Work light, but Narduzzi eyes clean opener
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.”