more


Narduzzi talks Tigers, Tony Elliott and more


Pittsburgh head coach Pat Narduzzi spoke in length about Clemson during his press conference this week previewing the Panthers’ game against the Tigers at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Heinz Field.

Narduzzi talked about Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott and his offense, defensive coordinator Brent Venables and his defense, and much more.

Here are some of the noteworthy comments from Narduzzi’s presser:

“So Clemson, you know, coming into town for the first time. Feel like they are in our division. Played them, this will be the fourth time in seven seasons. It’s like Syracuse; they are a crossover team, it seems like. Obviously a great football team, and I know they are not top in the country right now, but that doesn’t determine what kind of football team they have got. They are talented. You’re looking at I think the top scoring defense in the country. They are playing fantastic.

“Venables has got them going on defense, and offense they’re obviously missing Trevor Lawrence, I think a lot, but they still have got a ton of players on the field. Got a lot of guys that make plays that scare the heck out of you. And all it takes is one play in this series and one play in that series, and that’s all they need is explosives. They have had explosives against us before and we have to eliminate those and play great defense.

“And it will be the best challenge our offense has had all year going up against that defense. They are really good.”

Q. Tony Elliott is still the offensive coordinator there. Do you see the same schemes?

NARDUZZI: “Yeah, you see the same stuff. They do a lot of stuff. They do a great job of game plan. You are going to see binds, we are going to see crack-and-goes. We’ve seen one the last two years. I may jump off the stadium after the game if they hit another crack-and-go on us. I mean, there’s things that they consistently do through games, you kind of know. We obviously didn’t do a good job a year ago defending them. Tony does a great job. You know, I mean, they do a good job of putting the players in position to make plays, and they have got to make them. So he’s one of the best.”

Q. What makes their defense so good?

NARDUZZI: “Well, talent. It starts with talent. Schemes are schemes. But talent wins football games. Talent, you’ve got to have talent. It never comes down to the Xs and Os. It comes down to the guys out there making plays.

“And again, Brent Venables is a heck of a defensive coordinator. So he gives them that. He’s an emotional guy. They play with emotion. They play with effort. They get after it, and again, they are just well-prepared. They are smart.

“And it starts with their middle linebacker, No. 47 (James Skalski). He seems like he’s been there longer than Tre Tipton. He just continues to keep coming up, I don’t know how many more years he’s got left, but he’s the computer of their defense. He gets it going and he gets them lined up and they know what’s going on. They check a lot of things to formations, and it’s something we have to do a good job of game planning on the other side of the ball.”

Q. How do you feel your corners are playing? And D.J.—he is a guy with a big arm—is he going to test you down the field?

NARDUZZI: “He’s got a gun. He’s got a cannon arm. He’s got a quick release. He can run. We’re going to have to get him down when he does run the football. He can definitely test us down the field. They have some good schemes and they do some things to isolate you as a corner or safety. They are going to run the RPOs as good as we’ve probably seen since Western Michigan.

“So it will test our RPO defense and what we’ve learned from the past and how we can get better in the future. So he can definitely test you, throwing it deep, and I think our corners are playing okay. Damarri (Mathis) is okay, missed a sack last week. Not happy with some of the PIs that we are getting, but just got to calm down and relax and play good. But you know, that’s better than giving up touchdown passes and I think we gave up one deep pass—Marquis (Williams). These guys are big dudes. These guys are 6-3 across the board at wide out. I mean, you know, I remember walking down the sideline last year at pregame and was like, oh, my God. I mean, they are some of the most beautiful wide-outs that I’ve seen, and that’s a fact. A couple weren’t even practicing. A couple didn’t even play against us last year. We know (Justyn) Ross didn’t play last year. So they are scary. Yeah, they can test us and we are going to have to play really good at corner and that’s how they will beat us, with big plays.”

Q. I know you’re focused on this weekend, but you mentioned going down to Death Valley five years ago, a big upset. What do you remember from 2016? 

NARDUZZI: “Yeah, I remember winning. I remember (Chris) Blewitt — field goal. I remember our offense was explosive with Nathan Peterman and James Conner. Deshaun Watson was not easy at that time, either. That was another great player we played. You figure you played Trevor Lawrence twice and Deshaun Watson once and you play Venables’ defense that’s always, always good, and going to put their guys in position. We went down there and made some plays, and we have to do that at home this year this weekend. That’s what it’s going to take, an effort like that.”

–Transcript courtesy of E.J. Borghetti, Executive Associate Athletic Director/Media Relations for the Pitt Panthers

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