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Pitt notebook: Narduzzi favors college 'preseason'

Jerry DiPaola
| Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017, 6:03 p.m.
Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi during practice Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017 at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi during practice Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017 at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.

Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said he would be in favor of joint practices between opposing teams during training camp, an idea advanced earlier this week by Clemson coach Dabo Swinney.

“After practice 17-18, our guys will be sick of hitting each other, for sure,” Narduzzi said Wednesday before practice 14. “It will be nice to get some new meat out there.”

Pitt's training camp runs through Aug. 26 before the team switches to game-week preparations prior to the opener Sept. 2 against Youngstown State.

Unlike in the NFL, the first game for every college football team represents its initial confrontation with an opponent.

“I'm OK with it,” Narduzzi said of some type of college preseason. “We can bring Duquesne over here, whomever. Let's bring Robert Morris over. It would be great, just to go out and hit somebody different.”

Narduzzi said outsiders always ask, “How do you look? Oh, you look great against each other.

“What's that matter? How do you match up against somebody else?”

During an appearance Tuesday on “ The Rich Eisen Show ,” Swinney was asked if he would support college preseason games.

“Man, I would love to have the opportunity,” he said, “even if it wasn't in public. I'd love to have the opportunity to go scrimmage another opponent. Someone you don't know much about. (Teammates) know all each other's nuances when you're on a practice field day in and day out.”

It's hot out there

Narduzzi tried to spice up practice 13 on Tuesday — one of the hottest days of the summer — by ordering a 10-play drive in which first downs didn't matter.

“(Tuesday) was a melter,” he said. “We saw a lot of things, especially who was going to melt in the heat.”

He said next week he will order a similar 12- to 15-play drive.

Pass catchers emerge

Asked about wide receiver depth, Narduzzi said Rafael Araujo-Lopes and Maurice Ffrench have risen above the other reserves behind starters Jester Weah and Quadree Henderson.

“Ra-Ra (Lopes) has been very, very consistent, maybe the most consistent of all,” Narduzzi said.

Aaron Mathews could challenge for playing time after missing the first two weeks of camp with an off-the-field issue.

One is not enough

Defensive end Dewayne Hendrix said replacing Ejuan Price, a rookie with the Los Angeles Rams, is not a one-man job.

“Replacing him, to be honest, is impossible,” Hendrix said. “But I feel like as a unit we can try to replace him.

“Eventually, the play is going to be made whether I'm making it or someone else is making it.

“Plays will still be made without Ejuan Price.”

Hendrix missed most of last season with a foot injury, and coaches monitor his activity daily. He has practiced the past two days.

“Watching the whole season was really hard,” he said. “I had to look at the big picture. I was going to be healthy. I was going to get back. I just had to be patient.”

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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