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Narduzzi on the loss to UNC, the defensive issues and more

MORE FROM THE GAME - Post-game video: Narduzzi's press conference | Post-game video: Pitt players after the loss to UNC

CHAPEL HILL (NC) - Pat Narduzzi looked for answers to Pitt’s 38-35 loss at UNC after the game, and here’s a full rundown of what he said.

Narduzzi: A little bit of the same old, same old. Just an average second half. I thought, offensively, we were fantastic in the first half, didn’t do much in the second half. Again, just shooting ourselves in the foot with just careless plays, period. I mean, I’ve got a fourth-and-1 we lose on defense, give up a big play. They run a t-shoot on us, which we practiced the heck out of; we know they like it in the red zone, we just don’t make a play. We don’t do our job.

Shoot, we hold them, we’re in ‘punt safe,’ got our defense on the field, we got a holding call in ‘punt safe,’ backs our offense up. Again, coming out in a situation at the minus-9 yard line, don’t give them a chance. So again, field position is still a struggle because of what we do, not what they do. Third-and-6, we jump offsides defensively, give them a third-and-1, which is a lot easier to make than a third-and-6.

We fumble a kickoff return which - how many points did they get off of that? We get a big run in the third quarter, end of the third quarter, and we get called back because we can’t get lined up. So that’s the game. I feel bad for our kids because they’re trying their tails off. They’re great kids. I love them. And we just have to learn how to finish a game.

We did a lot of great things out there today. There was a lot of great plays made, but it’s a game of inches and when you don’t do the little things right, it can come back and get you by another three points.

You said they did stuff that you practiced all week and you didn’t stop it -
Narduzzi:
Well, they have players. They’ve got guys on scholarship, too.

Is it more schematically -
Narduzzi:
I mean, look at Dane Jackson gives up a big pass. We know they’re going to throw it up to 17. He’s right there. He’s got his hand under the ball. It’s great coverage. You can’t have better coverage than what he did there. So they got one of those on us.

It’s just details. It’s just details and trying not to do too much, and sometimes our guys try to do too much and that’s not good. You’ve got to play within the framework of the defense and the offense. Again, like I said, those guys are on scholarship, too. They’ve got 85 scholarships, we’ve got 85, and sometimes there’s going to be a mismatch here or there and we dUNC on’t make a play. But we’ve got to put ourselves in position as coaches and players to make the play, and if you’re out of position or you miss a tackle - I thought our tackling on defense wasn’t good today, for whatever reason. Even on that last t-bubble, Weaver’s got the guy - he did a better job holding on the punt return than he did on that one. All you have to do is take the guy down. I just don’t think we tackled very well. Even in the backfield, there were times when we got TFL’s and we don’t make them.

So give them credit. They made some plays and we didn’t. That’s what it comes down to.

Why do you think your passing game hasn’t evolved more than it has through four games?
Narduzzi:
You know what - don’t forget, we still have a young quarterback playing in his first road start as a quarterback. So Kenny did some great things out there today and Kenny did some things that we don’t want him to do. He took too many sacks, the ball gets batted down and he catches it instead of batting it down. Then we just put ourselves in bad position. You can go play after play after play. I thought a couple times he held onto the ball too long. Again, he’s trying to make a play.

So he’s still a baby, and there are going to be some of those things that come up until he learns how to manage the game properly. Every week, he’s going to get a little bit better. And North Carolina’s a good football team now; I told you, they move the ball on everybody. Stalled in the red zone - I told you Thursday, stalled in the red zone four times to kick field goals; today, they made plays. They got better. They got three-percent better, which we figured they would. Their first home game and they played with an attitude, so give them credit.

Do you feel like your offense - running the ball over five yards per carry, they didn’t turn the ball over, you out-possessed them - maybe the pass offense wasn’t where you wanted it to be, but do you feel like your offense -
Narduzzi:
The offense did a good job. When you score 35 points, you’d like to win a football game. I can guarantee you that. I thought the offense had an excellent first half. I thought we had great balance. I thought Coach Watts did a great job calling the game and kept them off-balance. I thought it was good. In the second half, we get in bad field position and then we hurt ourselves. And it’s hurting it in special teams, defense will do something, offense will do something - it’s just careless things that we can’t do. We have to have focus for 60 minutes and we’ve not done that, and that’s the disappointing thing. You can do it in the first half but you can’t do it in the second half. But we have to get it fixed and we will. It takes time.

How do you go about emphasizing those details?
Narduzzi:
Just keep pounding. It’s just like potty-training a dog; he might not get it the first time, he’s still going to pee on the floor, but sooner or later, he’s going to take that dog outside and get it to go to the bathroom where it’s supposed to. Period.

Are you surprised that they haven’t gotten it this far into your tenure and this season?
Narduzzi:
Nothing surprises me. Nothing surprises me. No.

As far as the pass defense, is there still something that’s not connecting out there, or is it one of those things where each play something different -
Narduzzi:
We’ll have to look at it. Like I said, the big passes - the big pass, it’s great coverage by Dane. And then there’s some other things like the bubble, we got to make a tackle. There’s another one in the first half, the end of the first half, they throw a bubble and Damar sticks it up in there but just gives up his body. The guy with the ball, you’ve got to tackle him. He just took himself out of the play where he couldn’t make it, then we’ve got to count on somebody else to make the play. We didn’t get off the field on third down at times and it just puzzles me. We just didn’t make the plays or execute it the right way.

And it happens fast out there, guys. It goes like that. And he understands after he does it; that’s the first time I’ve seen him just kind of throw his body up in there and not make the tackle. I mean, you could have tackled both of those guys, it was that close. Tackle both of them. But we didn’t.