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Pitt notebook: Pat Narduzzi says cramps vs. UCF were legit

October 3, 2018

When the heat index reached 98 in Orlando, Fla., on Saturday, several Pitt players fell to the turf during their game against Central Florida, some of them complaining of cramps.

After his team’s 45-14 victory, Central Florida coach Josh Heupel suggested it might have been Pitt’s way of trying to slow down his speed-based offense.

“That’s one way to try to defend it,” he said. “It didn’t work well (Saturday).”

Near the end of the first half and several seconds after the end of the previous play, Pitt defensive end Patrick Jones II suddenly fell down, clutching his left leg.

That prompted Central Florida right guard Cole Schneider to applaud while trainers tended to Jones, who left the game.

After a Pitt three-and-out series, Jones was on the field before the end of the half when UCF got the ball back.

Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi was asked about Heupel’s comment Monday during his weekly news conference and, at first, he was reluctant to address the issue. Then, he launched into a defense of his players.

“I don’t care what they say. I don’t care what we say,” he said. “It doesn’t really matter.

“We didn’t have a problem with the tempo. There were multiple IVs given, even before halftime, during halftime and the third quarter. We don’t give IVs to people for nothing. It’s not even worth addressing. I’ve cramped in a recliner before after some yard work. What are we talking about? It’s all about players’ safety. I’m not going to question a guy’s health. And it wasn’t all cramping issues, either.”

What about the nickel?

Pitt opened the Central Florida game with five defensive backs -- nickel back Jason Pinnock replacing outside linebacker Elijah Zeise in the starting lineup -- and Narduzzi said he liked how Pinnock played.

“Jason Pinnock had a heck of a football game out there, matching up on the inside slot receiver,” the coach said. “That’s kind of what we were waiting for from him. I know he was banged up earlier in the year, but he needed that. And then you watch him run down on special teams. That helped us. It didn’t hurt us.”

Nonetheless, Central Florida threw for 328 yards and four touchdowns, the most Pitt allowed in the air this season.

Don’t ask

Narduzzi did not want to discuss why wide receiver Taysir Mack left the game Saturday or the legitimacy of linebacker Quintin Wirginis’ roughing the passer penalty.

“I don’t get into officials or injuries,” he said. “I learned my lesson. See, I learn from my lessons. You ain’t getting me.”

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