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Pat Narduzzi doesn’t want to look at or discuss Pitt’s first-place standing in ACC Coastal

November 30, 2018

He talked about “toughness and resiliency,” and he made sure to mention the fumble his team didn’t recover on the opening kickoff Friday night at Virginia.

Pat Narduzzi’s mind never strays far from what matters.

In the weekly meeting with his players Sunday, Narduzzi brought up every aspect of the 23-13 victory against Virginia and its next challenge Saturday against Virginia Tech at Heinz Field.

But he intentionally ignored the ACC Coastal standings that apparently are more important to those outside the Pitt training facility than they are to those working inside it.

Or, they should be, according to the coach. Even if they do show Pitt (5-4, 4-1) in first place.

“I didn’t address it, and I’m not going to address it,” he said, never mentioning the reality of Pitt clinching the Coastal by winning its next two games. “Because there are still a bunch of hungry teams sitting below us. I didn’t throw the standings up there (on the overhead projector). I know they read on Twitter and all that stuff. I guess I don’t have to address it.”

Narduzzi pointed to disciplined, one-game-at-a-time focus as one reason Pitt has been able to recover from a 3-4 start. Pitt lost by 45 and 31 points to Penn State and Central Florida, respectively, and suffered a hideous loss to North Carolina, which was winless before beating the Panthers and is 0-5 since.

Nonetheless, they recovered to record tough victories against Georgia Tech and Syracuse before winning their past two over Duke and Virginia. All four games were close at the end or in the fourth quarter.

“It’s been a nice job by our assistant coaches,” he said before giving credit to the 19 seniors who will be honored Saturday before their last home game. “It’s really the leadership in this room and our seniors that sit up in front (in the meeting room) and keep everybody on track.

“Ultimately, you play one game at a time, and it comes down to the overall leadership of the program. We just have to keep moving on, focusing on what we can do to change things.”

Narduzzi said there were no changes in approach or strategy after the slow start. There was no panic, partially because of the difficult schedule. Of Pitt’s first nine opponents, five were ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 at the time of the game or, in the case of Syracuse, currently ranked.

“Stick with what at you do,” he said. “Anytime you start to change what you do, I think the kids notice that, and they say, ‘OK, the other stuff didn’t work.’

“Offensively, defensively, structurally, our days don’t change. We try to keep things as similar and familiar with the kids as much as we can.”

He also tried to keep his mind mostly off the ACC on his off day Saturday. Narduzzi said he was not especially interested to watch the first half of Virginia Tech’s loss to Boston College, but he made a point to ask his daughter to find it on Apple TV so he could watch the second half.

He also said he ignored Miami’s loss to Duke, another game that lifted Pitt’s chances to win the Coastal.

“I was just watching ball and flicking channels as much as I could and never got to that channel,” he said. “It really didn’t matter. We just have to take care of our business.

“The focus has to be on what we have to do to win this football game (against Virginia Tech), period. Nothing else matters. What are you going to do? Stare at those? Google those all day or look at them on Twitter? If that’s where you focus is, you got a problem.”

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