Pitt Wants to Quickly Put Opener Loss Behind Them

Panthers individually hold themselves accountable following game

Josh Rowntree
September 01, 2019 - 12:28 am

Personal accountability and short memories. 

That what the theme for Pitt shortly after Saturday’s season opening 30-14 loss to Virginia. 

The night was once in which big, momentum stealing plays too frequently went the way of the Cavaliers. And no facet of the game was immune.

“Offense, defense, special teams, it wasn’t good enough,” Panthers coach Pat Narduzzi said. “You’re going to make your biggest improvements from week one to week two. It’s one football game. I’m not worried about one football game. It will not change the rest of the season and what our goals are.”

Nor should it. Pitt had moments, after all, in which it appeared they would take off and topple the team picked to win the ACC’s coastal division. 

But Virginia, on three occasions, scored touchdowns on drives that started on the Panthers side of the field. Those were the only three touchdowns the Cavaliers produced in the game. 

“Hard to win a football game when you have a blocked punt and two interceptions,” Narduzzi said. “You’ve got two short fields. That’s 14 points, right there. That’s the game, right there.”

All three players who spoke to the media after the game took the loss personally, including wide receiver Tre Tipton, who caught Kenny Pickett’s lone touchdown pass of the evening. 

”The ultimate goal is to find ways to progress and I've got to do better as a leader to make sure that my team gets there,” he said. “I take this loss on myself... The details haven't been where we need them to be. I'll make sure that's changed."

The coach was more than willing to share in the blame.

“It starts with me,” Narduzzi said. “I’ve got to do a better job of getting them ready. Emotionally and physically they were ready to go. We had guys open in the passing game, we got what we wanted, but you’ve got to connect.”

And that is where Pickett comes in. Far too often he looked rushed and uncomfortable in the pocket, finishing the game 21 of 41 passing for 185 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. He also ran 12 times for 16 yards, including a pair of strong jaunts on Pitt’s first scoring drive of the night. 

“There were plays that had to be made and we just didn’t make them,” said Pickett, who attempted the most passes of his career. “We were making them a little bit in the first (half), but we weren’t consistent enough, at all. Consistency is a big thing we need to work on moving forward.”

Pickett missed on a number of throws. Timing with his receivers, particularly redshirt junior Taysir Mack, seemed off at times. There were also a number of drops, out of Pickett’s control.

“I try to help those guys out as much as I can,” he said. “They pick me up, I’m going to pick them up. I’ll ride with these guys until the wheels fall off.  I love every single one of them. We’ll be alright, we’ll bounce back.”

The Panthers will be back at home next Saturday when they welcome Ohio, predicted to win the MAC this season, for an 11 a.m. start at Heinz Field.

“I still have 100 percent faith in my team,” Tipton said. “We’re looking forward to the next game and there’s nothing we can do about the past. The only thing we can focus on is the future.”

“It starts tonight,” safety Damar Hamlin said, adding instructions for he and his teammates. “Get on film and don’t try to harp on this one too much. I’ll start tonight, get on Ohio and will just try to be perfect next week. 

“I can’t wait until next week.”

Hear more from Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi below.