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Pat Narduzzi talks offensive, defensive identities at Pitt: "We're going to be a running football team"

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Photo used with permission of the University of Pittsburgh athletics department (www.pittsburghpanthers.com)

We all know about Pat Narduzzi and his reputation as a defensive coordinator. But as Pitt's head coach, what kind of football can we expect to see? Narduzzi answered that question to a degree in a couple of different interviews recently.

On defense, the Panthers, as expected, will keep the 4-3 defense. Narduzzi says on 3rd downs, they could go to three down linemen and throw an extra 'speed' guy in there on a nickel package. He obviously didn't give up too much since that's essentially all he said on defense, but then again, you wouldn't expect him to at this point.

The bigger question for most has been on offense since he is a defensive coach. When asked about the team's offense in an ESPN interview, Narduzzi made it clear the Panthers' offense will continue to focus on a ground-based attack.

To win football games, you have to be able to run the football and you have to be able to stop the run. We're going to be a running football team, whether we have a two-back set or a one-back set and defensively we have to be able to stop the run. We've been one of the top rushing defenses for years, and then when you talk about rushing the football, Michigan State has had Le'veon Bell and Jeremy Langford, Javon Ringer, so we've always been a pound-the-football team. We call it 'pound green pound' over there, and to me that goes right into when you talk about time of possession. If you can stop the run and you can run the ball and the clock is ticking, it makes everybody better.

That doesn't mean that Narduzzi won't run any spread offense. I doubt this will be the same pro set offense that Paul Chryst ran all the time. Narduzzi even hinted at that when he said that there could be one back or two backs in the backfield. The point here, however, is that it sounds as if James Conner will still be the focal point of the offense. Other guys like Chris James could get into the mix a little more, but Conner getting a heavy workload again next year is all but a given.

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