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Pitt

Some things Pitt's Pat Narduzzi might ponder after the Penn State rout

Jerry DiPaola
| Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018, 7:51 p.m.
Pitt’s Kenny Pickett stretches over Penn State’s Koa Farmer for a first down Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018 at Heinz Field.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt’s Kenny Pickett stretches over Penn State’s Koa Farmer for a first down Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018 at Heinz Field.

Analysts can go in many different directions when breaking down what went wrong for Pitt on Saturday night in the 51-6 loss to Penn State.

But in order to simplify matters, you could merely dwell on the score 45-11, which isn’t far from what was on the Heinz Field scoreboard at the end of the night.

That’s the number of four- and five-start recruits, according to rivals.com, the two schools reeled in from 2015-2018.

Translation: Penn State has better players. Instead of vilifying Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi, who was far from at his best Saturday night, one could wonder how in the name of Grantland Rice it was a one-score game well into the third quarter.

Eventually, talent wins the day, but here are some other thoughts Narduzzi might be pondering as he prepares for his team’s ACC opener at 12:30 p.m. Saturday against Georgia Tech:

• There was a lot of talk about the posse of wide receivers Pitt was developing this season. The posse has been ambushed. There have been 10 receptions by wide receivers in two games, and no one has more than senior Rafael Araujo-Lopes’ three for 50 yards. He was shut out by Penn State.

There were a lot of good words spoken about Tre Tipton, Maurice Ffrench, Dontavius Butler-Jenkins and Taysir Mack in training camp but nothing to show for it. If meeting weaker teams in conference play doesn’t solve the problem, Narduzzi may not find the balanced offense he needs.

Kenny Pickett, who already has thrown two interceptions, can’t become a productive quarterback until the players on the other end of his throws start helping him by getting open.

•Yeah, the punter had a bad game, both with his hands and his foot, but he had a lot of company in his misery.

Kirk Christodoulou is a tough kid who played the rugged sport of Australian Rules Football in Melbourne. He isn’t Pitt’s No. 1 holder, but he was thrust into that role when Jake Scarton suffered an undisclosed injury last week. Narduzzi offered no details of Scarton’s situation, only saying he’ll find someone other than Christodoulou to hold against Georgia Tech.

Completing that simple task doesn’t need to be that hard, even if your regular guy is unavailable.

•It wasn’t good form for Penn State coach James Franklin to throw for a score with 4 minutes, 21 seconds left in a 44-6 game and then call for a review on a Pitt fumble recovery with a minute left while holding a 45-point lead.

But perhaps Narduzzi didn’t need to poke the bear any more when he said of Franklin playing to the gun, “You have to sleep at night. It’s just where we are right now. We’ll have another shot. It ain’t over.”

Penn State has outscored Pitt, 84-20, the past two games. Narduzzi should store away his thoughts about Penn State, or do what Franklin does: Ignore the other guy.

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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