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Pitt tries for bounce back

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh coach Pat Narduzzi might have been kidding. His message, however, was serious.

Frustrated by the inability to slow down Western Michigan during a 44-41 loss at home last week, Narduzzi said he considered — perhaps jokingly, perhaps not — moving up to the coach’s box this Saturday when New Hampshire (3-0) visits Heinz Field to face the Panthers (2-1).

Narduzzi will be on the sideline when Pitt tries to avoid a second straight home pratfall against the Wildcats, who are ranked No. 21 in the Football Championship Subdivision. Still, the man who became one of the most respected defensive coordinators in the country during his long run as an assistant at Michigan State planned to do more than just a “drop-in” during defensive coach meetings this week.

“I’m going to have to get over there a little bit more just to see what’s going on,” Narduzzi said.

That’s fine with defensive coordinator Randy Bates, whose unit gave up 516 yards against an offense that basically kept running the same run-pass option play over and over again.

“The bottom of the line is the ownership (of the performance falls) on me,” Bates said. “So let’s just put it right there.”

The loss ended Pitt’s goal of going undefeated in nonconference play for the first time since 2000. It did not, however, have any impact on the opportunity to win the Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division title. A loss to New Hampshire wouldn’t either, though another ugly Saturday could have a long-term impact on the idea the Panthers have made much progress in Narduzzi’s six-plus seasons on the job.

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