Work light, but Nar­duzzi eyes clean opener

The Morning Call - - COLLEGE FOOTBALL - By Jerry DiPaola

NFL teams play four ex­hi­bi­tions be­fore games start to count.

Col­lege foot­ball isn’t de­signed that way. Teams con­duct a few live scrim­mages, plus al­most daily prac­tices. Much of it, how­ever, is held with lim­ited con­tact in the hopes of keep­ing play­ers healthy for the up­com­ing sea­son.

Pitt had two scrim­mages, the last on Aug. 17, two weeks be­fore the sea­son be­gins.

The pros start train­ing camp ear­lier and the real games aren’t played un­til most col­leges have played twice. There’s more time for play­ers to iron out the wrin­kles.

No won­der when Mi­ami played No. 8 Florida last Satur­day night, the teams com­bined to com­mit 23 penal­ties for a loss of 218 yards, fum­ble five times, throw two in­ter­cep­tions and con­vert 4 of 23 third-down sit­u­a­tions.

Those teams started camp early and had no longer of a pre­sea­son than any­one else. What does that por­tend for Pitt’s opener against Vir­ginia on Satur­day night at Heinz Field?

Coach Pat Nar­duzzi hopes his team’s per­for­mance will be cleaner.

“We talk about dis­ci­pline,” he said. “I don’t ex­pect to go out and look like what the Mi­ami-Florida game looks like. That’s not us. Not what we pre­pared for, not what we showed.”

Former NFL quar­ter­back Tim Has­sel­beck, now an an­a­lyst for the ACC Net­work, rec­og­nizes that lack of hit­ting in train­ing camp can im­pact early-sea­son games.

“I thought what you saw the other night was re­ally bad tack­ling,” he said.

But that’s no ex­cuse for the penal­ties, he said.

“That stuff should not be im­pacted by how lit­tle you’re hit­ting in prac­tice,” Has­sel­beck said. “That stuff is ob­vi­ously more op­er­a­tional and I think there’s plenty of time to get that done.”

Nar­duzzi said he’s not wor­ried.

“No sense in com­plain­ing. We all get the same (prep time). Ob­vi­ously, the NFL has the model right, but they also pay those guys.”

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