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Pitt's Pat Narduzzi: Roster talented enough to win ACC championship

Jerry DiPaola
| Wednesday, March 7, 2018, 8:48 a.m.
Pitt head football coach Pat Narduzzi speaks to the media about his first early signing class of 15 Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017 at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt head football coach Pat Narduzzi speaks to the media about his first early signing class of 15 Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017 at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.

Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi didn't make any bold predictions or promises Wednesday morning during a 30-minute interview on 93.7 FM, but he was clear on two points:

• There is enough talent on the roster to win an ACC championship this season.

• Rising sophomore Kenny Pickett is the No. 1 quarterback, and he will have access to the entire playbook.

Narduzzi also said spring practice starts Monday, and the annual spring game will be April 14 at Heinz Field.

When Narduzzi was asked about the timetable for winning an ACC championship, he said, "You're one season away. Every year, I think you have a chance. Things have to click for you. You have to stay healthy.

"I think we have enough talent to do it (in 2018). I think we're close. You need a little luck.

"We'll see how we jell as a football team, how we stay healthy."

He said there will be no "ors" on the quarterback depth chart, but he mentioned junior-college transfer Ricky Town as a player adapting well in offseason workouts.

Pickett, however, will go into spring ball No. 1.

"He can do it all," Narduzzi said, referencing the playbook. "He's really smart.

"He's got a bunch of strengths. His attention to detail, talent. He can run. He can throw. But really it's attention to detail and his love for the game."

Narduzzi touched on several other matters during the interview:

Tarping of the upper deck at Heinz Field:

Athletic director Heather Lyke, who suggested it previously, has said it won't happen.

"I don't think that ever had any traction at all," Narduzzi said. "We're going to fill up that stadium and win a championship. That's the mindset, period. I think when you build it, they'll come."

On his contract extension that runs through 2024:

"I'm the only coach in the country that got an extension after five wins. That's crazy."

He also gave himself a C grade for his first three years at Pitt. His won/loss record is 21-17.

Replacing offensive linemen Brian O'Neill, Alex Officer, Jaryd Jones-Smith and Brandon Hodges:

"It's tough," he said.

He's optimistic about the arrival of Kent State transfer Stefano Millin, an offensive tackle.

"How did that guy go to Kent State? You put the tape on and you watch him play Clemson, he's tough."

He also said there is young talent on the line "nobody knows of."

"We'll find out after 15 days of spring ball. A good quarterback makes everybody better. A good running back makes everybody better up front."

On continuing the Penn State series beyond 2019:

"It's always important to have nonconference games that are meaningful to your kids and to the state," he said. "Obviously, the Penn State game is meaningful to the state.

"I know Heather has worked hard to try to get them. There has to be a marriage. They have to want to play us as well. I don't see that right now.

"West Virginia wants to play us. Penn State, right now, has declined as of today. We'll find out where they are.

"It doesn't matter who it is. Put them on the schedule. Let's go."

Pitt and West Virginia will renew their rivalry in a four-year series starting in 2022.

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

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