Taking a shot at Franklin: Narduzzi scoffing at Lions’ signals challenge
We nearly made it through Penn State-Pitt week without any squawking or trash talk between the teams, but that ended Thursday when Panthers coach Pat Narduzzi decided he needed to get something “off my chest.”
Narduzzi met with the Pittsburgh media on Thursday, and they asked him some questions for 9-plus minutes. But no one asked him THE question he wanted asked, so with his news briefing winding down, Narduzzi spoke up.
“I can’t believe you guys didn’t ask any signal questions. What have you guys been sleeping?” he said to the press.
Narduzzi wanted to get into the whole signal issue, which Penn State coach James Franklin brought up Tuesday. In doing so Narduzzi, laughed at the matter and tossed some jabs at PSU.
His words turned out to be ironic, too, given Narduzzi has a history of blaming at least one opponent for stealing signals. More on that later.
First, to back track a bit.
Penn State senior safety John Petrishen transferred to Pitt last month. Franklin said Tuesday that he and his coaches promptly changed the signals used on defense and offense because he didn’t want Petrishen’s knowledge of those signals to give Pitt any kind of advantage in Saturday’s game.
This sounded like a common sense thing that most coaches would do in the competitive world of athletics.
But Narduzzi apparently thought it was a bunch of nonsense.
“It’s a funny subject,” he said as part of a nearly three-minute rant on the matter.
“We haven’t been thieves, I guess,” Narduzzi said about the concept of stealing signals. “But usually the people who are paranoid are the people stealing them.”
That last zinger sounded an awful lot like a shot at Penn State, since Franklin was the one who first brought up the signal stuff this week.
“We’re busy getting our own signals in,” Narduzzi said. “Just think about this: Are we going to signal to our defense, and then tell them what the offensive play is? There’s no time for that. Our eyes are on our kids.
“Signals, I mean, I could have their notebook. If I had their notebook sitting right here … that ain’t going to help me win a football game. I can promise you that, OK? Defensively, your hands are tied. You can’t steal signals.”
Narduzzi went on to add that, “The team that looks to the sideline, they’re doing it for a reason. They’re doing it to steal your coverage signals.”
In Penn State’s offense, the quarterback does look to the sideline a lot, so that line by Narduzzi also sounded like a jab at the Lions. Narduzzi pointed out his own quarterback, Kenny Pickett, doesn’t look to the sideline and is “just running a play.”
Narduzzi doesn’t seem to think there’s much to stealing signals, but he was singing a different tune last September.
Following Pitt’s 34-31 loss to North Carolina a year ago — the Tar Heels’ sixth straight win over the Panthers — Narduzzi seemed to insinuate that UNC was stealing his team’s signals.
“We’ve got to do a good job protecting ourselves on the sideline, as far as just making sure our signals are going to our guys and only our guys,” Narduzzi said a few days after that game. “We just talked about it as a staff. We’ve got to do a good job there. We changed up who our signal callers are. We’ll have three different guys that will be live this week.
“So, you learn some of those things that you go through — who’s stealing, who’s not.”
Narduzzi once again has refused to let the Pitt players talk to the media this week, as he’s done several times prior to games against Penn State.
But the coach himself has had a habit of giving bulletin-board material to PSU with some of his pregame comments, and that could turn out to be the case with signal-gate this week.