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Pitt offense sputters in debut against Villanova

The Panthers have work to do with some offensive struggles this weekend

Villanova v Pittsburgh Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

“We just never got in sync,” was how Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi described his offense.

With a strong offensive line returning for this season, the Pitt offense is expected to move the ball down the field. In a 28-7 win over Villanova on Saturday, though, that wasn’t always the case. The Panthers did plenty right but also had a few problems.

That offensive line, for one thing, had its share of issues. In Narduzzi’s press conference, it was one of the things he pointed to when discussing Pitt’s running game. When speaking about James Conner, Narduzzi said, “(We have to) do a better job blocking for him.”

Conner had a solid, but unspectacular game. His two touchdowns sort of overshadowed the fact that he averaged only 3.1 rushing yards per rush attempt. Some of that may have been related to rust in not playing in the past year. But some, as Narduzzi acknowledged, was on the offensive line simply creating better opportunities for him.

Run-blocking wasn’t the only offensive line woes, either. There were some botched snaps. According to Narduzzi, that was on both center Alex Officer and quarterback Nathan Peterman.

“One of them was out of tempo and one Nathan should have caught.” Speaking about his center, Narduzzi added, “That’s something (Alex) has gotta make sure he corrects.”

I mentioned this in the comments section of one post but the snaps from center is something you just sort of take for granted. When they go smoothly, no one notices. But even one or two in the course of a game is something that draws a lot of recognition. Peterman not only recovering both botches, but getting them away for incomplete passes so the team didn’t lose any yardage was big. However, the Panthers are going to have to clean some of that up moving forward.

Fans should remember, too, that the team is operating with a new coordinator in Matt Canada. Players are still learning his system and there will be some work to do to get everyone up to speed.

“First time, new coordinator. You’re expecting some of that,” stated Narduzzi, referring to a few of the team’s glitches.

Some problems weren’t even related to Pitt’s players. Another issue for the team?


Technology? Technology.

Narduzzi opened his press conference in part by talking about some faulty equipment that caused problems in playcalling. He reiterated that frustration about the headphones again later, even sounding a little agitated.

“We gotta get that fixed. I’ve about had it with that.” Narduzzi mentioned those problems dated back to last year so at some point, you have to wonder what’s going on there.

Hopefully, Pitt is able to iron out some of these wrinkles in advance of next week’s game against Penn State. If they don’t, it could be a long afternoon.

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